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  • Iraqi protesters defy top cleric and return to the streets

    Iraqi protesters defy top cleric and return to the streetsHundreds of anti-government protesters flooded the streets of Iraq's capital and southern provinces on Sunday, defying a powerful Iraqi religious leader who recently withdrew his support from the popular movement. Security forces fired tear gas and live rounds to disperse the crowds from the capital's Khilani Square, medical and security officials said. At least 22 demonstrators were reported wounded by Iraqi security forces, as the street rallies continued to grow in size.


  • After Trump’s Acquittal, It Will Only Get Worse for Republicans

    After Trump’s Acquittal, It Will Only Get Worse for Republicans(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The Senate trial of President Donald Trump is proving less Soviet than expected. Representative Adam Schiff of California, the House impeachment manager, last week presented a coherent, damning and often eloquent narrative of Trump’s guilt, backed by text messages, emails, letters and sworn witness testimony previously delivered to the House.As my colleague Jonathan Bernstein points out, the weight of such facts can alter political gravity. Even Republicans who have made up their minds to acquit — which almost certainly describes the entire GOP caucus — have had to sit through the avalanche of evidence. Surely it weighs on at least a few consciences. Meanwhile, writes New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait, ignoring the facts carries risks of its own: “The impeachment trial is an exercise in displaying the Republican Party’s institutional culpability in Trump’s contempt for the rule of law. At some point, they will have to decide to damn the president or to damn themselves.”It’s a foregone conclusion: Republican senators will damn themselves to infinity and beyond. The question isn’t what Republican senators will decide next week, but where the Republican Party will go after Trump’s acquittal. That answer, too, is alarmingly clear: further downward. From 1994 to 2015, give or take, the party was tumbling down a slippery slope. Since 2016, Republicans have been falling at 32 feet per second squared.Acquitting Trump is not the same as shrugging at the president’s venality and vindictiveness, or mumbling and walking away when a reporter asks whether you believe it’s OK to solicit foreign sabotage of a U.S. election. Acquitting Trump is a bold, affirmative act.The acquittal will mark the senators as political made men. It will be their induction into Trump’s gangster ethos, using constitutional powers to enable corruption. For those who have hovered on the periphery of Trump’s political gangland, there is no route back to innocence.Many long ago crossed that Rubicon, proclaiming their fealty to the “the chosen one.” But acquittal will transform even the most reticent Republicans into conspirators against democracy and rule of law.It will not be long before they are called upon to defend the indefensible again. And they will do it, acquiescing to the next figurative or literal crime just as they did to Trump’s videotaped boast of sexual assaults, his horrifying sellouts to Russian President Vladimir Putin, his personal use of charitable contributions intended for veterans, his brutality toward children, or his quotidian blitzes against decency and democracy.Schiff’s repeated use of the word “cheat” to describe Trump’s posture toward U.S. elections was less an accounting of past performance than a guarantee of future results. “No one is really making the argument, ‘Donald Trump would never do such a thing,’ because of course we know that he would, and of course we know that he did,” Schiff told the Senate last week. “He’ll do it now. He’s done it before. He’ll do it for the next several months. He’ll do it in the election if he’s allowed to.”Whether the game is golf or politics or business, Trump cheats. On trial for seeking foreign interference in the 2020 election, after having been the beneficiary of foreign interference in the 2016 election, Trump will find many willing accomplices before November. His presidency is a strategic boon to multiple U.S. adversaries, most prominently Putin. Another modest investment in Trump’s presidency could yield an even larger return — destroying, for a generation or more, American democracy not only as a vehicle of ethical government but also as a protector (aspirationally if not always actually) of human dignity.This is not cynicism. It’s the reality of U.S. politics in 2020. Acquitting Trump will destroy what’s left of the Republican Party’s claims to ethical legitimacy and pave the way for the further erosion of democracy. The only question that remains is how much more corruption the non-MAGA majority of Americans is willing to take.To contact the author of this story: Francis Wilkinson at fwilkinson1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Newman at mnewman43@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Francis Wilkinson writes editorials on politics and U.S. domestic policy for Bloomberg Opinion. He was executive editor of the Week. He was previously a writer for Rolling Stone, a communications consultant and a political media strategist.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


  • After Trump’s Acquittal, It Will Only Get Worse for Republicans

    After Trump’s Acquittal, It Will Only Get Worse for Republicans(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The Senate trial of President Donald Trump is proving less Soviet than expected. Representative Adam Schiff of California, the House impeachment manager, last week presented a coherent, damning and often eloquent narrative of Trump’s guilt, backed by text messages, emails, letters and sworn witness testimony previously delivered to the House.As my colleague Jonathan Bernstein points out, the weight of such facts can alter political gravity. Even Republicans who have made up their minds to acquit — which almost certainly describes the entire GOP caucus — have had to sit through the avalanche of evidence. Surely it weighs on at least a few consciences. Meanwhile, writes New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait, ignoring the facts carries risks of its own: “The impeachment trial is an exercise in displaying the Republican Party’s institutional culpability in Trump’s contempt for the rule of law. At some point, they will have to decide to damn the president or to damn themselves.”It’s a foregone conclusion: Republican senators will damn themselves to infinity and beyond. The question isn’t what Republican senators will decide next week, but where the Republican Party will go after Trump’s acquittal. That answer, too, is alarmingly clear: further downward. From 1994 to 2015, give or take, the party was tumbling down a slippery slope. Since 2016, Republicans have been falling at 32 feet per second squared.Acquitting Trump is not the same as shrugging at the president’s venality and vindictiveness, or mumbling and walking away when a reporter asks whether you believe it’s OK to solicit foreign sabotage of a U.S. election. Acquitting Trump is a bold, affirmative act.The acquittal will mark the senators as political made men. It will be their induction into Trump’s gangster ethos, using constitutional powers to enable corruption. For those who have hovered on the periphery of Trump’s political gangland, there is no route back to innocence.Many long ago crossed that Rubicon, proclaiming their fealty to the “the chosen one.” But acquittal will transform even the most reticent Republicans into conspirators against democracy and rule of law.It will not be long before they are called upon to defend the indefensible again. And they will do it, acquiescing to the next figurative or literal crime just as they did to Trump’s videotaped boast of sexual assaults, his horrifying sellouts to Russian President Vladimir Putin, his personal use of charitable contributions intended for veterans, his brutality toward children, or his quotidian blitzes against decency and democracy.Schiff’s repeated use of the word “cheat” to describe Trump’s posture toward U.S. elections was less an accounting of past performance than a guarantee of future results. “No one is really making the argument, ‘Donald Trump would never do such a thing,’ because of course we know that he would, and of course we know that he did,” Schiff told the Senate last week. “He’ll do it now. He’s done it before. He’ll do it for the next several months. He’ll do it in the election if he’s allowed to.”Whether the game is golf or politics or business, Trump cheats. On trial for seeking foreign interference in the 2020 election, after having been the beneficiary of foreign interference in the 2016 election, Trump will find many willing accomplices before November. His presidency is a strategic boon to multiple U.S. adversaries, most prominently Putin. Another modest investment in Trump’s presidency could yield an even larger return — destroying, for a generation or more, American democracy not only as a vehicle of ethical government but also as a protector (aspirationally if not always actually) of human dignity.This is not cynicism. It’s the reality of U.S. politics in 2020. Acquitting Trump will destroy what’s left of the Republican Party’s claims to ethical legitimacy and pave the way for the further erosion of democracy. The only question that remains is how much more corruption the non-MAGA majority of Americans is willing to take.To contact the author of this story: Francis Wilkinson at fwilkinson1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Newman at mnewman43@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Francis Wilkinson writes editorials on politics and U.S. domestic policy for Bloomberg Opinion. He was executive editor of the Week. He was previously a writer for Rolling Stone, a communications consultant and a political media strategist.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


  • Syrian troops reach outskirts of key rebel-held town

    Syrian troops reach outskirts of key rebel-held townSyrian government forces reached the outskirts of a key rebel-held town on Sunday, part of a weekslong offensive into the country's last rebel stronghold, state media and opposition activists said. Syrian President Bashar Assad's government has retaken control of most of the country from rebel fighters, largely because of blanket air support from Russia, which helped turn the tide in the nearly 9-year civil war. Idlib province is dominated by al-Qaida-linked militants.


  • Israel to allow its citizens to visit Saudi Arabia

    Israel to allow its citizens to visit Saudi ArabiaIsrael's Interior Ministry said Sunday that it will now allow Israelis to travel to Saudi Arabia for religious or business visits. The announcement is the latest sign of quiet but warming relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. It also came days before the White House is to announce its Mideast peace plan — which is expected to seek Saudi support.


  • UN slams Libya arms embargo violations despite Berlin pledges

    UN slams Libya arms embargo violations despite Berlin pledgesThe United Nations mission to Libya has slammed ongoing violations of a UN Security Council arms embargo, despite commitments made a week ago at an international summit in Berlin. In a statement published overnight into Sunday, UNSMIL it said it "deeply regrets the continued blatant violations of the arms embargo in Libya". World leaders last weekend committed to ending all foreign meddling in Libya and to upholding the 2011 weapons embargo as part of a broader plan to end the country's conflict.


  • How Did Bucharest Become ‘Paris of the East?’

