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Oman's sultan, 79, travels to Belgium for medical checks

Oman's sultan, 79, travels to Belgium for medical checksOman's 79-year-old ruler will travel to Belgium for a medical checkup, the sultanate's state-run news agency reported Saturday. Sultan Qaboos bin Said left “for some medical checks that will take a limited period, God willing,” the Oman News Agency reported, citing a royal court statement. The sultan has ruled Oman since overthrowing his father in a bloodless 1970 coup.

Lebanese women march in Beirut against sexual harassment

Lebanese women march in Beirut against sexual harassmentScores of women marched through the streets of Beirut on Saturday to protest sexual harassment and bullying and demanding rights including the passing of citizenship to children of Lebanese women married to foreigners. The march started outside the American University of Beirut, west of the capital, and ended in a downtown square that has been witnessing daily protests for more than seven weeks. Nationwide demonstrations in Lebanon broke out Oct. 17 against proposed taxes on WhatsApp calls turned into a condemnation of the country's political elite, who have run the country since the 1975-90 civil war.

Russia Linked to Leaked Document Behind Corbyn’s NHS Risk Claim

Russia Linked to Leaked Document Behind Corbyn’s NHS Risk Claim(Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Russia has been linked to the leak of U.K. government documents behind Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s election-campaign claim that the Conservative Party would put the National Health Service on the table in trade talks with the U.S.Social news and aggregation firm Reddit Inc. on Friday banned 61 accounts under its policies against “vote manipulation” ahead of Britain’s general election on Dec. 12. The accounts, which were used to draw attention to the trade documents, were “part of a campaign that has been reported as originating from Russia,” according to Reddit.The documents have become a staple of Labour’s election campaign. Corbyn has repeatedly waved them at campaign events to publicly accuse Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Conservatives of putting the NHS at risk in talks on a future free-trade deal with the U.S. Johnson has consistently denied he would open the healthcare system to U.S. interests, calling the charge “pure Bermuda-triangle stuff” during the most recent debate.Public InterestWhen asked about the Russia link on Saturday, Corbyn dismissed it as “nonsense,” and pointed out that Johnson has never denied the documents’ authenticity.“The issues are that those documents show exactly what the British government was doing in discussions with Donald Trump’s administration in the U.S., and also why the prime minister has refused to release the report on Russian interference in British politics, which he’s been sitting on for a very long time,” Corbyn said on Sky News.Corbyn was referring to Johnson’s refusal to release a report by a U.K. intelligence watchdog that raises concern about Russian interference in the campaign. The Labour Party released the trade documents because they are “clearly in the public interest,” a spokesman said on Saturday. Corbyn has refused to identify the source of the leak.Johnson has managed to brush back Corbyn’s attacks over the NHS and kept the Conservative campaign focused on his pledge to complete the U.K.’s exit from the European Union, a strategy that appears to be working. With less than a week to the vote, the last five major polls gave the Conservatives an average lead of around 10 percentage points. Johnson is heading for a clear victory, senior officials in both main parties told Bloomberg.‘Secondary Infektion’Reddit said its investigation occurred after Facebook Inc. discovered a Russian campaign on its network earlier this year dubbed “Secondary Infektion.” More recent accounts on Reddit bear similarities to that campaign, “causing us to believe that this was indeed tied to the original group,” the firm said.“Suspect accounts on Reddit were recently reported to us, along with indicators from law enforcement, and we were able to confirm that they did indeed show a pattern of coordination,” Reddit said. The banned accounts will be preserved for a time so that they can be scrutinized by researchers and the public.Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said there are no grounds for the accusations against Russia.The Reddit accounts were removed after social media research firm Graphika Inc. published a blog on Dec. 2 saying that hundred of pages of leaked documents on trade between the U.S. and U.K. were amplified online in a manner “closely” resembling tactics used in the Secondary Infektion campaign.The U.K. operation appeared to start in October when “a German-language persona” that called itself Max Ostermann posted information about the leaked trade documents to three websites including German subreddit r/de, as well as an Austrian local-news blog and a Berlin-based platform, according to Graphika.The documents were then amplified using tactics previously seen in Secondary Infektion. These tactics included the use of “burner accounts” -- which post once before apparently being abandoned -- as well use of a “conspiracy site” called, the Graphika report said.“Even before the Reddit post, the big question was how the unredacted U.K. documents ended up online,” said Ben Nimmo, director of investigations at Graphika. “That question just got bigger.”\--With assistance from Tim Ross.To contact the reporters on this story: Nathan Crooks in Miami at;Alyza Sebenius in Washington at asebenius@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrew Davis at, Patrick HenryFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Minnesota National Guard identifies 3 killed in copter crash

Minnesota National Guard identifies 3 killed in copter crashThe Minnesota National Guard says the three soldiers who were killed when their helicopter crashed near St. Cloud this week were part of a unit that returned last May from a nine-month deployment to the Middle East. The Guard identified the men who were killed in Thursday's crash as Chief Warrant Officers 2nd Class James A. Rogers Jr., 28, and Charles P. Nord, 30, and Sgt. Kort M. Plantenberg, 28. The Guard tweeted that during their unit's recent Middle East deployment, it conducted medical evacuations in support of operations Spartan Shield and Inherent Resolve.

Voters Like Trump's Trade Goals, Not His Tone

Voters Like Trump's Trade Goals, Not His ToneA big part of Donald Trump's political identity has centered on his promises to shake up the United States' role in the world and reject the free-trade agreements that he has called "a disaster" for American workers.Trump made those ideals a major part of his presidential campaign in 2016, and he has remained committed to them since -- as the events of the past week have shown. He publicly clashed with European leaders during a visit to London, going so far as to threaten a 100% tariff on some imports from France. He continues to push Congress to approve a deal that would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.And on Tuesday he announced that he may wait until after the 2020 election to negotiate a grand deal with China, signaling that debates over trade could loom over the presidential race.Trade is not a primary concern for most American voters: Of the seven topics CNN asked about in a recent poll, voters were least likely to cite trade as important for their decision in 2020.But Trump's heterodox approach to diplomacy has become a constant source of headlines, and Americans' views of his trade policy have become entwined with their anxiety about how he conducts himself abroad.Nearly three years into the president's first term, the country now disapproves of his handling of both trade and foreign affairs by a sizable margin: On each topic, Americans are more likely to disapprove of his politics than to approve by a gap of 10 to 20 points, depending on which recent poll you're reading.When Trump took office, polls showed that Americans were broadly sympathetic to his calls for a rethinking of trade policy. In January 2017, a Gallup poll found that 71% of respondents nationwide said that "promoting favorable trade policies for the U.S. in foreign markets" should be a very important policy goal for the new administration. (Fewer put a high priority on working to defend U.S. allies or linking arms with the United Nations.)Still, at the same time, Americans have become much more likely to see trade as a good thing since Trump took office. A Gallup poll earlier this year found that by a huge margin (74% to 21%), Americans now tend to see trade as an "opportunity for economic growth through increased U.S. exports" rather than a "threat to the economy from foreign imports."Americans' views on this ideological question often follow economic trends, with respondents more likely to say trade is good whenever unemployment is low, as it is today. But in over 25 years of polling data from Gallup, Americans have never been as pro-trade as they became after Trump entered the White House.For the first time, in a remarkable show of bipartisan consensus, 7 in 10 respondents in each party this year said trade was more of an opportunity for the United States than a threat. But Lydia Saad, a senior editor at Gallup, resisted equating support for trade with opposition to Trump's positions."Republicans and Democrats are expressing more positivity about trade, but for different reasons," Saad said. "Democrats, I think, hear what Trump says and interpret that as anti-trade, and so reflexively are saying: 'No, trade is great.' Republicans hear what Trump says, and they say, 'Trump says he's going to be a better advocate for trade deals and make trade better, so trade is great.'"Indeed, white Americans without a college degree -- who tend to be among Trump's most solid supporters -- flipped from generally opposing trade to generally supporting it as soon as Trump was elected. In 2016, just 46% of those Americans told Gallup they saw trade as an opportunity for growth; in 2017, that number leapt to 66%.Democrats have become far more likely than Republicans to see NAFTA positively. In 2017, Gallup found that 67% of Democrats viewed the agreement favorably, versus just 22% of Republicans. In the 1990s and early 2000s, immediately after the agreement was passed, there was no notable partisan difference on this question.Trump is trying to replace NAFTA with a deal of his own, known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, that includes many provisions that Democrats have long pushed for, including a demand that Mexico raise its minimum wage and a stipulation that cars include a higher percentage of parts made in North America. Trump's hard-knuckle approach to negotiations with China has also been premised on the argument that U.S. workers and businesses deserve greater protections from foreign competition.As a result, the Democratic nominee for president in 2020 may have a hard time opposing Trump on policy grounds. But the fact that most Americans remain dissatisfied with Trump's conduct abroad still leaves room for an opponent to confront him on trade, experts say.Indeed, a majority of Americans (52%) said in a Quinnipiac poll in October that Trump had weakened the United States' standing as the so-called "leader of the free world," while just 33% said he had strengthened it."Trump took most of their talking points," Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations, said in an interview, referring to the president's protectionist policies. "So what you're hearing is the Democrats trying to find some way to take back that trade-skeptic position."He added: "If you listen to the Democrats, they're basically saying, 'We agree it was time to get tough on China, but the tariffs are the wrong tactic, and we shouldn't be alienating our allies.' So it's much more of a tactical debate than a substantive debate."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company

