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  • Pompeo is being sued for records of Trump’s meetings with Putin. A judge will hear the case.

    Pompeo is being sued for records of Trump’s meetings with Putin. A judge will hear the case.Mike Pompeo is being sued over allegedly failing to preserve official notes of Donald Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin. A judge ruled the case can move forward.


  • Turkey and Russia Judged Bigger Risk Than Islamic State for U.S. Troops in Syria

    Turkey and Russia Judged Bigger Risk Than Islamic State for U.S. Troops in SyriaWASHINGTON -- The Trump administration's rapidly shifting strategy in northern Syria has U.S. commanders there scrambling to protect their forces from an expected surge in actions by military units from Turkey, Russia, Iran and the Syrian government, as well as their proxy forces, according to Defense Department officials. U.S. commanders now see these armed groups as a greater danger than the Islamic State forces they were sent to fight.Commanders have requested guidance outlining how U.S. forces might deal with an attack from the assortment of armed groups, including Russian-backed Syrian government forces, that have, in the past, tried to seize territory held by the United States. But they have received muddled direction from the Pentagon, two Defense Department officials said.For now, the U.S. command heavily relies on the instincts of junior commanders on the ground, cautionary phone calls to officials from Russia and Turkey and overhead surveillance -- susceptible to failure in poor weather -- to help avoid close encounters with other forces in the Euphrates River Valley, where most U.S. troops are based."These forces are at risk without a clear understanding of what they are expected to achieve, and without the political support of their nation, if or more likely when, one of these American adversaries decided to attack them," said Jennifer Cafarella, the research director for the Institute for the Study of War in Washington. "These guys are deployed in one of the most risky, complex and rapidly evolving environments on the planet."These concerns are the result of President Donald Trump's order to withdraw 1,000 U.S. troops from the country, amid Turkey's invasion of northern Syria in October. Weeks later, Trump approved the Pentagon's plan to leave roughly 500 troops behind at several outposts around the city Deir el-Zour to go after the Islamic State, often known as ISIS.Though Trump said the U.S. presence there is "to protect the oil," the reality is that the Americans are continuing their earlier mission of pursuing remnants of the Islamic State, military officials say. The Americans continue to operate alongside allies in the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.As U.S. forces pulled back in early October, a U.S. military document circulated to forces in the region, warned of the coming difficulties. "Complexity" surrounding U.S. forces in northern Syria "has only increased in recent weeks as multiple opposing groups and actors have gradually increased their forces in surrounding areas," said the document, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times. The warning was part of a flurry of situation reports, maps and communiques outlining the movements of Russian military forces around the Syrian city of Manbij and the start of Turkey's military operation along the Syria-Turkey border.Before Turkish-backed forces entered the area in northern Syria previously held by U.S. troops, the American and Russian militaries were responsible for coordinating military operations in that part of the country, and had done so for three years. Both militaries had relied on a "deconfliction" phone line and a separate planning group, using a map broken down into lettered and numbered sectors, known as a keypad, for reference. This allowed officials from both countries to determine where troops were operating.But the introduction of hundreds of Turkish-backed forces quickly strained this long-standing system, as shown by the accidental Turkish shelling close to a U.S. outpost near the Turkey-Syria border in early October. In one of the military documents obtained by The Times, U.S. officials wrote after that attack that they "cannot rule out" that Turkish military forces "will miscalculate U.S. force dispositions again."Speaking to lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said that the situation in northern Syria has "generally stabilized," although he cautioned that Turkish-backed fighters remained a "wild card."Esper added that there currently are no plans to withdraw U.S. troops from the country."Right now there's no disposition plans that I'm tracking," Esper said.Turkish-backed fighters are often poorly managed by the Turkish military, said several Defense Department officials, who added that the Russian military is far more reliable in navigating the difficulties of such a contested battlefield.To underscore the fact that the battlefield in northern Syria is continuously changing, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the head of the military's Central Command, said in a recent interview that protecting the oil fields might ultimately draw a larger challenge from Syrian army troops west of the Euphrates. "I'd expect at some point the regime will come forward to that ground," McKenzie said.But for now, McKenzie said, the remaining U.S. forces in northern Syria, working alongside several thousand allied militia members from the Syrian Democratic Forces, will be able to carry out "effective" counterterrorism missions against the Islamic State in that part of the country. Last month, the forces restarted operations against the terrorist group, after groups of Islamic State fighters began operating again in the chaos created by the Turkish incursion and U.S. retreat."We have enough to very capably, with our SDF partners, pursue a counterterrorism platform against ISIS," McKenzie said.He noted that the United States maintains a strong capability for reconnaissance and combat air power to protect U.S. forces and to carry out strike missions when necessary."We have everything we need," McKenzie said in the interview.The idea that Syrian troops could move to retake ground from the Americans is nothing new.In February 2018, about 500 Syrian troops and dozens of vehicles, backed by Russian contractors, attacked the Conoco gas plant near Deir el-Zour. U.S. commandos there, alongside Kurdish forces and backed by waves of U.S. aircraft, fought back, killing hundreds of the fighters.The hourslong battle was a clear message to other fighters in the region that the U.S. would protect their partner forces.But after months of political tumult in Washington and Trump's assent to the Turkish invasion in October, it remains unclear if U.S. forces, even with an addition of Bradley armored fighting vehicles, would stand and fight as they have in the past, the officials said.The Bradleys, the officials added, were sent only as a signal of resolve, not necessarily to fight the Syrian government's military.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company


  • U.S. ready to be flexible with N.Korea, warns against provocations - Trump's U.N. envoy

    U.S. ready to be flexible with N.Korea, warns against provocations - Trump's U.N. envoyThe United States is "prepared to be flexible" in negotiations aimed at getting North Korea to give up its nuclear and missile programs, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft said on Wednesday, but Pyongyang must engage and avoid provocations. "We have not asked North Korea to do everything before we do anything," Craft told reporters ahead of a U.N. Security Council meeting on North Korea. The DPRK must do its part and it must avoid provocations.


  • Klobuchar: I'll repair damage by Trump on US foreign policy

    Klobuchar: I'll repair damage by Trump on US foreign policyDemocratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar pledged Wednesday to repair the damage she says President Donald Trump has done in the international community, saying that — if elected — she would negotiate a new nuclear agreement with Iran, rejoin a global climate pact and rebuild America's diplomatic corps and its relationships with U.S. allies. "The Trump administration’s withdrawal from international agreements has been one of America’s biggest foreign policy blunders,” the three-term Minnesota senator said during a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.


  • US considers leaving smaller number of troops in Afghanistan

    US considers leaving smaller number of troops in AfghanistanThe Pentagon is considering several options to reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan, including one that would shift to a narrower counterterrorism mission, the top U.S. military officer told Congress on Wednesday. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did not disclose any potential troop totals, but he agreed that leaving a minimal U.S. footprint in Afghanistan to battle terrorists is a potential move. The U.S. currently has about 13,000 troops in Afghanistan.


  • UN: Targeted killings continue against Iraq protesters

    UN: Targeted killings continue against Iraq protestersDeliberate killings, abduction and arbitrary detention are among abuses that continue against Iraqi anti-government demonstrators by unknown groups, according to a U.N. report released Wednesday. The report comes amid a string of targeted assassinations and arrests of civil activists and journalists that have fostered fear among protesters. Meanwhile, violence resumed in central Baghdad as 31 protesters were wounded when security forces fired tear gas to disperse them from Wathba square, a central plaza in the capital, security and health officials said.


  • US calls UN meeting on North Korea missiles _ not rights

    US calls UN meeting on North Korea missiles _ not rightsThe Security Council on Wednesday was meeting for the second time in a week on North Korea’s increasing ballistic missile and nuclear-related activities, this time at the request of the United States, which effectively blocked a council discussion on the North’s dismal human rights situation. Stephen Biegun, the Trump administration’s special representative for North Korea, was scheduled to address Wednesday afternoon’s open council meeting. It was taking place less than three weeks before North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s end-of-December deadline for the U.S. to come up with new proposals to revive nuclear diplomacy.


  • Britain heads into charged Brexit election

    Britain heads into charged Brexit electionBritain's feuding party leaders criss-crossed the country on Wednesday in a frantic push for votes on the eve of a highly-charged general election aimed at finally settling the Brexit crisis. Polls open on Thursday for the third time in four years in what is widely seen as a re-run of the 2016 referendum in which a narrow majority opted to pull Britain out of the European Union. Parliament's splintered parties -- some seeking broader independence and others wanting to keep Britain's European ties -- repeatedly rejected the divorce terms former prime minister Theresa May struck with Brussels.


  • Green Party manifesto 2019: key policies, at a glance

    Green Party manifesto 2019: key policies, at a glanceThe 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


  • Nikki Haley Faces Protests at Goldman After Confederate Flag Comments

    Nikki Haley Faces Protests at Goldman After Confederate Flag Comments(Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. employees are complaining to executives over a scheduled appearance Wednesday by Nikki Haley at the firm’s New York offices following the former South Carolina governor’s recent comments on the Confederate flag.Several employees, including members of the firm’s Black Network, have reached out to Goldman President John Waldron, among other senior managers, asking that the engagement be called off. Waldron is slated to interview Haley as part of the “Talks at GS” series in which Goldman executives interview prominent public personalities.Haley, who served as President Donald Trump’s U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has faced criticism since telling conservative radio host Glenn Beck last week that the Confederate flag has long represented “service, sacrifice and heritage” for some people in her state. She said the symbol was hijacked by Dylann Roof, a white supremacist who opened fire in a predominantly black church in 2015, killing nine people.Goldman executives fielding the complaints have responded with assurances to employees that they intend to ask challenging questions.“We are committed to using the Talks at GS platform to directly explore the views of our guests, particularly on difficult topics,” the company wrote in an email to employees who raised the issue. “John Waldron will ask Ambassador Haley to address her recent comments on the Confederate flag and will share the sentiments of you and others in our community.“A spokeswoman for Goldman confirmed the contents of the message. The “Talks at GS” series are unpaid appearances.Haley, 47, has been the subject of media speculation about her own presidential ambitions. She’s known to be close to former Trump adviser and now Goldman investment banker Dina Powell, who was reported to be among nominees considered by Trump to replace Haley at the UN.The former governor has been on a speaking tour recently after the release of her book “With All Due Respect,” including a talk at a Wells Fargo & Co. client event in New York last week before the backlash.\--With assistance from Hannah Levitt.To contact the reporter on this story: Sridhar Natarajan in New York at snatarajan15@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael J. Moore at mmoore55@bloomberg.net, Alan Goldstein, Steve DicksonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • French pair held in Iran to face Revolutionary Court: report

    French pair held in Iran to face Revolutionary Court: reportTwo French academics detained in Iran for six months have lost a bid to be released on bail and their case will now go before the Revolutionary Court, Iranian media reported. Roland Marchal, a researcher at Sciences Po in Paris, was arrested in June together with Fariba Adelkhah, an academic at the same university. French President Emmanuel Macron had called on Tuesday for Iran to release the pair without delay, saying "their imprisonment is intolerable".


