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  • 2020 Watch: Why are there 8 candidates still in the race?

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    Bernie Sanders has become the clear front-runner in the Democrats' presidential nomination fight. Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, among others, dramatically intensified their attacks against the Vermont senator over the weekend. Biden is as committed as ever ahead of South Carolina's primary this Saturday, betting that his first victory could slingshot him to the front of the moderate muddle.

    Mon, 24 Feb 2020 05:24:30 -0500
  • Putin Sent Her Activist Boyfriend to Siberia. Now She Wants to Go, Too.

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    MOSCOW—Few people are familiar with Novaya Zemlya, a very obscure archipelago above the Arctic Circle that is controlled by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the infamous Soviet spy agency, the KGB. Even fewer people hope to travel to those thinly populated and thoroughly militarized islands, where the Russian army tests its Arctic missile systems, and where polar bears suffering the effects of climate change dig through garbage pits at impoverished settlements. Alexei Navalny on Standing Up to Putin and His Murderous MinionsIt sounds like hell frozen over, in fact—and it figures in what looks like a new tactic by President Vladimir Putin (a former KGB operative) to intimidate his most vocal critics. But Kira Yarmysh has a special reason to go there. She is desperate to see her partner, who became the first victim of such an operation last December.“The FSB abducted my boyfriend, Ruslan Shaveddinov, and isolated him in Novaya Zemlya,” Yarmysh told The Daily Beast. “The most outrageous truth is that several divisions of the state system, including military authorities, aviation, and secret services, are helping to hide Ruslan from us.” This was hardly a random act. Yarmysh is a news presenter and spokesperson for Russia’s top opposition leader, Aleksei Navalny, and his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK). Shaveddinov is one of the group’s star reporters and presenters as well.Russia still has a military draft, and 12 months of service are mandatory for all male citizens age 18 to 33. Shaveddinov, known as “Shav,” has been famous for presenting vivid, well-documented corruption investigations on YouTube. But at 23 years old, he was vulnerable, and authorities claimed he was draft-dodging.The news agency TASS quotes Moscow’s military commissar, Col. Maksim Loktev, claiming the conscription of Shaveddinov was perfectly ordinary: “He departed to the place of his military service on the draft.” But the young activist’s colleagues aren’t buying it. It’s not just the matter of conscription; it’s the deployment that’s suspicious.“This is a unique example of how the FSB begins to use military service as a prison for politically active young men,” Navalny told The Daily Beast. “I think the order was to isolate Shav.”Viewers all over Russia recognize Yarmysh and Shaveddinov from YouTube, which is the main outlet for Navalny’s reports. More than three million viewed their presentation last summer (while Navalny was in jail) about Moscow Deputy Mayor Natalia Sergunina. They reported she was making millions of dollars off property deals in the Russian capital for companies controlled by her relatives, an allegation that she has denied.  There are frequent police raids on FBK offices, along with confiscations of computers, cellphones, and video cameras. On July 27, members of an armed special unit raided Yarmysh’s home at dawn, woke the couple up, put Ruslan on the floor, and confiscated all of the digital equipment. After a tough 2019, Kira and Ruslan looked forward to celebrating the New Year’s holiday together, without any people around. But on Dec. 23, Kira’s boyfriend vanished and his cellphone was not answered. His friends found the door to his apartment broken. Nearly 24 hours later, Yarmysh discovered that her partner was more than 3,000 kilometers (some 2,000 miles) away, in a unit of what’s called the 33rd Guards Rocket Army based in Rogachevo village on the Southern Island of Novaya Zemlya. Yarmysh had never heard much about the rules of the archipelago and the news came as a shock: there was an old nuclear testing ground near Ruslan’s base; she could not visit his island without a special FSB permit. Then Ruslan called her, and what she heard broke her heart, she says.“There were two army captains with him listening in our conversation, so every time I asked him how he was, he said, ‘Let’s talk about you,” Yarmysh remembered. “He told me he was banned from using his cellphone, which is a violation—every Russian soldier can call home once a week! So I decided to sue his commander.”Yarmysh wanted to be present during the court hearing last week, and, of course, to see Ruslan. She requested an FSB permit earlier this month, but days passed and there was no word back. The court hearing was scheduled for last Wednesday, but a Moscow judge on the case was not able to get to Novaya Zemlya, Yarmysh said—the flight got canceled due to harsh weather conditions. (This is not unusual given the brutal Arctic weather.) “They regularly cancel flights during the winter, so I am surprised that the army managed to transport Ruslan there so easily in December,” Yarmysh said. “It is obvious that the weather is not an issue, if there is an order to bring the guy.”Finally a hearing was held at the end of the week, and a lawyer from the Navalny team was able to make it there, but there was no satisfaction to be had and communications were spotty. At midday on Saturday, Yarmysh tweeted that she still had heard nothing about her boyfriend's fated. (A troll responded with pictures of polar bears eating a bloody corpse: "Found him. But no need to thank me.")The lawyer finally got in touch late Saturday, but only briefly. He reported that, officially, the court said Shaveddinov had no unusual restrictions. But in practical terms that was no consolation, and Yarmysh said she couldn't be sure what happened until the attorney made it back to Moscow. As of Monday, however, he was till stuck above the Arctic Circle because of the weather."Prisoners have more rights than Ruslan," Yarmysh told The Daily Beast. "He doesn't have any right to call, or even to send letters."Yarmysh grew up in Rostov-on-Don, a provincial southern town on the border with Ukraine’s Donbas region. Her single mother brought her up dreaming that one day Kira would win The Clever Heads, a televised competition for high-schoolers that awards the winners with a chance to enroll in Russia’s most prestigious university for future diplomats, the MGIMO, or Moscow State Institute of International Relations. And, yes, Yarmysh won.While studying at MGIMO, she thought she would one day get a diplomat’s position in Africa, far from the Russian political scene. But anti-Putin street protests in 2011-2012 changed her life, and she wound up on the front line of the opposition’s constant fight with corrupt bureaucrats. Her mother has always been an Aleksey Navalny fan, Yarmysh said, so when she got her job at the FBK six years ago, her family supported her. “Kira Yarmysh is one of the brightest stars in Navalny’s team. She is emerging to be even bigger but still stay in Navalny’s shadow,” Echo of Moscow Deputy Chief Editor Olga Bychkova told The Daily Beast. Yarmysh says that if she has to she will wait for her boyfriend for 12 months, as do millions of other Russian girls all over the country. “I hope this is going to be just one year,” she says.  For two months, Yarmysh has been worried, feeling “hurt,” she says, wondering why out of all Russia’s vast military bases, her boyfriend was isolated in the Arctic. “The authorities might think that Ruslan and I, if we come out to a street protest, might lead masses of people,” Yarmysh said, then added: “I personally have no fear. If they raid our homes, if they detain us, I tell myself, we must be doing everything right.” But for the moment that is, at best, cold comfort.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Mon, 24 Feb 2020 05:11:15 -0500
  • Visions of Peace Initiative Received Special Awards at the UN World Interfaith Harmony Week 2020

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    Mon, 24 Feb 2020 05:00:00 -0500
  • German Carnival floats take aim at racism in wake of attack

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    Biting commentary on racism in Germany featured prominently Monday among Carnival floats in western cities, hastily put together in the aftermath of a deadly far-right attack last week near Frankfurt. The floats for parades in Cologne, Duesseldorf, Mainz and elsewhere are notorious for their no-holds-barred satire, and also took aim at Brexit, the potential candidates to take over leadership of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party, and U.S. President Donald Trump. Last Wednesday, a 43-year-old German man who had posted a racist screed online advocating genocide gunned down nine people of foreign background in the Frankfurt suburb of Hanau, before apparently killing himself and his mother.

    Mon, 24 Feb 2020 04:36:23 -0500
  • UN chief issues 7-point 'call to action' on human rights

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    The head of the United Nations issued a “call to action” on Monday to countries, businesses and all people to help renew and revive human rights across the globe, laying out a seven-point plan amid concerns about climate change, conflict and repression. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made the appeal at the start of the latest Human Rights Council session in Geneva, known as the council's “high-level segment” because it hosts a parade of dignitaries — including Libya's prime minister and foreign ministers from countries like Germany, Saudi Arabia and South Korea at the start of the four-week session. “I have come to the Human Rights Council — the fulcrum for international dialogue and cooperation to advance all human rights — to launch a Call to Action,” Guterres said, speaking in broad terms and avoiding any reference to individual countries' rights records.

