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  • UN: Houthi rebels impeding aid flow in Yemen

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    Yemen’s Houthi rebels have blocked half of the United Nations’ aid delivery programs in the war-torn country — a strong-arm tactic to force the agency to give them greater control over the massive humanitarian campaign, along with a cut of billions of dollars in foreign assistance, according to aid officials and internal documents obtained by The Associated Press. The rebel group has made granting access to areas under their control contingent on a flurry of conditions that aid agencies reject, in part because it would give the Houthis greater sway over who receives aid, documents and interviews show. The Houthis' obstruction has hindered several programs that feed the near-starving population and help those displaced by the nearly 6-year civil war, a senior U.N. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the situation.

    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 00:55:35 -0500
  • UN balks as Yemen rebels try to control the flow of aid

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    Yemen’s Houthi rebels have blocked half of the United Nations’ aid delivery programs in the war-torn country — a strong-arm tactic to force the agency to give them greater control over the massive humanitarian campaign, along with a cut of billions of dollars in foreign assistance, according to aid officials and internal documents obtained by The Associated Press. The rebel group has made granting access to areas under their control contingent on a flurry of conditions that aid agencies reject, in part because it would give the Houthis greater sway over who receives aid, documents and interviews show. The Houthis' obstruction has hindered several programs that feed the near-starving population and help those displaced by the nearly 6-year civil war, a senior U.N. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the situation.

    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 00:38:55 -0500
  • Sanders hopes early strength will prove he can beat Trump

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    Terry Reece has long been skeptical that voters would back Bernie Sanders, a 78-year-old self-described democratic socialist who is just months removed from a heart attack. After months of leaning toward former Vice President Joe Biden, Reece filled out a preference card for Sanders during early voting this week in the Nevada caucuses. "I think that people are kind of wanting to turn the pages and get more radical, or switch from the status quo," said Reece, a 62-year-old African American who owns a small media company in Las Vegas.

    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 00:24:35 -0500
  • Las Vegas debate a major test of Bloomberg campaign's gamble

    Golocal247.com news

    Mike Bloomberg will confront the greatest test of his presidential campaign when he faces five Democratic rivals in a debate in Las Vegas that could fundamentally change the direction of the party’s 2020 nomination fight. The debate debut for the billionaire former mayor of New York is poised to offer fresh insight into whether his unconventional campaign strategy — bypassing early voting states such as Nevada and spending hundreds of millions of dollars to spread his message on the airwaves — is sustainable. Wednesday night's debate comes at a pivotal point in the campaign as moderate voters are struggling to unify, with some increasingly looking to Bloomberg to become the clear alternative to progressive Bernie Sanders.

    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 00:23:05 -0500
  • 5 questions for next Democratic debate - Bloomberg's first

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    No candidate has the potential to upend the race for the Democratic presidential nomination more than Bloomberg, the former New York mayor and billionaire owner of a financial data and news empire. Since Bloomberg accepts no donations, polls were the only way he could qualify.

    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 00:20:57 -0500
  • Iran dissidents urge vote boycott as leaders eye high turnout

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    Opponents of Iran's theocratic leadership are urging an outright boycott of its parliamentary elections, arguing that it is anything but democratic and that casting a ballot serves only to bolster the country's Islamic rulers. The country's supreme leader has urged Iranians to "disappoint the enemy" by participating en masse in the vote on Friday, which coincides with one of the most testing periods for the country since the ousting of the pro-US shah in 1979. "Participating in elections and voting... is a religious duty" that will strengthen the Islamic republic against the "propaganda" of its enemies, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tuesday.

    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 00:19:17 -0500
  • Desperation Might Just Drive Lebanon To Reform

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    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 00:00:12 -0500
  • They Lost the Brexit War But U.K. Remainers Are Still Fighting

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    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 00:00:00 -0500
  • Boris Johnson Is Told to Rein In Top Aide After Racism Row

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    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Boris Johnson was under pressure from colleagues in the U.K.‘s ruling Conservative Party to discipline his most senior adviser as an escalating dispute over allegations of racism threatened to engulf his government.Senior Tories, including current and former ministers, spoke out after Andrew Sabisky -- an official hired to work in the prime minister’s office -- quit over his claims that black Americans are intellectually inferior to their white compatriots.The blame for recruiting Sabisky fell on Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s chief adviser, who launched a high-profile drive to attract “weirdos and misfits” to join his effort to revolutionize the way British government works. It is the latest in a series of controversies involving Cummings since he went to work with Johnson last year.Last week, Cummings was blamed for a plan to strip the Treasury of its independence over economic policy, which prompted Sajid Javid to resign as chancellor of the exchequer after a disagreement with Johnson. The senior adviser, who masterminded the pro-Brexit campaign before the 2016 referendum, had earlier clashed with Javid and others in government over his unorthodox methods and confrontational approach.‘Unorthodox Way’The furor comes at a critical time for Johnson’s government, as it prepares to open negotiations with the European Union on a future trading agreement, and it threatens to overshadow the prime minister’s domestic agenda.“It’s incumbent upon the prime minister to keep Dominic Cummings on a tight rein,” former minister Caroline Nokes said in an interview. “When an adviser becomes a story, then clearly there’s a problem.”Business Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said Johnson’s office must “ensure this doesn’t happen again” and needs to review the process for vetting potential recruits. Problems arise when “you get people who slip through the net, who are recruited in perhaps an unorthodox way,“ Kwarteng told Sky News. “I think the vetting will be much more severe.“Boris Johnson’s Top Aide Seeks ‘Weirdos’ to Overhaul GovernmentSpeaking privately, another minister accused Cummings of turning the government into a circus and described him as a corrosive influence. The minister said Johnson’s team must ensure recruits are far more vigorously vetted, and added that it would be best if Cummings left the government.Johnson’s government won a large majority in December’s general election, putting him in a powerful position to shape the country and drive his reforming agenda through Parliament. Cummings said he wants to shake up the way the government works by recruiting “unusual” people with “different skills and backgrounds.”In a 3,000-word blog post last month, Cummings said there is “little need to worry about short-term unpopularity” given the size of Johnson’s majority. It seems some of his Conservative colleagues in Parliament and in government disagree.To contact the reporters on this story: Tim Ross in London at tross54@bloomberg.net;Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.net;Jessica Shankleman in London at jshankleman@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson at fjackson@bloomberg.net, Thomas Penny, Stuart BiggsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 19 Feb 2020 00:00:00 -0500
  • AP source: Barr tells people he might quit over Trump tweets

