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  • US set to sign peace deal with Afghanistan's Taliban

    Golocal247.com news

    The United States is poised to sign a peace agreement with Taliban militants on Saturday aimed at bringing an end to 18 years of bloodshed in Afghanistan and allowing U.S. troops to return home from America's longest war. President George W. Bush ordered the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Some U.S. troops currently serving there had not yet been born when the World Trade Center collapsed on that crisp, sunny morning that changed how Americans see the world.

    Sat, 29 Feb 2020 03:08:13 -0500
  • Turkish soldier killed in northwest Syria artillery strike

    Golocal247.com news

    Turkey's Defense Ministry said one of its soldiers was killed and two were injured by Syrian government shelling, the latest fatality after 33 Turkish troops were killed in an airstrike in Syria earlier this week. The announcement late Friday also said Turkish forces hit Syrian government targets and a number of Syrian troops were “neutralized.” Syrian government forces have been on a weekslong offensive into Idlib province, the country's last rebel stronghold, which borders Turkey.

    Sat, 29 Feb 2020 02:26:03 -0500
  • Boris Johnson’s Challenge: Narrow a 50% Productivity Gap With London

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    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world threatened by trade wars. Sign up here. The challenge facing Boris Johnson to raise living standards in struggling regions that voted for his Conservative Party in December was laid bare in new figures highlighting the productivity gulf dividing Britain.Productivity has grown much more quickly in London, southeast England and the West Midlands than in other parts of the country since 1994, according to data published by the Office for National Statistics on Friday.An hour of work in London produced 46.33 pounds ($59.70) of nominal gross value added in 2018, making it the most productive region of the country, despite a more subdued performance since the financial crisis.In the north, Yorkshire and the Humber on the other hand generated just 29.68 pounds, with real hourly output barely higher than it was 14 years ago. The average gap between the British capital and other regions was about 45%.Johnson won the general election by picking up votes in former industrial heartlands in the north and midlands on a promise to “get Brexit done.”These areas are traditional strongholds of the opposition Labour Party, and Johnson now needs to address their sense of being economically marginalized to retain their support. Productivity growth is vital for lifting economic output and boosting pay packets.The prime minister’s first budget on March 11 is expected to include billions of pounds for infrastructure projects such as railways, roads and broadband networks to help deliver on his promise to “level up” poorer regions.Productivity in 2018 was highest in London’s Tower Hamlets, home to the Canary Wharf financial district and technology starts-ups, followed by Swindon and North Hampshire in southern England. It was lowest in Powys in rural Wales, North Northamptonshire in the East Midlands and Bradford in northern England.To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Atkinson in London at a.atkinson@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Fergal O'Brien at fobrien@bloomberg.net, Brian Swint, Lucy MeakinFor 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.

    Sat, 29 Feb 2020 02:00:00 -0500
  • Biden looks for first 2020 victory in South Carolina primary

    Golocal247.com news

    The Democrats' 2020 nominating fight turned to South Carolina on Saturday for the first-in-the-South primary, with Joe Biden confident that his popularity with black voters will seal him a victory and help blunt some of front-runner Bernie Sanders' momentum. The primary stands as the first marker on a critical four-day stretch that will help determine whether the party rallies behind Sanders or embraces a longer and uglier slog that could carry on until the national convention. “Only two things are going to happen: either Bernie or brokered,” said James Carville, a veteran Democratic strategist.

    Sat, 29 Feb 2020 00:02:41 -0500
  • Bahrain threatens untested from Iran with arrest amid virus

    Golocal247.com news

    Bahrain on Saturday threatened legal prosecution against travelers who came from Iran and hadn't been tested for the new coronavirus, and also barred public gatherings for two weeks as confirmed cases across the wider Mideast grew to over 520. The tiny island nation off the coast of Saudi Arabia has been hard-hit with cases and shut down flights to halt the spread of the virus, which causes the illness named COVID-19 by experts. All of Bahrain's cases link back to Iran, whose death toll of 34 killed is the worst outside of China, the epicenter of the virus.

    Sat, 29 Feb 2020 00:00:34 -0500
  • Russian opposition to protest Putin's 'leader-for-life' reforms

    Golocal247.com news

    Russia's opposition on Saturday holds its first major protest since President Vladimir Putin in January announced plans which critics fear will help him stay in power after his mandate ends in 2024. The rally marks five years since the assassination of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov but its organisers want the event to also send a message to Putin after he proposed major constitutional changes. Many see the protest as a test of society's willingness to push back against Putin's apparent plans to extend his grip on power.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 23:55:51 -0500
  • South Korea virus cases surge as WHO sounds maximum alert

    Golocal247.com news

    South Korea reported on Saturday its biggest surge in new coronavirus cases and concerns grew of a possible epidemic in the United States as the World Health Organization raised its risk alert to its highest level. The virus has rapidly spread across the world over the past week, causing stock markets to sink to their lowest levels since the 2008 global financial crisis over fears that the disease could wreak havoc on the world economy. The vast majority of infections have been in China but more daily cases are now logged outside the country, with South Korea, Italy and Iran emerging as major focal points.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 23:32:29 -0500
  • Mexico Has Three Coronavirus Cases, Health Officials Say

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg) -- Health officials confirmed three coronavirus cases in Mexico, all with mild symptoms and likely from the same source, according to remarks from a press conference late Friday.The first patient whose case was confirmed, a 35-year-old man, has been put in quarantine along with family members in the country’s Institute of Epidemiological Diagnosis and Reference for further testing, deputy health minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said at the National Palace in a morning press conference.The man is a resident of Mexico City who took a trip to Italy in February. His case was the first confirmed in Mexico, and the second known instance in Latin America after Brazil confirmed a case on Wednesday.“We have the capacity to deal with the situation,” President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said at the morning press conference.The man traveled to Bergamo, Italy, for a conference, where he had direct contact with an infected Italian national who normally lives in Malaysia.The second case, in the northern state of Sinaloa, is a 41-year-old man who also traveled to Italy, said Efren Encinas Torres, the state’s health minister in an interview on Radio Formula. That patient is in isolation, as is a colleague he traveled with, who has not presented any symptoms.Local health officials sent details to the national agency for confirmation.Health officials confirmed a third case, a 59-year-old man who’s also in Mexico City. All three patients likely contracted the virus from the same source, said Health Ministry official Jose Luis Alomia in a press conference Friday night. Lopez-Gatell said Mexico’s plan is to prepare for small outbreaks in communities over a prolonged period that could last many months.Separately, Lopez-Gatell said that a cruise ship that had been stopped in Cozumel on suspicion of possible infection had no cases aboard and that passengers would be allowed to disembark.Worldwide, more than 83,000 cases have been confirmed and deaths from the virus have topped 2,800 people. On Friday, Iran, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands and the U.K. all reported new infections. Nigeria confirmed the first infection south of the Sahara desert.The Mexican peso fell 0.7% to end the day at 19.6437 per dollar, its weakest close since October 2019. Mexico’s benchmark Mexbol stock index plunged 2.6% after the coronavirus news.(Adds details about third case. A previous version updated with information about the second case.)To contact the reporters on this story: Justin Villamil in Mexico City at jvillamil18@bloomberg.net;Lorena Rios in Mexico City at lriost@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Carolina Wilson at cwilson166@bloomberg.net, Nacha Cattan, Dale QuinnFor 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.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 23:14:26 -0500
  • Donald Trump 'prepared to hold' historic arms control talks with Russia and China

