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  • Ecuador indigenous, president open talks over protests news

    President Lenín Moreno and leaders of Ecuador's indigenous peoples sat down Sunday evening to a nationally broadcast negotiating session aimed at defusing nearly two weeks of protests that have paralyzed the economy and left seven dead and hundreds injured in clashes with police. Sitting around a U-shaped table, Moreno and indigenous leaders took turns laying out their positions in talks mediated by the United Nations' chief representative in Ecuador and broadcast live online and on national TV. Wearing the feathered headdress and face paint of the Achuar people of the Amazon rain forest, the president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nations, Jaime Vargas, demanded the immediate cancellation of Moreno's Oct. 1 decree ending fuel subsidies as part of an International Monetary Fund austerity package.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 20:41:44 -0400
  • The Latest: Syrian Kurds ally with Damascus in major shift news

    Syrian Kurdish officials say they will work with the country's central government in Damascus to fend off Turkey's offensive against Kurdish fighters. In a major shift of alliance, Kurdish-led forces are to deploy side by side with government troops along the northern Syrian border. Sunday's announcement came hours after U.S. officials said American troops will leave northern Syria.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 20:10:14 -0400
  • The U.S. Spoiled a Deal That Might Have Saved the Kurds, Former Top Official Says news

    Ismail Coskun/APABU DHABI—Abandoned by the Americans, their former allies, Syria’s Kurds reportedly are allowing troops from the Assad regime to enter territory they had under their control. The Kurds also are putting out feelers to Russia for support against an onslaught by Turkish troops and Turkish-supported militias.A return of Bashar al-Assad’s forces to northeastern Syria for the first time in seven years would make visible the end to the bitter, controversial U.S. mission there against the so-called Islamic State. That’s not because of any concerted decision to withdraw by President Trump, whose antiwar rhetoric obscured his vacillation about leaving. It’s because Assad will deny his American adversary the room to operate that the Syrian Kurds had provided their deceitful American partners. “We know that we would have to make painful compromises with Moscow and Bashar al-Assad if we go down the road of working with them,” the Kurdish commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) wrote in an op-ed published Sunday in Foreign Policy. “But if we have to choose between compromises and the genocide of our people, we will surely choose life for our people.”More in sorrow than in anger, the commander, Mazloum Abdi, wrote, “When the whole world failed to support us, the United States extended its hands. We shook hands and appreciated its generous support.”But under Turkish pressure, at Washington’s request, the Kurds “agreed to withdraw our heavy weapons from the border area with Turkey, destroy our defensive fortifications, and pull back our most seasoned fighters. Turkey would never attack us so long as the U.S. government was true to its word with us.”Or so they believed. “We are now standing with our chests bare to face the Turkish knives,” Mazloum wrote.Brett McGurk, who resigned as the presidential special envoy to the coalition against ISIS last December, told The Daily Beast on Sunday that such a move by the Syrian Kurds was predictable under the circumstances. Even last year, when McGurk was still serving, Kurdish leaders in Syria were telling the Americans that if support for them and deterrence against a Turkish attack was not going to continue, they needed to make a deal with the Assad regime and Russia for protection. “We have given our road map to the Russians. We are just waiting on a decision,” one senior Kurdish official told The Washington Post.McGurk said he supported that idea at a time when Trump already was talking about pulling out of Syria, but he met firm opposition within the administration. (Special Representative for Syria Engagement Jim Jeffrey, for one, “told the Kurds on multiple occasions, ‘we’ll manage Turkey, don’t make a deal with the [Assad] regime,’” according to a source familiar with the matter.) Then-National Security Adviser John Bolton and crew insisted the U.S. must stay in Syria until Iran was out, or at least on its way. (Representatives for Bolton, whom Trump fired last month, did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Neither did State Department spokespeople.)Since McGurk’s resignation, he has stayed in touch with the members of the SDF and some contacts in the U.S. departments of state and defense. He says the Kurds asked repeatedly if the support and protection of the United States could be relied upon, and they were told repeatedly that the Americans had their backs. But that was not the case. McGurk told the Beirut Institute Summit in Abu Dhabi that when the Russians first got heavily involved in Syria in 2016, an oft repeated truism about Kremlin duplicity was “Everybody knows not to get into a well with a Russian rope.”“But now what I hear,” McGurk told the audience, “is that nobody should get into a well with an American rope.”In other words, once it became clear in 2018 that Trump was hostile to the open-ended U.S. presence in Syria he inherited, the Kurds had options to help ease the end of their relationship with the Americans. But Trump’s State Department and Pentagon, unwilling to face up to a final withdrawal—and the unequivocal loss of U.S. influence in a part of the Middle East where it is increasingly impotent, if not irrelevant—convinced the Kurds not to plan for an American departure. Had the Kurds done so, their new Russian and Syrian partners might have been able to spare them the devastation that Turkey is now wreaking as the U.S. pulls back and stands by. And now that the slaughter has begun, Mazloum has made clear that his forces and his people have no choice but to look to Russia and Damascus for support. Unfortunately for the Kurds, as McGurk points out, after Trump’s betrayal dramatically weakened their position, when they call the Russians or the Syrian regime it’s not clear that anyone is picking up the phone.Meanwhile, mass escapes of ISIS prisoners and alleged war crimes by Turkish-backed militia members in northeast Syria reflected the mounting chaos as Ankara drives ahead with an assault that already is deeper into Syria than originally announced.“I think we are likely to see a significant comeback by ISIS,” McGurk told the audience in Abu Dhabi. In Washington and in the field, confusion among the Americans is rampant. Ever since last Sunday’s phone call between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the administration has aggressively insisted that its green light to Erdogan, complete with a presidential invitation to the White House next month, was really a red light.Trump Says U.S. Troops Have Quit Syria. It’s Not True.On Sunday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told CBS, “Look, it's a very terrible situation over there. A situation caused by the Turks, by President Erdoğan. Despite our opposition they decided to make this incursion into Syria.” Trump has escalated his rhetoric about the generation-long disaster of the U.S. military in the Mideast, but he has still yet to withdraw from Syria–and has in fact deployed 14,000 new troops to the Gulf region in the past six months. Incoherence, deceit and betrayal are now the most conspicuous characteristics of U.S. policy. Esper said that because the Kurds are looking to cut a deal if you will with the Syrians and the Russians to counter-attack against the Turks in the north, American troops could find themselves “caught between two opposing advancing armies and it's a very untenable situation. So I spoke with the president last night after discussions with the rest of the national security team and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria.”But as it dawns on Trump that his “end endless wars” mantra could ignite a new endless war, he is reluctant to carry out a full troop withdrawal. Esper spoke about withdrawing from “northern Syria” two days after he and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, insisted there were “no additional changes to our force posture.” Two knowledgeable U.S. officials told The Daily Beast that the U.S. planned to remain in Syria, just further away from the Turkish fighting positions. Some undisclosed hundreds of the 1,000 U.S. forces currently in Syria will indeed leave the country—for elsewhere in the Mideast, however, not home. U.S. ‘Withdraws’ as Kurds Strike Deal to Let Assad's Forces Into RegionBut all of that improvisation, the consequence of senior officials attempting to salvage something after the Trump-Erdogan accord, may now be overtaken by events. Assad’s forces are unlikely to permit continued U.S. operations. The end of a war never declared by Congress may come not by American decision, let alone negotiation, but by American adversaries seizing the initiative that Trump has been comfortable abandoning. Already reports are coming in from Syria of ISIS fighters breaking out of their Kurdish detention facilities as the Kurds fight for their lives. According to the New York Times, the rapid pullback, sometimes under fire from their Turkish NATO ally, has cost the Americans their plans to move a handful of senior ISIS detainees to U.S. military custody in neighboring Iraq. All of it raises the prospect of ISIS grabbing victory – meaning a new lease on life – out of the jaws of defeat after the Kurds, sponsored by the U.S., finished off the Caliphate in 2018.Meanwhile leaders in the Middle East are trying to come to terms with the fact that the Americans have proved to be fatally unreliable allies.Hoshyar Zebari, the former deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Iraq, told the Beirut Institute Summit in Abu Dhabi that in the Syrian war, “The Russians did not walk away from their partners. The Iranians did not walk away from their partners. But the Americans did.”“Definitely the Turks will be emboldened,” Zebari told The Daily Beast. “We expect about 50,000 refugees to cross the border,” he said, mostly into the Kurdish region of Iraq.  Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 20:06:52 -0400
  • Syria's Kurds look to Assad for protection after US pullout news

    Syria's Kurds said Syrian government forces agreed Sunday to help them fend off Turkey's invasion — a major shift in alliances that came after President Donald Trump ordered all U.S. troops withdrawn from the northern border area amid the rapidly deepening chaos. The shift could lead to clashes between Turkey and Syria and raises the specter of a resurgent Islamic State group as the U.S. relinquishes any remaining influence in northern Syria to President Bashar Assad and his chief backer, Russia.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 19:39:13 -0400
  • With Hypersonic Missiles, Israel's F-35s Are Upping The Ante In Syria news

    Iran has taken notice.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 18:20:42 -0400
  • PM Johnson to set out post-Brexit law and order drive in Queen's Speech

    Queen Elizabeth will on Monday announce several new pieces of legislation to reform Britain's justice system, in a ceremonial speech setting out Prime Minister Boris Johnson's post-Brexit plans. The so-called Queen's Speech is the highlight of a day of elaborate pageantry in Westminster and is used to detail all the bills the government wants to enact in the coming year.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 17:00:00 -0400
  • Pompeo suggests reporter 'working for Democrats' after impeachment grilling news

