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  • How Iran's military outsources its cyberthreat forces

    In the wake of the U.S. killing of a top Iranian general and Iran’s retaliatory missile strike, should the U.S. be concerned about the cyberthreat from Iran? Already, pro-Iranian hackers have defaced several U.S. websites to protest the killing of General Qassem Soleimani. One group wrote “This is only a small part of Iran’s cyber capability” on one of the hacked sites.Two years ago, I wrote that Iran’s cyberwarfare capabilities lagged behind those of both Russia and China, but that it had become a major threat which will only get worse. It had already conducted several highly damaging cyberattacks. Since then, Iran has continued to develop and deploy its cyberattacking capabilities. It carries out attacks through a network of intermediaries, allowing the regime to strike its foes while denying direct involvement. Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-supported hackersIran’s cyberwarfare capability lies primarily within Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the country’s military. However, rather than employing its own cyberforce against foreign targets, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps appears to mainly outsource these cyberattacks.According to cyberthreat intelligence firm Recorded Future, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps uses trusted intermediaries to manage contracts with independent groups. These intermediaries are loyal to the regime but separate from it. They translate the Iranian military’s priorities into discrete tasks, which are then bid out to independent contractors. Recorded Future estimates that as many as 50 organizations compete for these contracts. Several contractors may be involved in a single operation.Iranian contractors communicate online to hire workers and exchange information. Ashiyane, the primary online security forum in Iran, was created by hackers in the mid-2000s in order to disseminate hacking tools and tutorials within the hacking community. The Ashiyane Digital Security Team was known for hacking websites and replacing their home pages with pro-Iranian content. By May 2011, Zone-H, an archive of defaced websites, had recorded 23,532 defacements by that group alone. Its leader, Behrouz Kamalian, said his group cooperated with the Iranian military, but operated independently and spontaneously.Iran had an active community of hackers at least by 2004, when a group calling itself Iran Hackers Sabotage launched a succession of web attacks “with the aim of showing the world that Iranian hackers have something to say in the worldwide security.” It is likely that many of Iran’s cyber contractors come from this community.Iran’s use of intermediaries and contractors makes it harder to attribute cyberattacks to the regime. Nevertheless, investigators have been able to trace many cyberattacks to persons inside Iran operating with the support of the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Cyber campaignsIran engages in both espionage and sabotage operations. They employ both off-the-shelf malware and custom-made software tools, according to a 2018 report by the Foundation to Defend Democracy. They use spearfishing, or luring specific individuals with fraudulent messages, to gain initial access to target machines by enticing victims to click on links that lead to phony sites where they hand over usernames and passwords or open attachments that plant “backdoors” on their devices. Once in, they use various hacking tools to spread through networks and download or destroy data. Iran’s cyber espionage campaigns gain access to networks in order to steal proprietary and sensitive data in areas of interest to the regime. Security companies that track these threats give them APT (Advanced Persistent Threat) names such as APT33, “kitten” names such as Magic Kitten and miscellaneous other names such as OilRig.The group the security firm FireEye calls APT33 is especially noteworthy. It has conducted numerous espionage operations against oil and aviation industries in the U.S., Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. APT33 was recently reported to use small botnets (networks of compromised computers) to target very specific sites for their data collection.Another group known as APT35 (aka Phosphoros) has attempted to gain access to email accounts belonging to individuals involved in a 2020 U.S. presidential campaign. Were they to succeed, they might be able to use stolen information to influence the election by, for example, releasing information publicly that could be damaging to a candidate. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice charged nine Iranians with conducting a massive cyber theft campaign on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. All were tied to the Mabna Institute, an Iranian company behind cyber intrusions since at least 2013. The defendants allegedly stole 31 terabytes of data from U.S. and foreign entities. The victims included over 300 universities, almost 50 companies and several government agencies. Cyber sabotageIran’s sabotage operations have employed “wiper” malware to destroy data on hard drives. They have also employed botnets to launch distributed denial-of-service attacks, where a flood of traffic effectively disables a server. These operations are frequently hidden behind monikers that resemble those used by independent hacktivists who hack for a cause rather than money.In one highly damaging attack, a group calling themselves the Cutting Sword of Justice attacked the Saudi Aramco oil company with wiper code in 2012. The hackers used a virus dubbed Shamoon to spread the code through the company’s network. The attack destroyed data on 35,000 computers, disrupting business processes for weeks.The Shamoon software reappeared in 2016, wiping data from thousands of computers in Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation agency and other organizations. Then in 2018, a variant of Shamoon hit the Italian oil services firm Saipem, crippling more than 300 computers.Iranian hackers have conducted massive distributed denial-of-service attacks. From 2012 to 2013, a group calling itself the Cyber Fighters of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam launched a series of relentless distributed denial-of-service attacks against major U.S. banks. The attacks were said to have caused tens of millions of dollars in losses relating to mitigation and recovery costs and lost business.In 2016 the U.S. indicted seven Iranian hackers for working on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to conduct the bank attacks. The motivation may have been retaliation for economic sanctions that had been imposed on Iran. Looking aheadSo far, Iranian cyberattacks have been limited to desktop computers and servers running standard commercial software. They have not yet affected industrial controls systems running electrical power grids and other physical infrastructure. Were they to get into and take over these control systems, they could, for example, cause more serious damage such as the 2015 and 2016 power outages caused by the Russians in Ukraine.One of the Iranians indicted in the bank attacks did get into the computer control system for the Bowman Avenue Dam in rural New York. According to the indictment, no damage was done, but the access would have allowed the dam’s gate to be manipulated if it not been manually disconnected for maintenance issues.While there are no public reports of Iranian threat actors demonstrating a capability against industrial control systems, Microsoft recently reported that APT33 appears to have shifted its focus to these systems. In particular, they have been attempting to guess passwords for the systems’ manufacturers, suppliers, and maintainers. The access and information that could be acquired from succeeding might help them get into an industrial control system.Ned Moran, a security researcher with Microsoft, speculated that the group may be attempting to get access to industrial control systems in order to produce physically disruptive effects. Although APT33 has not been directly implicated in any incidents of cyber sabotage, security researchers have found links between code used by the group with code used in the Shamoon attacks to destroy data.While it is impossible to know Iran’s intentions, they are likely to continue operating numerous cyber espionage campaigns while developing additional capabilities for cyber sabotage. If tensions between Iran and the United States mount, Iran may respond with additional cyberattacks, possibly ones that are more damaging than we’ve seen so far.[ Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter. ]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts.Read more: * The US-Iran conflict and what it means for Indonesia * US and Iran have a long, troubled historyDorothy Denning does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 08:41:16 -0500
  • Trump Exits With Attack on Impeachment ‘Hoax’: Davos Update

