Diane is a perfectionist. She enjoys searching the internet for the hottest events from around the world and writing an article about it. The details matter to her, so she makes sure the information is easy to read and understand. She likes traveling and history, especially ancient history. Being a very sociable person she has a blast having barbeque with family and friends.
However, several senators have expressed unhappiness over the process, because it is not clear what they will vote on if the procedure vote passes.
There appear to be two choices – either a repeal-and-replace bill that has already struggled to win support across the party, or a bill that enacts repeal with a two-year delay, in the hope of finding agreement before that time elapses.
Image source Flickr
Senator John McCain, recently diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor, will return to Congress to cast his vote.
President Trump increased the pressure on his party by warning them they had a duty to adhere to seven years of promises.
In a White House speech laced with frustration, he said: “To every member of the Senate I say this: The American people have waited long enough.
“There’s been enough talk, and no action. Now is the time for action.”
The president lambasted his predecessor’s overhaul of healthcare and stood alongside people he said were “victims” of the 2010 law.
ObamaCare extended healthcare insurance to about 20 million people but Republicans hate the way it introduced government-run marketplaces, where premiums have risen sharply for some people.
The GOP’s proposed alternative includes steep cuts to Medicaid, a healthcare program for the poor and disabled.
It removes ObamaCare’s individual mandate requiring all Americans to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty.
The non-partisan Congressional Budgetary Office (CBO) found the bill would strip 22 million Americans of health insurance over the next decade.
However, if the bill gets to the floor of the Senate, amendments could be added to change the various provisions.
A Republican politician has blamed “female senators” for the spluttering efforts by his party to pass a healthcare bill.
Blake Farenthold, a congressman from Texas, told a local radio station if a man from his state was responsible, he would challenge him to a duel.
“Some of the people that are opposed to this, they’re some female senators from the North East.”
If it was “a guy from south Texas” who was generating so much discord in the party, he said, he would ask them to settle their differences in a gun fight.
Susan Collins of Maine was one of three female Republicans who said they could not back the Senate’s last healthcare plan, a repeal with two-year delay, which hit the buffers last week.
She has been strongly opposed to the Republican bill from the start over the cuts to Medicaid.
Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia also came out against the bill, expressing concerns over plans to weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions and affordability.
There was an outcry when Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell drafted the first healthcare bill in private among a group of 13 that did not include any women.
Seventeen employees of Turkish opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet are about to go on trial on charges of aiding a terrorist organization.
If found guilty, their sentence could be up to 43 years in jail.
A dozen of Cumhuriyet‘s journalists and managers are behind bars in pre-trial detention. Ten of them have been imprisoned for almost nine months.
On July 15, Turkey marked the first anniversary of a failed coup. There were massive commemorations held by thousands of jubilant people, hailing the day as the triumph of democracy.
However, critics argue that day – and the introduction of the state of emergency soon after – were actually the beginning of a massive crackdown, with more than 50,000 people arrested in the last year.
Image source Wikimedia
Press freedom groups say Turkish media has been particularly hard hit during this period, as about 150 media outlets have been shut down.
Turkey is currently listed as the country with the biggest number of imprisoned journalists. Journalism organizations say more than 150 journalists are behind bars, most of them accused of terror charges.
Can Dundar, the previous editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet newspaper, is the number one suspect in the case starting on July 24.
He was give a three-month jail term last year for espionage in another case but was released on bail. He now lives in exile in Germany.
He too gives the figure of imprisoned journalists as more than 150.
In the indictment against Cumhuriyet, there are accusations such as “changing the paper’s editorial policy”, preparing “violent and divisive news” and “interviewing leaders of terrorist organizations”.
“This is an oddity, it is absurd,” says defense lawyer Adil Demirci.
“This is obviously a political case. They are targeting Cumhuriyet because it is an opposition paper.”
The head of media organization PEN Turkey, Zeynep Oral, believes the state of press freedom in the country is the worst it has been for decades.
“You never know what will happen tomorrow,” she says.
“Anybody can put anybody into jail these days. But even if a single journalist is behind bars for no reason, no-one will ever be free in this country.”
