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Diane A. Wade

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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.

Image source Wikipedia

President Donald Trump has decided to delay his plans to legally designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorist groups.

He had vowed to label the gangs as terrorists after the killing last month of nine American citizens from a Mormon community in Mexico.

However, the president has put the plans on hold on the request of his Mexican counterpart, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

The Mexican president said: “I celebrate that he has taken our opinion into account.”

“We thank President Trump for respecting our decisions and for choosing to maintain a policy of good neighborliness, a policy of cooperation with us,” Andrés Manuel López Obrador added.

Jenni Rivera was involved with Mexican drug cartels before she died in plane crash

President Trump’s original announcement came after three women and six children of dual US-Mexican nationality were killed in an ambush in a remote area of northern Mexico.

Following the attack the victims’ community, the LeBarons, petitioned the White House to list the cartels as terror groups, saying: “They are terrorists and it’s time to acknowledge it.”

The move would have widened the scope for US legal and financial action against cartels but Mexico saw it as a violation of its sovereignty.

President Trump has now put the plans on hold.

He tweeted: “All necessary work has been completed to declare Mexican Cartels terrorist organizations.

“Statutorily we are ready to do so.”

However, he said his Mexican counterpart is “a man who I like and respect, and has worked so well with us,” adding that he was temporarily holding off on the designation and stepping up “joint efforts to deal decisively with these vicious and ever-growing organizations!”

President Trump did not comment on how long the delay would last.

Mexico’s brutal drug war claims tens of thousands of lives every year, as powerful trafficking groups battle for territory and influence.

In 2017 more than 30,000 people were killed in Mexico, with the murder rate having more than tripled since 2006.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

President Donald Trump and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, have set out opposing views ahead of a NATO summit in London.

In an occasionally tense press conference, Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron sparred over NATO’s role, Turkey, and ISIS.

President Trump had described Emmanuel Macron’s comments about NATO as “nasty”, but the French president said he stood by his words.

World leaders gathered in London to mark the Western military alliance’s 70th anniversary.

The NATO summit has already been marked by strained relations between Turkey and other member states.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he will oppose NATO’s plan for the defense of the Baltic region if it does not back Turkey over its fight against Kurdish groups it considers terrorists.

On December 3, Emmanuel Macron and Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Downing Street in a four-way meeting that also included German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the host, UK PM Boris Johnson.

Ties between President Trump and Emmanuel Macron were already strained amid a trade dispute, and after the French president described NATO as “brain dead” last month because, he said, the US commitment to the alliance was fading.

On December 3, President Trump hit back by saying Emmanuel Macron had been “very disrespectful”, adding that France had “a very high unemployment rate” and “nobody needs NATO more than France”.

At a joint press conference with Emmanuel Macron later, President Trump was less combative, stressing that the two countries had “done a lot of good things together”. Emmanuel Macron, meanwhile, said he stood by his comments.

The two sides then clashed over foreign ISIS fighters who were captured in Syria.

President Trump jokingly offered them to France, saying: “Would you like some nice [ISIS] fighters? You can take everyone you want.”

Sounding stern, Emmanuel Macron said “Let’s be serious” and that ISIS fighters from Europe were “a tiny minority”, and that the “number one priority” was to get rid of the terrorist group.

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President Trump then retorted: “This is why he is a great politician because that was one of the greater non-answers I have ever heard, and that’s OK.”

He also criticized NATO countries who were paying less than the NATO guidelines of at least 2% of GDP towards the alliance.

President Trump said he did not want countries to be “delinquent” and pay less than their share, adding: “Maybe I’ll deal with them from a trade standpoint.”

Emmanuel Macron said France – which currently spends 1.84% of its GDP on defense – would reach the minimum, and acknowledged that the US had “overinvested” in NATO for several decades.

However, he added that there were other pressing issues to discuss.

The two leaders also discussed Turkey’s decision to buy a Russian S-400 missile system.

President Trump said they were “looking at” whether to impose sanctions, while Emmanuel Macron asked: “How is it possible to be a member of the alliance… and buy things from Russia?”

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been key allies of the US-led coalition against ISIS in Syria. However, Turkey views a section of the group – the YPG – as terrorists.

Ahead of his departure for London, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would not approve a plan to defend Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in the event of a Russian attack unless NATO recognized the Kurdish YPG militia as terrorists.

Image source Wikimedia

Independent journalists and bloggers in Russia could be labeled as “foreign agents” after a controversial law has been amended on December 2.