  • Another Iraqi activist killed as UN accuses 'militias'

    Another Iraqi activist killed as UN accuses 'militias'A third anti-government activist has been murdered in Iraq in less than 10 days, police and medics said Wednesday, as the United Nations accused militias of killing and abducting demonstrators. Protesters have complained of an intensifying campaign of intimidation in a country where pro-Iranian armed groups integrated into the security forces wield growing influence. The body of 49-year-old father of five Ali al-Lami was found overnight with gunshot wounds to the head, according to his friends, who said he had arrived in Baghdad just days earlier to join the protests.


  • Aung San Suu Kyi Defends Myanmar Military Against Genocide Charges

    Aung San Suu Kyi Defends Myanmar Military Against Genocide Charges(Bloomberg) -- Myanmar’s de facto leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi addressed the International Court of Justice on Wednesday to deny allegations the military had committed genocide against minority Rohingya Muslims.The small Muslim-majority nation of Gambia that brought the case against Myanmar had laid out a detailed and graphic case a day earlier, saying thousands of Rohingya Muslims were systematically raped and murdered at the hands of Myanmar’s military. It is calling for temporary measures to protect the Rohingya community.But Suu Kyi dismissed Gambia’s case as a half-truth, saying “the situation in Rakhine state is complicated and not easily fathomed.” She attributed the exodus of more than 740,000 civilians to neighboring Bangladesh to an ongoing internal armed conflict with insurgents.”Gambia has placed an incomplete and misleading picture of the factual situation in Rakhine state in Myanmar,” she told the court.‘Genocidal Intent’Following multiple investigations, the United Nations directly accused Myanmar’s military, known as Tatmadaw, of perpetrating atrocities against the ethnic minority with “genocidal intent” while accusing Suu Kyi of complicity. The violence against the Rohingya began in earnest in 2017, although the community has faced marginalization in Myanmar for years.Suu Kyi insisted any officers, civilians or soldiers found guilty of war crimes through Myanmar’s independent inquiry would be held accountable and the country has made every effort to investigate the conflict.“There is currently no other fact finding body in the world that has garnered relevant first hand information on what occurred in Rakhine in 2017 to the same extent as the independent commission of inquiry,” she said. “They must be allowed to run their course.”Following the speech, Global Justice Center President Akila Radhakrishnan said in a statement Suu Kyi’s depiction of an internal military conflict “with no genocidal intent against the Rohingya is completely false.”“Multiple independent agencies and experts, as well as Rohingya themselves, have documented mass killings, widespread rape, and wholesale destruction of land and property intentionally inflicted on innocent civilians,” Radhakrishnan said. “This is genocide and it’s precisely what the Genocide Convention set out to prevent.”With close to one million Rohingya living in squalid refugee camps across the border in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazaar area, Suu Kyi told the court Myanmar was taking every step to ensure their safe and dignified repatriation, disputing claims by numerous rights groups.“How can there be genocide when such concrete steps are being taken,” she asked.(Corrects reference to Nobel laureate in first paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Philip J. Heijmans in Singapore at pheijmans1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at rpollard2@bloomberg.net, Muneeza NaqviFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • Russian Artist Puts $150,000 Banana to Shame

    Russian Artist Puts $150,000 Banana to Shame(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Forget Maurizio Cattelan’s $150,000 banana, duct-taped to the wall at Art Basel in Miami last week and eaten by a less well-known trickster artist. (The buyers of the artwork are fine with that — it came with a manual that prescribes replacing the fruit every week or so, anyway.) The best art of this type comes from Russia, because there, it actually means something.The art object that, as any responsible critic should recognize, eclipses Cattelan’s headline-grabbing “Comedian,” was sold online on Dec. 9 for 1.5 million rubles ($23,600). It was created by Artem Loskutov, an artist from Novosibirsk, Russia, who started the now nationwide tradition of “Monstrations,” annual rallies where people carry nonsensical signs. (“We Can’t be Knocked Off Course: We Don’t Know Where We’re Going,” one said this year.) The object is a piece of canvas-covered cardboard with a steel plaque glued to it and Loskutov’s signature, in marker, underneath. On the plaque, a woman named Nailya professes her love for a man named Andrey Kostin, in English, and tells him, “We are of the same blood,” an apparent corruption of the line from Rudyard Kipling’s “Jungle Book,” “We be of one blood, ye and I.”Loskutov’s description of the materials used in creating the work says, “found object, stainless steel, 5X14 cm; marker, canvas on cardboard.” But the plaque is, strictly speaking, a stolen object, not a “found” one. Until a few days ago, it was affixed to one of the 6,800 benches in New York City’s Central Park “adopted” by donors to the Central Park Conservancy.It came from what’s probably now the most famous of these benches: Earlier this month, it got a prominent mention in a 29-minute video by anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny, an arch-foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin, that has been viewed more than 5 million times (and counting) on YouTube. The video is dedicated to the relationship between Andrey Kostin, the (married) president and chief executive officer of the state-owned bank VTB and state television anchor Nailya Asker-Zade. The state banker, according to Navalny, has showered Asker-Zade with expensive gifts, including prime real estate and the use of a yacht and a private plane. The cost of it all appears to be too high even for Kostin’s significant legitimate income, Navalny wrote.Kostin hasn’t commented on the video, nor has VTB, Russia’s second biggest bank by assets. Asker-Zade, known for her fawning interviews with members of Putin’s close circle, thanked Navalny on Instagram for the publicity.Navalny’s made-for-YouTube investigations are political tools rather than journalistic endeavors, and much of the film’s substance should probably be classed as opinion rather than fact. But when it comes to the Central Park plaque, Asker-Zade is mentioned in Central Park Conservancy’s 2015 annual report among donors of between $10,000 and $24,999. Navalny specializes in exposing impossibly lavish lifestyles that embarrass Putin allies and scandalize the average Russian. Judging by his video’s viral spread and the indignant comments it’s spawned on social networks, he handily hit his mark here.To put his allegations in context, Navalny wrote in a separate post that by his count the total value of the gifts is comparable to the amount that’s been raised by Rusfond, one of Russia’s biggest charities dedicated to funding medical treatment for seriously ill children, over its 23-year history. That would be difficult to prove, but is important for what happened next.Suddenly, the plaque disappeared from the bench, an event Navalny was quick to report on Twitter. On Dec. 9, it resurfaced in Loskutov’s possession. To turn it into art, Loskutov didn’t just paste it on cardboard and scribble his name underneath. He promised to donate the proceeds from its sale to Rusfond. The same day, he announced the object had fetched 1.5 million rubles in an informal auction he had run online. (The original screws from the bench were offered as a bonus.) To complete the performance, proof of the transfer to Rusfond is still needed. But Loskutov’s work has already garnered numerous comments to his tweets and Facebook posts — both accusing him of theft (even many Putin foes were uneasy about this) and praising him for his audacity.  One commentator summed the whole situation up like this: “They stole our money and we’ll steal their memories.” Although there's no proof Asker-Zade or Kostin engaged in theft.On Tuesday, Loskutov took to Facebook and Twitter again to post a quote attributed to a host of greats, most often to Pablo Picasso: “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” It’s unclear, though, if he meant himself or the bureaucrats and managers of state-owned companies whom Navalny often accuses of graft.The New York Times’ art critic Jason Farago recently offered what he called “a reluctant defense” of Cattelan’s banana on the basis of the artist’s “willingness to implicate himself within the economic, social and discursive systems that structure how we see and what we value.” If that defense is valid, Loskutov’s action works on more levels than Cattelan’s work. It’s art as Robin Hood-style theft, art as tabloid journalism, art as political protest, art as social commentary, art as commerce and art as charity all rolled into one. It’s not a case of art imitating life or the other way round, but art’s bold intrusion into life as it plays out under one of the world’s most dispiriting authoritarian regimes.Loskutov’s performance, whatever its consequences for him, deserves a place among other audacious Russian art works such as Voina Art Group’s 2010 depiction of a gigantic penis on a St. Petersburg drawbridge exactly opposite the secret police office or Petr Pavlensky nailing himself to the pavement on Moscow’s Red Square in 2013. It’s easy these days to be cynical about the value of art and to play tricks on audiences based on the amount of money some wealthy people are willing to pay for fatuous objects. It’s much riskier, and much more meaningful, to challenge allegedly corrupt elites and the enforcers and benefactors of authoritarian nations. Where political opposition is feeble, art has a role to play.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Melissa Pozsgay at mpozsgay@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • Diplomats to Lebanon: Expect no aid before government formed

    Diplomats to Lebanon: Expect no aid before government formedLebanon cannot expect to receive international aid to its battered economy until a new government undertakes serious reforms, diplomats decided at a closed-door meeting in Paris on Wednesday. The international group, led by France and the United Nations, met to discuss conditions for helping ease turmoil in Lebanon, which is facing its worst financial crisis in decades and political uncertainty amid an ongoing protest movement. Lebanese businesses and households are growing increasingly desperate as cash supplies there have dwindled.


  • UPDATE 2-U.S. imposes new sanctions on Iran airline over proliferation

    UPDATE 2-U.S. imposes new sanctions on Iran airline over proliferationThe United States on Wednesday imposed new sanctions on Iran's biggest airline and its shipping network, accusing them of transporting lethal aid and weapons of mass destruction proliferation. The new sanctions come just days after a weekend prisoner swap between the historic foes, a rare act of cooperation since tensions escalated after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear accord. The U.S. State Department targeted Shanghai-based ESAIL Shipping Company, which U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said "knowingly transports illicit materials from Iran's Aerospace Industries Organization, which oversees all of Iran’s missile industry" and has worked with Iranian organizations subject to U.N. sanctions.