Journalists and press freedom activists all over the world will be watching the Cumhuriyet trial very closely. The hearings are expected to last all week.
Amid reports President Donald Trump is considering presidential pardons for family members, aides and even himself, he has insisted he has the “complete power” to pardon people.
Democratic Party spokesman Mark Warner has called the reports “extremely disturbing”.
The US authorities are probing possible collusion between the Trump team and Russia. Intelligence agencies think Russia tried to help Donald Trump to power.
Moscow denies this, and President Trump says there was no collusion.
The Washington Post reported on July 20 that Donald Trump and his team were looking at ways to pardon people close to him.
Presidents can pardon people before guilt is established or even before the person is charged with a crime.
Describing the reports as disturbing, Senator Mark Warner, who sits on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said “pardoning any individuals who may have been involved would be crossing a fundamental line”.
Image source Wikipedia
On July 22, President Trump tweeted: “While all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us. FAKE NEWS.”
Donald Trump also attacked “illegal leaks” following reports his attorney general discussed campaign-related matters with a Russian envoy.
The Washington Post gave an account of meetings Attorney General Jeff Sessions held with the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak. The newspaper quoted current and former US officials who cited intelligence intercepts of Sergey Kislyak’s version of the encounter to his superiors.
One of those quoted said Ambassador Kislyak spoke to Jeff Sessions about key campaign issues, including Donald Trump’s positions on policies significant to Russia.
During his confirmation hearing earlier this year, Jeff Sessions said he had no contact with Russians during the election campaign. When it later emerged he had, he said the campaign was not discussed at the meetings.
An official confirmed to Reuters the detail of the intercepts, but there has been no independent corroboration.
The officials spoken to by the Post said that Sergey Kislyak could have exaggerated the account, and cited a Justice Department spokesperson who repeated that Jeff Sessions did not discuss interference in the election.
Venezuela’s Supreme Court has ordered “civil and military authorities” to carry out “coercive actions” in response to the appointments, but it is unclear what that will entail.
Meanwhile, the opposition Democratic Unity coalition (MUD) has called for protest marches on July 22 from seven points in the capital Caracas to the Supreme Court headquarters.
The opposition says the current justices are illegitimate, having been rushed into their positions shortly before the governing party lost its majority in 2015.
Since the opposition took over the National Assembly last year the court has consistently blocked all bills passed by Congress.
The opposition announced last week that it would appoint new judges and that it would also take the first steps to set up a national unity government. Analysts say such proposals raise the possibility of a parallel state structure.
On July 20, millions of Venezuelans joined a general strike called by the opposition.
At least three people were killed in clashes between police and protesters and there were more than 300 arrests.
Protesters barricaded roads in Caracas and other cities with rubbish and furniture.
The opposition said that 85% of the country joined the strike but President Maduro said its effect was minimal and that its leaders would be arrested.
Meanwhile, Colombia, France, Spain, the US and the EU have urged the Venezuelan government to cancel the vote for a new constituent assembly on July 30.
However, President Nicolas Maduro has rejected the calls.
The roof of a bar on the island also collapsed, and a ferry was unable to dock due to damage at the harbor, Greek police said.
Tourists later gathered outside terminal buildings at Kos airport having left their hotels and apartments.
In Turkey, pictures shared on social media showed people in the city of Bodrum walking with water lapping their ankles and localized flooding, and about 80 people sought hospital treatment for minor injuries.
Others described waking in the night after being violently shaken in their beds.
Residents fled their homes and tourists ran from holiday apartments with pillows and blankets. Some sustained injuries after jumping from windows in panic, Turkish broadcaster NTV said.
At a hospital in Bodrum, the wounded were being treated in the garden as a precaution after the quake caused slight damage to parts of the hospital ceiling, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.
The earthquake also triggered high waves off Gumbet, a resort town near Bodrum, which flooded roads and left parked cars stranded, Turkish media report. There were no reports of casualties.
Turkey and Greece sit on significant fault lines and are regularly hit by earthquakes.
One of the deadliest in recent years hit the heavily populated northwest of Turkey, in 1999, killing some 17,000 people.