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    Donald Trump has told Moscow that the US is prepared to holding a summit with other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council in hopes of pushing for three-way arms control pact with Russia and China, a senior White House official has told Reuters. The New START treaty, the last major arms-control treaty remaining between the US and Russia, expires in 2021. There has been talk of negotiating an extension to the existing treaty, but the White House thinks the next generation of arms control must also include China, which is expected to more than double its stockpile during the next decade. Russia has asked the US to extend the New START treaty for up to five years, but Moscow also has embraced the idea of bringing China into an agreement. The US and Russia have had three bilateral meetings, while Washington and Beijing have discussed having a similar dialogue, but the planned meeting would be the first time that representatives of all three countries would be at the same table discussing the issue.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 21:14:17 -0500
  • Democrats press Pompeo over Trump’s ‘failure’ of an Iran policy

    Golocal247.com news

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo got an earful on the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 19:55:38 -0500
  • U.S. candidates, world leaders ignore Venezuela’s crisis. Shame on them! | Opinion

    Golocal247.com news

    While watching the last Democratic debate before Super Tuesday, I wondered why Venezuela’s humanitarian tragedy didn’t even come up in the discussion. The presidential hopefuls talked about Israel, Syria, North Korea and even Cuba’s 1960s education programs, but didn’t mention one of the world’s biggest crises.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 18:54:11 -0500
  • Trump pushing for three-way arms control with Russia, China

    Golocal247.com news

    The Trump administration has informed Moscow that the U.S. is open to holding a summit with other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council in hopes of pushing for three-way arms control pact with Russia and China, a senior administration official said Friday. The New START treaty, the last major arms-control treaty remaining between the U.S. and Russia, expires in 2021.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 17:44:21 -0500
  • Cyprus says Turkey deliberately sent it migrants for months

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    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 17:19:14 -0500
  • The Coronavirus Epidemic Is Xi Jinping’s Epic Fail

    Golocal247.com news

    HONG KONG—China’s President and Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping has been eager to cast himself as the driving force behind the country’s efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease it brings. Yet it’s clear, as new epicenters have emerged in South Korea, Iran, Italy, and Japan, that China has failed to contain the disease whose existence it was reluctant to acknowledge in the first place.Iran Can’t Hide Its Coronavirus Explosion, But It’s Trying Hard—and Putting the World in DangerThe World Health Organization has backed up Xi, heaping praise on him that goes beyond normal diplomatic language. Earlier this month, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that Xi embodies the “political commitment” and “political leadership” required to weather this crisis. (Note that China's financial contributions to the WHO are second only to the United States.) In the same obsequious vein, the WHO has refused to define the outbreak with the scary word “pandemic.” Instead, the health organization’s officials say the world should be “in a phase of preparedness” for such a thing.But the Chinese Communist Party has not been prepared, and its command structure is in disarray. To project the image of centralized order, Xi spoke to 170,000 officials via teleconference on Sunday, outlining a grand plan in China’s “war” to combat COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.Repeatedly, Chinese officials have made hash out of critical steps to prevent the sickness’ spread, because by the time they realize people are falling ill, it’s often on a scale that reflects their lack of preparedness, and party cadres fear that this may lead to reprisals from their superiors. CCP administrators are trained to enforce party diktats, not to handle rapidly evolving emergencies.Meanwhile the coronavirus has paralyzed the Chinese economy, sending shockwaves around the world. Markets are tanking. Workers in many countries are being placed on unpaid leave or even losing their jobs.Although China’s top epidemiologist, Zhong Nanshan, says that the outbreak will be brought under control by the end of April, experts on the other side of the globe have offered a very different view: the virus may infect 40 to 70 percent of people around the world in the next 12 months, according to Harvard epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch, quoted in The Atlantic. And while most people will recover or may not even exhibit symptoms, the elderly or individuals with existing health problems may face life-threatening situations.That's particularly worrisome in China, where a sense of self-preservation within the party structure overrides preventive measures, emergency responses, and common sense. A group of officials in Wuhan—the city that is the heart of the COVID-19 epidemic—said that visitors trapped in the city would be able to leave last Monday, Feb. 24, only to have their notice revoked three hours later. The Russian Models Instagramming From China’s Coronavirus CapitalPeople in Wuhan, mostly confined to their homes for more than a month now, asked: Who’s calling the shots? Why aren’t officials communicating with each other? And if the party and the government can’t figure out what to do next, where does that leave everyone?The retraction included statements like “Wuhan resolutely adheres to the spirit of Chinese President Xi” and the city “strictly controls every exit from Wuhan and the management of personnel.”So when a woman from the locked-down city somehow made her way to Beijing on Feb. 22, only to be diagnosed with COVID-19, there was confusion in the capital. (The woman is considered to be a mild case and has been placed under isolation and observation for 14 days.)Party cadres have been overwhelmingly concerned about managing the Chinese government’s image, prioritizing propaganda over public well-being at critical junctures.On Wednesday, Caixin, a Chinese publication that has been conducting deep investigations about the outbreak’s early days in Wuhan, revealed new information about how CCP gag work played a part in the virus’ spread by limiting public knowledge.Caixin reported that on Dec. 24, a virus sample taken from one of the first wave of patients was sent to a lab for genome sequencing. Results were ready three days later, but then health officials in Hubei ordered the samples destroyed on Jan. 1. Soon after, on Jan. 3, the National Health Commission centralized all tests related to the coronavirus, in turn limiting the number of confirmations that were reported each day.Unsurprisingly, that article has been taken off line, although screenshots of the text have been uploaded to Github.There have been more cover-ups by public officials in China. The warden of a prison in Jining, a city in northeastern China, is responsible for the virus spreading under his jurisdiction. The warden’s son traveled from Wuhan to Jining and infected him. He then carried the virus into the prison that he oversees. Soon after, at least seven guards and 207 prisoners became ill. The warden attempted to keep things quiet, so he hired 50 villagers to build an isolation ward. But news spread, and only then did he report the matter to his superiors and seek proper medical assistance for the prisoners.Elsewhere in the country, clustered infections emerged in other prisons—230 in a women’s prison in Wuhan, 41 at another facility within the same province, and 34 at a penitentiary in Zhejiang province on the eastern coast.Just two weeks ago, China’s National Health Commission was confirming thousands of new infections each day, but these were figures that health professionals around the world and doctors in China believe to be significantly lower than reality. Now, the daily addition is down to a few hundred, with dozens added to the official death toll each morning.The commission said that more than 3,000 doctors, nurses, and medical technicians have been infected with the virus, and at least nine have died.Globally, the coronavirus has killed more than 2,800 people.For now, little is known about the physical nature of the virus—exactly how it spreads, how quickly, and which conditions are ideal for cross-infection. People in China are referencing the timeline for the SARS outbreak in 2002 to 2003, when infection numbers in East Asia took a nosedive as soon as the weather warmed.But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is less certain that spring and summer climates are a mitigating factor: “At this time, it is not known whether the spread of COVID-19 will decrease when weather becomes warmer. There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing.”Previously, the virus’ incubation period was thought to be two weeks, but new cases suggest that it may be up to a month. What is known is that the virus is highly transmissible. As it finds new hosts outside of China, we’re increasingly seeing cases where patients have no direct link to China or other infected individuals.As we teeter toward a global pandemic, the coronavirus outbreak has shown us that no country in the world is prepared for a health crisis of this scale. Medical experts in the U.S. have warned that Americans should be ready to see a swell in the virus’ footprint in the country, where thousands already are being monitored for possible infection. Testing kits are in short supply, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said any vaccine for the coronavirus should be “affordable”—not free for the public.President Donald Trump’s reactions to the situation have been even more discouraging. He offered assurance—if it can be called such—that “there’s a very good chance you’re not going to die.” He appointed science rejector Mike Pence to oversee the government’s response, and is ignoring warnings from the CDC, much as the the Chinese Communist Party scorned early warnings by doctors in China.New infection numbers may be tapering in the People’s Republic, but there are still more than 40,000 patients in hospitals receiving treatment for COVID-19. Many more are stuck at home, toughing it out on their own. The virus is only beginning to pick up speed as it spreads around the globe. This outbreak is far from over, and we’re still weeks or months away from life returning to normal.Take Hong Kong as an example, where there are only 93 confirmed infections, and where two people have died from COVID-19. Many businesses have rotating work-from-home arrangements to limit the number of people who are in offices at the same time. Schools are closed until April 20, with possible extensions. Apartments in nearly 5,900 residential buildings are undergoing two-week quarantines because of residents or visitors who have arrived from mainland China, including the building I am in as I write this.While Xi issues decrees in Beijing, officials around China are scrambling to keep up with the disease, at times in ways that are jeopardizing public safety. Chinese state-run media have said the party’s “sacrifices” are keeping the world safe, but the spin is convincing no one.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.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 17:13:28 -0500
  • Q&A: Emerging picture of virus shows world at critical stage

