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  • US troops in Syria going to Iraq, not home as Trump claims

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    While President Donald Trump insists he's bringing home Americans from "endless wars" in the Mideast, his Pentagon chief says all U.S. troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq and the American military will continue operations against the Islamic State group. The fight in Syria against IS, once spearheaded by American allied Syrian Kurds who have been cast aside by Trump, will be undertaken by U.S. forces, possibly from neighboring Iraq.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 15:54:09 -0400
  • Pound Falls as Much-Awaited Brexit Breakthrough Proves Elusive

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    (Bloomberg) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.Sterling fell after U.K. politicians failed to deliver the decisive Brexit vote that had been promised at the weekend.The decline brought to a halt a four-day winning streak that was fueled by speculation Prime Minister Boris Johnson could win parliamentary backing for his divorce deal. But strategists say the drop may prove short-lived.“Investors will have to balance the disappointment of a further delay with the increasing likelihood of eventual passage,” said Ned Rumpeltin, European head of currency strategy at Toronto-Dominion Bank. “The tail risk of an accidental no-deal crash out has also ratcheted down.”Analysts remain bullish even as a verdict on Johnson’s new divorce deal was deferred. Instead, lawmakers supported an amendment put forward by former Conservative minister Oliver Letwin which requires the House of Commons to pass all necessary Brexit legislation before holding a formal vote on the Withdrawal Agreement. That meant the prime minister was legally bound to ask the EU for another extension to negotiations.With the Times of London reporting that the EU may grant a three-month delay if Johnson is unable to secure support for his deal this week, the pound stabilized around $1.2934. The prime minister is set to introduce the legislation needed for an Oct. 31 exit and it’s possible he will garner enough support to push his deal through, according to a Bloomberg analysis.“Seems like an anti-climactic open for sterling, with investors potentially comforted by the Article 50 extension that the EU seems willing to grant in the case no deal is agreed,” said Valentin Marinov, Credit Agricole’s head of Group-of-10 currency research. “Given that another vote on the Johnson deal could come as soon as Tuesday, investors could use any sterling dips as buying opportunity.”Marinov is sticking to his view that the pound could reach $1.36 medium term.European Council President Donald Tusk said he would consult EU leaders on how to react to the U.K.’s request for another extension.Sterling could move sharply lower if Brussels were to formally reject a later deadline, according to TD’s Rumpeltin. It may lurch lower toward $1.2835 and then further to $1.2750 “if the sense from the EU was one of growing rancor and impatience,” he said.Still, Rumpeltin’s central view is one where the EU would grant an extension. And that more bullish slant for sterling is reflected in the views of other strategists too.“The weekend’s events, if anything, further reduce the risk of disorderly exit,” said Adam Cole, Royal Bank of Canada’s chief currency strategist. A knee-jerk negative sterling reaction may be a buying opportunity, he said.To contact the reporter on this story: Anooja Debnath in London at adebnath@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Dobson at pdobson2@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 15:47:11 -0400
  • U.K. Starts ‘No-Deal’ Brexit Preparations as EU Poised to Delay

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    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.The U.K. accelerated its preparations to leave the European Union without an agreement on Oct. 31 as the bloc was reportedly poised to give Prime Minister Boris Johnson more time, if he needs it, to work out a deal.The government on Sunday activated “Operation Yellowhammer,” in which agencies and departments take action to offset the worst-case outcomes anticipated from an exit without a formal agreement. The deadline for leaving is the end of this month.“We have now entered the final, most intensive stage” of preparations, according to a government official. “With less than two weeks until 31 October, hundreds of civil servants will from today move to work on these operational matters.”Johnson’s plan to win approval of his newly minted deal with the EU was set back when the House of Commons, in a rare Saturday meeting, voted 322-306 in favor of an amendment that required him to ask the EU for the delay. Bound by a law he opposed, Johnson formally asked the EU to delay Brexit until Jan. 31. But he made clear that he’d rather Britain leave without delay and refused to sign the letter requesting an extension to his Oct. 31 target.Johnson’s reverse knocked the pound in early Asian trading, though any weakness may be short lived, analysts at Credit Agricole and Natwest Markets wrote in research notes. Even though political uncertainty remains, both banks see a diminishing risk of the U.K. crashing out of the bloc without a deal, with Credit Agricole predicting the pound reaching $1.36 and Natwest forecasting $1.35.The Times of London on Sunday, citing unnamed diplomatic sources, said the EU is ready to grant a three-month extension if Parliament fails to approve the deal, with the U.K. able to leave on the 1st or 15th of November, December or January if an accord is ratified. If Johnson calls a second referendum, or meets other obstacles, governments led by Germany would push for a longer extension, possibly pushing the deadline to June 2020, the Times said.Gove’s WarningOne of the leading members of Johnson’s cabinet warned lawmakers on Sunday the country could crash out on Oct. 31 if Parliament rejects Johnson’s Brexit deal.Michael Gove said he was confident the prime minister had enough support in Parliament to get the agreement over the line as he warned that lawmakers had increased the risk of a no-deal Brexit by forcing Johnson to ask the EU for a delay. A vote on the plan could come as soon as this week.“If we don’t back this deal, then the risk is that the European Council may not grant an extension,” Gove, who is in charge of no-deal Brexit preparations, told Sky TV’s “Sophy Ridge on Sunday” show. “We can’t bet on that. It’s not a sure thing.”Hours after the Saturday vote, French President Emmanuel Macron made it clear the deal had been negotiated and that further delay in Britain’s departure was “in no one’s interest.” However, Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne said Sunday that it would be “sensible” to grant an extension. A unanimous agreement among EU nations is needed to approve a delay.Johnson now plans to push through the legislation needed to take Britain out of the EU at the end of the month, and the slender margin of Saturday’s vote suggests he could succeed.TimetableThe Withdrawal Agreement Bill could begin its journey as soon as Tuesday, after Johnson makes another attempt on Monday to get Parliament to sign off on the principle of his deal. If a vote is permitted tomorrow and Johnson wins, he could withdraw the request for an extension.“We’re going to deliver by the 31st of October,” Gove said. “We are going to ensure that we get this deal done and I’m confident that with the support of good people with whom we may have disagreed in the past, but who respect democracy, we will get this deal done.”Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also expressed optimism, telling BBC TV’s “Andrew Marr” show that “we appear to have the numbers to get this through.”Johnson received a boost earlier Sunday when former cabinet minister Amber Rudd, who walked out of the government and the Tory party in protest at the expulsion of 21 colleagues, said she and many among those kicked out are ready to support his deal.“We do want to leave with a deal and this deal from the prime minister is good enough for me,” said Rudd, who backed the Letwin amendment that forced the delay.Labour and DUP Johnson also has the support of a small number of Labour MPs, though he may struggle to win over many more with the party calculating that a wounded Johnson would be easier to take on in the likely general election to come.Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership is seeking safeguards over issues from the environment to workers’ rights. Crucially, it wants a customs union with the EU and for any deal to be put to another referendum with an option to stay in the EU, areas in which Johnson is highly unlikely to compromise.His key problem could lie in wooing back his allies in the Democratic Unionist Party, whose 10 votes on Saturday made the difference between defeat and victory. The Northern Irish party has deep reservations about anything that creates any kind of border between Britain and Northern Ireland, such as customs checks in the Irish Sea, and wants a stronger consent mechanism that hands a greater say to the regional assembly.To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Atkinson in London at a.atkinson@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Fergal O'Brien at fobrien@bloomberg.net, James Ludden, Steve GeimannFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 15:25:52 -0400
  • Lebanese revolt against their leaders in rare sign of unity

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    Hundreds of thousands thronged public squares in the capital and across Lebanon on Sunday in the largest protests the country has seen since 2005, unifying an often divided public in revolt against traditional leaders who have ruled for three decades and brought the economy to the brink of disaster. Ditching party flags and carrying only white and red Lebanese flags with a cedar tree in the center, they flooded streets in Beirut, the northern city of Tripoli, in eastern Baalbek as well as cities, towns and villages near the southern border with Israel and along Syria's border in the east. In downtown Beirut, the scene was reminiscent of the days after Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated by a massive bombing in 2005, triggering a mass uprising against Syria's occupation of Lebanon after Damascus was blamed for the killing.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 15:25:23 -0400
  • Lebanon rocked by vast protests demanding resignation of Hariri government

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    Lebanon was shaken on Sunday by its largest protests in years as young and old turned out en masse to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri and his coalition government. It marked the fourth day of protests following a proposal for new taxes, which ignited widespread anger over austerity measures and corruption in a deeply unequal society.  The plan - to tax WhatsApp calls and other third-party applications that have long afforded cash-strapped Lebanese a chance to chat for free - was quickly dropped. But the protests have morphed into demands for an overhaul of the entire political system in the crisis-ravaged country. After on Friday laying out a 72-hour deadline for parties to agree to a framework for economic reforms, Mr Hariri held round-the-clock meetings with Lebanon’s various political blocs to discuss proposals for the 2020 budget.  Late on Sunday Mr Hariri appeared to have bought himself some time with the announcement of a package of reforms including a 50 percent reduction in the salaries of current and former officials.  The reforms also include $3.3 billion in contributions from banks to reduce the deficit in the heavily indebted country, and plans to overhaul the crippled electricity sector. But they will not be confirmed until approved by the cabinet on Monday, and it is unclear whether they will go far enough. On Saturday night, the resignation of four ministers from the Christian Lebanese Forces, a party allied with Mr Hariri, underscored the chaos in government.  By Sunday evening, with just 24 hours to go before Mr Hariri’s deadline, the country’s streets were awash in flags and furious Lebanese taking aim at all corners. “Neither Saudi nor Iran will be able to take this protest down,” chanted demonstrators in downtown Beirut Sunday night, referencing the regional arch-rivals that have long jostled for control of the tiny Mediterranean country. In the predominantly Shia city of Tyre, in the country’s south, there were chants accusing parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri, himself Shia, of corruption. There has also been vocal opposition to Hizbollah and its leader Hassan Nasrallah. “All of them means all of them. Nasrallah is one of them,” was heard throughout the protests.  While demonstrators called for the government’s departure, its actual collapse would likely herald even greater instability and economic disaster – something MPs seem anxious to avoid. Mr Hariri has hinted at resignation if his demands are not met. But there are few obvious alternatives to the current PM. Not only is the post limited to Sunnis by the country’s power-sharing system, but it is also unclear who would be willing to take over in such a disastrous economic situation. Mr Hariri formed the current government of national unity in February after nine months of wrangling. He is currently in his third term as leader.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 14:57:07 -0400
  • South Sudan's opposition leader warns of return to civil war

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    South Sudan's opposition leader Riek Machar warned Sunday that the country could return to civil war if a coalition government is formed by a Nov. 12 deadline and he asked for another months-long delay for the crucial step in a fragile peace deal. Machar made an impassioned plea to a visiting United Nations Security Council delegation that met with him and President Salva Kiir to urge speedier progress in pulling the country out of a five-year civil war that killed almost 400,000 people. "Suppose we form a government on the 12th, you know what's going to happen?