The “foreign agent” label already applies to certain media organizations and NGOs which engage in politics and receive funding from abroad.

The EU, Amnesty International and the OSCE international security body condemned the amended law.

“Foreign agent” was a Soviet-era term of abuse for political dissidents.

President Vladimir Putin signed the amended “foreign agent” media law.

Russia says the original media bill, introduced in 2017, was its response to a US requirement for Kremlin-backed broadcaster RT to register as a foreign agent in the US.

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The first “foreign agent” law, introduced in 2012, targeted non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including charities and civil society groups, which get foreign funding and engage in political activity in Russia.

In 2015 Russia’s justice ministry listed Memorial – a distinguished chronicler of human rights abuses – as a “foreign agent”.

The anti-corruption organization of anti-Putin campaigner Alexei Navalny has also been declared a “foreign agent”.

Groups, and now individuals, labeled as “foreign agents” have to put that label on their publications and submit detailed paperwork to the authorities, or face fines for not doing so.

The media law was steered through parliament’s lower house – the Duma – by lawmakers Leonid Levin and Pyotr Tolstoy.

Leonid Levin explained that for an individual to be labeled a “foreign agent” two criteria must be valid: they must be producing or spreading material from a “foreign agent” media source, and they must be getting foreign funding.

He said that re-tweeting “foreign agent” news would only make an individual a “foreign agent” too if he or she was also receiving foreign funding.

There has been a chorus of disapproval from human rights groups for the new law.

OSCE media freedom representative Harlem Désir said the law “represents a disproportionate interference in the freedom of expression and media freedom”.

Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson for the EU’s External Action Service (EEAS), said the legislation “imposes an additional administrative and financial burden, as well as stigmatizes the media or NGO concerned, thus restricting the exercise of fundamental freedoms”.

She said: “Taking into account the already limited space for free media in the country, a further extension of the scope of the legislation is yet another worrying step against free and independent media and access to information, as well as a further attempt to silence independent voices in Russia.”

According to Amnesty International the new law “will have a detrimental impact on the already restrictive environment for independent journalism in Russia, and must be dropped”.

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Image source Malta Today

Maltese prosecutors have charged businessman Yorgen Fenech with complicity in the murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017.

Yorgen Fenech, one of Malta’s wealthiest men, pleaded not guilty to that charge and four others including membership of a criminal gang.

Relatives of Daphne Caruana Galizia were present in the court in Valletta.

The investigation into the blogger’s death has rocked the Maltese government. PM Joseph Muscat is under pressure to resign.

The prime minister’s chief aide, Keith Schembri, resigned this week amid reports he was being questioned by police, while Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi also quit and Economy Minister Chris Cardona took the decision to suspend himself.

Three people are awaiting trial for the journalist’s murder in a car bombing but the police investigation is now focusing on who ordered the killing and why.

Yorgen Fenech has been repeatedly questioned over the killing since trying to leave the island on his yacht on November 20, and sought a pardon in return for providing information but his request was rejected.

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According to Maltese media, Yorgen Fenech was familiar with Melvin Theuma, a taxi driver with links to criminal enterprises who has been described in local media as a potential “middleman” in the murder.

The businessman is a well-known figure in Malta who has served as head of the Tumas business group and a director of energy company Electrogas but recently resigned from both positions.

Yorgen Fenech was identified last year as being the owner of a mysterious Dubai-registered company, 17 Black.

17 Black was listed in the Panama Papers – confidential documents leaked from a Panamanian law firm in 2016 which revealed how the wealthy and powerful use tax havens to get around the law.

Daphne Caruana Galizia had written about 17 Black eight months before her death, alleging it had links to both Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi.

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Image source: Wikipedia

US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland has been accused by three women of sexual misconduct.

The accusations, co-published by Portland Monthly magazine and ProPublica, date back to before he became an ambassador.

At the time of the alleged incidents Gordon Sondland was developing hotels in Portland and Seattle in the Pacific Northwest.

Gordon Sondland denies all of the allegations, and accuses the women of targeting him for his role in President Donald Trump’s impeachment hearings.

He said in a statement: “These untrue claims of unwanted touching and kissing are concocted and, I believe, co-ordinated for political purposes.

“They have no basis in fact, and I categorically deny them.”

All three women said Gordon Sondland retaliated against them professionally after they rejected his advances – by verbally abusing them at their workplace, reneging on a promised investment, and withdrawing offers of professional introductions.

