Brexit Boris Johnson Prime Minister

Brexit Boris Johnson Prime Minister

Brexit Boris Johnson Prime Minister: EU countries have agreed to “intensify” Brexit talks with the UK over the next few days.

The development comes after a meeting in Brussels between Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, described by both sides as “constructive”.

But UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was “a way to go” before a deal could be reached.

The UK is due to leave the EU at 23:00 GMT on 31 October.

A European leaders’ summit next week is seen as the last chance to agree a deal before that deadline.

Mr Johnson put forward revised proposals for a deal last week, designed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit.

Speaking on Friday, he said there was not “a done deal”, adding: “The best thing we can do now is let our negotiators get on with it.”
In a statement, the European Commission said: “The EU and the UK have agreed to intensify discussions over the coming days.”

BBC Brussels correspondent Adam Fleming said that, although there would be a “measure of confidentiality”, EU states would still be briefed on any developments.

In Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron was asked if there was hope of a deal, replying: “Let’s wait for the next few hours.”

Meanwhile, the pound rose to a three-month high against other major currencies, amid increased investor optimism over an agreement. Full Story

Nobel Peace Prize: Ethiopia PM Abiy Ahmed wins

The 2019 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who made peace last year with bitter foe Eritrea.

He was awarded the prize for his efforts to “achieve peace and international cooperation”.

Mr Abiy’s peace deal with Eritrea ended a 20-year military stalemate following their 1998-2000 border war.

He was named as the winner of the 100th Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, where he will receive the award in December. Full Story

 

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Ebola Congo: Ebola virus now squeezed into ‘corner’

Ebola Congo: Ebola virus

Ebola Congo: Efforts to halt an Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo have made “significant progress”, with the virus now contained to a far smaller and mainly rural area, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday.
“We have put the virus in the corner,” Michael Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, told reporters in Geneva.

“I believe we have really squeezed the virus into a much smaller geographical area,” he said.

Ebola is now essentially only transmitting within an area of eastern DRC between Mambasa, Komanda, Mandima and Beni, he said.

DRC’s latest Ebola epidemic, which began in August 2018, has killed 2,144 people, making it the second deadliest outbreak of the virus, after the West Africa pandemic of 2014-2016.

At the height of the latest outbreak, 207 “health zones” were affected by Ebola, a figure that now stands at only 27, Ryan said.

But he stressed that despite a “much lower level of transmission”, the danger was not over.

“The fact that it is a smaller space is positive, but … the disease has moved into more rural and more insecure areas,” he warned.

Ebola fighters have been hindered by militia attacks in eastern DRC, as well as by resistance in communities to some of the methods used to rein in the virus.

‘Kill the virus’

“Containing a virus is a different prospect than to eliminate that virus from human populations,” Ryan said. Full Story

Ukraine president: ‘No blackmail’ in conversation with Trump

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s president insisted Thursday that he faced “no blackmail” from President Donald Trump in their phone call that helped spark an impeachment inquiry, distancing himself from the U.S. political drama and trying to claw back his own credibility. Full Story

GM workers worry about paying bills as strike continues

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Nearly four weeks into the United Auto Workers’ strike against General Motors, employees are starting to feel the pinch of going without their regular paychecks.

They’re scaling back at the grocery, giving up on eating at restaurants and some are taking on part-time jobs while trying to get by on weekly strike pay of $250. Full Story

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Turkey Syria offensive: Heavy fighting on second day of assault

Turkey Syria problems

Turkey Syria offensive

Turkey Syria: Turkish forces are stepping up air strikes and a ground offensive, as their incursion into Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria enters a second day.

Turkey’s military said it had seized designated targets. There are reports of heavy fighting in the central border region, and seven civilian deaths.

Tens of thousands of people are reported to be leaving their homes.

The assault on Kurdish-led forces, key US allies, follows US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops.

Turkey says it wants to create a “safe zone” on the border for many of the Syrian refugees on its territory.

On Thursday President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to send the refugees to Europe instead if it characterised the Turkish offensive as an occupation.

Many in the US, including some of Mr Trump’s Republican allies, saw the withdrawal of troops as effectively giving a green light for the Turkish offensive, although Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday denied that was the case.

Could Turkish offensive unleash IS threat?
But Mr Trump told a news conference the Turks and Kurds had “been fighting each other for centuries”, and said that Kurdish fighters “didn’t help us in the Second World War, they didn’t help us with [the D-Day landings in] Normandy”.
The United Nations Security Council is due to discuss the offensive on Thursday at the request of its current five EU members – the UK, France, Germany, Belgium and Poland. Full Story

 

Will ‘Super Saturday’ be a decisive Brexit moment?