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 14:08:12 -0400
  • Mick Mulvaney seeks Trump damage control over impeachment and more

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    * Chief of staff defends Doral G7 fiasco and own Ukraine remarks * Nancy Pelosi visits Jordan to discuss Turkey Syria incursionMick Mulvaney in his news conference at the White House on Thursday. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPASenior Trump administration officials were on Sunday scrambling to defend the president from escalating domestic and foreign policy scandals, ranging from impeachment proceedings in Washington to the US troop withdrawal in northern Syria.Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney was forced to row back comments he made earlier in the week acknowledging the administration withheld military aid to Ukraine in order to elicit assistance investigating Donald Trump’s political opponents.In a White House briefing on Thursday, Mulvaney listed “three issues” tied to the decision to withhold almost $400m in aid. These included “whether [Ukrainian officials] were cooperating in an ongoing investigation with our Department of Justice” related to the origins of the inquiry into Russian interference in 2016 election, which Mulvaney linked to an unfounded conspiracy theory which says Ukraine was involved in the theft of emails from Democratic servers.Asked if that was tantamount to a quid pro quo, Mulvaney said: “We do that all the time with foreign policy.”Speaking to Fox News Sunday, Mulvaney claimed his words had been misreported, stating he had not acknowledged a quid pro quo.> That’s what people are saying that I said, but I didn’t say that> > Mick Mulvaney“That’s what people are saying that I said, but I didn’t say that,” he said.But he had clearly changed his line, now stating there were only “two reasons” aid was withheld: “rampant corruption in Ukraine” and “whether or not other nations, specifically European nations, were helping with foreign aid to the Ukraine”.The existence of a quid pro quo between Trump and Ukraine is at the centre of an impeachment inquiry led by Democrats in the House of Representatives.The committees involved are also investigating Trump’s request that the Ukrainain government commence an investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. The president made the request during a 25 July phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.Mulvaney has denied that the Biden request was tied to the decision to withhold aid.The acting chief of staff is under the spotlight in the impeachment inquiry after testimony from a state department official, George Kent, placed him at the centre of efforts to create a separate diplomatic channel to Ukraine staffed by Trump loyalists including outgoing energy secretary Rick Perry and Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.Democrats are weighing up whether to summon Mulvaney, according to reports.Reports also emerged on Sunday that Mulvaney was facing ejection from his post before the impeachment inquiry began. CNN reported that Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and other advisers began screening for new candidates last month.Mulvaney, a former South Carolina congressman, is the third White House chief of staff under Trump although he retains the “acting” prefix. He said on Sunday he had not considered tendering his resignation this week.“I’m very happy working there. Did I have the perfect press conference? No.” He said.The Ukraine scandal is only one of a number in which the administration is currently embroiled.On Saturday evening Trump was forced into an embarrassing climbdown, announcing his golf resort in Doral, Florida would no longer host the G7 summit next year following bi-partisan criticism of the decision.> At the end of the day he [Trump] still considers himself to be in the hospitality business> > Mick MulvaneyIn an attempt to defend the move, Mulvaney said: “At the end of the day he [Trump] still considers himself to be in the hospitality business.”The administration is also reeling from bipartisan criticism of its decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria.On Sunday, secretary of state Mike Pompeo sought to defend a fragile and brief ceasefire brokered with Turkey, which he described as “the outcome that President Trump sent us to achieve”.The US and Turkey reached an agreement on Thursday to halt Turkish operations against Kurdish forces for five days to allow military and civilians to evacuate an area of land around the border about 20 miles deep, before the territory is claimed by Turkey.An American soldier mounts the US flag on a vehicle near the town of Tel Tamr in northern Syria. Photograph: Baderkhan Ahmad/APBoth sides have accused the other of violating the agreement. Republicans and Democrats in Washington argue the deal has undermined US interests in the region and delivered a significant victory to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.Pompeo, also at the centre of the Ukraine scandal, distanced himself from such criticisms during an interview with ABC’s This Week, when asked if the Turkish government had been handed everything it had asked for.“I was there. It sure didn’t feel that way when we were negotiating,” Pompeo said. “It was a hard-fought negotiation. It began before the vice-president and I even arrived in Ankara.”Trump chimed in on Twitter, quoting his defense secretary on how “the ceasefire is holding up very nicely”. In his first version of the tweet, the president typed Mark Esper’s name as Mark Esperanto.Over the weekend, Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi led a bipartisan delegation to Jordan to discuss the fallout of Trump’s troop withdrawal.“Our bipartisan delegation is visiting Jordan at a critical time for the security and stability of the region,” Pelosi’s office said in a statement released on Saturday.“With the deepening crisis in Syria after Turkey’s incursion, our delegation has engaged in vital discussions about the impact to regional stability, increased flow of refugees, and the dangerous opening that has been provided to Isis, Iran and Russia.”Despite the chaos over US Syria policy, one of Trump’s most ardent supporters in the Senate seemed to have abandoned his previously stringent criticism.Speaking to Fox News, Lindsey Graham said he was “increasingly optimistic that we can have some historic solutions in Syria that have eluded us for years if we play our cards right”.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 13:55:26 -0400
  • Pompeo, Graham Back Trump Approach to Turkey Syria Incursion

    (Bloomberg) -- Secretary of State Michael Pompeo led the defenders of President Donald Trump’s handling of Turkey’s incursion into Syria, saying Sunday that a cease-fire is holding and that U.S. goals in the Middle East are being met despite criticism allies are being betrayed.Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a recent sharp critic of Trump’s Syria policy, also came around, saying the president was “thinking out of the box.” Earlier this month Graham suggested Trump’s withdrawal from northern Syria made him want to vomit.Pompeo said he received a report Sunday morning of “relatively little” fighting along the Syrian border after he and Vice President Mike Pence brokered a temporary cease-fire with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara last week. He insisted U.S. interests, including preventing ethnic cleansing of the Kurds in the region and a resurgence of the Islamic State, or ISIS, are being served.“I’m very confident that this administration’s efforts to crush ISIS will continue,” Pompeo said on ABC’s “This Week.”Parallel UniverseBut New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and others on the Sunday morning political shows called the administration’s actions a mistake that abandons the Kurds and other allies while bolstering Russia’s position in the Middle East.“I think the secretary lives in a parallel, alternative universe,” Menendez said on ABC.Former Army General David Petraeus said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the U.S. has abandoned its Syrian Kurdish partners, and called the U.S. actions “a grave, strategic mistake.”“This does not end an endless war,” he said, a reference to comments Trump has made about bringing U.S. troops home. “It probably prolongs it.”Critics say Trump gave Erdogan a green light to attack American-allied Kurdish militias, risking a resurgence of the Islamic State and a slaughter of the Kurds, by pulling U.S. troops out of Syria.Policy by TweetThe president often makes policy on the fly, said Pete Buttigieg, a 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful. “What President Trump does is wake up in the morning and have a phone call or maybe a tweet and completely change years or even decades of U.S. policy, surprising his own generals and country,” Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, who left the Republican Party this year, said Trump knew what Turkey was going to do and can’t justify his response now.“You don’t wait ’till after withdrawing the troops to make a plan to go pressure Turkey to ease up and then call for a cease-fire,” Amash said on “Meet the Press.” “I think it’s very difficult to put it all back together.”Trump said in a tweet Sunday that the cease-fire is “holding up very nicely,” citing U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper -- whom he called “Mark Esperanto” before correcting the spelling after almost two hours.Esper said about 1,000 U.S. troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq and continue to conduct operations against the Islamic State to prevent its resurgence, according to a transcript the Pentagon released of Esper’s comments to reporters on Saturday en route to Afghanistan.The defense secretary said the U.S. would continue to provide air cover for any of its operations in Syria, and that he intends to discuss the “next phase” of the mission to counter the Islamic State with U.S. allies. Esper said he’s spoken with his French counterpart and the NATO secretary-general, and there’s a meeting on it planned this week in Brussels.“That’s a top concern of mine, second only to protection of our forces coming out of Syria,” Esper said.Graham said on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that he spoke with the president this weekend and now sees a “historic” result possible in Syria that protects oil interests.“President Trump is thinking outside the box,” Graham said. “I think we can end Syria successfully.”House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is in Jordan this weekend, leading bipartisan talks about Turkey’s incursion into Syria.‘Kangaroo Court’“With the deepening crisis in Syria after Turkey’s incursion, our delegation has engaged in vital discussions about the impact to regional stability, increased flow of refugees, and the dangerous opening that has been provided to ISIS, Iran and Russia,” Pelosi’s office said in a statement on Saturday.Pompeo, meanwhile, rejected accusations that Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine for political reasons, saying “I never saw that in the decision-making process that I was a part of.”He also said is “deeply unfair” that state department lawyers are not allowed into depositions that Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has been holding in private as part of the impeachment inquiry into Trump.“This has been unfair in the Nth degree,” Pompeo said. “Adam Schiff ought to be embarrassed by the kangaroo court that he’s running.”Pompeo declined to answer questions about State Department officials testifying and controversies swirling around Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney. Asked whether he will appear if called by Congress, Pompeo said, “I’ll do everything I’m required to do by law.”Menendez said Pompeo and the State Department “have done everything humanly possible to impede, to obstruct and not to provide information,” and it’s clear that Trump tried to “extort” Ukraine in what he called the “weaponizing U.S. foreign assistance.”(Updates with Esper comments from 14th paragraph.)\--With assistance from Hailey Waller.To contact the reporters on this story: Mark Niquette in Columbus at mniquette@bloomberg.net;Billy House in Washington at bhouse5@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Kevin Whitelaw at kwhitelaw@bloomberg.net, Steve GeimannFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 13:48:38 -0400
  • European leaders ponder how to deal with British request for Brexit delay

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    European Union leaders are considering Boris Johnson's Brexit delay request and how to turn it to their own maximum advantage — though some are wondering if there’s any advantage left to gain. After the British parliament withheld approval on the new Brexit deal clinched Thursday with the EU, forcing the prime minister to ask for a short extension, Johnson on Saturday night complied and sent Brussels a request to delay the Oct. 31 deadline until Jan. 31, 2020. Johnson also sent a second letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, addressing him personally and by first name, to make clear that he is not happy about having been obliged to send the first letter, which he didn't sign.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 13:02:01 -0400
  • Kurds evacuate Syrian town in 1st pullout of cease-fire

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    Dozens of vehicles rolled out of a besieged Syrian border town, evacuating Kurdish fighters and civilians and opening the way for Turkish-backed forces to take over in the first pullback under a three-day-old U.S.-brokered cease-fire. Kurdish officials say the evacuation of the town of Ras al-Ayn will be followed by a withdrawal of their forces from a broader section of the border with Turkey, a central requirement of the cease-fire deal. Turkey says it wants a "safe zone" clear of the Kurdish fighters — whom it considers terrorists — across the entire northeast border.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 12:42:59 -0400
  • Lebanon Heads for Showdown as Reform Vows Fail to Quell Protests

