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No-deal Brexit looms as race for new British PM wraps up

The battle to be Britain's next prime minister enters its final straight on Wednesday with both candidates hardening their positions on Brexit, putting the future government on a collision course with Brussels. Ex-London Mayor Boris Johnson, the favourite to replace Theresa May, and foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, are now both referring to Britain's departure with no overall deal in place as a realistic prospect. The business community and many lawmakers fear dire economic consequences from a no-deal Brexit which would lead to immediate trade tariffs for certain sectors including the automotive industry.

Germany introducing mandatory measles vaccination for kids

The German government is proposing a measure to make measles vaccinations mandatory for children and employees of kindergartens and schools. Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet approved the plan Wednesday, noting the number of measles infections has risen significantly in recent years. In the phased-in program beginning in March, parents of school-aged children, starting at kindergarten, will have to provide proof of vaccination.


China issues 17,000 smart watches to pupils to track movements

A local government in southern China has handed out smart watches to nearly 17,000 primary school pupils, capable of pinging their real-time locations and emergency alerts to their parents. The watches, distributed to students in 60 schools, are equipped with chips powered by BeiDou, China’s own version of GPS, according to the Guangzhou Daily, a Chinese state media outlet. GPS is a system developed and owned by the US government. “With this watch, Mom and Dad can know where I am, and I can call and voice message them immediately after class,” one enthusiastic fourth-grader told state media. The smart watch-tracking government program is entirely voluntary and about half of the devices distributed have already come online. Plans are in place to issue another 13,000 smart watches to students, and the authorities will soon begin handing them out to elderly people. User information will be uploaded to a database maintained by China’s ministry of public security and the ministry of industry and information technology, according to state media. Cities in China have been getting creative in finding new ways to monitor students and curb truancy with the latest technologies. In December, more than ten schools in Guizhou and Guangxi provinces began requiring students to wear “intelligent uniforms” embedded with computer chips to track their movements and trigger an alarm if they skip class, according to state media. China sent a satellite of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System into space in June Credit: Xinhua / Barcroft Media Two chips, sown into the shoulders of school jackets, can sustain around 500 wash cycles and temperatures of 150 degrees Celsius. Facial recognition scanners at school gates match the chips with the correct students, meaning anyone who tries to swap jackets in order to play truant will be caught. Alarms will also sound if a pupil falls asleep in class. Last May, a high school in Hangzhou installed facial recognition technology to check how attentive pupils were in class. Movements of students are watched by three cameras positioned above the blackboard, and can pick up seven different emotions, including neutral, happy, sad, disappointed, angry, scared and surprised. If the technology concludes a student is distracted in class, it will send a notification to the teacher to take action. BeiDou was originally developed by the Chinese military to reduce reliance on the US-owned GPS system, but its positioning accuracy is to within 10 metres while GPS can track down to 30 centimetres. In efforts to speed up adoption of the system, Chinese authorities have ordered taxis, buses and other vehicles to install BeiDou, and many domestic phone brands including Huawei and Xiaomi are now also compatible with the system. There are only a handful of other global satellite navigation systems, including Russia’s Glonass and Europe’s Galileo, which has suffered an outage over the last two weeks. The UK has been involved in developing Galileo, sinking £1.2 billion in the project, but now intends to build its own as part of Brexit fallout.

British-Iranian woman held in Iran moved to psychiatric ward

A British-Iranian woman imprisoned in Iran has been transferred to a hospital mental health facility, her husband said Wednesday. Richard Ratcliffe said in Britain that his wife, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, has been moved to the mental health ward of Iman Khomeini hospital under the control of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 40, was arrested in Iran while traveling with the couple's young daughter in April 2016 and has been sentenced to five years in prison after being accused of spying, which she and her family vehemently deny.


Egypt releases transgender woman after 4 months in jail

An Egyptian rights group says authorities have released a transgender woman held for more than four months in connection to a call for protests. El-Kashef was among dozens arrested over calls for demonstrations following a Feb. 27 train crash in Cairo that killed at least 25 people. Prosecutors say they suspect she belongs to an unnamed terrorist group, a reference to the banned Muslim Brotherhood.


UK's Hammond attacks "terrifying" views of Brexiteer Rees-Mogg

British finance minister Philip Hammond said on Wednesday it was "terrifying" that leading Brexit advocate Jacob Rees-Mogg, who could have a role in the next government, thought Britain could be better off by leaving the EU without an exit deal. Hammond, who does not intend to continue as finance minister when a new prime minister is named next week, was responding to criticism from Rees-Mogg - the latest turn in a long-running row that typifies Brexit divisions in the ruling Conservative Party. Rees-Mogg, who has been linked with a role in government if fellow Brexiteer Boris Johnson becomes prime minister, argues Britain could be better off.