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg) -- The rich and powerful are in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum’s 50th annual meeting, and the gathering is being closely watched to see how the global elite aims to tackle problems they helped create, above all climate change.U.S. President Donald Trump dominated proceedings for a second day, touting his economic achievements, attacking political opponents and calling the impeachment trial, which began on Tuesday, a “hoax.”Before heading back to the U.S., Trump said he is aiming to agree on a trade deal with the European Union by the next U.S. election in November and announced a new push to reform the World Trade Organization.To get all the highlights delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Davos Diary newsletter. Here’s the latest (time-stamps are local time in Davos):Impeachment, Strong Economy Hard to Reconcile (2 p.m.)Carlyle Group Inc. Co-Executive Chairman David Rubenstein said it’s “hard to understand” that the U.S. economy can be performing well at the same time a president is being impeached for only the third time in history.“It’s a very strange situation,” Rubenstein said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “It’s a hard thing to explain to outsiders that the economy is doing so well, and the president has a lot of support in the business community for sure, yet he’s being impeached and tried in the Senate.”Bridgewater’s Prince: Boom-Bust Cycle Is Over (1:50 p.m.)The boom-bust economic cycle is over, according to Bob Prince, who helps oversee the world’s biggest hedge fund at Bridgewater Associates.Central-bank policy tightening “wasn’t intended to cause the downturn, wasn’t intended to cause what it did,” Prince, Bridgewater’s co-chief investment officer, told Bloomberg TV. “But I think lessons were learned from that and I think it was really a marker that we’ve probably seen the end of the boom-bust cycle.”Some Witnesses Would Raise Security Concerns (1:20 p.m.)Trump said some potential witnesses in the impeachment trial would raise “national security” concerns but the Senate will decide whether any of them will testify.Trump would “love” for his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to testify, he told a news conference. But he said Mulvaney has already “expressed himself very well” in a Fox News interview and that Pompeo presents “a national security problem.”“He knows some of my thoughts” on foreign leaders, Trump said, expressing concern his views might become public in the trial.China Weighs Lifting Cap on Foreign Holdings (1:10 p.m.)China’s securities regulator is looking at the potential to raise the cap on foreign ownership in the nation’s listed companies, according to a senior official.Fang Xinghai, vice chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, said there’s potential to lift the limit to “more than 30%” given that other countries in the region have higher caps.“So why shouldn’t China do similar things,” he told Bloomberg TV. “Now of course, this has to go through a quite long process in our decision making system, but I think in principle that it’s possible.”U.S., China Discussing Hong Kong Human Rights (1:05 p.m.)The U.S. and China are discussing human rights in Hong Kong as part of negotiations for a phase-two trade deal, Trump said.“We are discussing that already,” Trump says when asked about the role of human rights in the talks. “Phase one is done, phase two is being discussed.”Trump Tells Greta to Focus on Big Polluters (1 p.m.)Trump said Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg should focus on the most-polluting countries and that the U.S. is “clean and beautiful.”“We want to have the cleanest water on Earth, we want to have the cleanest air on Earth,” Trump told a news conference.“We have to do something about other continents, we have to do something about other countries,” he added. “When we’re clean and beautiful and everything’s good but you have another continent where the fumes are rising at levels that you can’t believe. I think Greta ought to focus on those places.”Spain’s Sanchez Warns of ‘Climate Disaster’ (1 p.m.)Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez earlier focused on climate change in a speech to the forum, one of the top priorities of his recently formed government.“The climate emergency is a disaster that knows no borders and we are the last generation that will be able to address it effectively,” he said.Trump to Discuss WTO Reform With Azevedo (12:35 p.m.)Trump invited World Trade Organization Director-General Roberto Azevedo to appear at his news conference and announced that they plan to discuss reforms to the international commerce body in coming weeks.“The World Trade Organization has been unfair to the United States for many, many years,” Trump said. “We’re going to do something that I think will be very dramatic.”Oil Chiefs Debate Tougher CO2 Cuts (12:30 p.m.)The bosses of some of the world’s biggest oil companies discussed adopting much more ambitious carbon targets at a closed-door meeting, a sign of how much pressure they’re under from activists and investors to address climate change.The meeting included a debate on widening the industry’s target to include reductions in emissions from the fuels they sell, not just the greenhouse gases produced by their own operations, according to people familiar with the matter.Talks between the chief executive officers of companies including Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Chevron Corp., Total SA, Saudi Aramco and BP Plc showed broad agreement on the need to move toward this broader definition, known as Scope 3, the people said, asking not to be named because the session was closed to the press. The executives didn’t take any final decisions.Von der Leyen Targets Climate Transgressors (12:30 p.m.)European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen reiterated the bloc’s plans to propose levies on imports from countries not abiding by the Paris agreement on climate change and not adhering to the highest environmental standards.This so-called “Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism” could open a new front in the transatlantic spat, following France’s digital taxes and prompt retaliation by Donald Trump.Still, von der Leyen signaled there’s room for compromise, citing California’s emissions trading system as an example of creating “a global level playing field” where “no carbon border tax will be necessary.”Trump Lauds Musk, ‘Disappointed’ With Boeing (12 p.m.)Trump praised Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk as “one of our great geniuses” but said he’s disappointed in Boeing Co. over its woes around the 737 Max aircraft.“I was worried about him, because he’s one of our great geniuses, and we have to protect our genius,” Trump said of Musk in a CNBC interview. “You know, we have to protect Thomas Edison and we have to protect all of these people that came up with originally the light bulb and the wheel and all of these things.”On Boeing, he said: “Very disappointing company. This is one of the great companies of the world, let’s say as of a year ago, and then all of a sudden things happen. I am so disappointed in Boeing-- had a tremendous impact.‘We Have to Act Now’ on Climate: von der Leyen (11:40 a.m.)Von der Leyen focused on climate change and geopolitics, the two priorities of her five-year mandate which started last month, when she addressed the forum.“The window of opportunity is closing” to address the environment emergency but “we have to act now,” she said.Von der Leyen said there has to be “fairness” when it comes to climate and that included protecting European businesses and workers from unfair competition.“If you engage with Europe you will find a reliable partner, working for a more sustainable world, but we ask for fairness in return,” she said.France’s Le Maire Hopeful on U.S. Digital-Tax Deal (11:35 a.m.)France has agreed to put the taxation of digital companies on hold until the end of this year as it seeks to avert a trade war with the U.S., Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told Bloomberg TV.Le Maire said international rules for digital taxation would be “far more efficient” and “fairer,” and that he hoped for agreement with U.S. officials “in a few hours” after meetings in Davos.“Entering into a trade war between the U.S. and Europe would be foolish,” Le Maire said. “And if we are ready to go this way, we would have one single taxation of all digital activities instead of having many national taxations all over the world.”Trump Says Strong Dollar ‘Very Bad’ for Manufacturing (11:20 a.m.)Trump reiterated his criticism of Federal Reserve policy, saying the central bank “brought up the rate too fast, and they didn’t drop it fast enough.”“I want this dollar to be strong. I want it to be so powerful. I want it to be great. But if you lower the interest rates, so many good things would happen,” he told CNBC.“We have a very strong dollar, and that sounds good, and it is good in many ways, but it’s very bad in terms of manufacturing,” he added.Mnuchin Threatens Auto Tariffs to Counter Digital Taxes (11:16 a.m.)U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Mnuchin dangled the prospect of retaliatory tariffs on automobile imports if countries go ahead with digital taxation plans.“If people want to just arbitrarily put taxes on our digital companies, we will consider arbitrarily putting taxes on car companies,” Mnuchin said during a panel discussion. “We think the digital tax is discriminatory in nature.”Internet companies have long been the target of complaints that they don’t pay enough in taxes, and France imposed a 3% levy on the digital revenue of companies that make their sales primarily in cyberspace, such as Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.On the same panel, U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid said the country plans to go ahead with a tax on digital services in April, with the levy designed to fall away once there’s international agreement on the issue.Mnuchin said the U.S. will have private talks with the U.K. over the plan, just as Trump had with French President Emmanuel Macron to defuse the spat over digital tax.Trump Would Be ‘Very Surprised’ to Have to Impose EU Tariffs (11 a.m.)Trump said that he threatened von der Leyen with “very high tariffs” on “cars and other things that come into our country” at a meeting on Tuesday but that he would be “very surprised” if he had to implement them.“They’ve taken advantage of our country, the European Union, for many, many years,” Trump told CNBC.“They’re going to make a deal because they have to, they have to, they have no choice,” he added. “I would be very surprised if I had to implement the tariffs.”The U.S. leader dismissed worries about a possible pandemic from a a new respiratory virus in China: “It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control,” he said. “It’s going to be just fine.”U.K’s Javid Says EU Trade-Deal Timetable Feasible (10:50 a.m.)Britain and the European Union have set a “tight timetable” for negotiating a trade deal by the end of this year, but it “absolutely can be done,” according to the U.K.’s Javid.“Both sides recognize that it’s a tight timetable, a lot needs to be put together in the time that we have, but it can be done,” Javid said during a panel on “The Future of Financial Markets.”“And it can be done for both goods, where we want to see free trade, zero tariffs, zero quotas, but also on services,” he added. Work has also started on a trade agreement with the U.S., which is a “huge priority” for the new government, Javid said.Mnuchin Says U.K. Trade Pact Is U.S. Priority (10:49 a.m.)Securing a trade deal with the U.K. is a big priority for the Trump administration this year, Mnuchin said during the same panel discussion with the U.K.’s Javid.Tariffs provided an incentive for China to sign the phase-one trade deal last week, Mnuchin said, adding that the U.S. is trying to open global markets, not close them. There are no deadlines to start talks on a second phase, which could be pursued in smaller increments.International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said the world is in a better place than it was a few months ago, as trade and industrial output bottom out and the outlook brightens.Saudi Aramco’s International Listing Isn’t Coming Soon (10:21 a.m.)The international listing of Saudi Aramco is “still on the cards” but likely won’t happen soon, Saudi Arabian Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan told Bloomberg TV.In the oil giant’s IPO, Aramco opted for a local listing after global investors balked at its hopes of valuing the company at $2 trillion. Instead, Aramco relied heavily on local investors and funds from neighboring Gulf Arab monarchies.Al-Jadaan said he’s “very confident” that the Saudi economy is picking up. After issuing a $5 billion eurobond, he said the country could borrow another $4 billion more this year and is considering debt in euros, riyals as well as sukuk.AstraZeneca Sees Climate Change Bigger Risk Than China Virus (9:35 a.m.)While the spread of the coronavirus is “a threat that must be taken seriously,” it appears to be relatively contained, AstraZeneca Plc Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot said in a Bloomberg TV interview.“I personally think there’s a much bigger threat that is facing the world today, and it’s global warming and climate change,” said Soriot. “We all need to do something about it.”Thiam Says European Bank Mergers ‘Desirable’ (9:25 a.m.)Consolidation among top European banks should be pursued, but work is still needed to convince taxpayers that larger lenders won’t be a threat to the financial system, according to Credit Suisse Group AG Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam.“I think it’s desirable,” Thiam told Bloomberg TV when asked if European banking mergers should take place. “It will happen, but it will take some time. We still have a job to do to convince the public that larger banks can be safe and not endanger the whole economy.”Thiam said he’s “moderately optimistic” about the euro-region economy and “still very positive” about the global economy. “It’s early days, but I think people are positive about 2020 and so are we. The U.S.-China agreement is very positive for markets,” he added.Carney Bemoans Lack of U.S. Climate Engagement (9:22 a.m.)Bank of England Governor Mark Carney warned of mounting risks to the financial sector and the economy from climate change and urged the U.S. to play bigger role.“Something which was largely on the periphery of finance has come into the mainstream,” Carney said at the Bloomberg Climate Forum. “Transition risk has become more important.”Asked if the world could contain global warming without the U.S., the governor said: “It’s much more difficult.”Messina Sees Future European Banking Champions (9:10 a.m.)Intesa Sanpaolo SpA Chief Executive Officer Carlo Messina says Europe needs to create banks on the scale of JPMorgan Chase & Co. in order to compete with the U.S. and China in geopolitics. That means common rules that could facilitate mergers across the bloc.“If you look at Europe, U.S.A and China, you need absolutely to create some champions with scale that can compete with U.S.A.,” said Messina in a Bloomberg TV interview. “In the medium term in Europe, we need to have consolidation, but at the same time, we need to have rules of the game that could be the same in all the European countries. That is the problem of Europe.”While these issues will unlikely be resolved this year, he said he expects it to happen in the future. The banking sector in Italy is under control, and Intesa’s non-performing loans are close to European levels, he added.Staley Sees ‘Extraordinary’ Tech Valuations (8:45 a.m.)Asset valuations are currently “quite high,” particularly in the tech sector, and vigilance is needed in case of a correction, according to Jes Staley, chief executive officer of Barclays Plc.Asked in a Bloomberg TV interview what the biggest risk is to the economic outlook, Staley said: “Having been in this industry for some 40 years now, it generally starts with credit somewhere. People may get overextended and if there’s a shock to interest rates that could be quite a correction.”Staley said there are “extraordinary valuations in some tech sectors, particularly the large tech players in the U.S.”“When you have zero to negative interest rates almost by definition you’re going to have asset bubbles,” he added. “You want to ride that wave while it’s happening but keep your eyes wide open in case there’s a correction.”After a tumultuous 12 months, Barclays is sticking to a strategy that keeps Staley in charge of its closely scrutinized investment bank, he added.ABB Chairman Sees Chance for Smaller Deals (8:09 a.m.)ABB Ltd. sees potential for smaller divestments and acquisitions ahead as it refines its portfolio of businesses, Chairman Peter Voser said in a Bloomberg TV interview.The Swiss engineering company has identified units with 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) in revenue that it plans to fix or sell. As that program continues, ABB is also expanding its reach, such as its purchase of a stake in a Chinese electric-car charging company last year. But bigger deals aren’t planned, Voser said.“There is no talk about bigger portfolio transactions at this stage,” he said, adding that the focus of the new CEO will be on improving ABB’s operational performance and executing on the board’s strategic plan.Fake News Is Biggest Risk: Malaysia’s Leiking (7:28 a.m.)Malaysian Trade Minister Darell Leiking said recent indicators such as purchasing managers’ indexes suggest the economic outlook is positive.“Continuously, we see encouraging PMI results all over the world, Malaysia as well,” Leiking said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “We hope that some positiveness will continue throughout this year. The biggest risk for the Malaysian economy is a lot of fake news about things.”Malaysia is unlikely to suffer any loss in its palm oil business from China, despite Beijing pledging to boost soybean purchases from the U.S. amid the trade war, Leiking added.UBS Focused on Gaining U.S. Market Share (7:22 a.m.)UBS Group AG Chairman Axel Weber said the Swiss bank wants to focus on its wealthy clients and expand particularly in the U.S.“We now want to focus on efficiency in wealth management,” Weber said in a Bloomberg TV interview. “We want to maintain our No. 1 one position globally, and we want to build the market where we’re not among the top four and that is in the U.S. And really build that part.”Negative interest rates in Europe are more a distortion than a useful tool, Weber added.Zimbabwe Dealing With Inflation: Ncube (6:50 a.m.)Zimbabwe is on track in dealing with inflation, even with consumer prices increasing more than 500% on an annual basis, according to Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube.Annual inflation remains high, “but that’s expected, that happens when you liberalize a currency,” Ncube told Bloomberg TV. “We believe are on our way to deal with inflation. It will take time, but we are headed there,” Ncube said.Wednesday Highlights9:15 a.m. | U.S. President Trump breakfast with U.S. CEOs, business leaders10:30 a.m. | Finance Panel with U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, UBS’s Weber, IMF’s Kristalina Georgieva11:00 a.m. | Spanish Prime Minister Sanchez special address11:30 a.m. | European Commission President von der Leyen special address2:15 p.m. | Hong Kong Chief Executive Lam addresses WEF6 p.m. | Iraqi President Barham Salih special addressBe on the lookout for Bloomberg Television’s interviews withBarclays CEO Jes StaleyCredit Suisse CEO Tidjane ThiamMorgan Stanley CEO James GormanFrench Finance Minister Bruno Le MaireSaudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-JadaanU.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine ChaoChina Securities Regulatory Commission Vice Chairman Fang XinghaiTuesday Catch UpTrump’s victory lap | Trump boasted about his handling of the U.S. economy in a speech to business and political leaders in Davos, hours before his impeachment trial started in Washington.Opening doors | Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng said his country’s trade deal with the U.S. won’t hurt rival exporting nations as complaints mount from governments that were left out of the agreement.Vowing to stay | Hong Kong Chief Executive Officer Lam told Bloomberg she has no plans to step aside to help resolve protests that have racked the city: “I will do my utmost to stay in this position to help arrest the current situation.”Austerity bashing | The co-leader of Germany’s Greens sided with the U.S. in demanding more spending from Berlin, saying that Chancellor Angela Merkel should drop her balanced-budget “fetishism.”\--With assistance from Haslinda Amin, Francine Lacqua, Ian Wishart, Nikos Chrysoloras, Javier Blas and Thomas Gualtieri.To contact the reporters on this story: Chris Reiter in Berlin at creiter2@bloomberg.net;Iain Rogers in Berlin at irogers11@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 08:33:18 -0500
  • White House confuses Iraq with Iran and says Trump met with Iranian president