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    Attorney General William Barr has told people close to him he’s considering quitting his post after President Donald Trump wouldn’t heed his warning to stop tweeting about Justice Department cases, an administration official told The Associated Press. The revelation came days after Barr took a public swipe at the president, saying in a television interview that Trump’s tweets about Justice Department cases and staffers make it “impossible” for him to do his job. The next day, Trump ignored Barr’s request and insisted that he has the “legal right” to intervene in criminal cases and sidestep the Justice Department’s historical independence.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 21:52:00 -0500
  • Russian Intelligence Recruited Mexican Man to Spy on FBI Informant in Miami, Feds Say

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    Russian intelligence recruited a Mexican citizen to track down the whereabouts of an FBI informant in Miami who previously provided the U.S. government with information on Russian operations “implicating national security interests of the United States.”The Mexican man, Hector Alejandro Cabrera Fuentes, was arrested on Monday after being recruited by a Russian official last year, according to The Miami Herald and The Justice Department. After renting out a specific Miami property at the direction of the official, Fuentes allegedly traveled to Moscow earlier this month for more instructions. At this meeting, Fuentes was given the description of the informant’s car, was told to locate it, to obtain the license plate number, and to take note of “the physical location” of the vehicle.The informant was described only as a “confidential human source” for the FBI counterintelligence division who had provided information on Russian espionage activities in the state, the Herald reports.Fuentes and the official planned to meet again in April or May 2020 so Fuentes could share what he found out about the informant's vehicle, federal prosecutors say.But the plan was foiled when Fuentes and his Mexican wife arrived in Miami from Mexico City on Feb. 13, and he took a Chrysler sedan rental car to the residence of the informant the following day. He tried to enter the condominium complex by tailgating behind another vehicle.The sedan drew the attention of a security guard, who approached the vehicle. As the guard was making the approach, Fuentes’ wife allegedly exited the car and took a photo of the license plate on the informant’s car.The guard questioned the pair about their business at the building, and Fuentes gave the name of someone he claimed to be visiting. The guard didn’t recognize the name, and told him to leave.Two days later, Fuentes and his wife were preparing to board a flight to Mexico City at Miami International Airport when a Customs and Border Protection agent inspected the wife's phone. The agent discovered the license plate photo in her “recently deleted folder.” Fuentes admitted to asking his wife to take the photo, and a review of Fuentes’ phone showed that his wife had sent the picture to him via WhatsApp message. He later admitted to officials that a Russian official had tasked him with the operation, and messages on his phone showed the official initiated and directed their meetings.It was not immediately clear where Russian intelligence recruited Fuentes, but he reportedly resided in Singapore and had ties to other parts of the world as well. In his first court hearing on Tuesday, he told the judge, “None of my family knows I’m here.” Fuentes admitted to having a second family in Russia: a wife and two daughters. He said he had visited them while he was in Russia having meetings with the official. The official allegedly told Fuentes he could help get his Russian family out of the country. “We can help each other,” the agent is said to have told him.It’s possible the “confidential human source” targeted by Fuentes and the Russian official was a defector. In 2017, a CIA source with access to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and files reportedly defected after alerting the U.S. about Putin’s plans to meddle in the 2016 election. Reports said the former Russian foreign policy official ended up in the Washington area. 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.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 21:25:51 -0500
  • WHO says 'no indications' of coronavirus cases in North Korea

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    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 20:46:11 -0500
  • While Haiti police take frustrations out on streets, UN sounds alarm on gangs, bad cops

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    Angry over poor pay and miserable working conditions, members of Haiti’s U.S.-backed and United Nations-trained police force are taking their frustrations out on the streets.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 20:35:20 -0500
  • LA adopts new 'war room' strategy for tackling homelessness

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    Los Angeles city and county officials on Tuesday announced a new strategy to speed the process of getting homeless people into permanent housing that is modeled on the federal government’s response to natural disasters. The creation of a “Housing Central Command” marks an overhaul of how agencies work together in addressing the growing number of people living on the street, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. Previously the system was slowed by red tape and gaps in information showing what housing units were available and who is eligible to move into them, officials said.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 20:11:02 -0500
  • New virus cases in China fall again as deaths top 2,000