    How Did Bucharest Become ‘Paris of the East?’There are more than a half-dozen self-titled “Little Viennas” in Europe, preening for the honor of second place. Fewer cities compete for the diminutive “Little Paris” Grand Prix but there are some. The former were almost entirely within Austria-Hungary for decades or centuries, and accordingly their Habsburg yellow Baroque buildings, mini-Ringstrasses and similar trappings are all easy to explain. Little Parises are different; they tend to be much farther away and were never subject to rule by real Paris. They’re enthusiasts rather than offspring, such as the German city of Leipzig and Plovdiv in Bulgaria but the unquestionable and implausible best of the lot is Bucharest.Among the very numerous attractions of the Romanian capital is a stock of French Renaissance Revival, neoclassical, and Beaux-Arts buildings to put almost any city outside of the French capital to shame, all the more interesting because they aren’t sited in any coherent sequence of a national vernacular but are located more than 1,000 miles from France amidst a cityscape of older Byzantine and Ottoman-styled buildings, later Byzantine Revivalism, and an excellent collection of interwar modern and Art Deco buildings. It doesn’t make sense but the result is brilliant.Take a stroll down the Calea Victoriei, the principal thoroughfare of Bucharest’s Old Town and you’ll find French-styled architecture on nearly every block. Bucharest doubles as Paris not infrequently in media, from Killing Eve to an early 1990s Michael Gambon Maigret series. Trademarks of Beaux-Arts architecture are everywhere, and these generally aren’t even knockoffs by any standard. Several were built by French architects; most were built by Romanian architects, but generally ones educated at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris during its prime decades. How does one explain it?The rise of Romanian nationalism over the earlier decades of the 19th century found unique inspiration in (and concrete help from) France. Romania, which in the pre-national form of the provinces of Wallachia and Moldavia had been an autonomous portion of the Ottoman Empire for centuries, was actively interested in turning away from the traditions of its Ottoman overlords. Russia, which eyed it hungrily, occupying its territories twice and seeking to conquer it in the Crimean War was obviously not an example it sought to emulate. Nearby Austria-Hungary was viewed warily as well, as another possible conqueror of a neighbor already ruling over several million ethnic Romanians in Transylvania.A particularly vital interest of Romanian nationalists was stressing the Latinity of their civilization, the westernmost Romance language group amidst Slavs, Turks, and Greeks. Not unsurprisingly, commemorative links to Ancient Rome became ubiquitous (there seems to be a commemoration of Roman Emperor Trajan in every Romanian city) but Italy was a geographic expression, France was a great state, and the worthy focus of aspirations. France was also quite politically helpful.Ironically, it was Russian occupation that provided broader exposure to the French language. Emanuela Constantini explains in Dismantling the Ottoman Heritage? The Evolution of Bucharest in the Nineteenth Century, “The Russian aristocracy, to which the officers of the Tsarist army belonged, used French as a common language. During the Russian occupation of Wallachia in 1806-1812 and again in 1829-1834, the local nobility came into contact with Russian officers, and French literature, dances and traditions began to circulate.”Romanian enthusiasm for France took on numerous aspects: it imported a huge number of loanwords from French beginning in the 19th century. Estimates vary but roughly 20 percent of the entire Romanian lexicon consists of French loanwords (considerably more than it imported from other Romance languages, from any Slavic neighbors, or from Turkish). The French imprint on the language is unmistakable.  You arrive at the Aeroportul, or the Gara de Nord, drive in on a Bulevardul (which were often inspired by Haussman’s Paris from the start). Informal thanks is easy as “mersi.” The military police are Jandarmeria.The airport is named after Henri Coandă, an aviator who spent extensive time in France. Paris seemed an obligatory stop for generations of Romanian artists in countless fields. George Enescu, Constantin Brâncusi, Victor Brauner, Tristan Tzara, Emil Ciroan, Eugen Ionescu, Theodore Pallady, and Nicolae Grigorescu. And of course a huge number of Romanian architects studied at the Ècole des Beaux-Arts: when Romanian architecture schools were founded they were heavily influenced by the Beaux-Arts model.Go for a flânerie through the old town for a more than mildly surreal sense of dislocation from whatever geographic architectural moorings you’ve acquired.There’s something Gare de Lyon-like about the French Renaissance Palace of Justice just south of the Old Town, which was the work of Albert Ballu (and eminent Romanian architect Ion Mincu, Beaux-Arts educated, naturellement), who designed the Palais de Justice in Charleroi in Belgium, along with the train station and cathedral in Oran.Venture north on the Calea Victoriei and you’ll find Alexandru Săvulescu’s Beaux-Arts Romanian National History Museum, formerly the Central Post Office, reportedly inspired by the main Geneva post office, and bearing more than a mild resemblance to the Natural History Museum at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, although it boasts grander features than either, wonderful cupolas, and an excellent collection.Across the street is one of Bucharest’s most ravishing buildings, the CEC Savings and Deposit Bank Palace (designed by Paul Gottereau of Perpignan and the École Des Beaux-Arts). It bears a resemblance to the Petit Palais in Paris but is far more ornate and frankly interesting, boasting one of the most brash and beautiful archways in the Beaux-Arts corpus and an array of solid and glass Renaissance domes bringing internal order. It’s now a banking museum but there’s nothing dry about its majestic interior, featuring a range of murals and resplendent light.A little north, and somewhat concealed, is the wonderful Macca-Vilacrosse Arcade, designed by another Frenchman, Felix Xenopol. This obvious nod to Parisian passages couverts actually consists of three short arcaded glass-roofed streets that meet under a grand dome of green and yellow glass—its odd shape, and current charm, the result of a hotel that refused to relocate.Slightly north is the Military Circle, featuring the neoclassical Military Circle Palace (currently swathed for construction) and not one but two French neoclassical-styled hotels, Arghir Culina’s Hotel Capitol (formerly the Magasin de Luvru, you can guess the palace they had in mind) and Alexandru Orascu’s Grand Hotel du Boulevard (not Bulevardul, to be clear) whose marbled interiors are also very elegant.Soon you’ll arrive at a series of grand Piaţas (an Italian loanword here), fronted by Paul Gottereau’s Carol I University Central University Library building, which resembles the Pantheon Sorbonne in configuration, across the street from the National Museum of Art of Romania, located in the former Royal Palace. Inside there are works by Pissaro, Signac, Courbet, Boudin, Monet, and Camille Claudel, but more importantly a superb collection of Romanian artists you likely haven’t seen, including Nicolae Gregorescu, another Beaux-Arts grad, Romania’s greatest Courbet disciple, plein air painter, and Impressionist, but an excellent range of artists from the 1850s to 1980s, including Theodore Aman, Gheorgae Petrascu, Max Hermann Maxy, Nicolae Tonitza, Marcel Iancu, Victor Brauner, Corneliu Baba, and of course Brancusi. The remainder of the European collection is also great, including Tintoretto, Bronzino, multiple El Grecos and Rembrandts, and Brueghel the Younger’s Seasons series.The neoclassical Romanian Athenaeum concert hall a little farther up was designed by Albert Galleron on the recommendation of Charles Garnier, architect of the Opera Garnier in Paris.The “Lipscani” (Romanian for Leipzig, that littler Little Paris, need I remind you) district east of Calea Victoriei features Bucharest’s mercifully small concentration of tourist-oriented dreck amidst many more lovely blocks and buildings such as the National Bank of Romania by Bernard and Galleron, and Alexandru Orăscu’s neoclassical main Bucharest University Building. Admire more of the lovely Beaux-Arts in the obstreperously arched and Renaissance-domed Strada Doamnei 11 and go inside for the similarly appealing antiques market.The Ministry of Agriculture a bit to the east seems a chateau amidst the city, a more conscious older revivalism than much of the city’s other Francophilia, this designed by Geneva-born Louis Blanc. Ramble on Strada Biserica Amzei and Strada Henri Coandă both of which contain all sorts of fine things. The Vasile Pârvan Institute of Archeology by Jean Berthet on the latter is particularly nice. * * *You will find quite a lot that isn’t Parisian along this stretch: if what you want is Paris, just go there. It’s the contrast between these French-styled buildings and their very different physical and cultural surroundings that makes for the magic of Bucharest. The Kretzulescu, Zlatari, and Biserica Doamnei churches along the Calea, generally small but splendid Byzantine-styled churches are but a handful of the dozens of historic churches in this overwhelmingly Romanian Orthodox country. Their exteriors are often relatively simple but interiors are full fresco iconography over every internal inch.The Lipscani District holds a number of relics of older Bucharest: The Stavrapoleus Monastery, architectural remnants of the former princely court, and excellent Romanian Revival architecture of the period just after Francophilia such as the Marmorsch Bank and the Chrissevoloni Bank.All this visual splendor won’t sustain life, and another layer of the immense charm of Bucharest is its curious cuisine, perched between Central European elements like Ciorbă sour soups, Sarmale stuffed cabbage rolls, sausages and cutlets and middle dips such as Zacuscă (an eggplant and pepper dip), chopped salads, and a sybaritic range of cheeses and pastries. There are a few Italianate items such as Mămăligă, a frequently superb polenta, and white bean dishes. Beyond this there are very affordable wines and tuica plum brandy. This is all exceptionally affordable by European standards as well, with the lei-dollar rate enabling temporarily princely indulgences.Be sure to walk east to experience the vital contrast of the Bulevardul Magheru, one of the world’s great showplace Art Deco avenues, deserving a place with diverse company such as Ocean Drive in Miami, Marine Drive in Bombay, the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, and all sorts of locations in Tel Aviv. You’ll see Culina’s Hotel Ambassador, Horia Creanga’s ARO building, the Mining Credit Block at Bulevardul Nicolae Bălcescu 2 and much more.  You will have noticed the splendid Adriatica Building back on Calea Victoriei, and nearby the one American design contribution to the city, the Telephones Company by Walter Froy, Louis Weeks.* * *Follow Magheru this just a bit north to the Bulevardul Lascăr Catargiu and you’re back in maybe-Paris again, with this street lined with many well-preserved villas. The nearby Scientists Club by I.D. Berindey (Beaux-Arts alum of course!) is excellent at 9 Lahovari.A bit north of the city is the sumptuous French Baroque-Art Nouveau Enescu National Museum housed in the Cantecuzino Palace designed by I.D. Berindey. The museum’s collection isn’t especially great unless you happen to be an Enescu fanatic but the interiors are worth the exceptionally modest price of admission.  And nearby there’s another excellent large gallery , the Art Collections Museum, featuring mainly Romanian work, especially those of the Francis Bacon of Romania, Corneliu Baba.I haven’t mentioned the affliction that is Ceaucescu’s New City, a chunk of Pyongyang which obliterated a sixth of the old city.  It’s theoretically pedestrian-friendly but in much the same way that the mall parking lot is: the scale is oppressive, every block and building too long and every bulevardul too wide, a combination that’s exceptionally monotonous, worth a walk mainly to breathe a sigh of relief in returning to the old city. The Parliamentary Palace features some grandiose chambers and quality art but it is a work of rank gigantism, wearying to walk around and more intimidating than impressive from exterior angles.Ceaucescu’s own villa north of the city in Dorobanți is worth a metro trip. It’s not really the festival of kitsch that photos of its golden bathroom would have you think, and mainly reflects the sort of fairly conservative petit bourgeois taste oddly typical of Eastern Bloc dictators. As usual it’s a traditional charming villa neighborhood for the leader, New Pyongyang or worse for the rest. Garnished by gifts from Mao, the Shah of Iran, and all sorts of others it’s interesting and all peripherally ghastly in the context of his deeds, but the pool is fantastic.There are risks even with Ceaucescu gone. You don’t have to venture very far at all from the center of the city to encounter buildings in disrepair: the city has an air of dilapidation that’s charming in milder forms but somewhat alarming in its more intense forms: Bucharest was included on the 2016 listing of the World Monuments Fund Watch. That entry pointed out that  “A built environment of great historical, social, and symbolic significance is threatened by abandonment and demolition of historic buildings, uncontrolled development, and inappropriate rehabilitation.” Go, and perhaps it will encourage a different trend.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.