    Golocal247.com news

    The global spread of infection from the new virus reached a critical stage this week with the number of new cases reported in the rest of the world surpassing the number of new cases in China, where the emergency began. Reflecting how tourism and business travel unite the planet, Antarctica is the only continent with no reported cases of the illness COVID-19. Troubling outbreaks in South Korea, Japan, Italy and Iran have seeded cases elsewhere as travelers bring the virus home with them.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 17:04:55 -0500
  • US, Taliban set peace signing for America's longest war

    Golocal247.com news

    America's longest war may finally be nearing an end. The United States and the Islamists it toppled from power in Afghanistan are poised to sign a peace deal Saturday after a conflict that outlasted two U.S. commanders in chief and is now led by a third eager to fulfill a campaign promise to extricate America from “endless wars." More than 18 years since President George W. Bush ordered bombing in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the agreement will set the stage for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, some of whom were not yet born when the World Trade Center collapsed on that crisp, sunny morning that changed how Americans see the world.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 16:33:00 -0500
  • Many Venezuelans struggle to put food on the table in crisis

    Golocal247.com news

    For Yeri Guerra, getting by during hard times in Venezuela means sometimes skipping meals so her two young boys still at home can eat before heading to school. According to a survey recently published by the U.N. World Food Program, one of every three Venezuelans cope with food insecurity, unable to get enough to meet their basic dietary needs. In an apparent shift for Venezuela, people surveyed said food is now available in a country once riddled by shortages, but it's more difficult to afford because they've lost their jobs as Venezuela's crisis deepens.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 16:11:57 -0500
  • The big crunch: For 2020 Dems, March is key in delegate race

    Golocal247.com news

    March is crunch time for Democratic presidential candidates, with a nominee likely to emerge over the next several weeks, if not sooner. If one candidate can emerge from Super Tuesday with a significant lead in the delegate count, it would be very difficult for anyone to catch up. Bernie Sanders is the clear front-runner after winning New Hampshire and Nevada, and essentially tying with Pete Buttigieg in Iowa.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 15:54:28 -0500
  • 210 people have reportedly died from coronavirus in Iran, but the government is saying the death toll is only 34

    Golocal247.com news

    The death toll in Iran from the novel coronavirus could be far higher than the government is letting on.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 15:52:11 -0500
  • NOT REAL NEWS: An outbreak of virus-related misinformation

    Golocal247.com news

    In this week's roundup of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week, we focus on false and misleading reports spreading online around the new coronavirus outbreak, a situation the World Health Organization has dubbed an “infodemic.” China attempted to contain COVID-19 that emerged in Wuhan in late 2019 through travel restrictions and city lockdowns, but the virus has now spread to 50 countries and infected more than 83,000 people. False posts online have distorted symptoms of the virus and peddled miracle cures.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 15:51:58 -0500
  • 'Bernie or brokered': Democratic race at critical crossroads

    Golocal247.com news

    The Democrats' 2020 primary season enters a critical four-day stretch that will help determine whether the party rallies behind Bernie Sanders or embraces a longer and uglier slog that could carry on until the national convention. This marks a dangerous moment for a political party desperate to replace President Donald Trump but deeply conflicted over whether Sanders, the undisputed Democratic front-runner and a self-described democratic socialist, is too extreme to defeat the Republican president. “Only two things are going to happen: either Bernie or brokered,” said James Carville, a veteran Democratic strategist.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 15:38:38 -0500
  • China Spins Coronavirus Crisis, Hailing Itself as a Global Leader