    (Bloomberg) -- Lebanese officials were scrambling to finalize a plan to avert a financial meltdown as tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets nationwide for a fourth straight day, demanding the ouster of a political class they blame for rampant corruption and worsening living standards.Prime Minister Saad Hariri held talks with some of his coalition partners on Sunday, two days after he gave them 72 hours to back reforms to rebuild confidence. The plan envisages contributions from banks to help lower public debt servicing without raising taxes on citizens, Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil said.The proposals also include imposing a “wealth tax” while leaving wages intact, Industry Minister Wael Abou Faour said.But those pledges have done little to end protests that broke out Thursday over a decision, later rescinded, to tax WhatsApp calls. Drone footage showed a sea of people marching through the upscale streets of downtown Beirut near Hariri’s headquarters.“What they’re offering now is too little too late,” said Sami Nader, head of the Beirut-based Levant Institute.Inequality, UnemploymentThe cause of Lebanon’s protests bears a striking resemblance to upheavals sweeping the region from Algeria to Iraq: rising inequality, growing unemployment and accusations that the elite have lined their pocket at the expense of the nation.But Lebanon’s sectarian politics and the influence of regional rivals such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, along with one of the world’s highest debt burdens, have made it harder for analysts to predict an easy way out.Gulf powers led by Saudi Arabia, dismayed at the unchecked influence of Iran-backed Hezbollah, have largely ignored Hariri’s pleas for aid. Hezbollah, a militant group with representatives in cabinet and parliament, has resisted calls to loosen its grip on power.The result was captured by one protester who spoke on local television to thank the ruling elite for uniting all sects “to demand their resignation. Leave!”Against this backdrop, banks said they’ll stay shuttered on Monday to repair damage from previous demonstrations in the hope that the government can take steps to restore stability.Four ministers from a major Christian party, the Lebanese Forces, stood down late Saturday, saying they had no faith in the government’s ability to deliver.Hezbollah and its allies, primarily the Free Patriotic Movement led by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, want to preserve the government, warning that the alternative would only lead to chaos. The Hezbollah coalition holds a majority in parliament and the cabinet.Observers doubt that the planned road map would ease tension on the streets given the magnitude of the demonstrations that have spread to regions known for their loyalty to political leaders such as the parliamentary speaker, Nabih Berri, and Hezbollah’s chief Hasan Nasrallah.Protesters have filled up the streets of the capital, insisting their demonstration is peaceful and nonsectarian and would continue until the fall of the government. Fistfights erupted in the southern town of Tyre and Aley in Mount Lebanon Saturday, where protesters clashed with supporters of Berri and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt.Berri, who has been house speaker for nearly 28 years, is the head of one of the largest Shiite parties in the country and is a longtime ally of Hezbollah. Some protesters say armed men tried to dispel protests in Tyre, with Berri’s party vowing to investigate the incident.“I love Berri but we want to eat. We are hungry. We are poor,” one protester said.To contact the reporter on this story: Dana Khraiche in Beirut at dkhraiche@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lin Noueihed at lnoueihed@bloomberg.net, Alaa Shahine, Paul AbelskyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 11:25:30 -0400
  • Detroit-area men who sent millions to Yemen spared prison

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    A group of Detroit-area men opened bank accounts to move millions of dollars to Yemen, their war-torn native country. One by one, U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn declined to send them to prison, despite guidelines that call for a few years or more behind bars. The Detroit area is believed to have the highest U.S. population of Yemenis, a demographic that has risen amid war in Yemen that has killed tens of thousands of people and left millions more with food and health care shortages.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 11:19:56 -0400
  • The Latest: Kurdish fighters pull out of Syrian border town

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    A spokesman for the main Kurdish-led group in Syria says their fighters have evacuated the northern town of Ras al-Ayn, saying they have no armed presence there anymore. Kino Gabriel of the Syrian Democratic Forces said Sunday's evacuation was part of the agreement to pause military operations with Turkey with American mediation. The withdrawal of Kurdish fighters from Ras al-Ayn would open the way for them to leave a broader swath of territory along the Syria-Turkey border, as part of an agreement reached between the U.S. and Turkey.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 11:12:40 -0400
  • Pervasive Violence in 20th Week of Protests: Hong Kong Update

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    (Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong protesters set off fires and vandalized subway stations, banks and stores as another weekend of demonstrations descended into destruction and violence.Organizers estimated at least 350,000 people took part in an unauthorized march that failed to get approval. Police used tear gas and water cannons to clear demonstrators who lingered to cause damage after the rally ended, and said it accidentally sprayed dyed water at the entrance of a mosque while trying to disperse protesters.Protesters are seeking to keep the pressure on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam after more than four months of demonstrations. Lam was twice shouted down in the city’s legislature last week by opposition lawmakers as she discussed her annual policy address.The protests began in opposition to Lam’s since-scrapped bill allowing extraditions to mainland China and have expanded to include calls for greater democracy and an independent inquiry. The unrest has turned increasingly violent, with frequent clashes between protesters and police.Here’s the latest (all times local):Xiaomi store fire (9 p.m.)A store of Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp. was set on fire, while the South China Morning Post reported a blaze at a branch of medicine shop Tong Ren Tang, which belongs to a mainland group. Firefighters were also seen putting out fires at an outlet of snack shop Best Mart 360, the paper said.Kowloon Mosque (8:30 p.m.)Police said it was “most unfortunate” that its dispersal operation of protesters caused an “unintended impact” of colored water being sprayed into the compound of Kowloon Mosque. Police contacted the mosque’s religious leader and other Muslim community chiefs to clarify the incident, according to a statement.Taiwan murder suspect (8:20 p.m.)Hong Kong’s government said Chan Tong-kai, a Hong Kong man who’s been accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend during a 2018 Valentine’s Day trip to Taiwan, made the decision to surrender himself to Taipei “out of his own free will.” Chan is currently imprisoned in Hong Kong for money laundering, and is about to be released, according to a statement.“We have conveyed to Taiwan clearly that we will be pleased to provide the necessary and legally feasible assistance to Taiwan,” according to the statement. “Should Taiwan raise any request for evidence in processing Chan’s surrender case, we will positively assist in accordance with our law.”Lam to visit Japan (5 p.m.)Lam will leave for Tokyo on Monday to attend the enthronement ceremony of Emperor Naruhito, according to a statement from her office. She will return Tuesday evening.Two arrested (4:15 p.m.)Police arrested two men in Tai Po for alleged possession of offensive weapons. The suspects are aged 31 and 34, the police said in a briefing. Officers found 42 petrol bombs, materials for explosives and masks, among other things, they said.Water cannon deployed (4 p.m.)A police water cannon sprayed blue-dyed liquid at protesters as it drove down Nathan Road, the main thoroughfare through districts of Kowloon. Fire fighters were seen putting out blazing barricades in streets and fires in subway stations and banks.Protesters continued to try block off roads and hurled petrol bombs as police approached. Mobs vandalized stores in the area. They broke into one in Yau Ma Tei and dumped its merchandise on the floor. At least seven MTR stations were shut in Kowloon.Subway fires (3:15 p.m.)Protesters set fires in at least two subway-station entrances in Kowloon after the march reached its destination. Activists also barricaded roads and occupied carriageways. Police fired numerous rounds of tear gas to clear the crowds of demonstrators.MTR Corp., the city’s rail operator, closed three stations -- Mong Kok, Yau Ma Tei and East Tsim Sha Tsui -- after attacks on the facilities.March kicks off (1:30 p.m.)Thousands of people poured into the streets of the busy Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district in a march to West Kowloon’s high-speed rail station to mainland China, about 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) away.Some marchers also defied a law prohibiting face masks as they made their way peacefully through the streets. Shopkeepers and business owners stood outside the iconic Chungking Mansions handing out bottled water to protesters.Police called on the public to leave the area immediately. Protesters are blocking carriageways and are taking part in an unauthorized assembly, police said in a statement.MTR canceled 16 high-speed trains to and from the mainland on Sunday because of signal failure, RTHK reported.The march followed a relatively peaceful day Saturday where the main event was a prayer gathering in Central that drew a couple of thousand people.Man arrested after stabbing (Sunday 6 a.m.)Police said they arrested a 22-year-old man for allegedly stabbing a teenager near a subway station in Tai Po on Saturday.The 19-year-old victim was slashed across the neck and stabbed in the abdomen by a so-called Lennon Tunnel while he was handing out leaflets, Radio Television Hong Kong reported.There was no dispute between the two, Lee, the victim’s friend said, according to RTHK. The attacker said to the victim: it’s you “guys turning Hong Kong into a mess,” RTHK quoted Lee as saying.“The police strongly condemn any acts of violence. Regardless of the motives or background, we will take every case seriously and carry out investigation actively,” the police said in the statement.March ban upheld (2:30 p.m.)Hong Kong protesters lost an appeal against the police ban of their planned march on Sunday through Tsim Sha Tsui on concern about violence, RTHK reported.On Friday night protesters formed human chains citywide, with everyone covering their faces in some way in defiance of the mask ban. People masqueraded as Disney characters, animals and super heroes, but the most popular mask was one of China President Xi Jinping. In Tsim Sha Tsui a long line of protesters linked hands, all wearing a facade of Xi’s smiling face.Lam may reshuffle ExCo (1 p.m.)Lam said she would consider reorganizing the city’s Executive Council, its de facto Cabinet, but would wait until protests had ended.The beleaguered leader of Hong Kong said on an RTHK radio program that she doesn’t “blindly” support the actions of each officer but fully supports the force in enforcing the law. She urged people to wait for a report from Independent Police Complaints Council into the recent clashes, RTHK said. Lam again rejected calls for an independent inquiry into police brutality, the latest coming from Chinese University’s vice-chancellor, Rocky Tuan.Taiwan gets letter (10:45 a.m.)Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau confirmed it had received a letter from the Hong Kong police offering assistance in the case of Chan Tong-kai, Central News Agency reported.There is no precedent for the cooperation and the Taiwan bureau will follow up with relevant departments for discussion, CNA reported.Homicide suspect to surrender himself to Taiwan (11:28 p.m.)Hong Kong’s Chief Executive received a letter Friday from Chan Tong-kai, saying that he’d decided to surrender himself to Taiwan, according to a statement on the website of Hong Kong’s government.Chan “requested the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government to assist him in making the relevant arrangement,” according to the statement.Hong Kong newspaper Sing Tao Daily reported earlier on Friday, citing a person it didn’t identify, that Chan made the decision after consulting with a pastor.\--With assistance from Dominic Lau.To contact the reporters on this story: Aaron Mc Nicholas in Hong Kong at amcnicholas2@bloomberg.net;Iain Marlow in Hong Kong at imarlow1@bloomberg.net;Venus Feng in Hong Kong at vfeng7@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Stanley James, Shamim AdamFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 10:57:00 -0400
  • Pelosi in Jordan for 'vital discussions' amid Syria crisis

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    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a group of American lawmakers on a surprise visit to Jordan to discuss "the deepening crisis" in Syria amid a shaky U.S.-brokered cease-fire. The visit came after bipartisan criticism in Washington has slammed President Donald Trump for his decision to withdraw the bulk of U.S. troops from northern Syria — clearing the way for Turkey's wide-ranging offensive against the Kurdish groups, who had been key U.S. allies in the fight against the Islamic State group. Turkey agreed on Thursday to suspend its offensive for five days, demanding the Kurdish forces withdraw from a designated strip of the border about 30 kilometers deep (19 miles).