    Mon, 24 Feb 2020 04:19:35 -0500
  • Virus-hit China postpones parliament for first time in decades

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    China decided Monday to postpone its annual parliament session for the first time since the Cultural Revolution, as the country battles the coronavirus outbreak. Top Communist Party leaders including President Xi Jinping attend each year's gathering of the National People's Congress, which rubber-stamps bills, budgets and personnel moves already decided by the party. The NPC's Standing Committee met Monday and decided it was "appropriate to postpone" the parliament, which was due to start on March 5, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

    Mon, 24 Feb 2020 04:02:03 -0500
  • Italy tries to contain virus as neighbors fear its spread

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    Police manned checkpoints around quarantined towns in Italy's north on Monday as authorities sought to contain cases of COVID-19 virus that have made Italy the focal point of the outbreak in Europe and fears of its cross-border spread. At least 190 people in Italy’s north have tested positive for the virus and four people have died, including an 84-year-old man who died overnight in Bergamo, the Lombardy regional government reported. Italy’s neighbors Slovenia and Croatia, which are popular destinations for Italian tourists and whose own citizens often travel to Italy, were holding crisis meetings Monday, although neither reported any cases.

    Mon, 24 Feb 2020 04:01:32 -0500
  • China postpones key political meetings because of virus

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    China announced Monday it has postponed its most important political meetings of the year because of the outbreak of the new virus, a significant step for an authoritarian government that has always kept tight control over its political calendar. The decision indicates the importance that President Xi Jinping places on the battle against the virus, which has killed more than 2,500 people and sickened more than 77,000 in mainland China. The outbreak has posed one of the biggest political challenges to Xi’s administration since he took control of the ruling Communist Party in 2012.

    Mon, 24 Feb 2020 04:00:18 -0500
  • Mike Pence’s 2024 Presidential Campaign Has Already Begun

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    (Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s bid for a second term in office is giving Vice President Mike Pence an early edge in the race that’s already shaping up for the Republican nomination in 2024.Pence has lately been a mainstay at Trump’s signature campaign rallies, seldom missing the opportunity to introduce the president while test-driving a few crowd-pleasing lines of his own. The vice president has his own political action committee and has been steadily expanding his travel as a surrogate for Trump, with a particular focus on Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.He’s scheduled to embark on a bus tour through Michigan on Tuesday without the president, who’s in India. It will include a speech to supporters in a hotel ballroom -- a sort of mini-rally.People in and around the White House believe it’s a foregone conclusion that Pence will seek to succeed Trump. But he hasn’t firmly decided, and his nomination, let alone his election, are much less certain.“He’s entirely focused on re-electing Donald Trump in 2020,” said Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short.While 14 U.S. vice presidents have ascended to the White House, eight of them got there thanks to the death of the leader they served. Pence’s chances in 2024 would be undercut by a Trump loss this year; for better or worse, his loyalty to Trump binds him to the president.Long-Term Goal“There’s no question that would be something Mike Pence would want to do; the question is where the Republican Party will be by the time he has the opportunity,” said Andrea Neal, author of “Pence: The Path to Power.” Some of Pence’s sixth-grade classmates recall him saying he wanted to be president, she said.Taking the stage after the vice president at a rally last week in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Trump thanked Pence for the introduction.“I heard he gave a great speech. I never want it to be too good. I never want it to be too good,” Trump said, wagging his finger. “I said ‘Mike, take it easy. It can’t be too good.’ Mike is great.”Trump knows Pence is ramping up for a potential bid in 2024 and doesn’t mind, officials said.2024 CompetitionDuring a trip to South Carolina earlier this month -- a state that’s considered safe for Trump in 2020 -- Pence met privately with Walter Whetsell, a political consultant he knows from his time in Congress, said a person familiar with the matter. Whetsell couldn’t be reached for comment.Pence’s remarks introducing the president at a rally in Las Vegas on Friday were littered with nods toward Trump slogans -- “Make America Great Again,” “Keep America Great,” and “Build That Wall.” But he also repeatedly used a word uncommon to Trump: “faith.”A staunchly pro-life Christian and conservative, Pence has bedrock support among evangelicals and other pillars of the Trump base. But a wide-open Republican field is expected to take shape in 2024, regardless of who wins this year, probably featuring former Trump administration officials and a crop of recently elected and ambitious Republican lawmakers.Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo are seen as almost-certain candidates; other possibilities mentioned by Republican strategists include Senators Rick Scott of Florida, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and Josh Hawley of Missouri, as well as the governors of Texas and Florida, Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis, and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.“The constituency that he has sewed up may not be big enough for him to win the party’s nomination on his own,” Neal said of Pence.Unfailing LoyaltyInside the administration, Pence, 60, is know for his unfailing loyalty to Trump. The vice president is wary of saying anything publicly that could be interpreted as criticism, and is steadfast in quoting the president’s own statements on thornier subjects. The two speak almost daily, often privately. Any advice or suggestions Pence might have for the president are delivered only in those private exchanges, aides say.Among some Trump advisers there’s a sense that Pence, the former Indiana congressman and governor, lacks the showman’s instincts of his boss, to his detriment with the base of supporters that’s coalesced around Trump, the former reality TV star and real estate developer.While Trump basks in the limelight of rallies, TV appearances and firing off incendiary tweets, Pence thrives more on the ground -- his recent campaign travels have included stops at diners, coffee shops and VFW halls, the kind of grip-and-grin retail politics that the president has never embraced.Big TipperIn Wisconsin in November, Pence stopped his motorcade in the middle of a road to get out and take photos with children who’d gathered outside their school. Later in the same trip, he made an unannounced stop at a diner, Mickey-Lu-Bar-B-Q, and ordered cheeseburgers for himself and a local congressman.The waitress asked what toppings he’d like. “Load me up,” Pence replied.Back in Washington, the fight over Trump’s impeachment raged. “We are with you all the way,” one woman said at the diner, leaning in to clutch Pence’s hand. Her son had been at a shipyard where Pence had spoken earlier in the day.“They’re growing,” Pence said of the shipyard. “Did you know that?”His cheeseburgers arrived, wrapped in white paper. He handed the waitress $20 -- a tip of some $14 -- before eating and dashing off.In December, Pence made a bus tour through Pennsylvania, another key electoral battleground. He returned to the state after Trump’s State of the Union speech earlier this month.‘Division of Labor’Pence is trusted by both social and small-government conservatives, said David McIntosh, the president of the Club for Growth, which pressures Republicans to support lower taxes and reduced government spending. The vice president “thrives” at conventional retail politics, he said, freeing up Trump to headline large-scale campaign rallies.“It’s a good division of labor,” said McIntosh, a fellow Hoosier who preceded Pence in representing Indiana’s second congressional district.Pence makes time on his travels to meet with local Republican Party leaders, city officials and legislators -- all crucial to building an election ground game, McIntosh said. He also courts input from conservative groups, including consulting on competitive House and Senate races.“One of the things Mike does extremely well here in D.C. is make sure the national conservative groups feel heard in the White House,” McIntosh said.Even in Trump’s long shadow he’s had signature moments. In September, Pence abruptly flew to Turkey to negotiate a cease-fire between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s military and U.S. Kurdish allies after Trump abruptly ordered American forces withdrawn from northern Syria.Taking on ChinaPence has also been the most forceful critic of Chinese human rights abuses in the Trump administration, delivering a speech in October criticizing Beijing’s crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong. The Chinese government called the speech “lies.”In late January, Pence flew to Israel and Italy to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Pope Francis. On the way home, his aircraft stopped at Shannon Airport in Ireland to refuel at the same time as a plane carrying U.S. soldiers deploying to the Middle East.“I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to get off Air Force 2 and tell you how grateful we are for each and every one of you,” Pence told the soldiers. He discussed the U.S. strike on Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, now a staple of Trump’s re-election speeches, telling the troops that by all accounts Iran was standing down.“Beyond that, I’m just gonna take as many selfies as you all got time to do,” Pence said.\--With assistance from Jordan Fabian.To contact the reporters on this story: Josh Wingrove in Washington at jwingrove4@bloomberg.net;Mario Parker in Washington at mparker22@bloomberg.net;Jennifer Jacobs in Washington at jjacobs68@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, Ros KrasnyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 24 Feb 2020 04:00:00 -0500
  • China’s Xi Jinping Sounds Alarm Over Virus Outbreak at Party’s Doorstep

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    Mon, 24 Feb 2020 03:54:26 -0500
  • Merkel’s Party Seeks Way Out of Crisis After Hamburg Failure

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    Mon, 24 Feb 2020 03:50:10 -0500
  • IrisGuard EyePay® Partner with Egypt Post and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency Enabling Aid Cash Transfer to Refugees

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    IrisGuard UK Ltd, the world leading Iris-based financial payment platform, announced the deployment of its revolutionary EyePay® Cash mobile platform enabling refugees in Egypt to receive their financial aid assistance via iris identification in partnership with Egypt National Post ENPO and UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency.