  • U.K. Election: An Hour-by-Hour Guide to How the Results Come In

    U.K. Election: An Hour-by-Hour Guide to How the Results Come In(Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.The U.K. votes on Thursday to determine whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson gets the mandate he wants to “get Brexit done,” or Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn replaces him in 10 Downing Street to pursue his “radical agenda” of wealth redistribution and nationalizations.British general elections are decided by separate races in 650 districts, with each assigned a seat in the House of Commons. Most won’t change hands: just 70 did in 2017, with 111 doing so two years earlier.But it’s the ones that do that determine who governs.The key to interpreting the results is the concept of swing -- the shift in votes from one party to another compared with the previous election.A party needs 326 out of 650 seats for a majority in the House of Commons, though in practice, about 320 will suffice because the speaker and three deputies don’t vote, and Northern Ireland’s Sinn Fein chooses not to sit in the Westminster parliament.Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, won 317 seats two years ago. In theory, it means that with a uniform 0.54% swing among voters to the Conservatives from Labour, the Tories could take the nine seats it needs from Jeremy Corbyn’s party to secure a majority. A swing of just over 3% would see Johnson’s party take about 30 seats off the opposition, delivering a majority of around 40.But in reality, it’s a much more complicated calculation because voter swings are not consistent nationwide due to the presence of smaller parties, tactical voting and the blurring of support due to Brexit. Johnson will probably need to win seats in the north and midlands to offset potential losses in pro-European districts in southern England and Scotland, where growing support for independence is also bolstering the Scottish National Party.The polls have consistently pointed to a Tory win, though the margin has narrowed and according to YouGov, everything from a Tory landslide to a hung Parliament -- where no party holds a majority -- remains within the margin of error. A small change in voter mood could swing the election in either direction.Below is a list of some key results to watch for and when.10 p.m.Voting ends and broadcasters release their exit poll. Last time, it predicted 314 seats for the Tories and 266 for Labour -- close to the final result of 317 to 262. Once enough results are in later in the night, psephologists employed by TV stations will announce their projections for the final result.11 p.m.The northeastern cities of Sunderland and Newcastle upon Tyne, with 3 seats each, are vying to be first to announce their results between 11 p.m. and midnight.The last time any Sunderland seat returned a Tory Member of Parliament was in 1959; Newcastle hasn’t done so since 1983. If Labour loses any of these seats, it suggests they’re set for a bad night. A swing in Brexit-supporting Sunderland in particular could point to Tory gains later in the night in marginal Labour seats that voted to leave the European Union in 2016.1 a.m.With most of the early reporting seats having safe majorities, the first rumblings of change may come now.The Tories have targeted a type of voter they dubbed “Workington Man,” defined as “a typically older, white, non-graduate male” from a northern town. Brexit-backing Workington, on the west coast, could be the first indication of whether Johnson’s party has broken through Labour’s “red wall” of seats in central and northern England. They need a 4.7% swing to overturn a majority of almost 4,000.North of the border, there could be more Labour misery with Rutherglen & Hamilton West expected to be the first Scottish seat to declare. The Scottish National Party are targeting Labour’s 265-vote majority.1:30 a.m.Darlington -- 35th on the Tory target list of Labour-held seats -- is due to announce. If Johnson’s party can overturn Labour’s 3,280-vote majority on a 3.7% swing, a 60-seat majority could be on the cards.2 a.m.The pace picks up with more than 75 results expected. The Tories could pick up “red wall” Labour seats including Great Grimsby, Bury North and Bury South.Wrexham, in north Wales, is another to watch, as well as two strongly Labour-held pro-Brexit seats in West Bromwich. None has ever voted Conservative, but polls suggest they’re in play.Hartlepool is one of the stronger seats for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, though polls suggest it’s unlikely to win. In Lanark & Hamilton East, just 360 votes separated the winning SNP from the Tories and Labour last time.Battersea and Putney should provide insight into how Johnson’s pro-Brexit message is faring in Remain-backing London seats.3 a.m.Results will be coming in at about six per minute by now. If the Tories are on a roll, they could take Sedgefield -- former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair’s seat until 2007 -- as well as Labour seats including Bishop Auckland, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Blackpool South and Birmingham Northfield. A win in Don Valley, Labour-held since 1922, could be a sign the Tories’ “Get Brexit Done” slogan has cut through -- even though Caroline Flint, the Labour incumbent, supported Johnson’s deal.In North Wales, a battle in Ynys Mon between the Tories, Labour and the Welsh nationalists Plaid Cymru could go the ruling party’s way for the first time since 1983, while Alyn & Deeside and Delyn are also in Conservative sights.But if Labour are confounding expectations -- as they did two years ago -- they could pick up Bedford and Norwich North from the Tories. Holding Peterborough, which voted 63% to leave the EU, would suggest Labour’s plan to hold a second referendum hasn’t damaged its prospects. A big scalp could come in London, where Labour are mounting a strong challenge to former Tory leader and prominent Brexiteer Iain Duncan Smith in Chingford & Woodford Green.A Labour revival also requires picking up seats in Scotland, its former stronghold. They need tiny swings to capture Glasgow East and Glasgow South West from the SNP, and a 1.6% swing to capture Glasgow North.Corbyn is expected to broadcast comments after his very safe Islington North seat declares. Liberal Democrat Leader Jo Swinson is also likely to speak when Dunbartonshire East seat announces. She’s defending a majority of 5,339.Elsewhere in Scotland, the SNP aim to overturn Tory majorities in the district of Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock, and in Stirling.Key Liberal Democrat targets include the Cities of London & Westminster, where Labour defector Chuka Umunna is their candidate, Guildford, and Esher & Walton, where polls suggest they have a chance of overturning Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s huge majority.In Belfast North, the Democratic Unionist Party’s Westminster leader Nigel Dodds faces a challenge from Sinn Fein. And former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, who was ejected from the Tory Party over Brexit, is running as an independent in Beaconsfield to try to overturn the majority of more than 24,000 he won for the Conservatives in 2017.3:30 a.m.Close to half of the results should be in by now. If the Tories are doing well, they could defeat former Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron in Westmorland & Lonsdale, or overturn the SNP’s 21-vote majority in Perth & North Perthshire. Labour is eyeing an opportunity to take former Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s old seat of Hastings & Rye, where the Tory majority is 346.4 a.m.Even with 180-odd seats still to report, the direction of travel should be clear.A tiny swing from Labour would be expected to give the Conservatives Crewe & Nantwich, and Canterbury, which Labour won in 2017 for the first time. A swing of just under 5% to the Tories would win them Bassetlaw for the first time since 1910; Ipswich, Lincoln, Wakefield and Warrington South require much less than that.Results are also due in two Liberal Democrat target seats held by the Tories: Cheltenham and St. Albans.4:30 a.m.More than 500 seats should have declared and unless it’s really close, the winner should be clear. Johnson will be expected to speak after the declaration at his Uxbridge & South Ruislip seat, where Labour is targeting his majority of 5,034.Tory targets include Weaver Vale and Kensington -- which Labour took for the first time in 2017 by just 20 votes. Though the Tories only won Mansfield for the first time in 2017, Labour regaining it would be a surprise and a sign they’re doing better than expected.5 a.m.If the election is still too close to call, it’s because Labour is picking up seats. Five of the party’s 10 most-winnable Tory-held targets report: Southampton Itchen, Stoke-on-Trent South, Pudsey, Calder Valley and Broxtowe, where former Tory Anna Soubry is running and may cannibalize the Tory vote.Tory targets include Bolsover, where a 5.7% swing would see them defeat Labour’s Dennis Skinner, an MP since 1970. That would truly indicate the “red wall” has crumbled. Another big -- if unlikely -- scalp for the Tories would be Labour education spokeswoman Angela Rayner in Ashton-under-Lyne.Tory wins in Ashfield, Colne Valley, Dewsbury, Dudley North and Derby North, and two seats in Stoke-on-Trent, would suggest they’re heading for a majority.The Liberal Democrats will be hoping to pick up Cheadle from the Conservatives, and the SNP are targeting Tory-held Gordon -- the former seat of their one-time leader Alex Salmond.5:30 a.m.Barrow & Furness is the Tories’ 6th most-winnable Labour-held seat; Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers is trying to hold off a Labour challenge in Chipping Barnet, where her majority was whittled to just 353 in 2017. Either could change hands.6 a.m.Only about 20 seats should be left -- barring recounts. If the result is clear, expect Johnson or Corbyn to make a victory speech over the next few hours.In Richmond Park in southwest London, the Liberal Democrats hope to eject Tory Environment Minister Zac Goldsmith for the second time in three years. They’re also looking to re-establish themselves in southwest England, where St. Ives is their best chance to do so after a narrow loss in 2017.The last results are due at 10 a.m. If one party has a majority, the focus will switch to cabinet announcements. But if it’s a hung parliament, it’s all about potential coalitions or backroom deals to prop up a minority administration.21 Seats to Watch\--With assistance from Greg Ritchie.To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Stuart Biggs, Thomas PennyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • Europe Eyes ‘Man on Moon Moment’ With Green Deal Revolution