Not the EU summit, not the prime minister’s deadline, but what might be a decisive day in the immediate aftermath, already being joked about as Super Saturday.

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, in the unlikely event that there is a deal with the EU (progress check, still unlikely but not completely impossible) then the 19 October had been pencilled in as the day when Parliament would be asked to approve the arrangement the prime minister had brokered. Full Story

 

How to holyday like the Soviet elite?

The Russian RivieraBefore the fall of the USSR, Tskaltubo, a small resort town in west-central Georgia, was one of the most popular holiday destinations among Soviet elites, who flocked here to visit the grand sanatoriums with their spas and restorative waters.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, however, vacationers stopped arriving, the sanatoriums shut down and the impressive buildings fell into disrepair. For years, the town survived on a trickle of visitors coming to explore the ruins. Today Tskaltubo is finally experiencing a renaissance: as tourism surges in Georgia, investors are buying the ruins and renovating these amazing spaces, allowing visitors to once again relax like Russian royalty. Full Story

 

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Tax Returns Donald Trump

tax returns donald trump

Tax Returns Donald Trump: A judge has ordered US President Donald Trump to hand over eight years of his tax returns to a New York state criminal investigation.

The judge rejected arguments by the president’s lawyers that total immunity protects him while in office.

Mr Trump is the only presidential candidate since the 1960s apart from Gerald Ford not to release tax returns.

The ruling helps an investigation into hush money paid to two women who claim they had affairs with Mr Trump.

In his 75-page decision on Monday, Judge Victor Marrero said he could not allow a “categorical and limitless assertion of presidential immunity from judicial process”.

“The only thing truly absolute about presidential immunity from criminal process is the Constitution’s silence about the existence and contours of such an exemption,” he wrote.

Judge Marrero concluded that the president’s argument, at its core, was “repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values”.

Mr Trump’s lawyers immediately filed an emergency appeal with a higher court.

The president tweeted about the ruling on Monday, claiming that Democrats were “pushing local New York City and State Democrat prosecutors to go get President Trump”.

What’s the background?
The investigation concerns hush money payments made by Mr Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen to two women – adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who allege affairs with Mr Trump, which he denies. Full Story

 

Turkey-Syria border: Kurds bitter as US troops withdraw

US troops have begun withdrawing from positions in northern Syria, paving the way for a Turkish operation against Kurdish fighters in the border area.

Kurdish-led forces have until now been a key US ally in Syria, where they helped defeat the Islamic State group, but Turkey regards them as terrorists.

The main Kurdish-led group called the surprise US move a “stab in the back”. Full Story

 

Allyson Felix: World Athletics Championships record-breaker on life-changing year

Becoming the most successful athlete in World Championships history – as she did in Doha – would once have been all-consuming for Allyson Felix. The past 12 months have changed her beyond measure.

Having a baby has also given birth to the activist hidden inside her. Felix is no longer a willing participant in the “culture of silence” around maternity rights in elite athletics. She has found her voice. Full Story

 

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Banking system: Why is the Fed pumping money?

Banking system: Why is the Fed pumping money?

The US central bank has pumped more than $200bn (£160bn) into the banking system  this week – the first time there’s been such an intervention since 2008.

The Federal Reserve’s aim was to stabilise what is usually a calm part of the market.

Interest rates in the so-called “repo market” had shot up to 10% in some cases – although the cost of borrowing in that market more typically hovers around the benchmark rate set by the Fed – around 2%.

So what happened and should we worry?

First things first: what’s the repo market?
Banks, hedge funds and other players borrow money regularly on a short-term basis to ensure their books are in order, no matter what their daily activities.

The borrowers typically offer government bonds or other high quality assets as collateral, which they repurchase, plus interest, when they repay the loan – often the next day.

Those repurchase agreements give the repo market its name.

What happened this week?
This is a huge market, with some $3tn changing hands each day, according to the US Office of Financial Research.

Under normal conditions, interest rates in the repo market are low, since the loans are considered safe and there’s plenty of cash on hand.

But this week the cost of borrowing shot up – toward 10% in some cases. And the rate at which banks lend to each other – the Fed’s benchmark – exceeded 2.25%, the top of its desired range. Full Story

 

Climate strike: What US children are sacrificing for the cause

Young people poured on to the streets of cities across the world on Friday, to try to force political leaders to act over climate change.