    Mon, 24 Feb 2020 03:35:00 -0500
  • S.Korea, U.S. defence chiefs to meet amid unresolved dispute on cost-sharing

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    Mon, 24 Feb 2020 03:05:48 -0500
  • Iran lawmaker says 50 dead from new virus in city of Qom

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    A staggering 50 people have died in the Iranian city of Qom from the new coronavirus this month, a lawmaker was quoted as saying on Monday, even as the Health Ministry insisted only 12 deaths have been recorded to date in the country. The new death toll reported by the Qom representative, Ahmad Amiriabadi Farahani, is significantly higher than the latest number of nationwide confirmed cases of infections that Iranian officials had reported just a few hours earlier, which stood at 12 deaths out of 47 cases, according to state TV. Health Ministry spokesman Iraj Harirchi rejected the Qom lawmaker's claims, insisting the death toll from the virus remains at 12.

    Mon, 24 Feb 2020 03:02:58 -0500
  • U.S. 10-year Treasury yield hits lowest since 2016 on coronavirus fears

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    Mon, 24 Feb 2020 02:29:06 -0500
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    Huge crowd welcomes Trump, Indians protest citizenship law

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    Mon, 24 Feb 2020 02:22:32 -0500
  • The Coronavirus Is Starting to Go Global

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    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- For a time, it looked like our defenses might hold. The extraordinary lockdown of China’s Hubei province over the past month had at times appeared to be halting the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. For much of that period, new cases outside China were running at just a dozen or so a day, most of them with clear connections back to the epicenter in the city of Wuhan.Perhaps this latest infection could follow the path of severe acute respiratory syndrome? The SARS strain of coronavirus vanished within months of its emergence in 2003 thanks to stringent quarantine measures, and has since hardly ever been seen outside of laboratories.That prospect is looking increasingly remote now. For most of the past month, just a percentage point of so of new daily infections have occurred outside China. Since Thursday, that proportion has risen to a fifth. Nearly half of cases so far found outside of China have been reported in the past four days.Fresh outbreaks in Italy and Iran, and a galloping rate of new infections in South Korea and Japan, suggest that Covid-19 is skipping past our quarantine cordons quite as easily as it jumps the body’s defenses. “Those countries are canaries in the coalmine that the virus is quite active — a sign that containment is reaching the end of its applicability,” said Ian Mackay, an associate professor of virology at the University of Queensland. “There could be these sorts of spot fires burning everywhere with us not knowing.”These outbreaks may still be just the tip of the iceberg. About two-thirds of coronavirus cases exported from China haven’t been detected yet, according to a study last week by Imperial College London.In a separate study by doctors in Henan province to the north of Hubei, a woman from Wuhan was found to have incubated coronavirus for 19 days and infected five family members while frequently showing no symptoms herself, even under repeated medical testing. China’s official case tallies often seem hard to reconcile, and may be under-counted.That presents an alarming prospect. If similar outbreaks continue to emerge elsewhere in the world, it looks like Covid-19 will no longer remain a localized epidemic in Hubei province. Instead, it’s turning into a global infection — a pandemic — and will eventually become an endemic disease prevalent throughout the human population.Some chance remains that this outcome could be prevented, but the odds are narrowing. “It’s too early to call it, but it’s on a knife’s edge,” Professor Raina MacIntyre, head of the Biosecurity Research Program at the University of New South Wales, said by e-mail.It’s hard to know how to respond to this. The good news is that if Covid-19 becomes globally endemic, it’s likely that human immunity will improve significantly. That should push the fatality rate down from current levels of between 1% and 3% of cases to those more comparable with measles, which kills in about 0.1% of cases outside of the poorest countries, or even seasonal influenza, which is closer to 0.005%. The trouble is, no one knows how many people will die on the way to establishing that immunity. The figure could easily run into the millions — even the seasonal flu kills between 290,000 and 650,000 people each year.Measures being taken already may at least slow the progress of any further outbreaks. Venice, the city that invented quarantine in the face of medieval epidemics, has shut down its historic annual carnival to limit infection. Schools and sporting events have been closed too and 10 towns have been locked down in a manner similar to what we’ve seen in China.This is unlikely to be enough. If Covid-19 can really be carried undetected for as long as the Henan study suggests, there’s no reasonable way we can lock down the human population sufficiently to stop its worldwide spread. The better course of action may be to accept that it may come to our neighborhoods sooner or later, and redouble efforts to build resilience and resistance.That means following some of the basic practices suggested by risk communications specialists Jody Lanard and Peter Sandman: Regular hand-washing; avoiding putting our hands to our faces; limiting contact with regularly touched surfaces like lift buttons; and ensuring we have sufficient basic supplies and essential medications to see us through any period when health clinics become crowded with infected people and panic-buying clears out grocery shelves.If that sounds worrying, it’s because pandemics are. Mercifully, they are also relatively rare. As with previous outbreaks, humanity will survive this infection, come to see it as normal, and even forget how it felt when it first struck fear into us. If Covid-19 really has gone global, though, the next few months are likely to test all of us in much the same way that the population of China has been tested so far. We shouldn’t be overly alarmed — but we should certainly be alert.To contact the author of this story: David Fickling at dfickling@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Matthew Brooker at mbrooker1@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.David Fickling is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities, as well as industrial and consumer companies. He has been a reporter for Bloomberg News, Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the Guardian.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 24 Feb 2020 01:25:35 -0500
  • India pours on the pageantry with colorful welcome for Trump

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    Basking in adulation from a massive, colorful crowd, President Donald Trump and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi lavished each other with praise Monday in a reaffirmation of U.S.-India ties as the subcontinent poured on the pageantry in a joyful welcome for the U.S. president. More than 100,000 people packed into the world's largest cricket stadium in Modi's home state to give Trump the biggest rally crowd of his political career. The event was the pinnacle of the day's enviable trio of presidential photo-ops, sandwiched between Trump visits to a former home of independence leader Mohandas Gandhi and a planned tour of the famed Taj Mahal.

    Mon, 24 Feb 2020 01:22:07 -0500
  • Brussels Edition: Time for a Schengen Shutdown?

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    (Bloomberg) -- Welcome to the Brussels Edition, Bloomberg’s daily briefing on what matters most in the heart of the European Union. The EU moves from haggling over fractions of 0.1 percentage point of the bloc’s economic output to fire-walling against a surge in cases of the coronavirus in northern Italy. The mysterious pathogen disrupting global supply chains has now shut down the Venice Carnival and Milan fashion week. Limits to the Schengen zone of free travel are likely if Italian containment efforts fail, and Austria’s state railroad already halted train traffic from Italy across a key Alpine pass temporarily. We may learn more when the commissioners responsible for health and emergency-response coordination give a briefing today. What’s HappeningMideast Melange | Geopolitics bears no gifts for Europe either. Hardliners won Iran’s parliamentary elections by a landslide, in a repudiation of President Hassan Rouhani’s engagement with outside powers. The conflict in Libya is still raging, with Turkey taking casualties, while Ankara slides toward war over a crisis in the city of Idlib in Syria. Hammered in Hamburg | No Monday is complete without a touch of German turbulence. We’re due to get more clarity on Angela Merkel’s succession plan, a day after voters in Hamburg handed her Christian Democratic Union party its worst showing in the city state since World War II with just 11.2%. The Greens nearly doubled their support. Brexit Mandate | EU government envoys in Brussels will today seek to finalize a mandate for the Commission to negotiate the bloc’s post-Brexit ties with the U.K. The latest wording of the draft proposal requires the the U.K. to maintain “common high standards” with the EU “over time” in areas such as state aid and environmental protection.Inflation Perils | The recent jump in consumer prices in eastern Europe may be a harbinger of things to come in western economies that still have ultra-low interest rates more than a decade after the 2008 financial crisis. Here’s why you can only write off inflation at your peril.In Case You Missed ItBank Bosses | Europe’s biggest banks have been ditching their bosses, as restive boards look to bring in new blood to revive growth. Here’s a list of the main players in this game of musical chairs. At least one contestant bowed out. UniCredit boss Jean Pierre Mustier pulled out of the running to take the helm at HSBC.Bulgaria Backtracks | Bulgaria postponed a key part of its bid to adopt the euro and will advance only if its banks are ready and there’s a wide consensus among citizens. The delay is a setback for the country of 7 million, which has struggled to overcome being labeled as one of the poorest and most corrupt members of the EU.Climate Pressure | The U.S. gave into European pressure over environmental concerns, allowing the word “climate” into a joint communique at a G-20 summit. The same harmony, however, wasn’t found on the issue of a global tech tax, the source of U.S. ire against Europe and a possible trigger for further transatlantic trade fights.Super-capacitors | The power supply of your sleek new Tesla Model S or electric BMW has a distinctly 19th century feature that you may not be aware of. A company in Estonia wants to change that, Ott Ummelas reports from Tallinn. Nuclear Dilemma | France’s decision to shut its oldest nuclear reactor is stirring controversy about whether President Emmanuel Macron is making the right decisions to reduce fossil-fuel pollution and meet climate targets. Scaling back nuclear will probably result in natural gas getting a bigger foothold in what has historically been one of the cleanest power systems in the world.Chart of the DayEconomic activity grew faster than forecast in the euro region in February, even as first signs of the coronavirus’s effect became apparent. Eurozone activity accelerated at the fastest pace in six months, with services proving resilient as factories battled challenges such as supply-chain disruption from the virus outbreak.Today’s AgendaAll times CET.9:15 a.m. EU health chief Stella Kyriakides and Janez Lenarcic, commissioner for emergency response coordination, give a press conference on the EU’s response, preparedness and financial support to fight the Covid-19 outbreak 2:30 p.m. EU government envoys in Brussels discuss mandate for the Commission to negotiate post-Brexit ties with the U.K. A delegation of EU lawmakers visits Washington to meet their Congress counterparts, State and Treasury Department officials to address trade irritants A delegation of EU lawmakers visits Ankara for meetings with Turkish government representatives to discuss the latest developments in EU-Turkey relations A European Parliament delegation will travel to Washington and Boston to discuss EU-U.S. cooperation on data protection Germany’s Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to give update on the plan for her succession at the helm of the CDU party Former French Prime Minister Francois Fillon and his wife go on trial over allegations they reaped more than 1 million euros for a fake job Romania’s designated prime minister Ludovic Orban faces a confidence vote in Parliament Paris fashion week starts with coronavirus wreaking havocTo contact the authors of this story: Nikos Chrysoloras in Brussels at nchrysoloras@bloomberg.netViktoria Dendrinou in Brussels at vdendrinou@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Heather Harris at hharris5@bloomberg.net, Chris ReiterFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 24 Feb 2020 01:19:33 -0500
  • Large parts of China ease coronavirus curbs, many report no new cases