  • Fighting rages as Libya force pushes toward key western city

    Fighting rages as Libya force pushes toward key western cityOfficials from Libya's two rival governments said fighting erupted Sunday as the country's east-based forces advanced toward the strategic western city of Misrata, further eroding a crumbling cease-fire agreement brokered earlier this month. The clashes came just hours after the United Nations decried “continued blatant violations” of an arms embargo on Libya by several unspecified countries. The violations fly in the face of recent pledges to respect the embargo made by world powers at an international conference in Berlin last week.


  • Survivor in Slovenia turns 100 on Holocaust Remembrance Day

    Survivor in Slovenia turns 100 on Holocaust Remembrance DayFor Marija Frlan it's as symbolic as it can get: A survivor of a Nazi concentration camp during World War II, the Slovenian woman turns 100 years old on Monday, the international Holocaust Remembrance Day. Frlan, who was held at the Nazi's Ravensbruck camp in northern Germany for over a year in 1944-45, will join other survivors and officials in Poland on Monday for ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp. “The ones who didn’t survive this, they can’t understand, no," the energetic woman said at her home in the small village of Rakek in southwestern Slovenia.


  • German military resumes training troops in northern Iraq

    German military resumes training troops in northern IraqThe German military resumed training Iraqi troops in the country's Kurdish north on Sunday, about three weeks after it was suspended following the U.S. killing of a top Iranian general in Baghdad. The military said the commander of the international operation fighting the Islamic State group lifted the suspension. Germany resumed training in Irbil on Sunday morning together with its partners.


  • Death Toll Rises in Turkey Quake as Erdogan Slams Social Media

    Death Toll Rises in Turkey Quake as Erdogan Slams Social Media(Bloomberg) -- A magnitude 6.8 earthquake in Turkey’s eastern Elazig province on Friday evening killed at least 31 people and injured hundreds. By Sunday, 45 people had been rescued from the rubble of collapsed buildings.A total of 76 buildings were destroyed and 645 heavily damaged, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, said in a statement. As many as 20 of the 640 aftershocks since the first temblor had a magnitude greater than 4 on the Richter scale, according to the agency.Speaking on Sunday in Istanbul, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan targeted “provocative” social media posts about the earthquake. “Some messages are terrible, depraved,” he said, according to the Anadolu Agency. “For example, some question what the government has done about earthquakes in the past two decades.”The earthquake occurred at 8:55 p.m. local time on Friday at a depth of 6.75 kilometers (4.2 miles) on the East Anatolia Fault Line. Tremors were felt in many cities across the region.Prosecutors have launched an investigation into social media posts found to be “provocative,” Anadolu reported. Two people in Gaziantep province have been detained.Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, Environment & Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum and Health Minister Fahrettin Koca were in Elazig as of early Sunday to coordinate rescue efforts.Turkey is situated in a seismically active area and is among countries, including China and Iran, that can experience catastrophic earthquakes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. In 1999, a 7.5-magnitude quake shook the western Marmara region killing thousands of people and damaging more than 300,000 buildings. The nation’s economy contracted 3.4% that year.To contact the reporters on this story: Cagan Koc in Istanbul at ckoc2@bloomberg.net;Taylan Bilgic in Istanbul at tbilgic2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Onur Ant at oant@bloomberg.net, Lars Paulsson, Michael GunnFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


  • Netanyahu hopes to 'make history' with White House visit

    Netanyahu hopes to 'make history' with White House visitIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he hopes to “make history” during his upcoming trip to the White House for the expected unveiling of President Donald Trump's Mideast peace plan. Trump's plan is expected to be extremely favorable to Israel.


  • Kim's aunt reemerges after years of speculation about fate

    Kim's aunt reemerges after years of speculation about fateNorth Korean leader Kim Jong Un's aunt made her first public appearance in about six years, state media reported Sunday, quelling years of rumors that she was purged or executed by her nephew after helping him inherit power from his father. According to a Korean Central News Agency dispatch, the name of Kim Kyong Hui was included in a list of top North Korean officials who watched a performance marking Lunar New Year's Day with Kim Jong Un at a Pyongyang theater on Saturday. North Korea’s main newspaper also released a photo showing Kim Kyong Hui sitting near Kim Jong Un and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, at the Samjiyon Theater.


  • Turkish teams hunt for quake survivors as death toll hits 36

    Turkish teams hunt for quake survivors as death toll hits 36Working against the clock in freezing temperatures, Turkish rescue teams pulled more survivors from collapsed buildings Sunday, days after a powerful magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit the country's east. Turkish television showed Ayse Yildiz, 35, and her 2-year-old daughter Yusra being dragged out of the rubble of a collapsed apartment building in the city of Elazig. The magnitude 6.8 quake also injured over 1,600 people but 45 survivors have been pulled alive from the rubble so far, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a news conference Sunday in Istanbul.


  • Democratic race in Iowa heats up as caucus approaches

    Democratic race in Iowa heats up as caucus approachesDemocratic presidential candidates have roared back into Iowa touting fresh endorsements, critiquing their rivals and predicting victories in the caucuses that will soon launch the process of deciding who will challenge President Donald Trump. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Saturday she was “delighted" to pick up a coveted endorsement from The Des Moines Register. The state's largest newspaper called the Massachusetts Democrat “the best leader for these times" and said she “is not the radical some perceive her to be." But Warren's progressive rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, predicted victory in Iowa and campaigned alongside Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., one of the most prominent leaders on the left.


  • Philippine volcano alert lowered, thousands return home

    Philippine volcano alert lowered, thousands return homePhilippine authorities on Sunday lowered the alert level at Taal Volcano, two weeks after it began spewing ash, steam and rocks, a move that will allow many of the more than 376,000 displaced villagers to return home. “Taal volcano’s condition in the two weeks ... has generally declined into less frequent volcanic earthquake activity, decelerated ground deformation ... and weak steam and gas emissions at the main crater,” the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said. The government’s agency lowered the alert level from 4 to 3, which means there’s a “decreased tendency toward a hazardous eruption.” The highest level-5 alert indicates a major and much more dangerous eruption.


  • Pompeo loses his temper with journalist over Ukraine questions

    Pompeo loses his temper with journalist over Ukraine questionsShouts, glares and unprintable words: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lost his temper at a journalist after she questioned him on the administration's stance on Ukraine, the country at the heart of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. It began when Pompeo gave an early morning interview to NPR radio. Much of the discussion dealt with Iran, but journalist Mary Louise Kelly closed by asking Pompeo about Ukraine.


  • Virus death toll in China rises as US prepares evacuation

    Virus death toll in China rises as US prepares evacuationA new viral illness being watched with a wary eye around the globe accelerated its spread in China on Sunday with 56 deaths so far, while the U.S. Consulate in the city at the epicenter announced it will evacuate its personnel and some private citizens aboard a charter flight. President Xi Jinping on Saturday called the outbreak a grave situation and said the government was stepping up efforts to restrict travel and public gatherings while rushing medical staff and supplies to the city at the center of the crisis, Wuhan, which remains on lockdown with no flights, trains or buses in or out. The epidemic has revived memories of the SARS outbreak that originated in China and killed nearly 800 as it spread around the world in 2002 and 2003.


  • General: US committed to Syria fight; Missions up against IS

    General: US committed to Syria fight; Missions up against ISU.S. troops at military outposts ín eastern Syria asked variations of the same question to their top commander Saturday: What is our future here? Gen. Frank McKenzie, the U.S Middle East commander, knows the future is not certain. In an unannounced tour of five military bases in Syria stretching from the northeastern part of the country to the Middle Euphrates River Valley, McKenzie offered reassurances that the U.S. remains committed to its mission in Syria.