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 10:21:30 -0400
  • Burmese fishermen 'faint' after mistaking $20 million of floating crystal meth for natural deodorant

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    Sacks of crystal meth scooped from the sea by Burmese fishermen who mistook it for a deodorant substance had a street value of $20 million (£15.4m), an official said on Sunday, in a country believed to be the world's largest methamphetamine producer. The accidental drug haul off Burma's coastal Ayeyarwady region occurred when fishermen spotted a total of 23 sacks floating in the Andaman Sea on Wednesday. Each one contained plastic-wrapped bags labelled as Chinese green tea - packaging commonly used by Southeast Asian crime gangs to smuggle crystal meth to far-flung destinations including Japan, South Korea and Australia. Locals were mystified by the crystallised substance in the sacks, Zaw Win, a local official of the National League for Democracy party who assisted the fishermen and police, told AFP. At first, they assumed it was a natural deodorant chemical known as potassium alum, which is widely used in Burma. "So they burned it, and some of them almost fainted," he said. They informed the police, who on Thursday combed a beach and found an additional two sacks of the same substance - bringing the total to 691 kilogrammes (1,500 pounds) which would be worth about $20.2 million (£15.6m), Zaw Win said. "In my entire life and my parents' lifetime, we have never seen drugs floating in the ocean before," he said. The massive haul was sent on Sunday to Pyapon district police, who declined to comment on it. Burma's multi-billion-dollar drug industry is centred in eastern Shan state, whose poppy-covered hills are ideal cover for illicit production labs. Made-in-Burma crystal meth - better known as ice - is smuggled out of the country to more lucrative markets using routes carved out by narco gangs through Laos, Thailand and Cambodia. A study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime says that Southeast Asia's crime groups are netting more than $60 billion a year - a conservative estimate, according to experts - thanks to a sophisticated smuggling and money-laundering operation. In March, Burma authorities seized more than 1,700 kilogrammes of crystal meth worth nearly $29 million, which police said at the time was their biggest drug haul this year.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 10:18:41 -0400
  • 10 things you need to know today: October 20, 2019

    1.President Trump announced Saturday night that he is no longer planning to host the 2020 Group of Seven summit at the Trump National Doral Miami resort near Miami, Florida. In a series of tweets Trump explained that his decision was the result of the backlash he received, a fair amount of which was centered around accusations of self-dealing corruption. Trump did not give up the plan lightly, however. In the tweetstorm, he blamed the media and the Democratic party for their "Crazed and Irrational Hostility" and maintained he thought he was "doing something very good for our Country" and was not seeking any profit. The president also said the White House will begin searching for another host site immediately, and Camp David, a presidential retreat in Maryland, is under consideration. [The Washington Post, The New York Times] 2.U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent an unsigned letter to the European Union on Saturday evening requesting another Brexit delay after Parliament passed an amendment requiring him to do so before voting on the deal he brokered with the EU on Thursday. Johnson reportedly included a second letter, which he did sign, saying that he believes a delay would be a mistake. EU Council President Donald Tusk confirmed the letter had arrived and said he would consult with other EU leaders on how to react. The British government insisted Sunday that Brexit will happen on Oct. 31 regardless of the letter Johnson sent, though opposition MPs have warned Johnson that if he tries to circumvent Parliament, he may find himself in court. Johnson has maintained he will move forward with his Brexit legislation next week. [BBC, Reuters.] 3.Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Saturday that all U.S. troops leaving Syria will be re-stationed in western Iraq where they will continue to conduct preventative operations against the Islamic State, and he did not rule out counterterrorism missions from Iraq into Syria. The plan calls for about 1,000 troops to head to Iraq, adding to the more than 5,000 troops currently in the country. "Things could change between now and whenever we complete the withdrawal, but that's the game plan right now," Esper said. The secretary added that he will talk with U.S. allies at a NATO meeting next week to discuss how to handle military operations to block any resurgence from ISIS. [NBC News, The Associated Press] 4.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) led a bipartisan congressional delegation to Jordan, a staunch U.S. ally in the Middle East, on Saturday for an unannounced visit to discuss the Turkish military offensive in northern Syria with Jordan's King Abdullah II. "With the deepening crisis in Syria after Turkey's incursion, our delegation has engaged in vital discussions about the impact of regional stability, increased flow of refugees, and the dangerous opening that has been provided to ISIS, Iran, and Russia," Pelosi's office said in a statement. The delegation also reportedly touched on a broader range of topics including counterterrorism and security, the Middle East peace process, and economic development. [The New York Times, The Guardian] 5.Thousands of pro-democracy, anti-Beijing protesters gathered once again Sunday in Hong Kong to march in defiance of a police ban, marking the 20th consecutive of weekend of protests. After a peaceful start, the demonstrations grew increasingly violent throughout the day, and a group of protesters reportedly hurled petrol bombs at a police station. Some protesters reportedly used an electric chainsaw to cut down a CCTV camera, while others vandalized businesses. Meanwhile, Hong Kong police fired tear gas and also admitted in a statement that they accidentally fired a water cannon filled with colored water that affected the entrance of Hong Kong's Kowloon mosque, calling the incident "most unfortunate." [BBC, The South China Morning Post] 6.The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces on Saturday accused Turkey of violating the cease-fire agreement orchestrated between Washington and Ankara on Thursday. The SDF said Turkish strikes killed at leas 20 civilians and 14 of its fighters in northern Syria since the deal was struck, though it reportedly couldn't be determined whether the strikes were carried out by Turkish forces or allied Syrian rebel groups. Kurdish forces also said Turkey was blocking their withdrawal from the border region. Turkish officials maintained Turkey was in compliance with the cease-fire and blamed the SDF and the YPG, a Kurdish militia, for launching multiple attacks against Turkish troops. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also warned Saturday that Ankara would move forward with its military offensive in northern Syria if the deal was not fully implemented. Light fighting reportedly resumed Sunday in a border town. [The Wall Street Journal, Reuters] 7.Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) held his first presidential rally since suffering a heart attack earlier this month, delivering a speech to an estimated 26,000-person crowd in Queens. If the numbers are accurate, it would serve as the largest crowd any Democratic presidential candidate has held this year, eclipsing the number of people who gathered to see Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speak in New York in September. "To put it bluntly," Sanders said, "I am back." He was joined on stage by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a popular progressive freshman congresswoman, who, as expected, officially endorsed Sanders for president at the rally. [Politico, The New Yorker] 8.Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) said Saturday he does not plan to run for re-election. Rooney said he accomplished his goals in Congress, namely getting money for Everglades projects and passing an offshore drilling ban to protect Florida. Rooney also said he wanted to be a "model for term limits" and that people need to realize "this is public service not public life." Rooney, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, made the announcement that he will likely retire from the House after he recently said he was still considering voting to impeach President Trump because he didn't think it was feasible to rule it out "until you know all the facts." [CNN, USA Today] 9.A bulletproof marker was reportedly dedicated Saturday to Emmett Till — a 14-year-old black teenager who was kidnapped, beaten, and lynched in Mississippi in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a white woman — after previous ones had been vandalized by gunfire. Members of Till's family, including one cousin who was present the night Till was kidnapped and is last living witness to the incident, attended the ceremony at the site where Till's body was pulled form the Tallahatchie River. Till's murder was a major catalyst of the civil rights movement, and the Justice Department reopened the investigation into his death last year after reportedly receiving new information. [CBS News, Fox News] 10.The Houston Astros are returning to the World Series for the second time in three seasons after defeating the New York Yankees, 6-4, in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. It was a tightly contested game, as both teams utilized their bullpens to the max. Houston jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, but the Yankees clawed their way back, eventually tying the game in the top of the 9th inning behind a two-run home run from first baseman D.J. LeMahieu. But Astros second baseman and the series' Most Valuable Player José Altuve launched a two-run walkoff homer in the bottom half of the inning off Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman to seal the series victory. Houston will host the National League Champion Washington Nationals in the World Series, which begins Tuesday. [ESPN, MLB.com]

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 09:50:00 -0400
  • Emmanuel Macron Can’t Save Boris Johnson

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    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Whoever came up with the Article 50 process for leaving the European Union probably never thought it would be used, let alone turned into a maddening form of procedural torture worthy of Kafka.Brexit was meant to have been wrapped up in March, yet the U.K.’s inability to decide what it wants has frustrated the best-laid plans of Brussels’s technocrats. After Westminster’s three rejections of former prime minister Theresa May’s original Brexit deal, and after the EU’s two extensions of the original Brexit deadline, Boris Johnson is now in Downing Street and we’ve entered a Bizarro World where reality has been turned upside down.We have a new Brexit deal that the EU insists is not a renegotiation, a special arrangement for Northern Ireland that the U.K. says is not a backstop (the name of the original guarantee in May’s deal to avoid a hard border in Ireland), and an official British request for an extension to the Oct. 31 deadline that Johnson says he doesn’t want.You can imagine the EU’s 27 other leaders taking deep breaths and counting to 10. The bloc has made a Herculean effort to parry British attempts to divide its members on Brexit, and last week’s hard-fought new deal with Johnson was greeted with back-slapping relief. Finally, the EU could get on with other issues, from a tariff war with Donald Trump’s America to tackling climate change and trying to hold a firm line on China.France’s president Emmanuel Macron showered Johnson in compliments, no doubt glad that seeing off the Brits — amicably, of course — would remove an obstacle to his ambitions for deeper EU integration. Now, once again, the prospect of delay is back, and with it the threat of more contagion as Britain’s dysfunctional national politics infects the orderly running of the EU and threatens that cherished unity.So what should the bloc do? Responding hastily is in nobody’s interest. Parliament hasn’t actually voted on the new Brexit deal yet. The demand for a three-month extension was forced on Johnson by British lawmakers as a way to make sure the Halloween deadline wouldn’t let him and his Brexiter allies bully the House of Commons into accepting “his deal or no deal.” Any ruling from Brussels on an extension before Parliament votes on Johnson’s deal (which may happen in the next couple of days) would be seen as meddling in U.K. politics. Likewise, siding with Johnson by ruling out any delay would mean committing the EU to an ugly and economically damaging no-deal split on Oct. 31 if Westminster failed to rubber-stamp his deal.If Members of Parliament do approve Johnson’s deal rapidly, the debate is moot. The EU would obviously give the U.K. enough time to jump through the various legislative hoops to put Brexit into law.Where things get complicated is if Westminster thwarts Macron’s plans for a quick divorce and rejects Johnson’s deal. If the deal fails by a handful of votes, and if those votes come from Johnson’s disgruntled allies in Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party, then Macron’s more hawkish views on an extension could hold sway. Brussels might offer only a short delay (less than the three months asked for) to try to force the last few holdout MPs into line or face a no-deal exit. But if Johnson’s deal is defeated heavily in the Commons, as May’s deal was, that will show the EU that Britain needs deeper political change to break the logjam. More dovish European calls for a longer extension — long enough to accommodate a general election or a second referendum — would probably win the day. Even if it appears today that some kind of extension is inevitable, no one should underestimate how tense this debate might become among the EU’s leaders. The situation is very different to when May was in power, when hardcore Brexiters complained that she had done a poor job and boasted they could get a better deal from Brussels. Brexiters don’t blame the EU anymore for what is clearly a U.K. problem: Parliament’s inability to decide.Macron’s impatience with London is spreading to his fellow leaders, with Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel talking of Britain as a post-Brexit “competitor.” There’s a point where infinite delays will be deemed costlier than no deal.To contact the author of this story: Lionel Laurent at llaurent2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at jboxell@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Lionel Laurent is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Brussels. He previously worked at Reuters and Forbes.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 09:00:09 -0400
  • Libya coast guard intercepts dozens of Europe-bound migrants

    Libya's coast guard says it's intercepted dozens of Europe-bound migrants off the country's Mediterranean coast. Spokesman Ayoub Gassim said Sunday the migrants were returned to shore and would be taken to a detention center in the capital, Tripoli. Gassim said a rubber boat with 89 African migrants, including 16 women and two children, was stopped Saturday off Libya's western town of Khoms, around 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of Tripoli.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 08:02:54 -0400
  • EXPLAINER-What happens next after UK PM Johnson writes Brexit delay letter?