President Trump left his seat and headed to Vladimir Putin, who had been sitting next to Melania Trump, media said. The president was alone with Vladimir Putin, apart from the attendance of the Russian president’s official interpreter.
Donald Trump had been seated next to Japanese PM Shinzo Abe’s wife, so the US interpreter at the dinner spoke Japanese, not Russian. No media were in attendance.
The length of the talks has been disputed.
Ian Bremmer, president of the US-based Eurasia Group, who first reported them in a newsletter to clients, said: “Donald Trump got up from the table and sat down with Putin for about an hour. It was very animated and very friendly.”
No-one else was nearby, so the topics of discussion were not known, he said.
Image NBC News
Ian Bremmer had not been at the dinner but said details were given to him by unnamed attendees who, he said, were “flummoxed, confused and startled” by the turn of events.
He told Bloomberg he had never before seen “two major countries with a constellation of national interests that are as dissident while the two leaders seem to be doing everything possible to make nice-nice and be close to each other”.
In a statement, a senior White House official said there was no “second meeting”, just a brief conversation after dinner.
The official said: “The insinuation that the White House has tried to <hide> a second meeting is false, malicious and absurd. It is not merely perfectly normal, it is part of a president’s duties, to interact with world leaders.”
National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton said it was not a meeting but a “pull aside”, adding: “A conversation over dessert should not be characterized as a meeting.”
President Trump later said on Twitter: “Fake News story of secret dinner with Putin is <sick>. All G20 leaders, and spouses, were invited by the Chancellor of Germany. Press knew!”
The dinner and its attendees have always been known. Only the Trump-Putin discussion had not been reported before.
At the earlier, formal meeting, their first face-to-face encounter, President Trump said he had repeatedly pressed President Putin about the allegations of interference in the US vote.
“I said, <Did you do it?> He said, <No, I did not, absolutely not>. I then asked him a second time, in a totally different way. He said, <Absolutely not>.”
There are congressional investigations, and one by a special counsel, into the allegations of Russian interference in the US election and possible collusion with the Trump team.
On July 18, the Senate intelligence committee said it wanted to interview Donald Trump’s son, Donald Jr., and other members of the Trump team, over a meeting they had with a Russian lawyer in June 2016.
Donald Trump Jr. said he had attended the meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya as he was promised damaging material on Hillary Clinton, but it did not materialize.
On July 19, Natalia Veselnitskaya told Russia’s RT TV channel she would be willing to testify before the Senate on the matter.
Meanwhile, the White House said President Trump would nominate former Utah governor Jon Huntsman as ambassador to Russia, a key post for a president who promised to improve relations with Moscow.
Jon Huntsman, who served as ambassador to China and Singapore, needs to have his name confirmed by the Senate.
The suspicions over Russian interference are likely to play a significant factor in his confirmation process, correspondents say.
He said on July 18: “He is actively, actively trying to undermine the healthcare system in this country using millions of Americans as political pawns in a cynical game.”
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said the chamber would vote early next week on a motion for repealing ObamaCare only.
However, with at least three Republicans against the plan B, it is probably doomed, too.
Donald Trump backed the just-repeal-it plan on July 17 but changed his tune on the next day by proposing to simply let ObamaCare – which has failed to curb rising costs as insurance options dwindle – die on its own.
“As I have always said, let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan. Stay tuned!” the president tweeted.
Donald Trump has invited all Republican senators to discuss healthcare over lunch at the White House on July 19.
Without a replacement bill, analysts have estimated that millions of people would lose health insurance.
The GOP’s proposed alternative includes steep cuts to Medicaid, a healthcare program for the poor and disabled, removed the individual mandate requiring all Americans to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty and implemented a six-month lockout period for anyone who lets their health coverage lapse for more than two months.
Republicans view the 2010 legislation as an overreach of the federal government and say patients have less choice and higher premiums.
The GOP’s proposed alternative had kept key ObamaCare taxes on the wealthy, while imposing sharp cuts to healthcare for the poor and allowing insurers to offer less coverage.