    Golocal247.com news

    The White House appears to have confused Iran and Iraq in a YouTube video, and suggested that Donald Trump met with the Iranian president.A video of a meeting between Trump and Iraq’s president, Barham Salih, was titled “President Trump Participates in a Bilateral Meeting with the President of the Republic of Iran” on the White House’s official YouTube channel.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 08:29:43 -0500
  • Iran tells Europe not to follow U.S. by undermining nuclear pact

    Iran's president told European powers on Wednesday not to copy the United States by undermining Tehran's strained nuclear pact with world powers, and said Tehran would not seek nuclear weapons whether or not the deal survived. Britain, France and Germany launched a dispute mechanism in the 2015 nuclear deal this month, accusing Iran of violating the deal that has become increasingly frayed since Washington pulled out in 2018 and then reimposed sanctions on Tehran.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 08:26:31 -0500
  • Tripoli's main airport suspends flights after shelling

    The only functioning airport in Libya’s capital suspended its operations after coming under attack Wednesday, airport authorities said, despite a tenuous truce that world powers have pushed warring parties to respect. Authorities at Tripoli’s Mitiga airport said six Grad missiles crashed into the tarmac. The resumption of shelling on Mitiga put a recent cease-fire brokered earlier this month by Russia and Turkey on shaky ground, as diplomatic efforts to halt the long-running civil war intensify.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 08:22:58 -0500
  • 8 crew members kidnapped from Greek-flagged tanker freed

    Eight crew members of a Greek-flagged tanker ship have been freed more than 20 days after being kidnapped by gunmen off the coast of Cameroon in West Africa, Greece's merchant marine ministry said Wednesday. The crew had been kidnapped by pirates on Dec. 31 from the Happy Lady tanker, which had been lying at anchor two nautical miles (2.3 miles, 3.7 kilometers) outside the port of Limboh.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 08:06:03 -0500
  • Jacobs Donates More Than $465,000 to Water For People

    Golocal247.com news

    Expanding its commitment to helping end the global water crisis with sustainable solutions, Jacobs (NYSE:J) presented nonprofit organization Water For People with a donation check for $467,230 at Jacobs' January Board of Directors meeting. A combination of corporate and employee funds, the company's inaugural sponsor contribution will ignite Water For People's journey to Destination 2030, a 10-year initiative to help low- and middle-income countries achieve United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6 – ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 07:45:00 -0500
  • Images of starving lions in Sudan zoo spark global concern

    Golocal247.com news

    At an impoverished, forlorn zoo in Sudan’s capital, the park's few remaining lions are starving in rusted cages — their ribs protruding, eyes glassy and skin flaccid, desperate for food and water. The unsettling images, shared on social media by a local animal rights advocate, drew impassioned responses from thousands around the world. With the staff at the destitute Al-Qurashi Park, as the zoo in Khartoum is known, unable to feed and look after the animals, many have died off or were evacuated, leaving only three skeletal lions, including a lioness.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 07:40:29 -0500
  • Years after SARS, a more confident China faces a new virus

    Golocal247.com news

    The proclamation Tuesday signaled both China's growing confidence and its greater awareness of censorship's pitfalls. The threat headlined an online essay that referred directly to SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, an epidemic that not only devastated parts of China but also exposed government deception. Nearly two decades later, a more assertive China appears determined not to repeat its past mistakes.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 07:25:18 -0500
  • 3 African nations meet to draft deal on Nile dam dispute

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    Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan started U.S.-monitored talks on Wednesday in the Sudanese capital to try hammer out a draft deal to resolve their dispute over a Nile dam that Ethiopia is constructing, an Egyptian spokesman said. The $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project on the Blue Nile, which promises to provide much-needed electricity to Ethiopia’s 100 million people, has been a contentious point among the three main Nile Basin countries. The issue is critical for Cairo as Egypt seeks to protect its main source of freshwater for its large and growing population, also about 100 million.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 07:04:12 -0500
  • Turkey's FM urges Russia to halt Syrian government attacks

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    Turkey's foreign minister urged Russia on Wednesday to halt the Syrian government's attacks in the war-torn Arab country, a day after airstrikes on rebel-held sectors and the shelling of government-held areas killed at least 17 people, including an entire family. In his remarks, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu insisted it was Moscow's responsibility to stop the violence as Russia has been a staunch supporter of Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces in the civil war.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 06:32:31 -0500
  • Iran will never seek nuclear arms, with or without nuclear deal - Rouhani

    Iran will never seek nuclear weapons, with or without nuclear deal, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday, calling on the European powers to avoid Washington's mistake of violating Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with major powers. "We have never sought nuclear weapons ... With or without the nuclear deal we will never seek nuclear weapon ... The European powers will be responsible for the consequences of violating the pact," said Rouhani, according to his website President.Ir.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 06:27:20 -0500
  • DAVOS-Saudi foreign minister calls claim that Crown Prince hacked Bezos phone 'absurd'

    Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said on Wednesday that an allegation the kingdom’s crown prince had been involved in a plot to hack the phone of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was "absurd". "I think absurd is exactly the right word," Prince Faisal told Reuters in an interview in Davos. Two United Nations officials will report on Wednesday that there is enough evidence suggesting that Saudi Arabia had hacked Bezos' phone and both the kingdom and the United States should investigate, a person familiar with the matter said.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 06:24:18 -0500
  • Canadian prosecutor set to defend U.S. request to extradite Huawei CFO Meng

    Golocal247.com news

    Canadian prosecutors are expected to defend on Wednesday their case to extradite Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou to the United States saying Meng was arrested on charges of bank fraud, which is a crime in both countries, and not because of U.S. sanctions against Iran as argued by the defense. Meng's legal team continued its defense during the first phase of the extradition hearing on Tuesday, with lawyers arguing for a second straight day that "double criminality" is at the heart of the U.S. extradition request.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 06:09:05 -0500
  • Afghan officials: US airstrike killed 10 civilians in Herat

    A drone attack carried out by U.S. forces earlier this month in western Afghanistan that apparently targeted a splinter Taliban group also killed at least 10 civilians, including three women and three children, an Afghan rights official and a council member said Wednesday. According to the Afghan official, who is on the country's Human Rights Commission, the strike took place in western Herat province, in the district of Shindanad. Five other civilians, including two children, were wounded, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 06:00:10 -0500
  • Canadian prosecutor set to defend U.S. request to extradite Huawei CFO Meng

    Canadian prosecutors are expected to defend on Wednesday their case to extradite Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou to the United States saying Meng was arrested on charges of bank fraud, which is a crime in both countries, and not because of U.S. sanctions against Iran as argued by the defense. Meng's legal team continued its defence during the first phase of the extradition hearing on Tuesday, with lawyers arguing for a second straight day that "double criminality" is at the heart of the U.S. extradition request.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 06:00:00 -0500
  • A Virus on the Move Tests China’s Control

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    (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. On the eve of one of the biggest mass movements of people on earth, a new challenge has emerged for China’s leadership.A respiratory virus which started in the central city of Wuhan has spread within China and overseas. The World Health Organization could declare an international emergency.It’s reminiscent of SARS, which 17 years ago sparked global panic, affecting air travel and killing nearly 800 people. Since then there have been periodic concerns about the potential for other outbreaks, particularly viruses that could jump between animals and humans.And with recollections of SARS come memories of Beijing’s handling of the crisis. It was slow to respond at home, late in informing the world and cagey about how bad things were. China’s leaders were also criticized for their response to a subsequent contaminated milk scandal and revelations about bad vaccines.So far Beijing has been faster to react. But the Communist Party is still carefully regulating information. That’s led ordinary Chinese to take to social media platforms to demand greater transparency.Hundreds of millions of Chinese are about to travel for the Lunar New Year. With a virus on the move, the risks are high. For a party used to control, the task is to show that nothing is being hidden.Global HeadlinesJust in: U.S. President Donald Trump said he will hold a press conference today before departing Davos.Midnight oil | The Senate voted early today to set the terms for Trump’s impeachment trial — after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the president got a reminder that a small group of Republican senators can determine how it will play out. McConnell was forced to hastily revise his proposed rules in the face of a mini-rebellion over the compressed schedule for arguments. House Democrats can begin presenting their case as soon as today.Click here for more about how Trump has kicked off this election year with a string of foreign policy and economic wins that his campaign hopes will overshadow — and outlast — the political fallout from his historic impeachment.Lam in Davos | In an interview with Bloomberg, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Chinese President Xi Jinping assured her he wouldn’t use ongoing protests to tighten China’s grip on the former British colony. Speaking in Davos, she defended her handling of unprecedented protests, rejected the idea of meeting more protester demands and said her government was pursuing a stimulus plan designed to preserve jobs.Italian arrivederci? | Luigi Di Maio looks to be on the brink of quitting as the leader of Italy’s governing Five Star Movement, John Follain reports. Coupled with mass defections from the party, the 33-year-old foreign minister’s bickering with his political allies has drawn a scolding from the populist movement’s founder, Beppe Grillo, and threatens the future of a fragile coalition designed to keep Matteo Salvini’s nationalist League out of power.Warming to Europe? | Trump’s visit to Davos has been an uncommonly peaceful one, even as he’s continued to espouse his economic and trade policies as global models to a conclave of doubters about his America First policy. Trump sent some unusually warm messages to European nations that have endured his tariff threats on everything from cars to Camembert for almost three years.Maintaining Control | The whirlwind of political changes unleashed by President Vladimir Putin is all part of his plan to continue to dominate Russia once his term ends in 2024, Henry Meyer and Ilya Arkhipov write. While allies are heartened, his ploy to keep power indefinitely faces risks from growing public discontent over falling incomes. Putin wants to control all branches of government “without having to deal with day-to-day affairs,” said one analyst.What to WatchAmazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos’s mobile phone was hacked following a WhatsApp exchange with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to two people familiar with an analysis of the breach. A UN investigation into the incident is to be released today. The Saudi embassy to the U.S. said the news, first reported by The Guardian newspaper, was “absurd.”With the start of Democratic presidential nominating contests now less than two weeks away, Bernie Sanders is trying to temper his reputation as a party outsider and make the case he could beat Trump.Tell us how we’re doing or what we’re missing at balancepower@bloomberg.net. And sign up for Bloomberg Green, our new daily digest of climate news and insights on the latest in science, environmental impacts, zero-emission tech and green finance.And finally … In 2018, China halted virtually all imports of plastic waste, triggering far-reaching effects right around the globe. A Bloomberg survey of 25 governments worldwide showed the reverberations are still being felt two years on, from the U.S. to Japan, Nigeria and Russia. But as Alan Crawford and Hayley Warren show, China may just have inadvertently done the world a favor. \--With assistance from Kathleen Hunter, Iain Marlow and Anthony Halpin.To contact the author of this story: Rosalind Mathieson in London at rmathieson3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Alan Crawford at acrawford6@bloomberg.net, Karl MaierFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 05:59:43 -0500
  • Lebanon's new Cabinet holds its first meeting amid protests