    Golocal247.com news

    The Chinese government silenced whistleblowers, withheld crucial information and played down the threat posed by the new coronavirus, allowing an epidemic that has killed thousands to take hold across the country.Now the ruling Communist Party, facing a storm of anger from the Chinese public over its missteps, is trying to rehabilitate its image by rebranding itself as the unequivocal leader in the global fight against the virus.The state-run news media has hailed China's response to the outbreak as a model for the world, accusing countries like the United States and South Korea of acting sluggishly to contain the spread."Some countries slow to respond to virus," read a recent headline from Global Times, a stridently nationalistic tabloid controlled by the Chinese government.Online influencers have trumpeted China's use of Mao-style social controls to achieve containment, using the hashtag, "The Chinese method is the only method that has proved successful."Party officials have tried to spin the crisis as a testament to the strength of China's authoritarian system and its hard-line leader, Xi Jinping, even announcing plans to publish a book in six languages about the outbreak that portrays him as a "major power leader" with "care for the people."The attempt to rebrand is a gamble for Xi and the party.Xi, China's most influential leader since former Communist Chairman Mao Zedong, has made it a priority to expand the country's economic and military might around the world and to demonstrate that China can play the role of responsible superpower.The coronavirus outbreak has undermined those global ambitions and the propaganda push suggests the party might be worried about lasting damage. And as the virus spreads to over 50 countries and wreaks havoc on global markets, experts said the campaign could revive concerns about China's secretive approach to managing the crisis."The danger for Xi Jinping is that as the virus spreads globally, the role that China's system of governance played in delaying a timely response will face growing scrutiny and criticism from the international community," said Elizabeth Economy, a senior fellow and director of Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.The rebranding appears to be "a last-ditch effort by Xi to deflect blame and avoid a demand by the international community for an honest accounting of what actually transpired," she added.China is still deep in the throes of a public health crisis, with more than 78,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and at least 2,700 deaths. Factories in many areas have halted production, and authorities have imposed lockdown measures across much of the country, beginning in January in the central city of Wuhan, the center of the outbreak.The government is now working to promote the idea that international experts enthusiastically endorse its approach.A recent story by Xinhua, a state-run news agency, featured experts from several allies of China, including Russia, Cuba and Belarus, lavishing praise on Chinese leaders for showing "openness" and a "highly responsible attitude" in dealing with the outbreak.Memes have circulated featuring recent praise from a World Health Organization expert for China's efforts. One shows the expert and a quote from a recent news conference in which he said he would want to be treated in China if he were infected with the virus.A Twitter post by Xinhua on Thursday asked which part of China's fight against the epidemic was most impressive. The choices included "spirit of self-sacrifice" and "solidarity among Chinese."Eager to highlight the country's successes, Chinese officials and commentators are encouraging other countries to deploy Beijing's playbook in fighting the outbreak, including its strict lockdown measures."The homework that Chinese people wrote with their blood and sweat is right in front of your very eyes, and you aren't capable of copying it?" said one post widely circulated on WeChat, a messaging app.Some in the party are directing their criticism at the United States, a popular foe, accusing U.S. officials of "slandering" China by focusing on the shortcomings in its response. They have argued that the U.S. political system is not capable of dealing effectively with an outbreak."China has acted as a responsible big country," said an article this week in Global Times. "Nonetheless, due to ideological and political prejudice against China, American elites don't believe China's moves and experience are reliable and helpful."The party has sought to play up themes of patriotism and sacrifice and to reframe the crisis as a heroic battle against the virus with Xi at the helm. News sites show photos of medical workers stationed at airports, with the word "attack" splashed across the images in bright red letters. Cartoons circulating online depict doctors and security officials marching in step alongside the words, "We will win this battle!"Authorities have dispatched hundreds of state-sponsored journalists to produce sentimental stories about front-line doctors and nurses. Communist groups have created cartoon mascots meant to stir patriotic feelings.That approach has often provoked blowback from the public. By trying to reframe the crisis as a vindication of the party's governance model, propaganda officials appear to be trying out yet another message.David Bandurski, co-director of the China Media Project, a research program affiliated with the University of Hong Kong, said the party appeared to be in crisis and unsure how to grapple with a relentless outpouring of criticism."They really don't know how to respond to an ongoing event of this magnitude," he said. "There is a lot of inconsistency. And many efforts to gain control of public opinion only throw these problems into sharp relief."Xi appears eager to reframe the crisis as a triumph for the party and a vindication of his efforts to strengthen its control over everyday life in China.He told a teleconference meeting of 170,000 party cadres Sunday that a recent decline in infections "once again demonstrated the notable advantages of the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics."Xi has proved to be an agile political operator, and he has emerged from other crises relatively unscathed. But with the public still fuming over the outbreak, he is likely to face lingering questions about the party's credibility and his leadership, experts said.Wu Qiang, a political analyst in Beijing and a critic of the party, said a propaganda campaign was unlikely to satisfy the public."It is difficult to believe that the Chinese Communist Party has played the role of a hero or leader in the so-called coronavirus prevention in the world," he said.He added that Xi would most likely struggle to regain trust."This crisis has caused a fatal blow to Xi Jinping's personal image," he said. "For a long time to come, the public will continue to doubt him, and this doubt is irreparable."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 15:20:16 -0500
  • Germany to Intensify Border Checks in Effort to Contain Virus

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg) -- Germany announced a slew of measures aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus by people coming into the country from affected areas.A German government task force dealing with the crisis announced late on Friday plans to intensify health checks for cross-border travel into the country, and said travelers arriving from South Korea, Japan, Italy and Iran must declare their health status upon arrival. Passengers from China are already required to do so.Train passengers entering Germany must also fill out forms declaring their health status, while rail operators will be required to reported symptomatic travelers to German authorities.The task force also said large events such as next week’s ITB tourism trade fair in Berlin should be canceled. The ITB previously announced that it had scrapped the event, which would have brought 160,000 visitors to Berlin.To contact the reporters on this story: Patrick Donahue in Berlin at pdonahue1@bloomberg.net;Naomi Kresge in Berlin at nkresge@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Chad ThomasFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 15:18:16 -0500
  • Liberal gun owners face dilemma in 2020 field

    Golocal247.com news

    Like many liberals, Lara Smith considers herself a feminist, favors abortion rights and believes the nation’s immigration policies under the Trump administration have just been “vile.” Smith and liberal gun owners like her face a quandary as voting in the Democratic primary intensifies with Super Tuesday next week. “You’re alienating a huge part of your constituency,” Smith says of the Democratic field’s gun proposals.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 14:35:41 -0500
  • Pompeo savaged by Democrats on Capitol Hill over coronavirus, Iran

    Golocal247.com news

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo faced intense criticism Friday from Democrats on Capitol Hill, who questioned him on the Trump administration's response to the growing coronavirus threat, as well as the persistent threat from foes like Iran.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 14:19:15 -0500
  • Bloomberg Pledges to De-Escalate U.S. Trade Tensions with China

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    (Bloomberg) -- Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is pledging to de-escalate trade tensions with China and negotiate lower tariffs on soybeans, cotton and other goods as part of an agriculture policy he said will prioritize cooperation with allies to pressure Beijing.Bloomberg says in a proposal released Friday that while President Donald Trump is touting the initial phase of a trade deal with China signed last month, his trade war has slashed U.S. farm exports, especially soybeans, that are unlikely to recover as much as promised.Trump’s $28 billion in aid to farmers may help some in the short term, but long-term U.S. trading relationships have been damaged and farmers are hurting financially, he said.“Donald Trump’s trade war has been devastating for America’s farmers, causing farm debt and farm bankruptcies to reach record highs,” Bloomberg said in a statement.(Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)Bloomberg said he would prioritize cooperation with allies and the World Trade Organization and respond to what he called China’s unfair trade practices such as high tariffs, subsidies and forced technology transfers “by leading international efforts to pressure the country to change its ways.”The former New York mayor pledged to open new international and domestic markets for U.S. farm products but didn’t provide specifics about how he would do it.Bloomberg is also promising to promote more competition in the agricultural industry and “combat farming monopolies,” including by requiring the Justice Department to subject mergers and acquisitions to greater scrutiny and review recent deals.As part of his policy, Bloomberg proposes at least doubling the $2.5 billion in annual federal investment in agricultural research and expanding funding for conservation programs to reduce pollution and emissions.Bloomberg was challenged at the South Carolina Democratic presidential debate this week about an earlier comment that Chinese President Xi Jinping “is not a dictator.” The next night, in a CNN town hall, he said as president he would pressure China on human rights abuses, but again stopped short of calling Xi a dictator.To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Niquette in Columbus at mniquette@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, Magan CraneFor 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.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 13:50:40 -0500
  • Amazon defers 'non-essential' moves even in U.S. as corporate travel bans spread

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    Coronavirus fears have intensified in recent days since countries besides China have reported a sharp increase in cases, with six countries reporting their first cases. Amazon is one of the latest companies to clamp down on travel because of the outbreak, which has caused at least 2,797 deaths globally. Google is banning travel to Iran and two Italian regions, Lombardy and the Veneto, where the virus is spreading.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 13:18:57 -0500
  • Court suspends ruling blocking sending migrants to Mexico

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    A 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel voted unanimously Friday to suspend an order it issued earlier in the day to block a central pillar of the Trump administration’s policy requiring asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases wind through U.S. courts. The three-judge panel told the government to file written arguments by the end of Monday and for the plaintiffs to respond by the end of Tuesday. The Justice Department said at least 25,000 asylum seekers subject to the policy are currently waiting in Mexico and expressed “massive and irreparable national-security of public-safety concerns.”