UK Brexit minister Barclay says chances of a 'no deal' EU exit are underpriced

The chances of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal at the end of October are underpriced, Britain's Brexit minister Stephen Barclay said on Wednesday. Asked about the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit, Barclay pointed to the fact that parliament is only due to sit for a relatively short period of time in September and October and that legislation required to pass a deal would be significant.

Tags: UK, EU, Brexit

The Man With the Real Power in Brazil

(Bloomberg) -- Want to receive this post in your inbox every day? Sign up for the Balance of Power newsletter, and follow Bloomberg Politics on Twitter and Facebook for more.While Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro complains that lawmakers want to make him a ceremonial head of state like the Queen of England, the real power rests with Rodrigo Maia, the speaker of Congress’s lower house.Pale, paunchy, and soft-spoken — with occasional ferocious flashes of temper — Maia sees his mission as defending the democratic institutions that some of Bolsonaro’s more radical supporters favor scrapping, Simone Iglesias and Samy Adghirni report. Bolsonaro’s son Carlos has repeatedly whipped up his massive social media following against him.Maia, 49, showed his authority this month when he united 17 fractious parties to approve a crucial revamp of a social security system that is dragging on Latin America’s biggest economy. After the Chamber of Deputies passed the measure and sent it to the Senate, he wept as supporters gave him a standing ovation.The speaker backs pro-market aspects of the president’s program, but has blocked flammatory proposals such as loosening gun-control laws. Without a strong democratic system, he argues, Brazil won't attract essential investment.Attacks on Brazil’s institutions by some in Bolsonaro’s camp don’t help.“They’re a movement, an antidemocratic fringe and this doesn’t pressure me,” Maia says. “But it does worry me.”Global HeadlinesRare rebuke | The Democratic-led U.S. House responded to Donald Trump’s sustained attacks on four female Democratic lawmakers by taking the extraordinary step of rebuking the president for racism. The resolution accused the president of having “legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.” It is a serious accusation that sharpens the battle lines going into the 2020 elections.Read about how Republicans objected to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling Trump’s comments racist.Making the case | The incoming president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said in interview she aims to persuade Trump that Europe and the U.S. still have many common interests. One person hoping she succeeds will be her successor as German defense minister. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer wants to use the job to revive her chances of becoming chancellor and the last thing she needs is a long-running battle with the White House.Initial penalty | Trump confirmed reluctantly that Turkey won’t be able to buy U.S. F-35 fighter jets because it is taking delivery of a Russian missile-defense system. The U.S. is still weighing economic sanctions, even as Trump inaccurately said that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was "forced" into buying the S-400 because Obama's administration would not sell him the Patriot system.Sudan deal | The ruling military council and civilian opposition alliance in Sudan signed a political accord today as part of a power-sharing agreement meant to end a crisis that followed the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir in April. A second, constitutional accord is expected to be ratified on Friday that will lead to the formation of an 11-seat sovereign council with executive responsibilities and the holding of elections in three years.Economic cost | Hong Kong's protracted protests might be starting to hurt its economy. The Hong Kong Retail Management Association reported that most of its members saw a single-to-double-digit drop in average sales revenue between June and the first week of July, amid fears the city's political chaos could impact its status as a global financial hub.What to WatchThe signs of summer have arrived in the Chinese resort town of Beidaihe: Umbrellas are out, traffic controls are in place and the regional Communist Party chief has stopped by to check everything's ready for President Xi Jinping's visit. Click here for what to look for at this year's conclave. A clash over digital taxation could overshadow a meeting near Paris of Group of Seven finance chiefs, as France digs in on imposing levies that will hit American tech giants Saudi Arabia says it will allow some businesses to stay open 24 hours a day, news that triggered confusion over whether it was ending rules that require shops to shut for Islam’s five daily prayers.And finally...Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens died yesterday aged 99. Appointed in 1975 by a Republican president, only to become a leading liberal voice on presidential powers, Stevens retired in 2010 as the second-oldest justice in American history. He frequently spoke for his wing of the court in high-profile dissents, including the 5-4 decision stopping the Florida ballot recounts that might have led to Democrat Al Gore’s election over George W. Bush in 2000. --With assistance from Karen Leigh, Kathleen Hunter and Ben Sills.To contact the author of this story: Karl Maier in Rome at [email protected] contact the editor responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at [email protected], Anthony HalpinFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Saudi Arabia intercepts drone launched by Yemeni rebels

The Saudi military says it has intercepted a drone launched at the kingdom's southern border by Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen. Col. Turki al-Maliki, a military spokesman, was quoted in the state-run Saudi Press Agency on Wednesday as saying the drone was launched by the Houthi rebels from Yemen's governorate of Sanaa toward the Saudi city of Jizan.