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    New virus cases in China continued to fall Wednesday, with 1,749 more infections and 136 additional deaths as the top official in the outbreak's epicenter vowed to find and isolate every infected patient in the city by day's end. Wednesday marks the final day of a door-to-door campaign in Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the virus emerged, to root out anyone with symptoms whom authorities may have missed so far. “This must be taken seriously," said Wang Zhonglin, Wuhan's newly minted Communist Party secretary.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 19:45:10 -0500
  • Bernie Sanders' campaign to request recount of Iowa caucuses

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    Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign plans to ask for a partial recount of the Iowa caucus results after the state Democratic Party released results of its recanvass late Tuesday that show Sanders and Pete Buttigieg in an effective tie. Sanders campaign senior adviser Jeff Weaver told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday that the campaign has had a representative in contact with the Iowa Democratic Party throughout the recanvass process. "Based on what we understand to be the results, we intend to ask for a recount," he said.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 19:26:47 -0500
  • Children prey to online ads of harmful products, regulation needed - UN study

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    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 18:30:00 -0500
  • US tells remaining cruise passengers: Stay out for 2 weeks

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    The U.S. government made good on its warning to Americans who chose to remain on board a quarantined cruise ship in Japan, telling them they cannot return home for at least two weeks after they come ashore. U.S. officials notified the passengers Tuesday of the travel restriction, citing their possible exposure to the new virus while on board the Diamond Princess. Over the weekend, more than 300 American passengers, including some who tested positive for coronavirus, left Japan on charter flights.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 18:23:25 -0500
  • U.K. to Slash Unskilled Immigration With Points System From 2021

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    (Bloomberg) -- Boris Johnson’s government unveiled plans to end what it called the U.K.’s dependence on “cheap low-skilled labor” and deliver on its pledge to halt freedom of movement from the European Union after Brexit.A new points-based immigration system will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2021, the Home Office said in an emailed statement. Skilled workers must prove they can speak English and have an offer for a job paying at least 25,600 pounds ($33,000) -- lower than the previously announced threshold of 30,000 pounds. Visas will only be granted to applicants with enough points distributed across specific skills, qualifications and salaries.“Today is a historic moment for the whole country,” Home Secretary Priti Patel said. The new system will “bring overall migration numbers down” while attracting “the brightest and the best from around the globe,” she said.Why Immigration Down Under Appeals to U.K.’s Johnson: QuickTakeJohnson has repeatedly said voters opted for Brexit at least in part to control immigration, but the plans are likely to alarm British businesses because they provide no specific route to the U.K. for unskilled workers. A government advisory group estimated last month that 70% of EU workers already in the U.K. wouldn’t have qualified for visas under the new rules. The government says companies must do more to train domestic employees.“The speed and scale of these changes will require significant adjustment by businesses,” said Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce. “Companies are already investing heavily in home-grown talent across the U.K., but critical labor shortages mean firms will still need access to overseas workers at all skill levels.”Under the new system, EU immigrants will be treated the same as applicants from outside the bloc -- a rule that extends to student visas, the government said. For the first time, EU students will now also have to prove they speak English, have an offer to study at an educational institution and can financially support themselves.There are some exceptions to the rules for certain professions, including science and research, where people will be able to come to the U.K. without a specific job offer, the government said. More details are expected on Wednesday.“For too long we were powerless to help, shackled by Europe and forced to be rule-takers, Ending free movement changes all that,” Patel wrote in the Sun on Sunday newspaper. “The public wants a reduction in low-skilled immigration.”To contact the reporter on this story: Olivia Konotey-Ahulu in London at okonoteyahul@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Stuart Biggs, Thomas PennyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 17:30:00 -0500
  • UK seeks to attract high-skilled workers with points-based immigration system

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    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 17:30:00 -0500
  • UN report questions police, highlights violence in Haiti

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    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 17:07:00 -0500
  • France to end imam, teacher deals to counter extremism

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    French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday announced measures intended to counter Islamic extremism in France by giving the government more authority over the schooling of children, the financing of mosques and the training of imams. Macron, during a visit to the city of Mulhouse in eastern France, said the government sought to combat “foreign interference” in how Islam is practiced and the way its religious institutions are organized in the secular country. Macron said he plans to end a program created in 1977 that allowed nine countries to send teachers to France to provide foreign language and culture classes without any supervision from French authorities.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 16:27:32 -0500
  • Democrats diverge on outreach to anti-abortion swing voters

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    In a party that’s shifted leftward on abortion rights, Democratic presidential hopefuls are offering different approaches to a central challenge: how to talk to voters without a clear home in the polarizing debate over the government’s role in the decision to end a pregnancy. While Bernie Sanders said this month that “being pro-choice is an absolutely essential part of being a Democrat,” his presidential primary opponent Amy Klobuchar took a more open stance last week in saying that anti-abortion Democrats “are part of our party.” Klobuchar's perfect voting score from major abortion-rights groups makes her an unlikely ally, but some abortion opponents nonetheless lauded the Minnesota senator for extending a hand to those on the other side of an issue that’s especially important for Catholics and other devout voters.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 15:55:08 -0500
  • Huawei accuses U.S. of overlooking HSBC misconduct to go after Chinese firm