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson has sent an unsigned letter to the European Union requesting a delay to Britain's exit from the bloc, as well as a second note saying he did not want a "deeply corrosive" Brexit extension. Johnson was required by law to send the first letter, after parliament voted on Saturday to withhold its approval of his Brexit deal until it has passed legislation to formally ratify the agreement. Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the lower house of parliament, or House of Commons, said on Saturday the government planned to put Johnson's exit deal to a debate and vote on Monday.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 07:18:54 -0400
  • EU pursues Brexit ratification despite delay request

    Golocal247.com news

    Brussels officials on Sunday pressed on with plans to ratify the divorce deal as European leaders considered Prime Minister Boris Johnson's reluctant request for a Brexit delay. Ambassadors and senior officials from the other 27 member states met Sunday after British MPs forced Johnson to send EU Council president Donald Tusk a late request to postpone the withdrawal. "The EU is keeping all options open and has therefore initiated the ratification process so that it can be handed over to the European Parliament on Monday," an EU diplomat told AFP.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 06:58:30 -0400
  • Long-haul, fuel efficient jets underpin demand at Las Vegas air show

    Golocal247.com news

    New large corporate planes that can fly farther and an industry push toward sustainable aviation fuels are seen as bright spots as the world's biggest business jet makers assemble in Las Vegas to showcase their offerings at the sector's largest gathering. The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) annual corporate aircraft show kicks off on Tuesday against a backdrop of slowing global economic growth, trade tensions between the United States and China and Brexit uncertainties, factors seen softening demand for corporate jets in the next two years, industry executives and analysts say. General Dynamics' Gulfstream, Bombardier, Textron's Cessna, Dassault Aviation and Embraer SA saw their order backlogs grow 7% in 2019, the first rise since the 2008 financial crisis, said aviation analyst Rolland Vincent.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 06:14:53 -0400
  • This Really Is a Crunch Week for Brexit

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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.It’s 11 days until the U.K. is due to shed its European Union membership and, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson so often says, “take back control.”Problem is, right now there’s no control. Headed into yet another “crunch” week for Brexit where anything could happen, the U.K. is careering towards a true crisis.A special sitting of parliament yesterday resulted in another defeat for Johnson. Lawmakers, stung by his repeated efforts to bypass them, slapped him with an amendment that required him to ask the EU to defer Brexit until Jan. 31. Johnson grudgingly sent that letter — unsigned — late in the evening. He sent another — this one he signed — arguing a further delay would be a mistake.There are two things to watch: whether the EU grants an extension (see more below on that) and the gyrations in the U.K. Parliament. Debate on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (which implements Brexit) could begin as soon as Tuesday, after the prime minister makes another attempt tomorrow to get Parliament to sign off on the principle of his deal.It’s a massive gamble for a leader lacking a parliamentary majority. The whole thing will be decided by a handful of votes. Johnson will need all of his powers of persuasion and famous oratory wit. The ticking clock, and the desire among lawmakers to avoid a chaotic no-deal exit, might help him.In the incredible three-year soap opera of Brexit, the finale will be a cliff-hanger.Key HeadlinesNumber crunching | Lawmakers voted 322 to 306 to force Johnson to seek an extension — an insurance policy against a no-deal Brexit if there’s still no agreement by Oct. 31. He needs to persuade 61 Members of Parliament to back his deal. Rob Hutton and Greg Ritchie crunched the numbers to conclude Johnson now has 62, based on what lawmakers said and did both in the debate before yesterday’s vote and during it.Click here for a look at how lawmakers voted on the extension amendment.The options | Everything in theory is still on the table. Johnson could get his deal through before Oct. 31. He might fail and negotiate more time with Brussels. He might fail and try and bypass parliament, triggering legal and other challenges. He might fail and try to crash out on Oct. 31 with no deal at all. He might decide to throw everything aside and call a snap election. If you're exhausted by it all, Sky News is offering Brits an escape from the drama with a new Brexit-free news channel.Europe's view | Many European officials oppose Brexit. “Our door will always remain open,” EU Council President Donald Tusk said last week after the deal with the EU was reached. French President Emmanuel Macron has said he doesn't think a delay should be granted, signaling frustration at how long this has dragged on. But the general feeling is the EU would prefer another delay to a chaotic no-deal exit. Tusk said last night he'll start consulting leaders on how to react, which may take a few days. A unanimous vote is needed to grant an extension.Read the in-the-room rundown of how Johnson got his agreement with Europe.Sticking point | The biggest obstacle to getting the deal through parliament is the historically fraught border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, set to become the only land crossing between the EU and the U.K. after Brexit. The plan agreed by EU negotiators would see a new type of border emerge not on land, but in the Irish Sea. Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which wants to remain part of the U.K., says it can't support the plan.Business imperative | Some trade bodies had urged lawmakers to ratify the Brexit deal, simply to put an end to three years of uncertainty that have clouded their prospects and hampered investment plans. Passing it would trigger a transition period that preserves much of the current trading architecture. U.K. businesses see avoiding a no-deal exit as the overriding priority. Now the door has opened to an extension, which they may welcome.And finally....Hundreds of thousands marched through central London yesterday, converging on Westminster to call for a second referendum on leaving the EU. They sang songs, chanted “Object to Brexit” and waved EU and British flags. As it began to rain, Johnson’s defeat in the House of Commons was greeted with loud cheers outside. \--With assistance from Karl Maier.To contact the author of this story: Rosalind Mathieson in London at rmathieson3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Kathleen Hunter at khunter9@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 05:59:27 -0400
  • UK opposition Labour's Starmer: Johnson should have sent one letter to EU

    Britain's opposition Labour Party said on Sunday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was behaving in a childish way by sending two letters to the European Union, one requesting a delay to Brexit and one saying he did not want an extension. Labour's Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer the party would put forward amendments to Johnson's Brexit deal legislation, particularly aimed at closing the "trap door" to no deal Brexit at the end of a transition period in December 2020. The law is very clear he should have signed one letter ... If we crash out, because of what he has done with the letters, in 11 days time without a deal he bears personal responsibility for that," Starmer told BBC television.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 05:20:52 -0400
  • British lawmaker Letwin says: PM Johnson will probably get Brexit deal through

    British lawmaker Oliver Letwin said on Sunday that he believed Prime Minister Boris Johnson could probably get his Brexit deal over the line. Letwin, who derailed Johnson's plans to pass an agreement on Saturday by putting forward an amendment which withheld approval of the deal until formal ratification legislation has passed, said he would propose no more amendments this week. "I am absolutely behind the government now as long as they continue with this bill, continue with the deal, I will support it, I will vote for it," Letwin told BBC television.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 05:13:50 -0400
  • Gove Says EU Granting Extension Not a Sure Thing: Brexit Update

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    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Parliament voted Saturday for Boris Johnson to request a further delay to Brexit. The prime minister will introduce the legislation needed this week for the U.K. to leave the European Union on Oct. 31. The parliamentary rejection on Saturday increases the risk that the U.K. will crash out of the trading bloc without an agreement, a senior cabinet minister said.Key DevelopmentsJohnson sends letter to Brussels formally asking the European Union to delay Brexit until Jan. 31, as stipulated by law, but made it clear he’d rather there was no extensionMove came after MPs voted by 322 to 306 for Letwin amendment forcing government to request Brexit delayEuropean Council President Donald Tusk to consult EU leaders on how to reactJohnson could yet deliver on pledge to get Britain out of the EU by the end of the month, an analysis of Saturday’s vote reveals.Johnson Has Support to Pass Brexit Deal (9:45 a.m.)Michael Gove, the cabinet minister in charge of no-deal Brexit preparations, said Johnson has the support to win a vote on the Brexit deal he negotiated with the EU but the government was making preparation in case the U.K. crashes out without a deal. Should Parliament reject the Johnson deal in a vote expected this week there might not be any extension to the Oct. 31 deadline, Gove said on Sky TV’s “Sophy Ridge on Sunday.”“If we don’t back this deal, then the risk is that the European Council may not grant an extension,” he said. “We can’t bet on that. It’s not a sure thing.”The government is relying on lawmakers such as Amber Rudd, a former cabinet minister, who backed the Letwin amendment but says she will support the deal this week. “We do want to leave with a deal and this deal from the prime minister is good enough for me,” she said.Rudd, who walked out of the government and quit the Tory whip in protest at the expulsion of 21 colleagues, said she expected many of that group would also back the deal.Why the Delay, Foreign Secretary Asks? (9:44 a.m.)Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the numbers appear to exist in Parliament to get the deal passed, so the question is “why aren’t we getting on with it?’’“The whole economy will get a boost, the rancor will come out of the debate,’’ he told the Andrew Marr show on BBC TV.Labour Pushing for Second Referendum (9:33 a.m.)Keir Starmer, Brexit spokesman for the the Labour opposition, said any deal needs to be subject to a second referendum with an option to remain in the EU. “We’ll have to see tactically how we get there,” he told BBC TV’s “Andrew Marr Show” Sunday.Labour will table amendments to the Brexit bill covering issues such as the environment and workers’ rights, and it was inevitable that a second-referendum amendment would emerge, probably from the beckbenches, he said.EU Ambassadors Fail to Discuss Delay Request (9:08 a.m.)EU ambassadors meeting in Brussels Sunday morning did not discuss Johnson’s Brexit delay request. The meeting had been scheduled to work out the EU approval process once Parliament had signed off on the deal, which it failed to do on Saturday.Former BOE Governor Dismisses Economic Forecasts (9 a.m.)Former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King expressed his frustration that Brexit remains unresolved, saying the feeling among the British public is “just do it.” Brexit, he said, has provoked a political and constitutional crisis, but leaving the EU is unlikely to have a “major” impact of the British economy longer term either way, he said in a Sky interview shown Sunday.“It’s a mistake to try and map out a particular deal into precise numbers,” he said of forecasts that Britain will be significantly worse off outside the EU. “A lot of bogus quantification has gone on to try to justify positions.”Farage Prefers General Election to “Rotten Deal” (8:50 a.m.)Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said he’d rather Brexit was extended and a general election held than see Johnson’s “rotten deal” being passed in Parliament.“An extension for a few weeks into which we can have a general election is a much better outcome than signing up to a treaty that becomes part of international law that binds us in foreign policy and in many, many other areas,” he told Sophy Ridge.Is Johnson in Contempt of Parliament? (8:33 a.m.)Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell for the Labour Party said Johnson may be in contempt of Parliament because the prime minister refused to personally sign the letter sent to Brussels requesting a Brexit extension. Speaking on Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday show, he accused Johnson of “behaving a bit like a spoilt brat”Earlier:Johnson Asks EU for Brexit Delay, But Hopes He Won’t Need It (2)Johnson Might Yet Get Brexit Done: Counting the VotesTo contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Atkinson in London at a.atkinson@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Fergal O'Brien at fobrien@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 05:07:37 -0400
  • Britain's Raab: we have the numbers to pass a Brexit deal