Trump’s Bungled Iran Gambit Is Helping China Become a Naval Power With Global Reach

Photo Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily BeastGWADAR, Pakistan—British warships are acting as nervous escorts to British oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, even as Europe tries desperately to find a way out of the escalating crisis with Iran provoked by U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear accord last year. But the Chinese role in the background of this escalating crisis has been largely overlooked, and could have enormous strategic consequences. Already, China is positioning itself to act as a policeman protecting its own strategic interests in the Persian Gulf,  the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean beyond.Trump and the Persian Gulf Have a Long, Surprising HistoryThe key is the port of Gwadar on Pakistan’s southwest coast about 625 nautical miles east of the Strait of Hormuz, the gateway for about a third of the world’s international oil traffic.  China is spending a huge amount—$60 billion—building what is called the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to link western China with Gwadar Port through a network of highways, railways and gas pipelines. This, in turn, is part of its grand design known as the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, or OBOR. The U.S. Defense Department, reporting to Congress in May, summed up U.S. concerns about Chinese strategy, which it sees as likely to make countries around the world potentially dependent on their ties to the China’s economy and uncritical of, if not indeed subservient to, its policies. But the Defense Department noted that global presence also heightens China’s global exposure to “international and regional turmoil, terrorism, piracy, and serious natural disasters and epidemics,” which the Chinese People’s Liberation Army is supposed to deal with.Specifically, as the Defense Department noted, “Some OBOR investments could create potential military advantages for China, should China require access to selected foreign ports to pre-position the necessary logistics support to sustain naval deployments in waters as distant as the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and Atlantic Ocean to protect its growing interests.”Which brings us back to Gwadar, here in the often troubled province of Balochistan, which borders Iran and Afghanistan. The Chinese already have discovered they’re targets for a shadowy separatist organization calling itself the Balochistan Liberation Organization, which attacked the Chinese consulate in Karachi in November. In May this year the group hit the luxury Pearl Hotel which looks out on Gwadar Harbor. All four attackers and at least one security guard were killed. “Our fighters have carried out this attack on Chinese and other foreign investors,” the group said.Undeterred, China continues to push ahead as the  builder, financier and operator of this strategic port, and Beijing may be much more concerned about Washington’s aggressive policies in the region than it is about the terrorists.Iran's threat to shut the Strait of Hormuz has pushed the U.S. into proposing a maritime coalition to protect shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean Region.  It would act as a kind of regional watchman with eyes on all shipping lanes. But that would also position the coalition as a potential threat to China’s development of strategic assets here.On the other hand, a naval base in Gwadar enables Beijing to monitor American activities very closely, patrolling sea lanes to protect its own interests while monitoring U.S. activities in the Indian Ocean.Pakistan would have a number of incentives to cooperate, including its icy relations with Washington.  Defense cooperation is a major aspect of what Pakistan and China call their "all-weather friendship.”For the record, Beijing has dismissed news reports that it will build a full-fledged naval base at Gwadar. But as the Pentagon pointed out,  in the near term China is more likely to preposition logistical support for a growing Chinese naval presence. An escalation of the U.S.-Iran conflict or volatility in the Gulf could give Beijing the pretext to build a more ambitious naval base at Gwadar for security reasons. It is dependent on imported oil for more than 70 percent of its needs, and much of that comes out of the Gulf. U.S. Must Put a Ban on Google Helping China Develop a Global Digital DictatorshipIf a base is to be built, some analysts believe China’s model for Gwadar might be its installation at Yulin along the southern coast of China’s Hainan Island, a strategic key in Beijing’s efforts to claim control over virtually all of the South China Sea. Yulin can accommodate aircraft carriers, and so-called “caverns” are believed capable of hiding up to 20 nuclear submarines from spy satellites. If a similar base were located at the crown of the Arabian Sea, China’s ability to expand the reach of its navy would increase exponentially.  None of that lies in the immediate future, but it’s clearly the kind of thing the Pentagon is worrying about. As the report to Congress stated bluntly, one of the “overriding strategic objectives” of the Chinese Communist Party is to “secure China’s status as a great power and, ultimately, emerge as the preeminent power in the Indo-Pacific region.”How ironic it would be if the Trump administration’s manufactured crisis with Iran opened the door wide for such a strategic breakthrough by China. With additional reporting by Christopher DickeyRead 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.