    Europe Eyes ‘Man on Moon Moment’ With Green Deal Revolution(Bloomberg) -- Europe is set to stake its economic future on an environmental clean-up that will overhaul the way the world’s biggest single market polices businesses and manages trade relations.The new order unveiled on Wednesday by the European Union’s executive arm will center on a goal to eliminate by mid-century the bloc’s net discharges of greenhouse gases. Such pollutants cause the more frequent heatwaves, storms and floods tied to climate change.“This is Europe’s man on the moon moment,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters in Brussels before detailing the plans. “I’m convinced that the old growth model that is based on fossil fuels and pollution is out of date and out of touch with our planet.”Under the package of proposed measures, the EU transition to climate neutrality would start next year and involve: stricter emission limits for industries from cars to chemicals; revamped energy taxes; new rules on subsidies for companies; greener farming; and a possible environmental import tax. Everything from finance to the design of cities would need to become more sustainable.Hours before a key summit of EU leaders in the European Council, eastern governments were resisting signing off on a collective pledge to zero-out the bloc’s carbon emissions, unless they are guaranteed assistance from richer countries to help finance the transition. Adding to signs that von der Leyen’s package of measures will be facing an uphill battle, powerful industries such as airlines signaled that they are ready to fight any attempt to make them pay the bill for a cleaner planet. EU diplomats are also struggling to reach agreement on the classification of green financial products.“I’m hopeful that the council might come to that agreement,” European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans told a briefing on Wednesday. “For us as the commission it’s very clear that if we want to fulfill our commitments under the Paris Agreement and to limit the rise of temperatures to 1.5 degree Celsius we will have to increase our efforts and we will have to have a climate-neutral Europe by 2050.”As it seeks to create an environmental profit motive for businesses across the board, the EU executive’s proposals aim to spur action worldwide and uphold the landmark Paris Agreement to fight global warming. The U.S. has turned its back on the accord and other major emitters, including China, India and Japan, have so far failed to translate their Paris pledges into the necessary domestic actions.“The commission is essentially proposing a complete transformation of the European economy, starting with a shift in policy priorities from growth toward sustainability,” said Dimitris Valatsas, a London-based analyst at Greenmantle LLC, an advisory firm. “It’s hard to think of any European asset class that will not be affected by this.”While von der Leyen’s package will pave the way for months of lobbying and political fighting over a slew of underlying draft laws still in the works, the EU policymaking establishment is confident it has support on the street. Climate protection has risen on the EU agenda as people’s concerns about the risks of failing to act have grown, with 93% of Europeans regarding global warming as a serious problem.For von der Leyen, the first woman to the lead the Brussels-based commission, the Green Deal helped ensure she was approved for the job earlier this year by a fragmented European Parliament. The assembly’s political groups, which differ on everything from data protection to migration, largely united behind her environmental program.Following a debt crisis that almost shattered the euro, a Middle East migration wave that rattled governments and a populist uprising that helped propel Brexit, the grand plan to green the economy may be seen as a way to “give new purpose and unity to the EU,” Jonathan Gaventa at environmental think tank E3G wrote in a research note.The first actual step on the road to net-zero emissions will be a proposal due by March to enshrine the 2050 climate-neutrality goal in European law and make it irreversible, according to an EU document seen by Bloomberg.The climate neutrality target still needs to get the political green light from EU government heads when they meet this Thursday and Friday in the Belgian capital. In a bid to bend resistance by a group of eastern European countries led by Poland, which relies on high-polluting coal for energy, the commission intends to propose a 100 billion-euro ($111 billion) tool to help finance the economic transition in the most affected regions. Warsaw has estimated the shift would cost Poland more than 500 billion euros until 2050.Legislative FrenzyThe EU government heads have a political incentive on the global front to weigh in this week, when talks wrap up at a high-level United Nations climate conference in Madrid.“An EU agreement on climate neutrality would encourage competition for ambition worldwide,” said Isabella Alloisio, a researcher at the Florence School of Regulation, part of the European University Institute.In the ensuing months, the Green Deal legislative frenzy will include a plan to tighten the EU emissions-reduction target for 2030 from the current 40% to 50% or even 55%, compared with 1990 levels.Much more will follow in 2021, when draft laws are due to upgrade Europe’s goals for deriving energy from renewable sources and improving energy efficiency. That’s also the timetable for proposals to revise European energy taxation, widen the EU cap-and-trade market for pollution permits (covering power plants, factories and airlines) to include shipping, and reduce the number of free carbon-dioxide-emission allowances that carriers receive.The year after next is also when the commission aims to propose an environmental import tax -- one of the most controversial ideas. The so-called carbon border adjustment mechanism would seek to ensure that European manufacturers have a level playing field with competitors based in countries without emission curbs.With global supply chains crossing multiple countries, designing a European carbon tariff in line with World Trade Organization rules will be tricky. And given the reservations in numerous EU capitals about the idea, the ultimate result may well be other, less controversial, moves to protect domestic businesses from lower-cost producers abroad.“A key challenge for Europe will be to manage and develop its trade relationships to secure and incentivize the transition to a zero-carbon economy, while not creating unnecessary confrontations with other economies,” the European Corporate Leaders Group said.While the commission will draft all the rules to bring the Green Deal to life, they will require the support of EU governments and the bloc’s assembly. Expect every word and coma to be analyzed by national governments, parliamentarians, companies, industry lobbies and environmental activists. In that context, Europe’s challenge has only just begun.(Updates with EU Commission vice president comments in sixth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Nikos Chrysoloras and Jerrold Colten.To contact the reporters on this story: Ewa Krukowska in Brussels at ekrukowska@bloomberg.net;Jonathan Stearns in Brussels at jstearns2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net, ;Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Richard Bravo, Nikos ChrysolorasFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • Activists kicked out of UN climate talks after protest

    Activists kicked out of UN climate talks after protestDozens of young campaigners and indigenous rights activists were thrown out of United Nations climate talks Wednesday after staging a protest demanding that nations commit to act now to avert catastrophic climate change. Several sources at the crunch negotiations told AFP that some 200 protestors were "debadged" -- their access permits were confiscated -- after security guards forced them out of the building and prevented them from leaving a car park. The demonstration saw hundreds of young people perform a cacerolazo -- a type of protest originally from Chile that involves banging on pots and pans -- right outside the plenary room where delegates from around the world were discussing the progress made in talks so far.


  • US hits Iran with new sanctions, hopes for prisoner dialogue

    US hits Iran with new sanctions, hopes for prisoner dialogueThe Trump administration on Wednesday hit Iran with new sanctions that target several transportation firms as it continues its “maximum pressure campaign" against the Islamic Republic over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The sanctions target Iran's state shipping line and a China-based company that has been involved in delivering missile parts to Iran. "Today's designations put the world on notice that those who engage in illicit transactions with these companies will risk exposure and sanctions themselves," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.


  • UPDATE 1-Pompeo says U.S. wants to work with Russia on Libya, reminds Lavrov on arms embargo

    UPDATE 1-Pompeo says U.S. wants to work with Russia on Libya, reminds Lavrov on arms embargoThe United States wants to work with Russia to end the conflict in Libya, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday, but he added that he reminded Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov a day ago of the arms embargo that is in place on the North African country. "We want to work with the Russians, to get to the negotiating table, have a series of conversations that ultimately lead to a disposition that creates what the United Nations has been trying to do," Pompeo said at a news conference. Libya has been divided since 2014 into rival military and political camps based in the capital Tripoli and the east.


  • Watchdog caught in political crossfire on his Russia report

    Watchdog caught in political crossfire on his Russia reportThe Justice Department’s internal watchdog was caught in a political tug of war Wednesday as Republican and Democratic senators used his report on the origins of Russia investigation to back their views that it was an important and legitimate probe or a badly bungled farce. Inspector General Michael Horowitz testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about his findings this week that while the FBI had a legitimate basis to launch the Russia investigation and was not motivated by political bias in doing so, there were major flaws in how that investigation was conducted. Horowitz tried to strike a balance.


  • U.S. sanctions Iran's largest shipping company, airline over weapons smuggling

    U.S. sanctions Iran's largest shipping company, airline over weapons smugglingThe sanctions keep on coming.The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control on Wednesday announced sanctions on Iran's largest shipping company and airline in an attempt to stop the development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the Financial Times reports.The shipping company, the Islamic Republican of Iran Shipping Lines, has been accused of smuggling weapons into Yemen on behalf the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps; OFAC said the U.S. seized weapons on a small boat last month believed to be on their way to Houthi rebels. OFAC also said Mahan Air has aided the IRGC and has also "moved weapons and personnel for Hezbollah" and the Assad regime in Syria.> “The Iranian regime uses its aviation and shipping industries to supply its regional terrorist and militant groups with weapons, directly contributing to the devastating humanitarian crises in Syria and Yemen,” says @stevenmnuchin1 in statement.> > — Steve Herman (@W7VOA) December 11, 2019Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. will continue a maximum pressure campaign of sanctions against Iran.More stories from theweek.com Trump's pathological obsession with being laughed at The most important day of the impeachment inquiry Jerry Falwell Jr.'s false gospel of memes


  • Millions of Pro-EU Voters Are Wavering

    Millions of Pro-EU Voters Are Wavering(Bloomberg Opinion) -- As an election approaches, talk in the final days very often centers around undecided voters. And while those that haven’t made up their minds could have a big impact on the outcome, there’s an even bigger group that could impact tomorrow’s result: the “decided” voters who are wavering.Boris Johnson’s problem, much like Theresa May’s, is not the Conservative poll rating – 43% is usually an election-winning vote share. Labour’s vote share has been rising, reaching 33% in our Number Cruncher poll (exclusive to Bloomberg) across the period of Sunday through Tuesday, with some evidence in the data that it rose during that period. And there’s potential for it to rise further. While almost all likely voters intending to vote Conservative have definitely decided to back Johnson, around one in three supporters of the Liberal Democrats (on 12% in our poll) and minor parties -- overwhelmingly anti-Brexit -- say they may change their minds – with Labour the likely beneficiary. Yet Labour’s own vote is also much softer than that of the Conservatives. This creates unusual uncertainty over the Labour share, making the situation more fluid. A 10-point Tory lead is already within the margin of error of both a hung parliament and a big majority -- yet even if we knew the current state of the race with absolute certainty, a decisive break one way or the other by the pro-Remain wavers could change the story dramatically.It was clear when the campaign started, that the success or otherwise of Boris Johnson’s quest for a majority in the House of Commons would depend on his ability to keep supporters of Brexit more united behind his Conservative Party than Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition Labour Party could unite the anti-Brexit vote, as it did in 2017. Our poll shows that the Tories have united the Leave vote (with 67%) better than Labour has the Remain vote (46%). Since the U.K. voted by a margin of 52% to 48% to leave the European Union in 2016, demographic turnover, coupled with a consistent but glacial shift in opinion, has roughly reversed those proportions in the public’s view on Brexit. While this has not translated into consistent majority support for another referendum, the division nevertheless has a pronounced effect on U.K. politics.For much of this year the total share of likely voters intending to back either the Conservatives or Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party has hovered in the mid to high 40s. Support for the other parties -- each of which have slightly different positions on Brexit and all of which support a further referendum -- has accounted for the balance.This has essentially created two voting blocs, described by veteran pollster Peter Kellner as two islands, one pro- and the other anti-Brexit, with most vote-switching taking place within each bloc rather than between them.This post-Brexit realignment sheds some light on the changes in the U.K. electoral map, as a proportion of voters realign their party preferences with their Brexit view. Tuesday night’s publication of YouGov’s multilevel regression and post-stratification (or MRP) analysis pointed to Conservative advances in the sorts of places where it would once have been unthinkable. By the same token, Labour is challenging the Tories in areas once considered out of bounds for a left of center party, such as the London suburb of Chingford, held by arch Euroskeptic Iain Duncan Smith.But it would be a mistake to view this realignment solely through the lens of Brexit. Many of these trends had been in evidence for a decade or two before 2016. The Labour Party’s traditional industrial heartlands have been trending disproportionately away from the party since the mid-2000s. London and its commuter towns have been shifting in its favor relative to the country since the 1990s. Surveys suggest that the traditional divide between blue- and white collar workers has not just disappeared, but it has possibly flipped in favor of the Conservatives.This has corresponded — and not coincidentally — to Labour’s move, like many social democratic parties across the West, in a more socially liberal direction, while the Conservatives’ pursuit of Brexit has made its support much more socially conservative.Much recent analysis has centered on the so-called “red wall,” a swathe of Labour-held seats in northern and central England and North Wales that corresponds very closely to historic coal mining activity. Many such areas have been very loyal to Jeremy Corbyn’s party since they were deindustrialized in the 1980s by Margaret Thatcher’s governments to the extent that to vote for the Tories became taboo. Polling like YouGov’s is showing the Conservatives are making greater inroads in these areas, in some cases for the first time ever.But the “Remain” side of the ledger matters just as much. The Conservatives lost many of their younger, more liberal and anti-Brexit votes in 2017, but they seem to have done a better job of holding onto those in the time since. Part of this may be explained by a desire from these voters’ to “get Brexit done,” to quote the party’s slogan. At the same time, many Conservative Remainers are Conservatives first and Remainers second. They may have been content with the status quo in 2016 and happy to go along with David Cameron on the European question, but many will not be particularly passionate about it.Three months ago, I warned that calling an election would be a high-stakes move for Boris Johnson. As things stand, the odds continue to lean his way. It will be the waverers who decide whether his gamble pays off.To contact the author of this story: Matt Singh at matt@ncpolitics.ukTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Therese Raphael at traphael4@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Matt Singh runs Number Cruncher Politics, a nonpartisan polling and elections site that predicted the 2015 U.K. election polling failure.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • Millions of Pro-EU Voters Are Wavering