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    Urged to restore economic activity by President Xi Jinping, large parts of China relaxed curbs on transport and travel on Monday as reported new cases of coronavirus outside the worst-hit province fell to the lowest in a month. Twenty-four of China's 31 provinces and regions - including Beijing and Shanghai - reported zero new infections on Feb. 23, the best showing since the national health authority began publishing daily nationwide figures on Jan. 20. There were just 11 new cases in six other provincial-level jurisdictions, while in Hubei province, the center of the epidemic, the number of new cases fell to 398 from 630 a day earlier.

    Mon, 24 Feb 2020 01:10:46 -0500
  • Large parts of China relax coronavirus curbs, many places report zero new cases

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    Mon, 24 Feb 2020 01:02:51 -0500
  • Netanyahu banks on Trump plan to drive up pro-settler votes

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    With Israel's prime minister eager to court the votes of the country's influential West Bank settlers, President Donald Trump's Mideast plan seemed to be the key to ramping up their support ahead of critical elections next week. The plan envisions Israel's eventual annexation of its scores of West Bank settlements — a longtime settler dream.

    Mon, 24 Feb 2020 00:51:38 -0500
  • China promises companies aid, says growth targets can be met

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    Regulators on promised tax cuts and other aid Monday to help companies recover from China’s virus outbreak and expressed confidence the ruling Communist Party’s growth targets can be achieved despite anti-disease controls that shut down much of the economy. At a news conference, finance and planning officials said they are looking at how to channel aid to businesses after President Xi Jinping publicly promised over the past week to ensure farming and other industries recover quickly. The government is looking at “targeted tax reduction,” interest rate cuts and payments to poor and virus-hit areas, said an assistant finance minister, Ou Wenhan.

    Mon, 24 Feb 2020 00:08:05 -0500
  • Sanders' 2016 movement now has political machine to push it

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    By the fall of 2018, when Democrats were promoting a slate of centrist candidates to topple Republicans in Congress, Bernie Sanders was seeing a very different picture. The Vermont senator and avowed democratic socialist was convinced his most fervent supporters were as energized as ever, ready to rally around the political insurgency flag he planted in 2016. Sanders, 78, the oldest candidate in the race, also saw his unwavering commitment to universal health care, combating climate change, canceling student debt, and tuition-free college continuing to excite young people, including Latinos who came to call him “Tio” (uncle) Bernie.

    Mon, 24 Feb 2020 00:02:38 -0500
  • After Nevada, moderates try to slow Sanders' momentum

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    Bernie Sanders’ commanding Nevada caucus victory made him a top target for his Democratic rivals and a growing source of anxiety for establishment Democrats worried that the nomination of an avowed democratic socialist could cost the party in November. The win solidified Sanders' front-runner status as the race turned to Saturday's presidential primary in South Carolina. The Vermont senator was trounced in the state by more than 40 percentage points in 2016, but he is hoping that his success in diverse Nevada will prove to black voters in South Carolina that his campaign has broad appeal.

    Mon, 24 Feb 2020 00:00:22 -0500
  • Mahathir offers resignation in Malaysian political upheaval

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    Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad tendered his resignation to Malaysia's king on Monday while his political party quit the ruling alliance, in a shocking political upheaval less than two years after his election victory. The prime minister's office said in a brief statement that Mahathir, 94, submitted his resignation to the palace at 1 p.m. but gave no further details. Mahathir also quit as chairman of his Bersatu party.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 23:27:38 -0500
  • South Korean cases jump, China counts 150 more virus deaths

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    South Korea reported another large jump in new virus cases Monday a day after the the president called for “unprecedented, powerful” steps to combat the outbreak that is increasingly confounding attempts to stop the spread. The231 new cases bring South Korea's total to833cases, and two more deaths raise its toll to seven. China also reported 409 new cases on Monday, raising the mainland's total to 77,150 after a zigzag pattern of increases in recent days.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 20:32:36 -0500
  • Trump administration backs off sending coronavirus patients to Alabama -governor

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    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 20:17:45 -0500
  • Hamburg voters punish Merkel party

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    Voters in German city-state Hamburg punished Chancellor Angela Merkel's crisis-racked conservatives in a regional election Sunday, while the incumbent centre-left held off a challenge from the Greens according to exit polls. It was a "bitter day" for Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), party general secretary Paul Ziemiak said. Turmoil in the federal party, as Merkel's designated successor stepped down following a scandal over cooperation in an eastern region with the far right, had been "anything but a tailwind" in Hamburg, Ziemiak said.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 19:53:07 -0500
  • Moderates hustle to blunt Sanders' momentum after Nevada win

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    Bernie Sanders’ commanding Nevada caucus victory made him a top target for his Democratic rivals and a growing source of anxiety for establishment Democrats worried that the nomination of an avowed democratic socialist could cost the party in November. Sanders' win solidified his front-runner status in the crowded field as the race turned to Saturday's presidential primary in South Carolina, where his moderate opponents scrambled to try to blunt the Vermont senator's momentum.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 19:52:49 -0500
  • PRESS DIGEST-Financial Times - Feb 24

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    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 19:17:31 -0500
  • Small Businesses Warn of Staff Shortages in U.K. Immigration Overhaul

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    (Bloomberg) -- The U.K.’s plans to tighten immigration could hurt small businesses, who can’t find local workers as it is and will soon face tough restrictions on hiring from the European Union.Almost 40% of firms say they’ve struggled to recruit the right staff in the past year, and more than a third of those say a reason is that U.K. citizens are unwilling to do the jobs, according to the Federation of Small Businesses.The survey highlights the economic challenge facing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government as it attempts to take greater control over its borders after Brexit. The nation has long relied on imported labor for jobs such as construction, agriculture and social care, and many firms are ill-prepared for the change.“Firms want to upskill their workforce, improve productivity and bring through the next generation, but they need support to make that happen,” said Mike Cherry, FSB national chairman. “It’s critical that we get this new system right, particularly when timeframes are so tight.”With the Brexit transition period due to expire at the end of the year, the U.K. government is proposing using a scorecard system to favor skilled people coming to the country. Among the EU nationals currently in Britain, 70% wouldn’t make the cut under the new rules.While the FSB said a points-based system might work, it also has concerns. Locals may not be able to fill in, hiring foreigners may become too expensive and there will be a bigger administrative burden for companies that have never filed immigration paperwork before.Nearly half of companies in the survey said they can’t afford the fees that will be levied on them for employing EU staff. That charge, currently applied to non-EU workers, can exceed 3,000 pounds ($4,000).The changes give little time to adapt for businesses that have long relied on the free flow of people from the EU.Small businesses should be allocated funds for training and new technologies, Cherry said. That could prove key in addressing the lack of efficiency in the economy.In 2018, gains in U.K. output per hour were almost 20% below their pre-crisis trend. Economists say that the increasing use of artificial intelligence will help, but it has yet to have much of an impact.To contact the reporter on this story: Jill Ward in London at jward98@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Fergal O'Brien at fobrien@bloomberg.net, Brian Swint, Paul GordonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 19:01:00 -0500
  • Xi says China facing 'big test' with virus, global impact spreads