    Titans of American journalism Rather and Mitchell join praise of Nancy Amons after Nashville reporter stuns secretary of state * Opinion: Rudy Giuliani is Donald Trump’s real secretary of stateSecretary of state Mike Pompeo. Photograph: Pablo Martínez Monsiváis/APSecretary of state Mike Pompeo suffered embarrassment from an unexpected quarter on Friday, as an interview with a local TV reporter in Nashville, Tennessee, produced not softball platitudes but hardball questions about the impeachment inquiry.“It sounds like you’re working, at least in part, for the Democratic National Committee,” the flustered diplomat said as he was pressed over Donald Trump’s attempts to have Ukraine investigate a political rival.Pompeo was in Nashville to give a speech to a Christian group about religious freedom, a priority of the Trump administration. WSMV, an NBC affiliate, reported that he told his audience it was “a heck of a day not to be in Washington”.WSMV reporter Nancy Amons was determined not to give him a break.Saying she would “start right away with the tough stuff, as you know”, Amons asked about a key issue in the Ukraine scandal: the removal of the US ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, who was testifying to House members on Friday, and the resignation of Michael McKinley, a close aide to Pompeo.“Well, ma’am, you have some of your facts wrong, so you should be careful about things you assert as facts before you state them,” Pompeo said.“But more importantly, I’m incredibly proud of the work that I’ve done along with my team, other senior leaders at the state department, to make sure that this institution was functional, preserved and delivering on behalf of America.”Pressed, Pompeo repeated that he did not talk about personnel matters as “it wouldn’t be appropriate, ma’am, to do that”. He appreciated the question “a great deal”, he said, but would not answer it.With Pompeo’s irritation increasingly visible, Amons asked if he had met Rudy Giuliani on a visit to Warsaw this year.The former New York mayor is commonly described as Donald Trump’s personal lawyer although it is not clear what legal work he might do for the president.As the impeachment inquiry proceeds, Giuliani is under scrutiny regarding extra-governmental efforts to promote conspiracy theories about Ukraine and to persuade President Vlodimyr Zelinskiy to investigate unproven allegations of corruption against Hunter Biden, the son of former vice-president Joe Biden.Two Soviet-born associates of Giuliani were arrested this week on campaign finance charges. Giuliani himself is reportedly under investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan.Pompeo chose three times not to answer Amons’ question, instead offering grim-faced variations on a theme: that he went to Warsaw to work on “an important mission … to take down the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, the Islamic Republic of Iran” and it was the “only thing I engaged in while I was there”.“It sounds like you’re not going to say,” Amons said.She then asked about text messages between US diplomats, obtained by House Democrats, which show concern that Trump was making the US-Ukraine relationship contingent on help with investigating the Bidens.“Were you aware that this was happening?” she asked.“You’ve got your facts wrong,” Pompeo said. “It sounds like you’re working, at least in part, for the Democratic National Committee when you phrase the predicate of a question in that way.“It’s unfortunate and it does a real disservice to the employees and the team at the United States Department of State. Our team was incredibly focused, we wanted a good relationship with Ukraine.”Amons also asked about the situation in Syria, where Trump’s decision to pull US troops away from the border with Turkey has given a green light to an incursion by Turkish forces opposed to Kurdish groups long allied to the US.Civilian casualties and possible war crimes have been reported. The United Nations said on Sunday 130,000 people have been displaced. Nashville is home to a sizeable Kurdish American community, some of whom told the Guardian this week of their sense of betrayal by the US government. Amons asked the secretary of state what he would say to them.“So the United States under President Trump did enormous work to support the Kurds in taking down the [Islamic State] in predominantly Kurdish regions of Syria,” Pompeo said.Asked “for the Kurds who are here in Nashville, do you see why they are so worried”, he said: “We’ve been incredibly supportive and we will continue to support them.”The interview drew praise from some titans of American journalism, among them Andrea Mitchell and Dan Rather, who Amons thanked on Twitter.She also thanked her team and wrote: “Being prepared is crucial, and listening – things I learned through many years of workshops with Investigative Reporters and Editors, a great non-profit for journalists.”Asked about Pompeo’s evident irritation with her questions, she wrote: “No, I never felt unsafe. I think he liked me less at the end though than at the beginning.”

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 16:13:06 -0400
  • US pulling out of northern Syria; full withdrawal possible news

    The United States appears to be heading toward a full military withdrawal from Syria amid growing chaos , cries of betrayal and signs that Turkey's invasion could fuel a broader war. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday that President Donald Trump had directed U.S. troops in northern Syria to begin pulling out "as safely and quickly as possible." He did not say Trump ordered troops to leave Syria, but that seemed like the next step in a combat zone growing more unstable by the hour. Esper, interviewed on two TV news shows, said the administration was considering its options.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 15:23:28 -0400
  • No sign of Brexit breakthrough with time running out news

    British and European negotiators on Sunday played down hopes of a rapid breakthrough in their last-ditch bid to strike an amicable Brexit divorce deal. Intense talks continue in Brussels, but European diplomats say the two sides are still far apart on how to manage trade and customs on the island of Ireland.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 15:17:55 -0400
  • Macron, Merkel call for end to Turkish offensive in Syria news

    The leaders of France and Germany called Sunday for an end to Turkey's offensive against Kurds in northern Syria, warning of dire humanitarian consequences and a boost for the Islamic State group. Emmanuel Macron hosted Angela Merkel in Paris for a working dinner amid turmoil stirred up by Ankara's attack and Britain's pending exit from the European Union, both issues on the leaders' agenda.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 15:01:10 -0400
  • Macron, Merkel call for end to Turkish offensive in Syria news

    France's President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Sunday for an end to Turkey's offensive against Kurds in northern Syria, warning of dire humanitarian consequences and a boost for the Islamic State group. "Our common wish is that the offensive must cease," Macron told a joint press conference with Merkel, who said she had spoken to Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan for an hour on Sunday and told him: "We must put an end to this Turkish invasion". "There are humanitarian reasons for this," Merkel told journalists, adding: "We can no longer accept this situation against the Kurds.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 13:53:24 -0400
  • Russia will work with Saudi to stabilise oil market: Putin news

    Russia will work with Saudi Arabia against any "attempt to destabilise" the oil market, President Vladimir Putin said in an interview broadcast Sunday, on the eve of a visit to Riyadh. Tensions in the region are high following attacks on oil installations in Saudi Arabia, which sent prices surging, and the seizure of tankers in the Gulf. "If anyone believes that acts such as the seizing of tankers or strikes against oil infrastructure could in any way affect the cooperation between Russia and our Arab friends... they are very wrong," Putin said.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 13:47:27 -0400
  • Israel president asks Putin to pardon woman jailed for cannabis news

    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday appealed to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to pardon an Israeli-American jailed for smuggling cannabis who is reportedly caught up in a prisoner exchange request. Naama Issachar was caught with nine grammes of the drug in her checked luggage while transiting from India to Israel at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport in April. The 26-year-old was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in jail by a Russian court on Friday, with Moscow reportedly seeking an exchange of a prisoner set to be extradited by Israel to the United States for her release.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 13:41:00 -0400
  • Pakistan on Mission to Enable Iran Talks With U.S., Saudis

    (Bloomberg) -- Pakistan is conducting shuttle diplomacy to promote talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia to end a tense standoff that has roiled energy markets and pushed the rival Gulf powers to the brink of war.During a visit to Iran on Sunday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was acting “not as a mediator but as a facilitator” for talks between Tehran and Riyadh, where he’s traveling on Monday. In a statement shown live on Iranian state television, Khan said President Donald Trump had also asked him to help aid a dialogue between Iran and the U.S. over the 2015 nuclear deal.Iranian Oil Tanker Attacked as Middle East Tensions Remain HighComing two days after an Iranian oil tanker was attacked in the Red Sea, the visit is the latest outside attempt to broker some sort of engagement between the oil-rich Persian state, the U.S. and its stalwart regional ally, Saudi Arabia. Earlier efforts by Japan and France have yielded little progress. Khan said he’ll travel to Saudi Arabia with a “positive frame of mind.”Iran said the tanker was struck by two missiles early Friday. It hasn’t directly blamed Saudi Arabia for the incident and withdrew an initial remark by an official that the rockets probably emanated from the kingdom. On Sunday Iranian maritime officials said rescue centers in Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Egypt all ignored emails sent from the ship requesting help in violation of international rules, the semi-official Fars News reported, citing the National Iranian Tanker Company.Pressure has been rising in the region since Trump unilaterally withdrew from the international accord with Iran last year and imposed harsh sanctions on the Islamic Republic, vowing to wipe out its crude exports. Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities were attacked last month, briefly slashing global oil output by 5%.Appearing alongside Khan, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said he told the Pakistani premier in their meeting that the U.S. must return to the original nuclear agreement. He said he welcomed any effort to reduce tensions in the region.Khan -- one of several leaders who unsuccessfully tried to broker talks between Trump and Rouhani at the United Nations General Assembly last month -- also met with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who pressed him to complete Pakistan’s share of a stalled joint gas pipeline, which Islamabad abandoned in 2014, citing international sanctions at the time.Khamenei also used his meeting with Khan to warn countries that they would “regret” starting a war with Iran, according to his official website, kingdom didn’t ask for Pakistan’s mediation and is waiting for Iran to take the initiative, according to Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir.“It’s really up to Iran, they know what they need to do,” Al-Jubeir said in Riyadh Sunday. “And they need to change their behavior, their policies, if they want countries to deal with them as with normal countries.”(Updates with Khamenei’s comments on pipeline in the seventh paragraph)\--With assistance from Dina Khrennikova.To contact the reporters on this story: Abbas Al Lawati in Dubai at;Arsalan Shahla in Tehran at ashahla@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lin Noueihed at, Steve GeimannFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 12:31:51 -0400
  • EU Says Johnson’s Plan Not Yet Good Enough: Brexit Update

    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his Cabinet on Sunday that a Brexit deal is achievable, but European Union negotiators warned that his plans are not yet good enough to be the basis for an agreement.The British premier said that while a pathway to an agreement could be seen, there is still a significant amount of work required and the U.K. must be prepared to leave on Oct. 31, according to a spokesperson.In Brussels, EU officials were briefed that talks had not made enough progress and that the U.K. proposals were falling short of what is required for a deal. Negotiations are due to continue into Monday.Key Developments:Michel Barnier briefed envoys from EU governments on the negotiations, and warned not enough progress has been made yet.Officials from the group have said Boris Johnson indicated a possible path to detailed talks on a deal to exit the bloc as a potential compromise over the Irish border starts to emerge.U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn stood firm on the need for Johnson to request an extension if negotiations falter and on his right to lead any alternative government.Deal By Summit ‘Difficult, But Not Impossible’ (5:10 p.m)The envoys were briefed that a deal by this week’s summit will be difficult, but not impossible, one official said.Even though it’s hard to predict how that summit will unfold, the leaders themselves will not negotiate on the legal text when they meet on Thursday. That means that an agreement on the wording must be reached by Wednesday and cleared by the envoys of the 27 remaining EU governments before the summit opens.Johnson’s Plan Not Good Enough Yet: EU (4:40 p.m.)EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier briefed the bloc’s government envoys in Brussels on the U.K proposals, and why they aren’t yet acceptable, mainly in the customs area, two officials familiar with the matter said. No decisions are expected today, as the European Commission does not think a breakthrough or a breakdown in talks will be likely. Negotiations will continue through Monday, the officials said.A third official present in the meeting with Barnier and the Secretary General of the Council of the EU Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen said that EU27 ambassadors were briefed that reaching a deal will now be “very difficult” before this week’s EU Summit without a political push from London.A fourth official added that not enough progress has been achieved over the weekend as the EU would like to see. Speaking ahead of the briefing, a separate EU diplomat said time was running out and the hope was the British negotiators showed enough flexibility to continue and swiftly conclude the talks.Johnson Tells Cabinet That a Deal Is Possible (14:45)The prime minister updated his Cabinet on negotiations, saying that there is a way forward for a deal that “could secure all our interests, respect the Good Friday Agreement, get rid of the backstop and get Brexit done by Oct. 31,” a U.K. government spokesman said.EU Should Approve Extension If Requested, Juncker Says (13:00)As negotiators from both sides continue intensive talks for a second day, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is turning his attention to whether Brexit should be delayed.“It’s up to the Brits to decide if they will ask for an extension,” Juncker was quoted as saying by his spokeswoman Mina Andreeva, on Twitter. “But if Boris Johnson were to ask for extra time -- which probably he won’t -- I would consider it unhistoric to refuse such a request.”Andreeva clarified that his use of the German word “unhistorisch” in the original comments, given to Austrian newspaper Kurier, means it would not do justice to history for the EU to say no.Johnson’s Plan is ‘Race to Bottom’ Says Sturgeon (10:00)Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that she won’t vote for the type of deal Johnson is negotiating.“The proposals that are on the table from Boris Johnson and any likely amendment of them would not be acceptable to the SNP because they would take Scotland out of the EU, out of the single market, out of the customs union with all the damage that would cause,” the Scottish National Party leader said.Patel Says Government Faces Key Week for Negotiations (09:30)Home Secretary Priti Patel said in a BBC interview that negotiations have “moved on quite substantially” in recent weeks, ahead of a summit of EU leaders that begins Thursday. Speculation that Britain will avoid dropping out of the EU without a divorce accord lifted the pound last week to its biggest two-day gain in a decade.“Obviously this is the week in the run-up to the European council where there are a range of negotiations taking place even as we speak,” she said. “The government’s number one priority is to secure a deal and obviously then bring forward the legislation in parliament through votes and a legislative framework through a potential Withdrawal Agreement bill so we can get Brexit done.”She dismissed Labour’s stance, describing Corbyn’s rejection of the deal without knowing its contents as “clearly playing politics.”Rees-Mogg Says Brexit Talks ‘Take’ More Serious Turn (08:10)Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg said the Cabinet will be briefed at 12:45 p.m. London time after a more positive week in negotiations. Johnson will not undermine the integrity of the U.K. in his pursuit of a deal, he told Sky News.Parliament can legislate quickly if required and “endless extensions” won’t solve matters, he said.Separately, Rees-Mogg sought to reassure hard line supporters of Brexit concerned about the content of his plans and who could prevent a Oct. 31 exit by refusing to support it. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, he said that “as a Leaver, Boris can be trusted.”Johnson, Corbyn Unfit to Lead Country, Swinson Says (07:55)Swinson reiterated the Liberal Democrats’ desire to revoke Article 50 and said they would support amendments that bring the country closer to a second referendum on the issue. She told Sky that it was entirely possible that her party could win a majority at the next election.The Democratic Unionist Party deputy leader Nigel Dodds has also rejected any Brexit solution that would weaken Northern Ireland’s custom ties to the U.K., La Repubblica reported Saturday, citing an interview during a NATO conference in London.Corbyn to Look at Deal Before Triggering Election (07:40)Corbyn said he was unlikely to support any deal agreed by Johnson and would caution other lawmakers against doing so, but said his party would look at it before triggering a general election. If the Prime Minister fails to request an extension to talks in the absence of an agreement, Labour will take parliamentary action, he said in an interview on Sky News’ Ridge on Sunday.In the event of a government of national unity having to be formed, Corbyn said he is “of course” the figure to head it. He refused to discuss backing any other candidate, a path favored by some other parties. He also ruled out a coalition with the Scottish National Party.Powers of Speaker Could be Curbed: Telegraph (07:00)Parliamentary rules that allow so-called backbenchers to introduce their own legislation could be changed, the Sunday Telegraph reported, citing unnamed Conservative lawmakers. Speaker John Bercow has been criticized by some observers for a series of decisions this year, which allowed backbenchers to force the hand of the prime minister. They also expect Johnson to scrap laws that bar him from triggering an election, if he is able to secure a majority for it, the newspaper said.Earlier:Brexit Deal in Sight as Negotiators Wrestle With the DetailsJohnson’s Brexit More Costly Than May’s, Think Tank SaysDUP’s Dodds Says Proposed Brexit Deal Unrealistic: RepubblicaTo contact the reporters on this story: Nikos Chrysoloras in Brussels at;Ian Wishart in Brussels at;Lucy Meakin in London at lmeakin1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Paul Gordon at, Tim Ross, James AmottFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 12:28:46 -0400
  • Kremlin relishes US pullback from Syria, turmoil in Ukraine news