Two Republican senators, Mike Lee and Jerry Moran, said the new legislation did not go far enough in repealing ObamaCare.
Jerry Moran said “we should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy” while for Mike Lee, “in addition to not repealing all of the ObamaCare taxes [the bill] doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly ObamaCare regulations”.
Two senators – Rand Paul and Susan Collins – had already opposed the bill.
Rand Paul said the bill kept too much of the “ObamaCare taxes”, while Susan Collins expressed concerns about cuts to Medicaid.
With the two new opponents, Republicans – who hold 52 seats – no longer have enough votes to pass the bill in the 100-member Senate.
Moderate Republicans had also said the bill would have harmed some of their vulnerable constituents.
The non-partisan Congressional Budgetary Office (CBO) found the bill would have stripped 22 million Americans of health insurance over the next decade.
On top of that, polls had shown ObamaCare remained popular among Americans – a survey by the Washington Post and ABC News on July 17 found more than twice as many people preferred Barrack Obama’s program to the proposed alternative.
Cecilia García Arocha, the rector of the Central University of Venezuela, said 6,492,381 people voted within the country and another 693,789 at polling stations abroad. However, the vote has no legal status.
The turnout is slightly less than the 7.7 million people who voted for opposition candidates at the 2015 parliamentary elections. There are 19.5 million registered voters in Venezuela.
Voting Yes or No to three questions, 98% rejected the new assembly proposed by President Nicolas Maduro and backed a call for elections before his term of office ends in 2019.
They also voted for the armed forces to defend the current constitution.
An official vote will be held on July 30 for a new assembly, which would have the power to rewrite the constitution and to dissolve state institutions. However, critics say the new assembly could herald dictatorship.
The July 16 unofficial poll was held in improvised polling stations at theaters, sports grounds and roundabouts within Venezuela and in more than 100 countries around the world.
“They have convened an internal consultation with the opposition parties, with their own mechanisms, without electoral rulebooks, without prior verification, without further verification. As if they are autonomous and decide on their own,” he said.
Nicolas Maduro argues that the constituent assembly is the only way to help Venezuela out of its economic and political crisis.
Opposition leaders fear that the process of setting up a new constituent assembly and rewriting the constitution would almost certainly delay this year’s regional elections and the 2018 presidential election.
They also fear that the constituent assembly would further weaken the National Assembly, Venezuela’s opposition-controlled legislative body.
President Castro was speaking in front of Cuba’s national assembly. It was his first public comment on the policy changes President Trump announced a month ago.
State-run Cuban media quoted President Castro as saying that President Trump was using “old and hostile rhetoric” and had returned to “confrontation that roundly failed over 55 years”.
The Cuban president said: “We reject the manipulation of the topic of human rights against Cuba, which can be proud of much in this area and does not need to receive lessons from the United States nor anyone.”
Donald Trump anchored his policy rollback in human rights concerns raised by political opponents of Cuba’s communist government, many of whom have fled to Miami where the president announced the changes on June 16.
President Castro continued: “Cuba and the United States can cooperate and live side by side, respecting their differences. But no one should expect that for this, one should have to make concessions inherent to one’s sovereignty and independence.”
Raul Castro will step down as president in seven months, but will remain the head of the country’s Communist Party.
President Donald Trump has joined French President Emmanuel Macron the Bastille Day parade in Paris, where US and French troops marched together down the Champs-Élysées.
Donald Trump was guest of honor as the annual parade this time marked 100 years since the Americans entered World War One.
President Emmanuel Macron said “nothing will ever separate” France and the US, and President Trump’s presence showed “a friendship across the ages”.
Earlier Emmanuel Macron stood in a military jeep and inspected the troops.
He is now in Nice, attending a commemoration for last year’s Bastille Day terrorist attack, in which a Tunisian-born man drove a huge lorry into a celebrating crowd on the beachfront, killing 86 people.
Image source Wikimedia
At the start of the ceremony people were honored for their heroism on the night.
They included Franck Terrier, the man who drove his scooter alongside the speeding truck and jumped on to its cab, punching the driver through the window in a desperate attempt to force him to stop.