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One of the women, Nicole Vogel, said she met Gordon Sondland for dinner in 2003 in order to secure investment for her new magazine.

Nicole Vogel is the owner of Portland Monthly. The magazine said she was not involved editorially in the story, and it had teamed up with ProPublica, a respected non-profit news group, to report the claims independently.

She said that after dinner Gordon Sondland took her to one of his hotels and invited her to see a room. He then requested a hug, she added, but instead “grabs my face and goes to kiss me”.

Nicole Vogel said she deflected him and left the hotel, and later received an email from Gordon Sondland changing the terms of his investment.

A second acuser, Jana Solis, said she met Gordon Sondland in 2008 when she was seeking work as a hotel safety expert.

When Sondland offered her the job, she said, he called her “my new hotel chick” and slapped her rear. She then said that on another occasion he invited her to his home in Portland to evaluate his art collection, before exposing himself.

On a third occasion, Sondland asked her to inspect his penthouse apartment and then forcibly kissed her, she said.

The third woman, Natalie Sept, was working in local politics in Portland for a candidate Gordon Sondland had donated money to.

After they were introduced through her boss, she claims Gordon Sondland invited her to dinner to discuss work opportunities. She said he asked for a hug at the end of the night, but then pushed himself towards her and tried to forcibly kiss her.

In response, Gordon Sondland described the article as “underhanded journalism” that was “fundamentally false”.

He said he intended to take legal action against the two publications.

Gordon Sondland provided key testimony at President Trump’s impeachment hearing last week, where he said he followed the president’s orders to pressure Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rival, Joe Biden.

Image source Getty Images

President Donald Trump has signed The Human Rights and Democracy Act into law as a support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

The bill mandates an annual review, to check if Hong Kong has enough autonomy to justify its special status with the US.

President Trump said he signed the law “out of respect for President Xi [Jinping], China, and the people of Hong Kong”.

He is currently seeking a deal with China, in order to end a trade war between the two countries.

Meanwhile, China’s foreign ministry threatened “counter measures” if the US continued “going down the wrong path”.

The Chinese foreign ministry statement said: “The US has been disregarding facts and distorting truth.

“It openly backed violent criminals who rampantly smashed facilities, set fire, assaulted innocent civilians, trampled on the rule of law, and jeopardized social order.”

The foreign ministry summoned the US ambassador to demand that Washington stops interfering in Chinese internal affairs.

Hong Kong’s government also reacted, saying the American bill would send the wrong signal and would not help to ease the situation.

However, a key activist in the Hong Kong protest movement, Joshua Wong, said the US law was a “remarkable achievement” for “all Hongkongers”.

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President Trump had previously been non-committal about whether he would sign the bill, saying he was “with” Hong Kong but also that President Xi was “an incredible guy”.

However, the bill had widespread congressional support, which meant that even if he vetoed it, lawmakers could potentially have voted to overturn his decision.

President Trump also signed a second bill, which bans the export of crowd-control munitions to the police in Hong Kong – including tear gas, rubber bullets and stun guns.

He said: “[The bills] are being enacted in the hope that leaders and representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences, leading to long-term peace and prosperity for all.”

The bill was introduced in June in the early stages of the protests in Hong Kong, and was overwhelmingly approved by the House of Representatives last month.

It says: “Hong Kong is part of China but has a largely separate legal and economic system.

“The [annual review] shall assess whether China has eroded Hong Kong’s civil liberties and rule of law as protected by Hong Kong’s Basic Law.”

Among other things, Hong Kong’s special trading status means it is not affected by US sanctions or tariffs placed on the mainland.

The bill also says the US should allow Hong Kong residents to obtain US visas, even if they have been arrested for being part of non-violent protests.

Hong Kong’s protests started in June against a proposed law to allow extradition to mainland China but it has since transformed into a larger pro-democracy movement.

The protests have also seen increasingly violent clashes, with police being attacked, and officers firing live bullets.

The last week elections saw a landslide victory for the pro-democracy movement, with 17 of the 18 councils now controlled by pro-democracy councilors.

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Image source Wikipedia

President Donald Trump has been invited to the Congress’ first impeachment hearing on December 4.

Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Jerrold Nadler said President Trump could either attend or “stop complaining about the process”.

If the president does attend, he would be able to question witnesses.