    From Syria to Ukraine, new fault lines and tensions are offering the Kremlin fresh opportunities to expand its clout and advance its interests. The U.S. military withdrawal from northern Syria before a Turkish offensive leaves Russia as the ultimate power broker, allowing it to help negotiate a potential agreement between Syrian President Bashar Assad and the Kurds who were abandoned by Washington.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 12:13:23 -0400
  • Indianapolis Zoo receives $4M to open a conservation center

    The Indianapolis Zoo plans to open an international center devoted to saving threatened species, an effort that zoo officials call a natural extension of their biennial Indianapolis Prize honoring animal conservation leaders. The Global Center for Species Survival is expected to open next year and employ a team of nine Indianapolis-based experts who will work with more than 9,000 wildlife experts worldwide to save threatened species.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 12:12:01 -0400
  • 12 Hours. 4 Syrian Hospitals Bombed. Evidence Reveals One Culprit: Russia. news

    The Russian Air Force has repeatedly bombed hospitals in Syria in order to crush the last pockets of resistance to President Bashar Assad, according to an investigation by The New York Times.An analysis of previously unpublished Russian Air Force radio recordings, plane-spotter logs and witness accounts allowed The Times to trace bombings of four hospitals in just 12 hours in May and tie Russian pilots to each one.The 12-hour period beginning on May 5 represents a small slice of the air war in Syria, but it is a microcosm of Russia's four-year military intervention in Syria's civil war. A new front in the conflict opened this week, when Turkish forces crossed the border as part of a campaign against a Kurdish-led militia.Russia has long been accused of carrying out systematic attacks against hospitals and clinics in rebel-held areas as part of a strategy to help Assad secure victory in the eight-year-old war.Physicians for Human Rights, an advocacy group that tracks attacks on medical workers in Syria, has documented at least 583 such attacks since 2011, 266 of them since Russia intervened in September 2015. At least 916 medical workers have been killed since 2011.The Times assembled a large body of evidence to analyze the hospital bombings on May 5 and 6.Social media posts from Syria, interviews with witnesses, and records from charities that supported the four hospitals provided the approximate time of each strike. The Times obtained logs kept by flight spotters on the ground who warn civilians about incoming airstrikes and cross-checked the time of each strike to confirm that Russian warplanes were overhead. We then listened to and deciphered thousands of Russian Air Force radio transmissions, which recorded months' worth of pilot activities in the skies above northwestern Syria. The recordings were provided to The Times by a network of observers who insisted on anonymity for their safety.Spotter logs from May 5 and 6 put Russian pilots above each hospital at the time they were struck, and Air Force audio recordings from that day feature Russian pilots confirming each bombing. Videos obtained from witnesses and verified by The Times confirmed three of the strikes.Recklessly or intentionally bombing hospitals is a war crime, but proving culpability amid a complex civil war is extremely difficult, and until now, Syrian medical workers and human rights groups lacked proof.Russia's position as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council has shielded it from scrutiny and made U.N. agencies reluctant to accuse the Russian Air Force of responsibility."The attacks on health in Syria, as well as the indiscriminate bombing of civilian facilities, are definitely war crimes, and they should be prosecuted at the level of the International Criminal Court in The Hague," said Susannah Sirkin, director of policy at Physicians for Human Rights. But Russia and China "shamefully" vetoed a Security Council resolution that would have referred those and other crimes in Syria to the court, she said.The Russian government did not directly respond to questions about the four hospital bombings. Instead, a Foreign Ministry spokesman pointed to past statements saying that the Russian Air Force carries out precision strikes only on "accurately researched targets."The U.N. secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, opened an investigation into the hospital bombings in August. The investigation, still ongoing, is meant in part to determine why hospitals that voluntarily added their locations to a U.N.-sponsored deconfliction list, which was provided to Russia and other combatants to prevent them from being attacked, nevertheless came under attack.Syrian health care workers said they believed that the U.N. list actually became a target menu for Russian and Syrian air forces.Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for the secretary-general, said in September that the investigation -- an internal board of inquiry -- would not produce a public report or identify "legal responsibility." Vassily Nebenzia, the Russian permanent representative to the U.N., cast doubt on the process shortly after it was announced, saying he hoped the inquiry would not investigate perpetrators but rather what he said was the U.N.'s use of false information in its deconfliction process.From April 29 to mid-September, as Russian and Syrian government forces assaulted the last rebel pocket in the northwest, 54 hospitals and clinics in opposition territory were attacked, the U.N. human rights office said. At least seven had tried to protect themselves by adding their location to the deconfliction list, according to the World Health Organization.On May 5 and 6, Russia attacked four. All were on the list.The first was Nabad al Hayat Surgical Hospital, a major underground trauma center in southern Idlib province serving about 200,000 people. The hospital performed on average around 500 operations and saw more than 5,000 patients a month, according to Syria Relief and Development, the U.S.-based charity that supported it.Nabad al Hayat had been attacked three times since it opened in 2013 and had recently relocated to an underground complex on agricultural land, hoping to be protected from airstrikes.At 2:32 p.m. on May 5, a Russian ground control officer can be heard in an Air Force transmission providing a pilot with a longitude and latitude that correspond to Nabad al Hayat's exact location.At 2:38 p.m., the pilot reports that he can see the target and has the "correction," code for locking the target on a screen in his cockpit. Ground control responds with the green light for the strike, saying, "Three sevens."At the same moment, a flight spotter on the ground logs a Russian jet circling in the area.At 2:40 p.m., the same time the charity said that Nabad al Hayat was struck, the pilot confirms the release of his weapons, saying, "Worked it." Seconds later, local journalists filming the hospital in anticipation of an attack record three precision bombs penetrating the roof of the hospital and blowing it out from the inside in geysers of dirt and concrete.The staff of Nabad al Hayat had evacuated three days earlier after receiving warnings and anticipating a bombing, but Kafr Nabl Surgical Hospital, 3 miles northwest, was not as lucky.A doctor who worked there said that the hospital was struck four times, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The strikes landed about five minutes apart, without warning, he said, killing a man who was standing outside and forcing patients and members of the medical staff to use oxygen tanks to breathe through the choking dust.A spotter logged a Russian jet circling above at the time of the strike, and in another Russian Air Force transmission, a pilot reports that he has "worked" his target at 5:30 p.m., the time of the strike. He then reports three more strikes, each about five minutes apart, matching the doctor's chronology.Russian pilots bombed two other hospitals in the same 12-hour span: Kafr Zita Cave Hospital and Al Amal Orthopedic Hospital. In both cases, spotters recorded Russian Air Force jets in the skies at the time of the strike, and Russian pilots can be heard in radio transmissions "working" their targets at the times the strikes were reported.Since May 5, at least two dozen hospitals and clinics in the rebel-held northwest have been hit by airstrikes. Syrian medical workers said they expected hospital bombings to continue, given the inability of the U.N. and other countries to find a way to hold Russia to account."The argument by the Russians or the regime is always that hospitals are run by terrorists," said Nabad al Hayat's head nurse, who asked to remain anonymous because he feared being targeted. "Is it really possible that all the people are terrorists?"The truth is that after hospitals are hit, and in areas like this where there is just one hospital, our houses have become hospitals."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 12:03:03 -0400
  • Hong Kong Police Officer Slashed in Neck as Violence Continues news