Franck Terrier was given a lengthy ovation and awarded the Légion d’honneur – France’s highest order of merit.
France remains under a state of emergency, following a spate of terror attacks by jihadists.
In Paris earlier, President Donald Trump and the First Lady warmly embraced their French counterparts – Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte.
Donald Trump called Bastille Day “a wonderful national celebration”.
“Our two nations are forever joined together by the spirit of revolution and the fight for freedom,” he said.
Earlier, he suggested he could review his position on climate change, after Emmanuel Macron argued in defense of the 2015 Paris accord.
Brazil’s ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been convicted of corruption charges and sentenced to nine and a half years in jail.
The judge ruled Lula da Silva could remain free pending an appeal.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has rejected claims that he received an apartment as a bribe in a corruption scandal linked to state oil company Petrobras.
The former leader says the trial is politically motivated and has strongly denied any wrongdoing.
The case is the first of five charges against Lula da Silva.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva served eight years as president until 2011 and has expressed interest in running again in the 2018 elections for the left-wing Workers’ Party.
Image source Wikimedia
On July 12, a judge found the former president guilty of accepting bribes from engineering company OAS in the form of a beachfront apartment in return for his help in winning contracts with the state oil company.
In a statement, his lawyers insisted he was innocent and said they would appeal.
“For more than three years Lula has been subject to a politically motivated investigation. No credible evidence of guilt has been produced, and overwhelming proof of his innocence blatantly ignored,” they wrote.
Donald Trump Jr. has released an email chain showing he was offered “sensitive” information on Hillary Clinton by a Russian national.
Here’s a statement by Donald Trump Jr. published on July 11, 2017:
“To everyone, in order to be totally transparent, I am releasing the entire email chain of my emails with Rob Goldstone about the meeting on June 9, 2016. The first email on June 3, 2016 was from Rob, who was relating a request from Emin, a person I knew from 2013 Ms. Universe Pageant near Moscow. Emin and his father have a very highly respected company in Moscow. The information they suggested they had about Hillary Clinton I thought was Political Opposition Research. I first wanted to just have phone call but when that didn’t work out, they said the woman would be in new York and asked if I would meet. I decided to take the meeting. The woman, as she has said publicly, was not a government official. And, as we have said, she had no information to provide and wanted to talk about adoption policy and the Magnitsky Act. To put this in context, this occurred before the current Russian fever was in vogue. As Rob Goldstone said just today in the press, the entire meeting was <<the most inane nonsense I ever heard. And I was actually agitated by it>>.”
Rob Goldstone is a publicist, Emin Agalarov is an Azerbaijani businessman and singer-songwriter. Aras Agalarov is Emin’s father and an Azerbaijani-Russian businessman and public figure.
Below is the full text of the exchange in chronological order and also a statement released by President Trump’s son:
On June 3, 2016, at 10:36, Rob Goldstone wrote:
Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting.
The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and be very useful to your father.
This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump – helped along by Aras and Emin.
What do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to Emin about it directly?
I can also send this info to your father via Rhona, but it is ultra sensitive so wanted to send to you first.
On June 3, 2016, at 10:53, Donald Trump Jr. wrote:
Thanks Rob I appreciate that,. I am on the road at the moment but perhaps I just speak to Emin first. Seems we have some time and if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summers. Could we do a call first thing next week when I am back?
On June 6, 2016, at 12:40, Rob Goldstone wrote:
Let me know when you are free to talk with Emin by phone about this Hillary info – you had mentioned early this week so wanted to try to schedule a time and day Best to you and family Rob Goldstone
On June 6, 2016, at 15:03, Donald Trump Jr. wrote:
Rob could we speak now?
On June 6, 2016, at 15:37, Rob Goldstone wrote:
Let me track him down in Moscow
What number he could call?
On June 6, 2016, at 15:38, Donald Trump Jr. wrote:
My cell thanks
On June 6, 2016, at 15:43, Rob Goldstone wrote:
OK he’s on stage in Moscow but should be off within 20 minutes so I am sure can call Rob
On June 6, 2016, at 16:38, Donald Trump Jr. wrote:
Rob thanks for the help.