Israel vs Iran: Are Israel and Iran on verge of war? Why do they despise each other?

ISRAEL and Iran have openly despised one another since 2005. But are the two countries on the verge of war?

Tags: Israel, Iran

Central America’s Wars of the ’80s Still Haunt the U.S.

William Gentile/Corbis via GettyForty years ago this week, on July 19, 1979, rebels who called themselves Sandinistas overthrew the Nicaraguan dynasty of the Somoza family that was first installed by U.S. Marines in the 1930s. By 1983, Reagan was using the largely Marxist leadership of the Sandinista regime to feed paranoia about Communist encroachment, as if Central America represented an existential threat to the United States. His policies included overt support for business and military elites, tacit support for death squads, and covert backing for anti-Sandinista Contra rebels accused of gross human rights abuses. If Congress would not back him, Reagan warned, there would be “a tidal wave of refugees—and this time they’ll be ‘feet people’ and not ‘boat people’ [like those who fled South Vietnam after the Communist takeover in 1975]—swarming into our country.”Today, Central American refugees are indeed coming to the U.S. border in numbers the Trump administration claims are overwhelming. The reasons they flee their homes can be traced to this basic fact: neither the revolutions nor Reagan’s counter-revolutions delivered on their promises, while vast numbers of Central Americans continue to live in poverty and fear. Bill Gentile was a young freelance reporter and photographer in Central America in the 1980s, his series, beginning today, takes us into the crucible of the region’s uprisings, which still haunt the conscience of the United States.—Christopher Dickey, World News Editor* * *Part I: The Revolution (1978-1979)* * *Like many journalists who covered Nicaragua, I have been deeply affected by my long relationship with that country and her people. I lived and worked there during some of the most formative years of my life, and the life of Nicaragua herself. It's where I first witnessed war. It's where I first saw violence used to achieve political and social change. It's where I met my first wife. It's where I forged life-time friendships. It's where I came to recognize privilege and power as enemies. Nicaragua also is where I came to understand and to cherish my role as journalist.—Bill GentileContra rebels patrolling the northern mountains of Nicaragua. One soldier wears a ‘USA’ baseball hat, representing the country that aids their anti-Sandinista struggle.William Gentile/Corbis via Getty* * *Night Moves* * *In a small complex of cabañas tucked away under coconut trees on the outskirts of the Nicaraguan capital, Managua, where a contingent of international journalists had set up a base of operations, I was up late one night listening to stories of war. Guy Gugliotta was a Miami-based correspondent for the Miami Herald. Tall and lanky with a soft voice and tired eyes, he didn't easily fit my preconceived notion of a Vietnam veteran and former Swift Boat commander. But he was.I’ve never been to Vietnam but I grew up on imagery of that war in the pages of Life magazine. Huge color photographs made by some of the most courageous and most talented photojournalists of the era arrived each week at my home in the steel town of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, about 40 minutes northwest of Pittsburgh. They planted within me a lifelong fascination with imagery and journalism.In Managua that night, I smoked Marlboro reds while Gugliotta and I worked on a bottle of Nicaraguan rum and he talked about how he kept himself and his men alive in Vietnam while executing one of the most dangerous assignments of that decade-long war; how he anticipated and calculated for every contingent; how his eyes scoured every curve in the rivers that he and his men were assigned to patrol; how a flash of light off a metal surface or a reflection from the river bank could be the precursor of an ambush and the death of him and the men under his command; how he would instruct his men to respond; and, ultimately, how he would help get himself and his men back home.In the background, I remember, Bob Seger sang "Night Moves” on a cassette plugged into the recorder I used to file reports for ABC Radio News.I didn’t know then that Gugliotta’s lessons on guerrilla warfare might help save my life in the not-so-distant future.* * *The Somoza and Sandino* * *It was 1979 and I was a freelance journalist on a trip through Central America to see first-hand the stories that I had been editing on the desk of United Press International (UPI) at my base in Mexico City. The bureau there covered not only Mexico, but Central America and the Caribbean as well. I also freelanced for ABC Radio, the Baltimore Sun, and the Kansas City Star. At the time, I was more a print guy than a photo guy.I landed in Managua only days before the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN), or Sandinista National Liberation Front, declared its "final offensive" against the U.S.-backed rule of President Anastasio Somoza, who had inherited the regime from his father in 1957. A popular insurgency against Somoza family rule had been festering for years and the FSLN managed to seize the leadership role and channel the rebellion into a final push against the regime.The United States’ role in Nicaragua is not one that most Americans can be proud of. U.S. Marines invaded and occupied the country on numerous occasions and for various periods of time beginning in 1909. The first Somoza—Antastasio Somoza García, known as “Tacho”—was installed as the head of the Nicaraguan National Guard, set up the the U.S. as a supposedly non-partisan constabulary. That did not last long. Augusto César Sandino, who had led a guerrilla war against the U.S. Marines, finally agreed to make peace in 1934, only to be murdered by Somoza’s guard with U.S. complicity. And Tacho seized all power in 1937. In return for its role as staunch U.S. ally and anti-communist bulwark in Central America, the United States supported the Somoza dynasty for four decades. (In 1939, Franklin Roosevelt is supposed to have said of Tacho, “He’s