    Millions of Pro-EU Voters Are Wavering(Bloomberg Opinion) -- As an election approaches, talk in the final days very often centers around undecided voters. And while those that haven’t made up their minds could have a big impact on the outcome, there’s an even bigger group that could impact tomorrow’s result: the “decided” voters who are wavering.Boris Johnson’s problem, much like Theresa May’s, is not the Conservative poll rating – 43% is usually an election-winning vote share. Labour’s vote share has been rising, reaching 33% in our Number Cruncher poll (exclusive to Bloomberg) across the period of Sunday through Tuesday, with some evidence in the data that it rose during that period. And there’s potential for it to rise further. While almost all likely voters intending to vote Conservative have definitely decided to back Johnson, around one in three supporters of the Liberal Democrats (on 12% in our poll) and minor parties -- overwhelmingly anti-Brexit -- say they may change their minds – with Labour the likely beneficiary. Yet Labour’s own vote is also much softer than that of the Conservatives. This creates unusual uncertainty over the Labour share, making the situation more fluid. A 10-point Tory lead is already within the margin of error of both a hung parliament and a big majority -- yet even if we knew the current state of the race with absolute certainty, a decisive break one way or the other by the pro-Remain wavers could change the story dramatically.It was clear when the campaign started, that the success or otherwise of Boris Johnson’s quest for a majority in the House of Commons would depend on his ability to keep supporters of Brexit more united behind his Conservative Party than Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition Labour Party could unite the anti-Brexit vote, as it did in 2017. Our poll shows that the Tories have united the Leave vote (with 67%) better than Labour has the Remain vote (46%). Since the U.K. voted by a margin of 52% to 48% to leave the European Union in 2016, demographic turnover, coupled with a consistent but glacial shift in opinion, has roughly reversed those proportions in the public’s view on Brexit. While this has not translated into consistent majority support for another referendum, the division nevertheless has a pronounced effect on U.K. politics.For much of this year the total share of likely voters intending to back either the Conservatives or Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party has hovered in the mid to high 40s. Support for the other parties -- each of which have slightly different positions on Brexit and all of which support a further referendum -- has accounted for the balance.This has essentially created two voting blocs, described by veteran pollster Peter Kellner as two islands, one pro- and the other anti-Brexit, with most vote-switching taking place within each bloc rather than between them.This post-Brexit realignment sheds some light on the changes in the U.K. electoral map, as a proportion of voters realign their party preferences with their Brexit view. Tuesday night’s publication of YouGov’s multilevel regression and post-stratification (or MRP) analysis pointed to Conservative advances in the sorts of places where it would once have been unthinkable. By the same token, Labour is challenging the Tories in areas once considered out of bounds for a left of center party, such as the London suburb of Chingford, held by arch Euroskeptic Iain Duncan Smith.But it would be a mistake to view this realignment solely through the lens of Brexit. Many of these trends had been in evidence for a decade or two before 2016. The Labour Party’s traditional industrial heartlands have been trending disproportionately away from the party since the mid-2000s. London and its commuter towns have been shifting in its favor relative to the country since the 1990s. Surveys suggest that the traditional divide between blue- and white collar workers has not just disappeared, but it has possibly flipped in favor of the Conservatives.This has corresponded — and not coincidentally — to Labour’s move, like many social democratic parties across the West, in a more socially liberal direction, while the Conservatives’ pursuit of Brexit has made its support much more socially conservative.Much recent analysis has centered on the so-called “red wall,” a swathe of Labour-held seats in northern and central England and North Wales that corresponds very closely to historic coal mining activity. Many such areas have been very loyal to Jeremy Corbyn’s party since they were deindustrialized in the 1980s by Margaret Thatcher’s governments to the extent that to vote for the Tories became taboo. Polling like YouGov’s is showing the Conservatives are making greater inroads in these areas, in some cases for the first time ever.But the “Remain” side of the ledger matters just as much. The Conservatives lost many of their younger, more liberal and anti-Brexit votes in 2017, but they seem to have done a better job of holding onto those in the time since. Part of this may be explained by a desire from these voters’ to “get Brexit done,” to quote the party’s slogan. At the same time, many Conservative Remainers are Conservatives first and Remainers second. They may have been content with the status quo in 2016 and happy to go along with David Cameron on the European question, but many will not be particularly passionate about it.Three months ago, I warned that calling an election would be a high-stakes move for Boris Johnson. As things stand, the odds continue to lean his way. It will be the waverers who decide whether his gamble pays off.To contact the author of this story: Matt Singh at matt@ncpolitics.ukTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Therese Raphael at traphael4@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Matt Singh runs Number Cruncher Politics, a nonpartisan polling and elections site that predicted the 2015 U.K. election polling failure.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • US hopeful for Iran prisoner talks but imposes new sanctions

    US hopeful for Iran prisoner talks but imposes new sanctionsUS Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday he hoped for further dialogue with Iran to free prisoners but announced new sanctions as he vowed no let-up in pressure. Iran has also voiced a willingness for more prisoner swaps after the exchange Saturday of Xiyue Wang, a US scholar detained since 2016, for Massoud Soleimani, an Iranian scientist detained in the United States since last year. Pompeo said the United States will "follow every even tiny opening" to free the at least handful of Americans known to be in Iranian custody.


  • Europe Set for Move to Expand Trade Arsenal With Focus on Trump

    Europe Set for Move to Expand Trade Arsenal With Focus on Trump(Bloomberg) -- Explore what’s moving the global economy in the new season of the Stephanomics podcast. Subscribe via Apple Podcast, Spotify or Pocket Cast.Europe is arming itself for a more lawless world of trade -- and the bloc’s sights are on the U.S.European Union trade chief Phil Hogan on Thursday will seek an upgrade to EU legislation on enforcing international commercial rules. His proposal would allow the EU to impose sanctions against countries that illegally restrict commerce and simultaneously block the World Trade Organization’s dispute-settlement process.The timing of the initiative in Brussels is no coincidence. On Wednesday, the WTO’s much-prized appellate body ceased to be able to handle new cases because a U.S. veto of any appointments to the panel left it without the minimum three members required for verdicts.The body is the WTO’s supreme authority, issuing binding decisions that give winning parties in disputes the right to apply trade penalties such as higher tariffs against law-breaking countries. Since before the Trump administration, the U.S. has accused the appeals panel of overstepping its mandate and has demanded changes to the body’s practices.The EU is asserting itself more in a bid to prevent U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda and protectionism from undermining the rules-based global order to which Europe is committed.Over the past three years, Trump has angered Europe by hitting its steel and aluminum with tariffs based on controversial national-security grounds, dangled the threat of similar levies on foreign cars and drawn up plans to target French goods with levies as retaliation over a digital tax in France.The U.S. president has also sought to restrict European trade with Iran after pulling out of an international agreement to control the country’s nuclear activities and backed out of a landmark United Nations accord to fight climate change.The U.S. steel and aluminum duties, introduced in 2018, prompted the EU to complain to the Geneva-based WTO. The bloc also scrambled to put its own trade defenses in place for steel to prevent the American levies from diverting global shipments to the European market and flooding it.The amended EU legislation that Hogan is putting forward comes less than two weeks after he took office as part of a new leadership team at the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, under President Ursula von der Leyen. The proposal, which requires the support of EU governments and the European Parliament in a process that will last into next year, has political momentum.At a scheduled Dec. 12-13 meeting in the Belgian capital, the bloc’s national leaders will ask its legislative actors “to examine, as a matter of priority, the commission’s proposal,” according to a draft summit statement seen by Bloomberg.The government chiefs are also due to express support for a stopgap arbitration system that the commission is pursuing with EU trade partners such as Canada and China pending any revival of the WTO appellate body.Jacques Pelkmans, a trade expert and senior fellow at the CEPS think tank in Brussels, said the EU would likely be prudent about deploying any new sanctions tool in its policy arsenal.“When it comes to partners, the approach will undoubtedly be based on the primacy of consultation and peer pressure,” Pelkmans said. “In the extreme the EU might want to have the option of using it.”To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Stearns in Brussels at jstearns2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Zoe Schneeweiss, Brendan MurrayFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • UPDATE 4-Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is Time's Person of the Year

    UPDATE 4-Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is Time's Person of the YearNEW YORK/MADRID, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swede who inspired millions of young people to take action against climate change, has been named Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2019. Thunberg launched a grassroots campaign aged 15 by skipping school every Friday to demonstrate outside Swedish parliament, pushing for her government to meet its ambitious goals to curb carbon emissions. "In the 16 months since (her protests began), she has addressed heads of state at the U.N., met with the Pope, sparred with the President of the United States and inspired 4 million people to join the global climate strike," the magazine said.