  • Israeli aircraft strike Gaza sites after balloon launches

    Israeli aircraft strike Gaza sites after balloon launchesIsraeli aircraft struck several sites for Gaza militants late Saturday in response to incendiary balloons launched from the Palestinian enclave. The Israeli military said the sites belonged to Hamas, the Islamic group ruling the territory, and included weapons manufacturing and intelligence-gathering facilities. There were no reports of injuries from the airstrikes in southern Gaza Strip.


  • China says virus situation 'grave' as Lunar New Year curtailed

    China says virus situation 'grave' as Lunar New Year curtailedPresident Xi Jinping warned Saturday that China faced a "grave situation" as authorities raced to contain a virus that has killed 41 people and caused a drastic scale-back of Lunar New Year celebrations. The world's most populous country, which is scrambling to contain the disease that has infected nearly 1,300 people and overwhelmed health facilities, is building a second field hospital and closing more travel routes. After more countries reported cases, Xi said at a Communist Party leadership meeting on the disease that China was "faced with the grave situation of an accelerating spread of the new coronavirus" but that the country will "definitely be able to win the battle," according to state media.


  • Border Patrol allows replanting after bulldozing garden

    Border Patrol allows replanting after bulldozing gardenThe Border Patrol, reacting to a breach it discovered in a steel-pole border wall believed to be used by smugglers, gave activists no warning this month when it bulldozed the U.S. side of a cross-border garden on an iconic bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. On Saturday, after a public apology for “the unintentional destruction,” the agency allowed the activists in a highly restricted area to plant sticky monkey-flowers, seaside daisies and other native species in Friendship Park, which was inaugurated by first lady Pat Nixon in 1971 as a symbol of bilateral bonds. The half-acre plaza separating San Diego and Tijuana has hosted cross-border yoga classes, festivals and religious services.


  • In recording Trump asks how long Ukraine can resist Russians

    In recording Trump asks how long Ukraine can resist RussiansPresident Donald Trump inquired how long Ukraine would be able to resist Russian aggression without U.S. assistance during a 2018 meeting with donors that included the indicted associates of his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. “How long would they last in a fight with Russia?” Trump is heard asking in the audio portion of a video recording, moments before he calls for the firing of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. A video recording of the entire 80-minute dinner at the Trump Hotel in Washington was obtained Saturday by The Associated Press.


  • Trial highlights: Transcript talk, handshakes for defense

    Trial highlights: Transcript talk, handshakes for defenseIt was the first day of defense arguments in Trump’s impeachment trial as the Senate gathered for two quick hours in a rare Saturday session. The White House lawyers had said it would be a “sneak preview” of their defense, continuing Monday, and they spent the morning rebutting the House impeachment managers’ arguments by charging that they were politically motivated. To begin, they read parts of a rough transcript of a July call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that is at the heart of the House impeachment case.


  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accuses NPR reporter of lying but doesn't deny berating her

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accuses NPR reporter of lying but doesn't deny berating herSecretary of State Mike Pompeo attacked a National Public Radio reporter in a blistering statement Saturday after the network said the top U.S. diplomat admonished her using expletives, called her a liar and demanded she find Ukraine on a map. The incident has drawn sharp criticism of Pompeo, but he accused NPR's Mary Louise Kelly of lying, even while not disputing her account of his tirade. Kelly interviewed Pompeo Friday morning at the State Department in Washington, pressing him on the Trump administration's Iran policy before turning to Ukraine and former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.


  • Grim Scenes at Chinese Hospitals as Doctors Rush to Treat Deadly Coronavirus

    Grim Scenes at Chinese Hospitals as Doctors Rush to Treat Deadly CoronavirusAs a coronavirus outbreak unfolds in China, Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping convened a meeting with top officials on Saturday to issue orders that he hopes will contain and reverse the epidemic. He called the virus’ spread a “grave situation” and called for a “blocking war” to limit the contagion’s transmission.Wuhan, where people who worked at a meat and poultry market were the first to become hosts of the coronavirus, has been hit the hardest.As of a little past midnight on Sunday, 42 people in China have died after being infected with the coronavirus; 38 of them were in Wuhan, the outbreak’s epicenter. More than 1,400 infections have been identified within China’s borders—though doctors in Wuhan have told Chinese press that the actual numbers could be an order of magnitude higher.Wuhan has a population of 11 million. Like most metropolises, it bleeds into the smaller cities around it. Shutting down the city required a massive mobilization of police and soldiers, who are guarding expressway toll booths, train stations, and other key locations like certain hospitals in the city, some armed with rifles and wearing hazmat suits. To free up manpower, a portion of roads in Hubei, the province with Wuhan as its capital, have been blocked using walls of dirt and large boulders.Service staff working on high-speed trains that normally stop at Wuhan said the line will be skipping the city’s station for at least a month. This suggests that the quarantine in Hubei province will last for at least that amount of time.Bus, subway, and ferry services in Wuhan have already been halted. Ride-hailing companies have suspended their services. From Sunday onward, private cars will be barred from roads in the city center. The only way to move around the city is via taxi or special buses arranged by the city government.And for many people, the only destination is their nearest hospital—or any hospital that hasn’t been overwhelmed.Medical staff are stretched thin. Most waiting rooms are packed with people who need to be tested for the coronavirus, as well as patients who are already suffering from acute symptoms. Doctors and nurses have been working consecutive shifts for days, with some opting to wear adult diapers so that they can focus on providing medical care.One doctor that treated patients for the coronavirus has died after becoming infected himself.Another doctor in Wuhan wrote an open letter to Chinese officials on the message board of state-run publication People’s Daily, calling for an investigation of the Wuhan Health Commission. The doctor said that the commission attempted to cover up the coronavirus outbreak by banning mentions of lung infections in CT scan reports. (The post has been censored.)In the past couple days, some facilities ran out of protective gear—like goggles, medical face masks, rubber gloves, disposable biohazard coveralls, and shoe coverings—so medical personnel have fashioned their own out of soft plastics. But supplies are arriving Wuhan from across the country, and the roads have been cleared to move them to hospitals around the city.Schools and shops are closed. Many hotels have been ordered to turn away visitors, but some still take them in because non-locals, like migrant workers who are stranded in the city, have nowhere else to go.China’s Coronavirus Keeps Spreading but the WHO Still Won’t Declare a Global EmergencyPeople in Wuhan are desperate, confused, angry. They are unable to leave, and many can’t access the medical care that they need. Conditions have been improving over Saturday as supplies and doctors have been flowing in from other parts of the country, but locals still fear that it’s late for some of those who have been infected. Even if adults remain at home, they worry that they may carry the virus and infect family members who are more vulnerable, like young children, the elderly, or people with other medical conditions.A new hospital that will specifically house and treat patients infected with the coronavirus is under rapid construction. It will have a maximum capacity of 1,000, and is modeled after a facility constructed in Beijing in 2003 during the SARS epidemic that killed nearly 800 people.Though the people of Wuhan have just one issue on their minds now, the Saturday front page of Wuhan’s main newspaper had a banner headline referring to Xi Jinping’s Lunar New Year address to the nation: “Continue to create the Chinese nation’s mighty history in humanity’s great historic time.” Reports about the epidemic came later.The Chinese government has promised to cover the medical expenses of patients who are diagnosed as carriers of the coronavirus. But with diagnostic kits in short supply, and with hospitals turning away people who are seeking help, the financial aspect no longer matters to many in Wuhan. It is the uncertainty of whether their symptoms will worsen that eats at them.There is little doubt that the coronavirus’ current footprint is the result of human mismanagement—after the initial outbreak, a potluck gathering organized by the local government involving 40,000 families was not canceled, and tickets for other events organized by city officials were distributed to people. Wuhan’s mayor has already been questioned on a program on state-run broadcaster CCTV, drawing intense ire from the public.The United States plans to evacuate 230 people, including American diplomats and citizens, from Wuhan, according to the Wall Street Journal. The plane will take off and head stateside on Sunday with approval from the Chinese foreign ministry and relevant agencies. State Department officials believe that there are about 1,000 Americans in Wuhan.Fifteen other cities have been placed under quarantine or other restrictions. In all, 46 million people have been cut off from the rest of the country.Many other major cities in China have canceled their public events. Venues like the Forbidden Palace and many public museums remain closed, and people are generally discouraged from gathering in large groups. The Beijing city government said it will not allow buses from outside the municipality to enter the capital. Over in Hong Kong, chief executive Carrie Lam declared a “virus emergency,” and has halted all official visits to mainland China.On Monday, the Chinese government will suspend all sales of flight tickets and hotel bookings to overseas destinations, but the virus has already reached other parts of Asia, as well as North America, Western Europe, and Australia. So far, the World Health Organization has not declared a global health emergency.Legal professionals in China have suggested that the Chinese government should extend the Lunar New Year holiday by a week or two, delaying the trips of hundreds of millions of people within the country as they head back to work, or at least lowering the number of passengers on trains, planes, buses, and boats.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.


  • Small And Deadly: Iran's Speedboats Should Not Be Underestimated

    Small And Deadly: Iran's Speedboats Should Not Be UnderestimatedIran could put a halt to international shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.


