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  • Trump: Turkey-Syria-Kurds face-off isn't America's fight

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    President Donald Trump said Wednesday that U.S. troops are "largely out" of a region of Syria where Turkish forces are attacking the Kurdish fighters who were America's allies in fighting the Islamic State group. Trump downplayed the crisis that followed his decision to pull out of Syria, which critics say amounted to giving Turkey a green light to invade Syria's northeast, where it has been attacking Kurdish fighters whom Turkey views as terrorists.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 12:18:28 -0400
  • Brexiteers May Tolerate Boris Johnson’s Deal

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    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Democratic Unionist Party Leader Arlene Foster dismissed as “nonsense” a report it was close to dropping its opposition to Boris Johnson’s latest Brexit deal and opening the way to a historic agreement with European Union leaders this week.On Wednesday, RTE reported that the Northern Irish party had accepted the prime minister’s latest proposals, citing unidentified EU sources. Then, Foster tweeted:Johnson needs the DUP votes in London if he is to get his deal through Parliament. But the party has been opposed to the concessions the prime minister offered to get the EU‘s support for his proposed Brexit accord -- in particular putting a customs border in the Irish sea and diluting the Northern Ireland Assembly’s veto over the arrangements.Steve Baker, chairman of the European Research Group of pro-Brexit Tories, said the deal the prime minister is pursuing sounds “tolerable,” though added the group would wait for the legal text before making a final decision.Key DevelopmentsJohnson briefed his cabinet and briefly addressed his backbenchers in ParliamentEU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier is set to brief EU27 diplomats at 7 p.m. Brussels time.Johnson needs a deal approved this Saturday or he will be told to seek an extension; that will likely prompt a legal battle with the risk of a no-deal exitWill U.K. Parliament Back a Boris Johnson Brexit? We Do the MathBrexiteers May Tolerate Johnson Deal (4:45 p.m.)Boris Johnson briefed his cabinet and backbenchers from his Conservative Party on the progress of negotiations in Brussels in two short meetings, telling them work still needs to be done.Steve Baker, chairman of the ERG group of hardline Brexiteer Tory MPs, said “the deal sounds like it could well be tolerable” after Johnson spoke to rank-and-file lawmakers in an eight minute private meeting. “It’s not our job to be more unionist than the DUP. But we’re not going to delegate our decision,” he said in reference to the group’s concerns about customs arrangements for Northern Ireland.Johnson said “the summit is still shrouded in mist,” according to Baker’s account after he left the meeting. “Until there’s a legal text we’re not going to make a decision,” Baker added.Johnson had earlier told cabinet that there is a chance of a good deal but it’s not there yet, his spokesman James Slack told reporters.Legal Text Needed Tonight, EU Diplomat Says (4:30 p.m.)An EU diplomat told reporters in Brussels that if there’s no agreed legal text tonight, there’s no chance that a deal will be struck at the leaders’ summit on Thursday.What will happen in that case, whether it’s a new summit, will depend on the outcome of talks in the meantime, the diplomat said.All this is now a negotiation between London and Belfast, the diplomat said, adding that it’s a situation he finds “very boring.”DUP Criticizes Varadkar’s Consent Comments (4:05 p.m.)Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s comments on restoring the devolved assembly in Northern Ireland were an “unhelpful intervention” a DUP lawmaker said, in the latest sign of strained relations between the party and the Dublin government.Reviving the assembly in Stormont is “entirely a matter for the parties in Northern Ireland and the U.K. Government,” said Paul Givan, a DUP lawmaker in the currently inactive assembly. "The Irish Government has no role in this area."Earlier Varadkar said the assembly’s consent mechanism should be re-examined as part of efforts to revive the body (see 1:05 p.m.).Barnier’s Debrief Postponed Again (3:45 p.m.)In a sign that Brexit talks are going to the wire and that there’s still no conclusion, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has again delayed his debrief to ambassadors from the bloc’s 27 remaining governments.Initially scheduled for 2 p.m. Brussels time, it was pushed back to 5 p.m. and now to 7 p.m. The plan is for Barnier to give the final overview of whether there’s a deal or not to take into Thursday’s summit.But there’s still too much uncertainty to give a conclusive assessment, officials said. The two negotiating teams remain locked away in the European Commission and are in contact with the most important EU capitals, particularly Dublin and London, where Boris Johnson’s cabinet has just been briefed on the latest.Pound Whipsawed (2:05 p.m.)The currency market hasn’t been this twitchy over Brexit since the aftermath of the referendum that set off the process in 2016. For the pound, today is all about volatility: The currency has swung between gains and losses as traders track every headline out of Brussels, London and Belfast. On Wednesday, sterling touched a five-month high as an end to the Brexit saga appeared to be in sight -- before paring those gains.Johnson to Visit Brussels? (2 p.m)The prime minister may travel to Brussels this evening if a deal is reached this afternoon, according to EU officials.Irish PM to Brief Party Leaders Today (1:45 p.m.)Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar will brief opposition party leaders later today on the state of the Brexit negotiations. That’s usually a sign of progress -- though he went on to tell lawmakers that a legal text had yet to be “stabilized.” In recent years, that sort of language has preceded the various accords that have been reached.DUP Accepts Latest Proposals on Consent: RTE (1:22 p.m.)Consent Needs to be Revisited, Irish PM Says (1:05 p.m.)In comments unlikely to calm the DUP, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said the suspended Northern Ireland Assembly’s controversial consent mechanism should be re-examined as part of efforts to revive the body.Under current rules, a third of assembly members can effectively block a measure they don’t like, using the so-called petition of concern, which could theoretically allow the DUP to veto any measures designed to install a border in the Irish Sea as part of a Brexit deal.Sammy Wilson, the DUP’s Brexit spokesman today fired a warning over the issue, saying U.K. & EU negotiators “have no business interfering in the processes for consent as currently set out.”Speaking to lawmakers in Dublin, Varadkar said the device had been “used in a way that I don’t think was ever anticipated,” though any reform needs the assent of the region’s biggest parties.DUP’s Wilson Warns Over Consent (12:15 p.m.)DUP Brexit Spokesman Sammy Wilson says the Good Friday Agreement “requires cross community consent for all controversial issues” passing through Northern Ireland’s power-sharing Assembly.U.K. Wants N Ireland in Customs Territory (12 p.m.)Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay reiterated Johnson’s commitment to keeping Northern Ireland in the U.K. customs territory, but refused to be drawn on whether discussions in Brussels include customs checks between the province and the rest of the U.K.“It is essential that Northern Ireland is part of United Kingdom customs territory,” he said in a question and answer session with a panel of MPs. “Once we start to get into the details, that is an issue that is part of the negotiations.” He said “sensitivities” over negotiations with the EU meant he couldn’t talk further about the government’s plans.Barclay dodged a series of questions from the DUP’s Sammy Wilson, in which he was asked if the government would ensure “cross-community” consent for any agreement on the Irish border. That would effectively give a veto for the DUP, which Wilson told him would be in line with the agreement that ended violence in the province.“We have a clear commitment to find solutions compatible with the Belfast Good Friday Agreement,” Barclay said.Second Summit Is Now Being Talked About (11:43 a.m.)One EU diplomat said that the deal seems to be falling apart, and that an extra summit close to the weekend is probably going to be needed. It’s not a scenario the U.K. side are willing to contemplate right now.Nevertheless, in Brussels it’s becoming a definite possibility because EU sees Johnson as legally bound to seek an extension. If he does, then an emergency summit become unavoidable from their point of view.One possibility is Oct. 28, a Monday, three days before the U.K. is scheduled to leave.Was EU Sounding Too Optimistic Last Night? (11:35 a.m.)A U.K. official said the tone coming out of the EU on the state of talks was too optimistic last night. By tonight, there will be a clearer picture of whether both sides have got a deal.There are bigger stumbling blocks than just the sales tax, specifically the future customs relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (and thus the EU), and how to handle Johnson’s plans to give the Northern Ireland Assembly a veto of over future regulatory alignment with the EU.Barclay on Extension Letter (11:20 a.m.)Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay, who is still answering questions from MPs in Parliament, says he’s “not aware” of any plan for the U.K. to send a second letter to the EU in the event of no deal being reached.That’s after suggestions Johnson could send one letter to the EU on Saturday requesting an extension to comply with the Benn Act, followed by another to cancel the first.On Oct. 4 Johnson’s lawyers promised a Scottish Court that he will obey the law and request an extension from the EU, while also arguing that there’s nothing to stop the prime minister continuing to say he intends to leave on Oct. 31Emergency Summit Looming? (11:15 a.m.)It’s now too late for the Brexit deal to be formally approved by leaders at their summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, an EU diplomat said. Leaders will want to wait for the House of Commons to vote on Saturday for any deal before they give a final yes, the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions. That could mean an emergency summit before the end of the month.Level Playing Field: a Key Sticking Point (11.10 a.m.)One of the main sticking points, according to two officials with the deliberations is the so-called level-playing field -- the commitment of the British government that it won’t undercut the EU in areas such as taxation, state subsidies and environmental standards.This is a thorny issue that falls mostly in Political Declaration on the future relations between the two sides, rather than the exit agreement itself. However, reaching a deal on one without the other is impossible, as the two documents are seen as a package.Barnier Optimistic, But Three Roadblocks Key (10:56 a.m.)Barnier told EU Commissioners that he is optimistic a deal can be sealed today, RTE’s Europe editor Tony Connelly tweeted. But he says three problems remain:VAT: Sales tax has emerged as a last-minute roadblockConsent: The DUP is pushing for a tighter Stormont lockThe level-playing field provisionDUP return to Downing Street (10:54 a.m.)Barclay Rejects ‘Technical Extension’ Delay (10:40 a.m.)Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay was asked by MPs in Parliament if he would be happy for the U.K. to have a short, “technical” delay to the Oct. 31 exit day deadline to pass the legislation required for the country to leave the EU. “No,” Barclay replied. “It is important that we leave on the 31st October:”Second EU Summit Possible, Varadkar Says (10:35 a.m.)Another EU summit before the end of October is a “possibility” if it is needed to nail down a Brexit deal, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said. He said there is still time to get an agreement.Varadkar spoke to Johnson this morning and has been “in contact” with the European Commission, he said. While talks are making progress, some issues remain unresolved on the questions of how customs checks on goods crossing the EU-U.K. border will work, and the kind of say over the new arrangements that Northern Ireland’s politicians will be given.The Irish leader hopes a deal could be reached today, but “there is still more time” if not.U.K. Will Seek Extension if No Deal Struck (10:15 a.m.)U.K. Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay told a parliamentary committee that Johnson will write a letter to the EU on Saturday if no deal has been agreed by then, in line with a new law. So far, Johnson has refused to say whether he would send the letter, determined to secure a deal.“I confirm the government will abide by what is set out in that letter,” Barclay told MPs.EU: Brexit Deal Impossible Unless U.K. Moves (10:01 a.m.)Brexit negotiations in Brussels have reached an impasse, with two EU officials saying that a deal is going to be impossible unless the U.K. government changes its position in the negotiations.The remaining issues cannot be resolved in the negotiating room unless Johnson’s government gives a new order to his team in Brussels to shift their red lines, one of the diplomats said.The EU believes Johnson is trying but struggling to get the DUP -- his Northern Irish allies -- to support the draft deal which has been under discussion in the talks in Brussels, the person said.DUP’s Wilson Warns Money Won’t Help (9:35 a.m.)Sammy Wilson, an MP for the Democratic Unionist Party, denied reports that DUP leader Arlene Foster discussed a cash payment for Northern Ireland with Johnson yesterday to help secure her support for the Brexit deal.“This is an issue of whether or not the union is weakened. If the union is weakened no amount of money will get us to accept the deal,” Wilson said in an interview.The party has previously said it would support a deal that didn’t put a border in the Irish Sea, treated Northern Ireland the same as rest of the U.K. in terms of customs arrangements, gave a veto to the Northern Irish assembly and avoided checks at the border.Conservatives Will Take Lead from DUP: Davis (9 a.m.)Former Brexit Secretary David Davis, a committed Brexit-backer, said that securing the support of the Democratic Unionist Party will be key to getting Conservative MPs to vote for any deal Johnson secures from Brussels.“Quite a lot of Tory MPs will take their line from the DUP,” Davis told BBC radio Wednesday. That’s despite the suggestion on Twitter of Tory MP Steve Baker late Tuesday that his group of pro-Brexit Tory MPs are “optimistic” they’ll be able to vote for a deal following a meeting with Johnson’s team.DUP Is Resisting a Deal, U.K. Official Says (8:30 a.m.)The Democratic Unionist Party is resisting the proposed divorce agreement and the U.K. side now thinks the chances of getting an agreement are low, according to a British official who spoke on condition of anonymity.If Johnson can get a legal text approved in Brussels, he will then need to persuade Britain’s Parliament to vote for it, and for that he wants the DUP on side.But the DUP is a “unionist” party, which means its members prize maintaining the economic and political unity of Northern Ireland with the rest of the U.K. above all else. And there are suggestions the deal Johnson is putting together will effectively split Northern Ireland from mainland Britain, with a new customs “border” for checking goods traveling between the two. That would be difficult for the DUP to swallow.Both the U.K. and the EU want to avoid the need for customs checks on goods crossing the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. In the past the DUP and the U.K. government have refused to contemplate a solution that involves a customs border between Northern Ireland and the British mainland.Lib Dems Demand Referendum on Any Deal (Earlier)Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson said her party is pushing for a second referendum whatever deal Johnson brings back from Brussels. “We will back a referendum -- whether it’s on Boris Johnson’s deal, whether it’s on Theresa May’s deal -- because we think it’s the public that should be in charge,” Swinson told BBC radio on Wednesday.Her party has put down an amendment to government legislation for Tuesday calling for a referendum, although other attempts to force a second vote could come as soon as Saturday.Earlier:Brexit Talks Make Progress But Leave Johnson’s Key Allies UneasyCan Johnson Get a Deal Through Parliament? Silence Is Golden\--With assistance from Kitty Donaldson, Jessica Shankleman, Thomas Penny, Tim Ross, Peter Flanagan, Maria Tadeo and Nikos Chrysoloras.To contact the reporters on this story: Ian Wishart in Brussels at iwishart@bloomberg.net;Dara Doyle in Dublin at ddoyle1@bloomberg.net;Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson at fjackson@bloomberg.net, Edward EvansFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 12:15:56 -0400
  • The Latest: Iraqi president talks security with US diplomat