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    "The government agreed to overlook HSBC's continued misconduct, electing not to punish the bank, prosecute its executives or even extend the monitorship," Huawei's lawyers wrote in a Feb. 10, 2020 letter filed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, New York. In return, "HSBC agreed to cooperate with the government's efforts to depict Huawei as the mastermind of HSBC's sanctions violations and supply witnesses to the government's stalled investigation of Huawei," the lawyers wrote. In an indictment unsealed last year, Huawei was charged by the United States with bank fraud and violating sanctions against Iran.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 14:59:08 -0500
  • What if Trump Wins? Europeans Fear a More Permanent Shift Against Them

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    MUNICH -- There was a lot for diplomats and policymakers to consider when they gathered at a recent global security conference in Munich: China rising, Russia meddling, Germany weakening. But the inescapable question -- the one that might change the world most immediately for Europe -- was whether President Donald Trump would win reelection in November.Rightly or wrongly, the consensus among European diplomats and analysts is that Trump is likely to get a second term. But there was also consensus that such an event would be a significant part of a drastic, and potentially permanent, shift in global affairs for which Europe remains woefully unprepared.Trump's reelection would mark a fundamental change, said François Heisbourg, a French analyst. "Eight years in political terms is an era, not an error. And it would undermine the reality of American democracy."Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's admonishment to the Europeans to accept U.S. leadership and "reality" was met at the conference with stony silence. Traditional U.S. allies were far from assured that they would be able to depend on the United States in another Trump term.More than that, they sense the potential for a real parting of ways, given policy differences on issues as varied as climate change, Iran, trade and allowing Chinese company Huawei to build next-generation wireless networks.Many expect that divide would only widen if Trump remains in office.Wolfgang Ischinger, director of the conference and a former German ambassador to Washington, noted Trump's hostility to European allies, asking: "Why do we currently appear to live on different planets?"A second term could leave Trump feeling ever freer and more empowered to pursue his every whim in global affairs, diplomats and analysts said.That could include what some consider to be the very real possibility of withdrawing the United States from the NATO alliance that has kept peace in Europe for more than 70 years."Trust in the United States would be abysmally low, and his reelection would undermine the alliance in two ways," Heisbourg said. "First, he doesn't believe in alliances, but he is also very unpredictable. No one, including Trump, has any idea where he will take any of this, and the unpredictability increases the unreliability."Many anticipate a collapse in the already eroding trust in U.S. leadership and credibility."Trump's reelection would be deeply consequential," said a senior European official, who asked not to be identified, fearing retribution on his country. "If the U.S. reelects him knowing everything about him, that will change things here."A second Trump term "will be more of the same and yet worse," said Amanda Sloat, a former State Department official now at the Brookings Institution.Trump has questioned the U.S. commitment to NATO. "That has been corrosive to the underlying trust among allies," Sloat said. "That might be reversible after one term, but eight years of Trump would be deeply damaging."Europeans saw Trump's election, by such a narrow margin, as "maybe a blip," said Daniel S. Hamilton, a professor at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins."If Americans reelect him, it's a strategic decision," Hamilton said. "But it's hard to know what the Europeans would actually do about it."Even though European officials generally agree that the change in global affairs could hurt them, how they can respond is another matter.There is already widespread talk of European "strategic autonomy" and of the need to develop what the European Union's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell Fontelles, calls "an appetite for power."A second Trump term "will be four more years of 'America First,' " said Robin Niblett, director of international affairs think tank Chatham House. "Europe would realize more than before that it has to fend for itself."At the Munich conference, President Emmanuel Macron of France essentially pleaded for Europeans to see challenges like Russia and China with a European lens, not a trans-Atlantic one, and to do more to create a serious culture of security and self-reliance.Even the German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, while criticizing his own country's moral sanctimony, blasted Trump's unilateralism as deeply damaging to the alliance."'Great again,' even at the expense of neighbors and partners," Steinmeier said, referring to the campaign slogan that propelled Trump to the presidency. "Thinking and acting this way hurts us all," he said, adding that it produced "more mistrust, more armament, less security."Many expect the Europeans to heighten talk of independence but to have trouble creating a credible security alternative, and thus, in the end, they would find ways to get along with Trump -- or get around him -- rather than confront him openly."There are a lot of voices saying that 'we have to do more for strategic autonomy,' cloaked in emancipatory rhetoric," Hamilton said. "But there's no consensus on what their own interests are. They may do just enough to annoy the Americans, but not enough to be serious."Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, said that reelection "will enhance and consolidate the direction of U.S. foreign policy and make it impossible for a successor to change it in a big way."Those changes would affect the United States' allies more than its enemies, he said. "Europe really has nowhere to go. It can't stand on its own feet and won't be a superpower, so it will have to accept the new terms Trump is laying down."Not everyone is unhappy at the prospect of more Trump. Central Europeans who have a history of occupation by the Soviet Union tend to be his strongest supporters.But they, too, worry about Trump's apparent ambivalence toward NATO and his seeming admiration of President Vladimir Putin of Russia.If Trump completely alienates Europe, it could hurt the United States, too, said R. Nicholas Burns, a former senior U.S. official supporting Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination."His belief that allies weaken the U.S., rather than strengthen it, is one of his greatest failings, while he will continue to embrace autocrats, rather than our true friends, like Macron and Merkel," Burns said, referring to the leaders of France and Germany.The danger "is that Europe might begin to see itself as a third pole in global politics between China and the U.S.," he added. "That would be a major strategic loss for the U.S. in power and influence."Ivo Daalder, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO and president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, noted that Europeans thought at first that they could wait out Trump."But if Trump is reelected," Daalder said, "They won't wait any more but will more openly reject him."Europeans, he said, might band together more effectively to try to balance the United States, as Macron is urging, or they might "choose another side," moving closer to Moscow and Beijing, fearing loss of exports and instability in the Middle East.That policy might suit France, Germany, Italy and Spain, he said, but it would add pressure on Trump's backers in Central Europe.European leadership remains weak and divided, noted Sophia Besch, an analyst in the Berlin office of the Center for European Reform. "We talk a lot about U.S. leadership but not enough about European leadership," she said.Claudia Major, a defense expert with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, said that much will depend "on what kind of Europe Trump meets." It could be a strengthened one or a divided one that would allow bigger powers to take control."There are so many European answers," she said, "because there so many different countries and interests."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 14:58:42 -0500
  • President Trump goes on clemency spree, and the list is long