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 12:57:24 -0500
  • U.N. chief says window for containment of coronavirus narrowing

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    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 12:52:39 -0500
  • UN envoy says Libya truce nearly broke down amid fighting

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    The U.N. envoy for Libya on Friday denounced the near breakdown of a fragile truce between the country’s warring sides, citing a “serious violation” over the last 24 hours — attacks on the capital including an early morning shelling of Tripoli’s airport. Ghassan Salame, hosting diplomatic talks in Geneva, also exposed a rift within delegations representing Libya's internationally recognized government in Tripoli and the eastern-based government allied with ex-general Khalifa Hifter. Salame has been mediating three-tiered talks on economic, political and military tracks since an agreement to launch them last month, hoping to end violence and troubles in Libya since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 12:06:06 -0500
  • Iran reports 8 new coronavirus deaths, raising toll to 34

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    Iran on Friday reported eight new deaths from coronavirus, raising its toll to 34, as the number of infections jumped again in the Islamic republic, one of the worst-hit countries. Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 143 cases had been detected over the past 24 hours, increasing the total of confirmed infections to 388. "We are currently in a phase in which infections are increasing," he said, predicting that the situation "will continue for some days, even weeks".

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 12:05:41 -0500
  • Sanders-linked group entered into racial discrimination NDA

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    A political advocacy group founded by Bernie Sanders entered into a nondisclosure agreement with an African American political consultant that bars her from discussing a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination at the organization and the Vermont senator's 2016 presidential campaign. The consultant, Tezlyn Figaro, confirmed the existence of the nondisclosure agreement to The Associated Press without providing additional details. The deal is tied to a 2019 lawsuit in which Figaro said she was fired from the Sanders-created political group Our Revolution a year earlier due to her race and in “retaliation for complaining about the organization’s treatment towards her and African-Americans.”

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 11:55:45 -0500
  • UN chief urges Syria cease-fire but Russia and China oppose

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    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 11:10:48 -0500
  • Kosovo’s Bid to Lift Serb Trade Embargo Draws U.S. Rebuke

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    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 11:02:58 -0500
  • Why is Iran's reported mortality rate for coronavirus higher than in other countries?

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    Iran has now suspended parliament indefinitely due to the outbreak. Secretary of State Pompeo says the U.S. has offered to help Iran respond to the virus.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 10:53:33 -0500
  • Dems joust with Pompeo at hearing, the 1st since impeachment

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    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended the Trump administration's response to the spreading coronavirus but also faced contentious questions Friday from Democrats about the basis for an airstrike that killed Iran's most powerful general and whether the attack had put American security at risk. Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee repeatedly expressed frustration that the panel was afforded only two hours to question Pompeo, who until Friday had gone months without testifying publicly on Capitol Hill.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 10:26:20 -0500
  • Former Prague Muslim leader sentenced on terror charges

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    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 09:42:54 -0500
  • U.S. sees significant reduction in Afghan violence over last six days

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    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 09:29:08 -0500
  • Mexico confirms first 2 cases of coronavirus

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    Mexico's assistant health secretary announced Friday that the country now has two confirmed cases of the new coronavirus. Hugo Lopez-Gatell said one of the patients is in Mexico City and the other in the northern state of Sinaloa. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador appeared to downplay the seriousness of the COVID-19 virus, saying “it isn't even equivalent to flu."

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 08:35:04 -0500
  • France Mocks U.K. Threats on Trade Talks as ‘For the Birds’

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    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 08:18:08 -0500
  • The Political Pundits of the Future Are on TikTok

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    As Twitter and Facebook continue to dominate conversations about social media and the 2020 presidential election, TikTok is quietly becoming a political force.Teenagers in America -- many of them too young to vote -- are forming political coalitions on TikTok to campaign for their chosen candidates, post news updates and fact check opponents. They are sharing real-time commentary for an audience that is far more likely to watch YouTube videos than turn on a cable news channel.In a sense, these TikTok users are building short-form TV networks, each with a cast of talking heads. On TikTok they're called hype houses, named after the high-powered influencer collab house in Los Angeles. These political houses are not physical homes, but virtual, ideological ones represented by group accounts.There are conservative-leaning houses (@conservativehypehouse, @theconservativehypehouse, @TikTokrepublicans and @therepublicanhypehouse, which amassed more than 217,000 followers in under a month) and liberal ones (@liberalhypehouse, @leftist.hype.house). There are also bipartisan houses, for users who love discourse, and undecided houses, for those who aren't sure what or whom they love."I do feel like TikTok is cable news for young people," said Sterling Cade Lewis, 19, who has nearly 100,000 followers. "CNN and Fox and big-name news media, those are all geared toward people who have honestly grown up with a longer attention span."TikToks, on the other hand, run a maximum of 60 seconds; most videos are as short as 15. "Being able to make shorter videos and educational clips, it's easier to connect with a younger generation who's just swiping through their phones 24/7," Lewis said.In recent months, content on TikTok has been getting more political. Before the general election in Britain in December, TikTok users there voiced their opinions on Brexit through popular formats, including lip syncs, skits and "checks" (self-assessments, essentially). In the United States, political videos have revolved around the Trump administration, the Democratic presidential primary and the general presidential election in November.The nickname "Mayo Pete," for example, was popularized on TikTok, as was a popular meme about Mike Pence, suggesting that he is in favor of gay conversion therapy. (Vice President Pence is opposed to same-sex marriage, but he has never voiced support for conversion therapy.). Political hype houses were born out of this enthusiasm for election-related content.Political TikToks often rely on popular trends and dances. In one video, Kyndal, 14 and a member of @liberalhypehouse, does a dance as she points to statistics about President Donald Trump's history of racist comments.For the most part, these videos revolve around two candidates: Bernie Sanders and Trump. "The Republican hype houses all root for Trump, and the liberal hype houses all root for Bernie," said Javon Fonville, 19, the founder of the progressive hype house (handle: @votebernie2020).Many users are campaigning hard, especially because they may not be of voting age in time for Nov. 3. "I feel like I am making an impact on the election even though I can't vote," Izzy, 17, said of her pro-Sanders TikToks.Many of these creators look up to YouTube's political commentators and have sought to replicate their success on TikTok, where growth can happen rapidly. Benjamin Williams, 19, said the platform is ideal for the kind of videos he wants to make and the audience he hopes to reach. "A lot of political stuff is on Facebook and Twitter, but Gen Z isn't really into that stuff," he said. "With TikTok you can put politics into comedy and have someone their age talking like they're a friend."Williams said he is inspired by YouTubers like Steven Crowder, Tim Pool and Paul Joseph Watson, a prominent far-right personality and Infowars contributor who is known for spreading conspiracy theories.Speaking of which: TikTok has struggled to prevent conspiracy theories from spreading across the app. Media Matters, a nonprofit, recently issued a report on the platform's role in spreading false information on the coronavirus."It worries me a lot that some of these videos have 1 million views," Kyndal, of @liberalhypehouse, said, referring to the misinformation on the platform. "Knowing that 1 million impressionable teens have seen this video and chosen to believe or not believe it."A TikTok spokeswoman wrote in an email: "We encourage our users to have respectful conversations about the subjects that matter to them. However, our Community Guidelines do not permit misinformation that could cause harm to our community or the larger public."For many members of political hype houses, tamping down on misinformation is a top concern. When various accounts began citing the claim that Sanders intended to tax Americans making more than $29,000 a year at a rate higher than 50%, Jordan Tirona, 19, responded with a video debunking it.Though they disagree on major issues, members of different political groups frequently engage with each other. Their videos often go viral when they "duet" on major issues. (Duetting is a feature on TikTok that allows users to respond to videos with videos of their own and post them side by side.)The @republicanhypehouse and @liberalhypehouse accounts frequently duet over health care reform and corporate tax rates. TikTokers across the partisan divide also take part in livestreamed debates on TikTok.Cam Higby, 20, the founder of the bipartisan hype house who also posts under @republicanism, said that ultimately he wants to build a platform on TikTok where anyone can promote their opinions, whether they're on the right or left. He livestreams himself for hours, debating people on TikTok and Discord.Many members of Gen Z will be voting for the first time in the 2020 presidential election. Those who can't have been taking political action in other ways, especially on social media."I think it's cool when you have people who are like 14 trying to get involved in politics and educate themselves," Higby said. "Those are the people -- they're not voting this year, but they'll be voting within the next term."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 08:17:50 -0500
  • Coronavirus Diagnosis in California Highlights Testing Flaws