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    Iraqi President Barham Saleh has discussed the situation in northern Syria with a visiting U.S. official and he says they focused on ways of preventing Islamic militants from taking advantage of the chaos to rise again. There have been concerns that the Turkish military operation against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria might affect the protection of prisons where some 10,000 the Islamic State group members are being held.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 12:14:35 -0400
  • UPDATE 1-Trump says likely won't sign China trade deal until he meets with Xi

    U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he likely would not sign any trade deal with China until he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the upcoming APEC Forum in Chile. Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House, said the partial trade deal announced last week was in the process of being formalized. Last week, Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He announced the first phase of a deal to end the trade war between Beijing and Washington but did not offer many details.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 12:05:37 -0400
  • Paris says Iran has detained 2nd French researcher

    Iran has been holding a second French researcher in custody for months, France's foreign ministry said Wednesday, denouncing the detention as "unacceptable" and demanding his release. The confirmation that Roland Marchal is being held in Iran — as well as his fellow-academic Fariba Adelkhah — comes at a time of high tensions and diplomatic maneuvering in the Persian Gulf. French President Emmanuel Macron has sought to serve as a mediator between Tehran and Washington over Iran's nuclear program.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 11:53:08 -0400
  • UK PM Johnson says almost there on Brexit deal - lawmakers

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a meeting of Conservative lawmakers the European Union and Britain were almost there on a Brexit deal but that the peak of the mountain was still partly shrouded in cloud, sources in the room told Reuters. "There was a sense of relief in the room that we are almost there, it has been a long slog," a Conservative lawmaker told Reuters on condition of anonymity. According to another lawmaker, Johnson said: "We’re not there yet.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 11:47:18 -0400
  • Turkish patriotism on display amid Syria operation

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    National soccer team players give military salutes during international matches, Turkish flags flutter from balconies and storefronts, songs extolling the glory days of the Ottoman Empire blare from a border town's loudspeakers, punctuated by the occasional boom of outgoing artillery. Since Turkey announced its incursion into neighboring Syria to clear out Kurdish fighters last week, patriotic sentiment has run high — as has bewilderment and anger at the overwhelmingly negative international reaction to Ankara's actions. "At times of this kind of Turkish operation, we as Turkish people feel prouder about our nation," said Cuma Gunay, a 47-year-old supermarket owner in the town of Akcakale, which sits on the border with Syria.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 11:44:24 -0400
  • Pakistan says Saudis, Iran willing to pursue diplomacy

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    Pakistan's foreign minister says Iran and Saudi Arabia have indicated a willingness to pursue diplomacy to end their disputes after Pakistan's prime minister traveled to both countries to try and ease tensions. Tensions between the rival Middle Eastern countries escalated following last month's attack on the Saudi oil industry. Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Wednesday that both the Saudi and Iranian leadership indicated a willingness to talk after meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who traveled to Iran on Sunday and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 11:29:43 -0400
  • VW Freeze on Turkish Plant Sparks Balkan Contest to Host Site

    (Bloomberg) -- Volkswagen AG’s decision to put its Turkish investment on ice has touched off a new round of contest among Balkan nations vying to host the 1.3 billion-euro ($1.4 billion) plant.Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia are hoping that Volkswagen returns to its earlier shortlist of sites, which featured the Balkan nations and North Africa. The investment would be one of the biggest by a carmaker in any of the three countries, which have long struggled to combat corruption and improve crumbling infrastructure.“We’ve covered all requirements by the investor and we’ve offered more than that,” InvestBulgaria Agency CEO Stamen Yanev said by phone on Wednesday. “We’re still standing well as a factor of stability in the region, as a loyal partner and we’re awaiting the final decision.”Volkswagen on Tuesday delayed a decision on its auto factory in Turkey after the country’s military action in northern Syria prompted an international outcry. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was among the leaders calling for an immediate end to the operation, alongside European Union-wide comments condemning the offensive.Volkswagen declined to comment, saying that it is currently evaluating its options and will comment once it makes a decision.The world’s biggest carmaker has struggled to compete with Asian rivals because of high costs at its factories in western Europe, which has prompted its foray to the continent’s east. Volkswagen has production facilities across the region, though some under different brands, in Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Bosnia-Herzegovina.The three Balkan nations are banking on still-available skilled workforce, and relative stability versus a now-turbulent Turkey, according to officials.Serbia has also put itself out as a candidate. An investment by VW would “help stabilize the whole region,” along with the benefits for the carmaker as the area still has qualified labor for the industry, Marko Cadez, head of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce said by phone. Serbia is outside the EU so unlike Bulgaria and Romania, its workers don’t have access to jobs in member countries.\--With assistance from Andrea Dudik and Siddharth Philip.To contact the reporters on this story: Slav Okov in Sofia at sokov@bloomberg.net;Misha Savic in Belgrade at msavic2@bloomberg.net;Andra Timu in Bucharest at atimu@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Irina Vilcu at isavu@bloomberg.net, Balazs Penz, Tara PatelFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 11:21:49 -0400
  • UK PM Johnson sees chance of Brexit deal, not there yet - spokesman

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his cabinet of top ministers that there was a chance of agreeing a new Brexit deal with the European Union but the deal was not done yet, his spokesman said on Wednesday. The spokesman said that there remained outstanding issues in agreeing the deal, adding that talks with the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party were ongoing. "The prime minister gave an update to cabinet on the progress in the ongoing Brexit talks, he said there was a chance of securing a good deal but we are not there yet, and there remain outstanding issues," the spokesman said.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 11:17:49 -0400
  • Russia offers to mediate in Syria, asserting its role

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    Russia offered Wednesday to mediate a resolution in northern Syria, further asserting Moscow's role as a regional force, ahead of a mission by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence to press Turkey for a cease-fire in its attack on Syrian Kurdish fighters. Ahead of talks with Pence, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defied U.S. economic sanctions, saying the only way its military offensive would end was if Syrian Kurdish fighters leave a designated border area.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 11:09:11 -0400
  • Will U.K. Parliament Back a Boris Johnson Brexit? We Do the Math

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    (Bloomberg) -- Even if Boris Johnson can strike a Brexit deal with the European Union, does he have the numbers to get it past Parliament?That hurdle tripped up his predecessor, Theresa May. While British negotiators haggled with their European Union counterparts this week, trying to hammer out an agreement, another set of talks took place in London. Members of Parliament have been going into Johnson’s office to discuss whether they can support him.In charge of wooing MPs is Johnson’s political secretary, Danny Kruger, who has been speaking not just to Conservatives but to opposition lawmakers who might be tempted to support a deal. The opposite of his more famous and abrasive colleague Dominic Cummings, Kruger is a gentle and thoughtful former political speech-writer who has set up two charities to help people on the margins of society.But can it be done? Here’s how the numbers stack up.Target: 320Once non-voting MPs are accounted for, Johnson needs 320 MPs on his side to win any vote in the House of Commons.Baseline: 259The last time Theresa May tried to get her deal through, in March, she had the support of 279 Conservatives. They’re mostly likely to back a Johnson deal too, but there are some problems.Johnson expelled a group of MPs from the party in September after they backed legislation blocking a no-deal Brexit. They were joined by Amber Rudd, who resigned in sympathy. Also out of the party is Nick Boles, who quit the Conservatives earlier this year in frustration at the Brexit deadlock.As a result there are question marks against 19 former Tories who previously backed May’s deal. On top of that number, one deal-backing Conservative, Chris Davies, lost his seat to a Liberal Democrat in a recall election. That leaves Johnson 61 votes short. Where can he go?‘Gaukeward Squad’: 19The expelled Tories, who take their name from former Justice Secretary David Gauke, are temperamentally loyalists -- some had never voted against their party before September. Many of them are looking for a way back in. Given that their objection to Johnson’s strategy was the fear he was pursuing a no-deal divorce, they may be happy to get back into line if he reaches an agreement.But it’s not certain. Gauke has questioned whether Johnson’s promises can be trusted, while former Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond has warned of the economic dangers of not having a close relationship with the EU. Several of them, including Antoinette Sandbach, have suggested the U.K. needs to hold another referendum.Johnson would be doing very well if he got all of them on side.Democratic Unionist Party: 10Johnson has worked hard to try to keep Northern Ireland’s DUP engaged, spending 90 minutes talking to them on Tuesday evening and meeting them again on Wednesday. They have deep reservations about anything that creates any kind of border between Britain and Northern Ireland. But they also fear a no-deal Brexit, or Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister. Backing Johnson’s deal might conceivably be the least-worst option.The DUP are the big prize, because they would unlock...The Spartans: 28The self-titled “Spartans” are Conservative MPs who refused to vote for May’s deal. They chose their name to recall the fearsome Ancient Greek warriors who held off a numerically superior Persian force at the Battle of Thermopylae.When Johnson became prime minister, the Spartans were adamant they opposed any but the most minimal Brexit agreement. But in recent weeks they have begun to see the virtues of compromise. This is the result of the Benn Act, legislation that aims to prevent the U.K. leaving on Oct. 31 unless Johnson has reached a deal. It’s made the Spartans fear losing Brexit altogether.The leader of the Spartans, Steve Baker, said on Tuesday he was optimistic Johnson could reach a “tolerable” deal. But another, former Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson, was more critical. If the DUP are on board, most of the Spartans will fall into line. But even without the DUP, many are desperate to get Brexit over the line.Two Spartans, at least, are fairly sure to back a deal: Priti Patel and Theresa Villiers are both in Johnson’s Cabinet.Labour: 21May pinned her hopes on winning the support of a significant minority of MPs from the opposition Labour Party who believe the 2016 referendum result must be honored.She struggled to get more than five to vote with her, but 15 who didn’t back her last time joined some who did in signing a letter this month urging the EU to do a deal. That might imply a commitment to actually vote for such an agreement. There’s also Kate Hoey, a fierce supporter of Brexit, who’s likely to vote the same way as the Spartans.Against that is the fear of retribution from their party if they do so. Leader Jeremy Corbyn and his team sense that defeating Johnson’s deal is a key step on their route to beating him at an election. Others in the party see defeating a deal as essential to securing another referendum.Any Labour MP voting with the government risks expulsion, though a handful are retiring at the next election anyway so might not see that as an effective threat.Independents: 5Four independent MPs backed May’s deal in March. A fifth, John Woodcock, might also be tempted.Other MPs: 2Two possible supporters defy categorization. Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb, who is stepping down at the next election, represents a seat that voted to leave the EU and has been critical of his party’s anti-Brexit stance. And Jo Johnson, brother of the prime minister, voted against the deal in March, agreed to join his brother’s Cabinet, then resigned. Both could potentially back a deal to settle the issue.The Risks?This tally gives Johnson a pool of 85 votes from which to find the 61 he needs. It’s tight, but feasible. There is a question, however, of whether he might lose some support, for example among those Tories who voted for a deal in March and regretted doing so afterward.There’s also another intriguing possibility. When Theresa May was prime minister, she said a Brexit deal that split Northern Ireland from Great Britain was one that no prime minister could accept. Now she’s a former prime minister and if that’s the path Johnson takes, could she live with it?She’ll almost certainly stay loyal, but then Johnson did make her life very difficult, so it’s hard to be sure.To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Thomas Penny, Adam BlenfordFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 10:59:05 -0400
  • EU and UK scramble for Brexit deal on eve of key summit