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    President Donald Trump has gone on a clemency blitz, commuting the 14-year prison sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and pardoning former NYPD commissioner Bernie Kerik, among a long list of others. Trump also told reporters that he has pardoned financier Michael Milken, who pleaded guilty for violating U.S. securities laws and served two years in prison in the early 1990s. Trump also pardoned Edward DeBartolo Jr., the former San Francisco 49ers owner convicted in a gambling fraud scandal who built one of the most successful NFL teams in the game’s history.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 14:43:12 -0500
  • U.S. imposes new rules on state-owned Chinese media over propaganda concerns

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    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 14:30:01 -0500
  • Ex-Gov. Blagojevich released from prison after Trump pardon

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    Rod Blagojevich walked out of prison Tuesday after President Donald Trump cut short the 14-year prison sentence handed to the former Illinois governor for political corruption. The Republican president said the punishment imposed on the Chicago Democrat and one-time contestant on Trump's reality TV show "Celebrity Apprentice" was excessive. “So he'll be able to go back home with his family,” Trump told reporters in Washington.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 14:19:37 -0500
  • Israeli military to create command to combat Iran threats

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    Israel's military will set up a special branch in its general staff dedicated to threats from Iran, it said Tuesday. The military said it will appoint a major general to head the command, which is part of a broader restructuring in the general staff. A statement by the military offered few details about the new command, saying the nature of the new branch's work was “yet to be determined.” But the move highlights the importance Israel places on the threats it views coming from Iran.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 14:03:42 -0500
  • Israel to allow hundreds more Gazans to enter for work

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    Israel will provide hundreds of additional work permits for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, an Israeli defense body said Tuesday, in a new step aimed at solidifying an informal cease-fire with the Hamas militant group. COGAT, the Israeli defense body responsible for civilian Palestinian affairs, said it was lifting certain restrictions on the territory starting Wednesday following days of “relative quiet” in the area surrounding Gaza. Israel blames the Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, for ongoing fire emanating from the Gaza Strip, including a spate of explosive balloons launched from Gaza that have damaged Israeli properties.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 13:33:04 -0500
  • UN envoy warns `dire' military situation risks Yemen peace

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    The U.N. special envoy for Yemen warned Tuesday the “increasingly dire” military situation in the Arab world's poorest country is putting U.N. efforts to end the five-year conflict at “great risk” and causing dozens, and perhaps hundreds, of civilian casualties. Hostilities have escalated significantly along several fronts, including some which had been quiet for months, and reported airstrikes and cross-border aerial attacks “have increased considerably,” he said in a video briefing from Geneva.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 13:23:26 -0500
  • US lawmaker defends meeting with Iran FM in Munich

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    Sen. Chris Murphy on Tuesday defended a weekend meeting he held with Iran's foreign minister in Europe, after his actions were questioned in conservative media andas President Donald Trump suggested they may have violated U.S. law. The Connecticut Democrat said his Saturday meeting with Mohammed Javad Zarif was important because it is “dangerous not to talk to one's enemies.” Murphy said he wanted to see Zarif because there has been no U.S. diplomatic channel with Iran since Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal two years ago. “I have no delusions about Iran — they are our adversary, responsible for the killing of thousands of Americans and unacceptable levels of support for terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East,” he wote in a Medium post.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 13:16:01 -0500
  • Golocal247.com news

    Is the new virus more 'deadly' than flu? Not exactly

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    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 12:59:00 -0500
  • Apps help volunteers get excess food to the hungry

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    Food waste and hunger are two enormous problems that some non-profit groups say can be addressed together by getting the extra food to the people who need it. The USDA estimates that more than 30% of the food in America is wasted each year. To battle commercial food waste, "food rescue" groups use volunteers to pick up donated food and deliver it to nonprofits that feed the hungry.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 12:47:41 -0500
  • UN demands 'independent, impartial' probe of Cameroon deaths

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    The United Nations called on Cameroon Tuesday to conduct an independent investigation into the "shocking" killing of 23 villagers in a troubled English-speaking region and ensure the perpetrators be held accountable. Citing information from colleagues on the ground, the UN rights office said two pregnant women and 15 children, nine of them aged under five, were among those killed. The incident on Friday took place in a region where armed separatists are campaigning for independence from the rest of Cameroon, which is majority French-speaking.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 12:38:14 -0500
  • Trudeau Pleads for Patience Amid Crippling Rail Blockades