The hearing would mark the next stage in the impeachment inquiry, which centers on a July phone call between PresidentTrump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

In that call, President Trump asked Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden, currently the front-runner to be the Democratic candidate in next year’s presidential election, and his son Hunter Biden, who had previously worked for Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

The probe is looking into whether President Trump used the threat of withholding US military aid to pressure Ukraine into investigating the Bidens. Donald Trump has denied any wrongdoing and has called the inquiry a “witch hunt”.

Last week, the House Intelligence Committee wrapped up two weeks of public hearings, which followed several weeks of closed-door witness interviews.

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Democratic chairman of the Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff said the committees leading the probe – Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs – are now working on their report, which will be issued on December 3.

On November 26, the latest transcript of inquiry evidence was released, detailing testimony by senior budget official Mark Sandy.

Mark Sandy told the House investigators that two White House budget officials had resigned following the withholding of military aid to Ukraine. He said that one, a lawyer, had expressed concern that the action could be a violation of a 1974 budget law.

Jerrold Nadler said in a statement that he had written to President Trump inviting him to the hearing next month.

He said: “At base, the president has a choice to make.

“He can take this opportunity to be represented in the impeachment hearings, or he can stop complaining about the process.

“I hope that he chooses to participate in the inquiry, directly or through counsel, as other presidents have done before him.”

In his letter to the president, Jerrold Nadler said the hearing would be an opportunity to discuss the historical and constitutional basis for impeachment.

He has given President Trump until 18:00 EST on December 1 to confirm whether or not he will be at the hearing, and if so, to let the committee know who his counsel will be.

The Judiciary Committee is expected to begin drafting articles of impeachment – which are the charges of wrongdoing against the president – in early December.

After a vote in the Democratic-controlled House, a trial would be held in the Republican-run Senate.

If Donald Trump was convicted by a two-thirds majority – an outcome deemed highly unlikely – he would become the first US president to be removed from office through impeachment.

Image source: Getty

At least 13 people have died in Albania after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake has struck the country on November 26, bringing down buildings and leaving people trapped under rubble.

According to a defense ministry spokeswoman, one man was killed after jumping from a window in panic.

The quake hit 21 miles north-west of the capital, Tirana, in the early hours of Tuesday.

Hours later, a separate earthquake struck the city of Mostar in Bosnia. There were no reports of casualties.

Albanian PM Edi Rama tweeted: “We have victims. We are working to do everything possible in the affected areas.”

According to Albanian state media, more than 600 people have been treated in hospital, including more than 300 in Tirana and in the coastal city of Durres.

Schools will be closed for the day.

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Emergency workers told Albanian media that one of the dead was an elderly woman who had managed to save her grandson by cradling him with her body.

The defense ministry spokeswoman confirmed firefighters and army staff were helping residents caught under the rubble in Durres, where four people were killed.

Three of those who died were in the town of Thumane, 25 miles to the north-west of Tirana and close to the epicenter. There are fears more people are trapped under rubble.

The man who jumped from the balcony was killed further north, in Kurbin. Another person died in Lezha.

Rescuers in the city were seen trying to free a young boy trapped in the rubble.

Albania was ill-equipped to deal with the situation, he said, and had appealed for outside help.

There have been a number of aftershocks, including one of 5.3-magnitude, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center said.

The Balkans is in an area prone to seismic activity.

The November 26 earthquake has been described by authorities as the strongest to hit Albania in decades.

In 1979, a 6.9-magnitude earthquake hit Albania leaving 136 dead and more than 1,000 injured.

Image source Wikipedia

Hong Kong voters have turned out in record numbers to cast their ballots in the district council elections.

By lunchtime, the number of voters had already surpassed the final total in the 2015 elections.

The election is seen as a test of support for Hong Kong’s embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

Pro-democracy campaigners hope the vote will send a message to the Chinese government after five months of unrest and anti-government protests.

On November 24, long queues formed amid fears polls might be closed by authorities if violence disrupted the election.

In the run-up to the election, pro-democracy protest groups had urged people not to cause disruption. No trouble has been reported so far.

A record 4.1 million people have registered to vote – more than half the population of 7.4 million.

More than 400 councilors are due to be elected to Hong Kong’s district council.

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Pro-democracy campaigners hope they will be able to increase their representation on the council, which traditionally has some influence in choosing the city’s chief executive.

Pro-Beijing candidates are urging voters to support them in order to express frustration at the upheaval caused by continuous clashes between protesters and police.

Polls opened at 07:30 local time on November 24.