    (Bloomberg) -- A Hong Kong police officer was slashed in the neck during a confrontation with protesters, as violent clashes continued following an escalation of violence earlier this month in demonstrations that began in June.Demonstrators spread out in 18 districts on Sunday in scattered, pop-up protests to pressure the government to meet their remaining demands, including the right to choose and elect their own leaders. Police said the officer suffered a neck wound after being attacked with a “sharp-edged” object in a subway station, adding that authorities fired tear gas in several places to disperse crowds who were vandalizing shops and public facilities.Overall the disruption wasn’t as bad as earlier this month, when the subway system was completely shut down due to widespread violence after leader Carrie Lam invoked emergency powers last used more than half a century ago to impose a ban face masks. Prior to this weekend, some activists had urged others to scale back the vandalism that has shut shops, banks and train stations over concerns it could sap support for the movement.Several events later this week could add fuel to the protests: Lam is due to give her annual economic-policy address, and U.S. lawmakers in the House of Representatives may vote on a bill that would require annual reviews of Hong Kong’s special trading status and potentially sanction some Chinese officials. Protesters plan to hold a rally in support of the bill in Central starting at 7 p.m. on Monday.“The protesters and the people in Hong Kong certainly would like to have more international attention, would like to secure international sympathy,” Joseph Cheng, a retired political science professor and pro-democracy activist, said Sunday. “The concern obviously is that violent activities may lose international support. There is a definite awareness.”Protesters are also concerned that violence may give the government an excuse to delay local elections next month, particularly as demonstrators are still enjoying popular support. Lam’s approval rating has been stuck near record lows for months.U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday appeared to endorse the notion that the protests were waning in a meeting in Washington with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. The two sides agreed to “phase one” of a trade deal that reduced tensions between the world’s biggest economies, even as thorny issues remain.“We discussed Hong Kong and I think great progress has been made by China in Hong Kong,” Trump said. “And I’ve been watching and I actually told the vice premier it really has toned down a lot from the initial days of a number of months ago when I saw a lot of people, and I see far fewer now.”The issue jumped into the forefront of debate in the U.S. over the past week after the general manager of the Houston Rockets basketball team tweeted support for the anti-Beijing protesters. The tweet was quickly deleted, but it triggered a backlash from Chinese companies and fans, leading to an exhibition game on Thursday in Shanghai not being aired or streamed in China.While he didn’t refer directly to Hong Kong, China President Xi Jinping told Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli that those attempting to split China will be crushed, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday. Xi said any external force backing the split of China will be considered as delusional by the Chinese people, the report said.The ongoing unrest was sparked by the Hong Kong government’s plan to introduce now-withdrawn legislation that would’ve allowed extradition to mainland China. Protester demands have since broadened to include an independent commission of inquiry into police brutality and greater democracy. Lam’s use of the emergency law raised the ire of protesters and paralyzed large parts of the city.About 100 restaurants have closed because of the unrest, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said in a blog post Sunday. Around 2,000 employees have been affected as a result of the closures, Chan said, citing the catering industry.Since protests erupted on China’s National Day on Oct. 1, police have arrested about 500 people, including 77 for violating the mask ban, and fired almost 2,000 rounds of tear gas. Dozens of people have have been injured, including two teenage protesters who were shot during fights with police.Lam has refused to rule out further emergency measures, or even requesting Chinese military intervention to halt the unrest. “If the situation becomes so bad, then no option should be ruled out, if we want Hong Kong to at least have another chance,” she told reporters Tuesday.\--With assistance from Stanley James.To contact the reporters on this story: Aaron Mc Nicholas in Hong Kong at;Eric Lam in Hong Kong at elam87@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at, Daniel Ten KateFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 12:00:01 -0400
  • Iran offers warning after mysterious tanker attack news

    Iran's president warned Sunday it would be "a big mistake" to think his country won't respond to threats after a mysterious attack on one of its oil tankers. Hassan Rouhani's remarks came as Pakistan's prime minister was visiting Iran in an effort to ease tensions between Tehran and Saudi Arabia. Imran Khan is planning to visit Saudi Arabia later this week.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 11:57:29 -0400
  • Khamenei says any aggressor would regret attacking Iran

    Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Sunday that U.S.-allied Gulf Arab States were "under the will of the United States" and warned that any attacker would regret taking action against Iran, according to state television. "We have no motive for being hostile to these countries, but they are under the will of the United States acting against Iran... Any aggressor will regret attacking Iran," Khamenei told visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, according to state television. "Ending the war in Yemen will have a positive impact on the region," Khamenei added.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 11:29:54 -0400
  • Pilot recordings show Russian air force bombed Syrian hospitals, report claims news

    The Russian air force deliberately bombed at least four hospitals in rebel-controlled parts of Syria, intercepted radio messages suggest.  Russia has been accused of deliberately targeting medical facilities and personnel repeatedly since it entered the war in Syria on the side of Bashar Assad in 2015.  It has consistently denied the allegations, saying its aircraft only bomb carefully selected targets.  But in recordings of transmissions obtained by the New York Times, Russian ground controllers are heard giving pilots the precise coordinates of hospitals just minutes before they were destroyed in airstrikes.   The conversations, carried on in terse Russian military phrases,  reportedly consist of a dispatcher issuing a pilot with coordinates; the pilot confirming receipt; the dispatcher giving a green light for the strike; and the pilot confirming he has hit the target.   The paper says checking the map-references use by the pilots and cross referencing the time of the transmissions with data gathered by plane spotters and witness accounts shows the aircraft were responsible for attacks on four hospitals in southern Idlib province, the last significant pocket held by rebel groups. The Nabad al Hayat Surgical Hospital, Kafr Nabl Surgical Hospital, the Kafr Zita Cave Hospital, the Al Amal Orthopedic Hospital were all  bombed in a 12 hour period on May 5 and May 6 this year.  All four were on a “deconfliction” list of medical facilities provided by the United Nations to all sides, including Russia, in an effort to reduce civilian casualties.  The Russian foreign ministry has not commented on the report.  Russian and Syrian government forces launched an offensive against the Idlib pocket on April 30. Human rights groups said in May that eight hospitals on the list had been targeted during the offensive.  The laws of war prohibit direct attacks on civilian facilities, like schools. They also prohibit direct attacks against hospitals and medical staff. However, proving culpability and intention on a battlefield is usually difficult. International humanitarian law also grants that a school or hospital could become a legitimate target if it is used to contribute to one side’s military operations.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 11:28:19 -0400
  • U.S. ‘Withdraws’ as Kurds Strike Deal to Let Assad’s Forces Into Region news

    Khalil Ashawi/ReutersAmid a Turkish assault, the Kurds, or Syrian Democratic Forces, have struck a deal with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, that will bring forces loyal to Assad back into areas that have been under Kurdish control for years.“An agreement has been reached with the Syrian government—whose duty it is to protect the country’s borders and preserve Syrian sovereignty—for the Syrian Army to enter and deploy along the Syrian-Turkish border to help the SDF stop this aggression [by Turkey],” the Kurds said in a statement.Once the agreement was made Sunday night, Syrian Assad troops began moving into towns near the border with Turkey where Turkish forces have been encroaching since President Trump announced that he was withdrawing American forces from the region earlier this week.The agreement appears to undermine any expectation that United States might continue to assist the Kurds—Washington’s allies against ISIS—as they are attacked by Turkey. In the aftermath of Trump’s announcement, with a Turkish invasion carried out just days later, American forces were unable to carry out a move of about 60 “high value” ISIS detainees out of wartime prisons run by the Kurds, The New York Times reports. The chaos also made way for hundreds of ISIS prisoners on Sunday to escape from a low-security detention camp in the area.In the latest surge of anti-war rhetoric from the Trump administration, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Sunday that the U.S. is launching a “deliberate withdrawal” of American forces from northern Syria but refused to say how long it will take.“We want to conduct it safely and quickly as possible,” Esper told CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday morning, adding, “I’m not prepared to put a timeline on it, but that’s our general game plan.” Two knowledgeable U.S. officials told The Daily Beast that the troops are just withdrawing further away from the advance of Turkish forces massacring the Syrian Kurds whom America relied upon to destroy the so-called Islamic State’s caliphate.There are currently 1,000 U.S. troops in Syria. A knowledgeable U.S. official said hundreds of those troops, without further specificity, will leave Syria for elsewhere in the Mideast. Following a pullout from two northern Syrian observation posts last week, the U.S. will now retreat farther away from the area Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has invaded.Esper said Trump gave the withdrawal order because Turkish forces are pushing further south into Syria and Kurdish forces had been trying to cut a deal with Syria and Russia to counter-attack.“We have American forces likely caught between two opposing advancing armies, and it’s a very untenable situation,” he said.But as Esper made clear, the order affects only the north and there will still be American forces in the rest of Syria even as Trump—who separately has ordered about 14,000 U.S. troops to the Persian Gulf region over the past six months—rails against the disastrous, bloody, and interminable U.S. misadventure in the Middle East over the past generation.A U.S. official told CNN that U.S. policy “has failed” and that the campaign in Syria to defeat ISIS is “over for now,” giving the terrorist group “a second lease on life with nearly 100,000 [people] who will re-join their jihad.” The mixed messaging by the Trump administration is making it difficult for even his most ardent supporters to help unravel his foreign policy on Syria as it spins out of control. Just days after Trump announced the withdrawal of American troops from northern Syria where they have been providing weapons and cover to allied Kurdish fighters on the border between Turkey and Syria, Turkey began a military incursion that has sent the region into a level of chaos it has not seen in recent years.The Daily Beast first reported Friday that claims made by the Trump administration that U.S. troops had been withdrawn were false. “We are out of there. We’ve been out of there for a while,” Trump said Wednesday. “No soldiers whatsoever.” Two officials told The Daily Beast that in fact the U.S. military had only pulled back from—not completely out of—northern Syria. They had simply abandoned two small observation posts from which they supported Kurdish allies in the fight against ISIS fighters. Trump Says U.S. Troops Have Quit Syria. It’s Not True.Trump then tweeted that he had been talking with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R–SC), who had been highly critical of Trump’s decision to remove troops. “Pray for our Kurdish allies who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump administration. This move ensures the reemergence of ISIS,” Graham warned Wednesday. “I urge President Trump to change course while there is still time by going back to the safe zone concept that was working.” Graham later tweeted that any sanctions had to be serious. “The conditional sanctions announced today will be viewed by Turkey as a tepid response and will embolden Erdogan even more,” Graham tweeted Friday. “The Turkish government needs to know Congress will take a different path—passing crippling sanctions in a bipartisan fashion.”But in a Sunday morning tweet, the president wrote that he was working with Graham “and many members of Congress, including Democrats, about imposing powerful Sanctions on Turkey.”He then added: “Treasury is ready to go, additional legislation may be sought. There is great consensus on this. Turkey has asked that it not be done. Stay tuned!”Turkey has warned that any threats of sanctions would be met with the release of millions of refugees along the border between Turkey and Syria into Europe. Trump told reporters at the White House earlier this week that such a possibility did not concern him. “Well they’re going to be escaping to Europe,” he said. “That’s where they want to go, they want to go back to their homes.”On Sunday, the Associated Press reported that up to 700 ISIS sympathizers did escape the Ain Eissa camp, which holds up 12,000 people caught up in years of unrest. Most of those who escaped are ISIS brides and children, but officials warn that they could be part of a resurgence of the so-called Islamic state. Several known ISIS fighters were also spotted fighting in the current conflict, according to CNN, which reported that at least five fighters had escaped the notorious Ghuwairan prison due to heavy shelling in the area. During an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)—who has been one of the president’s most vocal defenders on the Syria decision—called it a “messy, complicated situation” while saying the president was right to move soldiers out of the way because “Turkey was coming in one way or another.” When moderator Chuck Todd noted that U.S. soldiers near the Turkish border were serving as a deterrent to an Erdogan invasion, Paul retorted “they were until they weren’t.”Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin repeated Paul’s line that this is a “complicated situation” when asked on ABC’s This Week why the administration hasn’t imposed sanctions on Turkey yet.“We are ready to go on a moment’s notice to put on sanctions,” Mnuchin said. “As I said, these sanctions could be starting small. They could be maximum pressure which would destroy the Turkish economy. The president is very focused on this. He’s offered to mediate the situation.”Mnunchin also pushed back on criticism from those within the president’s own party. In response to Graham and others saying sanctions would be a tepid reaction to Turkey, Mnuchin stated that this is a “multi-step process” and the administration needs to make sure “we have the proper authorizations.” The treasury chief, meanwhile, was asked what the president was talking about when he criticized the Kurds for not storming the beaches at Normandy alongside U.S. troops. Mnuchin asserted Trump’s analogy was that he was pushing back on everyone “saying the Kurds are these long-standing allies” and that our role in Syria “was not to defend the Kurds.”On CNN’s State of the Union, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) said that while he wished the president’s decision had “been different,” he feels that we tend to “oversimplify the complicated relationships” in the region. He went on to say this wasn’t a “binary choice” as both the Turks and Kurds are considered allies. As for whether the U.S. was retreating from the area and allowing the Turks to invade northern Syria, Cramer said “we can’t be in the middle of every skirmish in the neighborhood.”House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel (D-NY), meanwhile, told Meet the Press that while he is working on a bipartisan bill that will slap sanctions on Turkey and condemn the president’s policy as it relates to the Kurds, he acknowledges that “it’s not going to stop” the Turks now. Asked whether it’s too late to do anything at this point, Engel seemed to resign himself to that notion.“We could mitigate the damage,” he told Todd. “Of course, it’s spiraling quickly. And what’s happened, of course, is a lot of ISIS prisoners, we’ve gotten reports that they have been released or they’ve escaped and so this is just the tip of the iceberg. And if we think this is terrible, I predict we will have many, many more days, weeks, and months of terrible things like this.”Elsewhere on Meet the Press, former secretary of defense James Mattis warned that ISIS could see a revival in the area, noting the Syrian Democratic Forces were the ones who largely fought the terror group in Syria. If we don’t keep pressure on, ISIS will resurge,” Mattis said. “It’s absolutely a given that they will come back.”During his State of the Union interview, South Bend Mayor and Afghanistan War veteran Pete Buttigieg insisted Trump was “systematically destroying American allies and American values.”“What’s even more disturbing to me as a veteran is hearing from soldiers who feel they have lost their honor over this, who feel they are unable to look in the eye [of] allies who put their lives on line to fight with us,” he added. “If you take away a soldier’s honor, you might as well go after their body armor next. That is what the commander-in-chief is doing right now.”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.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 11:18:59 -0400
  • Israeli president asks Putin to pardon imprisoned tourist