  • Trump Says He’s Being Treated ‘Unfairly’: Impeachment Update

    Trump Says He’s Being Treated ‘Unfairly’: Impeachment Update(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s lawyers began presenting their defense in his Senate impeachment trial Saturday, the beginning of as many as 24 hours of argument before senators will decide whether to call for new witnesses and documents.Here are the latest developments:Trump Says He’s Being Treated ‘Unfairly’ (1:45 p.m.)Trump tweeted after Saturday’s two-hour argument by his lawyers to the Senate that he’s being treated unfairly by the “totally partisan Impeachment Hoax.“He wrote: “Any fair minded person watching the Senate trial today would be able to see how unfairly I have been treated and that this is indeed the totally partisan Impeachment Hoax that EVERYBODY, including the Democrats, truly knows it is. This should never be allowed to happen again!”Schumer Says Defense Shows Need for Witnesses (1:02 p.m.)Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Trump’s defense lawyers “made a compelling case for more witnesses and documents.”“They kept saying there were no eyewitness accounts,“ Schumer told reporters after Saturday’s hearing. “But there are people who do know.” He said those include acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who are among the witnesses Democrats want to call.Lead House manager Adam Schiff said the president’s defense team didn’t contest the facts about Trump’s pressure on Ukraine.Schiff disputed the defense lawyers’ argument that Trump was concerned about getting European nations to take on more of the burden of helping Ukraine.If that was the case, Trump should have said “call Angela,” meaning German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Schiff said. “Instead it was call Rudy Giuliani,” Trump’s personal lawyer, he said. -- Laura Litvan, Billy HouseTrump Team Concludes Opening Arguments (12:03 p.m.)Trump’s defense team concluded its opening arguments in the Senate impeachment trial, giving an outline of the fuller case they’ll be presenting next week when the proceedings resume.White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said House Democrats failed to prove their case that the president deserves to be removed from office and sought to provide a point-by-point rebuttal over about two hours. He said Democrats were attempting to overturn the last election and tear up the ballots for the next one.The case will resume when the Senate convenes at 1 p.m. on Monday. -- Laura Litvan, Steven T. DennisUkraine Didn’t Know of Aid Delay, Trump Team Says (11:30 a.m.)Trump’s lawyers leaned on questions of timing in his defense against the central Democratic assertion that he held up military aid to Ukraine to pressure its president to investigate Joe Biden and the Democrats.Deputy White House Counsel Michael Purpura argued that the Ukrainians didn’t know the aid was being withheld until well after the July 25 call between Trump and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. He said the Ukrainians never raised any concerns about the aid with U.S. officials until late August or early September, after the delay was publicly reported.However, the Ukrainian embassy in Washington learned in late July that the U.S. had frozen military aid, Bloomberg News has reported. House Democrats also have cited a New York Times story that a Ukrainian deputy foreign minister read a diplomatic cable in July saying that the Trump administration had frozen the aid.Trump’s attorneys also underscored repeated assertions by Trump that there was no “quid pro quo” demanded of Ukraine. However, Trump began saying that only after officials started going public with concerns about the aid holdup and as the whistle-blower who set off the probe into the Ukraine issue was emerging. -- Chris StrohmRepublicans React to ‘On a Pike’ Comment (11:14 a.m.)Key Republican moderate Lisa Murkowski said Saturday she didn’t like House manager Adam Schiff’s reference to a CBS story saying a group of Senate Republicans were warned their heads would be “on a pike” if they didn’t back Trump, though it won’t affect her votes in the trial.“No,” she said when asked if her displeasure over the comment would affect her views on whether to seek new witnesses or documents.GOP Senator Lindsey Graham, meanwhile, cut Schiff some slack.“I’ve been there, it’s easy to get a little bit heated. But generally speaking, I thought they did a very good job of presenting their case,” Graham said. “I thought they were professional, very, very, very thorough to the point of being too thorough.”But Senator Roy Blunt, a member of the GOP leadership, said Schiff’s remark was “foolish.”Blunt said he didn’t know if it would be a turning point in the trial, but he added, “we’d all figured out we were just sitting there so they could talk to whoever was watching television at the time.” -- Steven T. DennisTrump Demanded No Quid Pro Quo, Lawyer Says (10:52 a.m.)White House Counsel Pat Cipollone presented a point-by-point defense of Trump and his July 25 call with Ukraine‘s president.Trump didn’t set any conditions for financial aid or a meeting between the two, and financial aid wasn’t even mentioned on the call, said Cipollone.Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and other Ukrainian officials repeatedly said Trump demanded no quid pro quo and put no pressure on them to investigate anything, he said. Ukrainian officials didn’t even know the U.S. aid had been put on hold until late August, more than a month after the call, the White House counsel said.Cipollone said “not a single witness” testified that Trump said there was any connection between investigations by Ukraine and U.S. security aid to that country. The U.S. aid was released on Sept. 11 and Trump met with Zelenskiy on Sept. 25 without any announcement of investigations by Ukraine, he said.“Finally, the Democrats’ blind drive to impeach the president does not and cannot change the fact that is attested to by the Democrats’ own witnesses that President Trump has been a better friend, and a stronger supporter of, Ukraine than his predecessor,” Barack Obama, Cipollone said. -- Steven T. Dennis, Billy HouseTrump Did ‘Nothing Wrong,’ His Lawyer Says (10:14 a.m.)White House Counsel Pat Cipollone began Trump’s defense by criticizing the House managers’ case for removing the president from office.“We don’t believe that they have come anywhere close to meeting their burden for what they are asking you to do,” Cipollone told the Senate. “You will find that the president did absolutely nothing wrong.”Democrats are not only asking the Senate to remove Trump from office, he said, “they’re asking you to remove President Trump from the ballot” in November’s election.“They’re asking you to do it with no evidence,“ he added. -- Laura Litvan, Steven T. DennisTrump Team Begins Defense at Senate Trial (10:06 a.m.)Trump’s team opened his defense Saturday with what lawyer Jay Sekulow previously said will be about three hours of “coming attractions” for the full presentation planned for next week.The president’s lawyers plan to save most of their case for Monday, a person on the president’s legal team said, including arguments by celebrity lawyer and Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz. Former independent counsel Kenneth Starr also plans to argue on behalf of the president. -- Laura Litvan, Steven T. DennisTrump Blasts Democrats as Defense to Begin (9:40 a.m.)Trump criticized House and Senate Democrats “& the entire Radical Left” on Twitter as his lawyers prepared to open the case for his defense.“Our case against lyin’, cheatin’, liddle’ Adam “Shifty” Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer, Nervous Nancy Pelosi, their leader, dumb as a rock AOC, & the entire Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrat Party, starts today at 10:00 A.M. on @FoxNews, @OANN or Fake News @CNN or Fake News MSDNC!” he wrote. -- Billy HouseHouse Delivers Evidence Record to Senate (9:40 a.m.)House managers transported a 28,578-page trial record to the Senate Saturday that collects together all the evidence that served as the foundation of their impeachment case against Trump.The seven House Democrats who presented the impeachment arguments made a ceremonial procession to the Senate chamber to deliver the file on carts to the secretary of the Senate as the permanent record of the investigation and their case.It also gave Democrats another chance to draw attention to their case before Trump’s defense lawyers take center stage in the trial to present their arguments. -- Billy HouseSchiff Seeks to Pre-Empt Trump Defense (6 a.m.)Schiff closed the House Democrats’ case Friday night by predicting that Trump’s defenders would talk about an unfair process, Joe Biden, the whistle-blower and corruption in Ukraine -- instead of responding to the impeachment charges against the president.“If they couldn’t get Ukraine to smear the Bidens, they want to use this trial to do it instead,” Schiff said. “So let’s call Hunter Biden. Let’s smear the Bidens.”Trump’s lawyers will get their first crack when the Senate convenes at 10 a.m. Saturday. Attorney Jay Sekulow said that “with three hours it’s probably going to be a bit of an overview” of the fuller case the defense will present when the trial resumes on Monday.Just as the House managers did, the defense will have up to 24 hours over three days to make its case. “If we decide we need the full time we will take it,” Sekulow said.Schiff predicted that Trump’s lawyers would say House Democrats “hate the president.” That argument is “another of the myriad forms of ‘please do not consider what the president did,’” the California Democrat said.“I only hate what he’s done to this country. I grieve for what he’s done to this country,” Schiff said. -- Laura Litvan, Steven T. DennisCatch Up on Impeachment CoverageKey EventsHere is House Democrats’ web page containing documents related to the impeachment trial. House Democrats’ impeachment brief is here. Trump’s initial reply is here, and his lawyers’ trial brief is here.The House impeachment resolution is H.Res. 755. The Intelligence Committee Democrats’ impeachment report is here.Gordon Sondland’s transcript is here and here; Kurt Volker’s transcript is here and here. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s transcript is here and here; the transcript of Michael McKinley, former senior adviser to the secretary of State, is here. The transcript of David Holmes, a Foreign Service officer at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, is here.The transcript of William Taylor, the top U.S. envoy to Ukraine, is here and here. State Department official George Kent’s testimony is here and here. Testimony by Alexander Vindman can be found here, and the Fiona Hill transcript is here. Laura Cooper’s transcript is here; Christopher Anderson’s is here and Catherine Croft’s is here. Jennifer Williams’ transcript is here and Timothy Morrison’s is here. The Philip Reeker transcript is here. Mark Sandy’s is here.\--With assistance from Daniel Flatley, Billy House and Chris Strohm.To contact the reporters on this story: Laura Litvan in Washington at llitvan@bloomberg.net;Steven T. Dennis in Washington at sdennis17@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Larry Liebert, Laurie AsséoFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


  • Israel's Gantz to meet Trump before peace plan unveiling

    Israel's Gantz to meet Trump before peace plan unveilingIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's chief political rival confirmed Saturday he has accepted President Donald Trump's invitation to Washington, and will meet the president before the unveiling of the administration's long-awaited peace plan. Benny Gantz was initially inclined to accept the joint invitation that Vice President Mike Pence extended to both him and Netanyahu two days ago in Jerusalem. Given the upcoming Israeli election on March 2, and the desire to present a united front to what is expected to be a favorable plan for Israel, Netanyahu said he suggested including Gantz at the summit.