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    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 11:59:14 -0500
  • Huge locust outbreak in East Africa reaches South Sudan

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    The worst locust outbreak that parts of East Africa have seen in 70 years has reached South Sudan, a country where roughly half the population already faces hunger after years of civil war, officials announced Tuesday. Around 2,000 locusts were spotted inside the country, Agriculture Minister Onyoti Adigo told reporters. The locusts have been seen in Eastern Equatoria state near the borders with Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 11:39:55 -0500
  • US border clampdown forces Venezuelan teen into Mexico alone

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    A Venezuelan teenager has been forced back to Mexico by U.S. government authorities who denied her claims that she was fleeing political repression and violence, even after they accepted the same claims from her father. The teenager, who is being identified by only her first name, Branyerly, is living alone in Matamoros, Mexico, across from Brownsville.According to her attorney,U.S. border agentson Monday and Tuesday denied her requestsnot to be sent back under the Trump administration's so-called “Remain in Mexico” program for migrants. Branyerly and her father could not request asylum under another Trump policy, a ban on most asylum claims at the southern border for people who came through a “third country.” But in January, an immigration judge allowed her father, Branly, into the U.S. by granting what's called withholding of removal, which requires meeting a higher legal standard.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 11:39:19 -0500
  • Trump sanctions Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil company, for aiding Maduro in Venezuela

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    Trump’s decision marks an escalation in his campaign against Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro and a rare confrontation with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 11:35:51 -0500
  • Judge refuses to delay sentencing of Trump ally Roger Stone

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    A federal judge on Tuesday refused to delay sentencing for Trump confidant Roger Stone on his conviction for witness tampering and lying to Congress. Stone's defense team has requested a new trial and on Tuesday lobbied to delay the sentencing.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 10:54:56 -0500
  • Downing Street wanted a 'weirdo.' One new hire resigned after racist, sexist comments emerge

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    A British government job ad calling for "weirdos and misfits" has apparently backfired as an adviser hired resigned after a string of controversial statements emerged. The original job was advertised on the blog of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, who is widely seen as the mastermind behind the success of Brexit in the 2016 referendum on membership of the European Union and the Conservative Party's landslide election victory in December.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 10:34:00 -0500
  • Stresses multiply for many US clergy: 'We need help too'

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    Greg Laurie is among America’s most successful clergymen -- senior pastor at a California megachurch, prolific author, host of a global radio program. “Pastors are people, just like everyone else,” Laurie said by email. Laurie’s 15,000-member Harvest Christian Fellowship, based in Riverside, California, was jolted in September by the death of Jarrid Wilson, a 30-year-old associate pastor.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 10:22:41 -0500
  • Russia Relishes Macron Ally Sex Video Scandal Even Amid Detente

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    (Bloomberg) -- State media in Russia is reveling in the scandal of an exiled Russian activist in France who shared a sexually explicit video that punctured the political career of one of Emmanuel Macron’s top allies.Petr Pavlensky and his partner, the woman who reportedly received the explicit messages from Benjamin Griveaux that were released last week, are being questioned as part of an investigation into the videos after Griveaux filed a complaint, AFP reported, citing the French prosecutor. The 42-year-old married father of three quit Friday as the ruling party’s candidate for mayor of Paris.The episode comes as Macron is trying to improve Europe’s relations with Russia, upsetting some of France’s partners within the bloc.While French government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye said the sophisticated way the Russian artist carried out the leak suggested he hadn’t acted alone, in Moscow there was scathing comment about France’s decision to grant political asylum to Pavlensky in 2017. The videos appeared to show Griveaux sending messages with an auto-destruct function.“The joke is over. Pavlensky has gone from being an amusing character to ‘Kremlin agent’,” the Vesti state-run channel entitled a report on the affair.Franco-Russian DialoguePresident Vladimir Putin, who’s seeking to ease the worst East-West tensions since the Cold War sparked by his annexation of Crimea and military intervention in Ukraine in 2014, has responded eagerly to Macron’s offer of strategic dialogue. At the same time, the French leader criticized Russia for continuing to try and destabilize Europe at this weekend’s Munich Security Conference.Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday praised Macron for “true political and geopolitical vision, pragmatism and readiness for dialogue” despite his “reservations” about Russia.Pavlensky, known for performances that included nailing his scrotum to Moscow’s Red Square in 2013, has been based in France since obtaining asylum. He served 11 months in a French prison for setting on fire the facade of the Bank of France.With the private life of politicians usually off-limits in France, the Griveaux episode drew condemnation across the French political spectrum, including from his adversaries.But in his flagship Sunday news show, leading pro-Kremlin TV anchor Dmitry Kiselev presented Pavlensky as a fighter against politicians’ hypocrisy, citing the artist’s justification for the action against Griveaux to unmask him for campaigning falsely on family values.“In Russia, Pavlensky could do whatever he wanted and be applauded for it in Europe. But when he stepped over the mark in France, that’s what he got,” he said.Political AsylumAnother commentator on state TV mocked a call from a lawmaker in Macron’s party to strip Pavlensky of political asylum and send him back to Russia. “For such a crime, you can’t take away the political asylum that you rushed into giving him. You got what you asked for,” he said.When he was spokesman for Macron’s government, Griveaux banned Russian outlets RT and Sputnik from covering presidential events, saying they were not media but propagandists funded by Russia. Macron also said his 2017 presidential campaign was victim of Russian interference.Pavlensky’s legal adviser and political activist Juan Branco suggested Saturday there may be other videos. Branco praised WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange in a book and has been a staunch supporter of the French grassroots Yellow Vest movement.Still, in contrast with Ndiaye’s comments, France’s junior minister for digital affairs Cédric O told France Info radio that “at this stage” he had “no information that leads me to believe that there could be anything other than a personal act” in the Griveaux affair. “We have no proof or any indication that Russia is involved,” O added.Vladimir Frolov, a former Russian diplomat who’s now a foreign policy analyst in Moscow, concurred. “There is no Russian role (in the Griveaux affair),” he said. “But we are proud of our artists of world renown.”To contact the reporters on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at hmeyer4@bloomberg.net;Ania Nussbaum in Paris at anianussbaum@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory L. White at gwhite64@bloomberg.net, Geraldine Amiel, Phil SerafinoFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 10:20:53 -0500
  • Iran sentences alleged US spies to up to 10 years in prison