    Golocal247.com news

    Lebanon's new government held its first meeting on Wednesday, a day after it was formed following a three-month-long political vacuum. The new Cabinet, which has the support of the powerful militant Hezbollah group and its allies, has a monumental task ahead — including getting Lebanon out of its worst economic and financial crisis since the 1975-90 civil war. The crisis worsened since mass protests against the political elite started in mid-October, leading to the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri's government two weeks later.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 05:39:10 -0500
  • Trump’s Impeachment Trial Isn’t His Biggest Legal Risk

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- President Donald Trump’s sprawling corruption may never be brought under lawful control, especially with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acting as inside man in Trump’s impeachment trial. But if Trump is ever to be punished for his many abuses of power, it just might be for his disregard of the nation’s ineffectual and much-maligned body of campaign-finance law.True, it’s unlikely. Campaign-finance violations are often treated as clerical errors. The Federal Election Commission is a punchline in Washington, incapable of even voting on enforcement measures, since it lacks a quorum. (Both the White House and the Senate appear to like it that way.) Even when the commission did function, the most blatant disregard of campaign-finance law sometimes resulted in only weak fines administered many years late.Yet the rule of law sometimes has a roundabout way of making the guilty pay. Al Capone went to prison for tax evasion. Richard Nixon was forced from the presidency over a botched burglary. And amid the thuggish efforts to insulate Trump from the democratic accountability of fair elections, campaign-finance laws are proving stubbornly relevant. The laws include a “broad prohibition on foreign national activity” in U.S. elections. Foreigners are prohibited from contributing money or any “thing of value” to a campaign. They are also prohibited from spending money “in connection with any federal, state or local election in the United States.” Thus Russian President Vladimir Putin’s sabotage in 2016 was not just a crime against democracy — it was an illegal in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign.Special Counsel Robert Mueller acknowledged in his report that Donald Trump Jr.’s eager embrace of Russian government assistance to his father’s campaign in 2016 (“if it’s what you say I love it”) “implicates” U.S. campaign finance law. But Mueller chose not to charge Trump Jr., explaining that it would be difficult to prove that he had “willfully” violated the law.Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were not cut a similar break. Instead, federal prosecutors charged the two Soviet-born Trump supporters with funneling foreign money into U.S. political committees, along with a $325,000 donation from the pair’s largely imaginary energy company, which lacked income or assets, to the pro-Trump SuperPAC America First Action.After laying low following their October arrest, Parnas has been quite a noisy fellow lately, appearing for interviews on television. Claiming that he fears that he’s been set up as the fall guy, Parnas has further implicated the president and others in a scheme for which there was already ample evidence: Trump’s effort to extort foreign assistance to his re-election campaign in the form of a Ukrainian investigation designed to smear former Vice President Joe Biden. The Ukraine scheme, Parnas told CNN, “was all about 2020.”Parnas has been sharing photos of himself in intimate settings with the president, along with texts and other carefully curated details of his whirlwind romance with the MAGA crowd, including Rudolph Giuliani. Efforts to distance the White House from Parnas are complicated by an October letter to Congress from Trump’s former lawyer John Dowd, which asserts that “Parnas and Fruman assisted Mr. Giuliani in connection with his representation of President Trump.” There are lots of questions and surely more to the story, including the possibility that Giuliani and his friends were hoping to make a play for Ukrainian gas business. But there is no doubt about what inspired Parnas to sing: campaign-finance charges.Attorney General William Barr, who buried the whistle-blower complaint about Trump’s Ukraine scheme when it arrived at the Justice Department last summer, seems to recognize the potential of campaign-finance violations to trip up a president focused on committing heftier offenses. At a Senate hearing last May, he dodged rudimentary questions about foreign interference in presidential elections, calling it “a slippery area.” He went to bizarre lengths to avoid labeling obviously illegal behavior out of bounds. Democratic Senator Chis Coons and Republican Senator Ben Sasse both appeared confounded by his testimony.The federal agents in New York who charged Fruman and Parnas seem to have done some thinking about the implications of campaign finance law also. Announcing charges against the two men in October, FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:The American people expect and deserve an election process that hasn’t been corrupted by the influence of foreign interests, and the public has the right to know the true source of campaign contributions. These allegations aren’t about some technicality, a civil violation or an error on a form. This investigation is about corrupt behavior and deliberate law-breaking. The FBI takes the obligation to tackle corruption seriously — there are no exceptions to this rule.At the same news conference, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said: “We will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute those who engage in criminal conduct that draws into question the integrity of our political process.” Maybe it was prosecutorial boilerplate. But it sure sounded like a very pointed message to someone.To contact the author of this story: Francis Wilkinson at fwilkinson1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Newman at mnewman43@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Francis Wilkinson writes editorials on politics and U.S. domestic policy for Bloomberg Opinion. He was executive editor of the Week. He was previously a writer for Rolling Stone, a communications consultant and a political media strategist.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 05:30:32 -0500
  • Trump’s Impeachment Trial Isn’t His Biggest Legal Risk

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- President Donald Trump’s sprawling corruption may never be brought under lawful control, especially with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acting as inside man in Trump’s impeachment trial. But if Trump is ever to be punished for his many abuses of power, it just might be for his disregard of the nation’s ineffectual and much-maligned body of campaign-finance law.True, it’s unlikely. Campaign-finance violations are often treated as clerical errors. The Federal Election Commission is a punchline in Washington, incapable of even voting on enforcement measures, since it lacks a quorum. (Both the White House and the Senate appear to like it that way.) Even when the commission did function, the most blatant disregard of campaign-finance law sometimes resulted in only weak fines administered many years late.Yet the rule of law sometimes has a roundabout way of making the guilty pay. Al Capone went to prison for tax evasion. Richard Nixon was forced from the presidency over a botched burglary. And amid the thuggish efforts to insulate Trump from the democratic accountability of fair elections, campaign-finance laws are proving stubbornly relevant. The laws include a “broad prohibition on foreign national activity” in U.S. elections. Foreigners are prohibited from contributing money or any “thing of value” to a campaign. They are also prohibited from spending money “in connection with any federal, state or local election in the United States.” Thus Russian President Vladimir Putin’s sabotage in 2016 was not just a crime against democracy — it was an illegal in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign.Special Counsel Robert Mueller acknowledged in his report that Donald Trump Jr.’s eager embrace of Russian government assistance to his father’s campaign in 2016 (“if it’s what you say I love it”) “implicates” U.S. campaign finance law. But Mueller chose not to charge Trump Jr., explaining that it would be difficult to prove that he had “willfully” violated the law.Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were not cut a similar break. Instead, federal prosecutors charged the two Soviet-born Trump supporters with funneling foreign money into U.S. political committees, along with a $325,000 donation from the pair’s largely imaginary energy company, which lacked income or assets, to the pro-Trump SuperPAC America First Action.After laying low following their October arrest, Parnas has been quite a noisy fellow lately, appearing for interviews on television. Claiming that he fears that he’s been set up as the fall guy, Parnas has further implicated the president and others in a scheme for which there was already ample evidence: Trump’s effort to extort foreign assistance to his re-election campaign in the form of a Ukrainian investigation designed to smear former Vice President Joe Biden. The Ukraine scheme, Parnas told CNN, “was all about 2020.”Parnas has been sharing photos of himself in intimate settings with the president, along with texts and other carefully curated details of his whirlwind romance with the MAGA crowd, including Rudolph Giuliani. Efforts to distance the White House from Parnas are complicated by an October letter to Congress from Trump’s former lawyer John Dowd, which asserts that “Parnas and Fruman assisted Mr. Giuliani in connection with his representation of President Trump.” There are lots of questions and surely more to the story, including the possibility that Giuliani and his friends were hoping to make a play for Ukrainian gas business. But there is no doubt about what inspired Parnas to sing: campaign-finance charges.Attorney General William Barr, who buried the whistle-blower complaint about Trump’s Ukraine scheme when it arrived at the Justice Department last summer, seems to recognize the potential of campaign-finance violations to trip up a president focused on committing heftier offenses. At a Senate hearing last May, he dodged rudimentary questions about foreign interference in presidential elections, calling it “a slippery area.” He went to bizarre lengths to avoid labeling obviously illegal behavior out of bounds. Democratic Senator Chis Coons and Republican Senator Ben Sasse both appeared confounded by his testimony.The federal agents in New York who charged Fruman and Parnas seem to have done some thinking about the implications of campaign finance law also. Announcing charges against the two men in October, FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:The American people expect and deserve an election process that hasn’t been corrupted by the influence of foreign interests, and the public has the right to know the true source of campaign contributions. These allegations aren’t about some technicality, a civil violation or an error on a form. This investigation is about corrupt behavior and deliberate law-breaking. The FBI takes the obligation to tackle corruption seriously — there are no exceptions to this rule.At the same news conference, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said: “We will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute those who engage in criminal conduct that draws into question the integrity of our political process.” Maybe it was prosecutorial boilerplate. But it sure sounded like a very pointed message to someone.To contact the author of this story: Francis Wilkinson at fwilkinson1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Newman at mnewman43@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Francis Wilkinson writes editorials on politics and U.S. domestic policy for Bloomberg Opinion. He was executive editor of the Week. He was previously a writer for Rolling Stone, a communications consultant and a political media strategist.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 05:30:32 -0500
  • Menendez and Graham Partner Up to Craft a New Iran Deal