  • UPDATE 1-UK PM Johnson heads for Brexit election win in tightening race

    UPDATE 1-UK PM Johnson heads for Brexit election win in tightening raceBritish Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks on course to win Thursday's election though the race has tightened markedly and he can no longer be sure of a majority, according to opinion polls published on the eve of the vote. The main opposition Labour Party promises a new referendum on Brexit as well as a renationalisation of utilities and railroads in its most left-wing platform for decades. YouGov, which accurately predicted the outcome of the last election two years ago with an elaborate survey that estimates the outcome in individual constituencies, cut its forecast for Johnson's likely parliamentary majority by more than half to 28 seats.


  • Algeria election may bring new era or continued protests

    Algeria election may bring new era or continued protestsAlgeria’s powerful army chief promises that a presidential election on Thursday will chart a new era for a nation where the highest office has stood vacant for eight months. The tenacious pro-democracy movement which forced leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign after 20 years in power doesn’t believe the claim and is boycotting the vote. The situation is remarkable in a country where the previous presidents were generals or, like Bouteflika, have had the blessing of the army brass since Algeria gained independence from France in 1962 after a brutal seven-year war.


  • U.S. slaps sanctions on Iranian airline over proliferation

    U.S. slaps sanctions on Iranian airline over proliferationThe United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on shipping and aviation industries over the transportation of lethal aid from Iran to Yemen and weapons of mass destruction proliferation, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. Washington targeted three general sales agents of Mahan Air over the role the airline has played in weapons of mass destruction proliferation, he said, as well as an Iranian shipping network involved in smuggling lethal aid from Iran to Yemen.


  • Johnson and Corbyn in Final Push as Poll Gap Narrows: U.K. Votes

    Johnson and Corbyn in Final Push as Poll Gap Narrows: U.K. Votes(Bloomberg) -- Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn began a whistle-stop tour of key districts, after a major opinion poll showed the Conservative Party’s lead has narrowed ahead of Thursday’s U.K. election.The YouGov survey of more than 100,000 voters put Johnson on course to win a majority of 28 seats, but that’s down from 68 in a similar projection two weeks earlier -- and the pollster did not rule out a hung parliament. The pound fell.Must read: The Voting Tactics That Could Cost Boris Johnson His MajorityKey Developments:YouGov MRP House of Commons seat forecast: Conservatives 339, Labour 231, Scottish National Party 41, Liberal Democrats 15Johnson campaigns in northern and eastern England, while Corbyn travels to Scotland, northeastern England and the Midlands before ending the day in LondonEuropean Union officials privately say they want Johnson’s Tories to win, to end the Brexit limboSterling fell as much as 0.3% against the dollar on Wednesday before erasing lossesBets on the pound weakening in the options market are at the highest since the 2016 Brexit referendumCorbyn Returns to NHS at Rally in North East (1:15 p.m.)Jeremy Corbyn held an outdoor rally in Middlesbrough, one of the marginal seats his Labour Party must regain or hold to deny Boris Johnson a majority. He cheered his chilly supporters by joking “I’ve not come here to deliver milk or to hide in a fridge” – a jibe at Johnson (see 11:15 a.m.). “I’m here to bring a message of hope,” Corbyn said.Speaking without notes, the Labour leader came back to the National Health Service multiple times. When he was questioning the truth of Johnson’s pledge to build new hospitals, a member of the crowd shouted “liar” about the prime minister. “Now, now we don’t use bad language,” Corbyn admonished her with a smile. He accused Johnson of “gutter” politics saying the Conservatives’ use of fake news and dissembling had led to a “vague mirage” of facts.His supporters also changed the words to their habitual chant. Instead of “Oh Jeremy Corbyn,” they sang “Prime Minister Corbyn,” as the party seeks a last-minute push to deprive Johnson of a victory on Thursday. “A government for the many, not the few,” Corbyn concluded.Johnson Criticized Over Ducking Questions (11:15 a.m.)Boris Johnson was criticized by Labour after he dodged questions from a reporter during an early morning photocall (see earlier). John McDonnell, the opposition party’s economy spokesman, tweeted that the prime minister’s behavior was “cowardly, undignified and pathetic” and “he is not fit to be prime minister.”During the campaign Johnson has been dogged by claims he is ducking scrutiny by being the only party leader to refuse to be interviewed by Andrew Neil, one of the BBC’s most forensic questioners. A reporter from the Labour-supporting Daily Mirror was barred from the Tory battle-bus and Johnson’s team have also kept him away from ITV’s Good Morning Britain, whose host Piers Morgan delights in being a controversialist.During Wednesday’s live broadcast of the ITV breakfast show, an aide to Johnson seemed to swear live on air when approached by the show’s reporter who pressed the Tory leader on whether he would appear on the program. Johnson, who was joining a morning delivery round, made for a walk-in fridge to avoid the reporter’s questions.Sturgeon, Swinson Turn Fire on Tories (11 a.m.)Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon urged Labour supporters to vote for her party so Boris Johnson’s Conservatives don’t benefit from a split in support for remaining in the European Union.“A Tory victory can be stopped and that means voting SNP,” Sturgeon told reporters in Edinburgh. “The SNP is the main challenger to the Tories. Voting for other parties risks helping the Tories.”Jo Swinson, leader of the Liberal Democrats, also launched an attack on the prime minister, saying the Tory leader has “run away from scrutiny.” At a rally in Esher, southwest of London, she highlighted how Johnson tried to avoid looking at a photograph of a child receiving treatment on a hospital floor, instead pocketing the phone of the reporter who’d shown him the picture.“He doesn’t care about anyone other than himself, we have seen that time and time again,” she said. Esher and Walton is currently held by Tory Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab – a key Brexiter – and on the Liberal Democrats’ target list.Farage Says Johnson Will ‘Sell Out’ Brexit (10:30 a.m.)Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit Party, complained about “real nastiness” in British politics. Speaking at a rally in Doncaster, he said he doesn’t trust Boris Johnson to deliver a proper split from the European Union.“I don’t want Brexit sold out, and I fear that Boris Johnson, if he gets a majority, that’s what he’ll do,” Farage said.The Brexit Party leader also said he expects turn out to be low on Thursday as disenchanted voters switch off from politics. he called for “fundamental” reform of the U.K.’s political system.McDonnell: ‘Good Chance of Small Labour Majority’ (9:30 a.m.)Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said that just as in the 2017 general election, opinion polls have underestimated voters’ shift toward Labour and that the party could still spring a surprise on Thursday.“The trend has been toward Labour throughout this campaign,” McDonnell told Bloomberg TV, referring to the YouGov poll published on Tuesday. “I actually think there’s a good chance of a small Labour majority.”McDonnell reiterated that Labour would not do deals with other parties or enter into a coalition in the event of a hung parliament, saying instead the party would seek to form a minority government. He also ruled out Labour jettisoning leader Jeremy Corbyn as leader to win the backing of other parties.Recriminations Dog Last Day of Campaigning (Earlier)As party leaders embark on a tour of key marginal districts, politicians’ morning broadcast rounds were dominated by recriminations over how the parties’ have conducted their campaigns.“I just wish we have had the Conservatives being honest with us,” Labour’s economy spokesman John McDonnell told BBC Radio. “I just wish we hadn’t been having this gutter politics, fake websites, lies and smears.”The Fake News Election: U.K. Faces Overhaul of Campaign RulesAdam Price, leader of the Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru, published a new draft law which would make lying by politicians a criminal offense.Boris Johnson’s Tories -- and the other main parties -- have been accused of using tactics to mislead voters, but Cabinet minister Michael Gove insisted he was proud of the of the campaign his party has run. “I certainly think everyone should tell the truth, yes,” he told BBC TV. “Whether or not we need a law, I don’t know.”Johnson: ‘Real Risk’ of a Hung Parliament (Earlier)Boris Johnson began the final day of campaigning with a customary photo op at a workplace, this time loading milk onto a delivery vehicle in West Yorkshire.“I just say to everybody the risk is very real that we could tomorrow be going into another hung parliament,” Johnson told broadcasters. “That’s more drift, more dither, more delay, more paralysis for this country.”Asked about the Conservatives’ lead narrowing ahead of the vote, Johnson said the election “could not be more critical, it could not be tighter.”Earlier:The Voting Tactics That Could Cost Boris Johnson His MajorityThe EU Hopes Boris Johnson Wins Big to Get Brexit Over WithThe Fake News Election: U.K. Faces Overhaul of Campaign RulesWhat Corbyn Stands For and Why He Spooks Markets: QuickTake\--With assistance from Anna Edwards, Robert Hutton and Thomas Penny.To contact the reporter on this story: Kitty Donaldson in London at kdonaldson1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Stuart Biggs, Andrew AtkinsonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • Ship run by Chinese firm under U.S. sanctions spurns Malaysian checks - agency

    Ship run by Chinese firm under U.S. sanctions spurns Malaysian checks - agencyKUALA LUMPUR/SINGAPORE, Dec 11 (Reuters) - An oil tanker, which shipping data showed was managed by a Chinese company under U.S. sanctions, refused to allow an inspection by maritime authorities while anchored in Malaysian waters, Malaysia's maritime agency said. Silvana III's commercial manager is Kunlun Shipping Co Ltd, according to shipping transparency website Equasis.org. Kunlun is one of several firms placed under U.S. sanctions this year for alleged involvement in transporting oil from Iran.


  • Greta Thunberg is Time's 2019 person of the year

    Greta Thunberg is Time's 2019 person of the yearTime has selected 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg as its 2019 person of the year.Thunberg, who this year led a worldwide movement demanding action on climate change and delivered a scathing United Nations speech scolding world leaders for "failing us," is the youngest Time person of the year ever by almost a decade; the previous youngest was 25-year-old Charles Lindbergh in 1927."For sounding the alarm about humanity’s predatory relationship with the only home we have, for bringing to a fragmented world a voice that transcends backgrounds and borders, for showing us all what it might look like when a new generation leads, Greta Thunberg is Time's 2019 Person of the Year," Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said.> .@GretaThunberg is TIME's 2019 Person of the Year TIMEPOY https://t.co/YZ7U6Up76v pic.twitter.com/SWALBfeGl6> > — TIME (@TIME) December 11, 2019The four other final candidates considered for person of the year were President Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint led to the impeachment inquiry, and the Hong Kong protesters.More stories from theweek.com Trump's pathological obsession with being laughed at The most important day of the impeachment inquiry Jerry Falwell Jr.'s false gospel of memes


  • Egypt urges decisive action against states backing 'terror'

    Egypt urges decisive action against states backing 'terror'Egypt’s president Wednesday called for “decisive” and “collective” action against countries supporting “terrorism" in an apparent reference to Turkey and Qatar, who back the Muslim Brotherhood group, which is outlawed in Egypt. The three countries also support opposing factions in the war-torn Libya. Addressing a two-day forum on peace in Africa in the southern city of Aswan, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi also said achieving sustainable development in Africa is needed, along with efforts to fight militant groups in Egypt and the Sahel region that stretches across Africa south of the Sahara Desert.