    Israel's president has asked Russian leader Vladimir Putin to pardon a young Israeli woman imprisoned on drug charges in Russia. Naama Issachar, 26, was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison last week after being arrested at Moscow's international airport in April reportedly with 9.6 grams of marijuana in her bag. Israeli officials have indicated that Russia is using the case to push for the release of an alleged Russian hacker that Israel is in the process of extraditing to the U.S.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 11:03:45 -0400
  • UPDATE 3-Britain and EU say work remains to be done to reach Brexit deal

    LONDON/BRUSSELS, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Britain and the European Union said on Sunday a lot more work would be needed to secure an agreement on Britain's departure form the bloc. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his cabinet a last-minute deal was still possible as the two sides pressed on with intensive talks to try to avoid a disorderly Brexit on Oct. 31, the date set for Britain's departure. Britain said the latest talks had been "constructive" and there would be more talks on Monday.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 10:21:58 -0400
  • 10 things you need to know today: October 13, 2019

    1.Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, will reportedly testify to Congress next week that President Trump assured him he was not withholding military aid to Ukraine in return for Kyiv investigating former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter, a personal familiar with his testimony said. Sondland will reportedly say that a text message he wrote denying a quid pro quo with Ukraine came after he spoke with Trump, who told him there was no such thing. Sondland will reportedly tell Congress he is unsure as to why the aid was held up. At the same, Sondland will reportedly testify that he has no knowledge as to whether Trump may have changed his mind on the matter at some point, though he did believe Trump at the time. Sondland plans to testify Thursday. [The Washington Post, NBC News] 2.Hundreds of people with suspected links to the Islamic State reportedly escaped from a camp for displaced people near a U.S.-coalition base in northern Syria on Sunday amid a Turkish military offensive in the region, Syrian Kurdish officials said. The camp is home to around 12,000 people, including around 1,000 wives and widows of ISIS fighters and their children. The Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria said in a statement that 950 ISIS supporters escaped as clashes broke out between Turkey-backed Syrian fighters and Kurdish forces, though The Associated Press was not immediately able to confirm that number. The remaining inhabitants of the camp are reportedly being evacuated by U.S. forces to another area. [The Guardian, The Associated Press] 3.Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is headed to a runoff with Republican businessman Eddie Rispone after failing to secure at least 50 percent of the vote which would have given him the victory in Saturday's all party primary. Edwards did receive a plurality, taking in 47 percent of the vote, but it wasn't enough. Rispone beat out fellow Republican candidate, Rep. Ralph Abraham (D-La.), 27 percent to 24 percent, earning a head-to-head contest with Edwards on Nov. 16. The runoff is expected to be tightly contested — Edwards held significant leads over both Rispone and Abraham in most polls, but the two Republicans garnered more than half the vote Saturday, so a lot will depend on which direction Abraham's supporters head. Edwards is considered a conservative Democrat and holds an anti-abortion stance. [Politico, Fox News] 4.As of Sunday afternoon, Typhoon Hagibis had killed at least 33 people and left another 19 missing after it tore through Japan on Saturday and early Sunday with winds around the eye of the storm reaching up to 90 mph. Several cities across the country experienced flooding after levees failed amid record rainfall. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the damage from the storm, which was the largest to make landfall in Japan in decades, was "enormous," as the military was dispatched to help rescue victims. Despite the fallout, many people were well-prepared for Hagibis, and the damage reportedly could have been much worse without the proper planning. Transport services in the typhoon-affected areas are reportedly returning to normal after a near total shutdown Saturday. [The Japan Times, The Wall Street Journal] 5.Pro-democracy, anti-Beijing protests suddenly erupted in Hong Kong on Sunday for the 19th consecutive weekend. Thousands of protesters defying a ban on face masks reportedly coordinated flash-mob gatherings over social media and encrypted messaging apps, spreading out across at least 10 of the city's 18 districts. The demonstrations, which were less organized than previous rallies, reportedly grew violent, and police said a protester used a sharp object to slash an officer in the neck. The officer was reportedly conscious after suffering the injury and transferred to a hospital, and two people were reportedly arrested at the scene. Protesters also reportedly vandalized targeted shops and threw objects onto railway tracks, as police reportedly attempted to restore order. [The South China Morning Post, The New York Times] 6.A Fort Worth, Texas, police officer shot and killed a 28-year-old woman, identified as Atatiana Koquice Jefferson, inside a home Saturday while searching the residence after a neighbor reported the door was open. Body-camera footage released by Fort Worth Police reveals that the officer, while searching the home, at one point yelled, "Put your hands up! Show me your hands!" before shooting into a window, all within the span of three seconds. Officers reportedly found a firearm in the bedroom, but it is unclear if Jefferson was holding the weapon at the time of the shooting. The neighbor who called a non-emergency police number after seeing the open door, said he's been coping with guilt. "It makes you not want to call the police department," he said. [The Dallas Morning News, NBC News] 7.Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Bill Gates has maintained he didn't "have any business relationship or friendship" with the late millionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was arrested for sex trafficking minors earlier this year and later killed himself in a Manhattan prison cell. But The New York Times reports that Gates met with Epstein on numerous occasions since 2011, years after Epstein was first convicted of sex crimes more than a decade ago. Gates reportedly visited Epstein's Manhattan townhouse at least three times. A spokeswoman for Gates said he regrets ever meeting with Epstein, with whom he met multiple times to discuss philanthropy, but added that Gates did not socialize or attend parties with Epstein. [Business Insider, The New York Times] 8.Poland's ruling right-wing Law and Justice Party is favored to come out on top again in the country's parliamentary elections, which are taking place Sunday. The latest polls before voting began showed Law and Justice leading with 42 percent of the vote, 20 points ahead of its closest challenger. Law and Justice is a controversial party — opponents argue it has interfered in the judiciary, suppressed freedom of the press, and ignored Poland's constitution, generally. The party's leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has repeatedly emphasized the importance of the traditional family unit throughout his campaign while warning of dangers posed by the LGBTQ community. The party is aiming to win a majority of seats, but has at least two possible coalition partners, including a conservative agrarian party and a far-right party that is reportedly openly anti-Semitic. [The Washington Post, Al Jazeera] 9.Following days of violent protests, the United Nations says that representatives from Ecuador's government and the country's indigenous groups will meet Sunday for their first direct talks as protesters demand the return of fuel subsidies which the government scrapped during a push for austerity. Ecuador's President Lenín Moreno imposed a curfew enforced by the military Saturday in Quito, the country's capital, in attempt to quell the unrest over the subsidies. Fuel prices soared after the public spending cuts, which spurred the protests in the streets. The indigenous protesters had previously turned down calls to negotiate with Quito, but reportedly reversed course on the condition that the talks were broadcast and not held behind closed doors. [BBC, The Guardian] 10.At least one member of the Los Angeles Angels was reportedly aware of late pitcher Tyler Skaggs' drug usage, ESPN's Outside the Lines reports. Skaggs, who died in July and was found to have oxycodone, fentanyl, and alcohol in his system, reportedly received opiates from Eric Kay, the team's director of communications. Kay told federal investigators that he provided Skaggs with oxycodone and abused it with him over an extended period of time, and that two other Angels officials were aware of the drug use. Kay also reportedly gave investigators the names of other players who he believed were using opiates while playing for Los Angeles. [ESPN, The Wall Street Journal]

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 09:58:00 -0400
  • Mattis: Trump's troop pullout will lead to 'disarray' in Syria and Isis resurgence news

    * Ex-defense secretary calls resurgence of Isis ‘a given’ * Kurds say 785 Isis affiliates escape camp after Turkish shellingJames Mattis declined the opportunity to directly criticise his former boss, Donald Trump. Photograph: Leah Millis/ReutersThe former defense secretary James Mattis has said Donald Trump’s abrupt withdrawal of US troops from the Syria-Turkey border has increased the chances of a resurgence of Islamic State. But the retired general passed up an opportunity to directly criticise the president.“If we don’t keep the pressure on,” Mattis told NBC’s Meet the Press, “then Isis will resurge. It’s absolutely a given that they will come back.”After Mattis’s remarks were released, the Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria said 785 foreign individuals affiliated with Isis had escaped the camp where they were being held, following heavy Turkish shelling.Trump announced the US withdrawal on Monday after a call with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The surprise announcement prompted widespread accusations of a betrayal of Kurds allied to the US in war-torn Syria. Turkey, which regards some Kurdish groups as terrorists, swiftly attacked. The president also said Erdoğan would visit the White House.Trump faced stringent attacks from both sides of the aisle. In Washington on Saturday night he held his ground, telling the conservative Values Voter Summit he was “an island of one”.“We have to bring our great heroes, our great soldiers, we have to bring them home,” he insisted. “It’s time. It’s time.”> If we don’t keep the pressure on, then Isis will resurge. It’s absolutely a given that they will come back> > James MattisOn Sunday morning, Trump warmed to his theme. The president said it was “very smart not to be involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish border, for a change”, amid a stream of tweets that included a startling statement: “Others may want to come in and fight for one side or the other. Let them!”In more measured tones, defense secretary Mike Esper told CBS’ Face the Nation “it’s a very terrible situation over there” but insisted roughly 1,000 US troops would be evacuated in a “deliberate withdrawal”.US forces are not yet out of harm’s way. The Washington Post reported that Turkish forces which shelled an area where US special forces troops remained on Friday had known for months they were there.Brett McGurk, the former US envoy to the global coalition against Isis who resigned over Trump’s attempts to withdraw from Syria, told the Post: “Turkey wants us off the entire border region to a depth of 30km [20 miles]. Based on all the facts available, these were warning fires on a known location, not inadvertent rounds.”Turkey is facing threats of US sanctions – reiterated by Trump in his speech on Saturday night – unless it calls off the incursion. Two of its Nato allies, Germany and France, have said they are halting weapons exports and the Arab League has denounced the operation.But airstrikes and shelling continue in Kurdish areas and harrowing scenes among panicked and grieving refugees are being reported worldwide. More than 130,000 people have been displaced from rural areas around Tel Abyad and Ras al Ain as a result of the fighting, the United Nations said. Turkish forces and their Syrian allies seized large parts of the town of Suluk, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday, the fifth day of the offensive.On Saturday, CNN reported that earlier this week Gen Mazloum Kobani Abdi, head of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, told a senior US diplomat: “You have given up on us. You are leaving us to be slaughtered.”Also on Saturday, another SDF commander told a press conference: “The protection of Isis prisons will not remain our priority. The defence of our soil will be prioritised if [the] Turkish military continues its attacks.”On Sunday, the Kurds said some Isis prisoners had escaped. In an apparent reference to Turkish-backed Syrian insurgents, the Kurds said mercenaries attacked a camp where Isis “elements” attacked guards and opened the gates.“The brutal military assault led by Turkey and its mercenaries is now taking place near a camp in Ain Issa, where there are thousands from families of Isis,” the Kurds said, adding “some were able to escape after bombardments that targeted” the camp.Mattis discussed the threat of an Isis resurgence on NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd, in an interview to be broadcast in full on Sunday.“It’s in a situation of disarray right now,” he said in excerpts released by the broadcaster. “Obviously, the Kurds are adapting to the Turkish attacks. And we’ll have to see if they’re able to maintain the fight against Isis. It’s going to have an impact. The question is, how much?”Asked if the US would regret Trump’s decision, Mattis said: “We have got to keep the pressure on Isis so they don’t recover.“We may want a war over. We may even declare it over. You can pull your troops out as President Obama learned the hard way out of Iraq, but the ‘enemy gets the vote’, we say in the military. And in this case, if we don’t keep the pressure on, then Isis will resurge. It’s absolutely a given that they will come back.”Trump said this week any militant prisoners escaping from camps guarded by Kurds “will be escaping to Europe”. He also said the Kurds “didn’t help us in the second world war, they didn’t help us in Normandy, for example”.Mattis’s apparent disinclination to directly criticise the president, even as Syria spirals into ever worse chaos as a result of US actions, is in keeping with his approach since resigning in December 2018.The retired US Marine Corps general has said he has a “duty of silence” regarding the president he served. That commitment has held despite Mattis having resigned, like McGurk, in response to an earlier attempt by Trump to pull US troops from Syria and in protest at his treatment of America’s allies.In September, Mattis published a memoir, Call Sign Chaos. The book skirted his service to Trump, focusing instead on his career in the US armed forces.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 09:44:11 -0400
  • Significant work to do, but Brexit deal still possible, UK PM Johnson tells cabinet