According to government figures, by 16.30 more than 2.1 million people had voted (52.14% of all registered voters) compared to 754,705 (24.18%) within the same timescale in the last such elections in 2015.

In total, 1.467 million people voted in the last poll. Only 3.1 million people were registered to vote in that election.

More than 1,000 candidates are running for 452 district council seats which, for the first time, are all being contested. A further 27 seats are allocated to representatives of rural districts.

Currently, pro-Beijing parties hold the majority of these seats.

Police were seen outside some polling stations and on the streets but correspondents said they kept a low profile.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said after voting: “Facing the extremely challenging situation, I am pleased to say… we have a relatively calm and peaceful environment for (the) election today.”

Counting will start immediately after polls close at 22:30. Results are expected to start coming in before midnight.

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Former White House aide Fiona Hill has told the impeachment inquiry that President Donald Trump disregarded the advice of senior advisers to push a false theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.

She said the president had instead listened to the views of his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Fiona Hill called the claims about Ukraine a “fictional narrative”.

The inquiry is assessing if President Trump withheld aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival.

President Trump denies any wrongdoing.

According to a discredited theory, it was Ukrainians or individuals with Ukrainian connections who interfered in the 2016 vote, rather than Russia.

In a phone call with the Ukrainian president, President Trump urged him to look into the claims as well as open an investigation into Joe Biden, one of the main Democratic presidential candidates.

November 21 is fifth and last scheduled day of public hearings by the House Intelligence Committee.

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In her opening statement, Fiona Hill – the former top Russia experts to the White House – accused other Republicans of sowing doubt about Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

She said: “Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country – and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did.”

Fiona Hill urged lawmakers not to promote “politically driven falsehoods” that cast doubt on Russia’s interference in US elections.

“This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves,” she said.

During Fiona Hill’s testimony, Democratic lawyer Daniel Goldman asked her: “So is it your understanding then that President Trump disregarded the advice of his senior officials about this theory and instead listened to Rudy Giuliani’s views?”

“That appears to be the case, yes,” she replied.

In her later testimony, Fiona Hill warned that Rudy Giuliani had been making “explosive” and “incendiary” claims about Ukraine.

She said: “He was clearly pushing forward issues and ideas that would, you know, probably come back to haunt us.

“I think that’s where we are today.”

Fiona Hill testified that she had a couple of “testy encounters” with Gordon Sondland – the US ambassador to the EU who testified on November 20 – over Ukraine, because the ambassador did not keep her informed of “all the meetings he was having”.

US ambassador to Ukraine David Holmes also testified at November 21 hearing.

In his opening statement, David Holmes said that his work at the embassy in Kiev became overshadowed in 2019 by the actions of Rudy Giuliani.

He said: “I became aware that Mr. Giuliani, a private lawyer, was taking a direct role in Ukrainian diplomacy.”

David Holmes added that he was “shocked” on July 18 when an official from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced that military aid to Ukraine was being withheld.

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State department official David Holmes has said at the impeachment inquiry that a US diplomat told Donald Trump Ukraine would carry out investigations the president had asked for.

David Holmes said he had overheard this during a call in July between President Trump and the US envoy to the EU, Gordon Sondland.

He said the call came a day after President Trump asked Ukraine to probe ex-VP Joe Biden.

President Trump has dismissed the impeachment inquiry as “presidential harassment”.

The inquiry is investigating whether Donald Trump withheld US military aid to Ukraine in order to pressure the country’s new President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce a corruption inquiry into Joe Biden, now his rival for the presidency.

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On November 15, President Trump launched a Twitter attack on another witness – former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

He tweeted in the middle of her testimony: “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad.

“She started off in Somalia, how did that go?”

Asked for her response, Marie Yovanovitch called it “very intimidating”.

President Trump later hit back, arguing his tweets were not intimidating “at all”. He told reporters he had watched part of the impeachment hearing and considered it “a disgrace”.

David Holmes testified behind closed doors before us lawmakers in Washington DC.

The diplomatic aid said he had overheard the phone call between President Trump and Ambassador Sondland in which “investigations” are said to have been discussed.

He said Gordon Sondland called President Trump from a restaurant in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv on July 26, 2019.

According to a copy of his opening statement obtained by CBS News, David Holmes said: “Sondland told Trump that [Ukrainian President] Zelensky ‘loves your ass.'”

“I then heard President Trump ask, ‘So, he’s gonna do the investigation?’