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    Already in deep distress, the patient was rushed last week to a hospital in Northern California, severely ill and unable to breathe on her own.Doctors at the University of California, Davis Medical Center, near Sacramento, provided the woman with critical care but also considered an unlikely diagnosis: infection with the coronavirus.Hospital administrators said they immediately requested diagnostic testing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the procedure was not carried out because the case did not qualify under strict federal criteria: She had not traveled to China and had not been in contact with anyone known to be infected.The announcement on Wednesday that the woman was indeed infected left health officials in California searching for people she may have exposed to the virus and testing the medical workers who have treated her. The case has raised difficult questions about whom to test and whether the nation is prepared to keep the virus under control.The California woman's case may also offer the first indication that the virus has spread beyond Americans who had traveled outside the country, or had contact with someone who had.Even before the announcement on Wednesday, frustration had been mounting among health providers and medical experts that the agency was testing too few Americans, which may slow preparations for an outbreak and may obscure the scope of infections."I think the diagnostic issue is the single most important thing that keeps me up at night right now," said Lauren Sauer, director of operations at the Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response in Baltimore.CDC officials said on Thursday that they had been unaware that doctors in California made an urgent appeal for diagnostic testing of the woman. But by the end of the day, the agency had revised and broadened its testing criteria, adding to the number of Americans who qualify.In California, health officials are tracing close contacts of the woman, who lives in Solano County but has not otherwise been identified. Health care workers who have treated her are being monitored for the infection, and some employees at the medical center have been told to stay home.Officials are bracing for a larger outbreak in Northern California. "There's almost assuredly going to be a significant number of people testing positive," said Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, the director of Sacramento County's Department of Health Services.The case has heightened concerns about the nation's ability to test large numbers of people. Only the CDC performs the tests that confirm a novel coronavirus diagnosis, a process that often takes days.The CDC had distributed diagnostic testing kits to state health departments, but they turned out to be flawed. Replacement kits have not yet been distributed.Sauer said Johns Hopkins had treated several patients who did not fit the testing criteria, and for whom it requested coronavirus testing. In all but one case, the hospital was able to persuade the CDC to run a test, or eventually identify another cause for the patient's illness.The CDC is "pretty much the only place we can access testing," she added, and the agency has been unwilling to grapple with cases that don't fit its criteria."The idea that we would have to really fight to get that test done, when CDC is saying they have capacity, is alarming," Sauer said."It is a challenge when the most important piece of information -- does this person have this disease, yes or no -- is not accessible, and there's no timeline for improved accessibility," she said.After the diagnosis in California, the CDC has pledged to greatly expand the state's ability to test patients for the coronavirus, officials said."Testing protocols have been a point of frustration for many of us," Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a news conference Thursday. California had just 200 testing kits left, he added.The governor said that Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the CDC, had promised that state physicians would have a much greater ability to test patients who were showing symptoms, a change the governor said "can't happen soon enough."The CDC has committed to sending a team to California to help track people and make sure they are contacted by health officials about their possible exposure, Newsom said."They are being interviewed -- points of contact, family members and others," he said.Experts said they were perplexed by the CDC's inability to fix the test's flaws."The obvious observation is that many countries are capable of testing rather widely," said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. "Why can't we?"The CDC operates two laboratories that test for the coronavirus and can handle approximately 400 specimens per day. Agency officials say there is no testing backlog, but it is unclear whether the labs will be able to keep up with demand if the need -- and eligibility -- increases testing substantially.Under the new federal criteria, people with respiratory symptoms who traveled to Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea should be tested -- not just those who traveled in China. So should severely ill patients with acute lower respiratory symptoms who are hospitalized and in whom other diagnoses have been ruled out.A criticism of the new criteria, however, is that doctors will have to wait until someone is extremely ill to test for the virus if that person did not travel to the affected regions or had contact with a known case."If we could identify these people earlier who don't specifically meet one of the two criteria, or some sort of broader travel criteria, we could get them tested," Sauer said. "You have to wait until someone's really sick to push that test now, even with this new criteria."Kenneth E. Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association, said he planned to appeal to Vice President Mike Pence -- whom President Donald Trump named to lead federal preparations -- "to order the CDC to develop a rapid point of care test" that hospitals could use to screen patients.In the meantime, Raske said, the Wadsworth Center, New York's public health reference laboratory, should be certified to do these tests.If more community-acquired infections turn up, and the disease cannot be contained, the strategy will have to become one of mitigation, said Dr. Neil Fishman, associate chief medical officer for the University of Pennsylvania Health System."That's a little difficult to do when you don't have a readily available test, and when the turnaround time for the test can be days instead of hours," he said.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 08:16:37 -0500
  • Afghan ex-leader welcomes peace deal; criticizes US legacy

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    On the eve of a potentially historic deal with the U.S. and the Taliban to end 18 years of war in Afghanistan, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai welcomed the signing of the agreement, thanked Americans for their generosity, but had harsh words for the U.S. government and military. “To the American people our message is we are grateful for the help that you gave us in areas where there has been a lot of improvement in Afghan society, together with the rest of the international community,” Karzai told The Associated Press in an interview Friday in the Afghan capital of Kabul . The deal to be signed Saturday in Qatar is to provide for the eventual withdrawal of America's 13,000 troops, as well as for negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government and other prominent Afghan leaders.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 07:29:04 -0500
  • Brexit Was Tough. The Next 10 Months Look No Easier