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his cabinet on Sunday that a Brexit deal was still possible but that there was significant work to be done to reach one, a spokeswoman from his office said in a statement. "The Prime Minister updated Cabinet on the current progress being made in ongoing Brexit negotiations, reiterating that a pathway to a deal could be seen but that there is still a significant amount of work to get there and we must remain prepared to leave on October 31," the spokeswoman said.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 09:39:04 -0400
  • Trump’s Syria Blunder Could Bring Order to Chaos

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- The deal with Turkey to pull U.S. troops out of Syria is a typical Trumpian mess, with rash, poorly planned presidential action leading to pernicious — and downright bloody — consequences. Yet that initiative also represents an effort, badly executed and communicated, to bring about a paradigm shift in America's war on terror. President Donald Trump is trying to usher in a fourth phase of that post-9/11 conflict, in which the U.S. would accept greater security risk as the price of reducing the ongoing costs of involvement in the greater Middle East. He is running head-on into opposition from many in his own party, who are still more inclined to pay higher costs to buy down the threat of terrorist attacks. Trump is so far getting the worst of the debate. But the underlying issue he has raised is not going away anytime soon. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the U.S. struggle against terrorism has gone through three phases. The first phase was the "anywhere, anytime" approach taken by the George W. Bush administration in the years following 9/11. The U.S. mounted large-scale invasions and long-term nation-building projects in Iraq and Afghanistan. The possibility of devastating follow-on attacks seemed unacceptably high, so U.S. officials were willing to pay quite a price to suppress terrorist groups, defeat state sponsors, and attempt to transform the conditions that produced violent extremism.The frustrations of this approach – particularly the horrifically botched and costly occupation of Iraq – eventually led to a second phase of the war on terrorism. The Barack Obama administration emphasized lighter-footprint operations using drones and special operations forces, and it withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq, the war the president had made his reputation opposing. After initially — and reluctantly — surging more U.S. troops into Afghanistan, the Obama administration also began to wind down the American presence there after 2011. This strategy seemed effective for a time, but allowed the threat to come back with a vengeance, with rise of the Islamic State across Syria and Iraq in 2013-2014.This setback led to a third phase of the fight against global terrorism, which began in the final innings of the Obama presidency and continued, for a time, under Trump. Having seen that relaxing the pressure on the enemy could backfire — and with ISIS and its sympathizers having perpetrated major attacks in Europe and the U.S. — American officials sought a middle ground between the two earlier approaches. This became a medium-footprint approach that employed modest numbers of ground troops, while also using airpower, logistics, intelligence and other enablers to support local partners in the fight against ISIS. Trump is now seeking to shift U.S. strategy once again. The president has no objection to smashing terrorist organizations that are suspected of plotting attacks against the U.S. Yet he seems desperate to end the post-conflict stability operations that tend to follow even medium-footprint operations like the one in Syria. The U.S. should “ONLY FIGHT TO WIN,” he tweeted on Oct. 7, after American forces began to pull back from the Syria-Turkey border. If the threat returns, the U.S. can again apply overwhelming force: “We are 7000 miles away and will crush ISIS again if they come anywhere near us!”There are a number of obvious problems with what the president is proposing. By paving the way for a Turkish invasion of northern Syria, the U.S. pullback is likely to distract and weaken the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces — America’s principal ally there — and thereby make easier an ISIS resurgence. Trump’s policy has the smell of abandoning the Kurds to the tender mercies an autocratic Turkish regime that is frequently hostile to American policy objectives. U.S. retrenchment may also set off a scramble for influence in northern Syria, empowering Russia, Iran and other bad actors. For all these reasons, the president’s decision earned harsh rebukes in Washington: Senator Lindsey Graham, who had backed Trump strongly since the 2016 election, called the pullback “the biggest mistake of his presidency.” Yet when one cuts through the specific critiques of Trump’s policy, the basic dispute comes back to a familiar issue: competing assessments of cost and risk. Trump is determined to drive down the material price of U.S. involvement in the Middle East, a region he sees as having little strategic importance. So he is willing to accept a greater risk that groups such as ISIS will not stay defeated over the long run. “It is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home,” he wrote in the Oct. 7 tweetstorm. If ISIS does stage a comeback, he added, perhaps it will target Europe before it targets America. Yet most Republican leaders, apart from dovish or non-interventionist outliers like Senator Rand Paul, are using a different calculus. Graham, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others in the GOP caucus seem more inclined to hedge against the risks of an ISIS resurgence, even if that means bearing higher monetary and human costs in the meantime. A U.S. withdrawal “would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup,” McConnell noted in a rare public critique of the president. He warned that Trump is in danger of repeating Obama’s error in pulling back prematurely from Iraq and then having to intervene once again after the American position has deteriorated badly. Political and security concerns work hand-in-hand here: If the U.S. withdraws from Syria or Afghanistan and the result is a major terrorist attack in Europe or America, Republicans risk gifting Democrats the ability to brand them as being soft on terror.So far, Trump is struggling to shift U.S. strategy and the calculations underlying it. Opinion polls show that Americans, Republicans especially, still place terrorism at or near the top of the list of security threats facing the country. In gesturing toward retrenchment in the Middle East, the president has run into not only a firestorm of criticism from his own party but also resistance from within his own administration. The last time he threatened to pull troops out of Syria, in December, his secretary of defense, Jim Mattis, resigned. The president may still insist on full withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan, but he will have to pay a political price within the Republican Party to do so.Yet even if Trump doesn’t succeed in ending the forever wars, the basic question he has raised will persist. He has had little success moving the Republican Party on terrorism-related issues, but many Democrats — including some of the party’s leading presidential candidates — have also called for ending America’s wars in the Middle East. The pull of competing priorities in Europe and the Indo-Pacific will only become stronger in the coming years. The U.S. will increasingly be torn between its desire to be done with frustrating wars in the Middle East and its reasonable fears about what will happen after its troops depart.Trump, no doubt, is one of a kind, and he deserves no praise for a policy that has helped bring chaos to one of the few relatively stable areas of Syria. But the debate he has set off over how to balance cost and risk in the war on terrorism will shake up U.S. policy for years to come.To contact the author of this story: Hal Brands at Hal.Brands@jhu.eduTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Tobin Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Hal Brands is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist, the Henry Kissinger Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, and a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Most recently, he is the co-author of "The Lessons of Tragedy: Statecraft and World Order."For more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 09:00:05 -0400
  • The Latest: UN: talks to end Ecuador crisis to start Sunday news

    The United Nations and Ecuadorian Bishops' Conference have announced that talks between indigenous protest leaders and Ecuador's government will begin at 3 p.m. local time (4 p.m. EDT) Sunday. The announcement came after President Lenín Moreno ordered a 24-hour curfew and the army took to the streets in response to a day of attacks on government buildings and media offices.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 08:53:35 -0400
  • Sudanese rebel groups seek peace after years of fighting news

    Sudan's new, transitional authorities have six months to make peace with the country's rebels under a power-sharing deal reached this summer between the military and the pro-democracy movement following the ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in April. Talks with the rebels are to officially start Monday in neighboring South Sudan's capital. Sudanese government officials met informally with a rebel leader in Juba this week to prepare for the talks.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 08:43:24 -0400
  • Ecuador president to hold talks with indigenous leaders following deadly anti-austerity protests news

    A first meeting between Ecuador's president and indigenous leaders will take place on Sunday, the United Nations said, after Lenin Moreno ordered a curfew and military control in the capital to try to quell deadly, anti-austerity protests. The rolling demonstrations have left six people dead and nearly 2,100 wounded or detained, according to authorities, with protesters on Saturday targeting a television station and a newspaper as well as setting fire to the comptroller general's office. Sunday's meeting will be held in the capital Quito, the UN and Catholic Church said in a joint statement. "We put our trust in the goodwill of all to establish a dialogue in good faith and find a quick solution to the complicated situation in the country," they added. The crisis broke out at the start of October after Moreno ordered fuel subsidies cut as part of a deal struck by his government to obtain a $4.2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. CONAIE, the indigenous umbrella group leading the protests, had previously rejected an offer of dialogue and said the talks would focus on "the repeal or revision of the decree" that has left consumers paying more than double for fuel. Ecuador's indigenous groups make up a quarter of the country's 17.3 million people. Thousands from disadvantaged communities in the Amazon and the Andes have traveled to Quito where they are spearheading demands that the subsidies continue.   Demonstrators on Saturday ransacked and set fire to the building housing the comptroller general's office, which was shrouded in thick smoke after being attacked with fire bombs. The prosecutor's office said 34 people were arrested. Nearby, protesters built barricades in front of the National Assembly building as police fired tear gas at them, according to AFP journalists. The Teleamazonas TV channel interrupted its regular broadcast to air images of broken windows, a burned vehicle and heavy police presence on the scene. "For about half an hour, we were under attack. They threw stones at us, forced open the doors and threw Molotov cocktails," presenter Milton Perez said. The station evacuated 25 employees, none of them hurt. El Comercio newspaper reported on Twitter that its offices were attacked by a "group of unknowns." It did not provide further details. "We have nothing to do with the events at the comptroller's office and Teleamazonas," said CONAIE. Protesters did not immediately heed the curfew that went into effect at 3:00 pm (2000 GMT), with security forces still struggling to impose order in some parts of the city as night fell. "Where are the mothers and fathers of the police? Why do they let them kill us?" cried Nancy Quinyupani, an indigenous woman. The restrictions in Quito, a city of 2.7 million, came on top of a state of emergency Moreno had declared on October 3, deploying some 75,000 military and police and imposing a nighttime curfew in the vicinity of government buildings. In televised comments, Moreno said Saturday "was a sad day for Ecuador." "Dark forces linked to organized political delinquency and led by Correa and Maduro, with the complicity of narcoterrorism, criminal groups and violent foreign citizens have caused never-before-seen violence," he added. It is the second time Moreno has accused his predecessor Rafael Correa and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of orchestrating the crisis to destabilize the country. The violence has forced Moreno to relocate his government to Ecuador's second city, Guayaquil, and has hit the oil industry hard with the energy ministry suspending more than two-thirds of its distribution of crude. Protesters seized three oil facilities in the Amazon earlier this week. Moreno is struggling with an economic crisis that he blames on waste and corruption by Correa's administration.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 07:17:42 -0400
  • Countdown to divorce: Meetings that will decide Brexit