But they aren’t just leaving it to the politicians – in New York City, activists explained what they were doing in their own lives to help. Full Story

 

Walmart ceases e-cigarette sales

Walmart has said it will no longer sell e-cigarettes in the US, amid mounting calls to ban the products entirely.

The retailer said its decision was due to “uncertainty” about the rules governing e-cigarettes, which US health authorities have linked to more than 500 cases of lung injury.

US President Donald Trump last week said the US would prohibit sales of all flavoured e-cigarettes. Full Story

 

Justin Trudeau: Canada PM seeks to put blackface scandal behind him

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has sought to put the blackface scandal behind him with an announcement on gun control as he seeks re-election.

Flanked by cabinet ministers he said his party would ban military-style assault rifles if they win next month.

His campaign went into damage control on Wednesday night following the publication of a photo of Mr Trudeau wearing brownface at a costume gala. Full Story

 

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Brexit Boris Johnson prime minister ‘s 12 December election

Brexit Boris Johnson prime minister

Brexit Boris Johnson prime minister ‘s 12 December election plan has cleared its first hurdle as MPs backed it.

They are continuing to debate and will vote later on amendments, including a Labour proposal to change the date to 9 December.

The prime minister can only hold an election with the support of MPs – who have blocked it three times.

Efforts by opposition MPs to lower the voting age to 16 and allow EU nationals to take part have failed.

Proposed changes to the PM’s early election bill to extend voting rights were not selected for debate by the Deputy Speaker despite enjoying cross-party support.
It removes one major potential obstacle to a pre-Christmas poll as No 10 had said it would abandon the legislation needed for it if the franchise was altered at such a late stage.

One proposed change that will be considered is a call by Labour – backed by the other opposition parties – to hold the poll three days earlier on 9 December.

This, they argue, would ensure that university students are more likely to be able to take part because it would still be in term time.

MPs will vote on this amendment and one calling for the poll to be pushed back to 20 May before being asked to give their final approval to a 12 December poll at about 20:00 GMT. Full Story

 

Boeing accused of putting profit before safety by Senators

US lawmakers have accused Boeing of engaging in a “pattern of deliberate concealment” as it sought approval for its 737 Max 8 plane to fly.

The accusation came as Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg was quizzed by the Senate Commerce Committee.

Senators said they had serious concerns that Boeing put profits over safety as it rushed to get clearance. Full Story

 

Philippines hit by deadly earthquake in south

The death toll from an earthquake in the southern Philippines has risen to seven, officials said, with many more injured.

The victims included a seven-year-old boy and his 44-year-old father who died after they were struck by a boulder, officials told the Reuters news agency. Full Story

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Area 51: Storming of secretive Nevada base

Area 51: Storming of secretive Nevada base

Fears that thousands of people could storm Area 51 on Friday were unfounded, with just several dozen arriving at the secretive US military base.

Millions had responded to a Facebook post in June calling for people to raid the facility in Nevada on 20 September to “see them aliens”.

But nobody attempted to enter the site and only one person was arrested – for urinating near the gate.

Area 51 has long been rumoured to house secrets about extraterrestrial life.
Why are people talking about Area 51?
In June, Matty Roberts, a student from California, posted a tongue-in-cheek Facebook event inviting people to charge at the base in large enough numbers to bypass security.

Within days of its launch, the event became a viral sensation, making headlines across the world. More than three million people expressed an interest in taking part.
The US Air Force warned that Area 51 was “an open training range for the US Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces”.

What happened on Friday?
Not a lot.

Despite much anticipation surrounding the event, only around 75 people turned up at the front gate and nobody attempted to enter.

The only person to be arrested was a man caught urinating near the entrance and a woman was detained for an undisclosed reason, Associated Press reported.
The “raid” was more of a small-scale celebration, with enthusiasts dressing up and holding placards. Full Story

 

Saudi Arabia oil attacks: US to send troops to Saudi Arabia

The US has announced plans to send forces to Saudi Arabia in the wake of attacks against the country’s oil infrastructure.

Secretary of Defence Mark Esper told reporters the deployment would be “defensive in nature”. Total troop numbers have not yet been decided.

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels have said they were behind the attacks against two oil facilities last week. Full Story

 

Climate protests: Marches worldwide against global warming

Millions of people around the world held a global climate strike on Friday, inspired by activist Greta Thunberg.

Protesters across continents waved placards and chanted slogans in what could be the biggest ever demonstration over global warming caused by humans.

“Our house is on fire”, Ms Thunberg said at a rally. “We will not just stand aside and watch.”