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    China's leader said Sunday the new coronavirus epidemic is the communist country's largest-ever public health emergency, but other nations were also increasingly under pressure from the deadly outbreak's relentless global march. Italy and Iran began introducing the sort of containment measures previously seen only in China, which has put tens of millions of people under lockdown in Hubei province, the outbreak's epicentre. Italy reported a third death while cases spiked and the country's Venice carnival closed early.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 17:52:11 -0500
  • Syrian capital rocked by explosions as Israel hits targets

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    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 17:13:24 -0500
  • Iran’s Election Turns Back the Clock on Reconciliation With West

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    (Bloomberg) -- The victory by hard-liners in Iran’s election puts parliament back in the hands of people determined to turn the clock back on reconciliation with the West. Expect a retreat from commitments to the hollowed-out nuclear deal as the Islamic Republic’s economy bleeds from President Donald Trump’s sanctions onslaught.“The results that we’re seeing in the parliamentary elections are basically a manifestation of what’s been going on since early summer last year, when Iran started its more confrontational foreign policy approach,” said Adnan Tabatabai, Iran analyst and co-founder of the Bonn-based Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient. “It makes things much more difficult for safeguarding the nuclear agreement.”At the same time, because conservatives now have such a strong representation in government, “talks with Washington will be a function of a strategic calculus, not a balance of domestic power,”said Ali Vaez, Iran project director at the International Crisis Group consultancy. That means engagement will be tougher, but isn’t necessarily doomed, he said.Conservative factions loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and wedded to the theocratic ideals of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution prevailed in Friday’s vote. It was a repudiation of the policies of President Hassan Rouhani, who eased Iran’s long-running standoff with global powers but was unable to build a new era of prosperity at home because of crippling U.S. sanctions.With sentiment against the 2015 nuclear deal and the West running high, especially after the U.S. killed a top Iranian general in a drone strike in January, the powerful Guardian Council was freed to disqualify most moderates and centrists from running in the election. The disqualifications, along with a reported surge in coronavirus cases in Iran this week, saw turnout fall to record low 42.5% and handed Khamenei a pliant legislature.After four years of a moderate president and parliament, arch-conservatives now control most branches of the state for the first time since the end of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency in 2013.While the fierce infighting that characterized Rouhani’s tenure is likely to ease, it will come at the cost of public support for a political system already faced with outbreaks of dissent and unrest. And the parliamentary election comes ahead ahead a vote next year for a new president.The increased representation of former security figures in parliament -- including from the powerful Islamic Republic Guard Corps -- may diminish tolerance for discussions around civil society, social liberties and media freedom. Still, Tabatabai said the new lawmakers aren’t necessarily monolithic in their thinking, and include reform-minded elements as well.Friday’s election was tilted in the conservatives’ favor months before grievances against the government erupted into four days of protests that unleashed the fiercest crackdown since the 1979 revolution. More than 300 people were killed in the demonstrations, according to human rights groups’ estimates.Iran’s Bid to Integrate With Global Economy Coming to an EndKhamenei, who has accused European signatories to the nuclear accord of joining forces with the U.S. against Iran (Trump withdrew the U.S. from the pact in 2018), has called for a pivot to a “resistance economy.” His plan would depend less on imported goods while relying on China and Russia for investment and technology transfers. Sanctions, however, are only part of the problem in an economy where productivity is low and the private sector is weak.The new legislature will “have to deal with the same problems of the current parliament, which are economic and socioeconomic problems of ordinary people, and they will also have to offer solutions to that,” Tabatabai said.Iran’s economic policy may steer away from Europe entirely, after it failed to find a way to skirt the American sanctions and allow crucial Iranian oil exports to flow. A more concerted effort to broaden and deepen trade ties with China and Russia could follow. The Guard, already a major contractor and builder, is likely to be awarded further domestic infrastructure projects as sanctions have killed most avenues to foreign direct investment.Pompeo Calls on Iran to Abide by Financial Action Task ForceGiven the more conservative legislature, Rouhani may struggle to ratify any key legislation during his final year in office, including efforts to bring Iran’s banks within international anti-terrorism financing standards. Ongoing attempts to impeach some key ministers, including Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, are also likely to escalate.In a timely reminder of how hard-liners can influence economic policy, the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force announced on Friday that Iran’s banking system will be returned to its so-called black list of countries after failing to ratify legislation required to bring the sector in line with counter-terrorism financing and anti-money-laundering standards.Hardliners have for several years stalled the pro-FATF legislation that Rouhani promoted.For all the stumbling blocks, Iran may not snap shut its doors to the West entirely, said Vaez from the International Crisis Group.“If past is prelude, engagement with Iran’s hardliners is much harder for the West,” Vaez said. “The new parliament is bound to adopt a much more militant approach to foreign and nuclear policies. But at the end of the day, the deep state in Iran is likely to still calculate pragmatically to ensure self-preservation.”\--With assistance from Amy Teibel.To contact the reporter on this story: Golnar Motevalli in London at gmotevalli@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at rmathieson3@bloomberg.net, Amy Teibel, Ros KrasnyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 17:00:00 -0500
  • Iraqi officials: 1 protester shot dead in fresh violence

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    One protester was shot dead and at least six wounded in renewed violence between anti-government demonstrators and security forces in central Baghdad on Sunday, Iraqi officials said. Separately, Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Allawi received a call from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who congratulated him on his nomination and emphasized joint coordination between Iraq and the U.S. as relations between the two countries soured after a Washington-directed attack Jan. 3 near Baghdad airport killed top Iranian general Qassem Solimani.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 16:12:52 -0500
  • Buttigieg questions 3rd place finish in Nevada, cites errors

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    Pete Buttigieg’s campaign has questioned his third-place finish in Nevada’s caucuses and called for the state’s Democratic party to release a more detailed breakdown of votes and address reports of more than 200 problems allocating votes in Saturday’s caucuses. The campaign also said it received reports that volunteers running caucuses did not appear to follow rules that could have allowed candidates to pick up more support on a second round of voting.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 14:41:21 -0500
  • Haiti police exchange fire with troops near national palace

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    PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haitian police officers exchanged gunfire for hours Sunday with soldiers of the newly reconstituted army outside the national palace, in a dangerous escalation of protests over police pay and working conditions. At least three police officers were wounded, fellow officers told The Associated Press. Haiti's raucous three-day Carnival celebration was to have started Sunday afternoon in Port-au-Prince and other major cities but the government announced Sunday night that Carnival was cancelled in the capital “to avoid a bloodbath.” Police protesters and their backers had burned dozens of Carnival floats and stands at recent protests, saying they did not believe the country should be celebrating during a crisis.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 14:37:56 -0500
  • Merkel’s Party Drops to Record Low in Hamburg Vote, Greens Gain

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    (Bloomberg) -- Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party plunged to a post-World War II low in a state election in Hamburg as voters gave their first verdict on political turmoil in Germany that has upended her succession plans.Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union took 11.2% of the vote on Sunday, a drop of more than 4 percentage points, according to projections by ARD public television. The city-state’s governing Social Democratic Party secured a clear victory with about 38.6%, even as its support eroded from 45.6% five years ago.The biggest gainer was the Green party, which doubled its share to a projected 24.8%, a surge that parallels its rise in national polls. The far-right Alternative for Germany party was at risk of dropping out of the Hamburg legislature with a slight drop in support.Merkel’s party has been hobbled after her heir-apparent, CDU national leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, announced her resignation on Feb. 10. That followed a crisis in Germany’s political establishment after CDU lawmakers in the eastern state of Thuringia cast their lot with the AfD to install a regional premier, who quit within days amid an outcry.“It’s a bitter day for the CDU in Germany,” party General Secretary Paul Ziemiak told reporters, placing part of the blame on the Thuringia controversy. “What happened there and all the discussions linked to it was anything but a tailwind for the CDU.”Next StageThe CDU’s worst-ever result in Hamburg, a city it governed as recently as 2011, sets the stage for a meeting of CDU national leaders on Monday, where Kramp-Karrenbauer will seek to steer the process for her succession as party chief. Whoever wins that post is likely to be the party’s candidate for chancellor in the next national election.Merkel, 65, has said she won’t run again after her fourth term ends in 2021 at the latest. Should a new party leader emerge in the coming months, a complex cohabitation with Merkel in the chancellery may prove tenuous.Adding to the sense of chaos, tensions around extremist activity in Germany have intensified since an assailant killed 11 people, including himself, in the city of Hanau near Frankfurt on Wednesday. Authorities said the gunman, a 43-year-old German, was motivated by xenophobia. Merkel vowed to eradicate racist “poison.”The repercussions may have cost the AfD, which has won seats in the Germany’s Bundestag and all 16 state assemblies. After that series of victories, failing to re-enter Hamburg’s 121-seat parliament would be a setback.Eastern FiascoSupport also fell for the pro-business Free Democrats, who triggered the Thuringia debacle when the party put forward a candidate for state premier. Projections showed the FDP at 5%, on the cusp of also exiting parliament.In Thuringia, Merkel’s party sought to restore a semblance of stability on Friday by agreeing to support the re-election of the previous state premier, whose anti-capitalist Left party is anathema to the Christian Democrats at the national level. The deal would avoid relying on AfD votes in the state legislature.The plan was thrown into question on Saturday as several national CDU leaders, including former Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, raised objections, saying it would harm the party’s credibility.(Updates with CDU comments, consequences for AfD from fifth paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Patrick Donahue in Berlin at pdonahue1@bloomberg.net;Brian Parkin in Berlin at bparkin@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Tony Czuczka, Chad ThomasFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 14:06:10 -0500
  • Earthquake kills nine in Turkey, injures dozens in Iran