    The following events will determine whether Britain exits the European Union as planned on Oct. 31 or the three-year-old Brexit saga takes another twist. Oct. 13 - German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron meet at the Elysee Palace to prepare for upcoming summits where Brexit will top the agenda. If the EU is to make a breakthrough concession on the terms of Britain's exit from the blloc, it will require the blessing of the bloc's two most influential members.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 06:33:35 -0400
  • Brexit hangs in the balance as talks between EU and Britain intensify

    Brexit talks with the European Union aimed at striking a last-minute divorce deal are getting serious, Britain said on Sunday, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepared to update his cabinet on the state of negotiations. In a pivotal week that could decide the future of Brexit and the fate of the world's fifth largest economy, Johnson is trying to strike an exit deal with the EU to allow an orderly departure on Oct. 31.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 06:24:02 -0400
  • CORRECTED-Putin says a new Syrian constitution should guarantee all groups' rights - Arabiya

    Russian President Vladimir Putin said any new constitution that is drawn up for Syria should guarantee the rights of all ethnic and religions groups. Russia has been a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his war with rebels and militants.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 05:41:30 -0400
  • Iran Leader Asks Military to Enhance Weapon Systems, ISNA Says

    (Bloomberg) -- Iran’s supreme leader called on the country’s elite military force to work on strengthening its weapon capabilities and produce more of its own military equipment."The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ military tools must be advanced," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was cited as saying by the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency. "Have a look today at what you need in the fields of military and intelligence and pursue that."To contact the reporter on this story: Golnar Motevalli in Tehran at gmotevalli@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lin Noueihed at, Shaji Mathew, Claudia MaedlerFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 05:40:23 -0400
  • UPDATE 4-Khamenei tells Iran's Guards to develop advanced, modern weapons

    Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards on Sunday to develop more advanced and modern weapons, amid increasingly tense disputes with the United States and Gulf Arab states. Tensions in the Gulf have risen to new highs since May 2018, when the Trump administration withdrew from a 2015 international nuclear accord with Tehran that put limits on its nuclear programme in exchange for the easing of sanctions.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 05:28:52 -0400
  • Xi Says Any Attempt to Split China Will Be Crushed: Xinhua news

    (Bloomberg) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping told Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli that those attempting to split China will be crushed, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.Xi said any external force backing the split of China will be considered as delusional by Chinese people, the report said. Oli said Nepal firmly supports China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and won’t allow Nepal’s territory to be used for separatist activities against China, Xinhua reported. Nepal is adjacent to China’s region of Tibet, where Beijing has long sought to suppress separatist sentimentTo contact the reporter on this story: Huang Zhe in Beijing at zhuang37@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Shamim Adam at, Brendan ScottFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 04:43:27 -0400
  • Aramco Showcases Oil-Attack Recovery Though Damage Remains news

    (Bloomberg) -- Saudi Aramco showed it has made significant progress in restoring damaged oil infrastructure to normal operation just a month after a devastating aerial attack halted production. But work remains to be done.A visit to the Khurais oil field on Saturday revealed gleaming stabilization towers, four of which were hit in the strike by missiles and drones on Sept. 14. While one of the towers shown to reporters remained a charred wreck, Aramco insisted that the site is now able to operate at full capacity for limited periods.Workers at the state-run oil giant worked 24 hours a day to restore output after the attacks on Khurais and the Abqaiq processing plant disabled 5% of global supply. A trip to Khurais a week after the assault showed equipment scorched and ruptured, with several stabilization units -- 90-meter (300-foot) towers that reduce pressure and remove gas from the crude -- burnt out.Yet Aramco made surprisingly swift progress with repairs, returning production to pre-attack levels by the end of last month. Oil prices, having surged the most on record immediately after the strikes, gave up their gains as traders turned their attention to slowing economic growth and demand concerns.The Khurais field has a maximum output capacity of 1.45 million barrels a day. An Aramco official said Saturday it’s now technically possible to operate the site at full capacity, having shown it can run it flat-out for about a day.A subsequent visit to the Abqaiq plant, some 150 miles from Khurais, showed the restoration of further stabilization towers. Five there were hit in the attack and three are now running as normal, Khaled Al Buraik, Aramco’s vice president for southern-area oil production, told reporters. It may take as long as six weeks to fully restore all the towers, a company official said.That chimes with comments from Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, who said last month that a return to the company’s full 12 million-barrel-a-day capacity is unlikely before the end of November.Abqaiq was struck 18 times in total, with 11 hits on its giant spheroids, which separate natural gas and water from the oil. Saturday’s visit showed that all of the so-called three-phase spheroids have been repaired. Primary-separation spheroids are also back to normal, according to Aramco, though the affected tanks are still partly shrouded in scaffolding, which could indicate some repairs continue.Saudi and U.S. officials said that the drones and missiles used in the attacks were made by Iran, though Tehran denied involvement. The incident ratcheted up instability in the world’s most important oil-producing region, where tensions increased further on Friday as Iran said missiles had struck one of its tankers in the Red Sea.\--With assistance from Anthony DiPaola.To contact the reporter on this story: Dina Khrennikova in Moscow at dkhrennikova@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: James Herron at, Amanda Jordan, James AmottFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 01:59:07 -0400
  • Pakistan's PM leaves for Iran, Saudi Arabia to ease tensions

    Pakistan's prime minister is headed to the Iranian capital as part of his country's ongoing efforts to ease tensions between archrivals Iran and Saudi Arabia. Khan will meet Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 01:55:58 -0400
  • Merkel’s Spending Drive Thwarted by Bats, Lizards and Red Tape news

    (Bloomberg) -- Explore what’s moving the global economy in the new season of the Stephanomics podcast. Subscribe via Pocket Cast or iTunes.Visitors arriving by train in Stuttgart are met with a gaping hole that tells a sobering tale about Germany’s challenges in ramping up investment.It’s an infamous railway construction project, dreamed up in the 1990s and now billions of euros over budget and at least four years behind schedule. Among the reasons for the delay to the roughly 8 billion-euro ($9 billion) Stuttgart 21 development are a cumbersome planning process and ecological rules protecting lizards.That parable of red tape is a familiar one across Germany and underscores the problems facing the country as it risks stumbling into recession. Home to manufacturing powerhouses Daimler AG and Robert Bosch GmbH, Stuttgart should be a prime candidate for realizing the government stimulus economists are calling for. But it’s not that simple.“Funds aren’t the issue,” said Detlef Kron, chief of Stuttgart’s planning department, as he unfurled a map of the town’s center strewn with numerous dark blue markers to represent new projects. Project paperwork can reach dozens of pages and environmental documentation can be triple that, he said.The administrative headaches he describes -- including a process lasting as long as four years to sort out building permission -- raises the question of whether the country can tackle commonplace problems like malfunctioning trains, old bridges and patchy wireless coverage quickly enough for it to make a meaningful difference to the economy.While critics charge Germany with being overzealous in its commitment to balanced budgets, Chancellor Angela Merkel insists that’s not the case. Germany has plenty of funds earmarked for investment, but the problem is “our planning and approval process is miserably slow,” she said at a union event in Nuremberg this month.There are detailed and ever-evolving environmental, social and safety requirements -- such as public hearings, changes to the fire code or impact assessments for endangered species -- that sometimes force already approved plans to be modified. That’s not to mention delays caused by lawsuits winding their way through the courts.Stuttgart 21 encroached on the habitat of protected lizards whose resettlement cost millions of euros. In the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, the construction of a motorway got stymied because officials hadn’t been thorough enough investigating its impact on bats.Planning requirements are one reason why a country synonymous with sophisticated engineering abroad has a track record on major infrastructure projects at home that borders on abysmal. In addition to Stuttgart 21, other quagmires include the Hamburg concert hall, a long-delayed overhaul of Berlin’s most prestigious opera house and the capital’s bungled airport.“Difficult and time-consuming planning and approval processes increasingly mean that important infrastructure projects can only be completed with a delay, or don’t get completed at all,” said Michael Stomberg, chief executive officer of construction company Bauer AG.The problem isn’t just limited to public projects. Germany ranks behind Serbia, France, Malaysia and Mongolia in a World Bank index for dealing with construction permits for commercial projects like warehouses.Even after planning hurdles have been cleared, it’s a further struggle to find construction crews and equipment amid a building boom, including pent-up demand for housing in major urban centers such as Berlin.“The construction industry is operating at full capacity, and that can present a challenge in terms of timing for everyone in the industry,” said Karl Wambach, executive vice president at Brookfield Properties Inc., which is redeveloping a shopping center at Potsdamer Platz, a symbolic location at the crossroads of former East and West Berlin.Such constraints haven’t deterred calls for Germany to build more. International Monetary Fund officials “encouraged the authorities to continue to use the available fiscal space to bolster potential growth.” In their last assessment of the economy in July, they put infrastructure investment at the top of their wish list.With low debt levels and negative interest rates meaning Germany would effectively be paid to sell bonds, the country has plenty of room to maneuver financially. But back in Stuttgart, where Kron’s department is struggling to find office space for planned new hires, that approach doesn’t make sense.“Why should we raise debt?” he said. “We can’t even spend the money that we have.”\--With assistance from David Verbeek, Raymond Colitt and Leonard Kehnscherper.To contact the reporters on this story: Catherine Bosley in Zurich at;Andrew Blackman in Berlin at ablackman@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Fergal O'Brien at, Craig Stirling, Chris ReiterFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 13 Oct 2019 01:00:00 -0400
  • Trump says he's an 'island of one' on Syria news

    President Donald Trump said Saturday that he is an "island of one" for removing U.S. forces from northeastern Syria. Turkey, however, regards those Kurdish fighters as a terrorist threat and has launched a military operation against them. Trump announced that he had directed $50 million in emergency aid for Syria to support Christians and other religious minorities there.

    Sat, 12 Oct 2019 23:27:31 -0400
  • UPDATE 1-UK's Johnson will speak to EU leaders on Brexit deal by end of Monday -Sunday Times

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will speak to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker by the end of Monday to urge the leaders to support his Brexit deal, the Sunday Times reported Johnson will offer the three leaders the option to either help him deliver a new deal this week, or to agree on a friendly version of a no-deal Brexit by Oct. 31, the newspaper said, citing a source familiar with the conversations. "He'll be talking to Merkel, Macron and Juncker by the end of Monday to see if there's agreement on a 'landing zone' for Northern Ireland and customs," the source was quoted as telling the newspaper.

    Sat, 12 Oct 2019 22:16:01 -0400
  • The Latest: Turkey says troops captured Syrian border town news

    France is halting exports of any arms to Turkey that could be used in its offensive against Kurds in Syria, and wants an immediate meeting of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State extremists. France's defense and foreign ministries made the announcement in a statement Saturday reiterating opposition to the Turkish military operation, which is facing growing international condemnation.