a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.”) This despite the regime’s consistent and grotesque human rights violations. Then, for six weeks in the summer of 1979 Nicaragua suffered a national convulsion that left some 30,000 of her citizens—in a country of only about 2.5 million inhabitants at the time—dead. Courtesy Bill Gentile* * *A Bullet in the Head* * *As it became clear that the successor to the dynasty, Anastasio “Tachito” Somoza Debayle, was in trouble, journalists from around the world converged on Managua. These included a team led by ABC television correspondent Bill Stewart, and since I was a stringer for ABC Radio, I briefly worked with the ABC team as a translator. By 1979 I was pretty fluent in Spanish, an asset essential to negotiate one’s freedom or one’s life with mostly young, scared, exhausted and sometimes very pissed-off soldiers. Stewart had arrived on the scene after covering the revolution in Iran. He spoke no Spanish. On June 20, 1979, a squad of Somoza's national guardsmen manning a Managua checkpoint stopped the van carrying Stewart and his colleagues. (As it happened, I had left the ABC team a couple of days earlier.) Stewart and his Nicaraguan translator approached the soldiers as the camera and sound men in the van secretly filmed the event through the windshield. The guardsmen made Stewart kneel, and then lie face down on the city street. One of them pumped a single bullet into the back of his head. They also killed Stewart’s Nicaraguan translator, out of sight of the cameraman inside the van. The global broadcast of that footage crushed support of the Somoza regime. Even its most stalwart anti-communist U.S. congressional defenders could not continue to support the family’s continued rule.* * *Suicide Stringers* * *In response to the killing, the vast majority of journalists covering the revolution evacuated the country, some in protest and others out of concern for their own safety. I was one of a handful who stayed.John Hoagland was another. He was freelancing for the Associated Press (AP), making $25 for every picture the international wire service transmitted from Nicaragua to its headquarters in New York City.  John was a surfer from California, and he looked it:, tall and tanned with sun-tinged hair. Rumor was that he once was a bodyguard for Angela Davis and carried a .357 Magnum while on the job. A bold Fu Manchu moustache added to his reputation as a take-no-bullshit dude but perhaps masked the decency and the kindness that was his core.Courtesy Bill GentileYoung, hungry and determined to “make it,” John and I began to work together despite the fact that we worked for competing wire services. We took risks that perhaps more sensible journalists might not have considered. The Somoza regime’s use of small aircraft to bomb and strafe the eastern barrios of Managua had become routine during the final offensive. Sandinista cadres had taken positions there and the regime conducted air raids every afternoon, so most journalists stayed away from the place until the raids were over. But not John and I.We made our way one afternoon past rebel barricades and checkpoints along the Carretera Norte that connects the capital to the international airport. We wanted to get close to insurgents confronting a National Guard position along the same key route. As one of the regime’s planes fired rockets at the insurgents, John ducked for cover and I ran toward the open door of a nearby house in a bid to do the same. That’s when a rocket from one of the planes plowed through the roof of my intended refuge, blowing debris through the front door. Three steps faster and I would have eaten a shrapnel sandwich.After that incident, our colleagues began calling John Hoagland and me the “suicide stringers.”Covering the final offensive was a non-stop scramble for information. Fighting between the National Guard and the Sandinista-led insurgency moved from one city to another on an almost daily basis. Death tolls. Body counts. Casualty reports. Refugees. Press conferences. Sandinistas seizing control of towns and cities across the country. More casualty reports. To stay abreast of these always-moving events, the UPI team relied heavily on our “secret weapon.”In his early 60s and blessed with an authoritative demeanor, Leonardo Lacayo was a long-time journalist and local stringer for UPI. At his home on the outskirts of the city, “Don Lacayo” had a short-wave radio system he used to monitor communication between Somoza and his national guardsmen in the field. So we often knew what was happening before it actually happened. Lacayo was such a closely guarded secret in the super competitive world of breaking news coverage that the UPI journalists were forbidden to use his real name even in private conversation, out of concern that our competitors would find him out. We were allowed only to refer to him as “El Hombre”—The Man.* * *The Bunker* * *Anastasio Somoza’s bunker, or command post, was a stone’s throw from the Intercontinental Hotel in what remained of Managua. The city was severely damaged in a 1972 earthquake that killed tens of thousands of its citizens. On the morning after the dictator and his family fled the country, Nicaragua’s National Guard disintegrated as its members stripped off their uniforms and fled. Many tried to pass themselves off as civilians and headed north to the border with Honduras.Courtesy Bill GentileA few yards from the bunker, two national guardsmen were trying to jump-start a car to join their fleeing colleagues. They asked me and a colleague to help them push their car so they could be on their way. As my colleague and I took our places behind the trunk of the car, we could see the body of a third guardsman lying on the back seat. The two guardsmen were taking their dead with them as they fled the incoming Sandinista fighters.The following day and not far down a main street from Somoza’s bunker, the plaza in front of Managua’s metropolitan cathedral filled with thousands of Nicaraguans welcoming the incoming Junta of National Reconstruction, victorious Sandinista fighters and followers.Courtesy Bill GentileTomorrow: Terrible and Glorious Days—The Contra War (1982-1989)Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