    Golocal247.com news

    Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have teamed up to work on drafting potential contours for negotiations with Tehran over the country’s nuclear programming and a roadmap for a new deal, according to Graham and two other congressional aides familiar with the matter.“I’ve been working with Senator Menendez on this for some time,” Graham told The Daily Beast in an interview last week. “We need a new way forward. And I’ve been trying to think of alternatives.”Graham told The Daily Beast in an interview in August that he was working with senior Trump administration officials on an alternative to the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal. Part of that effort included fielding ideas from outside actors, including foreign officials. Since then, Graham has met with Menendez—although only a few times—on how to kickstart a bipartisan congressional effort to reform the administration’s Iran policy.According to sources individuals familiar with the Graham-Menendez partnership, the two senators have largely talked about constructing an actionable plan to present to other lawmakers and to the White House. But the two sides have yet to agree on exactly how to get the ball rolling, according to those sources. One individual said Menendez wanted to work with Graham because the South Carolina lawmaker had gained the president’s ear on Iran over the last year.Although the duo has spoken about teaming up for some time, sources say the lawmakers are focused now more than ever on crafting a new deal following the killing of Iran’s top military leader, Qassem Soleimani. Following the strike, Democrats in the Senate, including Menendez, called out senior officials in the Trump administration for not offering proper intelligence briefings to Congress on what led to the strike. Menendez told MSNBC earlier this month that the administration suggested in briefings there was an imminent threat to American interests but that there was “no clear definition of what they consider imminent.”The senator also called on the administration to declassify the official notification provided to Congress about the Soleimani strike.Graham, on the other hand, applauded President Trump and told The Daily Beast that the administration should continue to keep the military option on the table if Iran were to continue to threaten American interests in the Middle East. Graham suggested the U.S. strike Iranian oil assets in the country, pointing to refineries in particular. Menendez, on the other hand, has urged the administration to up its diplomatic outreach following the strike rather than continue to rely on its military might.Despite their division on Trump’s decision to strike Soleimani, both lawmakers opposed the Obama administration’s 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.“I have looked into my own soul, and my devotion to principle may once again lead me to an unpopular course, but if Iran is to acquire a nuclear bomb, it will not have my name on it,” Menendez said in a 2015 speech. “It is for these reasons that I will vote to disapprove the agreement and, if called upon, would vote to override a veto.”At the time of the deal’s proposal in 2015, Menendez advocated that the Obama administration continue to levy sanctions on Iran in order to change Tehran’s behavior and keep it from eventually obtaining a nuclear weapon. Although Graham’s and Menendez’s public statements on Iran have varied, both lawmakers seem to agree on one point: The Trump administration’s strategy isn’t working.Since Trump took office, Menendez has criticized the Trump administration’s Iran strategy as only emboldening Tehran. And while Graham tends to support Trump publicly, the South Carolina lawmaker has been openly critical of how the White House responds to Iran’s malign activities in the region.In a recent interview with The Daily Beast, Graham said the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign—meant to cripple Iran’s economy with sanctions—was working but needed to be harsher and combined with military deterrence. Team Trump Thought It Could Contain Iran With ‘Maximum Pressure.’ The Attacks Got Worse.Before the Soleimani strike, Iran policy experts, some of whom worked with the Obama administration, said Tehran would not engage in talks about a revised nuclear deal unless the U.S. rolled back at least some of its sanctions on the country. Now those experts say Tehran, having rolled back its commitments under the former deal, is not likely to engage in any meaningful conversation with the U.S. on nuclear power, at least in the short term.Meanwhile, two officials in the Treasury Department say their unit is continuously drawing up additional sanctions for Iran on the chance Trump wants to hit the country with additional punishments in the near future.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.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 05:15:07 -0500
  • Masked gunmen kill local commander of Iran's security forces

    Golocal247.com news

    Masked gunmen on Wednesday ambushed and killed the local commander of a paramilitary security force in southwestern Iran, an associate of Iran's top general recently killed in an American drone strike in Baghdad, the official IRNA news agency reported. The slain commander, Abdolhossein Mojaddami, headed the Basij forces, a paramilitary wing of the Revolutionary Guard used for internal security and other tasks, in the town of Darkhoein.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 04:45:04 -0500
  • AP PHOTOS: After Auschwitz, survivors still bear witness

    Golocal247.com news

    Seventy-five years after the killing stopped at Auschwitz, the survivors still bear witness, and many observe the rising hatred and anti-Semitism in the world today with a sense of deep disquiet. Ahead of commemorations marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Soviet army, Associated Press reporters and photographers visited survivors in Germany, Poland, Sweden, Russia, the United States and Israel.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 04:27:39 -0500
  • ‘Deaths of Despair’ Aren’t Just a U.S. Problem

    The United States isn’t the only country experiencing what economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton called “deaths from despair.” The U.K. is one of the most economically advanced and stable democracies on the globe and yet the life expectancy of its people appears to be stalling, with striking differences by gender and geography.According to a new report from the National Center for Social Research life expectancy in the U.K. is expected to continue to increase but the size of these increases is substantially smaller than in previous years. A more detailed study by the Office for National Statistics compared 20 countries and found that between 2005-2010 and 2010-2015 the U.K. had the greatest slowing in life expectancy at birth for women and the second greatest slowing for men (behind the U.S.).While the exact causes of these divides are still being debated, it’s hard not to draw parallels with the debate in the U.S. As Case and Deaton show in their book “Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism,” life expectancy in the U.S. recently fell for three years in a row, a reversal not seen since 1918 or in any other wealthy nation in modern times.The economists traced this not only to the rising number of deaths from suicide, drug overdose and alcoholism but to deep and widening inequalities within modern capitalism, which they argue is no longer delivering for the working-classes and, in particular, people without university degrees. The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies in Britain recently partnered with Deaton to conduct a comprehensive review of inequality in the U.K.As in the U.S., deaths from suicide, drug overdoses and alcohol-related liver disease have also been rising among middle-aged people in England, although on a smaller scale and especially concentrated among the less-well educated. There are also sharp and worrying differences across the country, with a gap in life expectancy at birth between the least and most deprived areas in England of 9.4 years for men and 7.4 years for women.Between 2012-2014 and 2015-2017, for example, women who live in the most deprived areas of the country saw a statistically significant reduction in life expectancy at birth of almost 100 days while women who live in the least deprived areas saw an increase of 84 days in life expectancy. As one statistician at the Office for National Statistics noted, the fall in life-expectancy at birth for women in the most deprived areas “has led to a significant widening in the inequality in life expectancy at birth in England.”These differences are also reflected in the number of years that people spend living in “good health.” In 2016-2018, healthy life expectancy was 63.1 years at birth for men and 63.6 years at birth for women. However, as with life expectancy generally, our healthy life expectancy has been rising at a slower rate. It is also now falling for women.While this means that most people can expect to live a larger proportion of their lives in poorer health, there are striking differences by gender and geography. Men have gained five months in healthy life expectancy since 2009-2011 but women have lost three. And while men who live in the most deprived areas of the U.K. can expect to have only 5.8 years of “good health” from 65 years of age, men who live in the least deprived areas of the country can expect to have more than double that (13.3 years).Whereas the affluent, leafy borough of Richmond-upon-Thames has the highest healthy life expectancy for men, at nearly 72 years, head northwards to the town of Blackpool, a deprived area where unemployment, alcohol and opioid addiction is rife, this figure is nearly 19 years lower (53.3 years).Northern towns such as Hartlepool, which provided strong support to Brexit, have in recent years seen some of the steepest falls in life expectancy; whereas men could expect to live to nearly 78 years in 2012-2014 by 2015-2017 this had fallen to 76 years. This might not sound like a big change but any decline in life expectancy is largely unprecedented in a modern democracy.These disparities are no doubt part of the frustrations that underpinned the Brexit vote in certain parts of the country, and it is not yet clear how the U.K.’s de facto departure from the European Union, to take place at the end of this year following a transition period, will impact areas that areas experiencing greater levels of deprivation. Some of them – particularly those reliant on manufacturing companies — will experience new trade frictions after Brexit.For the Conservative government, the new data will be taken as further justification for an agenda that aims to close the stark economic and social divides between the regions. So far, this has involved committing 100 billion pounds ($130.5 billion) toward infrastructure projects, devising new rules for government spending so that it benefits more deprived regions and sending new research agencies (and perhaps even the House of Lords) north.Those may prove the easy calls to make. Any plans to address the imbalance in opportunity and economic prospects across the country will not only need to focus on trains and bridges but also introducing a radical new skills agenda, non-university education and tackling the inequalities that plague primary and secondary school education. Given the government’s new ‘leveling up’ mantra, and Boris Johnson’s awareness that he is now far more dependent upon non-graduates for votes, such an agenda is definitely on the radar. Whether it turns into concrete action remains to be seen.To contact the author of this story: Matthew Goodwin at M.J.Goodwin@kent.ac.ukTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Therese Raphael at traphael4@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Matthew Goodwin is a professor of politics at the University of Kent and a senior fellow at UnHerd Insight.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 03:55:46 -0500
  • Property Taxes Are the Arab World’s Low-Hanging Fruit

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Under increasing pressure from restive populations that are demanding economic opportunity and social justice, many governments in the Middle East and North Africa are keen to speed up economic growth and increase job creation. But their policies, for the most part, prioritize attracting foreign and domestic private investment—as well as increasing foreign borrowing—over the redistribution of income and wealth.They are missing one low-hanging fruit in particular: property taxes. Increasing levies on real estate, and improving their collection, can help to address demands for social justice as well as spur economic development. That might seem blindingly obvious in the West, where property taxes made up an average of 5.8% of total tax revenue in the OECD countries in 2017, with their share reaching 9.5%, 12.5% and 16% in France, Britain and the U.S., respectively. But MENA nations have a poor track record in this regard: taxation on property is weak, in comparison with indirect taxes and non-tax revenue. In general, MENA countries have a limited capacity to tax their economies. Even though this has historically been related to the abundance of oil rent, this pattern is also seen in non-oil countries. In 2018, tax revenue to GDP ratios were 21.9% and 21% in Morocco and Tunisia, respectively, and a dismal 12.5% in Egypt—compared to 40.3% in the EU. The share of property tax to total revenue was a trifling 0.92% and 0.55% in Tunisia (2017) and Egypt (2016), respectively. Morocco was an exception, with 5% in 2017; the share of taxes on immovable property was 2.6%.As a result, although the real-estate sector in the MENA region attracts substantial investment, it contributes very little to the tax revenues. Moreover, real-estate investment has not led to the development of tradable and productive assets that could reduce the region’s chronic balance-of-payments deficits by increasing exports or reducing imports. This in turn contributes to protracted fiscal crises, especially for non-oil states, increasing inequality in income and wealth distribution and a rising sense of injustice. Real-estate taxes are a form of direct taxation: they can be made progressive, and therefore serve the twin purposes of social justice and redistribution. Unlike income flows, these taxes target property that can be easily registered by the state, thus overcoming the problems of weak institutional capacity to collect taxes. Real-estate assets, unlike financial ones, cannot be transferred abroad. They cannot be hidden, either. Moreover, given that the informal sector makes up a large proportion of MENA economies, property is a good proxy for income and wealth and hence for tackling inequality.In addition, property taxes are an instrument for economic development. Property tends to be a dead asset, since most units built for housing are not used for the production of goods or services afterwards. Real-estate tax is not a tax on capital for countries short in that commodity, and that need to encourage investment. It is not likely to contribute to capital flight, or reduce investment required for growth and job creation.On the contrary, it is likely to help correct a structural problem with almost all Arab economies: the over-representation of non-tradable and speculation-ridden sectors like construction and real-estate services. These tend to be prevalent where most corruption and crony capitalism is rampant, given the heavy state control over the supply of land. In many Arab countries, real-estate captures most middle-class savings. It creates dead assets, dampening the prospects for developing financial markets to serve investment in more productive and tradable sectors that can positively impact the balance-of-payments positions. Real-estate taxes can help correct the incentive structure and channel savings to more productive sectors, like manufacturing and high-skill services. Last, but not least, much of the real-estate boom in MENA countries takes place in luxury compounds and villas, and does not contribute to solving the housing crisis. Most housing supply in Arab countries happens through informal and largely unplanned housing that caters to the requirements of the low-income majority. Egypt is a case in point. Urban expert David Sims examined around 20 new desert cities launched from the time of Anwar Sadat in 1976, which were intended to have a combined population of more than 20 million. By 2014, however, these cities had a combined population of less than one million. The bulk of the country’s population growth has been absorbed by informal settlement on scarce agricultural land close to the major cities. Slums make up 40% of Egypt’s urban areas. Much of the investment in housing by upper-income groups in these new cities does not serve direct social goals, and can be targeted with taxation without much fear of a negative impact on the availability of housing for the majority. The chronic problems bedeviling property-tax policies and collection across the region can’t be fixed overnight. Sudden changes will likely be resisted by powerful vested interests that have enjoyed for long access to subsidized land without paying taxes. Reforms should be introduced gradually, to allow investors and producers to adjust to a right set of complementary policies. But governments have little time to waste: that’s the lesson from the protests that have broken out in the streets of Lebanon, Iran, Egypt and other MENA countries. Arab states must move quickly to address unequal redistribution without undermining investment and growth. Property taxes are a good place to start.To contact the author of this story: Amr Adly at amradly82@aucegypt.eduTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Bobby Ghosh at aghosh73@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Amr Adly is an assistant professor at the American University in Cairo. He is the author of "State Reform and Development in the Middle East."For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 03:52:24 -0500
  • S. Korean military decides to discharge transgender soldier