The day began in the Pacific and Asia and culminated in a massive demonstration in New York. Full Story

 

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Politics and Technology

politics and technology

China speeds ahead of U.S. as quantum race escalates, worrying scientists

U.S. and other Western scientists voice awe, and even alarm, at China’s quickening advances and spending on quantum communications and computing, revolutionary technologies that could give a huge military and commercial advantage to the nation that conquers them. The concerns echo — although to a lesser degree — the shock in the West six decades ago when the Soviets launched the Sputnik satellite, sparking a space race. In quick succession, China in recent months has utilized a quantum satellite to transmit ultra-secure data, inaugurated a 1,243-mile quantum link between Shanghai and Beijing, and announced a $10 billion quantum computing center. “To me, what is alarming is the level of coordination of what they’ve done,” said Christopher Monroe, a physicist and pioneer in quantum communication at the University of Maryland. Full Story

Another confirmation that China is destined to be new the powerhouse and will probably hold this title for over 100 years after it moves to the top spot. China has focussed on developing trade; their second focus has been their military as they are primarily merchants at heart. They are going to win this battle for one reason; at the end of the day, they are going to have the biggest purse. As the saying goes “money talks and BS walks.

 

Xi Tells Zuckerberg and Cook China’s Set for ‘Unprecedented’ Reform

Chinese President Xi Jinping used a meeting with Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg and Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook to announce that his nation is embarking on reform with “unprecedented determination and vigor.”

Less than a week into his second five-year term at the helm of the world’s second-largest economy, Xi’s remarks may underscore a shift toward loosening of restrictions on doing business in China. The nation is “willing to work with the U.S.,” Xi said, according to an official Xinhua report, adding that he’s looking forward to President Donald Trump’s visit next week.

Though use of Facebook’s social networking platform is blocked in China, the leadership from Xi down have increased pledges to open up to foreign companies across the economy. Xi was speaking at an event with overseas members of the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management advisory board on Monday.

“China is willing to work with the US, to take a long-term perspective, care for each other’s mutual interests, and appropriately handle disagreements and contradictions,” Xi said. “We have an optimistic attitude toward the prospects for China-U.S. relations.” Full Story

This is the trend we have been speaking off for a while and which we just addressed in the last interim update. Asia led by China will move and more towards the direction of free markets and freedom, while the US will and the West will seek to restrain the populace.

The New Silk Road will go through Syria

Take what happened this past Sunday in Beijing. The China-Arab Exchange Association and the Syrian Embassy organized a Syria Day Expo crammed with hundreds of Chinese specialists in infrastructure investment. It was a sort of mini-gathering of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), billed as “The First Project Matchmaking Fair for Syria Reconstruction”.

And there will be serious follow-ups: a Syria Reconstruction Expo; the 59th Damascus International Fair next month, where around 30 Arab and foreign nations will be represented; and the China-Arab States Expo in Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui province, in September.

Amid the proverbial doom and gloom pervading all things Syria, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune sometimes yield, well, good fortune.

Take what happened this past Sunday in Beijing. The China-Arab Exchange Association and the Syrian Embassy organized a Syria Day Expo crammed with hundreds of Chinese specialists in infrastructure investment. It was a sort of mini-gathering of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), billed as “The First Project Matchmaking Fair for Syria Reconstruction”.

And there will be serious follow-ups: a Syria Reconstruction Expo; the 59th Damascus International Fair next month, where around 30 Arab and foreign nations will be represented; and the China-Arab States Expo in Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui province, in September.

Qin Yong, deputy chairman of the China-Arab Exchange Association, announced that Beijing plans to invest $2 billion in an industrial park in Syria for 150 Chinese companies.

Nothing would make more sense. Before the tragic Syrian proxy war, Syrian merchants were already incredibly active in the small-goods Silk Road between Yiwu and the Levant. The Chinese don’t forget that Syria controlled overland access to both Europe and Africa in ancient Silk Road times when, after the desert crossing via Palmyra, goods reached the Mediterranean on their way to Rome. After the demise of Palmyra, a secondary road followed the Euphrates upstream and then through Aleppo and Antioch.

Beijing always plans years ahead. And the government in Damascus is implicated at the highest levels. So, it’s not an accident that Syrian Ambassador to China Imad Moustapha had to come up with the clincher: China, Russia and Iran will have priority over anyone else for all infrastructure investment and reconstruction projects when the war is over. Full Story

Read this story in Detail for it provides some of the reasons of why America has lost its place in the Middle East and why Syria was Russia’s red line in the sand.  Most importantly, it reveals how strong the relationship between China and Russia is and why these two nations are set to dominate the world stage for decades to come.