  • Veterans criticize Trump's downplaying of US troops' brain injuries

    Veterans criticize Trump's downplaying of US troops' brain injuriesSeveral US veterans’ organizations call for president to apologize for remarks about injuries suffered by service members in IraqVeterans of Foreign Wars, a prominent organization advocating for US military veterans, has called for Donald Trump to apologize for remarks downplaying brain injuries recently suffered by nearly three dozen American service members in Iraq.The group was joined by several other US veterans’ organizations, criticizing Trump’s remarks and saying they showed a lack of understanding of injuries and what US troops face in overseas conflicts.The VFW’s statement stems from Trump’s remarks on injuries resulting from a 8 January Iranian missile strike on a US base in Iraq. Thirty-four US soldiers suffered from concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI) after the strike, which was a reprisal for the US drone strike assassination of the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani. Donald Trump had previously said that the US “suffered no casualties” from the attack.“Veterans of Foreign Wars cannot stand idle on this matter,” William “Doc” Schmitz, VFW’s National Commander, said in a statement. “TBI is a serious injury and one that cannot be taken lightly. TBI is known to cause depression, memory loss, severe headaches, dizziness and fatigue – all injuries that come with both short- and long-term effects.”“The VFW expects an apology from the president to our service men and women for his misguided remarks. And, we ask that he and the White House join with us in our efforts to educate Americans of the dangers TBI has on these heroes as they protect our great nation in these trying times. Our warriors require our full support more than ever in this challenging environment,” Schmitz said.The statement also also come amid ongoing tension between Trump and military leadership. Multiple reports claim that former commanders – and active duty senior officers – complain that Trump has undermined chain-of-command.Richard Spencer, who was fired as secretary of the navy fired after butting heads with Trump over war crimes cases, for example, said in a Washington Post op-ed “that the president has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a uniform set of rules and practices”.Trump also became embroiled in controversy over an October 2017 condolence call to the widow of Sgt La David Johnson; she claimed the president said her husband “‘knew what he signed up for’” and didn’t remember his name.It is now Trump’s statements after the Iranian attack which have caused upset.“So far, so good”, Trump said after the strike. “I’m pleased to inform you the American people should be extremely grateful and happy,” Trump said. “No Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime.After the Pentagon announced on 16 January that troops were being treated for concussion symptoms, Trump claimed the discrepancy was because he heard about the injuries “numerous days later”. Trump also downplayed the severity, saying, “I heard that they had headaches. And a couple of other things. But I would say, and I can report, it is not very serious.”“I don’t consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries I have seen. I’ve seen people with no legs and no arms,” he said.Eight of the injured service members were considered in serious enough condition to be moved to the US.“The President’s comments show a lack of understanding of concussions, TBI, and what our service members face in conflicts overseas,” said Jeremy Butler, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America CEO, in an email to The Guardian. “This is why IAVA works so tirelessly to educate the American public, including the president, about the issues facing today’s service members and veterans.” Joe Chenelly, national executive director of AMVETS, told The Guardian in an email: “We are working with the White House on this to ensure the president is aware of the seriousness of even the slightest concussions, which are in fact brain injuries.”“Further, this is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of the realness and severe impact all invisible wounds can have on humans,” Chenelly continued. “We also are pleased the Administration has shown constraint in not escalating the military conflict with Iran.” The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


  • Lebanese protesters rally downtown despite enhanced security

    Lebanese protesters rally downtown despite enhanced securityHundreds of Lebanese gathered outside Beirut's central government building Saturday to reject the newly formed Cabinet. Protesters breached tight security around the building, removing a metal gate and barbed wire and prompting security forces to respond with water cannon and tear gas. The protesters say the new Cabinet formed this week represents a corrupt long-serving political class they have been protesting against since October.


  • Trump lawyers argue Democrats just want to overturn election

    Trump lawyers argue Democrats just want to overturn electionPresident Donald Trump's lawyers plunged into his impeachment trial defense Saturday by accusing Democrats of striving to overturn the 2016 election, arguing that investigations of Trump's dealings with Ukraine have not been a fact-finding mission but a politically motivated effort to drive him from the White House. “They're here to perpetrate the most massive interference in an election in American history," White House Counsel Pat Cipollone told senators. The Trump legal team's arguments in the rare Saturday session were aimed at rebutting allegations that the president abused his power when he asked Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden and then obstructed Congress as it tried to investigate.


  • Xi Jinping warned of the 'grave situation' created by the 'accelerating' spread of coronavirus

    Xi Jinping warned of the 'grave situation' created by the 'accelerating' spread of coronavirusChinese President Xi Jinping held a special meeting to address the deadly coronavirus outbreak, promising 'prevention and control.'


  • Volatility defines Democratic race as candidates flood Iowa

    Volatility defines Democratic race as candidates flood IowaDemocratic presidential candidates roared back into Iowa on Saturday touting fresh endorsements, critiquing their rivals and predicting victories in the caucuses that will soon launch the process of deciding who will challenge President Donald Trump. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she was “delighted" to pick up a coveted endorsement from The Des Moines Register. The state's largest newspaper called the Massachusetts Democrat “the best leader for these times" and said she “is not the radical some perceive her to be." But Warren's progressive rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, predicted victory in Iowa and campaigned alongside Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., one of the most prominent leaders on the left.


  • French carmaker to evacuate workers from China amid outbreak

    French carmaker to evacuate workers from China amid outbreakFrance and a major automaker said Saturday that they are moving to get citizens out of a locked-down Chinese city where a deadly outbreak of a new virus originated and has spread worldwide. French automaker PSA Group says it will evacuate its employees and their families from Wuhan in central China, quarantine them in another major Chinese city and then bring them back to France. The Foreign Ministry said French officials were studying “eventual options" for all its nationals to leave if they wish.


  • AP FACT CHECK: Trump's impeachment defense and the facts

    AP FACT CHECK: Trump's impeachment defense and the factsPresident Donald Trump's lawyers opened his Senate impeachment defense Saturday with the false assertion that Democrats tried to shut the president's team out of the congressional inquiry that preceded the charges. Actually, Democrats invited Trump to participate and he declined. Throughout their presentation, Trump's lawyers accused the Democrats on the prosecution team of giving senators selective facts in the episode.


  • Trump defends Sanders, stoking Democratic divisions

    Trump defends Sanders, stoking Democratic divisionsAs tensions between Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren rose earlier this month, Sanders found himself with an unusual ally: President Donald Trump. During a raucous campaign rally in which Trump critiqued some of his Democratic challengers, the president launched into an unprompted defense of Sanders. Warren had accused Sanders of telling her that a woman couldn’t win the White House in November, but Sanders insisted he would never say such a thing.


  • Pompeo responds to NPR reporter, says story is another example of 'unhinged' media

    Pompeo responds to NPR reporter, says story is another example of 'unhinged' mediaSecretary of State Mike Pompeo apparently isn't ready for the story about his post-interview encounter with NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly to go away.Kelly, who asked Pompeo on Friday's episode of Morning Edition about Iran and the ousting of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, said the secretary was angered by her line of questioning and "shouted" at her in a private room following the interview. Kelly also said Pompeo challenged her to point out Ukraine on an unmarked map, which she did.Pompeo didn't deny that the exchange occurred in an official statement released Saturday, but he accused Kelly of lying about the meeting being off the record. Kelly said no request to keep the discussion off the record was made, adding that she wouldn't have agreed to do it anyway. The secretary said Kelly violated the "basic rules of journalism and decency," providing "another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President Trump."> .@SecPompeo doubles down this AM in an extraordinary statement -- issued with the @StateDept seal on top -- accusing @NPRKelly of lying to him twice & claiming it was "another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President Trump and this Administration" pic.twitter.com/DnHa7Nmot2> > -- Jennifer Hansler (@jmhansler) January 25, 2020He finished the letter with what appears to be a shot at Kelly's geography skills, though several people pointed out that it's unlikely Kelly would have gotten Ukraine's location wrong, especially as wildly as Pompeo insinuated. > Like hell @NPRKelly, who holds a masters in European studies, would confuse Bangladesh for Ukraine on a map. That and the rest of this statement from Pompeo is really quite something. https://t.co/Uy96PaLSB3> > -- Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) January 25, 2020More stories from theweek.com Trump is winning the impeachment battle — but losing the war Despite apparent preference for 'moderate' candidate, Iowans back Sanders in latest poll Is Bernie Sanders actually surging?


  • 'This is huge': Locust swarms in Africa are worst in decades

    'This is huge': Locust swarms in Africa are worst in decadesThe hum of millions of locusts on the move is broken by the screams of farmers and the clanging of pots and pans. The worst outbreak of desert locusts in Kenya in 70 years has seen hundreds of millions of the bugs swarm into the East African nation from Somalia and Ethiopia. “Even cows are wondering what is happening," said Ndunda Makanga, who spent hours Friday trying to chase the locusts from his farm.


  • Politics weigh heavily in Trump's Mideast peace plan

    Politics weigh heavily in Trump's Mideast peace planA blueprint the White House is rolling out to resolve the decades-long conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is as much about politics as it is about peace. President Donald Trump said he would likely release his long-awaited Mideast peace plan a little before he meets Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main political rival Benny Gantz. The Washington get-together offers political bonuses for Trump and the prime minister, but Trump's opponents are doubting the viability of any plan since there's been little-to-no input from the Palestinians, who have rejected it before its release.