The Accidental Celebrities of the Impeachment Inquiry

The Accidental Celebrities of the Impeachment InquiryNo matter the job title, the gig of most every aide to a member of Congress is essentially the same: to help make it appear that the elected representative -- "the name on the door," as some aides put it -- is shouldering the work alone.This is especially true, and especially tricky, amid the scrutinized pageantry of news conferences and high-stakes public hearings like those convened last month by the House Intelligence Committee and this week by the House Judiciary Committee as part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry.In hearings, congressional aides often sit behind their bosses, close enough to discreetly provide on-the-spot guidance and information. But, for some, the tougher gig might be operating in front of a scrum of cameras while trying to remain invisible to the public."There is whirlwind of activity behind the scenes and it is your job to keep that off-camera and to fade into the wallpaper," said Jeremy Bash, who attended or staffed about 100 hearings while serving in various roles, including chief of staff to the former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.This is the balance aimed for by Russell Dye, an aide to Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who has taken a visible and audible role as a staunch defender of President Donald Trump in the recent impeachment inquiry hearings.Dye says he wants to avoid the camera's glare when possible, to be invisible in plain sight when necessary and to keep the public's focus on the work of his boss."I tend to like to stay in the background," said Dye, 27. "I hate it when I become the center of attention."But someone needs to tell that to Dye's bright mint-green blazer. Paired with a green bow tie, the jacket has twice attracted national media coverage: first in 2014, when he and his jacket sat in the front row of an IRS hearing and were featured on Twitter, "Morning Joe" and in a political cartoon.Last month, just before a day of impeachment inquiry testimony would begin, Dye was setting up posters on easels with messages like, "0 days since Adam Schiff followed House rules."As he did so, Andrew Harnik, a staff photographer for The Associated Press, snapped Dye in his spearmint-gum-colored jacket."Hearings and hearing rooms can be on the more staid side so we're always looking for images that are striking and unexpected," said Harnik, 38. "I didn't have an idea of what the hearings were going to look like, but I wasn't expecting the posters." As for Dye's outfit, it was (green) icing on the cake.The photograph was published in The Washington Post, atop an opinion piece called, "A definitive guide to 64 Republican impeachment excuses." The picture and story were then plucked and billboarded by Apple News."That's not a good article for us, and I disagree with the author's assertion," Dye said, "but it still goes to everyone thanks to your mom and Facebook."He even got recognized in the aisles of his hometown Walmart in Forsyth, Georgia, when he was there for Thanksgiving. "We're just trying to do the best we can for the members we work for, but then you end up on Twitter," he said. "This is the age we live in."The more your boss is in the spotlight, the harder it can be to stay out of it. Charli Huddleston also works for Jordan, as press secretary for the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. She too found herself inadvertently upstaging him, and a gaggle of congressmen, when she was photographed in late October standing on a staircase above them as they staged a protest against the process of the impeachment proceedings. In the photo, a light shines upon Huddleston, 25, as if from an alien spaceship that is going to beam her up. Once posted to Twitter, the photo went viral."It was like, 'Oh my God, I'm a meme,'" Huddleston said in an interview.At first, the moment felt like a fun diversion from a tense time. After BuzzFeed published an article about how the photograph of a Republican congressman's aide had been adopted as favorite among anti-Trump tweeters, the attention rattled her."It's not supposed to be about me, it's about the name on the door," Huddleston said, recalling her worry about how her boss would react. "I hope he's going to be OK with it."In fact, Jordan called her to make sure she wasn't feeling trolled by nasty comments. "He was concerned," she said.More than simply fade into the background at that same protest, it was the job of Janae Frazier, the press secretary to Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., to gather video footage and photographs of her boss and his colleagues that could be used on social media to promote their impeachment resistance.That's not how it turned out.As the protest dragged on, pizza was ordered for the members of Congress, their aides and reporters in attendance.Frazier approached the cart of stacked boxes and was about to take a slice when she noticed her picture was being snapped. She made a face (Frazier describes it as "goofy") and backed away from the pizza."I don't want my picture taken while I'm eating," said Frazier, 28. "I can go in on pizza."At a media event that offered all the visual excitement possible of a bunch of middle-aged men in suits standing outside a conference room, the image of a woman contemplating pizza tickled Twitter."Y'all I have become a meme. I'm DEAD," Frazier tweeted.Then she went on with her life. But not everyone was ready to. Her picture was featured on CNN. And then it was included in a Weekend Update segment on "Saturday Night Live."She heard from long-lost friends and distant relatives who congratulated her on her career achievements. "I was like, 'WHAT? All this for being hungry?'" Frazier said.Among staffers and committee aides who have been sitting behind their congressional bosses in the current impeachment hearings, cameras have not seized on many goofy faces (nor did committee staffers seize the opportunity to comment for this article)."The staffer has to be a sphinx," said Bash, the former defense department and congressional aide who is now a national security consultant and news commentator."There is no formal training for this role," he continued. "You have to have been raised on the Iran-Contra hearings, the Clarence Thomas hearings, you have to be the kind of person who enjoys flipping to C-SPAN 3 during hours you're supposed to be sleeping."Even before the age of Twitter and iPhones, the inscrutability of congressional aides was the Washington way. Christopher Putala, 58, worked in the 1990s for then-Sen. Joe Biden and staffed dozens of hearings that Biden took part in as a member of the Judiciary Committee. At Putala's first one -- "not a controversial hearing," is all he remembers of it -- there was a moment of levity among the senators and the hearing witnesses. Putala chuckled too."There I was, yukking it up, and Evelyn Lieberman, a communications staffer, came up and whispered in my ear. She lit into me and said in no uncertain terms, 'You are to have no expression. You are to fade into the background.'"Lesson learned. Sort of. Recently Putala came across a Now This video that featured a 1993 assault weapons ban hearing which Biden presided over. Putala spied himself in the background."What am I doing but chewing gum, chomping away," he said.The valor of discretion can be lost on today's youth. When Jessica Sanderson, a lawyer for Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, was preparing to head to Washington to sit behind her client during his impeachment inquiry hearing testimony last month, Sanderson's daughter had one request."She said, 'Mom, you need to do something to become a meme,'" said Sanderson, 51.After Sanderson asked her daughter, a high school senior who was on her school's constitutional law team last year, to explain what exactly that means, she demonstrated a few silly faces that she thought her mother could make during the testimony.Sanderson rejected the suggestions.Still, after Vindman's testimony concluded, Sanderson's phone started to blow up. A photograph of a reporter guzzling coffee during the proceedings was going viral, and guess who was also visible in what became one of the most recognizable photos of the day? Yup."It was the best of possible worlds," Sanderson said. "I was in a meme and I had a straight face."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company

Naval base shooter investigated for possible terrorism links

Naval base shooter investigated for possible terrorism linksU.S. officials investigating the deadly attack by a Saudi aviation student at a naval air station in Florida were working Saturday to determine whether it was motivated by terrorism. An aviation student from Saudi Arabia opened fire in a classroom at the Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday morning, killing three people. Eight people were hurt in the attack, including the two deputies, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said.

Iran releases US hostage held for three years as suspected spy in prisoner swap

Iran releases US hostage held for three years as suspected spy in prisoner swapIran has released an American student who has spent the past three years in jail on spying charges in a prisoner swap.Xiyue Wang, a Princeton University graduate student, had been sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted on charges of "spying under the cover of research".

US citizen Xiyue Wang released from Iranian jail in prisoner swap

US citizen Xiyue Wang released from Iranian jail in prisoner swapChinese-born Princeton student, sentenced to 10 years in prison, exchanged for Iranian scientist Masoud SoleimaniA Chinese-born US citizen sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran on spying charges has been released as part of a prisoner swap.Princeton graduate student Xiyue Wang, imprisoned since 2016, was exchanged for Masoud Soleimani, an Iranian scientist arrested at Chicago airport last year and convicted on charges of violating US trade sanctions.Wang was due to fly to the US via Oman and a US military base in Frankfurt, Germany. There had been no prior indication he was due to be released, and he was apparently shocked when he was told the news. He initially travelled to Iran to study Farsi and Iranian history.In a statement, Donald Trump said: “Mr Wang had been held under the pretence of espionage since August 2016. We thank our Swiss partners for their assistance in negotiating Mr Wang’s release with Iran.”The Swiss embassy in Tehran looks out for America’s interests in the country as the US embassy there has been closed since the 1979 student takeover and 444-day hostage crisis.Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran, accompanied Soleimani to Switzerland to make the exchange and will return with Wang, according to a US official who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.The swap took place in Zurich and Hook and Wang were en route to Landstuhl in Germany where Wang was to be examined by doctors, the official said. Hook was expected to return to the US from Germany alone, as Wang was expected to be evaluated for several days.> Senior Administration official says Xiyue Wang is “doing really well” in Germany after State Iran envoy Brian Hook swapped for him in Zurich. Hook and Wang pictured.> > — Rich Edson (@RichEdsonDC) December 7, 2019Although Hook was present for the swap, the US official said the national security adviser Robert O’Brien played the lead role in negotiations dating from his time as special representative for hostage affairs at the state department.Soleimani – who works in stem cell research, hematology and regenerative medicine – was arrested by US authorities on charges he violated trade sanctions by trying to have biological material brought to Iran. He and his lawyers maintain his innocence, saying he seized on a former student’s plans to travel from the US to Iran in September 2016 as a chance to get recombinant proteins used in his research for a fraction of the price he would pay at home.On Saturday Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported that Soleimani was with Iranian officials in Switzerland. Soleimani was expected to return to Iran in the coming hours. Zarif later posted pictures of himself on Twitter with Soleimani in front of an Iranian government jet and later with the two talking on board.The US regards the swap as a low price for the release of Wang, who has always insisted he is innocent and whose family has described the charges as absurd. He was researching the Qajar dynasty at the time of his arrest in August 2016. Hua Qu, his wife, released a statement saying “our family is complete once again”.“Our son Shaofan and I have waited three long years for this day and it’s hard to express in words how excited we are to be reunited with Xiyue,” she said. “We are thankful to everyone who helped make this happen.”The Princeton spokesman Ben Chang said the school was aware of Wang’s release.Relations between the US and Iran reached a new low this week with further sanctions slapped on Tehran. A meeting with the remaining signatories of the joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA) on Friday in Vienna ended with Europeans warning that further breaches of the nuclear deal by Iran would endanger their support.Ironically Britain, with better relations with Iran at least over the JCPOA, is making no progress, at least on the surface, in securing the release of its dual nationals held in Evin prison including Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and a retired businessman, Anousheh Ashoori.Both consider themselves hostages captured in a bid to force diplomatic or economic concessions.Other Americans held in Iran include an 81-year-old businessman, Baquer Namazi, who has been held for more than two years and diagnosed with epilepsy.Namazi and his son Siamak Namazi, also a dual national who has been held for more than three years, are serving 10-year sentences after they were convicted of collaborating with a hostile power.An Iranian-American art dealer, Karan Vafadari, and his Iranian wife, Afarin Neyssari, received 27-year and 16-year prison sentences, respectively. Also held is US navy veteran Michael White.The former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who vanished in Iran in 2007 while on an unauthorized CIA mission, remains missing. Iran says Levinson is not in the country and that it has no further information, but his family holds Tehran responsible for his disappearance.The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said Wang would soon be able to go home to his family but acknowledged other Americans remain held by Iran.“The United States will not rest until we bring every American detained in Iran and around the world back home to their loved ones,” Pompeo said in a statement.

Belarus crowds rally against closer Russia ties

Belarus crowds rally against closer Russia tiesRoughly 1,000 Belarusians joined an unauthorised demonstration on Saturday against the prospect of a closer union with Russia. Long-time ruler Alexander Lukashenko was meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Russia on Saturday to discuss "key issues in our bilateral relations, including the prospects for deepening integration", according to the Kremlin. Police quickly intervened to oversee the demonstration but made no arrests.

Iranian and American freed in apparent prisoner swap

Iranian and American freed in apparent prisoner swapAn Iranian held in the US and an American held in Iran have been freed, the two sides said Saturday, in an apparent prisoner swap at a time of heightened tensions. Tehran announced the release of Iranian scientist Massoud Soleimani from the United States shortly before Washington declared American researcher Xiyue Wang was returning home. "Glad that Professor Massoud Soleimani and Mr. Xiyue Wang will be joining their families shortly," Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted.

Impeachment collides with funding deadline, testing Congress

Impeachment collides with funding deadline, testing CongressThe impeachment drama is dominating Washington, but leading figures such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi still have their day jobs to do. The California Democrat faces a testing over the next two weeks, toggling between the impeachment of President Donald Trump and past-ripe issues including North American trade legislation and a massive government-wide funding bill. “American families deserve better than this partisan paralysis where Democrats obsess over impeachment and obstruct everything else," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., attacking Democrats for delays in the defense budget.