 

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Elizabeth Warren nabs 2020 backing of Iowa’s state treasurer

Elizabeth Warren

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has announced the endorsement of one of Iowa’s last two uncommitted Democratic elected officials, state Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald.

“She’s the one I think can address the biggest problems we have, and that is the hollowing out of the middle class,” Fitzgerald said in an interview with The Associated Press. “She’s clear, you understand her message, and I want her fighting for me and all of us.”

Fitzgerald was an early supporter of then-Sen. Barack Obama, who went on to win the presidency. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller also supported Obama but is endorsing Montana Gov. Steve Bullock for 2020. Iowa’s last remaining uncommitted statewide elected Democrat is Auditor Rob Sand.

Asked what stood out about Warren in a field of Democrats often aligned on key issues, Fitzgerald declared that Warren “is a Democrat, she is a capitalist, and she wants to make our system work.” He said he’d do whatever the Warren campaign needed to help her win the caucuses.

Warren’s organization is seen as one of the strongest in Iowa, but compared with the other top-tier contenders in the field Warren has been relatively slow to roll out endorsements in the state. After a trickle of endorsement announcements, her first major haul of supporters in Iowa came out just last week, after her strong performance in the primary debate in Houston.

Fitzgerald marks Warren’s 25th Iowa endorsement and her sixth endorsement from an Iowa elected official. Full Story

 

Jimmy Carter says he couldn’t have managed presidency at 80

ATLANTA (AP) — Weeks shy of his 95th birthday, former President Jimmy Carter said he doesn’t believe he could have managed the most powerful office in the world at 80 years old.

Carter, who earlier this year became the longest-lived chief executive in American history, didn’t tie his comments to any of his fellow Democrats running for president in 2020, but two leading candidates, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, would turn 80 during their terms if elected. Full Story

 

Sri Lankan doctors strike over salary ‘injustice’

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Doctors at state-run hospitals across Sri Lanka began a 24-hour strike on Wednesday, demanding that the government resolve what they say is a salary “injustice.”

Two years ago, the government gave an unusually high salary increase to legal officers in the government sector, creating what Dr. Haritha Aluthge, secretary of the Government Medical Officers Association, called “a severe injustice to doctors and other professionals.” Full Story

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Brexit news: Talks ‘should not be a pretence’ warns Barnier

Brexit news: Talks 'should not be a pretence' warns Barnier

Brexit news: The UK and EU “should not pretend to be negotiating” a Brexit  deal if there are no new proposals on the table, the EU’s chief negotiator has said.

Michel Barnier said the UK telling the EU what it does not like about the current agreement was “not enough”.

He cast doubt on two ideas put forward by the UK – a single all-Ireland zone for agriculture and livestock and a Northern Irish veto over EU rules.

Boris Johnson has said there is a “landing zone” for an agreement.

He has said a deal is possible at a crucial summit of EU leaders on 17 October – although ministers have said they are reluctant to reveal the details of new proposals in advance for fear they will be “rubbished” by the EU.
Mr Johnson has insisted he will not accept a further delay beyond 31 October despite MPs passing a law requiring him to seek an extension if there is no deal by 19 October.

After meeting Mr Barnier and Mr Juncker in Luxembourg on Monday, Mr Johnson said the process of trying to get a deal on the terms of exit would be accelerated.

‘Not enough’
Briefing the European Parliament, Mr Juncker said the lunch had been “friendly and constructive” but there had been no progress on the main sticking point – the UK’s demand that the Northern Irish backstop should be removed from the current agreement. Full Story

 

Live facial recognition surveillance ‘must stop’

UK police and companies must stop using live facial recognition for public surveillance, politicians and campaigners have said.

The technology allows faces captured on CCTV to be checked in real time against watch lists, often compiled by police.

Privacy campaigners say it is inaccurate, intrusive and infringes on an individual’s right to privacy. Full Story

 

Inside Afghanistan’s ‘no-man’s land’

Earlier this year the UN released data showing that more civilians were killed by allies than insurgents in Afghanistan.

The BBC has gained incredibly rare access to Taliban-controlled territory, in Faryab province, to meet those civilians most at risk. Full Story

 

Israel election: Netanyahu and rival headed for deadlock

Unofficial results in Israel’s second election in five months suggest it is too close to call, Israeli media say.

Incumbent PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s party and that of his main challenger, Benny Gantz, are neck and neck with 32 seats each, the Kan public broadcaster says.

A prime minister needs to command a 61-seat majority in parliament. The smaller Yisrael Beiteinu party appears to hold the balance of power.

Official partial results are expected on Wednesday morning. Full Story

 

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