    British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the government seemed to have the numbers in the House of Commons to pass Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit deal. Raab said he was confident the United Kingdom would leave the EU on Oct. 31.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 04:57:38 -0400
  • UK is going to leave the EU by Oct. 31 - Gove says

    Brexit will happen by October 31, British government minister Michael Gove said on Sunday, despite lawmakers forcing Prime Minister Boris Johnson to send a letter on Saturday to the EU requesting a delay. "We are going to leave by October 31, we have the means and the ability to do so," Gove, the minister is in charge of no deal Brexit preparations, told Sky News.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 04:56:04 -0400
  • UPDATE 1-UK's Labour will try to amend Brexit deal legislation

    Britain's opposition Labour Party will try to amend legislation to ratify Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit deal, the party's finance spokesman John McDonnell said on Sunday. "We'll be moving amendments and see whether or not we can get some form of agreement through the House of Commons that's then acceptable," McDonnell told Sky News, citing issues Labour wants to see included such as protection of workers' rights. McDonnell said Johnson's decision to send an unsigned letter to the EU requesting a delay to Brexit as well as another note in which he explained that he did not want a "deeply corrosive" extension could put him in contempt of court.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 04:34:33 -0400
  • Brexit delay and election better than PM Johnson's deal - Farage

    Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said on Sunday a short delay to Brexit in order to hold a national election would be better than accepting Prime Minister Boris Johnson's deal. "I want to leave on the 31 of October, but I'll warn everybody that if this treaty goes through nothing will have changed at all, and I think far better to have a short delay and a general election where we might solve this," Farage told Sky News, adding that Johnson's deal was "rotten" and "not Brexit".

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 04:05:33 -0400
  • Defense chief: US troops leaving Syria to go to western Iraq

    Golocal247.com news

    Defense Secretary Mark Esper says that under the current plan all U.S. troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq and the military will continue to conduct operations against the Islamic State group to prevent its resurgence. Speaking to reporters traveling with him to the Middle East, Esper did not rule out the idea that U.S. forces would conduct counterterrorism missions from Iraq into Syria. Esper said he has spoken to his Iraqi counterpart about the plan to shift the more than 700 troops leaving Syria into western Iraq.

    Sun, 20 Oct 2019 00:11:19 -0400
  • Turkey wants Syrian forces to leave border areas, aide says

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    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants Syrian government forces to move out of areas near the Turkish border so he can resettle up to 2 million refugees there, his spokesman told The Associated Press on Saturday. The request will top Erdogan's talks next week with Syria's ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin. Arrangements along the Syrian-Turkish border were thrown into disarray after the U.S. pulled its troops out of the area, opening the door to Turkey's invasion aiming to drive out Kurdish-led fighters it considers terrorists.

    Sat, 19 Oct 2019 21:40:07 -0400
  • British PM sends unsigned letter seeking Brexit delay

    Golocal247.com news

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reluctantly wrote to Brussels late Saturday asking for a Brexit extension after MPs voted to force him into seeking a delay beyond October 31. The Conservative leader also sent a second signed letter insisting he was not seeking an extension to the Brexit deadline, which has already been postponed twice. In a day of high drama in the House of Commons, MPs declined to give their backing to the revised withdrawal agreement Johnson struck with the EU this week until the legislation needed to ratify it has passed.

    Sat, 19 Oct 2019 21:31:10 -0400
  • UPDATE 5-Brexit will happen on Oct. 31 despite PM's unsigned delay request, UK says

    The British government insisted on Sunday the country will leave the European Union on Oct. 31 despite a letter that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced by parliament to send to the bloc requesting a Brexit delay. The Brexit maelstrom has spun wildly in the past week between the possibility of an orderly exit on Oct. 31 with a deal that Johnson struck on Thursday and a delay after he was forced to ask for an extension late on Saturday. Johnson's defeat in the British parliament over the sequencing of the ratification of his deal exposed the prime minister to a law passed by those opposed to a no deal departure, demanding he request a delay until Jan. 31.

    Sat, 19 Oct 2019 19:21:20 -0400
  • Johnson Asks EU for Brexit Delay, But Hopes He Won’t Need It

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    (Bloomberg) -- Boris Johnson sent the letter to Brussels he never wanted to send.Bound by a law passed by opposition Members of Parliament, he formally asked the European Union to delay Brexit until Jan. 31, but made it clear he’d rather there was no extension. European Council President Donald Tusk said he’ll start consulting EU leaders on how to react, which may take a few days. A unanimous vote is required to grant an extension.According to a Downing Street official, the government sent three letters in total to the EU -- the Benn Act extension, as stipulated in law, but which the PM didn’t personally sign; a cover note from Tim Barrow, Britain’s envoy to the EU; and a letter signed by the PM arguing that further delay is a mistake. Johnson also pledged to Parliament his desire to push on with plans to leave the bloc by his Oct. 31 deadline.“A further extension would damage the interests of the U.K. and our EU partners, and the relationship between us,” Johnson said in the signed letter to Tusk. “We must bring this process to a conclusion so that we can move to the next phase.”After Saturday’s defeat in Parliament, the prime minister never got his chance to see if MPs would support the deal he brought back from Brussels. He now plans to push through the legislation in less than two weeks. The Withdrawal Agreement Bill could begin its journey as soon as Tuesday, after Johnson makes another attempt on Monday to get Parliament to sign off on the principle of his deal, making the extension unnecessary.After 3 1/2 years of political turmoil triggered by the referendum, Britain’s departure from the bloc is still not completely baked in. Hundreds of thousands of pro-EU demonstrators gathered around Westminster while MPs were debating in the House of Commons.Possible outcomes range from delaying Brexit -- allowing time for a general election or a second referendum on leaving -- to a battle in court, or a chaotic and economically damaging departure from the bloc without a deal. But if Johnson succeeds with his latest gambit, he’ll be able to meet his month-end deadline and push for an election.Based on how MPs voted Saturday -- the government lost by 16 -- and their comments during the debate, Johnson might still have a chance. It could come down to a single vote.Johnson’s key problem could lie in wooing back his allies in the Democratic Unionist Party. Their 10 votes made the difference between defeat and victory.They had supported Johnson until this week, when he signed a Brexit deal that creates a customs border in the Irish Sea -- a concession designed to secure Ireland and the EU’s support for the agreement. The DUP angrily denounced that during the debate.The day saw Conservative MPs, both current and almost all those he expelled last month, saying they would vote with him, as well as a small number of Labour MPs. If he can hold that coalition together for two weeks, he might have a chance.Hours after the vote, French President Emmanuel Macron made it clear the deal had been negotiated and that further delay in Britain’s departure was “in no one’s interest.”(Adds quote from Johnson’s letter in fourth paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Tim Ross in Brussels at tross54@bloomberg.net;Ian Wishart in Brussels at iwishart@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Heather Harris at hharris5@bloomberg.net, James Ludden, Ros KrasnyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 19 Oct 2019 18:29:44 -0400
  • Boris Johnson Has His Campaign Slogan Ready

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- There was very nearly a bedtime Brexit tale that went something like this: And so, finally, the porridge was just right, Parliament ate up Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal and then, satisfied, went to bed. The End.Of course, lawmakers didn’t eat up and this interminable story isn’t over. Saturday’s parliamentary session instead served up another helping of thin gruel to those British voters who just want the whole thing resolved. Rather than the prime minister getting a vote on his 11th-hour agreement with Brussels, one he may possibly have won, he could only watch as lawmakers passed an amendment giving them more time to scrutinize the deal before passing it. Johnson might yet win the day; he’s planning another push on Monday to get Parliament to sign off on the principle of his EU agreement. Yet one can hardly begrudge the House of Commons for wanting a closer look at legislation that will inflict such profound and historic changes on the U.K.At the same time, the delay meant Johnson by law had to write to the EU on Saturday night to ask for a three-month extension to Britain’s Oct. 31 official departure date, a demand that was enforced by Parliament if he couldn’t get its backing by Oct. 19. He didn’t sign the letter and sent a separate one saying an extension would be a mistake. However, most indications are that the EU will almost certainly grant an extension rather than see the U.K. crash out.There was a danger that if Johnson’s deal had passed on Saturday but the followup legislation was rejected, a no-deal Brexit would have happened by default on Halloween. Taking that unhappy prospect off the table would be a noble and useful thing in itself.The amendment from the independent, formerly Conservative, lawmaker Oliver Letwin said the Johnson deal could be approved only if the implementing legislation — called the Withdrawal Agreement Bill — passes too. Letwin supports the Johnson deal and wasn’t trying to derail it (even if many of the amendment’s backers were); but given this government’s willingness to gamble with a no-deal exit, and the fact that a number of Conservative MPs would be happy with that outcome, he wasn’t taking any chances.While implementing legislation usually takes between 10 and 40 days, it might be done more quickly this time if there’s political support. It will also need agreement from the House of Lords, where the government doesn’t control the timetable. Johnson said he would press on with a potential “meaningful vote” on Monday and it’s possible the Withdrawal Agreement Bill could be introduced as early as Tuesday. But it will be up to the House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow, who has so often spoiled the government’s attempts to force through Brexit, to rule on what’s permissible.Saturday’s setback certainly doesn’t kill Johnson’s deal. It had much more support than his predecessor Theresa May’s attempt, and more than the alternative options of a no-deal Brexit, revoking Brexit altogether or a second referendum. It also, crucially, has momentum.Johnson’s gamble was that enough lawmakers could be shooed onto the bandwagon Saturday before the real forensics began. That this didn’t happen is in large part because his slash-and-burn strategy — where he first threatened a no-deal exit and then offered once unthinkable concessions to Brussels to get a deal over the line — has also undermined trust. The deal conjured success by pulling the rug out from under Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, a key Conservative ally.Whereas Johnson, May and many Tory Brexiters had sworn never to support an arrangement that put a customs border between the U.K. mainland and Northern Ireland, the new deal effectively does that. The DUP are furious about something that ties Northern Ireland closer to the EU and separates it from the rest of the U.K., an affront that was made worse by the party’s failure to secure a veto on the new arrangements.If Johnson had kept the support of the DUP, the Letwin amendment wouldn’t have passed on Saturday, and he will no doubt be seeking ways to bring Arlene Foster’s party back into the tent.Meanwhile, the government will surely try to use the legislative process to woo holdout MPs with concessions, although opponents will try to attach amendments, such as a confirmatory referendum to put any agreed deal back to the British public. Johnson’s last-minute breakthrough with Brussels blindsided both the opposition Labour Party, whose own Brexit policy is a shambles, and the centrist Liberal Democrats, which wants to cancel Brexit. They will relish any chance to make sweeping changes as the legislation goes through Parliament.The EU may decide to offer Johnson a conditional extension to the Oct. 31 date, which would come into force only if he fails to get the Withdrawal Agreement Bill through Parliament by then. If he can’t manage it, an extension looks inevitable, followed by either a general election or possibly another referendum to try to break the impasse, though the extra time needed to organize the latter would worry Brussels.Clearly a deal is Johnson’s preferred choice, but if Parliament won’t comply, his election campaign is ready. Anticipated slogan: Get Brexit Done, With My Deal.(Updates paragraph four to include news that Boris Johnson has sent the letter requesting a Brexit extension.)To contact the author of this story: Therese Raphael at traphael4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at jboxell@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Therese Raphael writes editorials on European politics and economics for Bloomberg Opinion. She was editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 19 Oct 2019 18:28:44 -0400
  • UK PM sends unsigned letter to EU asking for Brexit delay

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent an unsigned letter to the European Union on Saturday requesting a delay to Brexit but he also sent another message in which he stated he did not want the extension, a government source said. Johnson was compelled by a law, passed by opponents last month, to ask the bloc for an extension to the current Brexit deadline of Oct. 31 until Jan. 31 after lawmakers thwarted his attempt to pass his EU divorce deal earlier on Saturday.