10 things you need to know today: December 7, 2019

10 things you need to know today: December 7, 20191.The White House on Friday sent a letter to House Democrats condemning the ongoing impeachment inquiry and calling on lawmakers to end what it called a "reckless abuse of power by House Democrats." The letter was sent just as the White House reached the deadline to tell Democrats whether President Trump or White House lawyers would participate in a House Judiciary Committee hearing Monday. Instead of explicitly noting Trump would not mount a defense before the committee, the letter called the impeachment inquiry process "completely baseless," and said the House should move quickly to vote on impeachment so the process can move to a Senate trial, where officials believe the Republican majority will defend Trump. House Democrats are writing articles of impeachment this weekend. [The New York Times] 2.Xiyue Wang, a Chinese-American graduate student at Princeton University who had been detained in Iran since 2016, was freed Saturday. Iran and the United States conducted a prisoner exchange in Zurich, Switzerland, which also saw the release of Iranian scientist Massoud Soleimani who had been convicted of violating U.S. trade sanctions against Iran. President Trump confirmed the swap Saturday, as did Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Wang, a student of late 19th- and early-20th-century Eurasian history, reportedly went to Iran to learn Farsi and conduct archival research for his dissertation. He reportedly disclosed his research plan, and Princeton said he was not involved in an political activities or social activism, but Tehran believed he had ties to U.S. intelligence agencies, which led to his detainment. [The New York Times, The Associated Press] 3.Three people have been killed and at least eight others injured after a shooter opened fire at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida. Authorities said Friday the shooter is dead, and "our community is secure at this time." Among those hospitalized were two deputies, who are expected to recover, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said. This is the second shooting at a Navy base this week after a sailor opened fire at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii on Wednesday, killing two people and himself. President Trump has been briefed on the shooting, the White House says. "This is a tragic day for the city of Pensacola," Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson said. [CNN, The Associated Press] 4.Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg temporarily blocked a congressional subpoena for President Trump's financial records from Deutsche Bank. The decision comes after Trump's emergency request to block a lower court ruling that required him to hand over the records. The stay on the ruling is temporary and does not reflect how judges will rule in the case. It will remain in place until Dec. 13 while the Supreme Court deliberates on whether to grant a longer stay and give Trump's legal team time to prepare a formal appeal. The House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees are investigating the president's relationship with the bank. A judiciary panel on the Second Circuit said earlier this week there was a "clear and substantial" public interest in granting the House subpoenas. [Politico, The Hill] 5.Unknown gunmen reportedly killed at least 20 people in Baghdad on Saturday at key anti-government protest sites. The armed men, who remain unidentified, reportedly drove through the areas in pick-up trucks and fired on the crowds, forcing demonstrators to flee. More than 130 people were reportedly also wounded by gunfire and stabbings near the main protest camp by Tahrir Square. The event took place a week after Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi announced his resignation. It's considered the capital's most violent flare-up in weeks. More than 400 people have been killed and nearly 20,000 wounded since the protests began in October. [BBC, Al Jazeera] 6.Pacific Gas & Electric agreed Friday to pay $13.5 billion in damages to victims of four California wildfires that occurred between 2015 and 2018. If accepted by a bankruptcy judge, the settlement will go to people who lost loved ones, property, or both, as well as government agencies and attorneys who pressed the claims. Some of the blame for the fires has been directed at faulty or aging PG&E equipment. The settlement comes after the company agreed to a $1 billion deal with cities, counties, and other public entities, as well as an $11 billion agreement with insurers and others covering claims for wildfires in 2017 and 2018. Victims seeking compensation will have until the end of the year to file claims. [NBC News, NPR] 7.Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) announced his retirement Friday. "Shortly after the Holidays I will resign from Congress," he wrote in a statement. "It has been an honor to serve the people of California's 50th District, and I greatly appreciate the trust they have put in me over these last 11 years." Hunter pleaded guilty to campaign finance violation charges, after he was accused of misusing at least $250,000 in campaign funds. The lawmaker also allegedly falsified campaign records filed to the Federal Election Commission to cover up spending on travel and entertainment. Hunter was re-elected even after the indictment. [The Wall Street Journal, The Hill] 8.The U.S. economy added 266,000 jobs in November, the Labor Department said Friday, coming in ahead of analysts' forecast of about 180,000. Hiring reached its highest level since January, as unemployment fell from 3.6 percent in October to 3.5 percent in November and average hourly earnings rose 0.2 percent, up 3.1 percent from last year. The New York Times writes the report "offered a counterpoint to renewed anxieties about an escalating trade war and a weakening global economy," noting tens of thousands of General Motors workers returning after a strike helped boost the hiring totals. [The Associated Press, The New York Times] 9.Tesla founder Elon Musk has prevailed in the defamation suit a British diver waged against him after Musk referred to him as "pedo guy." Vernon Unsworth was among the divers who saved the soccer team trapped in a cave in Thailand last year after Musk claimed he would save the children with his Tesla submarine, which wasn't used. Unsworth wrote off Musk and suggested he "stick his submarine where it hurts," and Musk responded by suggesting Unsworth was a child predator. Unsworth later sued the so-called "billionaire bully" for $190 million in damages and said Musk left him feeling "humiliated." Musk argued "pedo guy" was just slang in his native South Africa, and a jury sided with him on Friday. [BBC] 10.The New York Knicks, who are in last place the NBA's Eastern Conference, fired coach David Fizdale on Friday. The Knicks are mired in an eight-game losing streak, and their current 4-18 record is tied for the worst mark in the franchise's history at this point in the season. The Knicks also fired Fizdale's top assistant, Keith Smart, and promoted another assistant, Mike Miller, to interim head coach. Fizdale was hired by New York before last season, in which the Knicks went on to win only 17 games. Since James Dolan took over as the franchise's owner in 1999, the team has employed 12 different head coaches, tied for the most in the league over that span. [ESPN]More stories from Trump's pathological obsession with being laughed at The most important day of the impeachment inquiry Jerry Falwell Jr.'s false gospel of memes

AP FACT CHECK: Trump and the people he forgets he knew

AP FACT CHECK: Trump and the people he forgets he knewWhen certain associates and acquaintances of President Donald Trump get into hot water, he forgets he ever knew them. For a few days, the stock market suffered a similar fate when it dipped too low for Trump to boast about it. THE FACTS: Trump knows the British prince.

Airstrikes in northwest Syria kill at least 4 people

Airstrikes in northwest Syria kill at least 4 peopleAirstrikes on areas in the last major rebel stronghold in northwest Syria killed at least four people, including women and children, and wounded others as a three-month truce crumbles, opposition activists said. The airstrikes on Idlib province have intensified over the past few weeks as the government appears to be preparing for an offensive on rebel-held areas east of the province to secure the main highway that links the capital Damascus with the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's largest and once commercial center. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the opposition's Syrian Civil Defense said four people, including a child and two women, were killed in airstrikes on the rebel-held village of Bara.

Iran and US complete prisoner swap

Iran and US complete prisoner swapAn Iranian held in the US and an American held in Iran have been freed, the two sides said on Saturday, in an apparent prisoner swap at a time of heightened tensions. Tehran announced the release of Iranian scientist Massoud Soleimani from the United States shortly before Washington declared American researcher Xiyue Wang was returning home. "Glad that Professor Massoud Soleimani and Mr. Xiyue Wang will be joining their families shortly," Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted. "Many thanks to all engaged, particularly the Swiss government," which has looked after US interests in Iran in the absence of diplomatic ties, Mr Zarif added. n this Wednesday, May 9, 2018 file photo, Hua Qu, the wife of detained Chinese-American Xiyue Wang, poses for a photograph with a portrait of her family in Princeton, N.J Credit: AP State news agency IRNA said Mr Soleimani had been "freed moments ago after one year of illegal detention and was handed over to Iranian officials in Switzerland". In a statement issued in Washington, US President Donald Trump said that "after more than three years of being held prisoner in Iran, Xiyue Wang is returning to the United States". Mr Wang, a Chinese-born American, was serving 10 years on espionage charges in Iran. A doctoral candidate in history at Princeton University, he had been researching Iran's Qajar dynasty when he was imprisoned in August 2016. Rising tensions between UK, US and Iran Mr Soleimani is a professor and senior stem cell researcher at Tehran's Tarbiat Modares University who left for the United States on October 22, 2018, according to IRNA. The United States and Iran have not had diplomatic ties since 1980. Relations between the two foes worsened in May 2018 when Trump withdrew the US from an international accord that gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.

Iran has released US man Xiyue Wang, who spent three years in jail, as part of a prisoner swap deal

Iran has released US man Xiyue Wang, who spent three years in jail, as part of a prisoner swap dealWang was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran in 2017 on espionage charges his family say were fabricated.

Chinese-American graduate student freed from Iran in prisoner exchange

Chinese-American graduate student freed from Iran in prisoner exchangeAfter three long years, Xiyue Wang is on his way home.Wang, a Chinese-American graduate student at Princeton University who had been detained in Iran since 2016, was freed Saturday when Iran and the United States conducted a prisoner exchange in Zurich, Switzerland. The exchange also saw the release of Iranian scientist Massoud Soleimani who had been convicted of violating U.S. trade sanctions against Iran.Brian Hook, the State Department's special representative for Iran, worked with Swiss intermediaries — who look out for American interests in Tehran since there's no U.S. embassy — to negotiate the exchange. He flew to Zurich with Soleimani and is expected to return with Wang, who will be able to reunite with his wife and young son. President Trump confirmed the swap Saturday, as did Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.Wang, a student of late 19th- and early-20th-century Eurasian history, reportedly went to Iran to learn Farsi and conduct archival research for his dissertation. He reportedly disclosed his research plan to the Iranian interest section at the Pakistani embassy in Washington, D.C., and Princeton said he was not involved in an political activities or social activism. But Tehran believed he had ties to U.S. intelligence agencies, which led to his detainment. Read more at The New York Times and The Associated Press.More stories from Trump's pathological obsession with being laughed at The most important day of the impeachment inquiry Jerry Falwell Jr.'s false gospel of memes

U.K.’s Judgment Day, Impeachment Green Light

U.K.’s Judgment Day, Impeachment Green Light(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 been a challenging few days for U.S. President Donald Trump. His week began with the discovery that his media style had become the butt of jokes among world leaders at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit and ended with the Democrats announcing they’ll draft articles of impeachment for abusing his office in a “profound violation” of the public trust.In the U.K., Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s last-ditch attempt to wrest power from the Conservative party and change the course of his country’s exit from the European Union entered its final days.And protests continued across the globe, as citizens’ anger at corrupt and unequal regimes showed no signs of burning out and the demands for more urgent government action on climate change escalated.Dig deeper into these and other topics and click here for Bloomberg’s most compelling political images from the past week.Key Election Task for U.K. Tories: Tame Boris JohnsonAnger management may decide whether Boris Johnson wins Thursday’s crucial election. No longer just an entertaining media personality, the prime minister is a highly divisive figure whose displays of temper on the campaign trail have raised eyebrows inside and outside his party, Tim Ross writes.Britain’s Brexit Election Is Now a Referendum on Jeremy CorbynIt’s the last stand for Corbyn after defying critics two years ago by gaining seats in the last national vote, Kitty Donaldson and Robert Hutton report. His success on Dec. 12 depends on whether Johnson and his Conservatives can breach the “Red Wall,” the band of districts running across the middle of the U.K.The Making of the Man Europe Picked to Confront Trump on TradeWhen Phil Hogan was fighting for his political life in Ireland, he knew just who to turn to: his enemy. As Dara Doyle reports, the new European trade commissioner will need all of those smarts as he works to defuse tensions with Trump and hammer out a post-Brexit deal with the U.K.Giuliani Is in Kyiv; Ukrainian Officials Are Steering Clear Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, whose work in Ukraine is at the heart of U.S. impeachment proceedings, is back in the country — and officials in Kyiv are keeping their distance. Stephanie Baker and Daryna Krasnolutska report that Giuliani flew into Kyiv from Budapest on Wednesday, the same day hearings stemming from his shadow diplomacy in Ukraine began in the House Judiciary Committee.A Year of Protests Sparked Change Around the GlobeEconomies on the verge of collapse, a yearning for greater democracy, revulsion against corruption and inequality — the grievances that drove people into the streets in 2019 were consistent across continents. Follow Alan Crawford’s breakdown of protests around the world and the main reasons behind them.Hong Kong Needs Its Angriest Generation More Than EverThe profile of Hong Kong’s determined protesters is predominantly university educated, under 30 — and middle class. That means the students who’ve thrown petrol bombs across the barricades for almost six months will, all else being equal, have to produce more economic output per-person just to keep the economy at a stable size, Jeff Black and Hannah Dormido report.Taken to Brink by Trump, Gulf States Are Backpedaling on IranAn expanded soccer tournament, a direct flight, clandestine meetings and a pledge to release prisoners of war; diplomacy is breaking out as Gulf Arab nations back away from a Trump-inspired confrontation with Iran. As Zainab Fattah reports, the signs are everywhere.Saudi Arabia’s Social Revolution Has a Rival Across the Red SeaThere’s a party in Osama bin Laden’s old neighborhood and Nasr Aldin has brought the booze to get things hopping, Mohammed Alamin writes. At 38, he’s no teenager, but it’s the first time he hasn’t feared the wrath of the authorities as citizens in Sudan demand more freedoms after ousting their autocratic Islamist leader.Macron’s Reform Blitz Leaves Companies Waiting for WorkersMacron began his presidency in 2017 pledging to send shock waves through the French economy by making labor cheaper, more flexible and better skilled. Two-and-a-half years later, William Horobin writes, business leaders are experiencing both the successes and shortcomings of the president’s ambitions.And finally … Wildly popular with lip-synching teenagers around the world, the short-video Tik-Tok app has taken India by storm. Police officers, city workers and physicians looking to escape the daily humdrum have found its lure irresistible, producing at-times cringe-worthy videos. But as Saritha Rai writes, the Chinese-owned app is raising concerns in a country with lax data protection regulations. To contact the author of this story: Ruth Pollard in New Delhi at rpollard2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Kathleen Hunter at khunter9@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Iran frees Chinese-American scholar for US-held scientist

Iran frees Chinese-American scholar for US-held scientistIran and the U.S. conducted a prisoner exchange Saturday that saw a detained Princeton scholar released for an Iranian scientist held by America, marking a rare diplomatic breakthrough between Tehran and Washington after months of tensions. In a trade conducted in Zurich, Switzerland, Iranian officials handed over Chinese-American graduate student Xiyue Wang, detained in Tehran since 2016, for scientist Massoud Soleimani, who had faced a federal trial in Georgia.