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    Iran sentenced eight environmental activists, including an Iranian who reportedly also has British and American citizenship, to prison sentences ranging from four to 10 years on charges of spying for the United States and acting against Iran's national security, the judiciary said Tuesday. According to the judiciary spokesman, Gholamhossein Esmaili, an appeals court issued the final verdicts. Two of the activists, Morad Tahbaz and Niloufar Bayani, got 10 years each and were ordered to return the money they allegedly received from the U.S. government for their services.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 10:03:55 -0500
  • Germany wants another crack at a EU mission in the Strait of Hormuz

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    Berlin last summer rejected a request to join a U.S.-led naval protection mission for fear of getting tangled up in a shooting war between the United States and Iran.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 09:54:25 -0500
  • Cambodia's Coronavirus Complacency May Exact a Global Toll

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    SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia -- When Cambodia's prime minister greeted passengers on a cruise ship amid a coronavirus scare on Valentine's Day, embraces were the order of the day. Protective masks were not.Not only did Prime Minister Hun Sen not wear one, assured that the ship was virus-free, his bodyguards ordered people who had donned masks to take them off. The next day, the U.S. ambassador to Cambodia, W. Patrick Murphy, who brought his own family to greet the passengers streaming off the ship, also went maskless."We are very, very grateful that Cambodia has opened literally its ports and doors to people in need," Murphy said.But after hundreds of passengers had disembarked, one later tested positive for the coronavirus. Now, health officials worry that what Cambodia opened its doors to was the outbreak, and that the world may pay a price as passengers from the cruse ship Westerdam stream home.Before the Westerdam docked in Sihanoukville, fearful governments in other countries had turned the ship away at five ports of call even though the cruise operator, Holland America, assured officials that the ship's passengers had been carefully screened.Hun Sen's decision to allow it entry appeared to be a political calculus as much as anything else. The region's longest-serving ruler and a close ally of China, he is known for his survival skills.But Hun Sen's critics worry that the aging autocrat might have acted rashly."Of course, he had to do the dictator thing: photo op, roses, exploit this for its maximum value," said Sophal Ear, an expert in Cambodian politics at Occidental College. "Whatever is in the best interest of Cambodians is completely irrelevant to him."It is too early to tell whether the decision to let hundreds of passengers from the Westerdam fly off has the makings of an epidemiological disaster. Cambodian health authorities said that 409 of the 2,257 passengers and crew had left Cambodia for their homes scattered across the globe. The rest remain in hotels in Phnom Penh, the capital, or on the ship.But deficiencies in screening for the coronavirus aboard the ship, along with continued complacency about the epidemic in Cambodia, are raising fears this small Southeast Asian nation could prove to be a surprising vector of transmission for a virus that has already killed more than 1,700 people, mostly in China, the epicenter of the outbreak.Many health experts urge people who have been in contact with coronavirus patients to self-quarantine for 14 days, lest they add another spoke to the contagion network.But on Monday, Hun Sen directed officials in Phnom Penh to treat passengers from the Westerdam to a sightseeing jaunt."To tour the city is better than staying in rooms or at the hotel feeling bored or scared," said a post on Hun Sen's Facebook page.The lack of urgency in Cambodia, where officials milled around the ship Monday without protection, points to the obstacles in trying to contain a virus that experts warn is spreading faster than SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome)or MERS, (Middle East respiratory syndrome)."This is influenza-like transmission," said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. "It's like trying to stop the wind."Last week, when the Westerdam docked in Sihanoukville, the Cambodian government and the cruise operator deemed the vessel virus-free.The declaration was at a minimum premature.Only 20 people out of the 2,257 onboard were tested for the virus before disembarking, and that was because they had reported themselves to ship medical staff with various ailments.The woman who twice tested positive after traveling on to Malaysia, an 83-year-old American, was not among those 20, Holland America said.Health monitoring for the rest of the passengers was limited to a handful of temperature checks conducted with infrared thermometers, passengers said. In a statement, Holland America said that during one of those screenings, not a single person on board recorded an elevated temperature.On Monday, an announcement broadcast to passengers remaining on the Westerdam warned that they should avoid the ship's hot deck and return to their air-conditioned rooms to avoid falsely high temperature readings.Some health experts have questioned the efficacy of infrared thermometers, also known as temperature guns, saying they measure the heat emanating from the surface of the body, rather than core body temperature.Various environmental factors can distort thermometer gun reading, said Gary Strahan, who runs a small infrared device company in Texas."In Cambodia, you have warmer background temperatures," he said. "It could impact the measurement. That's the issue with any noncontact thermometer."Even if temperatures are accurately gauged, people may be taking medication that lower their temperature, like some arthritis drugs.And in any case, people who are asymptomatic can still pass on the coronavirus, scientists have found."A person who does not present as