  • Germany rejects Putin claim on Berlin slaying victim

    Germany rejects Putin claim on Berlin slaying victimGermany on Wednesday rejected an assertion by Russian President Vladimir Putin that it failed to comply with requests from Moscow to extradite a Georgian man who was killed in Berlin in August. German prosecutors said last week that evidence suggests the slaying was ordered either by Moscow or authorities in Russia's republic of Chechnya. Germany expelled two Russian diplomats a week ago.


  • Germany unaware of extradition request for Georgian killed in Berlin

    Germany unaware of extradition request for Georgian killed in BerlinThe German government said on Wednesday it was unaware that Russia had made an extradition request for a Georgian man murdered in Berlin in August after Russian President Vladimir Putin said requests from Moscow had not been heeded. "The government is not aware of a Russian extradition request for the victim of the crime," said a spokesman for the Justice Ministry. Germany last week expelled two employees at the Russian embassy in Berlin, saying Moscow was not cooperating sufficiently in the investigation.


  • Turkey Turns Up the Dial in Eastern Mediterranean

    Turkey Turns Up the Dial in Eastern Mediterranean(Bloomberg Opinion) -- A long-simmering conflict at Europe’s doorstep is coming to a boil. In the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey is in a face-off with a coalition led by Greece, including Cyprus, Egypt and Israel, and backed by the European Union. At stake is the right to explore the off-shore hydrocarbon resources of this maritime zone. The growing tensions are threatening to spill over into the battlefields of Libya. Since the discovery of offshore gas in the Eastern Mediterranean a decade ago, littoral states have sought to leverage these natural resources. But in pursuit of national interests, they have deployed mutually exclusive interpretations of international law. A key requirement was the delimitation of the maritime borders between the littoral states. This would then allow a partition of the resources based on the exclusive economic zones of the respective countries. It was with this objective in mind that in years past Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and Israel concluded a set of bilateral agreements. But this was seen in Ankara as a predatory effort designed to foreclose these resources and to limit Turkey’s access to the undersea riches.The source of the friction is two-fold. The first one relates to the ongoing political division of Cyprus. The agreements are concluded by the internationally recognized government in Nicosia, but don’t incorporate sufficient guarantees that the economic benefits will be fairly shared with the Turkish population of the island. As a result, with the backing of Ankara, Turkish Cypriots have refused to acknowledge the validity of these contractual arrangements.Secondly, the agreements are based on the principle that islands impact the delimitation of maritime borders, and by extension have their own continental shelf and exclusive economic zone. This understanding, which stems from the relevant provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas, allows littoral states in possession of islands to greatly expand their area of maritime sovereignty. But as all international treaties, UNCLOS only binds its signatory parties. Turkey was not party to the convention back in 1982 when it was negotiated, essentially because it disagreed with the principle of maritime rights granted to islands under this international legal instrument. As a result, Turkey feels it is not bound to accept an arrangement that grants extensive maritime rights to the Mediterranean islands including a continental shelf and an exclusive economic zone. Ankara also contests efforts by other littoral states to carve out their own enlarged exclusive economic zone on the basis of the conglomeration of island formations.Turkey’s non-recognition of these rights is not illegal under international law. This is a situation similar to the status of Israel and India under the Non Proliferation Treaty: it is not legally wrong for either of them to possess nuclear weapons since they are not signatories. But, for good measure, Ankara argues that even under UNCLOS, disagreements over maritime borders should be settled by negotiations, rather than parties unilaterally imposing their own interpretations about the exact contours of their maritime borders. The dispute is not limited to cartography and diplomacy. Turkey has sent its navy into the contested waters, to prevent international oil companies that were granted concessions by the other countries, to undertake exploration and drilling there. It also sent its own ships to undertake offshore drilling in the contested zone, leading the EU to impose sanctions. In a new twist, Ankara has convinced the internationally-recognized government of Libya—the so-called Government of National Accord, based in Tripoli—to sign a memorandum of understanding to delimit the maritime boundaries between Libya and Turkey. The Turkish-Libyan sea map overlaps with maritime zones claimed by Greece. Athens reacted by expelling the Libyan ambassador to Greece, and complaining to the U.N.In exchange for the GNA’s agreeing to the maritime deal, Turkey has committed to upgrade its military support for the beleaguered leadership in Tripoli. Until recently, assistance was largely limited to military assets, like drones. But now President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he could send troops to Libya if the Tripoli government requests it. Libya is a theatre for proxy wars, with Turkey-backed government forces battling the armed opposition led by General Khalifa Haftar, who in turn is supported by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. More recently, Russia has entered the conflict on Haftar’s side. (As in the earlier days of the conflict in Syria, Turkey and Russia finds themselves supporting opposite camps.)Clearly, the international community needs to find a path towards deconfliction in the Eastern Mediterranean—but how? A key requirement is mature dialogue over potential maritime borders between the littoral states, and particularly between Turkey and Greece. This is an area where the incoming EU leadership should take a proactive role. It will require Brussels to revisit its stance on unconditional support to member states, instead incentivizing them to settle their differences with Turkey through negotiations. To contact the author of this story: Sinan Ulgen at sulgen@edam.org.trTo 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.Sinan Ulgen is the executive chairman of Istanbul-based think tank EDAM and a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe in Brussels.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • Women Turn to Guerrilla Tactics to Bring Equality Into U.K. Vote

    Women Turn to Guerrilla Tactics to Bring Equality Into U.K. Vote(Bloomberg) -- A century after the U.K. saw its first female member of Parliament, one political party is adopting non-traditional “guerrilla tactics” in its attempts to advance the debate over gender in British politics.The Women’s Equality Party is embracing its position as a non-partisan “political startup” of 35,000 members ahead of Thursday’s general election and using its small but media-savvy base to pressure more established opponents to adopt its policies. Getting anyone elected this time around is more of an afterthought.All of its candidates are survivors of sexual abuse and they’re standing only in the seats most recently held by male lawmakers accused of some form of harassment. Four of the five lawmakers targeted have now opted not to stand for re-election, something party leader Mandu Reid counts as a victory even before any ballots are cast.“Utopia is that the candidates we’re standing are returned to Parliament as our very first elected MPs,” Reid said in an interview. “However, we’re realists in the Women’s Equality Party. This election was never about trying to accumulate votes, this is about exerting influence.”In an election that’s seen deals between parties as they seek to avoid splitting voters on the key issue of Brexit, WEP -- which was founded in a bar at London’s Women of the World festival in 2015 -- is joining the trend. Last month it stood down its candidate in London’s City and Westminster constituency in favor of Chuka Umunna, a high-profile Liberal Democrat who defected from the main opposition Labour Party.In return Umunna has agreed to back changes to the law that would allow voters to oust members of parliament found guilty of sexual harassment or abuse. WEP put the issue at the forefront of its campaign after as many as 20 British politicians were publicly accused in the last two years. Umunna would also push measures to support abuse survivors and increase refuge provision.And he’s not the only candidate from a rival party to draw backing from WEP. Sandi Toksvig, the group’s co-founder and presenter of the Great British Bake-off, one of the U.K.’s most watched TV shows, traveled with other activists to southeast England to support Labour lawmaker Rosie Duffield in her hotly contested Canterbury seat.Duffield talked candidly in Parliament about her own experiences with a controlling partner and has “championed so many of the issues that matter deeply to us,” Reid said.WEP’s own candidates are unlikely to secure enough votes to make it to the House of Commons themselves, but the group is content to influence bigger parties.“It’s like a guerrilla approach really,” Reid said. “We’re like David and they’re Goliath -- or we’re Davina and they’re Goliath -- and we’re making things happen.”\--With assistance from Gloria Cheung and Madis Kabash.To contact the reporter on this story: Lucy Meakin in London at lmeakin1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Paul Gordon at pgordon6@bloomberg.net, Alex MoralesFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • New Jersey mayor says attackers targeted Jewish market

    New Jersey mayor says attackers targeted Jewish marketThe man and woman who stormed a Jewish market in a deadly shooting in Jersey City clearly targeted the place, the mayor said Wednesday, amid growing fears the bloodshed was an anti-Semitic attack. New Jersey Attorney General Gurbil Grewal, though, cautioned that the motive for the attack that left six people dead Tuesday was still under investigation. The two assailants were killed along with three people inside the kosher market and a police officer in an hourslong gunbattle and standoff that began at a cemetery.


  • EU ready to start talks on future with Britain immediately after Brexit-EU official

    EU ready to start talks on future with Britain immediately after Brexit-EU officialThe European Union is ready to start negotiations on its future relationship with Britain as soon as Britain leaves the bloc, a senior EU official said on Wednesday, ahead of a meeting of EU leaders on Brexit on Friday. Britain will hold parliamentary elections on Thursday after years of negotiations on the terms of its withdrawal from the EU did not produce a result that would get sufficient support in the British parliament. The British election results are likely to be known early on Friday.


  • Trump blocks UN from scrutinising North Korea human rights record for second year in a row

    Trump blocks UN from scrutinising North Korea human rights record for second year in a rowThe United States is holding back a UN Security Council meeting to discuss North Korea’s human rights abuses, after Pyongyang warned it would be a “serious provocation”.The meeting was set to convene on Tuesday, to coincide with Human Rights Day, but US Ambassador Kelly Craft told reporters last week the meeting was still undecided.