Trump’s better deal with Iran looks a lot like Obama’s

Trump has repeatedly urged Iran to negotiate, saying that Tehran’s nuclear ambitions are his chief concern, talking points that experts say echo the 2015 deal.

Tags: Concerts, Iran

UK Brexit minister Barclay: I told Barnier could not see unchanged Brexit deal being approved

British Brexit minister Stephen Barclay said on Wednesday he told the European Union's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier that he did not envisage an unchanged exit deal being approved by Britain's parliament. Barclay ruffled feathers last week in Brussels, telling EU negotiators the deal agreed with Prime Minister Theresa May was "dead". May is due to step down next week and the frontrunner to succeed her, Boris Johnson, plans to seek changes to the deal.


China’s Leaders Head to Secretive Summer Camp to Ponder Trump

(Bloomberg) -- The signs of summer have arrived in the northern Chinese resort town of Beidaihe: The umbrellas are out, the traffic controls are in place and the regional Communist Party chief has stopped by to make sure everything’s set for the most important of visitors.China’s so-called summer capital -- located on the Yellow Sea, more than 200 kilometers (124 miles) from Beijing -- each year plays host to a conclave of party luminaries including President Xi Jinping, his top aides, as well as retired leaders. While the meeting’s agenda, guest list and exact dates are shrouded in secrecy, there are indications that events are already underway, such as the traffic restrictions that took effect Saturday and last until Aug. 18.This year’s gathering, which likely won’t be joined by Xi and other sitting state leaders until early next month, may bear even closer watching than usual as China faces growing risks at home and abroad. Beidaihe’s mid-August conclusion has in the past heralded policy moves, with leaders this year likely to discuss the slowing economy, the simmering U.S. trade war and plans to mark seven decades of party rule over the People’s Republic of China.“The unrest in Hong Kong, the trade talks with the U.S., and the celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the PRC will likely dominate the discussions in Beidaihe this year,” said Minxin Pei, author of the 2016 book “China’s Crony Capitalism: The Dynamics of Regime Decay" and a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in California. “On a specific issue such as the trade talks, Beidaihe could have a decisive impact.”The Beidaihe meeting comes amid doubts about China’s ability to forge a lasting truce with President Donald Trump, who continues to raise the prospect of expanded tariffs on Chinese goods even after agreeing with Xi last month to resume trade talks. The world’s second-largest economy had the weakest quarterly growth since at least 1992 and a record 8.3 million graduates are entering a softer job market.Long-running TraditionMoreover, weeks of protests in Hong Kong over an attempt to allow the transfer of criminal suspects to the mainland have left the local legislature ransacked and exposed widespread criticism of the city’s leadership. Taiwan’s China-skeptic president, Tsai Ing-wen, has resuscitated her hopes of winning a second term by seizing on the Hong Kong anxiety and running against Beijing.The Beidaihe tradition dates to the earliest days of Mao Zedong’s reign, when party patriarchs used to swim in the sea with their bodyguards. For instance, the decisions that led to Mao’s Great Leap Forward -- an aggressive push to develop industrial power that resulted in widespread famine -- were made there in 1958.The event has endured as an opportunity for sitting leaders to build consensus ahead of more formal annual party meetings held in the autumn back in the marble halls of Beijing. State