Your Weekend Reading: The Year of Deadly Protests

Your Weekend Reading: The Year of Deadly Protests(Bloomberg) -- Want to receive a daily news briefing, including this weekend edition, in your inbox every day? Sign up here Friday’s U.S. jobs numbers smashed expectations and may have added to President Donald Trump’s argument for a second term in the face of potential impeachment. Stock investors around the globe loved the data. Though Trump fled snickers from fellow world leaders in Europe, he may be the one laughing now.The U.K. general election is next week, and all about Brexit. Subscribe to our daily newsletter, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our podcast.What you’ll want to read this weekendAs for becoming the third president in U.S. history to be impeached, Trump can’t seem to wait. “Do it now” he told the House of Representatives. Speaker Nancy Pelosi seems willing to accommodate.From Caracas to Hong Kong, it’s been a year of protests. In Iran, more than 1,000 people may have been killed by security forces.Uber reported more than 3,000 sexual assaults in its vehicles in the U.S. alone last year. Separately, some 3,000 Americans died on the road because of distracted driving.Here’s how one man paid for his Harley Davidson obsession with his job. How do cruise operators make bigger boats, more profits and add, oh, water slides? By cutting the vessels in half of course.Some high-end distilleries are working to become more climate conscious: turns out, booze is also hard on trees, bees and water. And after flight shaming, phone shaming may be next.What you’ll need to know next weekThe U.K. votes. It’s simple enough: Johnson or Corbyn? The Federal Reserve probably won’t cut rates for a while yet. Saudi Aramco starts trading. It could be worth $2 trillion-plus. Argentina’s president takes office, but may not call the shots. Lord & Taylor will open a tiny store in New York for the holidays.What you’ll want to read in BusinessweekThe 50 Most Influential Individuals of 2019From finance to fashion and technology to trade, these are the people –and a chicken sandwich – who defined 2019. And when you’re done, scroll down to the bottom of the page to find out who might make the list in 2020. To contact the author of this story: Ian Fisher in New York at ifisher10@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: David Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

American freed by Iran in prisoner exchange

American freed by Iran in prisoner exchangeThe release of Xiyue Wang and Masoud Soleimani, an Iranian imprisoned on charges of violating U.S. sanctions, comes at a moment of exceptionally high tensions between Iran and the United States.

U.S. Business Plagued by Trade Confusion as New Tariffs Loom

U.S. Business Plagued by Trade Confusion as New Tariffs Loom(Bloomberg) -- As U.S.-China trade talks undergo more advances and setbacks than a ping-pong match, South Carolina businessman John Ling is increasingly pessimistic that any meaningful trade deal will be reached under President Donald Trump.“I’m becoming very doubtful there will be any deal that would solve the current problem,” said Ling, a consultant for Chinese companies doing business in the U.S.The past week has cast the outlook for a trade deal between the U.S. and China into deeper confusion. Trump rattled markets on Tuesday by suggesting a phase-one trade deal may have to wait until after the 2020 elections. Then, two days later, the president said the talks are “moving right along” and people familiar with the negotiations told Bloomberg News the sides are close to agreeing on a pact.On Friday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said a deal is coming down to the final stages but he acknowledged “delicate” proposals like Chinese farm purchases are still being discussed. Meanwhile, the Trump administration is leaving open the prospect of slapping tariffs on another $160 billion of Chinese goods in just over a week on Dec. 15 if nothing changes.Trump Downplays China Deal Urgency as Trade Risks RoarTrump has a history of indulging in brinkmanship to dial up the pressure in trade negotiations, especially as deadlines approach. In September, Trump said he wouldn’t be satisfied by a partial deal with China -- only weeks before he and President Xi Jinping announced the outlines of the stage-one trade deal.Even if that’s his strategy to win concessions, it’s doing little to help companies that import from China who say they can’t plan for next year when they don’t know what’s coming next week or month. Importers in the U.S. pay the duties when the products enter the country -- often passing the cost onto consumers -- even though Trump insists the tariffs are paid by China.“I’m very frustrated, absolutely,” Curt Christian, a Nashville, Tennessee-based furniture importer, said Thursday after days of back-and-forth headlines and seesawing markets. “I don’t know how to plan. That’s the issue.”Christian already lost a furniture business in the early 2000s, when a wave of cheap Chinese imports decimated much of the U.S. wood furniture industry. He eventually picked himself up and created a new company, Function First Furniture, that supplies furniture to university dormitories and student housing developers. His revenue is in the tens of millions of dollars.In Forever Trade War, U.S. Companies Take Cover as Best They CanWhat burns him is that he supports the Trump administration’s intentions to level the playing field with China, Christian said. However, he needs more time to cope with the fallout from tariffs. While he imports some furniture from Vietnam and Malaysia, 70% still comes from China.“Give me time to move, because I can’t just take $35 million worth of product and move it overnight,” he said. “You can’t just turn a battleship.”Other companies give similar testimonies of being unable to shift investment plans or factories when they don’t know how long the trade war will last.New York-based Delta Children’s Products imports cribs from China and elsewhere in Asia and has seen those sales fall since the tariffs took effect, said President Joe Shamie. But so too have sales of its U.S.-made mattresses, he said.He would consider moving more production out of China if he knew what to expect. Instead, he’s afraid to act because a deal to slash tariffs could come at any time. “Imagine you’re about to buy a house, and there’s a rumor the house might be half-price tomorrow. How do you know what to do?”Trade Woes Push IMF Global Growth Outlook to Decade-Low of 3%Jay Foreman, who heads a Boca Raton, Florida-based toy company, likes to joke that he’s about 25 miles from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and he’d love to discuss trade with the president over lunch. For now, he’s watching the news about the trade war, including Trump’s tweets, “like it’s my blood pressure and my cholesterol.”Foreman’s company, Basic Fun!, makes some of America’s most iconic toys under license, including Lincoln Logs and Tonka trucks, and relies on China for 90% of its production. For now, all of his Christmas season merchandise is already in the U.S. tariff, but he’s fretting over the 15% tariffs that may go into effect this month for merchandise crossing the ocean. He expects to have to eventually bump up the price of all his products at least 15%, if not more.“Imagine you have 180 employees and 100 containers that are due to arrive any day for the next three weeks, and dozens and dozens the rest of the year -- and we don’t know if it’s going to cost us 15%, 20%, 25%, because this administration is so unpredictable,” Foreman said on Friday.To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Sasso in Atlanta at msasso9@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sarah McGregor at, Anita SharpeFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Iranian and American freed in apparent prisoner swap

Iranian and American freed in apparent prisoner swapAn Iranian held in the US and an American held in Iran have been freed, the two sides said Saturday, in an apparent prisoner swap at a time of heightened tensions. Tehran announced the release of Iranian scientist Massoud Soleimani from the United States shortly before Washington declared American researcher Xiyue Wang was returning home. "Glad that Professor Massoud Soleimani and Mr. Xiyue Wang will be joining their families shortly," Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted.

US opens first round of resurrected peace talks with Taliban

US opens first round of resurrected peace talks with TalibanU.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad held on Saturday the first official talks with Afghanistan's Taliban since President Donald Trump declared a near-certain peace deal with the insurgents dead in September. The talks will initially focus on getting a Taliban promise to reduce violence, with a permanent cease-fire being the eventual goal, said a U.S. statement. The meetings being held in the Middle Eastern State of Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office, follow several days of talks in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, where Khalilzad met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Green Party manifesto 2019: A summary of key policies

Green Party manifesto 2019: A summary of key policiesThe Green Party has revealed the details of its general election manifesto, titled If Not Now, When? The party has announced 10 new laws that would be ready to be implemented if co-leaders Sian Berry and Jonathan Bartley won an against-the-odds majority on Dec 12. Here is an at-a-glance look at what is in the 89-page manifesto. Environment The manifesto pledges a £100million-per-year investment plan to deliver a Green New Deal over the next 10 years. It would look to totally overhaul the use of fossil fuels by switching transport and industry to renewable energy sources, while upgrading household heating systems and planting 700 million trees within a decade. The party wants to use the measures to create a net-zero carbon economy by 2030. Brexit The pro-European Union party has re-committed itself to a second referendum and to campaign for Remain. It says staying in the bloc would help "lead the fight against the climate emergency". General Election 2019 | Key questions, answered Crime Restorative justice would be expanded to allow those affected by crimes to meet offenders as part of a bid to cut the prison population by 50%. Misogyny would be made a hate crime under a Green-led administration and the personal use of drugs, including some Class A substances, would be de-criminalised. Heroin would be available on prescription and cannabis clubs would be permitted, allowing marijuana to be grown and consumed by adults. Welfare The Greens would introduce a universal basic income, providing every UK citizen with £89 per week in state funding. It would provide a boost to those in work and leave no-one on benefits worse off, according to the manifesto. Health Party leaders have promised to increase funding for the NHS by at least £6 billion each year until 2030 - a 4.5% increase on the 2018/19 budget. Privatisation in the NHS would also be abolished, while mental health care would be put on an "equal footing" with physical care. Education The party pledges to boost education funding by at least £4 billion per year and to lay down a long-term aim of reducing classes to 20 pupils and below. Ofsted would be replaced with a "collaborative system of assessing" schools and a new law would put onus on teaching children about climate change. In higher education, tuition fees would be scrapped and those who paid £9,000 a year to study would have their debt wiped. General election 2019 | Manifestos

Iraqi officials raise toll to 25 killed in Baghdad bloodshed

Iraqi officials raise toll to 25 killed in Baghdad bloodshedIraqi officials said Saturday the casualty toll had risen to 25 dead and 130 wounded after a bloody night of attacks by unknown gunmen that targeted anti-government demonstrators in the capital. Influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the head of parliament's Sairoon bloc, said a drone had targeted his home in the holy city of Najaf on Saturday, according to statements from the political party. The attack Friday was among the deadliest since Oct. 1, when thousands of Iraqis took to the streets calling for sweeping political reforms and the end of Iran's influence in Iraqi affairs.