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    A magnitude 5.7 earthquake in northwestern Iran on Sunday killed nine people, including children, in neighbouring Turkey and injured dozens on both sides of the border, authorities said. Ambulances and teams of medics rushed to the scene after the quake left homes in piles of rubble in eastern Turkey, picking through the wreckage, while nearby schools were also reported damaged. Turkish officials said four children were among the nine dead, and Iran reported more than 65 people injured, including 39 who were hospitalised.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 13:00:04 -0500
  • Bernie Sanders Says as President He Would Meet With Dictators

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    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 12:46:29 -0500
  • Moscow's preferred U.S. candidate reportedly isn't Trump or Sanders, but 'chaos'

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    If you saw the reports that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was briefed by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia was trying to aid his Democratic presidential campaign, you might have wondered, why exactly, Moscow was targeting him. After all, President Trump is still apparently the candidate the Kremlin hopes wins, and Sanders and Trump certainly have different ideological stances.GQ's Julia Ioffe set out to answer that question, and while she reports that some people think Sanders' non-interventionist foreign policy platform is appealing to Moscow, or that he will be easier for Trump to defeat than other more moderate candidates, she also found that it may be more about optics. "The ideal scenario is to maintain schism and uncertainty in the States till the end," said Gleb Pavlovsky, a Russian political scientist who used to advise Russian President Vladimir Putin. "Our candidate is chaos."Essentially, as described by Ioffe's sources, Moscow is licking its chops over what could be the most extreme U.S. presidential election in quite some time, if not ever, and they want to see the country turn on itself. "All of this infighting, this cannibalism, they create and deepen the crisis of the American system," said Andranik Migranyan, a close friend of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who used to run a Russian government-funded think tank.Migranyan went on to question — perhaps facetiously — whether the U.S. will still exist after 2025. "Your country is hurtling toward the abyss," he said.Of course, it's unclear if that's precisely why the Kremlin seems okay with a Sanders victory — and Migranyan denies Russia is actually meddling — but it's not difficult to imagine Moscow would enjoy an even more hotly contested election than in 2016. Read more at GQ.More stories from theweek.com Trump's host on his India visit is a fervent vegetarian. The White House is apparently nervous about the menus. Elizabeth Warren rose to 2nd place in a new national poll after the Las Vegas debate CNN analyst: Republicans 'may regret' hoping Sanders wins nomination

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 12:38:00 -0500
  • Conservatives claim victory in Iran polls after record low turnout

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    Iran's conservatives claimed victory Sunday in a general election marked by the lowest turnout since the 1979 Islamic Revolution amid public anger against the government, an economic downturn and the disqualification of half the candidates. A conservative resurgence would heap pressure on beleaguered President Hassan Rouhani and signal a shift from four years ago when reformists and moderates won a slender majority in parliament. "Victory for the anti-American candidates, a new slap for Trump," crowed the ultra-conservative Kayhan newspaper.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 12:04:25 -0500
  • Germany's SPD biggest party in Hamburg state vote, Merkel's party third

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    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 12:00:56 -0500
  • Same Goal, Different Playbook: Why Russia Would Support Trump and Sanders

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    At first glance, it may seem contradictory that the nation's intelligence agencies were telling Congress that President Vladimir Putin of Russia is presumably striving to get President Donald Trump reelected, while also warning Sen. Bernie Sanders of evidence that he is the Russian president's favorite Democrat.But to the intelligence analysts and outside experts who have spent the past three years dissecting Russian motives in the 2016 election, and who tried to limit the effect of Russian meddling in the 2018 midterms, what is unfolding in 2020 makes perfect sense.Trump and Sanders represent the most divergent ends of their respective parties, and both are backed by supporters known more for their passion than their policy rigor, which makes them ripe for exploitation by Russian trolls, disinformation specialists and hackers for hire seeking to widen divisions in American society.While the two candidates disagree on almost everything, both share an instinct that the U.S. is overcommitted abroad: Neither is likely to pursue policies that push back on Putin's plan to restore Moscow's influence around the world, from former Soviet states to the Middle East.And if you are trying to sow chaos in an already chaotic, vitriolic election, Putin could hardly hope for better than a faceoff between an incumbent with a history of race-baiting who is shouting "America First" at rallies -- while darkly suggesting the coming election is rigged -- and a democratic socialist from Vermont advocating a drastic expansion of taxes and government programs like Medicare."Any figures that radicalize politics and do harm to center views and unity in the United States are good for Putin's Russia," said Victoria Nuland, who served as ambassador to NATO and assistant secretary of state for European affairs, and had her phone calls intercepted and broadcast by Russian intelligence services.The intelligence reports provided to the House Intelligence Committee, inciting Trump's ire, may make the U.S.' understanding of Putin's plans sound more certain than they really are, according to intelligence officials who contributed to the assessment. Those officials caution that such reports are as much art as science, a mixture of informants, intercepted conversations and intuition as analysts in the nation's 17 intelligence agencies try to get into the heads of foreign leaders.Although intelligence officials have disputed that the officer who delivered the main briefing said Russia was actively aiding the president's reelection, people in the room said that intelligence officers' responses to lawmakers' follow-up questions made clear that Russia was trying to get Trump reelected.Intelligence is hardly a perfect process, as Americans learned when the nation went to war in Iraq based in part on an estimate that Saddam Hussein was once again in search of a nuclear weapon.But in this election, the broad strategy -- as opposed to the specific tactics -- are not exactly a mystery. Putin, analysts agree, mostly seeks anything that would further take the sheen off American democracy and make presidential elections in the United States seem no more credible than his own. After that, he is eager for a compliant counterpart in the White House, one unlikely to challenge his territorial and nuclear ambitions.Not surprisingly, the Kremlin said this is all an American fantasy aimed at demonizing Russia for the United States' own failings. "These are more paranoid announcements which, to our regret, will multiply as we get closer to the election," Putin's confidant and spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, was quoted by Reuters telling reporters Friday. "They have nothing to do with the truth."No matter who is elected, Putin has likely undermined one of his own primary goals: getting the United States and its allies to lift sanctions that were imposed after he annexed Crimea and accelerated a hybrid war against Ukraine."By actively exploiting divisions within American society and having its activities revealed, the Kremlin has ensured that its longer-term goal of having the U.S. remove sanctions and return to a less confrontational relationship so far has been thwarted," Angela Stent, a former national intelligence officer for Russia and now a professor at Georgetown University, wrote in her book, "Putin's World: Russia Against the West and With the Rest."On Saturday, Stent noted that if the Russians are in fact interfering in this election, "it could bring about new energy sanctions." She noted that one piece of legislation in the Senate, the DETER bill, would require new sanctions if evidence of Russian meddling emerges from intelligence agencies. Stent noted that, so far, Putin may have concluded that the penalties are a small price to pay if he can bring his geopolitical rival down a few more notches. And the early intelligence analyses suggest that, by backing Sanders in the primary and Trump in the general election, he would probably have a good chance of maximizing the electoral tumult.Sanders is hardly a new target for the Russians. The 2018 indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for their activities in the last presidential election -- issued by the Justice Department under the Trump administration -- claimed that the officers "engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump."Robert Mueller, in the report on his investigation into Russian operations, concluded that the release of memos hacked from the Democratic National Committee were meant to inflame Sanders' supporters by revealing that the committee was funneling assets to Clinton.The more recent public reports emerging from the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, and classified reports generated by the CIA and others, suggest that while the Russian objectives have remained the same, the techniques have shifted."The Russians aren't going to use the old playbook; we know that," said Christopher Krebs, who runs the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.His organization, along with the National Security Agency and British intelligence, has been steadily documenting how Russian operatives are becoming stealthier, learning from the mistakes they made in 2016.As they focus on evading more vigilant government agencies and technology companies trying to identify and counter malicious online activity, the Russians are boring into Iranian cyberoffense units, apparently so that they can initiate attacks that look as if they originate in Iran -- which itself has shown interest in messing with the U.S.' electoral process. Russians are putting more of their attack operations on computer servers in the United States, where the NSA and other intelligence agencies -- but not the FBI and Homeland Security -- are prohibited from operating.And, in one of the most effective twists, they are feeding disinformation to unsuspecting Americans on Facebook and other social media. By seeding conspiracy theories and baseless claims on the platforms, Russians hope everyday Americans will retransmit those falsehoods from their own accounts. That is an attempt to elude Facebook's efforts to remove disinformation, which it can do more easily when it flags "inauthentic activity," like Russians posing as Americans. It is much harder to ban the words of real Americans who may be parroting a Russian storyline, even unintentionally.Krebs noted that this was why the Department of Homeland Security had to focus on educating Americans about where their information was coming from. "How do you explain," he asked last year, "'This is how you're being manipulated; this is how they're hacking your brain'?"In 2018, the U.S. Cyber Command and the NSA mounted a new and more public campaign to push back at the Russians, attacking and blocking their Internet Research Agency for a few days around the November elections, and texted warnings to Russian intelligence officers that they were being watched. The NSA is preparing for similar counterattacks this year: On Thursday, the United States cited intelligence and blamed Russia for a cyberattack last fall on the republic of Georgia, another place where Putin seems to be holding dress rehearsals.Now U.S. intelligence agencies face a new question: How do they run such operations and warn Congress and Americans at a moment when the president is declaring the intelligence on Russian election meddling is "another misinformation campaign" that is "launched by Democrats in Congress"?The intelligence agencies are loath to cross him. The acting director of national intelligence at the time, Joseph Maguire, resisted appearing in public to provide the "Worldwide Threat Assessment" that is usually given to Congress before the president's State of the Union address. (He was dismissed last week before he had to testify.) Because Trump was so angered by how his predecessor's testimony contradicted his own statements last year -- particularly on Iran, North Korea and the Islamic State -- Maguire was in no hurry to repeat the experience.His successor, Richard Grenell, the current U.S. ambassador to Germany, is known for his political allegiance to Trump, not for his knowledge of the U.S. intelligence agencies. He is widely viewed by career officials as more interested in making sure public intelligence reports do not embarrass Trump than sounding the clarion call that the Russians are coming, again.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 11:57:51 -0500
  • G-20 Finance Chiefs Go on Alert With Global Growth at Risk