On June 7, 2016, at 16:20, Rob Goldstone wrote:
Hope all is well
Emin asked that I schedule a meeting with you and The Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow for this Thursday.
I believe you are aware of the meeting – and so wondered if 3pm or later on Thursday works for you?
I assume it would be at your office.
On June 7, 2016, at 17:16, Donald Trump Jr. wrote:
How about 3 at our offices? Thanks rob appreciate you helping set it up.
On June 7, 2016, at 17:19, Rob Goldstone wrote:
Perfect… I won’t sit in on the meeting, but will bring them at 3pm and introduce you etc.
I will send the names of the two people with you for security when I have them later today.
On June 7, 2016, at 18:14, Donald Trump Jr. wrote:
Great. It will likely be Paul Manafort (campaign boss) my brother in law [Jared Kushner] and me. 725 Fifth Ave 25th floor.
On June 8, 2016, at 10:34, Rob Goldstone wrote:
Would it be possible to move tomorrow meeting at 4pm as the Russian attorney is in court until 3 i was just informed.
On June 8, 2016, at 11:15, Donald Trump Jr. wrote:
Yes Rob I could do that unless they wanted to do 3 today instead… just let me know and ill lock it in either way.
On June 8, 2016, at 11:18, Rob Goldstone wrote:
They can’t do today as she hasn’t landed yet from Moscow 4pm is great tomorrow.
On June 8, 2016 at 12:03, Donald Trump Jr. wrote to Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort:
President Donald Trump issued a brief statement in support of his son, describing him as “a high-quality person” and applauding his transparency.
Image source Wikimedia
The emails to Donald Trump Jr., which he released on Twitter, say “the crown prosecutor of Russia” (a role that does not exist) had “offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father”.
The email chain was also forwarded to Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, and campaign manager Paul Manafort.
All three later met Natalia Veselnitskaya at New York’s Trump Tower.
Since he was elected, Donald Trump has been dogged by allegations that Russia tried to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The president has denied any knowledge of this and Russia has also repeatedly denied interfering.
In May, the DoJ appointed ex-FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to look into the Russian matter.
The New York Times first reported on July 8 that a meeting had taken place on June 9, 2016, between Natalia Veselnitskaya and the Trump team.
It later reported that Donald Trump Jr. had earlier been offered alleged damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
The Times had been expected to publish emails connected to the meeting, but Donald Trump Jr. pre-empted this by posting the email chain on Twitter.
He had earlier admitted meeting Natalia Veselnitskaya but insisted she had provided “no meaningful information”. He said she had wanted to talk about adoptions.
Natalia Veselnitskaya, who has been linked to the Russian government, has insisted she was never in possession of information that could have damaged Hillary Clinton.
The Russian lawyer said Donald Trump’s son and two senior campaign aides may have met her last summer because they were “longing” for such information. She has denied any connection with the Kremlin.
The email chain released by Donald Trump Jr. shows that:
On June 3, 2016, he received an email from intermediary Rob Goldstone promising documents from Russia that would incriminate Hillary Clinton and her supposed dealings with Russia;
One email from Rob Goldstone said the information they had been promised was “obviously very high-level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump”;
The person who was to meet Donald Trump Jr. in New York was described as “a Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow”;
Within the week, a meeting had been arranged which included Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort.
Donald Trump Jr. also posted a statement saying he was releasing the email chain “to be totally transparent” and reiterated that the Russian lawyer had “no information to provide”.
Rob Goldstone has previously denied any knowledge of involvement in the election by the Russian government.
Russia is threatening to expel about 30 US diplomats and seize US state property in retaliation for Washington’s sanctions, local officials confirm.
The threat came from Russian foreign ministry sources, quoted by the daily Izvestia. Other Russian officials have made similar statements recently.
In December 2016, the Obama administration expelled 35 Russian diplomats and shut down two intelligence compounds.
The measures were a response to alleged Russian meddling in the US election.
Russia was already under US sanctions.