  • AP FACT CHECK: Trump's fusillade of misfires on fateful week

    AP FACT CHECK: Trump's fusillade of misfires on fateful weekAbroad, at home and in Twitter's ether, President Donald Trump unleashed a fusillade of statements over the past week as the Senate impeachment trial unfolded and the Davos economic forum played out in Switzerland. On impeachment, the state of the country, abortion, pollution and more, Trump didn't tell the story straight. The Pentagon said Friday that 34 service members suffered traumatic brain injury in the attack and half were taken to Germany or back to the U.S. for further observation and treatment.


  • In Limelight Again, Key Impeachment Witnesses Still Experience a Divided Response

    In Limelight Again, Key Impeachment Witnesses Still Experience a Divided ResponseWASHINGTON -- Admirers still stop and thank them on the street and in airports, send fan mail and sometimes even offer to pay for their meals. But supporters of President Donald Trump still insult and threaten them online -- even the ones who work in the White House.The star witnesses of last November's House impeachment proceedings shook the Trump White House and turned a handful of previously obscure government officials into political household names.And just as their names and faces were beginning to fade from public memory, they were resurrected this week in the Senate by the House Democrats presenting their case for convicting the president. The House managers repeatedly played video clips of those witnesses, on large screens set up in the old Senate chamber, to buttress their case that Trump improperly pressured Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, as well as discredited allegations of Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 election.The effect has cut both ways for these accidental political stars. In some quarters, they are being cheered anew by admirers, while in others they are drawing a new round of insults and invective from supporters of Trump -- and even from the president himself.Some are in the awkward position of carrying on within the government. They include Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a National Security Council aide, who testified that, when he listened to the president's July 25 phone call with Zelenskiy, he "couldn't believe" what he was hearing.Vindman continues to serve on the National Security Council, but that has not prevented Trump from attacking him. On Friday, Trump retweeted Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., who a day earlier had resurrected an October quote about Vindman from his former commanding officer, Lt. Col. Jim Hickman: "Do not let the uniform fool you. He is a political activist in uniform."In response, a lawyer for Vindman issued a statement denouncing Blackburn's "slander" and "cowardice," writing that while the senator "fires off defamatory tweets, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman will continue to do what he has always done: serve our country dutifully and with honor."Also still working in the extended White House complex is Jennifer Williams, a career Foreign Service officer and national security aide to Vice President Mike Pence who testified in November that Trump's July 25 call with Zelenskiy had been "unusual."Williams has not spoken publicly since Trump tweeted on the day of her testimony that "Jennifer Williams, whoever that is" should "meet with the other Never Trumpers" aligned against him and "work out a better presidential attack!" Other witnesses who have returned to their government posts, without public incident, include George P. Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and Laura Cooper, who holds an equivalent post at the Defense Department.Then there is the whistleblower whose original complaint about Trump's pressure campaign on Zelenskiy ignited the fuse that led to his impeachment.Each day, the whistleblower goes to his job at the CIA's headquarters and continues to work on intelligence related to Europe and, his expertise, Ukraine, according to people familiar with his work.Although his identity is known by many inside the CIA and other intelligence agencies, supervisors have reminded intelligence officers to respect his public anonymity. As a result, inside the CIA, intelligence officers make no mention of the impeachment proceedings to him. That, according to friends, has allowed the whistleblower to focus on his intelligence work, but it has contributed to a sense of isolation.While the whistleblower remains silent at work, he has discussed the stress of the events and the gravity of impeachment with friends and expressed frustration that his decision to remain anonymous has meant that right-wing attacks on his character and motivations go unanswered.By contrast, Trump's ambassador to the European Union, Gordon D. Sondland, appears to be mounting a public rehabilitation campaign, smiling and schmoozing his way back to normalcy after public testimony that angered Trump.During the House appearance in which he contradicted Trump's prior insistence that the president never sought a "quid pro quo" from Zelenskiy, Sondland made clear his intention to carry on with his diplomatic job. Later, he was seen checking in for his flight at Dulles International Airport and saying that he was "going back to work."And he has. Sondland, a businessman whose main qualification for his job appeared to be a $1 million donation to Trump's inaugural fund, is again posting regularly on an official Twitter feed, smiling broadly alongside a series of foreign officials and working on issues like trade, the Balkans and Iran. He no longer mentions Ukraine, once a cherished part of his portfolio.Radislaw Sikorski, a Polish member of the European Parliament who met last week with Sondland in Strasbourg, France, suggested that the experience had changed him."I've talked with him a year ago, three months ago and last week," Sikorski said. "And he's learned." Before, Sikorski said, "he was borderline offensive, but now he's found a way to not to be so offensive.'"Several other witnesses who provided memorable, and often damning, testimony have left government. Among them is William B. Taylor Jr., who served as ambassador to Ukraine during the Bush administration and as de facto ambassador after Marie L. Yovanovitch was recalled to Washington last spring.Taylor left his post for good on Jan. 2, soon before his temporary appointment was set to expire.A Vietnam War veteran whose commanding voice drew comparisons to famed news anchor Walter Cronkite, Taylor officially remained a State Department employee until Jan. 10. During a visit to the building's cafeteria before his departure, Taylor was seen trying to buy a coffee and scone for breakfast when a well-wisher swooped in and insisted on paying.Taylor is expected to return next month to the federally funded United States Institute of Peace in Washington, where he was working in mid-2019 when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo persuaded him to return to Kyiv, Ukraine's capital, on a temporary basis.Asked about his future plans during an interview with Ukrainian newspaper Zerkalo Nedeli a few days before his departure from Ukraine, Taylor said, "I am hoping that I will have a chance to keep working for the good of the U.S.-Ukrainian relations."Taylor's predecessor in Kyiv, Yovanovitch, is officially still employed by the State Department, which a Fox News reporter spotted her visiting this month. She is also teaching a class, one morning per week, at Georgetown University's Institute for the Study of Diplomacy and is scheduled to receive an award next week from the university's School of Foreign Service for "Excellence in the Conduct of Diplomacy."Yovanovitch has remained in the news thanks to texts released this month suggesting that associates of Trump's private lawyer Rudy Giuliani were having her watched in Kyiv. And Friday, ABC News reported the existence of a recording of Trump, in the spring of 2018, saying "take her out," in an apparent reference to Yovanovitch."Get her out tomorrow. I don't care," Trump says, according to the report. "Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it."Trump's former top National Security Council aide for Russia, Fiona Hill, had already left the White House months before she publicly testified about "fictions" involving Ukraine promoted by Trump and his allies. This past week, as the Senate impeachment trial was opening, she returned as a senior fellow to her previous employer of many years, the Brookings Institution, a nonpartisan Washington think tank.Hill has told friends she is declining speaking engagements, plowing through unopened mail and contemplating writing a book drawn from her past research on Russia.Kurt D. Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, who worked with Sondland and Giuliani, in what Taylor described as a "highly irregular channel" of diplomacy to Kyiv, resigned on Sept. 27.Volker also left the job he retained as executive director of the McCain Institute, but is again an adviser with the Washington lobbying firm GBR Group. He has also returned to the foreign policy circuit, appearing at conferences where he has been a regular over the years.Tim Morrison, who succeeded Hill as the National Security Council's director for Russia affairs, left the White House a day before he testified behind closed doors to the House Intelligence Committee at the end of October.Morrison has maintained a low profile since then, although on Jan. 15, he was a featured speaker at a dinner panel hosted by the George Washington School of Media and Public Affairs on the future of nuclear arms control. Maintaining his hard-edge position toward Russia, he derided it is as "a Mafia-run gas station with a lot of nuclear weapons."But Morrison avoided discussing National Security Council policymaking and rebuffed efforts to coax him into any conversation about impeachment. On Thursday, he became a nonresident fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute in Washington.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company