Lebanon Is Not a Hezbollah State

Lebanon Is Not a Hezbollah State(Bloomberg Opinion) -- On Monday, the Trump administration finally released $105 million in annual aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces that had been appropriated by Congress but, like the more notorious hold on military assistance to Ukraine, was inexplicably delayed by the White House.Better late than never, particularly since the Lebanese military has been protecting protesters in the streets of Beirut and other cities from intimidation by the pro-Iranian militias of Hezbollah and Amal.The Lebanese protests, now coming close to their third month, are a powerful rebuttal to the pernicious notion that all of Lebanon, or even just the Lebanese state, is simply an extension or a tool of Hezbollah, and should be therefore treated as a terrorist entity and pariah.Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese, from all walks of life and throughout the country, have been protesting the entire socioeconomic and political establishment. Their anger isn’t directed primarily against Hezbollah or Iran, but against the entire power structure in the country, which they blame for mismanaging the economy and enriching itself at the expense of the general population.Obviously, this threatens everyone who benefits from the status quo. But the threat to Hezbollah and its allies is particularly severe.Through force and guile, Hezbollah has maneuvered over the decades to maximize its influence in Lebanon, ensuring that it remains the most potent armed force in the country, while minimizing its responsibility for the failures of the state.It poses as a revolutionary group focused on combating Israel and only a small party of the government with a few minor ministries. In reality, it is by far the most powerful force in the country, maintaining its own foreign and defense policies, independent of the Lebanese government.Hezbollah initially pretended to side with the protesters. But its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, quickly changed his tune and decided that the protests were “inauthentic” and manipulated by foreign “hidden hands.”This is because any profound change to the political order in Lebanon must have one of two negative effects for Hezbollah. If the upheaval leads to real change, the group’s leverage can only decrease. Alternatively, if things don’t change, Hezbollah will become increasingly associated in the public mind with the corruption and repression that props up the system that maximizes its influence. Hezbollah’s bluff will be called, and its role exposed. Either outcome is a long-term threat to Hezbollah’s credibility and power.So, the organization has been trying to disrupt the protests through threats and intimidation by goons. Protesters from Shiite communities have been repeatedly filmed “apologizing” to Hezbollah and its leadership, or to the state, for “insulting” them in the demonstrations. This is a familiar strong-arm tactic, in which the gun behind the camera cannot be seen by the viewer but is clearly evident in the expression of the victim. It has also been deployed by the regime in Tehran to try and undermine recent protests in Iran.This is why supporting the Lebanese army is urgent and important. The army is the primary national institution that can serve as a bulwark against thoroughgoing Hezbollah domination. In recent weeks, it has repeatedly intervened on behalf of the demonstrators when they were attacked by gangs of Hezbollah and Amal thugs.It is likely that the original impulse to withhold the congressionally-appropriated U.S. aid to the Lebanese military originated from the wrongheaded notion that Lebanon equals Hezbollah and therefore shouldn’t get any American support. Senator Chris Murphy, who lobbied for the release of the funds, has said that “there is at least one person at the [National Security Council] who wants to punish Lebanon for having a political relationship with Hezbollah.” Given that numerous commentators with close ties to the administration have been pushing for just such a perspective, that’s not surprising.But the protests, and the army’s performance in recent weeks, have shattered this myth.The protests represent the rejection of the sectarian order in Lebanon, and the resurrection of the pre-Civil War vision of Lebanon as a modern, unified nation-state with a national consciousness beyond communalism. That threatens much of the power structure, but it is a mortal danger to Hezbollah and its nefarious state-within-a-state in Lebanon.Everyone interested in combating Hezbollah domination of Lebanon and power in the Middle East ought to take advantage of this opportunity and understand that the Lebanese state isn’t equivalent to Hezbollah. To the contrary, it is the alternative to Hezbollah. As such, it deserves support rather than isolation.To contact the author of this story: Hussein Ibish at hussein.ibish@gmail.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Bobby Ghosh at aghosh73@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Hussein Ibish is a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. For more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

UPDATE 1-Trump, S.Korea's Moon discuss trying to maintain talks with N.Korea

UPDATE 1-Trump, S.Korea's Moon discuss trying to maintain talks with N.KoreaU.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a half-hour phone discussion on ways to maintain diplomacy with North Korea, Seoul said on Saturday, as Pyongyang warns of waning patience with stalled nuclear talks. The two leaders agreed that the situation has become "severe" and that "dialogue momentum should be maintained to achieve prompt results from denuclearisation negotiations," South Korea's presidential Blue House said in a statement.

Lebanon’s journalists suffer abuse, threats covering unrest

Lebanon’s journalists suffer abuse, threats covering unrestLebanese journalists are facing threats and wide-ranging harassment in their work — including verbal insults and physical attacks, even death threats — while reporting on nearly 50 days of anti-government protests, despite Lebanon’s reputation as a haven for free speech in a troubled region. Local media outlets — some of which represent the sectarian interests protesters are looking to overthrow — are now largely seen as pro- or anti-protests, with some journalists feeling pressured to leave their workplaces over disagreements about media coverage. The deteriorating situation for journalists in Lebanon comes despite its decades-old reputation for being an island of free press in the Arab world.

No malarkey: Biden courts Iowans, balances national campaign

No malarkey: Biden courts Iowans, balances national campaignMinutes after Joe Biden met Cathy Buxengard, he commandeered her cellphone to talk with her 99-year-old mother about her service as a World War II nurse and how worried she is about the United States today. Days later, near the end of his eight-day Iowa bus tour that concludes Saturday, the Democratic presidential contender stood alongside the man who, 15 years ago, won the nomination Biden now seeks. “Never has there been a moment more important for a person like Joe Biden to sit behind that desk in the Oval Office,” John Kerry declared.

Trump, Moon Agree Dialogue With North Korea Should Continue

Trump, Moon Agree Dialogue With North Korea Should Continue(Bloomberg) -- U.S. President Donald Trump and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in said talks involving North Korea should continue, referring to the situation on the peninsula as grave.The two leaders spoke by phone for about 30 minutes on Saturday morning in Seoul, in a call that took place at Trump’s request, according to Moon’s spokeswoman Ko Min-jung.“The two leaders acknowledged that the current situation on the Korean Peninsula is serious and agreed that the dialogue momentum aimed at delivering an early accomplishment of the U.S.-North Korea talks for the North’s denuclearization should be maintained,” Ko said in a text message to reporters.The conversation comes amid signs that North Korea may be preparing to conduct engine tests at its long-range rocket launch site, and rising tensions as a war of words between it and the U.S. continues.A satellite image from Thursday showed activity at North Korea’s Sohae Launch Facility, which leader Kim Jong Un had once said he dismantled in a concession to Trump.Earlier this week, Washington and Pyongyang revisited old insults -- “Rocket Man” from Trump and “dotard” from North Korea -- and Pyongyang said Washington’s behavior will determine what “Christmas gift” it gets from Kim.To contact the reporter on this story: Kanga Kong in Seoul at kkong50@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Shamim Adam at, Sungwoo ParkFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Trump, S.Korea's Moon discuss trying to maintain talks with N.Korea

Trump, S.Korea's Moon discuss trying to maintain talks with N.KoreaU.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a half-hour phone discussion on ways to maintain diplomacy with North Korea, Seoul said on Saturday, as Pyongyang warns of waning patience with stalled nuclear talks. The two leaders agreed that the situation has become "severe" and that "dialogue momentum should be maintained to achieve prompt results from denuclearisation negotiations," South Korea's presidential Blue House said in a statement. Tensions are rising ahead of a year-end deadline set by North Korea, which has called on the United States to change its policy of demanding unilateral denuclearisation or leader Kim Jong Un may choose an unspecified "new path".

Trump Holds Off on Labeling Mexican Drug Cartels as Terrorists

Trump Holds Off on Labeling Mexican Drug Cartels as Terrorists(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said he’s holding off -- at least for now -- on a proposal to classify Mexican narcotics cartels as terrorist organizations, adding that he’s doing so as a favor to Mexico’s president.“All necessary work has been completed to declare Mexican Cartels terrorist organizations,” Trump tweeted on Friday night. “Statutorily we are ready to do so.”“However, at the request of a man who I like and respect, and has worked so well with us, President Andres Manuel @LopezObrador we will temporarily hold off this designation and step up our joint efforts to deal decisively with these vicious and ever-growing organizations!”Trump’s Twitter post appeared as talks with Mexico’s government over a new U.S.-Mexico-Canada free-trade agreement had reached a crucial stage.Lopez Obrador’s top trade negotiator, Jesus Seade, remained in Washington on Friday in an attempt to resolve final details with the Trump administration.The Mexican foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, praised Trump’s move. ”On behalf of the Government of Mexico,” he wrote on Twitter, “I appreciate President Donald Trump’s decision to postpone the designation of organizations as terrorists at the request of President López Obrador, who also respects and appreciates him. Cooperation won, and there will be good results.”The proposal to designate the drug crews as terrorist groups emerged amid the outrage over the killing early last month of nine members of a Mormon family with dual American-Mexican citizenship in an attack by cartel gunmen in northern Mexico.Key administration officials are in favor of the policy, according to people familiar with the matter.Under that plan, the State Department would be allowed to designate cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations, putting them in the same category as Islamic State and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.Trump said in a tweet after the attack that it was time “for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels.Trump appeared to refer to Mexico’s drug cartels during a news conference Tuesday in London, where he was attending a NATO summit: “We’ll be looking at other forms of terror. We’ll be looking at other countries. We’ll be looking at countries that are aggressive, and not just one particular part of this world.”(Updates with statement from Mexico’s foreign minister, starting in sixth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Eric Martin.To contact the reporter on this story: John Harney in Washington at jharney2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Shepard at, Kevin Whitelaw, John HarneyFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Climate Change Hangs on China’s Embrace of Markets

Climate Change Hangs on China’s Embrace of Markets(Bloomberg Opinion) -- For all the good intentions of the governments gathered in Madrid, a humbling reality hangs over the latest climate change conference. The effectiveness of what is agreed and done will ultimately stand or fall on the actions of just one country: China.It was the rise of China and to a lesser extent India, with their associated energy demands, that has overwhelmed the emissions reductions chalked up by richer nations. Yet China’s headlong development of renewables has also helped make wind and in particular solar power the lowest-cost generating technologies almost everywhere.Tackling pollution and environmental degradation is one of the “three tough battles” the country must fight alongside financial risks and poverty, President Xi Jinping said in a speech delivered last year. On the other hand, Premier Li Keqiang went out of his way to sing the praises of coal power in a recent meeting of energy bureaucrats.There’s probably no more important uncertainty for the fate of the planet right now than the question of which faction wins out as China develops an energy policy for its 14th Five-Year Plan, which begins in 2021. With as much coal-fired power in the development pipeline as is operating in all of Europe, initial indications don’t look good.Underneath those high-level plans, though, a more positive reality may be unfolding. The one major change to China’s power sector that’s already under way is a switch from a heavily regulated system where prices and generation capacity are mapped out by the government, to a more market-oriented one where the price of electricity is determined by supply and demand and generators compete to provide the lowest cost.Renewable options have some significant advantages. They’re already the cheapest way of building fresh generation across China. In many areas, new onshore wind is lower than the benchmark power price given to existing coal generators, according to Jonathan Luan, an analyst at BloombergNEF. In such places, the most profitable option for utilities could be to switch off thermal power stations and replace them with wind farms. This is by no means a fringe phenomenon: According to Luan’s analysis, regions where new wind currently costs less than the coal benchmark include the prosperous coastal provinces from Liaoning and Hebei in the north down to Guangdong and Guangxi in the south, with the sole exception of the cities of Beijing and Tianjin. Solar wasn’t included in Luan’s province-level analysis, but on a national level its development costs are even lower than wind.Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean coal-fired power stations are going to shut down right away.For one thing, developers don’t just build generators wherever they think they can make a profit. The people who get to decide whether to hold a power auction will typically be local authorities, who may have a vested interest in propping up stations in which they have a stake. Where coal-fired power is loss-making or fully depreciated, renewables may have an opening. Elsewhere, debt-laden governments may prefer to keep existing generators operating if it means they can avoid writing them off, even if the cost to users is higher — unless Beijing forces their hands.There’s another problem. Those benchmark coal prices — the bedrock of electricity pricing in China — may also start moving as China’s power market is deregulated. Many are well above the levels that thermal plants need to turn a profit and should fall over time, squeezing the margin gap for renewables projects.Further complicating matters will be a shift toward prices that aren’t fixed through the day but rise and fall according to the state of demand. That dynamic tends to reduce the profitability of renewables, with traditional solar generation (for instance) flooding the market in the middle of the day and unable to “switch on” to take advantage of profitable periods in the evening when demand is particularly strong.For all the worrying numbers on China’s coal development pipeline, the uncertainty over how this policy shakeup plays out is probably the greater risk to global climate targets. Building more fossil-fired generators won’t result in more emissions unless generators can operate profitably — something that’s happening less than half of the time as it is, judging by the low operating rates of Chinese thermal plants.The bigger problem is that China needs to be building renewables at a blistering rate over the next five years if the world is to avoid more than 2 degrees Celsius of warming. It would mean putting in more than twice as much solar and three times as much wind as was installed over the previous five years. The falling costs of renewables may yet put that outcome within reach, but China’s sclerotic regulatory set-up represents a heavy ball and chain — and there’s no time left to waste.To contact the author of this story: David Fickling at dfickling@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Patrick McDowell at pmcdowell10@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.David Fickling is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities, as well as industrial and consumer companies. He has been a reporter for Bloomberg News, Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the Guardian.For more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Supreme Court keeps federal executions on hold

Supreme Court keeps federal executions on holdThe Supreme Court on Friday blocked the Trump administration from restarting federal executions next week after a 16-year break. The justices denied the administration's plea to undo a lower court ruling in favor of inmates who have been given execution dates. Two more inmates had been given execution dates in January.