media reports show attendees discussed the party leadership lineup in the resort area in 1997, and economic development after hosting the Olympic Games in 2008.The nation’s top leaders usually fall out of public view during their own meetings in Beidaihe, adding to the mystery around the event. Since coming to power in 2012, Xi has largely disappeared from the front page of the party’s flagship People’s Daily newspaper for a 15-day window stretching from July 31 at the earliest to Aug. 17 at the latest.There are exceptions for natural disasters and other major events, such as when Xi was featured on the front page of the People’s Daily on Aug. 12, 2017, in an article about his phone call with Trump. Still, the need for top policy officials to be near the leaders in Beidaihe creates a two-week block of time when scheduling high-level meetings, such as planned U.S.-China trade talks, is more difficult.Critical DecisionsMore recently, the party has announced several critical decisions in the weeks after Beidaihe meetings, including the move to prosecute former Politburo member Bo Xilai in 2012 and Xi’s sweeping restructuring of the People’s Liberation Army in 2015. Events have also included more academic discussions, such as a gathering last year of 62 scientists from fields including semiconductors, aerospace, railways and poverty alleviation.Security is paramount during such sensitive discussions and local party leaders institute traffic controls and conduct inspection tours. Wang Dongfeng, party secretary of the surrounding Hebei province, paid a personal visit to Beidaihe ahead of the “tourist season” on July 7 and 8, according to a local newspaper report that made no mention of the leadership gathering.Xi’s consolidation of party power, including writing his status as China’s “core” leader into the constitution last year, has raised questions about the need for the summer meetings. The Liaowang Institute, a think tank affiliated with the official Xinhua News Agency, wrote in 2015 that Beidaihe was “gradually losing its political color and returning to its original role as a health resort in the northern China.”Still, it may provide a useful forum to manage intraparty debate, such the unusually public discussion last year over whether Xi’s decision to shift from former leader Deng Xiaoping’s “hide your strength, bide your time” foreign policy had prompted a premature showdown with the U.S. On Aug. 9, People’s Daily confronted critics in an editorial, saying “such a heavyweight cannot be hidden by taking a ‘low key’ approach, just like an elephant cannot conceal its body behind a small tree.”“Last year’s gathering at Beidaihe appeared to have strengthened Xi politically,” said Pei of Claremont College. “I would say it is even more important these days because a strongman leader such as Xi actually needs to cultivate and build support among his senior colleagues whenever he can.”To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Dandan Li in Beijing at [email protected] contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at [email protected], Sharon ChenFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Angela Merkel is 65 today but she’s far from the oldest world leader - Shock ages revealed

GERMAN CHANCELLOR Angela Merkel celebrates her 65th birthday today, but she’s far from the oldest world leader. Here are the oldest presidents, prime ministers and political leaders from around the world.


WW3 preparation: How US intelligence exposed 'revolutionary' Russian weapon

RUSSIA is stepping up its game in preparation for a World War 3 scenario, with a mysterious nuclear-powered weapon that has the US slightly nervous.

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Revolt Edges Closer to Civilian Rule in Sudan as Pact Signed