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    South Korea's first known transgender soldier pleaded to be allowed to continue serving after the military decided Wednesday to discharge her for undergoing gender reassignment surgery. It was the first time in South Korea that an active-duty member has been referred to a military panel to determine whether to end his or her service due to a sex reassignment operation. South Korea prohibits transgender people from joining the military but has no specific laws on what to do with those who have sex reassignment operations during their time in service.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 02:55:27 -0500
  • Armed rebels impose brutal rules in Venezuela-Colombia border region

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    Human Rights Watch report finds rape, murder and kidnappings on both sides of border, where people are unable to move freelyGuerrilla groups have supplanted state rule on both sides of the lawless border between Venezuela and Colombia, where they impose their own brutal rules on civilians, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW).MapIn Colombia’s eastern Arauca province and the neighbouring Apure state in Venezuela, civilians are unable to move freely, forced to obey a strict curfew and taxed on virtually all economic activity. HRW documented abuses including murder, kidnappings, disappearances, child recruitment and rape.“Armed groups in Arauca and Apure also punish residents with forced labor, requiring them to work for free, sometimes for months, farming, cleaning roads, or cooking in the armed groups’ camps, which are often in Venezuela,” says the report, released on Wednesday.The groups act with impunity thanks to limited state authorities on both sides of the porous border where they impose their own rules. Two of the groups have even handed out a manual for residents of the region.Those that do not follow the groups’ strict rules pay the ultimate price. The bodies of 16 civilians were found in Arauca last year, with scraps of paper on them announcing a “justification” for the killing, the report found. “The texts accused the murdered victims of being ‘informants’, ‘rapists’, ‘drug dealers’, or ‘thieves’, for example.”Security on the Colombian side of the border was supposed to improve following a historic peace deal in 2016 with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), which had fought against the government for five decades.While that accord formally ended a conflict that killed over 260,000 and forced 7 million from their homes, little has changed on the ground in former Farc strongholds such as the Arauca province.HRW’s report claims that one of the two armed groups present there is a splinter group of the Farc’s 10th Front, which still uses the defunct rebel army’s insignia.Another Colombian leftist group, the National Liberation Army (ELN) works in alliance with the dissidents. The Patriotic Forces of National Liberation (FPLN), a Venezuelan guerrilla group that supports its country’s leftist government, is also present.“The Colombian-Venezuelan border is strategically important to armed groups due to the illegal economies that exist there, including contraband, drug trafficking, and human trafficking,” said Juan Pappier, one of the authors of the report. “Armed groups can also attack civilians in Colombia and then use Venezuela as a rearguard, something that happens often on the Arauca-Apure border.”But Venezuela is also a hotbed for criminal activity, with gangs taking advantage of the chaos left by the country’s social and economic collapse. Hyperinflation sits at an annual rate of 10,398%, according to a Forbes analyst, while shortages of food staples and medicines are commonplace.Colombia’s president, Iván Duque, has accused Venezuela’s embattled president Nicolás Maduro of directly contributing to the insecurity by sheltering ELN and dissident Farc fighters.Over 4 million people have now fled Venezuela, the United Nations’ refugee agency reports. Many migrants, deeply impoverished, make the route through Colombia on foot, where they are further at risk of armed groups.“Civilians pay the price for the security mess in Arauca, including the Venezuelan immigrants already fleeing a serious humanitarian crisis in their country,” Pappier said.Jesús Rodríguez, a Venezuelan migrant labourer, crossed into Colombia at an informal crossing in Arauca. Without a passport or any official documents, he had to pay off armed groups to cross the Arauca river on a small boat. “There may be soldiers at the border, but they don’t do anything. The guerrillas control everything – they are a fact of life.”

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 02:30:19 -0500
  • North Korea to ban tourists over China virus: tour operator

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    North Korea will ban foreign tourists to protect itself against a new SARS-like virus that has claimed at least nine lives in China and sickened hundreds, a major tour operator said. Several nations including the US have stepped up checks on airport passengers to detect the coronavirus, which first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, but a ban on tourists would be a first. The virus has caused alarm in China and abroad because of its genetic similarities to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 01:27:09 -0500
  • Brussels Edition: Solving the Price Puzzle

    (Bloomberg) -- Welcome to the Brussels Edition, Bloomberg’s daily briefing on what matters most in the heart of the European Union. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every weekday morning.Five years to the day after the European Central Bank announced massive cash injections to stave off deflation, President Christine Lagarde wants to know why price growth is still so lackluster. Her review, due to to be announced tomorrow, will seek a convincing explanation for why Quantitative Easing, once dubbed the ultimate tool for restoring price stability, hasn’t turned out that way. But at least they don’t have to start from scratch: researchers have already offered some of the likeliest explanations.What’s HappeningBig Deal | Fresh from a digital tax truce with France and a trade agreement with China, Donald Trump is gearing up for talks with the EU and is hopeful the two can reach a “big trade deal.” Trump’s optimism, together with EU Chief Ursula von der Leyen’s call for focus, could signal an openness to de-escalating tensions.On the Brink | Five Star leader Luigi di Maio is on the verge of quitting, his credibility shredded by plummeting poll numbers and a rash of defections in parliament. Di Maio's demise could push Italy toward a snap election with right-wing populist Matteo Salvini preparing to pounce.Climate Vote | The EU’s goal to become the first climate-neutral continent is headed for a test in June, when governments may vote on a law that would make binding the remit set out in the Green Deal. Political negotiations on the climate law, to be unveiled Feb. 26, will be the first test of the EU’s appetite for toughening the existing 2030 goal.New Money | Some of the world’s major central banks are teaming up to assess potentially developing their own digital currencies. The effort comes amid questions over whether public authorities risk being left behind as consumers turn to private-sector plans that skirt the traditional banking system.FTT Future | The future of a levy on financial transactions is in doubt after Austria dismissed a proposal by Germany on how to tax trades in the EU. Without a new a approach, the country said it would leave the group of 10 still working on the plan, potentially scuppering hopes for an accord that’s been in the works since the peak of the financial crisis. In Case You Missed ItTax Ruling | The EU got a boost in its crackdown on tax breaks for Spanish companies buying stakes in foreign firms after EU judges said a challenge involving Banco Santander was inadmissible. Any guidance from the bloc’s court could have fed into other appeals by Apple and Amazon as they seek to overturn EU tax orders.Strange Bedfellows | The co-leader of Germany’s Greens sided with the U.S. in demanding more spending from Berlin, saying that Angela Merkel should drop her balanced-budget “fetishism.” The remarks by Robert Habeck come as Trump, the EU Commission and the IMF have all targeted Germany’s ballooning trade surplus.Looking Up | Investor confidence in Germany’s growth outlook rose to the highest in more than four years years after easing trade tensions bolstered prospects for industry. The surge in sentiment follows a report by the Bundesbank indicating manufacturing could bottom out at the start of the year.New Members | Applicants for EU membership hope the bloc will clearly declare that it wants them as members, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said. His comments come as setbacks in the enlargement process, notably the rejection of accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania, have thrown hopefuls into doubtChart of the DayChina’s pledge to boost imports from the U.S. under a recently signed trade deal could end up costing the EU about $11 billion next year, according to Germany’s Kiel Institute for the World Economy. In a study published this week, the think tank calculated how much spending will likely be allocated to individual trading partners once the agreement kicks in, concluding it’s “very likely” the EU will have to cede some market share. Today’s AgendaAll times CET.11:35 a.m. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers keynote speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos 2:30 p.m. EU Commission Vice President Věra Jourová speaks at EPC event about the rule of law EU college of Commissioners to discuss Commission contribution to shaping the Conference on the future of Europe EU Council President Charles Michel visits Israel, meets President of Israel Reuven Rivlin France’s Emmanuel Macron travels to IsraelLike the Brussels Edition?Don’t keep it to yourself. Colleagues and friends can sign up here. We also publish the Brexit Bulletin, a daily briefing on the latest on the U.K.’s departure from the EU. For even more: Subscribe to Bloomberg All Access for full global news coverage and two in-depth daily newsletters, The Bloomberg Open and The Bloomberg Close.How are we doing? We want to hear what you think about this newsletter. Let our Brussels bureau chief know.\--With assistance from Ewa Krukowska.To contact the authors of this story: Viktoria Dendrinou in Brussels at vdendrinou@bloomberg.netPiotr Skolimowski in Frankfurt at pskolimowski@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Heather Harris at hharris5@bloomberg.net, Andrew BlackmanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 01:02:14 -0500
  • Russia-Poland feud over history clouds Auschwitz anniversary

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    Over the next several days, world leaders will gather twice to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most notorious of Nazi Germany’s death camps. Leaders at both sites, joined by elderly survivors, will pay tribute to the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 00:54:25 -0500
  • Democrats swarm industrial Iowa to prove they can beat Trump

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    Since their surprise loss to Donald Trump in 2016, Democrats have struggled with how to regain territory that long supported the party before suddenly flipping to Republicans. The 71-year-old retired insurance worker is a lifelong Republican who supported Trump for president in 2016 but says she won't do it again. “I wish I hadn't wasted my vote," Boyd said Tuesday after watching Pete Buttigieg speak at Iowa Wesleyan University.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 00:25:04 -0500
  • Science Says: What to know about the viral outbreak in China

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    Health authorities are closely watching an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new virus that originated in China. Governments are stepping up surveillance of airline passengers from central China and taking other steps to try to control the outbreak. Scientists have identified it as a new coronavirus.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 00:23:59 -0500
  • Saudis get dragged for requesting an investigation of 'absurd' claims crown prince hacked Jeff Bezos' phone