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    (Bloomberg) -- Finance chiefs and central bankers from the world’s largest economies say they see downside risks to global growth persisting as the coronavirus raises uncertainty and disrupts supply chains.While delegates at the Group of 20 meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, spent much of their time talking about a response to the outbreak that originated in China, their final communique only mentioned the epidemic once, saying they’d enhance risk monitoring. And although it said the participants agreed on a “menu of policy options” to counter the emergency, the statement included few details on a coordinated response.The coronavirus has so far killed more than 2,300 people and infected about 80,000. Countries such as Japan, and institutions including the OECD, have been pushing for nations with surpluses to spend more to help avert a deeper economic slump.The G-20 countries “agreed to be ready to intervene with the necessary policies related to these risks,” Saudi Finance Minister Mohammad Al Jadaan said Sunday in remarks concluding the meetings at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in the Saudi capital. “Global economic growth is continuing but remains slow and downside risk persists, including those arising from geopolitical, remaining trade tensions, as well as policy uncertainty.”China’s representatives were absent from the G-20 gathering as authorities there focus on countering the fallout. The world’s second-largest economy is likely to pick up quickly after the coronavirus is contained and stage a “V-shaped” recovery, according to Chen Yulu, a deputy governor at the People’s Bank of China.International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said Saturday the outbreak had led the lender to cut its forecast for Chinese growth to 5.6% from 6% and to trim 0.1 percentage points from its global growth forecast, but that it’s also looking at more “dire” scenarios.“We do not know what will be the next steps, indeed if the epidemic will turn to pandemic or not,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told Bloomberg TV in Riyadh. “But we have to be prepared and that is exactly what we decided today among the G-20 members.”Budget AppealsGermany was the primary target of the calls for more spending. So far, the export-driven country has showed little interest in significantly boosting expenditures, arguing fiscal stimulus can’t bolster foreign demand.“Fiscal policy should be flexible and growth-friendly while ensuring debt as a share of GDP is on a sustainable path,” the communique said. “Monetary policy should continue to support economic activity and ensure price stability, consistent with central banks’ mandates.”The delegates managed to extract a key concession from the U.S. by including a mention of climate change in the final communique for the first time since President Donald Trump took office in 2017. Jadaan called it a “very important issue” on the Saudi agenda.The concession came after several days of heated debate, including France finance chief Bruno Le Maire cornering Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin late Saturday as the G-20 economic leaders dined, according to two people familiar with the matter. Mnuchin said he didn’t bow to European pressure on the issue, and the mention of “climate” in the communique was simply a statement of fact about what the financial stability board was doing.Tax DebateThe final communique didn’t include any breakthroughs on efforts to introduce a global minimum tax or a tax system for multinational tech giants like Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc., according to the people.Europeans have balked at a U.S. proposal that new global rules should be a “safe harbor” regime. If there’s no agreement, several European nations, who have called for an agreement by year-end, will go ahead with taxes on revenues of multinational digital firms. That could spark a transatlantic trade war as the U.S. says such measures are discriminatory and has already threatened France with tariffs.In a press briefing after the meetings concluded, Mnuchin said there was a disproportionate focus on some elements of the digital tax discussion, and called on his counterparties to “step back” and focus on the global minimum tax, for which he said there was broad agreement. He declined to define what he meant by “safe harbor,” but said the U.S. has been consistent in stating that the digital services tax would be discriminatory to U.S. companies.France and the U.S. have held tense discussions on the subject since France introduced a 3% levy last year on the digital revenue of companies that make their sales primarily online. The move was supposed to give impetus to international talks to redefine tax rules, and the government has pledged to abolish its national tax if there is agreement on such rules.France and other countries have insisted that the digital tax and the global minimum tax, which is designed to prevent multi-national companies from shifting their profits to low-tax locales to avoid taxation, be implemented as part of the same package.“We’re striving between now and July 2020 -- whether at the Berlin OECD conference or the meetings in Jeddah of the G-20 ministers -- to reach an agreement related to the tax,” Al Jadaan said.(Updates with French finance minister comments in seventh paragraph. A previous version was corrected to say the final communique did mention the coronavirus outbreak.)\--With assistance from Saleha Mohsin and Vivian Nereim.To contact the reporters on this story: Toru Fujioka in Tokyo at tfujioka1@bloomberg.net;Jana Randow in Frankfurt at jrandow@bloomberg.net;William Horobin in Paris at whorobin@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Benjamin Harvey at bharvey11@bloomberg.net, Paul AbelskyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 11:52:52 -0500
  • Carnival in Belgium again has Jewish stereotypes in parade

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    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 11:32:21 -0500
  • Trump security adviser slammed for 'politicizing intelligence' on Russian meddling