Esper sees no immediate need to send more US troops to Gulf

Esper sees no immediate need to send more US troops to GulfDefense Secretary Mark Esper said Friday the Trump administration is keeping a close eye on unrest in Iran and Iraq, but he sees no immediate need to send any substantial number of additional U.S. forces to the region. “Right now we believe we have sufficient capability in the theater to deter what we need to deter,” he told reporters flying with him to California.

Trump Energy Adviser Leaving White House After Ukraine Subpoena

Trump Energy Adviser Leaving White House After Ukraine Subpoena(Bloomberg) -- An international energy adviser to President Donald Trump, who was sought by congressional Democrats as part of their impeachment inquiry, is leaving the White House, according to three people familiar with the matter.Wells Griffith, who has been serving as a senior director for international energy and environment on the National Security Council, is set to join the Overseas Private Investment Corp. next week, said two of the people. All three asked not to be named discussing a personnel issue.The move is part of a broader effort to streamline the National Security Council, with more matters shifted to the National Economic Council, according to two of the people. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien previously outlined his ambitions to pare NSC staff in an October Washington Post opinion piece.Griffith, a former Energy Department official who also worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign, has dealt with an array of international energy matters in his White House role, including sanctions on Iran and Venezuela. Griffith last year also served as the face of the Trump administration at international climate negotiations in Poland, where he was part of a panel touting technology to produce cleaner coal-fired power.Griffith helped broker a deal to export U.S. coal to Ukraine during his tenure at the Energy Department under Trump.Griffith could have a similar portfolio at OPIC, a U.S. government agency that helps finance projects in developing countries. The Trump administration has tried to encourage multilateral development banks and other international lenders to support coal-fired power plants and natural gas.“He played a really big role in defining the president’s foreign energy policy; he’s now in an excellent position to implement it,” said George David Banks, a former international energy adviser to Trump.Griffith last month rebuffed a subpoena from House Democrats to be deposed as part of the inquiry into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, citing White House counsel guidance against participating.\--With assistance from Jennifer Jacobs.To contact the reporters on this story: Jennifer A. Dlouhy in Washington at;Ari Natter in Washington at anatter5@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at, John HarneyFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Senior UK diplomat quits, says she will not 'peddle half-truths' over Brexit

Senior UK diplomat quits, says she will not 'peddle half-truths' over BrexitA senior British diplomat in Washington has resigned, saying she did not want to "peddle half-truths" over Brexit for a government she did not trust, CNN reported on Friday. Britons head to the polls on Dec. 12 for an election which will decide the fate of Britain's exit from the European Union. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservatives have said they will deliver Brexit by the end of January, while the opposition Labour Party, who are trailing in the polls, plans to renegotiate the exit deal and put it to another referendum. Citing a copy of her resignation letter, dated Dec. 3, CNN reported Alexandra Hall Hall, who had been Brexit Counsellor in the British embassy in Washington since 2018, said her position had become "unbearable personally, and untenable professionally". "I have been increasingly dismayed by the way in which our political leaders have tried to deliver Brexit, with reluctance to address honestly, even with our own citizens, the challenges and trade-offs which Brexit involves," she wrote. "It makes our job to promote democracy and the rule of law that much harder, if we are not seen to be upholding these core values at home." A former British ambassador to Georgia who had worked for the foreign office for 33 years, Hall Hall said her decision to quit had nothing to do with being "for or against Brexit, per se". "I am also at a stage in life where I would prefer to do something more rewarding with my time, than peddle half-truths on behalf of a government I do not trust," she wrote. Asked during a televised election debate whether it worried him that a leading British diplomat had made such comments, Johnson said: "I don't know who you're referring to." "What it shows to me is that we need to move on as a country because there are plenty of people who are irreconcilably opposed to Brexit and I think that actually what we should do is respect the will of the people," he added. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed Hall Hall had resigned but a spokeswoman said it would not comment on the detail of an individual's resignation. CNN said Hall Hall's role involved explaining Britain's approach to Brexit to U.S. politicians and that she felt her diplomatic role had been co-opted to deliver messages that were "neither fully honest nor politically impartial". It said she had filed a formal complaint about being asked to convey overtly partisan language on Brexit in Washington.

Lawsuit challenges speedy reviews of asylum claims

Lawsuit challenges speedy reviews of asylum claimsA new effort to speed up initial reviews of asylum claims to within three days denies asylum-seekers rights to consult attorneys, according to the latest legal challenge to the Trump administration's immigration enforcement policies and practices. The federal lawsuit filed in Washington, D.C., challenges fast-track procedures introduced in El Paso, Texas, in early October that U.S. officials say may be expanded to other parts of the U.S. border with Mexico after a trial period. Asylum-seekers are held in a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility with a window of up to about an hour to call family and attorneys, and they have no guarantee of confidentiality, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday.

Boris Johnson Is Heading for a Majority, Labour and Tory Officials Say

Boris Johnson Is Heading for a Majority, Labour and Tory Officials Say(Bloomberg) -- Boris Johnson is heading for a clear victory in next week’s U.K. general election, according to senior officials in both his ruling Conservatives and the main opposition Labour Party.Speaking on condition of anonymity, five senior figures drawn from the two biggest parties said Johnson’s campaign promise to “get Brexit done” is winning ground in Labour heartlands in northern England. The officials are familiar with high-level discussions in their parties about the potential outcome.Johnson Edges Snap Poll After Final Leaders Debate: U.K. VotesThat looks likely to result in a Tory majority of between 20 and 35 seats in the House of Commons, officials from both parties said. All Conservative candidates have pledged to vote for Johnson’s Brexit deal, meaning even a small majority would in theory ensure the U.K. completes its divorce from the European Union by the Jan. 31 deadline.Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn conceded Friday that his personality divides people into those who like him and those who don’t. The Tories have sought to capitalize on that while also trying to minimize the scrutiny Johnson is put under. The prime minister has refused to take his turn in a series of forensic BBC interviews with party leaders, for example.The final televised debate of the campaign did little to change things, with Johnson sticking to his line of focusing on getting Brexit “done,” while sweeping aside questions of detail. Corbyn in reply argued that Johnson couldn’t be trusted. Each accused the other of racism.While the prime minister avoided jokes and maintained message discipline, Corbyn was more willing to discuss ideas, at one stage setting out his objections to free-market capitalism.A YouGov poll afterward found a statistical tie, with 52% saying Johnson had won and 48% giving it to Corbyn, a difference that fell within the margin of error. The Labour leader was viewed as more trustworthy and more in touch with ordinary people, but Johnson was seen as more likable and more prime ministerial.A summary of recent polls puts the Conservatives on 43% of the vote nationally, and Labour on 33%, a gap that has narrowed over the course of the campaign. Corbyn seemed to have done little to change that in the debate.But with just under a week to go before the vote, nothing is certain. While Johnson is winning where he needs to, many voters have not made up their minds and others could still switch, campaign officials said.Johnson triggered the Dec. 12 snap election after months of deadlock over Brexit in parliament, where his Tory party didn’t have a majority. He wanted to force his deal with the European Union into law to ensure the U.K. left the EU by Oct. 31, but lawmakers refused to agree to his fast-track timetable and forced him to request a delay.National PrioritiesThe premier has appealed to voters to give him a majority so he can deliver Brexit -- three and a half years after the referendum -- and move on to the country’s other priorities, including investing in the National Health Service and cutting taxes.It’s a message targeted particularly at voters in the north and center of England, regions which voted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum but which have traditionally heavily backed the Labour Party.Many of these so-called “red wall” seats are now moving to support Johnson’s Tories, according to polling, and to the officials in both main parties, who spoke privately about the contest.While Johnson is on course to triumph next Thursday, small moves in support could make the difference between a result that would deliver a landslide and one which would lead to another hung parliament. That’s because in Britain’s “first past the post” electoral system, the winner takes all in each of 650 electoral districts.Tim Bale, co-director of the Mile End Institute at Queen Mary University of London, said the polls suggest next week’s election will result in a Tory majority. “At the moment it points to a Tory majority,” Bale said in an interview with Bloomberg Radio on Friday. “Corbyn I think has very little time to close that gap.”\--With assistance from Roger Hearing, Sebastian Salek and Joe Mayes.To contact the reporters on this story: Tim Ross in London at;Kitty Donaldson in London at;Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson at, Alex Morales, Thomas PennyFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

'All roads lead to Putin': Impeachment ties Ukraine, Russia

'All roads lead to Putin': Impeachment ties Ukraine, RussiaHouse Democrats are bringing the impeachment focus back to Russia as they draft formal charges against President Donald Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is connecting the dots — “all roads lead to Putin," she says — and making the argument that Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine was not an isolated incident but part of a troubling bond with the Russian president reaching back to special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings on the 2016 election. “This has been going on for 2 1/2 years,” Pelosi said Friday.

Merkel voices 'deep shame' on first visit to Auschwitz

Merkel voices 'deep shame' on first visit to AuschwitzAngela Merkel visited the former Auschwitz Nazi death camp on Friday for the first time as chancellor and said admitting Nazi crimes was a key part of Germany's identity that could combat growing anti-Semitism.

Warning Iran, US slaps sanctions on Iraqi paramilitary leaders

Warning Iran, US slaps sanctions on Iraqi paramilitary leadersThe United States on Friday imposed sanctions on three Iranian-backed Iraqi paramilitary leaders over a deadly crackdown on protests in the country, as it warned Tehran to stay out of its neighbor's affairs. The move comes as President Donald Trump's administration, which considers Iran an arch-enemy, voices alarm at rising attacks on US forces' bases in Iraq blamed on armed Shiite groups backed by Tehran's clerical regime.