(Bloomberg) -- Sudan’s military council signed a power-sharing deal with the country’s firebrand opposition that seeks to stem months of uncertainty and sporadic bloodshed after the overthrow of long-time President Omar al-Bashir.Under the accord, civilian and military representatives will form an 11-seat sovereign council with executive responsibilities, and elections will take place after three years. Images aired on pan-Arab satellite channels Wednesday showed the council’s deputy head, Mohamed Hamdan, and the opposition’s Ibrahim Al-Amin signing the agreement in the capital, Khartoum.Sudan’s army has controlled Africa’s third-largest country since mass demonstrations sparked by an economic crisis spurred it to oust Bashir in April. The opposition has kept up its protests despite a clampdown, accusing the council -- peopled by the old guard from Bashir’s three-decade rule -- of trying to prevent a genuine transition to democracy.Sudan’s upheaval has drawn in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who’ve pledged economic aid and seek to retain influence in the Red Sea nation as their tussles with Iran and Turkey for regional supremacy spread to the Horn of Africa. Prior interventions by the Gulf states in the uprisings that have rocked the Arab world since 2011 have acted to bolster national armies or maintain the status quo.The new pact, which analysts say still leaves many questions on the transition unanswered, was the fruit of sustained international pressure on Sudan’s military rulers in the wake of a June crackdown by security forces on a Khartoum protest site. More than 100 people were killed, with some of the bodies dumped in the Nile River.A second signing of a so-called constitutional declaration is scheduled to take place Friday.“This deal prevents the worst, but will not be sufficient on its own to bring Sudan back from the brink,” Alan Boswell, an analyst with the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, said before the signing. “The coordinated pressure across continents required to produce this deal will now be required to keep it on track.”To contact the reporters on this story: Mohammed Alamin in Khartoum at [email protected];Tarek El-Tablawy in Cairo at [email protected] contact the editors responsible for this story: Alaa Shahine at [email protected], Michael Gunn, Paul AbelskyFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Merkel’s Would-Be Successor Rolls Dice on High-Risk Cabinet Post

(Bloomberg) -- Angela Merkel’s would-be successor is gambling that one of Germany’s riskier cabinet jobs will help get her chances of becoming chancellor back on track.In an unexpected about-face, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer will take command of Germany’s military as defense minister. It’s a position that has ended several political careers in the past, though her predecessor, Ursula von der Leyen, just landed the job of leading the European Commission in Brussels.Kramp-Karrenbauer, known as AKK in Berlin, had previously said she would steer clear of Merkel’s cabinet, preferring to distance herself from a coalition government that’s fraying at the seams. Instead, she would build her case to replace Merkel after the next election, due in 2021, from her position as leader of the Christian Democratic Union.But AKK has struggled to boost the fortunes of the CDU since taking charge in December. She fumbled with overtures to the party’s right wing and saw a slide in the polls. As of May, Merkel had grown more determined to stay in office amid doubts that AKK was up to the job, according to party officials close to the chancellor.By opting to take over Germany’s fighting forces, Kramp-Karrenbauer exchanges her independence for a position that could be the ultimate proving ground for her abilities.“If you want to show leadership you don’t think about the risk, you just get on with the job,” Ralph Brinkhaus, head of the CDU parliamentary caucus, said in an interview with ZDF television Wednesday. “In life, just as in politics, there are always risks, but if you don’t trust yourself to take on difficult tasks, then you don’t belong in politics.”Trump’s Spending DemandsIn Germany’s defense ministry, which oversees more than 180,000 active-duty troops, there are risks aplenty. AKK’s four predecessors, all in Merkel’s bloc, have seen their political fortunes fade. Two of them resigned in disgrace.When von der Leyen took over in 2013, she herself was tipped as a potential chancellor. After almost six years in the post, she was been mired in accusations about Germany’s military readiness, with helicopters that can’t fly, submarines that can’t sail, and an investigation into her use of outside consultants. The call to Brussels got her out of a fix.With about two years left in Merkel’s fourth term, AKK may manage to avoid some of the pitfalls of the defense ministry. But she will have to navigate the deteriorating transatlantic relations.Germany has been a regular target of calls by President Donald Trump for U.S. allies to boost funding for the military. Merkel, who turns 65 on Wednesday, has stood by a NATO-sponsored target of spending 2% of gross domestic product on defense, even if it takes longer to get there than Trump wants.However, officials in the Social Democratic Party -- Merkel’s junior coalition partner which controls the Finance Ministry -- says the 2% target is an arbitrary number that they have no intention of reaching.--With assistance from Iain Rogers.To contact the reporters on this story: Patrick Donahue in Berlin at [email protected];Arne Delfs in Berlin at [email protected] contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at [email protected], Chris ReiterFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

More than 60 British lords criticise Labour's Corbyn over anti-Semitism

More than 60 opposition Labour members of Britain's upper house of parliament signed a statement in a newspaper on Wednesday accusing leader Jeremy Corbyn of failing "the test of leadership" over anti-Semitism in the party. Corbyn, a veteran campaigner for Palestinian rights and critic of the Israeli government, has long been dogged by charges he has allowed a culture of anti-Semitism to thrive in Britain's main opposition party - something he denies. Eight lawmakers left the party earlier this year over anti-Semitism and Corbyn's position on Brexit, which has also angered many members who want Labour to adopt an unequivocal pro-European Union position.


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