    Sat, 12 Oct 2019 21:29:33 -0400
  • Who Needs Financing More Than Businesses? Refugees

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Wall Streeters will happily expound upon the many uses of finance: to ensure the safety of assets and belongings, to solve timing problems between the outflow and inflow of capital, to allocate risks to parties that can best handle them and to channel resources to productive uses. What they may not have considered is who needs all those services more than anyone -- the world’s 70 million refugees and internally displaced people.That shocking number is the highest since World War II. What’s worse, people are being displaced for ever-longer periods of time: The average refugee today won’t break out of that status for over a decade. And, contrary to public perception in wealthy countries, developing nations host 90% of the global refugee population. Those countries are especially ill-prepared for the burden, given that they’re already struggling to meet the needs of their own citizens.Our basic approach to this challenge remains woefully outdated. At the outset of every crisis, there is a noble and heroic effort to provide safety and necessities such as food, tents and medicines. After this “emergency” phase, international attention and aid commitments drop precipitously.Only two years since more than half a million Rohingya refugees were driven out of Myanmar, the plan to cover their basic needs for this year is only one-quarter funded. Meanwhile, most refugees are prohibited by national laws from legally working, starting a business or accessing banks and financial services -- in short, they are blocked from striving to meet their own needs. Better access to finance could address many of these problems. For one thing, it’s important to remember that refugees are not completely destitute, at least not at the beginning of their periods of exile; many carry savings and valuables with them. That means they have a real need to protect their portable assets. Yet, because they typically aren’t allowed access to local banking systems, they face the risk of robbery and physical danger. They also forego, of course, any interest and capital accumulation their savings could generate. The United Nations already registers refugees in a secure system for the purposes of protection and aid distribution; in theory, that’s just a step from providing them basic, no-frills savings accounts. Another option would be for governments hosting large numbers of refugees to grant them access to the local banking system, as Pakistan has recently done. This would allow a sizeable influx of capital into developing countries, while ensuring the safety of refugees and their assets.Secondly, finance can help solve the imbalance between a quick surge of donations and long-term funding gaps. To do so, we need to take the initial spike of money and invest some of it to generate returns over time. If agencies could count on income coming in year-after-year, for example, they could more quickly switch to building durable infrastructure for refugee camps, including things like better roads and water treatment facilities.Third, since refugees are being hosted by some of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world, there is a critical need for insurance arrangements to mitigate disaster risks.  Half of the world’s top 10 refugee-hosting countries -- Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Sudan and Uganda -- are also among the nations most vulnerable to climate change.SwissRe AG has already worked with local insurers and NGOs in Bangladesh and Kenya on pilot projects to insure local farmers against crop failure and flood risks. These models should be extended to cover refugee populations; donor budgets can help cover the costs. Today, if a disaster hits, the affected country’s government and donors shoulder 100% of the burden. With an insurance arrangement in place, the costs would be shared by a much larger, more global set of financiers better equipped to weather the storm.Finally and most importantly, finance can help unleash the enormous potential of refugees and displaced people. It’s no accident that refugees -- including Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt, Vladimir Nabokov and Marc Chagall -- shine as some of our greatest examples of human accomplishment. Historically, when displaced people have been lucky enough to land in countries that allowed them to start businesses, the results have been spectacular. Nearly half of Fortune 500 companies were founded by refugees, immigrants or their children. Rather than allowing refugees to languish, we should invest in their productive capacities. Understandably, many governments fear that allowing refugees to work would take away job opportunities from their own citizens. Still, countries such as Ethiopia, Jordan and Uganda have recognized that their own self-interest -- as well as the moral imperative -- warrants allowing refugees to contribute their skills, resourcefulness and resilience to their economies. Studies show that when refugees are allowed to work formally, they are net contributors to the economies of both developed and developing countries.Much more needs to be done. The World Bank and other donors should help more governments take the brave step of allowing refugees to work. Following the examples of Jordan and Ethiopia, this could be done through large-scale investment and grant packages to create additional jobs for both refugees and host communities. There should also be venture capital for refugee entrepreneurs; credit lines, loan facilities and investment platforms for refugee businesses; and student loans for refugees to improve their skills.Finance has lived with a persistently bad reputation since the 2008 crisis. Yet it exists to solve certain basic problems that we cannot solve any other way. Refugees and displaced people face more of those challenges than anyone. It’s time we created the tools to address them. To contact the author of this story: Irene Yuan Sun atTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Nisid Hajari at nhajari@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Irene Yuan Sun is author of “The Next Factory of the World: How Chinese Investment is Reshaping Africa.” She is a visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development and a research fellow at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. For more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 12 Oct 2019 20:00:05 -0400
  • Turkish forces say they've captured key Syrian border town news

    Turkey's military said it captured a key Syrian border town under heavy bombardment Saturday in its most significant gain since an offensive against Kurdish fighters began four days ago, with no sign of relenting despite mounting international criticism. Turkish troops entered central Ras al-Ayn, according to Turkey's Defense Ministry and a war monitor group. The ministry tweeted: "Ras al-Ayn's residential center has been taken under control through the successful operations in the east of Euphrates" River.

    Sat, 12 Oct 2019 17:16:06 -0400
  • UK remains a long way from Brexit deal -BBC citing PM's office

    Britain remains a long way from getting a final Brexit deal and the next few days will be critical if it is to agree departure terms with the European Union, the BBC cited a source at Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office as saying. Negotiators for Britain and the EU have entered intense talks over the weekend to see if they can break the Brexit impasse after Johnson and his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar held talks this week and agreed they could see a pathway to a possible deal.

    Sat, 12 Oct 2019 17:04:55 -0400
  • Brexit Deal in Sight as Negotiators Wrestle With the Details news

    (Bloomberg) -- Follow @Brexit, sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, and tell us your Brexit story. The U.K. and European Union signaled a Brexit deal is in sight, with negotiators heading into intensive talks in Brussels as a potential compromise over the Irish border starts to emerge.With EU officials saying Boris Johnson had indicated a possible path to detailed talks, the U.K. prime minister planned to update his Cabinet on Sunday on progress toward a Brexit deal. Speculation that Britain will avoid dropping out of the EU without a divorce accord lifted the pound last week to its biggest two-day gain in a decade, though both sides cautioned that much work remains to be done for Britain to leave by Johnson’s Oct. 31 deadline.At issue are the prime minister’s plans to take Northern Ireland out of Europe’s customs union and give Stormont, its power-sharing assembly, a veto over the arrangement. The first would trigger the return of checks on goods crossing the frontier, something the Irish government and the EU oppose. The second would hand Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party an effective veto over the deal, something unacceptable south of the border.DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds rejected any weakening of Northern Ireland’s custom ties with the U.K. and said his party is awaiting the outcome of the talks in Brussels, Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper quoted him as saying in an interview.A possible compromise is a British idea for Northern Ireland to technically leave Europe’s customs union but for the province to adhere to EU customs rules and tariffs, according to two officials. This would have the twin benefit of preventing a border on the island of Ireland and enabling the U.K. to strike trade deals around the world.It’s similar to a “customs partnership” plan the EU rejected in 2018, and would leave Northern Ireland with a different customs regime to the rest of the U.K. British authorities would have to collect tariffs on behalf of the bloc on goods crossing the Irish Sea. EU officials said the proposal is extremely complicated and needs work before it could be considered to be a solution, but didn’t rule out that it could emerge as the compromise.“Getting Brexit done by 31 October is absolutely crucial, and we are continuing to work on an exit deal so we can move on to negotiating a future relationship based on free trade and friendly cooperation with our European friends,” Johnson said in a statement.BackstopEU officials view the only sure-fire solution as an arrangement that keeps Northern Ireland in the customs union, the so-called backstop. While there’s no discussion yet of putting a time limit on that arrangement, something the EU has previously rejected, one EU official said that it could yet be considered.Any agreement would have to be backed by Parliament in London, where Johnson is reliant on the DUP. The party staunchly opposes subjecting Northern Ireland to different customs rules than the rest of the U.K.After EU officials said Johnson indicated he was prepared to make sufficient concessions to allow detailed talks to begin, teams from both sides started work Saturday to explore whether they can arrive at the basis of an accord ahead of a summit of EU leaders that begins Thursday.Can Johnson Get a Deal Through Parliament? Silence Is GoldenIn a meeting with envoys of the bloc’s remaining 27 countries on Friday, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, suggested that Johnson is softening his stance on both customs and Stormont’s consent. In what would potentially be a significant climb-down, Johnson acknowledged there should be no customs border on the island of Ireland, two officials said. When asked in a pooled interview for British television, Johnson declined to say whether Northern Ireland will leave the EU’s customs union.“There is a joint feeling that there is a way forward, that we can see a pathway to a deal,” he said. “That doesn’t mean it’s a done deal. There’s work to be done.”Ship of StateIn an article for the Sunday Telegraph, Jacob Rees-Mogg -- whose hardcore anti-EU stance has peppered the airwaves since the 2016 referendum -- suggested that some Brexiteers will have to come around to accepting Johnson’s compromises.“As a Leaver, Boris can be trusted,” Rees-Mogg wrote. “If he thinks the ship of state is worth an extra ha’porth of tar, he deserves support.”While negotiations are heading into a new intensive phase, they aren’t headed into the full “tunnel,” the formal Brussels process by which the actual legal text of an agreement is thrashed out in secret.This suggests that the EU still has reservations about the chances of getting a deal done, and that member states are unwilling to outsource the process entirely to Barnier and his team.The European Commission will update the EU’s national envoys Sunday, with the aim of having something concrete for EU affairs ministers to look at when they meet in Luxembourg on Tuesday to prepare for the summit.sDUP Leader Arlene Foster fired a warning shot against trying to keep Northern Ireland in the EU customs union, though she stopped short of explicitly withholding support from the prime minister.“Those who know anything about Northern Ireland will appreciate that these issues will only work with the support of the unionist as well as the nationalist community,” she said in a statement.For all the optimism, there’s still a long way to go.European Council President Donald Tusk said the U.K. hadn’t yet “come forward with a workable, realistic proposal.”But there are “promising signals,” he said.(Updates with DUP leader’s comments in fourth paragraph, Johnson comments in seventh)\--With assistance from Dara Doyle, Nikos Chrysoloras and Alexander Weber.To contact the reporter on this story: Ian Wishart in Brussels at iwishart@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at, James LuddenFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 12 Oct 2019 17:00:10 -0400
  • 9 members of same family killed in attack in Egypt's Sinai

    EL-ARISH, Egypt (AP) — A shell hit a truck carrying civilians in Egypt's restive northern Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, killing at least nine people of the same family, security officials and medics said. It was not immediately clear who was behind the shelling, which struck the family while they were returning home from their olive farm, according to two residents in the town. Separately, officials say seven security forces were wounded when two explosive devices hit armored vehicles in Bir al-Abd and the town of Rafah, along the border with Gaza.

    Sat, 12 Oct 2019 16:47:10 -0400
  • Saudi king approves U.S. military deployment -SPA

    Saudi Arabia's king and crown prince have approved the deployment of additional U.S. troops and equipment, after an attack last month on the kingdom's oil facilities, state news agency SPA reported on Saturday. The United States announced a deployment of about 3,000 troops to the Gulf state, including fighter squadrons, an air expeditionary wing and air defense personnel, amid heightened tensions with Saudi's arch-rival Iran. President Donald Trump said the Saudis had agreed to pay for the deployment.

    Sat, 12 Oct 2019 15:27:11 -0400
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