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    A United Nations report to be released Wednesday concludes that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) personally infected Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' phone with malware, allowing a massive amount of data to be stolen from his phone, The Washington Post reported Wednesday, confirming a report in The Guardian. The crown prince reportedly sent the world's richest man an infected video link over WhatsApp after the two exchanged contact information on MBS's tour of the U.S. in early 2018.> Remember this image? Jeff Bezos & Saudi crown prince MBS laughing together in 2018. Well, apparently, it was followed by a friendly Whatsapp exchange between the 2 men. Now it turns out, reports the Guardian, MBS used that Whatsapp exchange to hack Bezos's phone! Wow. Just wow. pic.twitter.com/CAI45ifaPI> > — Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) January 21, 2020Things evidently soured between Bezos and MBS when The Washington Post, owned by Bezos, hired Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi to write a column, and after the Post strongly criticized Saudi Arabia for murdering and dismembering Khashoggi in October 2018, the National Enquirer reported in January 2019 that Bezos was having an extramarital affair, publishing photos apparently hacked from his phone. At the time, Bezos' security consultant Gavin de Becker said "our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos' phone."The Saudi Embassy dismissed the new reports that Saudi Arabia hacked Bezos' phone as "absurd," calling "for an investigation on these claims so that we can have all the facts out." Many of the responses slammed Saudi Arabia for its belatedly acknowledged murder of Khashoggi.> Literally the same people who said the accusation that Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi Embassy was absurd and paranoid. https://t.co/UGQDtDnGp3> > — Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) January 22, 2020> Great idea. There was a respected Washington Post columnist who i would love to have investigate the matter but you killed him https://t.co/ynNJ7kg4z5> > — Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 22, 2020> Wasn’t there a Washington Post journalist who had good contacts throughout a Saudi Arabia who could have probed this? Oh wait. Never mind. You murdered him, dismembered the body and tried to cover up the crime. Also, pro tip: Hacking is a term you guys should eschew for a while. https://t.co/5K4bOzfE3d> > — David Simon (@AoDespair) January 22, 2020But there's a lot you could investigate about how MBS is running Saudi Arabia, if the Saudis were open to independent investigations.> GREAT IDEA!!! So in this case let us have an independent investigation on the torture of my sister @LoujainHathloul and other women’s rights activists which the prosecutor had denied. https://t.co/22B8cibEVB> > — Walid Alhathloul| وليد الهذلول (@WalidAlhathloul) January 22, 2020Read more on how President Trump and Amazon Web Services fit in to this saga at The Washington Post.More stories from theweek.com Late night hosts suspect Trump's Senate GOP impeachment jury can't handle the truth, or the strict rules Rep. Hakeem Jeffries explains Trump's impeachment to Trump's lawyers, drops in Biggie Smalls reference White House budget office releases heavily redacted Ukraine emails as Senate rejects OMB subpoenas

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 00:03:02 -0500
  • Xi Isn’t Tightening China’s Grip on Hong Kong, Carrie Lam Says

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    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to receive the Davos Diary, a special daily newsletter that will run from Jan. 20-24.Chinese President Xi Jinping offered personal assurances that he wouldn’t use protests in Hong Kong as an excuse to increase Beijing’s control over the city, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said, as she used a World Economic Forum visit to try and reassure global investors.Speaking to Bloomberg Television in Davos on Tuesday, Lam pushed back against protesters who say China is tightening its grip on Hong Kong and maintained the Asian financial center remains stable despite more than seven months of violent protests.“There is no truth in the allegation that the central government is tightening the grip on Hong Kong,” Lam said in the interview. “The central government has time and again made it very clear that they want Hong Kong to succeed under ‘one country, two systems’ and a high degree of autonomy.”“It was made very clear to me by President Xi Jinping on the three occasions that I met him” in recent months, she added.Lam arrived in Davos after a fresh bout of protest violence in downtown Hong Kong, with four police officers injured in clashes with demonstrators Sunday following an otherwise peaceful rally. More than seven months of pro-democracy protests have battered the former British colony’s economy, undermined its reputation for political stability and increased geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and China.China has governed Hong Kong since 1997 under a “one country, two systems” framework that preserves its freedom of expression, independent courts and capitalist financial system. The city’s pro-democracy opposition has accused Beijing of eroding that autonomy and stonewalling calls for meaningful direct elections of the chief executive, who’s currently selected by a 1,200-member committee.In the interview, Lam pushed back against the idea that Beijing was calling the shots in Hong Kong as the city grappled with the protests, maintaining that Hong Kong has a significant degree of autonomy. She said she “almost immediately” suspended legislation allowing extraditions to China that initially prompted the unrest, and that “one has to wonder what are the underlying factors that have caused this sustained social unrest.”“They have not given any explicit directive on how to handle it, except that they’ve made it clear that the solution also has to abide by ‘one country, two systems,’” she said, referring to China’s directives. “You can’t go beyond the constitutional requirement to solve this issue. Similarly, domestically, I couldn’t go beyond the rule of law to solve this political crisis.”Here are highlights from the interview:Universal SuffrageThe most consequential demand from protesters is universal suffrage, which was promised in the Basic Law -- the city’s mini-constitution -- since China took control of the former British colony in 1997.Asked why she hasn’t agreed to universal suffrage as demanded by protesters, Lam stuck by a proposal that China made in 2014 to have a committee historically stacked with Beijing loyalists screen nominees. The proposal also requires that the nominee “loves the country and loves Hong Kong.”“I wouldn’t say that framework required approval by the central government as far as the candidates are concerned,” Lam said, adding that she helped design the proposal. The nominating committee, she said, is “not entirely within sort of Beijing loyalites: You have professional people, you have representatives from the trade unions, from the business sector. But ultimately there is another Basic Law provision that the chief executive has to be appointed by the central people’s government.”“It depends on whether we can build consensus on this very important issue within a framework laid down in the Basic Law,” she added.Independent CommissionLam has also refused to consider other key protester demands including an independent commission of inquiry, which has statutory power to issue search warrants, compel testimony and hold witnesses in contempt if they fail to cooperate. Instead, she has opted for methods with limited investigative powers that have failed to appease the city’s pro-democracy movement.In the interview, Lam said the Independent Police Complaints Council -- the city’s police complaints watchdog -- was sufficient to look into the unrest, calling it “an equally independent and statutory mechanism.” The overseas experts she appointed to advise the body withdrew from the process, citing the agency’s lack of independence and resources.“One of the important principles that I have adhered to in dealing with this very difficult situation is we need to protect the institutional strengths of Hong Kong and uphold the rule of law,” Lam said. “So if we have already an independent statutory mechanism to deal with that situation, that mechanism must be put in place for very good reason in the overall interest of Hong Kong.”She also said protesters were demanding an amnesty for everyone arrested, including for serious crimes like arson, petrol bombs and setting a man on fire, which “nobody could agree to.”“Am I going to respond to those political demands in order to solve this problem?” she said.The EconomyThe protests have had a profound impact on the city’s retail- and tourism-dependent economy, with rallies deterring visitors from mainland China and elsewhere and leading companies to cancel many local events. The government has estimated that the economy contracted 1.3% last year, and economists forecast stagnation this year.Lam’s administration has so far proposed additional spending of about HK$25 billion ($3.2 billion) -- or less than 1% of the city’s gross domestic product -- despite holding fiscal reserves in excess of around HK$1 trillion.“Those four rounds of measures introduced and announced by the financial secretary are really relief measures,” Lam said. “They are there to support the companies, especially the small and medium enterprises, so that we can preserve as many jobs as possible.”“Ultimately to take Hong Kong out of the economic difficulties requires first of all stability,” she added. “Secondly it’s an early restoration of law and order, and thirdly it’s continued government investment in important sectors – for example, innovation and technology.”Lam’s Own FutureRumors have persisted for months that Beijing may replace Lam, whose approval rating is hovering near a record low of 14%, according to a Hong Kong Public Opinion Program survey released earlier this month. So far, Xi has reaffirmed China’s support for Lam, although Beijing replaced its main representative in Hong Kong earlier this month with an official some analysts described as a hardliner.Asked her thoughts on the approval rating, Lam said: “I have confessed and I have taken full responsibility for misjudgment and for the sort of a lack of a full assessment of the situation in taking forward the bill. But let me make it very clear, hand on my heart, that bill was well intended.”“It is not difficult to quit, but walking way from such a big dilemma and problem now is, in my view, not very responsible,” she said. “Because we have several crises that we need to manage at the same time, I will do my utmost to stay in this position to help arrest the current situation,” Lam added.Asked about her legacy, Lam noted it was her 40th year in Hong Kong’s public service.“I hope that people would remember, in whichever position facing whichever difficulties, my heart goes to the people of Hong Kong,” she said. “And I would continue to serve the people of Hong Kong.”(Updates with Lam quotes throughout.)\--With assistance from Natalie Lung.To contact the reporters on this story: Haslinda Amin in Singapore at hamin1@bloomberg.net;Dandan Li in Davos, Switzerland, at dli395@bloomberg.net;Iain Marlow in Hong Kong at imarlow1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Daniel Ten KateFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 23:54:05 -0500
  • Saudi Arabia Denies It Was Behind ‘Massive’ Hack of Bezos’ Phone

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    Saudi Arabia is denying reports that Amazon chief Jeff Bezos’ phone was hacked when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent him a video file loaded with spyware over WhatsApp.In a Tuesday night tweet, Saudi Arabia’s U.S. Embassy said reports “that suggest the Kingdom is behind a hacking of Mr. Jeff Bezos’ phone are absurd. We call for an investigation on these claims so that we can have all the facts out.” An investigation is already under way. According to multiple news outlets, the United Nations is looking into the matter and demanding answers from Saudi Arabia.Hours before the Saudi denial, the Guardian reported that after MBS’ account sent an infected file in an encrypted message in May 2018, “large amounts of data” were taken from the billionaire’s phone. Later, the Financial Times reported the hack was “massive” and continued for months.Bezos Investigation Finds the Saudis Obtained His Private DataCybersecurity expert Anthony Ferrante, who conducted a forensic analysis, told the FT that he determined with a “medium to high degree of confidence” that dozens of gigabytes were exfiltrated—possibly with a tool called Pegasus, according to some reports—after the video file was sent.The prince and Bezos met at a dinner in Los Angeles in the spring of 2018 and exchanged numbers, the FT reported. They were having a friendly chat on WhatsApp when the video file was reportedly sent.Five months later, Bezos’ relationship with Saudi Arabia hit the rocks when Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for the Bezos-owned Washington Post and a critic of the kingdom’s rulers, was murdered—on MBS’ orders, according to the CIA.The alleged hack, however, wasn’t uncovered until early 2019, after the National Enquirer published racy texts that the married billionaire had sent his mistress—and Bezos launched an investigation to determine the source of the leak.In an op-ed for The Daily Beast in March, Bezos’ security consultant, Gavin de Becker, wrote: “Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos’ phone, and gained private information.”He added that it was unclear if The National Enquirer’s publisher, American Media Inc., was aware of that.According to The Washington Post, a United Nations report on the alleged hack will be released Wednesday, though the newspaper reported that it was unclear if the world body did its own forensic analysis or accepted the one provided by Bezos’ team.U.N. officials have asked Saudi Arabia to explain what investigators have found, Yahoo News reported.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.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 23:22:28 -0500
  • Saudi prince helped hack Amazon boss Bezos' phone? Absurd, says minister

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    SAN FRANCISCO/CAIRO (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's foreign minister dismissed allegations that the crown prince may have been involved in a plot to hack the phone of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos as "absurd" on Wednesday, seeking to head off a dispute that could damage the kingdom's reputation. Cybersecurity experts hired by Bezos, the world's richest man, concluded his phone was probably infiltrated by a video file sent from a WhatsApp account purportedly belonging to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2018, according to a person familiar with the matter. Two U.N. officials will announce on Wednesday that there is enough evidence to suggest that the forensic analysis by FTI Consulting is credible and that Saudi Arabia had hacked Bezos' phone, the person said, declining to be identified due to the sensitivity of the subject.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 23:00:01 -0500
  • Tour agencies: N Korea bans foreign tourists over new virus

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    North Korea has banned foreign tourists to guard against the spread of a new virus from China, tour operators in China said. Foreign travel to North Korea has been temporarily suspended as of Wednesday, the Beijing-based Uri Tours said on its website citing its partners in Pyongyang. It said it wasn’t immediately known how long the travel suspension will last or what protocols will be implemented.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 22:28:53 -0500
  • U.N. officials press Saudi Arabia on hack of Jeff Bezos's phone

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    Officials at the United Nations are seeking information from the government of Saudi Arabia relating to the hacking of a phone belonging to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 21:38:16 -0500
  • North Korea Bars Foreign Tourists Amid Virus Threat, Groups Say