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    (Bloomberg) -- Think four years of political noise over Brexit will subside now that the European Union and Britain are set at last to kick-off negotiations on their future trade relationship? Think again.Politics will be at the forefront of the EU-U.K. talks due to begin on Monday in Brussels. As a result, businesses must take seriously the risk of tariffs and quotas on two-way trade reemerging as of January 2021, when the post-Brexit transition that maintains the economic status quo is due to end.Traditionally, the politicians spend months, even years, grandstanding and promising the electorate prosperity from their proposed policies, then hand things off to the technocrats to toil away in obscurity on hundreds of pages of minutia contained in your average trade deal.But the past week has offered plenty of evidence of the political fireworks to come in EU-British ties over the coming months. It started with each side accusing the other of ditching past promises and ended with the U.K. government threatening to abandon talks halfway through the year.Political divergences over the whole matter belie economic similarities that result from Britain’s almost half-century of EU membership. Like a couple whose long marriage ends without mutual consent, London and Brussels know each other well and their haggles reflect not misunderstandings but rather principle, pride and posturing.The central sticking point is an EU call on the U.K. to continue following the bloc’s rules in policy areas such as state aid, the environment and employment. For Prime Minister Boris Johnson, such a demand for a “level playing field” is tantamount to disregarding the will of the 52% of voters who backed Brexit in the 2016 referendum (and of those who handed him a landslide election victory in December).The degree of future U.K. regulatory alignment with the EU is essentially a technocratic question with high political stakes. Consequently, even with skilled negotiators seeking imaginative solutions, the issue is a potential deal-breaker that would leave both sides imposing tariffs and quotas on each other’s goods by defaulting to basic World Trade Organization arrangements.So stay buckled up for the next bruising phase. The Brexit drama is done, long live the Brexit drama!(To sign up for Bloomberg’s daily Brexit Bulletin, click here.)Charting the Trade WarAmerican sorghum sales soared to a five-year high as the grain proves to be one of the few big crop winners seeing a significant demand boost from the newly enacted U.S.-China trade pact. Net export sales climbed to 444,500 metric tons in the week ended Feb. 20, government data show. It’s the first week of reporting since the phase-one deal between Washington and Beijing went into force. Today’s Must ReadsGlobal slowdown | The world economy may be heading for its worst performance since the financial crisis more than a decade ago as the spread of the coronavirus increasingly dashes hopes of a swift rebound. Searching for clues | On Saturday, China will give the biggest insight yet into how much the coronavirus is hurting its economy, with a key gauge of manufacturing activity set to plunge. Factory disruptions | More than 40% of manufacturers across parts of America’s heartland see negative effects from the coronavirus, according to a survey released by the Kansas City Fed. Slow progress | The economic impact of an Africa-wide deal to establish the world’s largest free-trade area will probably be very modest in the first few years, according an architect of the pact. Splintering NATO | President Donald Trump’s call for a crackdown on Huawei is bleeding into broader questions about ties with some of America’s most steadfast allies since the end of World War II. Economic AnalysisFreight fright | Air-freight volume will struggle with stalled manufacturing and diminished trade cargo. Back to work | China’s economy continues to crawl back, but still has a long way to go to get fully back in business. Coming UpMarch 1: South Korea trade balance March 6: Canadian merchandise trade March 7: China trade balanceTo contact the author of this story: Jonathan Stearns in Brussels at jstearns2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Brendan Murray at brmurray@bloomberg.net, Zoe SchneeweissFor 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.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 07:00:19 -0500
  • Fire kills 5 in residential building in Iranian city of Qom

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    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 04:57:17 -0500
  • Africa May Only See Impact of New Free-Trade Deal After 3 Years

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    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 04:10:08 -0500
  • Prayers at fire-bombed mosques as India's riot toll grows

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    Muslims in a northeastern neighborhood of India's capital returned for weekly prayers at fire-bombed mosques on Friday, two days after a 72-hour clash between Hindus and Muslims that left at least 40 dead and hundreds injured. Five days after the riots started, authorities have not said what sparked the worst communal violence in New Delhi in decades. Tensions between Hindu hard-liners and Muslims protesting the Hindu-first policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government had been building for months when the violence exploded Sunday night, on the eve of U.S. President Donald Trump's first state visit to India.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 04:06:59 -0500
  • Parents of 'terrified' Africans stranded in China want help

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    She wakes every day long before dawn to chat with her three stranded daughters on the other side of the world in China's locked-down city of Wuhan, anxious to see they have started a new day virus-free. “If I don’t get a reply it worries me, but if I get a reply from any of them I say, ‘’Thank you, Jesus,'" Margaret Ntale said. Many countries evacuated citizens from Wuhan after the virus outbreak started there, but thousands of students from African countries have been left behind.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 04:01:51 -0500
  • Hong Kong Tycoon Lai Arrested in Fresh Crackdown on Activists

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    (Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong media tycoon and a prominent democracy advocate Jimmy Lai, who has long denounced as a traitor by Chinese state media, was among activists swept up in a fresh wave of arrests in the Asian financial hub.Lai, 72, was arrested Friday on suspicion of participating in an unlawful assembly last year and intimidating a reporter in 2017, Hong Kong Superintendent Wong Tung-kwong said. He was given police bail and TV footage showed him leaving the police station shortly after the briefing. He didn’t answer questions from reporters as he approached his vehicle.The move follows years of criticism against Lai in Chinese state media, which has often listed him among a “Gang of Four” democracy advocates fomenting unrest in the former British colony. While the media network Lai founded, Next Digital Ltd. and its Apple Daily newspaper, backs the protests, it’s been years since he was seen as playing a central role in the city’s democracy movement.Hong Kong Protests Fuel Media Tycoon’s Turnaround PlanStill, elder Hong Kong democracy advocates like Lai are often sought out by American diplomats, officials and journalists for insights into the city’s politics. The Global Times, a nationalist newspaper under China’s Communist Party, cited Lai’s meeting with U.S. officials including Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in an editorial Friday praising his arrest.“Many believed Lai is the ‘chief traitor’ who has brought chaos to the country and disorder to Hong Kong,” the paper said.The arrests come amid a lull in protest activity following more than six months of nearly non-stop demonstrations and as Hong Kong battles the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus. Earlier this year, Beijing also appointed new hard-line officials to lead the agencies that oversee the city, including the Liaison Office.Next Digital Group Director Mark Simon said by phone that Lai’s arrest probably stemmed from the Liaison Office’s desire to show it was taking action. “This is ridiculous,” Simon said. Next Digital’s shares fell 1.3% on Friday.The Hong Kong police have been going through footage and trying to track down around protesters and other suspects. Two former pro-democracy lawmakers and activists, Lee Cheuk-yan and Yeung Sum, were also arrested Friday.Earlier this month, China tapped Xia Baolong, an official best known for carrying out a campaign to remove crosses from churches in Zhejiang province, as director of the Hong Kong & Macau Affairs Office. In January, Beijing had appointed Luo Huining -- a cadre known for executing President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign -- as head of China’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong.On Aug. 31, the day Lai was accused of participating in an unlawful assembly, tens and thousands of people took to the streets in central Hong Kong to protest China’s refusal to allow a direct vote for the city’s leader. Demonstrators turned out despite a police ban and the arrests of several high-profile pro-democracy activists and lawmakers.Hong Kong saw one of the most tense and violent clashes that weekend, featuring roadblocks set on fire outside the police headquarters in Wan Chai. The city descended into further chaos as riot police stormed into Prince Edward station in Kowloon to make arrests inside subway trains.The allegation of intimidating a reporter stemmed from a 2017 exchange with a journalist from the Oriental Daily newspaper. The outlet had long sought to have Lai prosecuted over the 2017 incident, Simon said.\--With assistance from Dandan Li.To contact the reporters on this story: Natalie Lung in Hong Kong at flung6@bloomberg.net;Sheridan Prasso in Hong Kong at sprasso@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Fion Li at fli59@bloomberg.net, ;Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Iain MarlowFor 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.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 03:55:50 -0500
  • As Virus Spreads, Koreans Blame Refusal to Stop Chinese Visitors