  • Trump Impeachment: Making a Case Against a President, and Against Tuning Out

    Trump Impeachment: Making a Case Against a President, and Against Tuning OutThey played video. They brought graphics. They cited Alexander Hamilton so many times, they may owe royalties to Lin-Manuel Miranda.The Democratic House impeachment managers, unfolding their case against President Donald Trump, were conducting a TV trial without many of the staples of legal drama, particularly witnesses on the stand. Instead, they relied on multimedia, impassioned speeches and repetition, repetition, repetition -- all in a presentation of 24 hours over three days.If the O.J. Simpson trial was a long-running daytime soap, this was democracy in binge mode.The trial of Trump, as the TV pundits reminded us before, during and after, was an unusual one, in that much of the jury was assumed to already have a verdict in mind. This meant a different dynamic from the usual televised trial, in which the prosecution is speaking to the jury first and the viewing audience second, if at all.Instead, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and his team were effectively speaking to the court of public opinion -- home viewers who might bring pressure to bear on certain swing senators or turn against them at the ballot box -- although they had to do so by at least arguing as if the outcome were not a foregone conclusion.So there was the case, and then there was the case about the case. If the Republican majority was going to acquit the president, and if it was going to be voting against calling witnesses and subpoenaing documents that might weaken his defense, the Democrats would make sure that the viewing audience knew it.Their arguments often focused on what the audience wasn't seeing and hearing, because the White House refused it. Wednesday night, Schiff made a refrain of referencing evidence -- a diplomatic cable, a statement attributed to the former national security adviser, John Bolton -- and turning it into a question to the Senate. Wouldn't you like to read them? Wouldn't you like to hear them? "They're yours for the asking," he said.What the three days asked of viewers, largely, was patience. The constitutional stakes were as high as they come. But the dynamics were staid, thanks to Senate rules that limited TV coverage to two cemented-in-place camera vantages that gave the broadcast all the visual verve of a security-camera tape.The managers' most effective tool, both to break out of the visual monotony and substitute for live witnesses, was file video, which they used to string together the words of Trump and his staff into a kind of cinema-verite documentary of the often right-out-in-the-open scandal.There was Trump at a news conference with President Vladimir Putin of Russia in Helsinki, Finland, dismissing his own intelligence agencies' findings on Russian hacking. There was his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, regaling Fox News hosts about his Ukraine exploits. There was Sen. John McCain, a frequent critic of Trump, summoned Friday as a posthumous witness.Certain greatest hits went into heavy rotation. The acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, seemed to say "get over it" on-screen as often as his boss said "You're fired" on "The Apprentice."The senators were a captive audience, although some ducked out, unseen by the stationary cameras. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., vanished before managers played a video of him, prosecuting the Clinton impeachment trial in 1999, in which he contradicted arguments he's made to defend Trump. (Graham did make himself available to cameras between sessions, as did the Democratic presidential candidates kept off the trail in Iowa by Senate duty.)If any senators weren't keen on their duty, a good chunk of their constituents were willing to volunteer. Eleven million viewers watched the trial's first day -- hardly Super Bowl numbers but more than watched the Clinton trial, although the numbers declined the next day. And the three major broadcast networks aired more of the trial during the daytime than in 1999, although they left the evening portion to cable news.In a way, the Democrats programmed their presentation the way a cable news channel does. They recycled through their arguments and video clips during the daytime, for a home audience watching snippets here and there.Then in prime time, they brought out their centerpiece programming, delivered by Schiff. (This was around where Fox News usually cut away, preferring its own prime-time hosts.) At the end of Friday's session, he stepped back from the specifics of the abuse-and-obstruction cases to argue "moral courage" and putting country over party."Give America a fair trial," he concluded. "She deserves it."The tone wasn't entirely solemn. On Thursday evening, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., told a story about a friend who'd just asked him if he'd heard about "the latest outrage." Jeffries assumed this referred to Trump. Actually, his friend said, "Someone voted against Derek Jeter on his Hall of Fame ballot."Jeffries moved on to connect the American pastime of baseball with the American tradition of the Constitution. But his anecdote made another point. The House managers were not just vying with an opposition party and a truculent defender. They were pitted against every other distraction in the mediasphere, every other shiny enticement and new outrage offering a reason to tune out.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company


  • GOP senators upset by Schiff remark, Dems claim 'diversion'

    GOP senators upset by Schiff remark, Dems claim 'diversion'Senate Republicans said lead impeachment prosecutor Adam Schiff insulted them during the trial by repeating an anonymously sourced report that the White House had threatened to punish Republicans who voted against President Donald Trump. Schiff, who delivered closing arguments for the prosecution on Friday evening, was holding Republican senators rapt as he called for removing Trump from office for abusing his power and obstructing Congress. Doing anything else, he argued, would be to let the president bully Senate Republicans into ignoring his pressure on Ukraine for political help.


  • Substitute teaching a challenge in Jimmy Carter's class

    Substitute teaching a challenge in Jimmy Carter's classEvery now and then, Sunday school teacher Kim Fuller makes a point during class and the old man sitting on the front pew raises his eyebrows quizzically. Fuller is the eldest daughter of Carter’s late brother Billy Carter, and she has served as the regular replacement for the world’s best-known Sunday school teacher since Carter underwent brain surgery in November. Out of the hospital and back home in Plains, Georgia, the 95-year-old Carter has been in his regular, front-row seat at Maranatha Baptist Church, along with his wife Rosalynn, each Sunday since Dec. 29.


  • Libya says oil shutdown caused over $255 million in losses

    Libya says oil shutdown caused over $255 million in lossesThe closure of Libya’s major oil fields and production facilities has resulted in losses of more than $255 million in the six-day period ending Jan. 23, the country’s national oil company said Saturday. The closures came when powerful tribal groups loyal to military commander Khalifa Hifter earlier this month seized several large export terminals along the eastern coast as well as southern oil fields.


  • Mike Pompeo reportedly angrily challenged a reporter to find Ukraine on a map. She did.

    Mike Pompeo reportedly angrily challenged a reporter to find Ukraine on a map. She did.Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who's known for being wary of the press, apparently did not enjoy his latest interview.Pompeo reportedly berated NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly on Friday after she interviewed him about the ousting of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. During Friday's interview, which aired on NPR's Morning Edition, Pompeo said he has "defended every State Department official on his team," but did not provide Kelly with a specific example of how he had defended Yovanovitch. Pompeo complained that he was there to talk about Iran, but Kelly assured him she confirmed with his team that she would ask about Ukraine, as well.Following the interview, Kelly said she was summoned by a Pompeo aide to a private room where Pompeo "shouted" at her, asking if she thought "Americans care about Ukraine" and challenging her to point to the country on an unmarked map, which the well-traveled, veteran reporter was able to do.Journalists like CNN's Jake Tapper defended Kelly's line of questioning, while Democratic politicians blasted Pompeo's behavior. The State Department didn't have much to say on the matter, though.At the end of their encounter, Kelly said Pompeo told her "people will hear about this." They sure did — straight from Kelly. Read more at The New York Times.More stories from theweek.com Trump is winning the impeachment battle — but losing the war Despite apparent preference for 'moderate' candidate, Iowans back Sanders in latest poll Is Bernie Sanders actually surging?


  • Impeachment, an Outbreak and a Climate Awakening: Weekend Reads

    Impeachment, an Outbreak and a Climate Awakening: Weekend Reads(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.Democrats concluded their arguments in the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump, with Republicans shutting down their efforts to introduce new evidence  in votes split sharply along party lines.In China, a deadly virus killed dozens of people, spread to other countries, prompted the government to lock down major population centers and triggered protests that the authorities’ reaction to the outbreak was too slow.The world’s economic and political elite finally put climate change at the top of the agenda at their annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. And in France, President Emmanuel Macron pushed on with a pension reform despite death threats from unions who oppose it.We hope you enjoy these and other stories, and click here for Bloomberg’s most compelling political images from the past week.Giuliani’s Sidekick Parnas Traces Part of Money Trail to UkraineThe expenses racked up Rudy Giuliani’s advance man to Ukraine, Lev Parnas, were so high that some of his Republican donors complained. Read about the new details provided by Parnas about the money web that helped support Giuliani’s work in Ukraine for Trump.Sanders Rise Means More Talk About Electability Than RevolutionBernie Sanders, who has campaigned for “radical change” leading to a revolution, is now talking more about how he can beat Trump and has something to offer every voter. Emma Kinery describes the rise in polling and fund-raising for Sanders as he refocuses on electability. It Took 50 Years for Climate Change to Top the Davos AgendaIt took five decades for climate change to dominate the annual meeting of business titans, global leaders and top thinkers in Davos. This year, though, it seemed as if no one there could stop talking about it, Laura Millan Lombrana and Aaron Rutkoff report.Inside China’s Virus Zone, Unease Grips a City in LockdownIn Wuhan, the central Chinese city that’s ground zero of the deadly new virus, a sense of fear is taking hold. The city’s 11 million residents woke to learn they were in lockdown on the eve of the Lunar New Year holiday that unites families for days of feasting.Putin Has a Plan to Keep Running Russia Without Being President Vladimir Putin became Russia’s longest-serving leader since Josef Stalin by jumping between the presidency and prime ministership in his two decades in power. As Henry Meyer and Ilya Arkhipov report, he’s now got a plan that might keep him in power for life.Italy’s Chief Disrupter Is Masterminding His ComebackA college dropout who cracks crude jokes, Matteo Salvini is making a political comeback in Italy. The latest target of the right-wing League party leader is a center-left stronghold he plans to flip in a local election tomorrow, John Follain reports.Tech Giants’ Lobby Spending Shows Washington’s Growing HostilityThree of the biggest U.S. technology giants boosted lobbying spending last year. Eric Newcomer and Ben Brody give details on their fight against charges of unfair competition, efforts to shape privacy laws and pursuit of public contracts in a hostile Washington.Rio’s Dirty, Foul-Smelling Water Renews Privatization PushCloudy, foul-smelling water running from the taps in Rio de Janeiro is the latest crisis to rock the Brazilian city. As Simone Iglesias and Sabrina Valle report, the strain on resources for 9 million people is about to get worse as the city prepares for Carnival next month.Tell us how we’re doing or what we’re missing at balancepower@bloomberg.net.And finally … In 2018, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, met with Amazon.com Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos in an encounter likely weighted with tension. Read this account from David Wainer and Alyza Sebenius about the small dinner in Los Angeles that apparently went well enough that they exchanged phone numbers, a move UN experts said led to a spying attack on Bezos’s phone. To contact the author of this story: Michael Winfrey in Prague at mwinfrey@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Karl Maier at kmaier2@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


  • Iranian FM: Tehran still willing to negotiate with US

    Iranian FM: Tehran still willing to negotiate with USIran is not ruling out negotiations with the United States even after an American drone strike that killed a top Iranian general, the country's foreign minister said in an interview released Saturday. Mohammed Javad Zarif told Germany's Der Spiegel magazine that he would “never rule out the possibility that people will change their approach and recognize the realities,” in an interview conducted Friday in Tehran. There has been growing tension between Washington and Tehran since in 2018, when President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the nuclear deal with Iran.


  • Why is Vladimir Putin racing to amend Russia's constitution?

    Why is Vladimir Putin racing to amend Russia's constitution?Ever since Vladimir Putin announced a dramatic overhaul of Russia's constitution and the removal of his longtime prime minister and cabinet, Russians have been asking themselves a single question: What is Putin up to? Since the Jan. 15 announcement, Putin hasn't slowed down.