    Sat, 19 Oct 2019 18:11:16 -0400
  • Lebanon's Nasrallah says he's against government resignation

    Golocal247.com news

    Lebanon's influential Hezbollah leader said Saturday he is against the government's resignation as nationwide protests gained momentum on their third day, calling for the removal of the country's political elite. Hassan Nasrallah said the current unity government should instead bring "a new spirit" to tackling the economic crisis fueling the demonstrations. The spontaneous protests are Lebanon's largest in five years, spreading beyond Beirut.

    Sat, 19 Oct 2019 17:49:23 -0400
  • UPDATE 1-EU's Tusk gets British request for third Brexit extension

    The chairman of European Union leaders Donald Tusk said on Saturday he received a request from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for an extension of the Brexit deadline of Oct. 31, as required by the British parliament. "The extension request has just arrived. Johnson asked Tusk to delay the deadline for Britain's exit from the European Union until the end of January 2020, as envisaged by the Benn Act passed by the British parliament.

    Sat, 19 Oct 2019 17:34:34 -0400
  • The Latest: Lebanon party pulls out of embattled government

    Golocal247.com news

    A Lebanese Christian leader has asked his four ministers in the Cabinet to resign amid nationwide protests against the country's political elite. Samir Geagea, who heads the right-wing Lebanese Forces party, said late Saturday he no longer believes the current national unity government headed by Premier Saad Hariri can steer the country out of a deepening economic crisis. The protesters are calling for the government to resign.

    Sat, 19 Oct 2019 17:26:59 -0400
  • UK PM Johnson sends photocopied letter to EU asking for Brexit delay - S.Times

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent an unsigned letter to the European Union on Saturday asking for a Brexit delay and sent another message in which he said he did not want an extension, the Sunday Times reported.

    Sat, 19 Oct 2019 17:06:56 -0400
  • The Latest: Syria Kurds say they will withdraw from border

    Golocal247.com news

    A senior Syrian Kurdish official says his forces will pull back from a border area in accordance with a U.S.-brokered deal after Turkey allows the evacuation of its remaining fighters and civilians from a besieged town there. Redur Khalil, a senior Syrian Democratic Forces official, said Saturday the plan for evacuation from the town of Ras al-Ayn is set for the following day, if there are no delays. Khalil said a partial evacuation happened earlier Saturday from Ras al-Ayn after much stalling and with U.S. coordination.

    Sat, 19 Oct 2019 16:38:24 -0400
  • Russian Media Cheers Trump’s Moves in Syria: ‘Putin Won the Lottery!’

    Golocal247.com news

    BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyPresident Trump has boasted he’s “getting a lot of praise” for his abrupt decision to withdraw U.S. troops out of northern Syria, abandoning the Kurds—America’s longstanding allies—to Turkey’s incursion. On the home front, the controversial move has been met with criticism on both sides of the political aisle, but the reaction in Moscow was far from mixed. As Trump uncorked chaos in the Middle East, champagne tops were likely popping at the Kremlin.“Putin won the lottery! Russia’s unexpected triumph in the Middle East,” raved Mikhail Rostovsky in his article for the Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets. “Those who were convinced of Trump’s uselessness for Russia ought to think again...What Washington got out of this strange move is completely unclear. To the contrary, what Moscow gained from this is self-evident...Trump’s mistake in Syria is the unexpected ‘lottery win’ that further strengthened Moscow’s position in the Middle East and undermined America’s prestige as a rational political player and a reliable partner.”  Maksim Yusin, the editor of international politics at the leading Russian business daily Kommersant, was amazed by the ongoing stream of inexplicable actions by the American president that benefit the Kremlin. “All of this benefits the Russian Federation,” Yusin marveled. “You know, I’ve been watching Trump’s behavior lately and get seditious thoughts: maybe he really is a Russian agent? He is laboring so hard to strengthen the international image of Russia in general—and Putin in particular...In this situation, Americans—to their chagrin and our enjoyment—are the only losers in this situation.”“This is such a pleasure,” grinned Olga Skabeeva, the host of Russia’s state television program 60 Minutes. “Russian soldiers have taken an American base under our complete control, without a fight!” Skabeeva’s co-host Evgeny Popov added: “Suddenly, we have defeated everyone.” Incredulously, Skabeeva pointed out: “This is an American base—and they just ran away! Trump ran away!”The U.S. Spoiled a Deal That Might Have Saved the Kurds, Former Top Official Says“It’s been a long time since America has been humiliated this way,” gloated political analyst Mikhail Sinelnikov-Orishak, “They ran away in shame! I can’t recall such a scenario since Vietnam.” He added: “For us, this is of great interest, because this is a key region where energy prices are being determined. That is a shining cherry on top.” Political scientist Andrey Nikulin concurred: “This is sad for America. A smaller-scale version of what happened in Vietnam.”Appearing on the nightly television show The Evening with Vladimir Soloviev, political analyst Evgeny Satanovsky recounted many ways in which Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria and abandon the Kurds has hurt the image and standing of the United States: “America betrayed everyone...Trump also strengthened the anti-American mood in Turkey, when he promised to destroy the Turkish economy.” Satanovsky opined that now any economic problems or currency fluctuations in Turkey can be blamed directly on the United States, prompting textile, tobacco, steel and other industries to turn away from America. “Anti-Americanism in Turkey is off the charts,” Satanovsky pointed out, “American politics are tangled in their own shoelaces... America is successfully self-eliminating from the region.”The timing also struck the Russians as incredibly fortuitous and inexplicable. “They lost their only chance to remove [Syrian President] Bashar Assad,” exclaimed Russian lawmaker Oleg Morozov, appearing on 60 Minutes, “They were only half a step away!”     President Trump’s primitive letter to the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also delighted the Russians. Olga Skabeeva, the host of Russia’s 60 Minutes, sarcastically pointed out that President Trump seems to be unfamiliar with even the most basic manners: “We should send a message to the American president: ‘Don’t call people names. Don’t fight. Don’t pick your nose. It’s nasty and unacceptable.’” Host Evgeny Popov said that the Turkish president threw Trump’s letter in the trash and remarked: “But who wouldn’t? The only thing missing was for Trump to call Erdoğan ‘dude.’” For his part, President Erdoğan said he “cannot forget” the letter in question and ominously promised that Turkey would “do what’s necessary” concerning the letter “when the time comes.”Discussing the exchanges between President Trump and President Erdoğan, Leonid Kalashnikov, Chairman of Russian State Duma Committee for the Commonwealth of Independent States affairs, commented: “I don’t care that those two clowns write such letters to each other. You can only pity them. Is it better for us that the Americans left Syria? Of course it is! Will we make deals with Erdoğan? Of course we will.”   Pence Just Ratified All of Turkey’s War Aims in SyriaPundits all over the Russian state media pondered out loud about the merits of Trump’s self-proclaimed “infinite wisdom” of pulling the U.S. forces out of northern and eastern Syria, concluding that the decision was an enormous blow to America’s standing, undermining its current and potential alliances. On the other hand, Turkey is delighted with the outcome. Vice President Mike Pence gave Erdoğan everything the Turkish side has been attempting to achieve, in exchange for a promised five-day pause in the offensive. A Turkish official told Middle East Eye, “We got exactly what we wanted out of the meeting.” At the conclusion of the five-day pause, Erdoğan will be meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi.Appearing on 60 Minutes, Franz Klintsevich, a member of the Federation Council's Committee on Defense and Security, declared that Russia will take full advantage of America’s withdrawal from the Middle East, becoming a top player in the region. Klintsevich argued that America’s withdrawal from Syria represented Russia’s “global victory” and “demonstrated the absolute superiority of Russia’s arms, diplomacy and foreign policy.”During the same show, political analyst Mikhail Sinelnikov-Orishak was overcome with gratitude: “I look at Trump and think: ‘May God grant him good health—and another term. This is a great situation for Russia...We can practically sit back and reap the dividends from what others are doing...Meanwhile, Trump is yet to make a single good deal, which is why I wish him good health, may he flourish and get re-elected...Trump is a great candidate. I applaud him...For America, this isn’t a very good president.”To the contrary—for Russia, Trump’s presidency is a gift that keeps on giving. The Kremlin’s propagandists see no acceptable alternative to Trump amongst any viable presidential candidates in the United States. Complaining about prevailing anti-Russian attitudes, Vladimir Soloviev—host of the nightly television show The Evening with Vladimir Soloviev—sarcastically surmised: “So it looks like we’ll have to elect your president—again.”  Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Sat, 19 Oct 2019 16:28:04 -0400
  • Egypt: 4 killed when shells hit 2 houses in north Sinai

    EL-ARISH, Egypt (AP) — Egyptian security officials and medics say shells hit two houses in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula, killing at least four civilians, including a child. Last week, nine people of the same family were killed and six wounded when a shell hit a truck carrying civilians in the town of Bir al-Abd. Egypt is battling an Islamic State-led insurgency in the Sinai that intensified after the military overthrew an Islamist president in 2013.

    Sat, 19 Oct 2019 16:27:39 -0400
  • British PM to seek extension after MPs back Brexit delay

    Golocal247.com news

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to write to Brussels seeking a Brexit deadline extension after MPs voted Saturday to demand he delay Britain's October 31 departure date. In a phonecall with European Council President Donald Tusk after the vote, Johnson said he would send the letter mandated by MPs to seek more time, a EU source told AFP. "The PM confirmed that the letter would be sent to Tusk today," the source said.