  • U.K. Election Winners Will Find Reviving Economy No Easy Task

    U.K. Election Winners Will Find Reviving Economy No Easy Task(Bloomberg) -- Explore what’s moving the global economy in the new season of the Stephanomics podcast. Subscribe via Apple Podcast, Spotify or Pocket Cast.Whoever wins this week’s U.K. election will take over an economy that’s far from full strength, and turning it around will require more than just ramping up spending.Both the ruling Conservative and the opposition Labour Party leaders have promised to end a decade of austerity. They’ll also be charged with rewriting the rules governing the U.K.’s relationship with its biggest trading partner if they take the country out of the European Union. Here’s the backdrop facing whoever takes charge at 10 Downing Street:GrowthThe U.K.’s output has been hobbled since the 2016 referendum as businesses cut back on investment. Consumer spending has at least been a strong point and helped the U.K. avoid a recession before the ultimately delayed Oct. 31 deadline for leaving the EU. Signs of a turn in the labor market have raised questions as to how long that resilience can last, however.What Our Economists Say:“A scenario where the Conservative Party falls just short of a majority is probably the worst result for the economy in the near term. It would leave the U.K. stuck in limbo and growth anemic.\-- Dan Hanson, Jamie Rush, and Niraj Shah, Bloomberg EconomicsInvestmentBusinesses reduced spending for four quarters in a row in 2018, the longest continuous decline since the financial crisis, and the performance hasn’t improved much since. Changing Brexit deadlines and a lack of clarity over the future relationship with the EU have pushed companies to put off investment decisions.Labor MarketWhile high employment figures have been a bright spot for the economy over the last few years, there are signs that Brexit uncertainty is finally hitting the labor market. The economy lost jobs in the third quarter of the year and vacancies posted their largest annual decline since the financial crisis. Signs that the labor market is turning were cited by two Bank of England policy makers as a reason for wanting to cut interest rates in November.Still, unemployment remains at near-record lows, and the Resolution Foundation, a research group, says that living standards are on the cusp of returning to their pre-crisis levels. Low-paid workers in sectors such as retail and hospitality have benefited from big increases in the minimum wage, though Britons could be much better off had pay continued to grow at its historical average.MigrationMigration to the U.K. from the EU has plunged to the lowest since 2003 after the Brexit vote, even with no formal changes to immigration policy yet. Fewer workers are bad news for companies ranging from construction to healthcare providers who already face skills shortages and have relied on EU citizens to plug the gaps for years.ProductivityOne of the biggest problems facing Britain’s economy is its dismal productivity performance. Hourly output has grown by around 0.5% a year on average since the financial crisis ended compared with over 2% in the decade before it began. Leaving the EU may worsen the issue as Britain could be deprived of productivity-enhancing innovation and investment. Time spent preparing for Brexit may also be having a negative impact already, according to research.Fiscal ExpansionGovernment spending is heading for a return to levels not seen for decades regardless of who triumphs in the election. Still, the size of the state will vary significantly depending on which party ends up in power. The Conservatives plan to increase day-to-day spending by just 3 billion pounds ($3.9 billion) a year by the end of the next Parliament in 2024, and add 20 billion pounds to capital investment. Labour, by contrast, is proposing an 83 billion-pound boost for public services and 55 billion pounds more for investment.To contact the reporters on this story: Jill Ward in London at jward98@bloomberg.net;Andrew Atkinson in London at a.atkinson@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Fergal O'Brien at fobrien@bloomberg.net, Brian Swint, David GoodmanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • Will British Elections Save or End the Special Relationship?

    Will British Elections Save or End the Special Relationship?We shall soon find out the fate of Brexit too.


  • Trump Meets With Russia While Democrats Introduce Impeachment Articles

    Trump Meets With Russia While Democrats Introduce Impeachment ArticlesIn a statement issued after the meeting, the White House said that many matters concerning the bilateral relationship between the two countries, including election interference, arms control, North Korea, China, Iran, and trade, were discussed. Trump made a similar statement on Twitter Inc (NYSE: TWTR), saying that Russia’s alleged “election meddling” was one of the topics discussed during their meeting.


  • China biggest jailer of journalists, as press dangers persist: watchdog

    China biggest jailer of journalists, as press dangers persist: watchdogAt least 250 journalists are jailed around the world, with the largest number held in China, amid a growing crackdown by authoritarian regimes on independent media, a press watchdog group said Wednesday. Many of those imprisoned face "anti-state" charges or are accused of producing "false news," according to the report by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists which also cited Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Eritrea, Vietnam, and Iran for their jailing of journalists. The press freedom watchdog said it counted at least 48 journalists jailed in China, one more than in 2018, as President Xi Jinping ramps up efforts to control the media.


  • UPDATE 1-Iran will bypass U.S. sanctions or overcome them through talks -Rouhani

    UPDATE 1-Iran will bypass U.S. sanctions or overcome them through talks -RouhaniIran will overcome U.S. sanctions by either bypassing them or through negotiations, and it will not cross its red lines in any talks with arch-adversary Washington, President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday. Tensions have soared between Tehran and Washington since last year, when President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with six powers and reimposed sanctions on Tehran that have crippled its oil-based economy.


  • 'Mountain of mistrust' blocking US-China interim trade war deal

    'Mountain of mistrust' blocking US-China interim trade war dealA lack of trust between Beijing and Washington is hampering the conclusion of an interim trade deal, with China doubting whether it can rely on any agreement made with President Donald Trump and the US unconvinced Beijing will deliver on promised reforms, according to former US government officials.Christopher Hill, former US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said that both nations recognised the need to get the "phase one" deal done, but he warned that both had "a mountain of mistrust" standing in the way of an agreement."Mistrust is the most difficult thing to remove from the negotiation," said Hill, a longtime negotiator who represented the US between 2005 and 2007 in the six-party talks to press North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapon programme."China's concerned that they can't really reach a deal because they can't rely on it. On the US side, there is a perception that China also has credibility problems," Hill told the South China Morning Post on the sidelines of an economic forum in Sanya, in the southern Chinese province of Hainan over the weekend."If I'm China, I would be concerned whether the deal Trump agrees to is the one he agreed to tomorrow and the next day. If I'm Trump, I would see the big problem for me is to convince China that what I offer is really what I will stand by [and] that is my word," he said.Officials from the two sides are rushing to conclude negotiations before Sunday, when the US is set to impose additional tariffs on Chinese imports. While a phase-one deal is unlikely to be reached by then, sources close to the talks said they did not expect the new tariffs to come into force.China and the US were believed to have reached an agreement in May to end the costly trade war, which began in July 2018. But talks collapsed suddenly, with the US accusing China of backtracking on concessions and Beijing accusing Washington of flip-flopping and making unreasonable demands, such as expecting China to change its state-led economic development model.Former US treasury secretary Jack Lew said leaders in both countries should take a step back to find the right pathway."One of the problems is, I don't know that teams from our country speak for our president in those meetings," he said in an address to the forum, adding that during his term as treasury secretary, from 2013 to 2017, he had the backing of then-US President Barack Obama."I know when I attended these meetings I spoke with authority and we worked through whether there would be an agreement on exchange rates or agreement on information technology, or agreements on decreasing subsidies," he said."It's been a problem in these talks that our teams have gone through many rounds where it's not clear what ultimately would be the president's position. That makes it hard for the negotiation."Steve Orlins, president of the National Committee on US-China Relations, observed disappointment and confusion in the Chinese leadership over what Trump did and wanted, including on the trade surplus and structural reform."You don't know what the [Trump] administration is demanding. They have not been very transparent on what China needs to do to satisfy that," he said.But he also pointed out the growing dissatisfaction in the US over China's promises and urged Beijing change, from creating a level playing field to intellectual property protection to the subsidies given to state-owned enterprises."The Americans talk about this in terms of promise fatigue. The concept of promise fatigue is you promise something 20 times and, by the 20th time, if you don't get it, you kind of go 'Ha, I'm never going to get it,'" he said.Hill said current efforts by both sides to de-escalate tensions were not enough."I do believe that the US and China need to make a bigger effort to find areas of agreement, which is not to solve the areas of disagreement, but to establish some patterns where we can work with China, and I think those patterns can carry on into areas where we currently disagree, and I don't think there's been enough effort," he said.This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2019 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • International experts quit 'unfit for purpose' Hong Kong police brutality inquiry

    International experts quit 'unfit for purpose' Hong Kong police brutality inquiryAn international panel of experts hired to advise Hong Kong on the police response to huge pro-democracy protests announced on Wednesday they were quitting, saying the watchdog was not fit for purpose "in a society that values freedoms and rights". The group's damning conclusion is a blow to Hong Kong's government, which has insisted its Independent Police Complaints Commission is capable of holding the force to account over snowballing claims of brutality. "We ultimately concluded that a crucial shortfall was evident in the powers, capacity and independent investigative capability of IPCC," the experts said. Critics have long charged the body lacks adequate powers, is stacked with pro-establishment figures and has been toothless when it comes to keeping the police in line. The watchdog can only handle complaints forwarded by the police themselves and it cannot subpoena documents or compel witnesses to testify. Such limitations, the expert panel said, do not "begin to meet the standards citizens of Hong Kong would likely require of a police watchdog operating in a society that values freedoms and rights". Protests have rocked Hong Kong for more than six months, with up to two million people taking to the streets, initially against a now-shelved extradition bill. Latterly, one of the core demands of protesters - alongside fully free elections - has been an inquiry into the police, who have been left to battle increasingly violent black-clad activists and are now loathed by significant chunks of the deeply polarised population. But both chief executive Carrie Lam and the police have repeatedly rejected those calls. Pro-democracy lawmaker Tanya Chan described the resignation of the expert group as a "vote of no confidence" in the IPCC and the interim report it is expected to produce next year. Hong Kong protests | Read more The panel was announced in September and was chaired by Sir Dennis O'Connor, who was tasked by the British government to write a report on the police after the 2011 London riots. It included current or former police watchdog chiefs from Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and a British specialist on crowd behaviour. A month ago, a leaked statement from the group revealed they felt the police watchdog was not equipped to carry out a proper investigation, and suggested a fully independent inquiry would be better suited. But their frank assessment was not welcomed by Anthony Neoh, the IPCC's head. He gave an interview to a mainland Chinese media outlet rebuking the panel, saying they "do not understand Hong Kong's situation". On Sunday, an estimated 800,000 people marched peacefully through the city's streets Sunday in a movement that has become a popular revolt against Beijing's authoritarian rule. The last three weeks have seen a rare lull in the violence and vandalism after pro-democracy parties won a landslide in local council elections. "Do not waste time, and please grab this golden opportunity to persuade Beijing... to support an independent commission of inquiry," lawmaker Ms Chan added. An end to violence is something Ms Lam has insisted must be a precursor to meaningful dialogue. But she has shown no sign she is willing to budge, leading to fears clashes could resume. In her weekly press conference on Tuesday she dismissed protesters' demands once more as she announced plans to go to Beijing this weekend where she is expected to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. China has publicly thrown its support behind both Lam and the city's police, even as their approval ratings take a hammering.


  • Activist Thunberg denounces "clever accounting" in climate fight

    Activist Thunberg denounces "clever accounting" in climate fightTeenage climate activist Greta Thunberg accused political and business leaders of looking for loopholes to polish their image in the fight against climate change at a United Nations summit on Wednesday. Politicians in Madrid are grappling with outstanding issues in the implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to avert catastrophic global warming.