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    British and European negotiators ploughed on with Brexit talks Wednesday hoping that at least an outline deal can be found in time for the European summit. European leaders will head to Brussels on Thursday hoping to decide whether to give the go-ahead to officials to draw up a final withdrawal treaty. "The basic foundations of an agreement are ready and in theory tomorrow we could accept this deal with Great Britain and avoid the chaos and the misfortune linked to an uncontrolled, chaotic exit," Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, said on Poland's TVN24 news.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 10:59:04 -0400
  • Turkish invasion sparks NATO crisis but eviction is unlikely

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    Turkey's invasion of northern Syria — along with the criticism and threats of sanctions brandished by fellow NATO members at Ankara over the offensive — is close to sparking a crisis at the world's biggest military alliance. From the Suez Canal crisis in 1956 to France leaving its military command structure in 1967 — which forced the alliance to move its headquarters to Brussels in Belgium — to the deep split among allies over the Iraq war in 2003, NATO bonds have been tested. Beyond that, Turkey is of great strategic importance to NATO.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 09:26:36 -0400
  • WRAPUP 1 -Britain struggles on two fronts to agree last-ditch Brexit deal

    BRUSSELS/DUBLIN, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Negotiators struggled on Wednesday to clinch an eleventh-hour Brexit deal on the eve of an EU summit, raising the chances that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will have to seek an extension of the Oct. 31 deadline for Britain's exit from the bloc. Talks in Brussels on Tuesday between European Union and British officials ran into the night and resumed just hours later, but Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said there were still "many issues" to be resolved.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 09:26:19 -0400
  • China Threatens to Retaliate If U.S. Enacts Hong Kong Bill

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    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. China threatened unspecified “strong countermeasures” if the U.S. Congress enacts legislation supporting Hong Kong protesters, in a sign of the deepening strain between the world’s two largest economies as they attempt to seal a trade deal.China’s foreign ministry issued the warning Wednesday after the U.S. House passed a package of measures backing a pro-democracy movement that has rocked the former British colony for more than four months. Among them was the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which subjects the city’s special U.S. trading status to annual reviews and provides for sanctions against officials deemed responsible for undermining its “fundamental freedoms and autonomy.”QuickTake: How the U.S. Congress Is Riling China on Hong KongWhile the legislation must also pass the U.S. Senate and be signed by President Donald Trump to become law, it already has strong bipartisan support in the Republican-run upper chamber. The Hong Kong measures were passed by the Democrat-controlled House by unanimous voice votes Tuesday.Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang warned American lawmakers to stop meddling in China’s internal affairs “before falling off the edge of the cliff,” without specifying how it would retaliate. The House action “fully exposes the shocking hypocrisy of some in the U.S. on human rights and democracy and their malicious intention to undermine Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability to contain China’s development,” Geng said.Both Trump and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have so far prevented the international uproar over Hong Kong from scuttling their trade talks. The two sides went ahead with negotiations and reached some broad agreements last week, even though the House vote was widely expected at the time.“I don’t think this will undermine the prospect of signing a partial deal next month,” said Wang Huiyao, an adviser to China’s cabinet and founder of the Center for China and Globalization in Beijing. “The Hong Kong bill is not a done deal and there is still room for redemption.”A spokesman for the Hong Kong government “expressed regret” over the House action, which came hours before Chief Executive Carrie Lam addressed a raucous session of the Legislative Council. She barely managed a few words before pro-democracy lawmakers forced her to stop talking. She ended up delivering her annual policy address via video instead.While the pro-democracy bloc only comprises about a third of lawmakers, Wednesday’s display showed they have the ability to shut down debate on major economic initiatives. That spells even more trouble ahead for an economy sliding into recession as protests against Beijing’s grip over the city grow increasingly violent.China’s retaliation threat against the U.S. roiled markets during Asian trading, at one point wiping out a 0.8% rally in the regional equity benchmark.U.S. lawmakers have embraced the Hong Kong protesters’ cause as the yearlong trade war fuels American support for pushing back against China, and they have hosted some of the city’s activists on Capitol Hill in recent weeks. The National Basketball Association’s struggle to manage Chinese backlash against a Houston Rockets executive’s support for the movement has only focused wider attention on the debate.On Tuesday, the House passed H.Res. 543, a resolution reaffirming the relationship between the U.S. and Hong Kong, condemning Chinese interference in the region and voicing support for protesters. Lawmakers also passed the Protect Hong Kong Act, H.R. 4270, which would halt the export to Hong Kong of crowd-control devices such as tear gas and rubber bullets.Representative Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican and a sponsor of the main Hong Kong bill, predicted that the Senate would pass the legislation and dismissed the threats from Beijing.“Retaliation, that’s all they ever talk,” Smith told Bloomberg TV. “They try to browbeat and cower people, countries, presidents, prime ministers and the like all over in order to get them to back off. We believe that human rights are so elemental, and so in need of protection. And that’s why the students and the young people are out in the streets in Hong Kong virtually every day.”In addition, the House adopted a resolution by Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel of New York and the panel’s top Republican, Michael McCaul of Texas, urging Canada to start U.S. extradition proceedings against Huawei Technologies Co. executive Meng Wanzhou. The resolution, H.Res. 521, also calls for the release of two Canadians detained in China and due process for a third sentenced to death for drug smuggling.Republican Senators Rick Scott of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri visited Hong Kong over the two-week congressional recess that ended Tuesday. Hawley met with local pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong and got into a back-and-forth with Lam over whether Hong Kong is a becoming a “police state.”The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ local branch in the city issued a separate statement warning the U.S. against “playing the Hong Kong card.” “They are lifting the stone only to drop it on their own feet,” it said.David Zweig, an emeritus professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and director of Transnational China Consulting Ltd., noted that the U.S. legislation stopped short of altering the Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, which provides the city’s special trading status. So both the bill and any Chinese retaliation would have limited impact.“China needs to posture with a retaliation of some kind,” Zweig said. “But this is really a secondary issue as long as they keep the Hong Kong Policy Act intact. The House could have gone much further with the Hong Kong Policy Act. And they didn’t.”(Updates with legislative disruption in seventh paragraph)\--With assistance from Li Liu, Sofia Horta e Costa, Christopher Anstey, Anna Edgerton, Shelly Banjo and Eric Lam.To contact the reporters on this story: Iain Marlow in Hong Kong at imarlow1@bloomberg.net;Daniel Flatley in Washington at dflatley1@bloomberg.net;Dandan Li in Beijing at dli395@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, ;Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, John HarneyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 09:23:16 -0400
  • Botswana Sees Trade With U.K. Continuing Unhindered After Brexit

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    (Bloomberg) -- Botswana, the world’s second-biggest diamond producer, expects its trade with the U.K. to continue unhindered after Brexit.The Southern African Customs Union, which comprises Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia and Eswatini, along with Mozambique last month agreed on a deal with the U.K. to govern trade should it leave the European Union at the end of the month. The deal mirrors the terms SACU currently has with the EU.“We have worked quite hard on ensuring there is no trade disruption,” Botswana’s Investment, Trade and Industry Minister Joy Kenewendo, who traveled to London last week to chair talks on concluding the accord, said in a phone interview from Gaborone, the capital. “We have really tried to cover all the possible bases.”British and European Union officials are trying to thrash out a Brexit deal as the U.K. prepares to withdraw from the economic bloc on Oct. 31, more than three years after Britons voted on the pull-out in a referendum.Opportunity KnocksBesides the trade accord, a memorandum of understanding guarantees the SACU members and Mozambique access to the U.K. market, while the protracted process of certifying their goods is under way, according to Kenewendo.“We are seeing opportunities that will come from having two markets now -- in the U.K. and with the EU,” she said.The minister also used her London visit to drum up foreign investment in Botswana. That’s been a key focus of President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who is standing for election this month and has been trying to reduce the nation’s reliance on diamonds and create jobs for the almost one in five workers who are unemployed.The government wants more of its minerals to be processed locally, and is encouraging investment in the manufacturing, agro-processing and services industries by offering tax breaks. Its cause has been aided by the fact that Botswana consistently ranks as one of Africa’s best-governed nations and has the continent’s highest credit rating at Moody’s Investors Service.“One of the challenges we have had is really low brand recognition and we are working on that,” Kenewendo said. “When you talk about peace, when you talk about good governance, when you talk about safety and security, all those fundamentals are in place.”Other highlights from the interview:The government is accelerating the process of identifying state companies that can be privatizedPlans to sell part of the national airline have attracted a lot of interestQatar Airways QCSC intends to start flights to Botswana; Kenya Airways Plc may do likewiseThe African Continental Free Trade Agreement that came into effect in May should work to Botswana’s advantage, giving it broader access to markets and enabling it to attract companies that want to expand across the continent.To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Cohen in Cape Town at mcohen21@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net, Hilton ShoneFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 09:11:33 -0400
  • Jordan calls on Israel to release woman on hunger strike

    Jordan is calling on Israel to release a Jordanian woman detained for over a month without trial on security charges. Heba al-Labadi's attorney said Wednesday that she was arrested Aug. 20 at the Allenby Bridge crossing between Jordan and the Israeli-occupied West Bank and has been on a hunger strike since Sept. 26. Israel's Shin Bet internal security agency says she is detained "because of suspicion of her involvement in serious security violations," without elaborating.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 09:00:05 -0400
  • UPDATE 1-Policy shift anticipated as North Korea's Kim rides white horse on sacred mountain

    Aides to Kim Jong Un are convinced the North Korean leader plans "a great operation", state media said on Wednesday in a report that included lavish descriptions and images of the leader riding a white horse up North Korea's most sacred mountain. In the photos released by state media, Kim is seen riding on a large white horse through snowy fields and woods on Mt Paektu, the spiritual homeland of the Kim dynasty, along with his younger sister and other aides.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 08:49:14 -0400
  • AP Analysis: Gulf Arab states worry after US Syria pullout

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    For decades considered a U.S. national security priority, the Persian Gulf remains home to tens of thousands of American troops spread across sprawling bases protecting crucial routes for global energy supplies. Countries across the Persian Gulf wonder what they should take away from President Donald Trump's withdrawal of American forces from Syria after apparently acquiescing to Turkey's invasion of Kurdish territory.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 08:47:37 -0400
  • N.Ireland's DUP dismisses report on backing Brexit consent proposals