Johnson Edges Snap Poll After Final Leaders Debate: U.K. Votes

Johnson Edges Snap Poll After Final Leaders Debate: U.K. Votes(Bloomberg) -- A snap YouGov poll found that Boris Johnson narrowly beat Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn by 52% to 48% as the leaders went head-to-head in the final debate before the Dec. 12 election. The Conservatives still enjoy a healthy lead in national opinion polls.Ahead of the debate, the premier accused Corbyn of trying to “fiddle” the result of the second Brexit referendum the Labour leader wants by allowing European Union nationals to vote. Corbyn in turn said Johnson is misleading voters over the impact of the divorce agreement with Brussels.Must Read: Johnson Is Heading for a Majority, Labour and Tory Officials SayFor more on the election visit ELEC.Key Developments:Corbyn accuses Johnson’s government of misleading voters on the impact of his Brexit dealJohnson-Corbyn debated on BBC TV. A YouGov snap poll gave Johnson a win by 52% to 48%BBC interviewer Andrew Neil attacked Johnson for refusing to be interviewed by him, accusing him of avoiding scrutinyBetting odds show a 71% chance of a Conservative majority, according to LadbrokesYouGov announces it will publish its last polling using the MRP model on Tuesday at 10 p.m.YouGov Snap Poll: Johnson 52%, Corbyn 48% (9:35 p.m.)A snap YouGov poll of 1,322 voters who watched the debate gave a narrow victory to Johnson over Corbyn by 52% to 48% -- the same margin by which Leave won the 2016 Brexit referendum.The voters were asked “Leaving aside your own party preference, who do you think performed best overall in tonight’s debate?” Those who didn’t express a preference were excluded from the published result, which the pollster said should be regarded as a draw as it falls within the margin of error.“The public remains divided on who won the debate, just as with last month’s head-to-head, with most Labour voters thinking Jeremy Corbyn won, most Conservative voters thinking Boris Johnson won, and very few people changing their minds,” YouGov’s Chris Curtis said in a statement. “But given the Conservatives went into this debate in the lead, they will hope the lack of a knockout blow means they can maintain this until voting day.”Johnson and Corbyn Trade Barbs on Racism (9:25 p.m.)Johnson attacked Corbyn over anti-semitism in the Labour Party, saying his unwillingess to stand up for Jewish people was a ‘failure of leadership’.Corbyn defended himself, saying antisemitism is an evil and he does not ever use racist language at any time. He sought to contrast himself with Johnson, who’s come under pressure for past offensive remarks.“A failure of leadership is when you use racist remarks to describe people in other countries and parts of our society,” Corbyn said.Debate Focuses on London Bridge Attack (9:15 p.m.)Boris Johnson said it was “extraordinary and wrong” that terrorist Usman Khan, who killed two people in an attack near London Bridge last week, was out of jail on automatic release, and said his government would change sentencing laws so terrorists serve their full sentences.Corbyn used the topic to criticize Johnson on the criminal justice system, saying police numbers had been cut and the probation and prison services under-funded. “You end up with a breeding ground for all the horrors of the future,” Corbyn said.Johnson contested the point, saying the Tories are putting ‘a huge amount of cash’ into justice, and that is only possible through a strong economy.Leaders Clash Over Capitalism (9:05 p.m.)The two leaders traded blows over their visions for the economy after they were asked about their attitudes to capitalism.Corbyn said democratic socialism “has raised the living standards of the poorest” where it has been pursued around the world and had lifted the U.K. after World War II. “Our labour government will do the same again,” he said.Johnson said he would champion free-market capitalism. “I believe in supporting businesses,” he said and criticized Labour’s economy spokesman John McDonnell, who has said that he wants to foment the overthrow of capitalism.Corbyn hit back that under nine years of Tory government inequality has got worse. “150 billionaires in the county and more people than ever living in poverty,” he said.Leaders Spar Over NHS Privatization (9:00 p.m.)During a lengthy section of the debate on the National Health Service, Jeremy Corbyn pledged to end privatization in the NHS, and repeated his accusations that a Conservative government would allow it to creep into the NHS through a trade deal with U.S. President Donald Trump.Johnson, for his part, rejected the notion as “pure Bermuda triangle stuff” and said “under no circumstances” would his government allow the NHS to be sold off.Corbyn pointed to trade talks between the Tories and Trump’s administration over the past two years, and asked, to applause from the audience, “why did the talks go on for two years? It doesn’t take two years to say no to privatizing the NHS.”Corbyn and Johnson Clash Over Hospitals (8:55 p.m.)Corbyn criticized Johnson’s claim that the Tories would build 40 new hospitals.“He seems to have a problem with the figures,” Corbyn said, saying only six new hospitals are actually proposed under the Conservative plans.Johnson hit back, saying seed funding is in place for new developments, and 40 new hospitals would be in place within 10 years. He also defended his party’s record running the free-to-use service, which he said is admired around the world.“It’s not credible to make those kinds of statements,” Corbyn said of Johnson’s hospital claims. Corbyn said the NHS is at a ‘crisis point’, and his party would invest 40 billion pounds in the service.Johnson and Corbyn Spar Over Brexit Plans (8:45 p.m.)Boris Johnson said Britain would leave the EU by Jan. 31 under a Conservative government, allowing it to do things like “control our immigration system for the first time in a long time” and “improve animal welfare”.Corbyn said he’d give the British people a final say on Brexit within 6 months, and warned that Johnson would not get a trade deal with the EU by the end of 2020, meaning “queues up the M20 in Kent” and “job losses on a huge scale”.“He knows he can’t get a deal quickly with the U.S. because of the way in which the U.S. political system works,” Corbyn said. “He will walk out of the EU into a relationship with nobody, and that’s where the chaos will come”Johnson, Corbyn, Make Opening Pitches (8:35 p.m.)Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn made their opening statements in the BBC head-to-head debate, with both rolling out the platforms they’ve espoused throughout the campaign.Corbyn promised to build a society “with real opportunity for all” which would involve those with the “broadest shoulders” paying a bit more in tax.Johnson, for his part, promised to “unleash” Britain’s potential if granted a parliamentary majority, and stressed the need to avoid a hung parliament, which he said would lead to fresh referendums on Scottish independence and EU membership.Blair Urges Tactical Voting to Stop Johnson (5:45 p.m.)Former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair urged voters “constituency by constituency” to choose the candidate best placed to stop Boris Johnson and give them their support.“Don’t give Boris Johnson a majority, he doesn’t deserve it,” Blair, who said he would be voting Labour, told a rally in central London. “It’s not Brexit that’s getting done, we’re getting done.”The former prime minister said it is “undemocratic” to decide the fate of Brexit through a general election when so many other issues are at stake and said a hung-parliament, in which no party has a majority, would be the best outcome. “Better a parliament that’s hung for want of a majority than a country that’s hung for want of leadership,” he said. “I beg you with all my heart and all my mind, choose wisely.”U.K. Diplomat Quits Over Brexit ‘Half-Truths’ (4:05 p.m.)A senior British diplomat in the U.S. has quit, criticizing the U.K. government over Brexit, CNN reported.Alexandra Hall Hall, the lead envoy for Brexit in the British Embassy in Washington, told colleagues she couldn’t “peddle half-truths” for political leaders she doesn’t trust, CNN reported, citing her letter of resignation.She said her departure was unrelated to Brexit in itself -- but was a reflection of her frustration at how it is being carried out, the network said. A spokeswoman for the foreign office said it would not comment on the details of an individual’s resignation.DUP Lambast Johnson over Northern Irish Impact (2:30 p.m.)The Democratic Unionist Party issued a statement saying the internal Treasury document released by Jeremy Corbyn (see 10:30 a.m.) further proves Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal will damage Northern Ireland. The DUP, which propped up Theresa May’s government, crucially refused to support the prime minister’s deal when he tried to get it through parliament in October.“This latest leak from Her Majesty’s Treasury is further demonstration that the prime minister’s deal would be bad for Northern Ireland,” said Jeffrey Donaldson, the party’s chief whip. “The DUP warned the prime minister about this. Despite his protestations, the facts are in black and white. That is why we opposed the deal in the House of Commons and why Northern Ireland needs the deal changed.”The DUP accused Johnson of selling-out loyalists in Northern Ireland to get his agreement with the EU. The deal “siphons off” the province from the rest of the U.K. by introducing checks on trade across the Irish Sea, the party’s Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson said at the time.Tory Lead Narrows, Corbyn Unpopular: Poll (1:05 p.m.)The Conservatives hold a 12-point lead over Labour, narrowing by four points from two weeks ago, according to the latest Ipsos Mori poll for the Evening Standard newspaper. Support for Johnson’s Conservatives stood unchanged at 44%, while Labour gained four points at 32%.Johnson’s net personal ratings are at -20, lower than Theresa May’s a week before she lost her majority in 2017. But he can take solace from the fact that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s are significantly worse. His net rating is -44, lower than at this stage of the 2017 campaign and the lowest for a major party leader going into an election since records began, according to Ipsos Mori.Tories: Document Released by Corbyn ‘Flash Analysis’ (1 p.m.)The Conservative Party said the Treasury document released by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (see 10:30 a.m.) was produced immediately after Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal was struck with Brussels and represents a “flash analysis” and is “based on a partial reading of the final deal.”The party also said the document has not been seen by either Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid or Johnson. “It is an incomplete analysis,” the party said in an emailed statement.Former Tory PM Major Backs Rebel Candidates (12:45 p.m.)Former Conservative Prime Minister John Major endorsed three former Tory ministers -- David Gauke, Dominic Grieve and Anne Milton -- each of whom disobeyed Johnson over Brexit and are running against the party’s official candidates.“Let me make one thing absolutely clear: none of them has left the Conservative Party, the Conservative Party has left them,” Major said in an emailed statement ahead of an event Friday where he’s expected to appear alongside former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair. “Without such talent on its benches, Parliament will be the poorer, which is why -- if I were resident in any one of their constituencies -- they would have my vote.”Major repeated his call for a second referendum on Brexit. Boris Johnson called Major’s intervention “very sad” during a campaign event in Kent. “I think that he’s wrong and I think he represents a view that is outdated,” he said.Johnson Denies Brexit Means N. Ireland Checks (12 p.m.)Boris Johnson dismissed as “complete nonsense” Labour’s statement that his Brexit deal would mean checks on goods passing between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, though he said he hadn’t read the government document Jeremy Corbyn’s party produced earlier (see 10:30 a.m.) to back up its position.Speaking to journalists at a campaign event in Kent, Johnson said voters should “believe exactly what I say” on Brexit, and repeated his assertion that there would be no checks on goods traveling between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K. -- unless they were destined for the Republic of Ireland.But the Treasury document released by Corbyn matches what government ministers, including Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay, have previously conceded: That some checks will be necessary on goods traveling in both directions.At the event, Johnson attacked Corbyn’s decision not to pick a side in the second Brexit referendum the Labour leader has pledged to hold if he wins the election. He also repeated the line that the divorce deal with Brussels allows the country to leave the EU “as one whole U.K.” It’s a line his former Northern Irish allies, the Democratic Unionist Party, do not agree with.Corbyn Says He’s a ‘Marmite’ Choice for Voters (11 a.m.)Jeremy Corbyn acknowledged he’s a divisive figure among voters, a trait that’s borne out regularly in opinion polls. Following his speech in central London on Friday, he compared himself to Marmite -- a spread made from yeast extract that’s long been sold in the U.K. under the slogan “love it or hate it.”Asked whether he’s turn-off for voters, Corbyn replied: “I think Marmite’s really good for you. Some people like it and some people don’t.”Must Read: Britain’s Brexit Election Is Now a Referendum on Jeremy CorbynCorbyn has the lowest leadership satisfaction rating for any opposition leader since 1977, according to a recent poll by Ipsos Mori. Even some of his allies have commented on the issue. “There have been some reservations about Jeremy on the doorstep, because every single leader of every single political party is not to everyone’s taste,” Labour’s education spokeswoman Angela Rayner told Sky News last month.Labour: Document Shows Threat to N. Ireland (10:30 a.m.)The document presented by Jeremy Corbyn is a Treasury assessment of the economic and political impacts of the Northern Ireland protocol -- the part of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal covering how goods moving across the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain are checked and taxed.According to the document, customs declarations and physical checks will be “highly disruptive” to the Northern Irish economy. The Treasury also says that 98% of Northern Irish exporters to Great Britain are small-to-medium sized enterprises, who are “likely to struggle to bear” the cost of these changes.In terms of imports to Northern Ireland, high street goods are likely to increase in price. Johnson’s deal will constitute “tariff equivalents of 30% on purchases in Northern Ireland,” according to the document.The document also appears to cast further doubt on Johnson’s repeated assertions that his withdrawal agreement takes the U.K. “whole and entire” from the EU. It’s not a new dispute -- the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, which propped up the Tories in government, declined to back the Brexit deal because they said it treats the province differently to the rest of the U.K.The deal “has the potential to separate Northern Ireland in practice from whole swathes of the U.K.’s internal market,” the document reads.Corbyn Says Johnson Hiding Truth on Brexit Deal (10 a.m.)Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn unveiled what he called a confidential government document he said proves that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is hiding the truth about the impact of his Brexit deal on the U.K.In a speech in London, Corbyn said the 15-page document “drives a coach and horses” through Johnson’s claim that there will be no border in the Irish Sea after Brexit and that it was a “great deal” for Northern Ireland. It shows, he said, that the government has admitted there will be customs declarations and security checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of Great Britain.“Johnson’s deal will be disastrous for businesses and jobs across the whole U.K.,” Corbyn said. “And the government’s confidential report confirms this.”Gove Defends Johnson Swerving Neil Interview (9 a.m.)Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove denied that Boris Johnson is avoiding accountability by being the only major party leader not to do a televised interview with BBC journalist Andrew Neil. “The prime minister has done more than 100 interviews during the campaign so far,” Gove told BBC Radio. “It’s an unprecedented amount of scrutiny that the PM has allowed to happen.”Neil himself challenged Johnson to agree to an interview at the end of his grilling of Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage on Thursday. “We have an interview prepared -- oven-ready, as Mr. Johnson likes to say,” he said.Click here for Neil’s monologue.“The theme running through our questions is trust, and why at so many times in his career in politics and journalism, critics and sometimes even those close to him have deemed him to be untrustworthy,” Neil said. “The prime minister of our nation will, at times, have to stand up to President Trump, President Putin, President Xi of China. It was surely not expecting too much that he spend half-an-hour standing up to me.”Labour campaign coordinator Andrew Gwynne sent a complaint to the BBC Thursday, accusing the public broadcaster of being “complicit in giving the Conservative Party an unfair electoral advantage.” He said Labour had arranged party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s interview on the understanding Johnson had agreed the same terms.Johnson has also declined an invitation to be questioned by ITV’s Julie Etchingham as part of her series of leader interviews. ITV said they will run a profile of Johnson featuring archival footage instead.Earlier:Britain’s Brexit Election Is Now a Referendum on Jeremy CorbynU.K. Election Primer: Britain’s Economic Future Held in BalanceThe Big Brexit Bet That Hasn’t Paid Off: Therese Raphael\--With assistance from Thomas Penny, Jessica Shankleman and Greg Ritchie.To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Morales in London at;Joe Mayes in London at jmayes9@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at, Stuart Biggs, Mark WilliamsFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