    Sat, 19 Oct 2019 16:05:36 -0400
  • On Day 1,001, Trump Made It Clear: Being 'Presidential' Is Boring

    Golocal247.com news

    DALLAS -- A one point during one of his most unpresidential of days, President Donald Trump insisted that he knew how to be presidential."It's much easier being presidential, it's easy," he told a stadium full of more than 20,000 boisterous supporters in MAGA hats and T-shirts cheering his every word Thursday night. "All you have to do is act like a stiff."He buttoned his suit coat, pursed his lips, squared his shoulders and dropped his arms rigidly at his sides. "Ladies and gentlemen of Texas," he then droned in a sleep-inducing staccato monotone the way he imagined most of the other 44 presidents had done. "It is a great honor to be with you this evening."The crowd loved it, roaring with laughter. Transforming back into the unpresidential president America has come to know, Trump added, "And everybody would be out of here so fast! You wouldn't come in in the first place!" Being presidential, he was saying, is so boring. Who wants that?After 1,000 days in office, Trump has redefined what it means to be presidential. On the 1,001st day of his tenure, which was Thursday, all pretense of normalcy went out the window. It was a day when he boasted of saving "millions of lives" by temporarily stopping a Middle East war that he effectively allowed to start in the first place, then compared the combatants to children who had to be allowed to slug each other to get it out of their system.It was a day when he announced without any evident embarrassment that officials of the federal government that answer to him had scoured the country for a site for next year's Group of 7 summit meeting and determined that the perfect location, the very best site in all the United States, just happened to be a property he owned in Florida.It was a day when he sent out his top aide, an adviser who has served as "acting" White House chief of staff for nearly 10 months without ever being granted the respect of earning the title outright, to try to quell the whole impeachment furor, only to have him essentially admit the quid pro quo that the president had so adamantly denied.It was a day that ended with a rally where one of the warmup acts, the Texas lieutenant governor, declared that liberals "are not our opponents, they are our enemy," and the president called the speaker of the House "crazy," a rival candidate "very dumb," a House committee chairman a "fraud" and the governor of another state a "crackpot."After 1,000 days of the Trump Show, the capacity for surprise has long since diminished and comments or actions that would have set off days of front-page coverage and howls from Capitol Hill now barely register. The shocker that consumed Twitter three hours ago is so quickly overwhelmed by the next one that it seems impossible to digest any single moment to assess its meaning or consequences."Unconventional" was the word the president himself used repeatedly Thursday.He used it specifically to describe his let-them-go-to-war policy with respect to two U.S. allies, Turkey and the Kurds, followed by a cease-fire days later. All part of the plan, he assured Americans. Just a little "tough love" to get the two sides to resolve their differences.Never mind that their differences are nowhere near solved, even as bodies are strewn in northern Syria; Kurds are forced out of their homes; and Russia, Iran, Bashar Assad and even the Islamic State are celebrating."We were a little bit unconventional," Trump explained, offering his foreign policy doctrine in a setting that was itself a little bit unconventional, a Louis Vuitton workshop near Keene, Texas, where they make Parisian bags while cattle graze outside. The president had stopped by in between a Fort Worth, Texas, fundraiser and his Dallas rally to cut the ribbon on the new factory as a favor to Bernard Arnault, the luxury industry giant, bringing French sensibility to the Lone Star State."Louis Vuitton -- a name I know very well," Trump said to laughter, even as he mispronounced the name he knows well. "It cost me a lot of money over the years."Fortunately for him, his Trump National Doral near Miami will soon have plenty of new business as the leaders of not just France but also Germany, Britain, Canada, Italy and Japan -- and maybe Russia -- will descend on the club next spring along with thousands of officials, diplomats, journalists and others who attend each year's G-7 summit meeting.Trump left it to his staff to announce the selection, as if it were somehow an independent decision, and they insisted that he actually would not make money because he would provide the property "at cost." The notion that it might make the United States look like all those countries it used to lecture about self-dealing was of no concern. The president knew it would be controversial, his top aide said, and boldly went ahead anyway regardless of the anticipated blowback, as if it were an act of political courage.By now, the notions of what is presidential and what is unconventional have taken on new meaning, long since divorced from anything that came before. On the 1,001st day of the Trump presidency, he charged forward, writing new rules for himself and the country.If to the outside world it looked like his presidency was unraveling and the president himself melting down, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this week, to Trump, it was just another day in the never-ending battle with convention.The chief narrator of the battle, of course, remains its chief protagonist. At the American Airlines Center on Thursday night, Trump once again relived election night 2016, probably the high point of his political life, casting it as a moment of miracles for himself and the nation, before the scandals and the special prosecutor and the impeachment inquiry.He replayed the primary fight with Sen. Ted Cruz, who was standing off to the side of the stadium, recalling their debates for the Republican nomination. "You can't beat Ted Cruz if you don't interrupt him," Trump offered by way of a political lesson.He replayed the general election fight with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, still one of his favorite punching bags. "Remember the emails?" he called out to the crowd. Yes, they remembered.And then, as he often does, he recreated election night itself as it played out on television nearly three years ago. "Donald Trump has won the state of Utah," Trump boomed in his best news anchor voice. Then he went on in his own voice: "And we won Florida! And we won South Carolina! And we won Georgia! And we won North Carolina! And we won Pennsylvania!"For 1 hour and 27 minutes, he went on with all the winning -- winning against Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton and China and "fake news" and the "radical left," offering his greatest hits spliced with enough untrue whoppers to keep fact-checkers busy for days. He soaked in the applause, in no hurry to head back to Washington where investigators and enemies awaited.He has been doing this now for 1,001 days. Whether it will last another 1,000 days or nearly another 1,000 beyond that remains unclear. But his presidency, so unpresidential and unconventional, is definitively his. "I've been a politician for three years," he exclaimed. "I can't believe that."On that, at least, he was not alone.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company

    Sat, 19 Oct 2019 15:53:33 -0400
  • UPDATE 1-EU sick of Brexit, but likely to grant an extension

    European Union chiefs are so fed up of Brexit that when they clinched a new divorce deal with Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week they did not want to entertain the need to delay Britain's departure beyond Oct. 31. After a call between Johnson and European Council President Donald Tusk on Saturday evening, an EU official made clear, however, that the bloc would not rush. "Tusk will on that basis start consulting EU leaders on how to react.

    Sat, 19 Oct 2019 15:52:34 -0400
  • Kenya, Somalia Say Aid Will Keep Flowing Despite Border Dispute

    (Bloomberg) -- The finance ministers of Kenya and Somalia insist that a maritime-border dispute between the two nations won’t stop the cross-border flow of humanitarian aid and trade.The dispute about ownership of a 150,000 square-kilometer (58,000 square-mile) area off their Indian Ocean coastline has not caused any hostility between the two nations, Somalia Finance Minister Abdirahman Duale Beileh and Kenya’s acting Treasury Secretary Ukur Yatani told reporters. They spoke on Saturday at a press conference during the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington D.C. The maritime area in question is said to be rich in oil, gas and tuna fish. In 2014, Somalia went to court to challenge a 2009 agreement that set its maritime border along latitudinal lines extending 450 nautical miles into the sea. The United Nations International Court of Justice this week granted Kenya’s request for a postponement and the case is now scheduled for June.While Kenya has called for a negotiated settlement for the dispute, Beileh and Yatani both said their governments would abide by the ruling of court.As East Africa’s biggest economy Kenya has been a base for many organizations providing aid to Somalia, one of the world’s poorest countries, as it recovers from the aftermath of two decades of civil war. More than 250,000 Somali refugees and asylum-seekers are staying in Kenya, according to data from the UN Refugee Agency.Kenya has been giving support “in terms of managing the humanitarian crisis,” Yatani said. “We have a duty of care as a brother.”To contact the reporter on this story: Rene Vollgraaff in Johannesburg at rvollgraaff@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Benjamin Harvey at bharvey11@bloomberg.net, Sarah McGregorFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 19 Oct 2019 15:48:50 -0400
  • Johnson Tells Tusk U.K. Will Send Letter For Brexit Delay

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans were again thrown into chaos after the U.K. parliament voted to take more time to scrutinize the deal the prime minister struck with the European Union this week.Without Parliament’s sign-off, Johnson is required by law to send a letter to Brussels on Saturday requesting that Brexit be delayed until Jan. 31 -- three months after his self-imposed deadline. At a rare Saturday sitting, lawmakers voted by 322 to 306 in favor of a rebel Tory’s proposal to withhold their approval for now.BrexitDeal. Boris Johnson will be forced to send a letter to the EU requesting an extension pic.twitter.com/DCy4zZbZjA— Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) October 19, 2019 According to a person familiar with a conversation Johnson had with European Council President Donald Tusk, the U.K. will send a letter requesting a delay tonight. But in a post-vote letter to MPs and peers in the House of Lords, Johnson said he “will not negotiate a delay” with the EU and that the government will introduce new legislation next week “needed for us to leave the European Union with our great new deal” on Oct. 31.The person familiar with the conversation said Tusk will start consulting EU leaders on how to react, which may take a few days.The result prolongs the 3 1/2 years of political turmoil triggered by the referendum. The possible outcomes range from delaying Brexit -- allowing time for a general election or a second referendum on leaving -- to a battle in court, or a chaotic and economically damaging departure from the bloc without a deal in just 12 days.BrexitDeal pic.twitter.com/UELjzvF5K5— Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) October 19, 2019 Johnson’s hopes of meeting his deadline of getting the U.K. out of the EU by the end of the month now rest on pushing the legislation that implements his deal through Parliament in less than two weeks. The Withdrawal Agreement Bill could begin its journey as soon as Tuesday. But, on Monday, Johnson will make another attempt to get Parliament to sign off on the principle of his deal, making the extension unnecessary.The scale of Johnson’s defeat on Saturday, though, shows the problem he has created for himself by alienating his allies in the Democratic Unionist Party. Their 10 votes made the difference between defeat and victory.They had supported Johnson until this week, when he signed a Brexit deal that creates a customs border in the Irish Sea -- a concession designed to secure Ireland and the EU’s support for the agreement. The DUP angrily denounced that during the debate.When Johnson does try to push his deal through, the question will be, as it was on Saturday morning, whether he has the votes. The day saw Conservative MPs, both current and almost all those he expelled last month, saying they would vote with him, as well as a small number of Labour MPs. If he can hold that coalition together for two weeks, he might have a chance.Johnson could still try to circumvent the legislation forcing him to seek a delay, but he do so, he would be certain to face legal challenges that could end up in the U.K. Supreme Court.Assuming he concedes and sends the letter, an extension will require the unanimous agreement of EU leaders. The European Commission urged the British government to clarify its next steps.On Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron said one shouldn’t be granted. But Macron made similar noises before approving a Brexit delay in April. EU officials say it’s unlikely that he or any other leader would refuse another one, particularly if the U.K. was headed for a general election.On Saturday, the French presidency said in a statement: “Our message is clear: a deal has been negotiated. It is now up to the British parliament to say if it approves it or rejects it. An additional delay is in no one’s interest.”If attempts to avert a no-deal Brexit fail, the consequences for Britain are likely to be severe. According to the government’s own analysis, a no-deal Brexit would cause disruption to trade, financial services, and food supplies, and risk civil disorder.(Adds conversation with Tusk beginning in third paragraph.)\--With assistance from Greg Ritchie.To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net;Kitty Donaldson in London at kdonaldson1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Edward Evans, James AmottFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 19 Oct 2019 15:44:56 -0400
  • Dutch PM Rutte: spoke with UK's Johnson, wished him success in 'next steps'

    Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Saturday he had spoken with Boris Johnson after parliament forced the British prime minister to seek a further delay to Brexit before it votes on the new divorce deal. "We discussed the situation around Brexit," Rutte said in a statement. Rutte said the two leaders have agreed to keep in close contact.

    Sat, 19 Oct 2019 15:41:58 -0400
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