    The leader of the DUP, a small Northern Irish party backing Britain's minority government, dismissed a report on Wednesday that it had accepted the latest proposals on the role the region would play in how Northern Ireland is treated after Brexit. Needs to be a sensible deal which unionists and nationalists can support," Arlene Foster said on Twitter, shortly after the report on Twitter by Tony Connelly, Europe Editor with Irish national broadcaster RTE. Connelly quoted two senior EU sources as saying the main stumbling block to a Brexit deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union had been removed with the DUP backing the latest proposals on consent for Northern Ireland.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 08:35:29 -0400
  • The daily business briefing: October 16, 2019

    1.China harshly criticized the U.S. House of Representatives for passing a bill seeking to allow sanctions against anyone who harms Hong Kong's autonomy. China's state news agency Xinhua called the House vote "arrogant and dangerous." Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China would respond with strong measures, accusing the U.S. lawmakers of "sinister intentions to undermine Hong Kong's prosperity and stability and contain China's development." The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which the House approved unanimously on Tuesday, requires the U.S. to review annually Hong Kong's special trade status, which treats the semi-autonomous Chinese territory as a separate entity from mainland China. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam had to deliver a key policy speech to lawmakers via video after protesters interrupted her. [The Washington Post, The Guardian] 2.MGM Resorts International on Tuesday announced that it planned to sell its two Las Vegas resorts — Bellagio and Circus Circus — separately in deals worth about $5 billion. Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust will acquire the Bellagio for $4.25 billion in a sale-leaseback deal with MGM. An affiliate of Treasure Island owner Phil Ruffin will buy Circus Circus Las Vegas For $825 million. MGM plans to use the money from the deals to "build a fortress balance sheet," said CEO Jim Murren. The casino operator also plans to return some capital to shareholders. The deals are expected to close in the fourth quarter. [Reuters] 3.European stocks struggled early Wednesday as European Union and U.K. negotiators continued last-ditch talks to prevent a disorderly no-deal Brexit ahead of an EU summit scheduled for Thursday and Friday. Despite reports of progress, the two sides remained at odds over a future trade deal, fair competition clauses, and how to handle the border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K., and Ireland, an EU member. The two sides need to reach a proposed deal on Wednesday if it stands any chance of being approved by the EU and British Parliament before Oct. 19, when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson would be legally required to ask the EU to extend the current Oct. 31 Brexit deadline. [CNN, CNBC] 4.U.S. stocks closed up sharply on Tuesday after several major companies, including J.P. Morgan Chase and UnitedHealth, started the earnings season off with better-than-expected quarterly reports. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.9 percent, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq rose by 1 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively. Through Tuesday morning, 29 of the 34 S&P 500 components reporting beat Wall Street's expectations, according to The Earnings Scout data. "The early reporters must not have gotten the memo from market bears stating that we are in an earnings recession," said Nick Raich, CEO of The Earnings Scout. U.S. stock index futures edged down early Wednesday as investors monitored Brexit negotiations ahead of a crucial two-day summit starting Thursday. [CNBC] 5.The NBA's business ties with China continued to generate unwanted publicity for the basketball league on Tuesday, as Hong Kong protesters lashed out at Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James for saying Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey "wasn't educated" and hurt people financially when he tweeted support for the semi-autonomous Chinese territory's pro-democracy demonstrations. Morey's tweet damaged relations between China and the NBA, prompting China's state television, CCTV, to cancel plans to broadcast exhibition games played in China last week. Several companies and state-run offices also severed ties with the NBA over the tweet and league Commissioner Adam Silver's response to it, in which he defended Morey's right to free speech. [ESPN]

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 08:30:00 -0400
  • What's Really in the Trade Deal Trump Announced With China

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    President Donald Trump portrayed the "Phase 1" agreement he announced Friday with China with typical fanfare, describing the pact as "massive" and "the largest contract" ever signed."We made a fantastic deal," Trump said during remarks Tuesday at the White House.There are good reasons to be skeptical about those claims. The deal appears likely to benefit American farmers by increasing Chinese purchases of agricultural goods and gives some other businesses more access to the Chinese market. But the "agreement in principle" is limited in scope and exact details have yet to be put in writing -- a process that has derailed negotiations with China in the past.U.S. officials said Friday that they would work with China on finalizing an initial agreement in the coming weeks, with hopes of signing a deal when Trump and President Xi Jinping attend a summit of global leaders in Chile in mid-November.Here's what we know so far about what the agreement might contain.What's in the Deal -- Agricultural ProductsFrom Trump's perspective, the centerpiece of the pact is a commitment by China to purchase between $40 billion to $50 billion of American agricultural products per year. Administration officials said that target would be reached within the second year of the pact's enactment.That volume would represent a huge increase over what China was purchasing before the start of the trade war. American farm exports to China peaked at around $25.5 billion in 2016, according to the American Farm Bureau, then dipped to $24.3 billion in 2017.Since then, exports of soybeans, pork and other products have collapsed under pressure from the trade war. American farm exports to China fell to just $13.4 billion in 2018 and are on track for a similar total this year, according to the same data.U.S. officials have not specified which products would be purchased, or how they arrived at a $50 billion figure. But to many analysts, that level of exports seems hard to achieve. Trump himself acknowledged this on Saturday, saying in a tweet that "there is a question as to whether or not this much product can be produced.""Our farmers will figure it out. Thank you China!" the president added.One factor that could sharply drive up China's imports is its African swine fever epidemic. China has already lost about 40% of its hog herd to the sickness, increasing demand for foreign pork and other meats.The $50 billion target may also include a generous estimate of how other parts of the agreement would affect sales. U.S. officials said they had negotiated speedier food safety checks for imports into China and approvals for genetically modified products, both of which could boost trade.Geng Shuang, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, confirmed at a news conference Tuesday that China would speed up its purchases of American farm goods. "What the U.S. is saying is the actual situation, which is consistent with what we know," he said.-- No New Tariffs, For NowFrom China's perspective, the biggest win is a promise by Trump to cancel an Oct. 15 tariff increase, when taxes on $250 billion of Chinese goods were set to rise to 30% from 25%.U.S. officials could also cancel plans to impose a 15% tax on another roughly $150 billion of goods in December if things go well.But that still leaves a huge swath of tariffs intact. Since the start of the trade war, the United States has imposed tariffs on more than $360 billion of Chinese products, while China has placed tariffs on roughly $100 billion of American imports.-- Opening China's Financial MarketsTrump administration officials said that China has pledged to open its markets to American financial services firms and that banks and credit card companies would be the primary beneficiaries. But few details have been offered and many of these changes are already in the works for other countries.Under heavy American pressure, China has announced a series of moves over the past two years to open up its banking and other financial services sectors, allowing higher levels of foreign ownership or even removing ownership caps entirely. But China is unilaterally opening up its financial services sector to businesses from all over the world, not just from the United States.Some trade experts say the gains to American companies may be limited, pointing out that China has delayed opening its markets for so long that Chinese companies already dominate the financial sector.-- Protecting Intellectual PropertyThe White House initially began the trade war over concerns about China's treatment of American intellectual property, including what the administration called outright theft of technology and trade secrets.Trump said Friday that some measures concerning intellectual property and technology transfer would be included in the "Phase 1" agreement, with additional protections included in later phases. Officials have given few details, although people briefed on the negotiations said the measures include stronger protection for copyrights and patents.Chinese negotiators have pointed to a foreign investment law passed earlier this year as evidence that they have resolved some of the Trump administration's concerns. That law contained assurances that China would even the playing field for foreign and domestic businesses, but it had few details. The crucial implementing regulations are not scheduled to be issued until January.-- New Rules For Managing CurrencyThe agreement also includes new guidelines for how China manages its currency -- provisions aimed at resolving American complaints that China has intentionally weakened its currency to make its exports cheaper.People briefed on the agreement said the provisions look similar to the currency chapter in the Trump administration's revised North American Free Trade Agreement. It also closely resembles a pledge that China gave when the Group of 20 nations' finance ministers gathered in Shanghai in February 2016. Both texts call for countries not to devalue their currencies to achieve a trade advantage and to inform each other if they intervene by buying and selling large amounts of currency.Some experts question whether requiring the Chinese government to disclose more data will do much to curb intervention. Beijing could respond by doing more of its intervention almost invisibly through state-owned banks, and there are some signs in Chinese data it has already begun doing so."The more disclosure there is of China's formal intervention, the more China is likely to rely on shadow intervention," said Brad Setser, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former Obama administration Treasury official.-- EnforcementA big question has been whether China will stick to the promises it makes. Robert Lighthizer, Trump's top trade negotiator, said the pact would set up "a very elaborate consultation process" with "escalation in various areas so that difficulties can be resolved." But he added that the details were still being worked out.U.S. officials have emphasized that their current tariffs, and the threat of future ones, will act as an enforcement mechanism. If China violates the agreement, the Trump administration could move forward with additional tariffs on Chinese products. And if China follows through on its promises, some of Trump's existing tariffs could be rolled back.What's Missing? -- Final TextNo agreement has yet been signed, and some of it remains unwritten. Trump said Friday that the deal was "subject to getting everything papered" but added he did not foresee a problem with that process.But the United States and China have reached trade truces before -- in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in December, and in Osaka, Japan, in June -- only to see them quickly crumble. That has left some critics hesitant."A deal that isn't written down isn't a real deal," Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in a statement.-- Structural IssuesLong-standing concerns about Chinese economic policies that disadvantage American companies do not appear to have been addressed.These policies, which are often called "structural issues," include China's generous subsidies to certain companies, the outsized role of the government in the economy and its systematic discrimination against foreign firms. In particular, the Trump administration has often criticized Beijing's ambitious plan to dominate cutting-edge technologies like advanced microchips, artificial intelligence and electric cars, called Made in China 2025.China has fiercely resisted any American demands that it sees as efforts to interfere with how it runs its economy. Negotiators have discussed some measures, like requiring China to disclose more information about how it subsidizes its industries, and people familiar with the talks say such talks will continue. But American officials made no mention of these issues with regard to the initial agreement.-- Nonfarm ProductsThe agreement also excludes provisions related to the manufacturing sector. And it appears to allow China to retain, for now, its high tariffs on American-made cars.That's notable because nonagricultural goods -- including cars, car parts and aircraft -- account for both the bulk of American exports to China, as well as the very large U.S. trade deficit with China that Trump has criticized.Trump tweeted Saturday that the deal would include $16 billion to $20 billion in purchases of Boeing planes, but U.S. officials have not shared any other details.-- Data and "21st Century" ProtectionsOfficials have made no mention of a point that is as crucial for American competitiveness as it is hard to resolve: China's treatment of data.Chinese laws block multinational companies from moving much of the data they gather on Chinese customers out of the country, meaning that many technology and retail companies must silo off their China business from the rest of their global operations. Chinese officials insist this is a matter of national security and have signaled they are unlikely to yield on this point.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 08:25:27 -0400
  • Turkey's Erdogan coldly rejects Trump's Syria demands, says 'when Trump comes here, I'll be talking'

    Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien are traveling to Turkey on Wednesday for a Thursday meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The U.S. delegation will pass on President Trump's demand that Turkey, a NATO ally, halt its invasion of Syria and negotiate a ceasefire with the Kurds, whom Erdogan has vowed to crush. Trump has ordered sanctions on Turkish officials if Ankara doesn't comply.Late Tuesday, Erdogan pre-emptively rejected Trump's demands, saying Turkey will only end its offensive when the Kurdish fighters drop their weapons and leave the "safe zone" Turkey wants to carve out in northeastern Syria. "They say 'Declare a ceasefire' -- we will never declare a ceasefire," Erdogan told reporters en route to Ankara from Azerbaijan. "They are pressuring us to stop the operation. They are announcing sanctions. Our goal is clear. We are not worried about any sanctions." On Wednesday, Erdogan told Sky News he wouldn't meet with Pence or Pompeo: "I'm not going to talk to them. They will be talking to their counterparts. When Trump comes here, I'll be talking."Russia said Tuesday that Erdogan had accepted President Vladimir Putin's invitation to visit Moscow "in the coming days" to discuss the Syria situation.The Kurds, backed by U.S. Special Forces, controlled northeastern Syria area until Trump abruptly announced a U.S. withdrawal after an Oct. 6 phone call with Erdogan. The Kurds then reached a deal with Syria's government and its Russian allies. Russia also sent troops into the area to support the Syrian forces and prevent a direct Turkey-Syria confrontation, and they occupied newly deserted U.S. bases on Tuesday. The pullout of U.S. troops has turned out to be chaotic and dangerous -- Turkey and its allies nearly shelled U.S. forces on Friday and were warned off by U.S. Apache gunships on Tuesday as they marched toward U.S. forces.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 08:13:38 -0400
  • Libya's coast guard intercepts 90 Europe-bound migrants

    Libya's coast guard says it has intercepted 90 Europe-bound migrants off the country's Mediterranean coast. Spokesman Ayoub Gassim says a rubber boat with 90 African migrants, including seven women, was stopped on Tuesday off Khoms town, around 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of the capital, Tripoli. Gassim says the migrants, who arrived at the shores Wednesday, will be taken to a Tripoli detention center.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 08:06:01 -0400
  • At best, EU summit can grant tentative approval of any Brexit deal

    Any approval by European Union leaders at their Thursday-Friday summit in Brussels of a last-minute Brexit deal could only be conditional on the British House of Commons approving it later, three diplomats with the bloc said. A third diplomat added that, should there be an eleventh-hour agreement in technical talks between British and EU going on in Brussels, the summit could offer London a short delay to its departure date currently due on Oct.31 to polish the detail.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 08:04:18 -0400
  • Libyan official: Tripoli is restricting our oil revenues

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    The head of Libya's parallel government in the east said rival, U.N.-backed authorities in Tripoli have restricted oil revenues to areas under its control, as eastern-allied militias battle to seize control of the capital. Libya remains split between two governments — one based in the eastern city of Benghazi, the other in the historical capital of Tripoli — after descending into chaos in 2011, when an international military coalition helped rebels overthrow longtime autocrat Moammar Gadhafi. Benghazi-based Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani told The Associated Press Tuesday that the country's eastern regions were receiving only about $126 million monthly for public salaries, despite holding most of Libya's oil facilities.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 08:03:13 -0400
  • Winners and losers in the Democratic debate from columnist Glenn Harlan Reynolds

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    Vladimir Putin was among the surprise losers of the latest Democratic debate. Liberals now admit Russia is a foe.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 07:54:44 -0400
  • Turkey's Halkbank says US sanctions case punishment for Syria operation

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    Turkey's state-run Halkbank on Wednesday denied any wrong-doing after US prosecutors charged it with a scheme to evade sanctions on Iran, saying the case was introduced to punish Turkey for its military operation in Syria. The US Department of Justice said Tuesday it had charged the bank with six counts of fraud, money laundering, and sanctions offences -- arguing Halkbank was guilty of "illegally giving Iran access to billions of dollars' worth of funds".

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 07:24:05 -0400
  • Gazans call on Saudi Arabia to free imprisoned relatives

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    Several families of Palestinians detainees imprisoned by Saudi Arabia held a rare protest in Gaza Wednesday, calling on the kingdom to free them. Most of the nearly 50 detainees are believed to be affiliated with Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza. Hamas officials say Saudi authorities intensified a crackdown on the Islamist group's supporters in the kingdom this year, rounding up dozens of Palestinian doctors, engineers and traders across the country.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 07:21:03 -0400
  • The best hotel, flights and holiday deals to look out for on Black Friday, according to Telegraph experts

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    It’s nearly here. Black Friday, that annual orgy of high street sales and bickering shoppers, is weeks away (November 29). But it’s not all flat-screen TVs and breadmakers, the travel industry is in on the act, too.  What can I expect in terms of travel deals? Plenty. Last year we saw return flights to Los Angeles for just £175 - with Air New Zealand, no less, half-price Maldives holidays and an all-inclusive week in Florida, peak season, for just £319 per person. There was also a whole raft of impressive hotel and spa offers, cruise deals and ski discounts.   This year the travel industry is in a state of flux after the failure of Thomas Cook. The collapse of the one of UK’s oldest tour operators has left some of the most popular European and winter sun hotspots with empty beds to fill. Hays Travel, which purchased almost all of Thomas Cook’s stores, may come out swinging with some remarkable offers. If other travel companies are still feeling the pinch, it is highly likely they will bring a new round of deals to the table in November. Anywhere in particular? Those destinations hit hardest by Thomas Cook’s demise could be a good place to start. Spain has lost as many as 1.3 million holidaymakers for its autumn and winter season, with 500 hotels said to be at risk of closure.  The Canary Islands could be a good bet Credit: Getty The country’s key destinations could therefore attempt to encourage visitors back with cut-price holidays. Keep your eye on the Balearics and the Canaries.  Tunisia and Turkey, two nations on the recovery trail after periods of instability, might also be ripe for deals. There will likely be offers on trips to Sri Lanka, with the island nation looking to return to prosperity after the Foreign Office imposed a temporary travel restriction in the wake of the Easter bombings earlier this year.  What about cheap flights? British Airways celebrated its 100th birthday this year, but also had to contend with a number of devastating strikes. It could yet see out the year of its centenary with some bumper offers.  Budget giants EasyJet and Ryanair have also had to handle some industrial action, as well as the uncertainty of Brexit. I’d expect some flash sales but nothing dramatic.  Norwegian has emerged as the last man standing in the low-cost, long-haul market, and has sought to consolidate its successful routes, and trim the fat on others. This could mean a raft of deals to US destinations, such as Tampa, New York and San Francisco. It might also look to attract more business to its Buenos Aires route. On the flip-side, keep an eye on rail operators such as Eurostar, who may look to capitalise on the growing environmental clamour around aviation emissions and tempt travellers with train deals.  15 cities you can reach by train in under six hours from London And cruise deals, too? Cruise operators could continue their drive to attract a younger audience, or they could look to capitalise on the growing popularity of river cruises. Figures released last year showed that more Britons than ever had taken to the continent’s waterways, with the Rhine and Danube fuelling growth. The Douro in Portugal and Russia’s rivers were also growing in popularity. Cruise on the Douro, anyone? How do I spot the best deals? No one is better at working up excitement over deals and discounts than the travel industry, and over the next few weeks we will be assailed by the most intensive barrage of offers and booking incentives of the year. It begins with the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, and continues in January with the traditional promotion of next summer’s holidays. Many may indeed offer excellent value. After all, the great thing about travel from the consumer’s point of view is that it is date-stamped: you can’t sell yesterday’s empty airline seat or hotel room, so the closer you get to a departure date, the more power the buyer usually has.  Now is a good time to book last-minute holidays. Low demand means that until mid-December you will rarely find a cheaper time for a city break or some winter sun. A fabulous start to the ski season – as there was last season – could mean that, if you can get away before Christmas, you can take advantage of the cheapest and quietest weeks of the year. More probably, though, you are looking to next summer, and for this the industry has another agenda. It is not selling distressed stock, it wants as many bookings as it can get well in advance so it has money in the bank and can plan for the future.  Hence the incentives on offer every January. If you want to travel during the school holidays these deals can be worth snapping up since the earliest bookers get first pickings, which can make a big difference to a holiday, with flights or ferries that depart at civilised times, and the best located villas or hotels. So, if you are booking last minute or planning ahead, how do you judge what constitutes a real deal? Here are a few suggestions: Discounts  Don’t be distracted by the number in front of the percentage sign: it’s the number behind the pound sign that counts. 'Free’ extras  Be wary. You are probably overpaying for one element and subsidising another. This is often the case with so-called “free” child places, where the adults have to pay an extra supplement because the children are not being charged. Some extras may well be worth having – upgrades on a flight or room type, for example. Value versus price  They may not be directly related. It might be of particular value to you, for example, to know you have secured the holiday you want and don’t have to worry any more. Price-match promises  They sound reassuring, but are rarely invoked, and are often so hedged with caveats as to be pretty pointless. Low deposits  If cash is short after Christmas, these offers may help but should not be seen as something you can cancel later without taking too much of a loss. The small print nearly always requires you to pay the full deposit a few weeks later and this is payable even if you cancel. Inspiration for your inbox Sign up to Telegraph Travel's new weekly newsletter for the latest features, advice, competitions, exclusive deals and comment.   You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 07:15:00 -0400
  • Kim rides horse on sacred peak, vows to fight US sanctions

    Golocal247.com news

    North Korea released a series of photos Wednesday showing leader Kim Jong Un riding a white horse to a sacred mountain he has often climbed before making key decisions. The images and Kim's rhetoric appeared aimed at bolstering his leadership at home as the North tries to pressure the United States into making concessions in nuclear diplomacy. The photos showed a bespectacled Kim wearing a long, light-brown coat and riding on horseback up snow-covered Mount Paektu.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 06:58:19 -0400
  • Turkish president plans trip to Moscow as Syria crisis erodes American power

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    Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey, rejected a US demand that he halt the Turkish offensive in northern Syria but is expected to fly to Moscow to talk about the crisis with Vladimir Putin. Donald Trump has dispatched Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, to Ankara in a bid to calm the greatest crisis between the US and a Nato ally in living memory. Mr Pence said he would meet with Mr Erdogan on Thursday and "voice the United States' commitment to reach an immediate ceasefire and the conditions for a negotiated settlement." He reiterated that Mr Trump will pursue "punishing economic sanctions" until a resolution is reached. But Erdogan said on Wednesday that he would only halt the offensive if Kurdish-led forces quit a designated border area "by tonight." "There are some leaders who are trying to mediate... There has never been any such thing in the history of the Turkish republic as the state sitting at the same table with a terror organisation," he said in an address to the Turkish parliament.  In an even blunter rejection of the US request, he told Turkish journalists: "They tell us 'to declare a ceasefire'. We can never declare a ceasefire." However, his aides retracted a statement by the president saying he would refuse to meet Mr Pence. In what looked like an extraordinary snub,  Mr Erdogan told Sky News on Wednesday when asked about Mr Pence and Mr Pompeo: "I am standing tall. I will not meet with them. They will meet with their counterparts. I will speak when Trump comes," he said.  A spokesman for Mr Erdogan quickly retracted the statement, saying that Mr Erdogan does indeed intend to meet Mr Pence. Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would not halt the Turkish offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria Credit: Aytac Unal/ Anadolu Turkey launched an invasion of Kurdish-controlled northeastern Syria a week ago, days after Donald Trump announced he was ordering a withdrawal of US troops who had been fighting alongside the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces against Islamic State. The formerly US-allied Kurdish leadership announced they had agreed to align with Russia and the Syrian government, American rivals, in a bid to halt the Turkish attack on Sunday night. Russian and Syrian forces took over abandoned US positions near the strategic town of Manbij on Tuesday. The move upended the geo-political balance in the region and left Russia as the undisputed power-broker in Syria and greatly enhanced its influence in the wider Middle East.  The Kremlin said Mr Erdogan accepted an invitation to Moscow in the coming days during a phone call with Mr Putin on Tuesday night.  The two presidents discussed the need to "prevent conflict between units of the Turkish army and Syrian government armed forces," it said in a readout posted on its website. Vladimir Putin met Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Tuesday Credit: ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/SPUTNIK/KREMLIN POOL/EPA-EFE/REX It said Mr Putin also warned Mr Erdogan was it would be "unacceptable" to allow Isil prisoners held by the Kurds to exploit the chaos unfolding on the ground. Speaking to Turkish reporters on Tuesday, Mr Erdogan said he had refused to rule out entering the strategic town of Kobani despite a direct request from Mr Trump during a telephone call.  "Mr Trump's remark on Kobani was 'Don't strike there'," Erdogan told reporters late on Tuesday. "We said that we had only done an encircling operation there at the moment." "We are not really interested with inside Kobani right now. But we said 'If there is a different development, we may intervene'," he said.  He went on to mock the US president's contradictory statements on Twitter.  "When we take a look at Mr Trump's Twitter posts, we can no longer follow them. We cannot keep track," Mr Erdogan told Turkish journalists aboard a plane returning from Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, in comments carried by the Hurriyet daily. The Turkish president appeared to be referring to several apparently contradictory Tweets in which Mr Trump first defended his decision to withdraw US forces from northeast Syria - effectively green lighting the Turkish offensive - then threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey.  Read more | Syria crisis On Monday Mr Trump wrote: "Big sanctions on Turkey coming! Do people really think we should go to war with Nato member Turkey? Never ending wars will end!" Later that day he suggested the US should have nothing to do with the conflict, writing: "Anyone who wants to assist Syria in protecting the Kurds is good with me, whether it is Russia, China, or Napoleon Bonaparte. I hope they all do great, we are 7,000 miles away!" Mr Erdogan said of his phone call with Mr Trump: "I told Trump: 'You get very angry with the media from time to time. You are now under their influence. Don't listen to them, you are a strong leader. This does not befit a strong leader'," the Yeni Safak daily reported.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 06:22:33 -0400
  • Brexit talks ongoing as PM Johnson seeks to reach a deal - spokesman