    (Bloomberg) -- North Korea has temporarily closed its borders to foreign tourists, two major operators of tours to the isolated country said, in an apparent effort to seal itself off from a new virus causing global health worries.The Beijing-based Koryo Tours said Wednesday that it received word from its partners in North Korea that the country’s borders were closed. Young Pioneer Tours, another group that organizes trips to North Korea, had earlier said on Twitter that the temporary closures took effect Wednesday.North Korea is one of the world’s most impoverished countries with few resources to fight a major outbreak. The country shares its longest border with China, which is also the epicenter of the virus, and receives a steady flow of tourists from the country that is its most-valued ally.Health officials around the world are racing to gauge the danger posed by the new virus that emerged in central China last month and spread rapidly. The World Health Organization will decide Wednesday whether to declare the novel virus an international public health emergency, a designation used for complex epidemics that can cross borders.North Korea has shut its borders to foreign travelers before due to health scares such as the Ebola crisis, which led it to temporarily block foreign tourists for about six months starting in late 2014. Although it’s one of the world’s most sanctioned countries, North Korea is allowed to accept foreign tourists, who provide a vital source of hard currency for the cash-starved regime of leader Kim Jong Un.Coronavirus Spreads to U.S. Sparking Global Rush to Track CasesIn 2019, as the number of tour buses crossing into North Korea escalated, China stepped up enforcement of allowing a limit of 1,000 of its citizens a day to enter the country, according to NK News, an outlet that specializes on reporting on the country. North Korea maintains close control on where foreign tourists can go and what they can do once they enter the country.South Korea reported Monday its first confirmed case of the coronavirus, saying it came from a 35-year-old Chinese woman who had visited Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicenter of early cases. South Korea, which has frozen tourism with North Korea for several years due to political conflicts, also raised its alert level on the infectious disease.To contact the reporters on this story: Jon Herskovitz in Tokyo at jherskovitz@bloomberg.net;Jihye Lee in Seoul at jlee2352@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Fion LiFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 21:31:48 -0500
  • Cases of new viral respiratory illness rise sharply in China

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    Chinese health authorities urged people in the city of Wuhan to avoid crowds and public gatherings, after warning that a new viral illness that has infected more than 400 people and killed at least nine could spread further. The appeal came as the World Health Organization convened a group of independent experts to advise whether the outbreak should be declared a global emergency. The number of new cases has risen sharply in China, the center of the outbreak.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 21:26:23 -0500
  • Russian opposition wrong-footed by Putin reform push

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    President Vladimir Putin's quick-fire push to overhaul Russia's political system has caught the country's opposition off guard, with critics in disarray about how to respond. After a long New Year's holiday break, Putin unleashed a political storm last week, proposing an overhaul of the Russian constitution that triggered the resignation of the unpopular prime minister Dmitry Medvedev and his government. Just five days after proposing the changes, Putin had already submitted the amendments to parliament.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 21:18:53 -0500
  • More U.S. service members receiving treatment following Iranian missile attack

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    U.S. military officials announced on Tuesday that "out of an abundance of caution," additional service members affected by the Iranian missile attack earlier this month have been sent to Germany for medical evaluations and treatment.On Jan. 8, Iran fired missiles at two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops, in response to President Trump's authorization of an airstrike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. The next day, Trump said "no Americans were harmed" and "only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases." Military officials at the al-Asad base told The Washington Post on Jan. 13 that "dozens" of service members there were suffering from concussion-like symptoms, which do not always appear right away. By Jan. 15, 11 people had received treatment.The Pentagon confirmed last week that the 11 service members had left Iraq to receive treatment, but did not share any information on their conditions. Officials on Tuesday did not say how many additional service members are receiving treatment, only revealing they are in Landstuhl, Germany, and not hospitalized. "As medical treatment and evaluations in theater continue, additional service members have been identified as having potential injuries," Army Maj. Beth Riordan said in a statement. "Given the nature of injuries already noted, it is possible additional injuries may be identified in the future."More stories from theweek.com Late night hosts suspect Trump's Senate GOP impeachment jury can't handle the truth, or the strict rules Rep. Hakeem Jeffries explains Trump's impeachment to Trump's lawyers, drops in Biggie Smalls reference White House budget office releases heavily redacted Ukraine emails as Senate rejects OMB subpoenas

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 20:58:00 -0500
  • Saudi Arabia denies hacking Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' phone

    Golocal247.com news

    The United Nations is expected to release a report Wednesday validating some of Bezos' claims.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 20:10:07 -0500
  • China Seeks to Stop Virus Scare From Becoming Political Crisis

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    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up for Next China, a weekly email on where the nation stands now and where it's going next.A deadly new virus reminiscent of one of China’s biggest public health debacles has the country’s leaders rushing to keep another outbreak from becoming a political crisis.After three weeks of revelations about a mysterious strain of coronavirus first detected in central China, President Xi Jinping stepped in personally Monday to order “all-out prevention and control efforts.” The government convened a series of task force meetings while a social media account affiliated with the Communist Party’s top law enforcement body warned that officials who withheld information would be “nailed on the pillar of shame for eternity.”The high-level response came as China’s internet flooded with worried comparisons between the disease and an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, that killed 800 people across Asia 17 years ago. China’s delay in reporting that earlier outbreak was blamed for allowing the disease to spread unchecked, and fueled suspicions about public health protections in the world’s most populous country.Now, confirmed infections of health workers with the new coronavirus -- suggesting that the pathogen is highly infectious -- have prompted the World Health Organization to raise it to a risk level on par with SARS. At last count, six have died and almost 300 more had been infected, including cases in Japan, South Korea, Thailand and the U.S.And the stakes are getting higher: Hundreds of millions of Chinese are preparing to fly around the world for the Lunar New Year holidays, the world’s largest human migration. The vice head of China’s National Health Commission was scheduled to hold a briefing on prevention efforts at 10 a.m. in Beijing. “China’s leaders had to upgrade the security level of the crisis to ensure the stability of Chinese society and also because of China’s international reputation,” said Wang Peng, associate research fellow at Renmin University’s Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies. “The virus has the potential to negatively impact China’s image.”Governments around the world were taking precautions to prevent the disease’s spread, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanding its inspection of airline passengers to airports in Atlanta and Chicago. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose country is a favorite destinations of Chinese tourists, on Tuesday pledged increased quarantines and testing at ports of entry.The Communist Party faces deep skepticism over its commitment to oversight following a number of high-profile incidents over the past few decades. Besides SARS, Chinese leaders have come under fire for their response to a contaminated milk scandal in 2008, a high-speed train crash in 2011 and revelations about bad vaccines in 2018.Unlike his predecessors two decades ago, Xi must also contend with widespread social media use and a bigger, more demanding middle class. For now, the country’s powerful censors appeared willing to let some debate continue.On Tuesday, many Chinese internet users shared posts demanding more transparency about the outbreak than SARS, with some questioning the time it took to alert the public and the government’s initial focus on stopping “rumors.” A Beijing News editorial urging a better update system got more than 100,000 views on WeChat, the country’s ubiquitous messaging platform.In response, the party’s flagship People’s Daily newspaper carried a front-page editorial on Tuesday supporting Xi’s call for action. The president stressed the need to inform the public of official policies to “safeguard social stability.” Premier Li Keqiang instructed departments to “spare no effort” to counter the outbreak, while a social media account under the party’s Central Politics and Law Commission pledged to punish officials who withheld information.International health experts have been largely positive about China’s early response, which has demonstrated efforts to build a stronger nationwide health infrastructure in the wake of SARS.“The initial response has been quite rapid and hopefully effective,“ said David Heymann, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who was formerly with the U.S.’s CDC. “They have made great progress.”Still, the spread of the virus has citizens taking measures into their own hands. More pedestrians were seen wearing masks around the capital Tuesday.Fu King-wa, an associate professor at the University of Hong Kong‘s Journalism and Media Studies Centre who tracks Chinese censorship, said mainland internet users appeared starved for information about what precautions they should take. Censored posts included links to foreign or Hong Kong news articles, including those containing estimates and outbreak sites beyond what has been released by China, Fu said.“In general, the government is using the traditional Chinese Communist Party approach,” Fu said. The goal was “to control the information, to control the media, to control the narrative and to give the people the idea that the government is handling the issue,” he said.The risk of a public health emergency damaging the top leadership has only increased under Xi, who has taken more direct oversight over economic and national security issues than his predecessors. That means there’s no one else to blame if people decide the current outbreak has been mismanaged, said Willy Lam, adjunct professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Centre for China Studies and author of numerous books on Chinese politics.“He’s supposed to be the chairman of everything ranging from finance to health and so forth,” Lam said. “But so far things have not been working out very well -- in both economic figures and other measurements of public administration.”(Updates with U.S. case in fourth paragraph)\--With assistance from Dong Lyu, Amanda Wang, Sharon Chen and Isabel Reynolds.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Peter Martin in Beijing at pmartin138@bloomberg.net;Iain Marlow in Hong Kong at imarlow1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Daniel Ten KateFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 20:00:11 -0500
  • UN Security Council urges quick ceasefire in Libya

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    The UN Security Council called Tuesday on Libya's warring sides to quickly reach a ceasefire that would pave the way for a political process aimed at ending conflict in the oil-rich state. The United Nations meeting followed up on a weekend Libya summit held in Berlin, which saw the formation of a military commission that is supposed to define ways of consolidating a cessation of hostilities. It is to comprise five members each from the UN-recognized government in Tripoli and its opponents loyal to military strongman Khalifa Haftar.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 19:08:54 -0500
  • UN welcomes commitments toward Libya peace, urges cease-fire

    The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday welcomed the commitment by world powers and other key countries to support a plan to restore peace in Libya and urged the warring parties to quickly conclude a cease-fire agreement. The U.N.’s most powerful body issued a statement after a closed-door briefing by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. It commits them not to interfere in Libya’s civil war, to support a cease-fire, to honor a widely broken U.N. arms embargo, and to support a U.N.-facilitated political process, he said.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 19:08:35 -0500
  • More US troops under medical evaluation after missile attack

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    Additional U.S. troops have been flown out of Iraq for closer evaluation of potential concussion injuries from the Iranian missile attack of Jan. 8, U.S. defense officials said Tuesday. The exact number of troops flown to Germany was not immediately clear, but officials said it was a small number. Last week, 11 U.S. service members were flown from Iraq to U.S. medical facilities in Germany and Kuwait for further evaluation of concussion-like symptoms.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 18:37:09 -0500
  • Meet the Aurus Komendant, Russia’s answer to the Bentayga and Cullinan

    Golocal247.com news

    Did you know Russia had a homegrown luxury car company, called Aurus? It’s a brand developed by the Central Scientific Research Automobile and Automotive Engines Institute (the acronym is NAMI in Russian), a descendent of a Soviet-era outfit that developed the country’s first indigenous Soviet cars after the revolution. A version of the Senat, for the record, is Putin’s presidential state car – an armored limousine that caters to local tastes.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 18:10:00 -0500
  • Pentagon gives conditional OK to resume Saudi training in US

    The Pentagon has given the Navy and other military services conditional approval to resume training of Saudi Arabian nationals in the U.S. Operational training, such as flying and other non-classroom work, for the approximately 850 Saudis at multiple U.S bases was suspended on Dec. 10. Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist said in a memo dated Jan. 17 and released Tuesday that non-classroom training can resume once the military services have met certain conditions, including implementing a prohibition on the possession — on or off U.S. military property — of privately owned firearms and ammunition by international military students and their families.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 17:43:34 -0500
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