Former President Barack Obama acted against Russia after US intelligence sources had accused Russian state agents of hacking into Democratic Party computers to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
President Vladimir Putin raised the issue of the Obama sanctions with President Donald Trump when they met in Hamburg last week, Izvestia reported.
Meanwhile, the Trump team is under investigation over alleged Russian collusion during last year’s presidential campaign. Russia has strongly denied interfering in the election.
In addition to expelling 35 Russian diplomats from Washington and San Francisco, the Obama administration imposed sanctions on nine entities and individuals including Russia’s GRU and FSB intelligence agencies. The US closed Russian intelligence compounds in New York and Maryland.
President Putin refrained from tit-for-tat retaliation – unlike in previous diplomatic spats.
Russia says President Donald Trump presented “no plan to resolve the crisis” when the issue was raised in Hamburg.
An unnamed Russian diplomat told Izvestia that in retaliation Russia could seize a US government dacha (country villa) at Serebryany Bor, to the northwest of Moscow, and a US warehouse in the city itself.
However, the US ambassador’s Spaso House residence and the Anglo-American School in St Petersburg would not be affected.
Russia would carry out the threat if no compromise was reached at a St Petersburg meeting later this month between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and US Under Secretary of State Thomas Shannon, Izvestia reported.
The US and its Western allies have also imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Russia because of Moscow’s role in the Ukraine conflict.
Russia blocked most imported Western food and drink in retaliation.
It is thought to be the first confirmed private meeting between a Russian national and members of Donald Trump’s inner circle.
After the New York Times first reported the meeting on July 8, Donald Trump Jr. released a statement which confirmed that it had taken place but did not mention whether it was related to the presidential campaign.
However, another Times report, on the next day, said Donald Trump Jr. had agreed to the meeting after being offered information that would potentially prove detrimental to Hillary Clinton.
The newspaper cited three White House advisers briefed on the meeting, and two others with knowledge for it, as its sources.
Image source Wikimedia
Donald Trump Jr. said that an acquaintance he had known from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant had set up the meeting. The Washington Post confirmed that figure to be music publicist Rob Goldstone, who has links to the Russian music industry.
In a statement on July 9, Donald Trump Jr. said he had been asked to meet “an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign”.
“I was not told her name prior to the meeting. I asked Jared [Kushner] and Paul [Manafort] to attend, but told them nothing of the substance.”
Donald Trump Jr.’s statement continues: “After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Mrs. Clinton.
“Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.
“She then changed subjects and began discussing the adoption of Russian children and mentioned the Magnitsky Act.
“It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting.”
Natalia Veselnitskaya said on July 8 that “nothing at all was discussed about the presidential campaign” and insisted she had “never acted on behalf of the Russian government and have never discussed any of these matters with any representative of the Russian government”.
The Magnitsky Act was adopted by Congress in 2012 and allows the US to withhold visas and freeze financial assets of Russian officials thought to have been involved in human rights violations.
The law so incensed President Vladimir Putin that he suspended a program allowing Americans to adopt Russian children.
Natalia Veselnitskaya is a lawyer whose clients include companies and individuals said to be close to the Kremlin and her main role has been campaigning against the Magnitsky Act.
President Trump described the outcome of the talks as positive and suggested closer co-operation between the two nations.
“Putin and I discussed forming an impenetrable cyber security unit so that election hacking, and many other negative things, will be guarded and safe,” he said.
The initial proposal immediately prompted derision from Democrats, as well as some Republicans who questioned why the US would work with Russia after the Kremlin’s alleged meddling in the 2016 US election.
However, Republican Senator Marco Rubio suggested that such an initiative would be like partnering with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on chemical weapons.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said: “It’s not the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, but it’s pretty close.”
A special prosecutor is investigating whether Trump associates colluded with alleged Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US election.
Both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin said the allegations had been discussed.
However, the two sides described the content of the meeting differently.
President Trump said he “strongly pressed” the issue with Vladimir Putin, who had “vehemently denied” interfering in the US election.
The president also said it was time to work more “constructively” with Russia.
Vladimir Putin said he believed President Trump had accepted his assurances that Moscow had not interfered in the vote.
However, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said interference in the 2016 election remained an impediment to better relations with Russia, while the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said the US “can’t trust Russia” and “won’t ever trust Russia”.
Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro has surprisingly praised opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez’s jail release.
Leopoldo Lopez, one of Venezuela’s main opposition leaders, has been moved to house arrest after more than three years in jail.
He left a prison near Caracas and was reunited with his family on July 8.
Leopoldo Lopez Mendoza was serving a 14-year sentence for inciting violence during anti-government protests in 2014, a charge he has always denied. The Supreme Court said he was released on health grounds.
President Maduro said he “respected” and “supported” the Supreme Court’s decision but called for “a message of peace and rectification” in Venezuela.
Hours after being freed, Leopoldo Lopez urged supporters to continue protesting in the streets against Nicolas Maduro.
Venezuela’s opposition and international powers have long pressed for Lopez’s freedom. The head of the Organization of American States regional bloc, Luis Almagro, said the court’s decision offered an opportunity for national reconciliation.
Image source Flickr
Former opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles stressed “he must be given his full liberty together with all political prisoners”, Reuters reported.
Giving a glimpse of his son’s life behind bars, Leopoldo Lopez’s father told Spanish radio “a few days ago they had punished him with solitary confinement without light or water for three days”.
He said his son was now wearing an electronic tag so that the authorities could keep abreast of his movements.
Leopoldo Lopez’s wife had complained that she had not been allowed to see him for more than a month, but on July 7 she tweeted she had been allowed an hour-long meeting.
In May, a government lawmaker published a video of Leopoldo Lopez in his cell following rumors that he had been poisoned and taken to hospital.
In the video, Leopoldo Lopez – a Harvard-educated former mayor who has been prevented by the government from standing for public office – said he was well and did not know why he was being asked to prove he was still alive.
Venezuela has been experiencing a wave of anti-government protests similar to those over which Leopoldo Lopez was jailed.
The opposition is calling for early elections and the release of opposition politicians jailed in recent years, saying the socialist governments of President Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, have mismanaged the economy since coming to power in 1999.
Leaders of 19 nations at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, have renewed their pledge to implement the Paris deal on climate change, despite the US pulling out.
Deadlock over the issue had held up the last day of talks in Hamburg but a final agreement was eventually reached.
The final agreement acknowledges President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement without undermining the commitment of other countries.
The compromise comes after violent protests in the host city.
The joint summit statement released on July 8 said: “We take note of the decision of the United States of America to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.”
However, the leaders of the other G20 members agreed the accord was “irreversible”.
The statement also said the US would “endeavor to work closely with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently”.
President Trump has pledged to help the US coal industry make a comeback and has previously characterized the Paris agreement as aiming to disadvantage his country’s workers.
In press conference as the two-day summit drew to a close, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she still deplored President Trump’s position on the Paris accord but she was “gratified” the other 19 nations opposed its renegotiation.
As well as insisting on the inclusion of separate America-only paragraphs in the final text, Donald Trump canceled his own scheduled news conference on July 8, reinforcing the image of the G20 as the G19 + 1.
“I think it’s very clear that we could not reach consensus, but the differences were not papered over, they were clearly stated,” Angela Merkel told reporters.
Angela Merkel said she did not share the view of UK Prime Minister Theresa May that Washington could decide to return to the climate agreement.
However, Theresa May reiterated her belief that the US could rejoin the accord in her news conference on July 8.
French President Emmanuel Macron also remained hopeful of persuading President Trump to change his mind, saying: “I never despair of convincing him because I think it’s my duty.”
Emmanuel Macron announced that Paris would host another summit on December 12 to make further progress on the climate agreement and to address financing.
There have been large protests in the city, with demonstrators and armed police clashing into the early hours of Saturday.
Demonstrators – who were protesting against the presence of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, climate change and global wealth inequalities – set fire to vehicles and barricades, threw rocks at officers and looted shops.
At one point, police chased protesters across rooftops while officers on the streets used water cannon on protesters.
Nearly 200 police officers were injured during the protests. Dozens of protesters have been detained.