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his team are pressing on with Brexit talks with both the European Union and lawmakers from the governing Conservatives and Northern Ireland's DUP to try to hammer out an exit deal, his spokesman said on Wednesday. Johnson spoke to his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar earlier on Wednesday to discuss progress in the Brexit talks and will also update his top team of ministers later in the day before Thursday's EU Council meeting. Johnson and his team are also in discussions with Conservative and DUP lawmakers to try to win their support and get any deal passed in parliament.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 06:20:34 -0400
  • UK Brexit minister: Not aware of 'second letter' plan to thwart EU exit delay

    Brexit minister Steve Barclay said on Wednesday he was not aware of any government plan to send a second letter to the European Union that would undermine a request to delay Brexit. Johnson has said he will not delay Brexit.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 06:12:42 -0400
  • UPDATE 1-UK minister: PM will abide by pledge to write Brexit delay letter

    British Brexit Minister Stephen Barclay said the government would comply with assurances given to a Scottish court that Prime Minister Boris Johnson would write a letter to the EU requesting a Brexit delay if a deal is not reached by Oct. 19. The British parliament passed a law last month which would require Johnson to request a three-month delay if parliament has not approved an exit agreement by the end of Saturday. Earlier this month the government's top legal officer in Scotland gave assurances that Johnson would fully comply with the so-called Benn Act and write the letter asking for an extension and, if the EU offered one, he would accept it.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 06:00:32 -0400
  • Report: Brother of Iran's president begins prison term

    Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency is reporting that President Hassan Rouhani's brother has begun serving a five-year prison sentence on corruption charges. Tasnim said Wednesday that authorities had transferred Hossein Fereidoun to Tehran's Evin prison.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 05:31:23 -0400
  • Britain has sent EU a draft political declaration text - Brexit minister

    Brexit minister Steve Barclay said on Wednesday Britain had submitted draft text of the political declaration - one part of a Brexit deal with the European Union which sets out the direction of a long term relationship with the bloc. "We have submitted draft text as part of the negotiations on a number of aspects of the discussion," Barclay told a parliamentary committee.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 05:22:04 -0400
  • EU Sees Brexit Deal as Impossible Unless the U.K. Moves

    (Bloomberg) -- Brexit negotiations in Brussels are at an impasse, two officials said, adding that a deal appears impossible at the moment, unless the U.K. government moves.The remaining issues can’t be resolved at a technical level, and a new mandate from London is needed, one of the diplomats said. The EU understands that the British government is trying to get Northern Ireland’s unionist DUP party on board, the person said.To contact the reporters on this story: Nikos Chrysoloras in Brussels at nchrysoloras@bloomberg.net;Ian Wishart in Brussels at iwishart@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net, Alexander WeberFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 05:21:40 -0400
  • Russia Prepares the Way for Bashar al-Assad’s Brutal Endgame in Nothern Syria

    Golocal247.com news

    GAZIANTEP, Turkey—After eight years of Syrian civil war, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, and the displacement of half the Syrian population, U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s decisions have created conditions for Bashar al-Assad’s regime to re-assert control over nearly one-third of the country that had been outside its grip since 2012. Far from reining in U.S. adversaries, Trump’s presidency will likely be remembered as one through which Assad, this century’s greatest mass murderer, managed finally to claw his way back to a position of undisputed authority. Trump Just Enlisted America in a New Axis of EvilThis is the way that’s playing out on the ground in what is, admittedly, still a complicated situation.The news began Tuesday morning with Russian pro-Kremlin journalist Oleg Blokhin streaming a live video from inside the recently abandoned American al-Sa’idi’a base in Syria on the western outskirts of the Manbij countryside. “Good morning to everyone from Manbij,” exclaimed Blokhin. “I’m at the American military base right now, where they were until yesterday morning. Already, we’re here [instead]. We’re going to examine now how they were living here, what they were so busy with, and what’s going on.” A second video would show Blokhin as he mockingly played with a boom barrier at the entrance to the base, appearing to check whether or not it worked. “It’s in good condition,” he assured the cameraman, with a slight grin. Blokhin, who works for the pro-Kremlin ANNA news network, previously covered the activities of Russian private military contractor Wagner as it trained pro-Assad militiamen in January, and later accompanied Russian and pro-Assad forces during the latter’s successful August campaign to take back the town of Khan Sheikhoun. Now, he stood gloating on a former U.S. military base. Other pro-Assad media soon conducted similar tours of other U.S. bases abandoned by American soldiers. Reports throughout the day Tuesday would also claim U.S. troops pulled out of two new additional locations including the eastern town of Tal Baydar and the Kharab Ashak base west of Ain Aissa. Shortly before U.S. troops withdrew, ISIS families still being detained at a nearby prison facility in Ain Aissa reportedly set fires throughout the camp in a renewed attempt to try to escape. In addition to exemplifying the momentous shift underway as Assad’s vital ally Russia finally replaces the United States as the primary party in northern Syria capable of liaising with most all of the parties to the conflict, Blokhin’s livestream carried a special significance for locals in Manbij. Over the past week, including several days after Trump’s shock announcement that U.S. troops would withdraw from Syria, American soldiers at the al-Sa’idi’a base actually continued carrying out near-daily patrols in the western and northern Manbij countryside that helped successfully ward off previous attempts by Syrian regime forces to set up positions in the area. That offered hope to those in Manbij who oppose the regime—that U.S. military institutions might be capable of coercing the Turkish president to adopt a compromise that saw U.S. troops remain in the area until Turkish-backed forces were capable of assuming control. But those hopes along with more than 16 months of U.S.-Turkish diplomacy were dashed Tuesday as the American troops made their final withdrawal from the area, paving the way for Russian and Syrian regime forces to roll in free and unopposed.  Elsewhere, in Ain Aissa and Tal Tamr, towns located along the M4 highway, northern Syria’s main artery and transportation route, Russian and regime forces established permanent checkpoints and bases to ensure control of the strategic route in the face of oncoming Turkish assaults. Those reinforcements appeared to have helped the SDF capture three villages from Turkish-backed forces in the immediate vicinity north of Tal Tamr later that night. While the arrival of regime forces undoubtedly has provided much needed relief for the SDF on several fronts, doing so will come with a cost. As the SDF welcomes more Syrian regime reinforcements into its territory, the group undoubtedly will lose future leverage it would need in order to preserve a role for itself within civil governing institutions throughout northeast Syria. On Monday, the SDF’s largely toothless civil wing, the Syrian Democratic Council, issued a directive to local councils in the area to continue to perform their duties “as previously,” insisting that “nothing has changed” and that the agreement with the regime constituted no more than a temporary military alliance to protect Syria’s borders. However it’s unlikely that the SDF, the Syrian Democratic Council, or other SDF-backed institutions within the group’s self-proclaimed “Autonomous Administration” will be able to preserve any modicum of independence as their reliance on the Assad regime becomes more solidified. And, following the failure of Russian-Turkish negotiations throughout Tuesday to reach a ceasefire between the warring parties, that reliance looks set to intensify. Negotiations between Moscow and Ankara began Tuesday morning following condemnation of Turkey’s campaign by the Kremlin’s special envoy to Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev. A high-ranking Free Syrian Army military source in Manbij told The Daily Beast that Turkey gave orders Tuesday morning to its FSA proxies to halt temporarily their assault while both sides attempted to reach a solution. During that time, numerous pro-regime demonstrations were held in Manbij as the Syrian army sent several armored tanks into the city. According to local sources on the ground, some of these demonstrations were led by pro-regime figures that previously had been arrested by the SDF but were recently released following the Russian and Syrian regime entrance to the city. The Russian-Turkish talks come one day after the official Facebook page for the Russian defense ministry’s Hmeimim base issued a stern warning for Turkey and its allies not to “behave recklessly in entering an open war with government troops.” That was issued shortly after the Russians allegedly concluded an agreement with the SDF to allow Russian and regime troops to enter the cities of Kobani and Manbij. Yet despite the repeated warnings and attempts to hold talks, by Tuesday night Turkish-backed forces re-launched their assault. Thousands of civilians fled the border city of Kobani as a result of renewed Turkish assaults on the city in an attempt by the latter to capture the site of a former U.S. base recently abandoned nearby. Shortly after, our military source would claim renewed orders had been given by Ankara to re-launch operations in Manbij by dawn. Speaking to Reuters while returning from the Azerbaijaini capital Baku, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared undeterred by recent U.S. sanctions imposed on Ankara, by the arrival of regime reinforcements into the area, or by international condemnation of his country’s assault. “They say ‘declare a ceasefire.’ We will never declare a ceasefire,” Erdogan said. “They are pressuring us to stop the operation. They are announcing sanctions. Our goal is clear. We are not worried about any sanctions.”Shortly after, local media and activists would report a Turkish airstrike on the strategic town of Aun al-Dadat, the site of a former U.S. base in the north Manbij countryside along the al-Sajur River that has since been occupied by SDF and regime units. Nawaf al-Mustafa, an activist living several miles away in Manbij city, said he could hear the explosion from his home. “I heard an explosion and thought it might have been an ISIS suicide attack,” he said. “But it wasn’t, news came in shortly after that Turkish forces instead were bombing Aun al-Dadat.”Look Who’s Back! Trump Handed Terrorists a Free Pass.Ahmed Qalqali, another anti-regime activist, would send out an alert to the families of FSA fighters to several WhatsApp groups used by locals to follow the news. “Any young man in Manbij who has a brother fighting on the front lines with the FSA should avoid sleeping at home tonight,” hinting at the possibility of SDF-regime house raids in response to the attacks. “Try to stay with a friend or someone to whom you’re not blood related.” Despite the Turkish insistence to continue fighting, in reality the tide seems to be turning against Ankara and its proxies. Despite managing to gain control of the strategic border town of Tal Abyad, after nearly one week of fighting Turkish-backed forces have been unable to capture Ras al-Ain, a city of just over 30,000 that has managed to put up stiff resistance and ward off Turkish incursions. Manbij, a city of nearly 100,000, will require much greater strength and political will in order to be captured.Recent U.S. sanctions imposed by the Trump administration on key Turkish ministers and cabinet officials will also likely further hamper Ankara’s ability to freely wage war against the SDF, while significantly raising the cost of doing so. Nonetheless, these factors are unlikely to push Erdogan to end the campaign, as domestic pressures to create space to resettle Syrian refugees that have proven a burden to the Turkish economy threaten to destabilize his government. What will likely ensue will be a committed, albeit slow and protracted campaign to achieve Ankara’s goal of carving out a safe zone in Manbij and along the entirety of Turkey’s border with Syria. However, the likely delay in achieving further Turkish gains will also give the Syrian regime a larger window to calmly mobilize and deploy its forces throughout the region while still being able to exploit the threat posed to the SDF by Ankara in order to slowly grab more power in northeastern Syria. Further, the expansion of Syrian regime troops throughout the area doesn’t seem to be a prospect that much bothers the Turkish president, so long as they don’t mix with SDF and other armed Kurdish elements. Also while speaking to reporters in Baku, Erdogan stated, “The regime entering Manbij is not very negative for me. Why? It’s their lands after all,”  he said. “But, what is important to me is that the terrorist organization does not remain there… I told this to Mr. Putin as well. If you are clearing Manbij of terrorist organizations, then go ahead, you or the regime can provide all the logistics. But if you are not going to do this, the people there are telling us to save them.” By “terrorist organizations,” Erdogan means primarily the Kurds who were backed by the United States in the fight against ISIS.Such a statement from a head of state who for eight years has been among the most enthusiastic supporters of the Syrian revolution to topple Assad is indicative of the extent to which international calculus surrounding the Syrian issue has changed. It will likely encourage the Assad regime to consider the possibility of going after and eliminating the SDF itself if doing so may once and for all put an end to the activities of their meddlesome Turkish neighbor. Such a prospect may occur as part of a broader swap or deal whereby Turkey would also agree to withdraw its troops from the broader Idlib region, where Ha’it Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an offshoot of al Qaeda’s former Syrian branch, Jabhat al-Nusra, and other FSA groups have been engaged in a bloody standoff with the Syrian regime for over a year.Erdogan’s statements make perfectly clear that, following Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops, the cards increasingly lie in the hands of the Assad regime and its Russian ally. 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.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 05:01:50 -0400
  • Meet the Ohio-Class: America's Nuclear Doomsday Submarines