    Golocal247.com news

    Robert O’Brien says he has not seen evidence Russia is boosting Trump but seizes on report Moscow is backing Bernie SandersDonald Trump’s national security adviser has said he has not “seen any intelligence that Russia is doing anything” to get the president re-elected, but also seemed to accept reports that Russia is backing Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary.In response, one senior Democrat slammed the “politicisation of intelligence” by the Trump administration and said Robert O’Brien should “stay out of politics”.O’Brien’s claim, in an interview with ABC’s This Week, came at the end of a week in which it was reported that US officials briefed the House intelligence committee that Russia was again trying to help get Trump elected.Reports of Trump’s furious reaction were followed by the departure of Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, and his replacement by Richard Grenell, formerly ambassador to Germany and a Trump loyalist. The president has tweeted extensively on the subject, blaming Democrats and the media for “disinformation hoax number 7”.It was also reported this week that Trump, congressional leaders and Sanders himself were briefed that Moscow was repeating another tactic from 2016 and backing the Vermont senator.Sanders told Russia to stay out of US elections, then won convincingly in Nevada.O’Brien said Russian backing for Sanders would be “no surprise. He honeymooned in Moscow.”Sanders has described a 10-day visit to the then Soviet capital in 1988 as “a very strange honeymoon”. O’Brien was repeating a line used by Trump at campaign events.Speaking to CNN’s State of the Union, Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat on the Senate foreign relations committee, said O’Brien had made a “political statement” and as national security adviser should “stay out of politics”.Asked if he had seen analysis showing a Russian aim in its election interference efforts was to help the president, O’Brien said: “I have not seen that, and … the national security adviser gets pretty good access to our intelligence. I haven’t seen any intelligence that Russia is doing anything to attempt to get President Trump reelected.”O’Brien said he was not making a distinction between seeing actual intelligence material and seeing analysis of it.“No, I haven’t seen any intelligence on that,” he said. “And I haven’t seen any analysis on that.”He also said Grenell and CIA director Gina Haspel had not seen such material and contended: “President Trump has rebuilt the American military to an extent we haven’t seen since Ronald Reagan. So I don’t think it’s any surprise that Russia or China or Iran would want somebody other than President Trump.”Murphy countered that it “stands to reason” that Russia “wants Trump elected because he has been a gift to Russia. He has essentially ceded the Middle East to Russian interests, he has accomplished more in undermining Nato than Russia has in the last 20 years and he continues to effectively deny that they have an ongoing political operation here in the United States that by and large is an attempt to support Donald Trump.”US intelligence concluded that Russia ran interference efforts through the 2016 election, aiming to boost Trump against Hillary Clinton and stoke divisions in US society.Trump has rejected such conclusions, including standing with the Russian leader in Helsinki in July 2018 and saying: “I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this. I don’t see any reason why it would be.”O’Brien, Trump’s fourth national security adviser, is a lawyer and former hostage negotiator who according to a New York Times report runs National Security Council meetings that include printouts of presidential tweets. Like the president, he said reports about the House briefing were based on leaks. Speaking to reporters on Sunday as he left Washington for a visit to India, Trump accused House intelligence chair Adam Schiff of leaking the information about Russia and Sanders. He also said he had not been briefed about the Sanders link.O’Brien said he had “seen the reports from that briefing at the intel committee [and] also heard that from the briefers that that’s not what they intended the story to be. So, look … I haven’t seen any evidence that Russia is doing anything to attempt to get President Trump reelected. And our message to the Russians is stay out of the US elections. We’ve been very tough on Russia and we’ve been great on election security.”Senate Republicans this month blocked three bills meant to strengthen election security, shortly after being told by intelligence agencies the US was not doing enough to guard against a repeat of 2016. O’Brien said the White House was “working very hard with the states”.“We’re going to paper ballots in many cases to harden our election infrastructure,” he said, “to make sure that not only is there not election influence through trolls and Twitter and that sort of thing, but to make sure that countries can’t hack into our secretaries of state in our 50 states and change election results or cause mischief on election day.”Reports of Trump’s fury at Maguire were incorrect, O’Brien added, saying the acting director’s time in the role had simply expired.“We needed a Senate-confirmed official to come in and replace him,” O’Brien said. “And so we went with a highly qualified person, Ambassador Grenell.”Most observers think Grenell is not qualified and would not be confirmed by the Senate. Filling the role in an acting capacity – as many Trump aides do – lets him avoid that hurdle.O’Brien said Trump would “move quickly” to make a permanent appointment but Murphy said Grenell’s move made him “worried about the politicisation of intelligence by this administration”.“The new acting head of intelligence has no background in intel,” he said. “He is a Trump loyalist. And I think we all worry about this administration controlling massive amounts of intelligence, massive amounts of classified information, and leaking it out to the press when it advantages them.”

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 11:30:31 -0500
  • After Bernie Sanders' landslide Nevada win, it's time for Democrats to unite behind him

    Golocal247.com news

    No other Democrats can beat him at this point. Sill, the liberal establishment is still struggling to come to terms with Sanders’ inevitable nomination It was a landslide. Bernie Sanders had been expected to win the Nevada caucuses, but not like this. With just 4% of the vote in, news organizations called the race for Sanders, since his margin of victory was so large. Sanders has now won the popular vote in all of the first three states, and is currently leading in the polls almost everywhere else in the country. He was already the favorite to take the nomination before the Nevada contest, with Democratic party insiders worrying he was “unstoppable.” His campaign will only grow more powerful now.Importantly, Sanders’ Nevada victory definitively disproved one of the most enduring myths about his campaign: that it could attract left-leaning young white people, but was incapable of drawing in a diverse coalition. In fact, voters of color were a primary source of Sanders’ strength in Nevada; he received the majority of Latino votes. Entrance polls showed Sanders winning “men and women, whites and Latinos, voters 17-29, 30-44 and 45-65, those with college degrees and those without, liberal Democrats (by a lot) and moderate/conservatives (narrowly), union and non-union households.” The poisonous concept of the white “Bernie Bro” as the “typical” Sanders supporter should be dead.Some members of the media establishment had no idea what to make of Sanders’ Nevada victory. On MSNBC, James Carville said that “Putin” had won Nevada, and Chris Matthews declared the primary “over” (ill-advisedly comparing Sanders’ victory to the Nazi invasion of France). Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post admitted that Sanders had been stronger with nonwhite voters than she expected, and it might now be “too late” to do anything about him.The other candidates and their supporters did their best to spin a humiliating defeat. Amy Klobuchar said her sixth-place finish “exceeded expectations”—if sixth place is better than you expected, you’re probably not a viable candidate. Biden vowed, implausibly (and for the third time) that he would bounce back. Pete Buttigieg took to the stage to denounce Sanders, who he said “believes in an inflexible, ideological revolution that leaves out most Democrats, not to mention most Americans.” A Warren supporter rather charmingly said that while Sanders had won, Warren had the “momentum,” and the Warren campaign itself said the Nevada “debate” mattered more than the Nevada “result.”Let’s be clear: the other candidates were crushed, and Nevada was yet more evidence that there is no longer much serious opposition to Sanders. Michael Bloomberg fizzled completely in his big debut, and Democrats would be out of their minds to enrage every Sanders supporter by nominating a Republican billionaire. Joe Biden has lost badly in all of the first three contests, and it’s very clear that he can’t run an effective campaign. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign has nearly gone broke and in desperation she has resorted to relying on the Super PACs that she previously shunned. Pete Buttigieg can’t win voters of color or young people (and has accurately been described as sounding like “a neural network trained on West Wing episodes”). As Matthews says: it’s over. Bernie is dominating the fundraising, dominating the polls, and winning every primary. I am not sure Jacobin is right that “it’s Bernie’s party now”—for one thing, virtually the entire Congressional Democratic party is still opposed to Bernie. But it’s certainly Bernie’s nomination. There is simply no other credible candidate.Democrats shouldn’t worry, though: Bernie has a strong organization and a lot of money, and can mobilize millions of people to support him in November. He’s exactly the kind of candidate you should want your party to have. And for all the fear of his “radicalism,” he’s really a moderate: his signature policies are a national health insurance program, a living wage, free public higher education, and a serious green energy investment plan. It’s shocking that there is such opposition to such sensible plans. On what planet are these things so politically toxic that Democrats are afraid to run on them? Voters like these ideas, and so long as Democrats unify behind Bernie rather than continuing to try to tear him down, they will have a very good shot at defeating a radical and unhinged president like Donald Trump. The polling looks good for Bernie in November, so now we just need to get this primary over with and focus on the real fight. The other candidates had their shot: they lost. They need to accept it.One other takeaway from Nevada is that no future election should occur without significant reform to the caucus process. Nevada wasn’t an outright catastrophe like Iowa was—at least we got results on election night. But it was still plagued with “voting rules confusion, calculation glitches and delays in reporting tallies.” And the caucus process can be downright bizarre: tied results in the Las Vegas caucuses are resolved with a card game, and at one point Sanders lost a delegate to Pete Buttigieg because the Sanders team pulled an Ace and Buttigieg pulled a 3. (Aces were low.) From the electoral college to the Iowa caucus, American elections desperately need to reworked from the bottom up according to the simple principle “the person with the most votes ought to win.”And yet caucuses also produce some truly inspiring on-the-ground stories, from the cab driver who spoke up for Bernie and kept billionaire Tom Steyer from being viable to the guy who switched from Trump to Bernie because he was convinced socialists were good people. Ordinary people gave incredible speeches as part of the caucus process—one reason why it should be fixed rather than ditched entirely. Members of the Culinary Union, whose leadership had prominently opposed Sanders over Medicare For All, ended up defying their leaders and pushing Sanders to victory at a number of caucus sites.All in all, Nevada was an inspiring moment for American democracy, proof that ordinary working people of all races and incomes and genders can come together around a robust progressive agenda. Democrats need not worry: this is a good thing. It’s a night to be celebrated. The primary is not completely over, but hopefully it is now clear to every sensible observer that Bernie is cruising toward the nomination and needs to be supported rather than torn down. * Nathan Robinson is a Guardian US columnist and the editor of Current Affairs

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 11:14:51 -0500
  • Passage to India: Trump ready for warm embrace, adulation

    Golocal247.com news

    President Donald Trump's packed two-day visit to India promises the kind of welcome that has eluded him on many foreign trips, some of which have featured massive protests and icy handshakes from world leaders. After hosting Modi at a “Howdy Modi” rally in Houston last year that drew 50,000 people, Modi will return the favor with a “Namaste Trump” rally (it translates to, "Greetings, Trump”) at the world's largest cricket stadium in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad. Modi "told me we’ll have 7 million people between the airport and the event," Trump said to reporters Tuesday, then raised the anticipated number to 10 million when he mentioned the trip during a Thursday night rally.

    Sun, 23 Feb 2020 10:41:09 -0500
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