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    (Bloomberg) -- In a matter of days, South Korea has swung from confidence that it had escaped the worst of the coronavirus outbreak to a cautionary tale of how quickly the disease can plunge a nation into crisis.Confirmed cases of the deadly disease surged past 2,000 on Friday -- doubling in two days and raising alarm about the worst outbreak outside of neighboring China. Supermarket shelves are emptying, mask prices are soaring and hospital beds are running out in Daegu city, where the disease has stricken many from a religious sect. Epidemiological models predict that infections in Korea will top 10,000 in March.The surge has citizens looking for someone to blame, prompting fresh criticism of South Korea President Moon Jae-in, who confidently predicted two weeks ago that the virus would be terminated “before long” while refusing calls to halt all arrivals from China. With 13 dead from the virus, public fury is coalescing around the government’s handling of the outbreak, especially its efforts to accommodate the country’s bigger, more powerful neighbor.“The government failed to contain this outbreak,” said Kim Su-yeon, a self-development lecturer who lives in Suji, near Seoul. “They were late in their response and they should have blocked the Chinese from coming in from the start,” Kim said, adding, “They have been ineffective in all of their policies.”Governments in places including Japan and Hong Kong have suffered similar backlash for being slow to restrict Chinese visitors, while others that took a harder line, such as Singapore and Taiwan, have seen the pace of new cases slow. Still, it may already be too late for any policy shifts, with outbreaks centered in countries as far-flung as Iran and Italy making it harder to calibrate travel restrictions.Ban EntryIn Korea, disapproval of Moon has risen five percentage points to 51%, the highest since October, according to a weekly Gallup Korea tracking poll released Friday. Some 41% were satisfied by the president’s handling of the virus, compared with 64% two weeks ago. Tellingly, almost two-thirds said they wanted the government to ban all foreign entries from China, rather than the current policy of barring visitors from certain hot spots.The anger is translating into action, with more than 1.2 million people signing a petition demanding Moon’s impeachment for taking what it calls a pro-China approach to the outbreak. The backlash comes just weeks ahead of April 15 parliamentary elections that could put the president’s rivals back into power. A competing petition supporting Moon and the government has garnered more than 900,000 signatures.Moon spokesman Kang Min-seok called criticism of the country’s entry policies “regrettable” and argued that they had helped stem new cases from China.“We’ve rationally taken into consideration the effectiveness of outbreak-prevention measures, as well as the interests of our people,” Kang said in a statement Thursday.Coronavirus: Places That Have Imposed Travel RestrictionsInfections in South Korea are now accelerating more quickly than in China. Daily life has largely ground to a halt in hard-hit Daegu, a southern city of 2.5 million people known for producing textile and apples that’s long been a stronghold of the conservative opposition.“When the president said the virus will soon be under control and that we can go back to our everyday life to continue economic activities, that’s when people started to take their protective masks off, and things got out of hand from there,” said Lee Haemin, a 31-year-old man in the financial industry living in Seoul. “The local economy is now on the verge of falling apart.”Now, buses are empty, restaurants are shut and kids are staying home from school. A concert featuring K-Pop boy band BTS scheduled for March 8 was postponed. Seomun market -- the city’s largest, where vendors hawk everything from fresh vegetables to clothing -- has been closed until Sunday.“Our business is in trouble and we might need to extend the shutdown if this continues,” said Kim Young-ou, president of the Daegu Merchant Association. “I asked the president for financial aid and tax deductions when he visited Daegu, but I don’t know if it’s feasible.”Economic HitAnxiety about the impact on the economy is rising across the country, with the Bank of Korea on Thursday lowering its growth forecast for 2020 to 2.1% from 2.3% in November. The benchmark Kospi index had its worst week since August 2011. Korea’s Finance Ministry said Friday that stabilizing the economy would require extra budget funds in excess of the 6.2 trillion won ($5.1 billion) spent to counter the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, outbreak five years ago.Many Daegu cases have been traced back to South Korea’s “Patient 31,” a 61-year-old local woman who belongs to the Shincheonji religious sect. The church, whose founder says he’s a prophet sent by Jesus Christ to prepare for the end of the word, claims it has 300,000 members. Congregates sit elbow-to-elbow and knee-to-knee, in services that typically last one to two hours.How One Patient Turned Korea’s Virus Outbreak Into an EpidemicWhile authorities don’t yet know how Patient 31 was infected -- she didn’t have a record of traveling overseas -- reports of the sect’s members returning from services in China have inflamed public sentiment. Moreover, several Chinese cities have in recent days moved to enforce quarantines on anyone who recently returned from South Korea, a blanket action of the sort that Seoul has so far spared Chinese arrivals.Fraught RelationsDespite strong business and cultural links, China and South Korea have a complex and fraught relationship, including a shared history of Japanese occupation and fighting on opposite sides in the Korean War. Recent tensions, like how China froze out South Korean businesses and stopped tourism in 2017 after Seoul agreed to host a U.S.-backed missile system, linger close to the surface.Moon’s government fueled public anger when Health and Welfare Minister Park Neung-hoo said in an exchange with lawmakers Wednesday that the “biggest cause was Korean nationals coming in from China.” He was emphasizing that most of the initial confirmed cases involved Korean nationals who visited Wuhan, not Chinese nationals visiting Korea.The administration has come under fire for failing to stockpile protective masks and sending many to China, when the country now faces shortages. South Korea exported $61.3 million worth of masks to China in January, up from $600,000 in December, according to customs data. Another $118.5 million of masks were sent in the first 20 days of February.‘Hasty Call’“Moon apparently prioritized the economy and diplomacy -- two issues that will really matter once the virus situation is over -- based on a hasty call that this will be over soon,” said Lee Jae-mook, who teaches political science at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul. “That made sense to the majority of South Koreans only before they saw other nations do the opposite: sacrifice potential economic benefit for the sake of people’s safety.”On Wednesday, the government limited mask exports to only 10% of daily production and pledged to distribute 3.5 million masks daily via post offices and pharmacies. Health authorities are also now testing around 10,000 people a day while sending extra hospital beds to Daegu.That’s done little to relieve anxiety for residents like Cho Eun-mi. The 32-year-old mother of two says she’s too afraid to go outside.“When I wake up, hundreds of patients are increasing every day,” she said. “The fact that those patients also visited places where I go, like Starbucks, supermarkets near my home, is really freaking me out.”\--With assistance from Peter Pae, Kanga Kong, Jihye Lee and Sam Kim.To contact the reporters on this story: Kyungji Cho in Seoul at kcho54@bloomberg.net;Yoojung Lee in Seoul at ylee504@bloomberg.net;Heesu Lee in Seoul at hlee425@bloomberg.net;Kyunghee Park in Singapore at kpark3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rachel Chang at wchang98@bloomberg.net, Brendan Scott, Emma O'BrienFor 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.

    Fri, 28 Feb 2020 03:53:54 -0500
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