    Golocal247.com news

    Watch out North Korea, Russia or China.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 05:00:00 -0400
  • UPDATE 5-Irish PM says Brexit issues remain, EU sources report "standstill"

    BRUSSELS/DUBLIN Oct 16 (Reuters) - Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Wednesday that last-ditch talks between the European Union and Britain had so far failed to resolve issues standing in the way of an amicable Brexit, with EU sources reporting a "standstill". Difficulties centred on trade and the status of the Irish border, although the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, was quoted as saying he was optimistic about a deal.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 03:52:04 -0400
  • Turkey’s Halkbank Faces U.S. Charges as Tensions Mount

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    (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. brought a criminal case against one of Turkey’s largest banks for aiding a scheme to evade sanctions against Iran, a move that carries political overtones as tensions build over Turkey’s military offensive in Syria.In an indictment filed Tuesday in Manhattan federal court, prosecutors accused government-owned Halkbank of participating in a wide-ranging plot to violate prohibitions on Iran’s access to the U.S. financial system. The conspiracy involved high-ranking government officials in Iran and Turkey, the U.S. said.“Halkbank’s systemic participation in the illicit movement of billions of dollars’ worth of Iranian oil revenue was designed and executed by senior bank officials,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in New York said in a statement. “Halkbank will now have to answer for its conduct in an American court.”Shares of Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS, as the lender is officially known, fell as much as 7.4 percent in early trading in Istanbul. Turkey’s stock exchange “temporarily prohibited” short-selling in seven banks, including Halkbank.The Turkish lira fell almost 1% after the charges were announced. It’s down 4.5% so far this month, more than any of the 24 emerging-market currencies tracked by Bloomberg.A Halkbank representative didn’t immediately respond to a text seeking comment.The charges in the years-long case were described by a U.S. official as a frontal assault on Turkish President Recep Erdogan. Because of the timing, there’s a risk the prosecution will be perceived as a political attack by the U.S. on Turkey for its aggression, the official added.Click here to read the press release and indictmentTwo people, including a senior Halkbank executive, were previously convicted in the case, which led to the airing in a Manhattan courtroom of many of Halkbank’s activities. The late-2017 trial sparked vehement protests from Erdogan, who accused U.S. officials of trying to harm his country’s national and economic interests. He labeled the prosecution nothing short of an “international coup attempt.”The case became a lasting irritant for the Turkish president, who pressed both President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump to intervene and dismiss it. Early in Trump’s term, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was hired by the central figure in the case, and he mounted an audacious shadow diplomacy effort to win his client’s freedom. On Giuliani’s behalf, Trump himself asked a member of his cabinet to steer prosecutors away from the case.Several months after the trial of the senior Halkbank executive ended, U.S. officials began negotiating a potential penalty with the bank. But no settlement was announced, and the broader case seemed to go dormant.Read More: U.S. Inquiry Into Turkey’s Halkbank Inflamed Erdogan, Then Went QuietThen Trump announced last week that the U.S. was withdrawing its forces from the border with Syria, and Turkey mounted a military campaign to take over the region. Trump’s decision was roundly criticized by Congress and other foreign leaders, and images from the battlefield inflamed public opinion. Trump then demanded Turkey withdraw its forces, and in a cryptic tweet threatened to “destroy” Turkey’s economy.Secretly LaunderThe case began with U.S. charges against Reza Zarrab, a flamboyant Turkish gold trader who said he’d helped Iran tap funds from overseas oil sales that were frozen in foreign accounts. Zarrab ultimately pleaded guilty and became the star witness against the bank executive, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who was himself convicted at the trial in early 2018.Though the bank wasn’t initially charged, U.S. prosecutors claimed it became the nucleus of a plot to secretly launder funds out of Turkey to Dubai. There, money could be moved into the global financial system and made available to help pay Iran’s bills. Prosecutors showed how Iranian funds were converted to gold, exported to Dubai, sold for cash and then distributed for Iran’s benefit. About $1 billion was converted into U.S. dollars and moved through banks in New York, the U.S. said at the trial.The trial gripped Turkey. Some testimony sent its markets into gyrations, in part because prosecutors aired evidence that tied the scheme to Turkish officials and their families. An ex-finance minister was charged in absentia.Zarrab, who’s married to a Turkish pop star, had a tabloid lifestyle of yachts, fast cars and an office in a Trump Tower in Istanbul. After he was detained during a 2016 trip to the U.S., he added Giuliani, who was Trump’s confidante but not yet the president’s lawyer, to his legal team.Giuliani attempted to broker a diplomatic deal with Turkey to extract Zarrab from U.S. custody, trying to swap him for an American pastor, Andrew Brunson, who was in Turkish custody.Press JusticeThen, at Giuliani’s urging, Trump asked then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the second half of 2017 to press the Justice Department to drop its case against Zarrab, Bloomberg News reported last week.Giuliani didn’t immediately have a comment on the charges and asked in a text, “What is Halk Bank?”In an interview last week, he said he talked to the State Department about his role as Zarrab’s lawyer and had behaved ethically and legally. He would have been a hero had he arranged the swap with Brunson, he said.Turkey has come under heightened pressure since its invasion of Syria. The House Foreign Affairs Committee has prepared a bipartisan bill that would require the president to impose sanctions on Halkbank. Those sanctions could include freezing assets or restricting visas.In the Senate, Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Chris Van Hollen have proposed sanctions any foreign individual or entity that supports the Turkish military or energy production used by that country’s armed forces.Read MoreU.S. Inquiry Into Turkish Bank Inflamed Erdogan, Then Went QuietTurkish Banker Guilty in U.S. of Iran-Sanctions ConspiracyIran’s Sanctions Evasion Went East After Europe Cracked Down(Updates with Halkbank share decline, short-selling ban in fourth paragraph.)\--With assistance from George Lei, Nick Wadhams, Anna Edgerton and Ercan Ersoy.To contact the reporters on this story: Greg Farrell in New York at gregfarrell@bloomberg.net;Christian Berthelsen in New York at cberthelsen1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Winnie O'Kelley at wokelley@bloomberg.net, David Glovin, David S. JoachimFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 03:48:56 -0400
  • Brexit talks go down to the wire ahead of EU summit

    British and EU officials were to resume talks to clinch a Brexit deal on Wednesday just a few hours after late-night negotiations wound up, but it was far from clear they would reach an agreement before a leaders' summit on Thursday. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told Europe 1 radio on Wednesday that there was a "glimmer of hope" that a Brexit deal can be reached before Britain's scheduled departure on Oct. 31.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 02:53:32 -0400
  • Doubts grow over Merkel's heir apparent as German chancellor

    Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer's path to succeed Angela Merkel as Germany's chancellor seemed clear when she replaced her as leader of the governing Christian Democrats (CDU) last December. Ten months later, members of her own party are debating whether AKK, as she is widely known, is the right person to lead the European Union's most powerful country and biggest economy.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 02:52:15 -0400
  • Hong Kong leader forced to abandon state of the union address amid protests

    Golocal247.com news

    Hong Kong’s embattled leader Carrie Lam abandoned a state-of-the-union style address after opposition politicians heckled her in chaotic scenes inside the city’s legislative chamber. As protesters gathered on the outskirts of the building, Ms Lam tried twice to deliver her speech while lawmakers projected a protest slogan behind her, forcing her to leave the chamber and release her remarks in an online video. Her speech had been billed as an attempt to win the hearts and minds of Hong Kong residents as pro-democracy protests disrupting the city enter a fifth month. In an attempt to restore calm, Ms Lam pledged a range of social and economic measures, largely aimed at lowering the cost of living – particularly housing, by shortening the waiting time for public housing. But Ms Lam’s policies – perhaps welcome to some young protesters who find it near-impossible to own a house – appear a short-term solution to a long-term political problem that is unlikely to be solved in the way activists are demanding.  A line of police officers ride an escalator behind a protester holding an umbrella Credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS One main tenet protesters have called for are democratic reforms to allow for direct leadership elections, to put in place a government they feel will be more representative. To that end, Ms Lam made made clear “any acts that advocate Hong Kong’s independence and threaten the country’s sovereignty, security and development interests will not be tolerated.” Hong Kong instead will remain under the “one country, two systems” principle. The policy, in place since the former British colony was returned to Beijing rule, was meant to keep in place freedoms in the city not seen in mainland China, led by the ruling Communist Party.  “Carrie Lam attempted to win people over by introducing these policies [but] she will not succeed. She failed to address the core issues,” said Alvin Yeung, a pro-democracy lawmaker. Her policy speech was “the last chance to address these pressing issues.”  But Hong Kong people have grown increasingly irate as growing Communist Party influence has led to eroding rights, the issue that broadly underpins the ongoing protests that now form the most public, direct opposition to president Xi Jinping since he took the reins in 2012.  As unrest continues, politicians in the UK and US have grown more vocal for Beijing to seek a humane resolution, as state media videos of military buildup in neighbouring Shenzhen, sending an ominous sign.  On Tuesday, the US House passed by unanimous voice vote four pieces of legislation taking a hard line on China, three of which were related to the protests in Hong Kong, drawing condemnation from Beijing. One of the measures, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, would require the US secretary of state to certify annually that Hong Kong remained sufficient autonomous to keep receiving special treatment that has allowed it to be a global financial hub. Another measure would bar commercial exports of military and crowd-control gear that Hong Kong police could use against demonstrators.  In June, the UK halted all new export licenses of crowd-control equipment to Hong Kong.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 02:49:18 -0400
  • Afghan refugee's 'Dream' coffee shop in Iran becomes reality

    Golocal247.com news

    With each serving of French press coffee poured delicately into a cup with steamed milk, 21-year-old Afghan refugee Fatemeh Jafari lives out a dream in her basement coffee shop in Tehran that is out of reach for millions like her in Iran. Jafari hopes her "Telma Cafe" ("Dream Cafe") in Tehran will help bridge the divide between Afghans and Iranians and fight the xenophobia many Afghans face in Iran.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 02:33:41 -0400
  • The Biggest Opponents of German Fiscal Stimulus Are Coming Round