The Cat Is Back: Shop Baby Phat’s New Collection

The Cat Is Back: Shop Baby Phat’s New CollectionNostalgia never looked so good. Back in March, on International Women’s Day, Kimora Lee Simmons announced that she personally purchased her streetwear label Baby Phat with plans to relaunch come summer. After a teaser collection with Forever21, now, the cat is officially back: Baby Phat’s first drop just went live exclusively on its website.The first collection has 10 to 15 styles, including an updated version of its now-iconic velour tracksuit. In the drops to follow, shoppers can expect windbreakers, oversized hoodies, and knitwear separates. Everything will be priced between $70 and $300. The timing couldn’t be more perfect.“When I created Baby Phat 20 years ago, it was because women – especially women of color – had no voice at all in the streetwear category,” Simmons said. “It’s in our DNA that this brand is created for women, by women – which was rare then and still is today once you really look closely at who truly owns and controls many womenswear brands on the market.”It felt like an organic time to share her big secret during her keynote at the United Nations Women Global Innovator for Change in March. “It’s a personal allegory for ‘look how far we’ve come’ and a reminder to women everywhere to expose young girls to entrepreneurial endeavors and bring them along with you,” Simmons said.Simmons’ daughters, Ming Lee, 19, and Aoki Lee, 16, were also a catalyst for the brand’s return. “I think it’s a huge opportunity to teach by example: to always keep growing and pushing yourself to evolve,” Simmons continued. “Baby Phat is our family business in a lot of ways, and I’m excited for them to participate in a hands-on way to rebuild it alongside me.” She continued: “Our strategy is tied to embracing all the exciting things that have happened in the market so that Ming Lee and Aoki Lee can tell their story to a new generation young women, some of whom may not have even been born during our first go around.”“I think it’s really exciting to see how Baby Phat lives in 2019,” Aoki Lee Simmons said in a press release announcing the launch. “We have this whole online shopping and social media universe that didn’t exist before. From the first day we announced that there was a Baby Phat relaunch in the works, back on International Women’s Day in March, we have had women clamoring for new tracksuits via comments and DMs on Instagram — or begging us to restock our [Forever 21] capsule collab. There’s so much passion and we take all the feedback to heart. We get to interact with Baby Phat fans in a way the brand never got to do before.” Did you hear? Unbothered, the community made by and for Black millennial women, is launching a newsletter hitting your inbox monthly. Join us in celebrating the dopeness of Black womanhood and sign up here.Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Kimora Lee Simmons On The Legacy Of Baby PhatKimora Designed Her Daughter’s Prom DressSolange On Redefining Americana & Black Cowboys

Gunmen in cars kill at least 15 and injure scores more in Baghdad protests

Gunmen in cars kill at least 15 and injure scores more in Baghdad protestsGunmen in cars opened fire on Friday in Baghdad's Khilani Square leaving at least 15 people dead and 60 wounded, Iraqi security and medical officials said. At least two of the dead were policemen. Protesters fearing for their lives ran from the plaza to nearby Tahrir Square and mosques to take cover. It wasn't immediately clear who did the shooting. The attack came as anti-government demonstrators occupied parts of Jumhuriya, Sinak and Ahar bridges in a standoff with security forces. All the bridges lead to or near the heavily-fortified Green Zone, the seat of Iraq's government. "We are under live fire now with electric power cut, the wounded and martyrs are here and the bullets were fired in Sinak Bridge," said one protester, who did not give their name for fear of retaliation. The attack came a day after a string of suspicious stabbing incidents targeting demonstrators left at least 13 wounded in Baghdad's Tahrir Square, the epicenter of Iraq's leaderless protest movement. Those attacks by unknown perpetrators occurred as demonstrators supporting political parties and Iran-backed militias withdrew from the Square . The incidents on Thursday fueled paranoia among protesters, who immediately implemented self security measures to uncover saboteurs within the square. At least 400 people have died since the leaderless uprising shook Iraq on October 1, with thousands of Iraqis taking to the streets in Baghdad and the predominantly Shiite southern Iraq decrying corruption, poor services, lack of jobs and calling for an end to the political system that was imposed after the 2003 U.S. invasion. Security forces dispersed crowds with live fire, tear gas and sonic bombs, leading to fatalities. Pressure from the protests, now in its third month, lead to the resignation of Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi last week following Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's calls for parliament to withdraw its support for his government. Earlier on Friday, Iraq's highest Shiite religious authority called for the formation of a new government within the allotted deadline, and without foreign interference, as the clock ticks down on lawmakers to select a new premier. Thousands of anti-government protesters from across southern Iraq had joined demonstrators in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the protest movement in the capital, hours after the sermon, according to security officials. "We hope the head of the new government and it's members are chosen within the constitutional deadline and according to the aspirations of the people and away from outside influence," the Grand Ayatollah said in his weekly Friday sermon in the holy city of Najaf. The sermon is always delivered by a representative. He added that the Shiite religious establishment would not take part in the government formation process. Parliament had 15 days since his stepping down was formally recognized by lawmakers last Sunday to name a new nominee, per the constitution. Since the US invasion of 2003, government formation in Iraq has been based on brokering consensus among political factions and their foreign allies, primarily the U.S. and Iran. President Barham Salih launched talks immediately after Abdul-Mahdi's resignation by making rounds with different political blocs. Iranian General Qassim Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force and the architect of its regional security apparatus, also came to Baghdad to meet with key officials. Lawmakers made headway in passing a key reform bill to change the membership of Iraq's controversial Independent High Electoral Commission, the body tasked with overseeing polls, in a session Thursday night. Anti-government protesters consider IHEC a corrupt and partisan institution and its commissioners working in favor of political parties. The new law seeks to select commissioners primarily from the judiciary. Protesters are also calling for early elections and reforms to have a greater influence in electing their representatives. Al-Sistani, Iraq's most powerful religious figure whose opinion holds sway over Iraqis, also said peaceful protesters should increase their ranks and push out saboteurs, while respecting the role of the "indispensable" security forces. Following the sermon, thousands of protesters traveled to Baghdad from across southern Iraqi provinces and marched on Tahrir Square, including from Dhi Qar, Diwanieh, Karbala, Najaf, Babylon and Missan, security officials said, chanting the slogan "Sistani, we are his soldiers." Security officials requested anonymity in line with regulations.

Nikki Haley claims Dylann Roof 'hijacked' the 'heritage' of the Confederate flag in church massacre

Nikki Haley claims Dylann Roof 'hijacked' the 'heritage' of the Confederate flag in church massacreNikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said that white supremacist Dylann Roof “hijacked” the Confederate flag by carrying out a mass killing of African-Americans in a Charleston, S.C., church in 2015.

Nikki Haley claims otherwise innocuous Confederate flag was 'hijacked' by killer

Nikki Haley claims otherwise innocuous Confederate flag was 'hijacked' by killer* Critics call Dylann Roof’s acts ‘completely consistent’ with flag * Haley: battle flag represented ‘service and sacrifice and heritage’The former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley faced a storm of criticism on Friday after she said the Confederate battle flag represented “service and sacrifice and heritage” before it was “hijacked” by Dylann Roof, the gunman who killed nine African American people in a Bible study class in Charleston in June 2015.“Nonsense,” the civil war historian Kevin M Levin wrote on Twitter. “Tell that to the white men who in 1920 forced a young African American man to kiss a Confederate flag before they lynched him.”The Confederate soldiers who fought under the flag during the civil war of 1861-65 fought to preserve slavery and white supremacy. South Carolina was the first state to secede from the union over the issue, in December 1860, and the first shots of the war were fired in the state in April the following year.“Roof’s actions,” said the Atlantic writer Adam Serwer, “were completely consistent with the cause of that flag and all the ‘service, sacrifice and heritage’ associated with it. The Confederate flag represents treason in defence of human bondage and white supremacy, it always has, and always will.”Roof’s manifesto and pictures of him posing with the flag were revealed on a website after the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston on 17 June 2015.As the Guardian reported at the time: “Under a section entitled ‘An Explanation’, the website appears to allude to the forthcoming massacre.“‘I have no choice,’ it states. ‘I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is [the] most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country.’”The website also contained “what appears to be a manifesto filled with racist diatribe about blacks, Jews and Hispanics”.Haley, a Republican and Donald Trump’s first ambassador to the United Nations, was speaking to Glenn Beck, host of the rightwing website and podcast The Blaze.Haley has released a book, With All Due Respect, and has been widely touted as either a replacement for Vice-President Mike Pence on the 2020 ticket or a Republican presidential candidate herself. Her conversation with Beck was due to be broadcast in full on Saturday.“South Carolina fell to our knees when this happened,” Haley told Beck. “This is one of the oldest African American churches. These … people were amazing people, they loved their church, they loved their family, they loved their community.“And here is this guy that comes out with this manifesto, holding the Confederate flag, and had just hijacked everything that people thought of.“We don’t have hateful people in South Carolina,” Haley claimed. “There’s always the small minority that’s always gonna be there but people saw [the flag] as service and sacrifice and heritage, but once he did that there was no way to overcome it.”At the time of the Charleston shooting, Beck himself said flying “the Confederate flag makes no sense whatsoever” and there were “no ifs, and, or buts” that slavery was the central issue of the civil war.Haley was defended by Bakari Sellers, an African American Democratic politician from South Carolina, who wrote that though “Twitter will hate me for this. I know Nikki Haley and believe she misspoke. She knows the pain associated with the flag.”But Haley makes similar claims in her book, saying Roof “robbed the good-intentioned South Carolinians who supported the flag of this symbol of heritage and service” and saying she “worried that allowing the killer to define what the flag represented for everyone was a surrender”.Haley eventually presided over the removal of the flag from the South Carolina capitol, after protests and attempts to tear it down.On Friday, Levin said she should not “push this painful history under the rug for political purposes. In the end, you did the right thing by calling for the removal of the flag in 2015, but this dishonours the memory of the Charleston Nine.”Haley also told Beck she resisted the politicisation of the shooting.“The national media came in droves,” she said. “They wanted to define what happened, they wanted to make this about racism, they wanted to make it about gun control, they wanted to make it about [the] death penalty.“And I really pushed off the national media and said: ‘There will be a time and place where we talk about this but it is not now, we’re gonna get through the funerals, we’re gonna respect them and then we will have that conversation.’“And we had a really tough few weeks of debate but we didn’t have riots, we had vigils. We didn’t have protests, we had hugs. And the people of South Carolina stepped up and showed the world what it is to have grace and strength in the eyes of tragedy.”In a tweet on Friday, Haley linked to a transcript of her remarks on the flag in 2015 and said it “was a painful time for our state. The pain was and is still real. Below was my call for the removal of the Confederate flag & I stand by it. I continue to be proud of the people of SC and how we turned the hate of a killer into the love for each other.”She also retweeted defences of her remarks to Beck.Roof remains in prison, having been sentenced to death.

'This is about Russia': Trump impeachment inquiry leaves 'roads to Putin' untravelled

'This is about Russia': Trump impeachment inquiry leaves 'roads to Putin' untravelledShortly after her Thursday morning announcement that the process of drafting articles of impeachment against president Donald Trump would commence, House speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Mr Trump’s withholding of military aid to Ukraine was yet another instance of his taking actions that ultimately benefit the interests of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.“This isn’t about Ukraine. This is about Russia. Who benefited by our withholding that military assistance? Russia,” Ms Pelosi said. “All roads lead to Putin. Understand that.”