feverish is not necessarily uninfected with a disease or a virus," said Jim Seffrin, an expert on infrared devices at the Infraspection Institute in New Jersey.In the wake of the positive test in Malaysia, Cambodian health officials said they would be relying on a domestic lab to test all passengers and crew members still in the country for the coronavirus.On Monday evening, passengers celebrated news from Cambodian health officials that a first batch of 406 people in Phnom Penh had tested negative, although there was no certainty they would not later test positive."People on the ship are very grateful to the people of Cambodia," said Tammie Graves, an American from Kansas. "I was a bit worried that they might be afraid of us, even at the hotel, but it hasn't been like that at all."On Monday afternoon, more than 100 Westerdam passengers took up Hun Sen's offer of a capital tour, piling in buses to see the royal palace and other sites.In pictures of the excursion, posted on a government-linked website, only one person can be seen wearing a mask.Despite cases of coronavirus popping up in Southeast Asia, Hun Sen has campaigned against masks, arguing that they are better at spreading fear than stopping germs. At a news conference last month, he announced that he would kick out anyone who dared wear a mask.Even as other governments instituted China travel bans that angered Beijing, Hun Sen traveled to the Chinese capital and met with Xi Jinping, China's leader, in another photo op.And as other countries organized airlifts of people trapped in Wuhan, the city where the virus is believed to have originated, Hun Sen said he would not ferry Cambodian students home because they should be "joining with Chinese to fight this disease."The sense of solidarity makes sense in a country heavily dependent on China for its fortunes, after having turned its back on a West that was demanding progress in human rights in return for aid and investment.A torrent of Chinese cash has remade Cambodia, nowhere more so than in Sihanoukville, a once sleepy beach town that is now a sprawling construction site of gilded casinos and towering residential blocks. More than 90% of businesses in the city are now Chinese owned.On Monday, Oeun Yen, a masseuse here, worried about the massages she had given three female passengers from the Westerdam before the virus case was confirmed by Malaysia. She was not afraid at first, she said, because the prime minister had assured people all was fine."Now I am more concerned," she said.In a country where Hun Sen has dissolved the biggest opposition party and political assassination is not uncommon, such mild concern is as much as many ordinary residents are willing to muster.But there is also widespread skepticism of the government's contention that only one person in Cambodia has tested positive for coronavirus, a Chinese citizen who has since returned home."There is a natural lack of credibility and trust associated with the Cambodian government," said Ou Virak, a human-rights activist and founder of the Future Forum, a local think tank. "This is Hun Sen's Westerdam problem, because even if he was doing the right thing, purely as a humanitarian, he will be seen as the puppet of China instead."On Monday, Hun Sen announced yet another publicity stunt: He wants to invite the passengers of the Westerdam to a party.Masks won't be welcome.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 08:17:27 -0500
  • Afghan president wins vote, opponent says he's the winner

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    Ashraf Ghani won a second term as president of Afghanistan, the country's independent election commission announced Tuesday, but his closest opponent refused to recognize the results, declaring himself winner and potentially endangering peace negotiations with the Taliban. The Taliban also rejected Ghani's win, further putting into question a U.S. peace plan that calls for a reduction in violence followed by a more permanent agreement expected to be signed Feb. 29, between Washington and the Taliban.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 08:15:41 -0500
  • Soggy neighborhoods under flash-flood warning in Mississippi

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    Some of the hardest-hit areas were under a flash flood watch, as the National Weather Service said as much as 2 inches (5 centimeters) of rain, and even more in some spots — was expected to fall in a short amount of time in central Mississippi. The national Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland, projected the greatest likelihood of heavy rains in a band from eastern Louisiana across central parts of Mississippi and Alabama and into far west Georgia. Authorities around Mississippi's capital city of Jackson warned hundreds of residents not to return home until they get an all-clear following devastating flooding on Monday.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 08:15:18 -0500
  • Iran supreme leader says voting is 'religious duty'

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    Iran's supreme leader said Tuesday it is a "religious duty" for people to vote in this week's general election and strengthen the Islamic republic against the "propaganda" of its enemies. "Participating in elections and voting... is a religious duty, not just a national or revolutionary duty," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech, parts of which were aired on state television. "Elections nullify many of the vicious plots the Americans have in their minds and Zionists have in their hearts against the country," he said, referring to US ally Israel.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 08:02:48 -0500
  • Donald Trump's Real North Korea Mistake

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    It should be puzzling, frustrating, and alarming to all Americans that the United States is still on front lines of any crisis involving North Korea. That dangerous, unrewarding role arose in a different era under very different circumstances. Time for a policy change.

    Tue, 18 Feb 2020 07:57:00 -0500
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