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    (Bloomberg) -- The German political class is preparing itself to deliver bold fiscal stimulus if the economy needs it.Lawmakers from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat-led group have been among the most crucial opponents of finance ministry plans to respond to an economic hit and their stance is beginning to soften, according to two people familiar with party discussions.Critically, the CDU caucus in the Bundestag would be ready to break its long-held commitment to a balanced budget -- the much heralded “black zero” -- if a downturn required a more powerful reaction, according to one of the people, a member of the parliamentary group.German bonds fell, with 10-year yields rising two basis points to -0.4%, the highest level since July 30, and the euro strengthened 0.2% to $1.1049 as of 8:15 a.m. in Berlin.Europe’s largest economy already contracted in the second quarter and may have entered recession over the past three months as the global trade war buffets its export-led economy. Germany could suffer another hit if the Brexit negotiations unravel over the next week or the conflict in Syria spirals out of control.And that is focusing minds in Berlin.Read More: The Plot to Scrap Germany’s Balanced Budgets Has Already BegunMerkel has hinted as much herself. She still insists the next generation should not inherit an unwieldy debt load. But last week she balanced that by saying Germans shouldn’t become obsessed with a balanced budget -- investing in the future, including with a new climate package, is also a priority.“This is not about taking up budgetary issues alone and saying the ‘black zero’ is our fetish,” Merkel said in an Oct. 10 speech to a trade union in Nuremberg.Just on Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for German growth, predicting an expansion of only 0.5% this year. It reiterated its call for the country to ramp up budget stimulus.In a time of cheap credit and global economic disruption, the finance ministry under Social Democrat Olaf Scholz is already shifting away from decades of economic dogma focused on public savings. The government has drawn up a raft of options, including subsidies for electric car sales and tax cuts, that could be set into motion if needed, according to people with knowledge of the plans.The IMF said that Germany should take account of low borrowing costs to invest, “even from a pure cost-benefit perspective.”In August, Scholz, who is making a bid to lead Germany’s Social Democrats, suggested the government could muster up to 50 billion euros ($55 billion) of extra spending in a crisis. That figure matches the extra borrowing deployed in the global financial crisis a decade ago.“We’re in a position, with the financial fundamentals we have, to respond with many, many billions, if indeed an economic crisis erupts in Germany and Europe,” Scholz told parliament in September. “And we will do it. That’s Keynesian economics come alive, if you will.”Read More: German Fiscal Stimulus Already Creeping In, Whatever Merkel SaysBut while the finance ministry is increasingly ready to embrace public spending, it needs allies in Merkel’s party and its Bavarian sister group, the Christian Social Union. That bloc has long been a bastion of the fiscal discipline championed by Scholz’s predecessor as finance chief, Wolfgang Schaeuble.Getting Germany to use its fiscal space to bolster the economy has become a priority for European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and his imminent successor, Christine Lagarde. He told journalists last month that it’s “high time for the fiscal policy to take change” in the region.Part of the shift has to do with a growing recognition that Germany should take advantage of historically low interest rates to invest in upgrading its infrastructure. As part of the climate package unveiled last month, Merkel’s coalition agreed to pump 1 billion euros a year into the state rail operator, Deutsche Bahn.Unspent FundsMerkel’s caucus colleagues still won’t be shifting on the so-called debt brake which limits German deficit spending, according to the CDU lawmaker. And he also insisted that a shortage of shovel-ready projects and too much bureaucracy rather than a shortage of cash -- the state has plenty of unspent funds already earmarked. But the CDU is coming round all the same.If the economy takes a further hit, the first line of defense will be increased payments from Germany’s vast social insurance system, likely to outstrip dwindling tax income and blow a hole in the budget, the two officials said. After that planners will weigh a more aggressive response, they said.The economic clouds on the horizon are adding to a sense of urgency. Europe’s largest economy reported an unexpected decline in joblessness last month. A crisis “is not in view, but indicators show that no turnaround is in sight either,” the Economy Ministry said Monday in its monthly report.(Updates with markets in the fourth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Birgit Jennen, Craig Stirling and John Ainger.To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Donahue in Berlin at pdonahue1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Richard BravoFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 02:25:24 -0400
  • A Brexit Deal Would Offer Parliament Two Types of Misery

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- If British and European Union negotiators are indeed inching toward a point where they can present a Brexit deal for approval, the U.K. parliament will soon have a historic decision to make on whether to back it. For many lawmakers, it would be a choice between two different types of misery.Opponents of Brexit, or this particular deal, would voice strong objections to whatever Johnson brings back — if indeed he gets it past his stubborn allies in Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party. But would Brexit-weary voters forgive a party that turned down a deal now? Johnson is betting they wouldn’t.Winning support from his own Conservative MPs should be more straightforward for Johnson than it was for Theresa May, his predecessor in No. 10. Lee Rowley, a Tory MP who opposed May’s deal three times, was speaking for others too when he said on Monday: “For the health of our democracy and to restore faith in this most venerable of institutions, in my view we simply must get Brexit done.”The so-called Spartans among Conservative lawmakers who refused to support May’s withdrawal deal have given signs they’ll back their new leader. They’re deeply worried that further delays to Brexit will hurt the Conservatives’ chances at an imminent general election and increase the likelihood of the U.K. not quitting the EU at all.It helps that some arch-Brexiters are now on the government payroll. Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the House of Commons, has even suggested that if Johnson comes back with terms like those he described previously as “cretinous” when they had May’s name on them, he’d probably support them.That wall of endorsement might crumble if the DUP withheld their blessing; and EU officials believe Johnson won’t give the green light to a deal unless he’s sure the DUP will back it. Arlene Foster, the party’s leader, said of his potential deal on Tuesday evening: “It would be fair to indicate gaps remain and further work is required.” The prime minister’s proposed concessions to Brussels are thought to include customs checks between the U.K. mainland and Northern Ireland, anathema to unionists.But maybe the DUP can be bought off by promises of billions of extra cash from Westminster for Northern Ireland. And Johnson will have been buoyed somewhat by potential support for his putative deal from some Brexiter MPs in the opposition Labour Party.Indeed, Labour’s mightily complicated Brexit position will look even more awkward if Johnson did somehow come back to Parliament with a deal and DUP support. The party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit strategy has assumed an almost infinite level of public patience: First win a general election (which will have to take place soon given Johnson’s lack of a majority), then renegotiate the Brexit deal and then hold a referendum on whether to remain or leave with Labour’s deal. With the British public exhausted by Brexit, a Johnson deal would look like more of an election winner for the Tories. Any deal vote in Parliament will almost certainly include an amendment demanding the agreement be put to the people in a confirmatory referendum. Some Labour MPs favor the party backing such a referendum before agreeing to a new general election. But that would require another long extension of the Brexit process, again not something that’s going to be loved by many British voters. The position of the centrist Liberal Democrats, revived under leader Jo Swinson as the Stop Brexit party, will be important. The Lib Dems support a “people’s vote” on any agreed Brexit deal, although their preference is to revoke Brexit altogether. But if getting a referendum required a vote of no-confidence in Johnson, Swinson has refused to back even a temporary replacement government with Corbyn in charge. So the Labour leader would have to let someone else become prime minister or Swinson would have to accept him in Downing Street. Neither outcome looks likely.In other words, all parties are considering not just the terms of Johnson’s possible deal but the terms on which they will fight the election. A vote for a deal would be a vote to end this phase of the Brexit negotiations and pave the way for the general election, although it would strengthen Johnson going into it. A vote against a deal would probably mean an extension from the EU to the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline and more uncertainty, perhaps still including an election. Voters again may reward Johnson for his efforts to break the impasse and penalize MPs who got in the way. The stakes are high for another reason too: An exit deal is just the beginning. A bigger, more important, negotiation on the future U.K.-EU trading relationship starts after that. The next government will shape that as well as Britain’s economic direction generally. For the past three years, lawmakers have agreed repeatedly that they don’t want a no-deal exit, but they haven’t found a majority for anything else. Even with the relief that might come from a deal, it’s not hard to see why they might struggle to say yes now.To contact the author of this story: Therese Raphael at traphael4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at jboxell@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Therese Raphael writes editorials on European politics and economics for Bloomberg Opinion. She was editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 02:00:25 -0400
  • A Brexit Deal Would Offer Parliament Two Types of Misery

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- If British and European Union negotiators are indeed inching toward a point where they can present a Brexit deal for approval, the U.K. parliament will soon have a historic decision to make on whether to back it. For many lawmakers, it would be a choice between two different types of misery.Opponents of Brexit, or this particular deal, would voice strong objections to whatever Johnson brings back — if indeed he gets it past his stubborn allies in Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party. But would Brexit-weary voters forgive a party that turned down a deal now? Johnson is betting they wouldn’t.Winning support from his own Conservative MPs should be more straightforward for Johnson than it was for Theresa May, his predecessor in No. 10. Lee Rowley, a Tory MP who opposed May’s deal three times, was speaking for others too when he said on Monday: “For the health of our democracy and to restore faith in this most venerable of institutions, in my view we simply must get Brexit done.”The so-called Spartans among Conservative lawmakers who refused to support May’s withdrawal deal have given signs they’ll back their new leader. They’re deeply worried that further delays to Brexit will hurt the Conservatives’ chances at an imminent general election and increase the likelihood of the U.K. not quitting the EU at all.It helps that some arch-Brexiters are now on the government payroll. Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the House of Commons, has even suggested that if Johnson comes back with terms like those he described previously as “cretinous” when they had May’s name on them, he’d probably support them.That wall of endorsement might crumble if the DUP withheld their blessing; and EU officials believe Johnson won’t give the green light to a deal unless he’s sure the DUP will back it. Arlene Foster, the party’s leader, said of his potential deal on Tuesday evening: “It would be fair to indicate gaps remain and further work is required.” The prime minister’s proposed concessions to Brussels are thought to include customs checks between the U.K. mainland and Northern Ireland, anathema to unionists.But maybe the DUP can be bought off by promises of billions of extra cash from Westminster for Northern Ireland. And Johnson will have been buoyed somewhat by potential support for his putative deal from some Brexiter MPs in the opposition Labour Party.Indeed, Labour’s mightily complicated Brexit position will look even more awkward if Johnson did somehow come back to Parliament with a deal and DUP support. The party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit strategy has assumed an almost infinite level of public patience: First win a general election (which will have to take place soon given Johnson’s lack of a majority), then renegotiate the Brexit deal and then hold a referendum on whether to remain or leave with Labour’s deal. With the British public exhausted by Brexit, a Johnson deal would look like more of an election winner for the Tories. Any deal vote in Parliament will almost certainly include an amendment demanding the agreement be put to the people in a confirmatory referendum. Some Labour MPs favor the party backing such a referendum before agreeing to a new general election. But that would require another long extension of the Brexit process, again not something that’s going to be loved by many British voters. The position of the centrist Liberal Democrats, revived under leader Jo Swinson as the Stop Brexit party, will be important. The Lib Dems support a “people’s vote” on any agreed Brexit deal, although their preference is to revoke Brexit altogether. But if getting a referendum required a vote of no-confidence in Johnson, Swinson has refused to back even a temporary replacement government with Corbyn in charge. So the Labour leader would have to let someone else become prime minister or Swinson would have to accept him in Downing Street. Neither outcome looks likely.In other words, all parties are considering not just the terms of Johnson’s possible deal but the terms on which they will fight the election. A vote for a deal would be a vote to end this phase of the Brexit negotiations and pave the way for the general election, although it would strengthen Johnson going into it. A vote against a deal would probably mean an extension from the EU to the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline and more uncertainty, perhaps still including an election. Voters again may reward Johnson for his efforts to break the impasse and penalize MPs who got in the way. The stakes are high for another reason too: An exit deal is just the beginning. A bigger, more important, negotiation on the future U.K.-EU trading relationship starts after that. The next government will shape that as well as Britain’s economic direction generally. For the past three years, lawmakers have agreed repeatedly that they don’t want a no-deal exit, but they haven’t found a majority for anything else. Even with the relief that might come from a deal, it’s not hard to see why they might struggle to say yes now.To contact the author of this story: Therese Raphael at traphael4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at jboxell@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Therese Raphael writes editorials on European politics and economics for Bloomberg Opinion. She was editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 16 Oct 2019 02:00:25 -0400
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