“Ambassador Sondland replied that ‘he’s gonna do it’, adding that President Zelensky will do ‘anything you ask him to’.”

Observers have drawn attention to the security implications of making the call from a restaurant, potentially exposing the conversation to eavesdropping by Russian intelligence.

David Holmes’ deposition appears to corroborate the testimony given to the impeachment inquiry by US ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor on November 13.

Bill Taylor said one of his aides heard the same chat.

The aide said President Trump had asked about “investigations” and Gordon Sondland had replied that Ukraine was ready to move forward.

According to Bill Taylor, Gordon Sondland then told the aide that the president cared more about the investigation of the Bidens than anything else involving Ukraine.

The call – which Donald Trump has denied any knowledge of – allegedly happened the day after the now-famous Trump-Zelensky phone call.

While giving her evidence, Marie Yovanovitch was alerted to the president’s criticism by the hearing’s chairman Adam Schiff.

Responding directly to Donald Trump’s tweet, in which he appeared to blame her for upheaval in Somalia, Marie Yovanovitch replied: “I don’t think I have such powers, not in Mogadishu and Somalia and not in other places.

“I actually think that where I’ve served over the years I and others have demonstrably made things better, you know, for the US as well as for the countries that I’ve served in.”

Marie Yovanovitch’s response was broadcast live during the televised hearing.

Adam Schiff, the Democratic Chairman of the Intelligence Committee overseeing the impeachment inquiry, suggested the president’s tweets could be classed as witness intimidation.

Marie Yovanovitch was removed as ambassador to Kyiv in May, two months before a controversial phone call between President Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, which is now key to the inquiry.

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan showed Republican senators an anti-Kurdish video during his visit at the White House.

On November 13, President Erdogan played the video on an iPad during a White House meeting with President Donald Trump and the lawmakers who vocally back the Kurds.

President Trump mostly observed the interaction, sources told media.

He has been widely criticized in the US for his decision to withdraw troops from Syria’s border region.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – which are supported by the US – played a leading role in the fight against ISIS militants.

The senators involved in the White House meeting were Ted Cruz, Rick Scott, Lindsey Graham, Jim Risch, and Joni Ernst.

All five have sharply criticized President Erdogan’s October move against Kurdish forces in Syria following President Trump’s announcement to pull US troops.

Turkey regards the Kurdish fighters as terrorists and is seeking to turn the area into a “safe zone” for resettling the Syrian refugees currently in Turkey.

President Erdogan reportedly believed he might change the senators’ views on the Kurds by showing them the short film, but instead received pushback from the entire group.

After viewing the film, Lindsey Graham asked Presidnet Erdogan if he wanted him “to go get the Kurds to make one about what you’ve done”, prompting a heated discussion, a source present during the meeting told the Axios news website, which first reported the incident.

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President Trump only occasionally intervened in the conversation as the senators took turns debating President Erdogan.

Donald Trump said during a news conference on November 13 he was a “big fan” of President Erdogan. He has previously said that the Kurds are “not angels”.

President Trump had invited the lawmakers to speak to President Erdogan to try to persuade him to avoid buying Russian military equipment, administration sources told media.

Turkey has been threatened with sanctions if it continues to deploy Russian defense systems.

The senators have said they will not allow Turkey to purchase US fighter jets if President Erdogan continues to procure equipment from Russia.

Following the meeting, Senator Ted Cruz released a statement saying he has always viewed Turkey as “a deeply problematic ally, but an ally nonetheless”.

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Bill Taylor, the acting US ambassador to Ukraine, told impeachment hearings that President Trump directly asked about a Ukrainian investigation into his Democratic rival Joe Biden.

In previously unheard testimony, Bill Taylor said a member of his staff was told President Trump was preoccupied with pushing for a probe into Joe Biden.

The top diplomat was speaking at the first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry.

President Trump told reporters he did not recall making such comments.

The president is accused of withholding US military aid to Ukraine in order to pressure the country’s new president to publicly announce a corruption inquiry into Joe Biden, among the favorites to take him on in the 2020 presidential race.

President Trump denies any wrongdoing and has called the inquiry a “witch-hunt”.

During a detailed opening statement, Bill Taylor said a member of his staff had overheard a telephone call in which the president inquired about “the investigations” into Joe Biden.

The call was with US ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, who reportedly told the president over the phone that “the Ukrainians were ready to move forward”.

After the call, the staff member “asked ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine”, Bill Taylor said.

Bill Taylor said: “Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden.”

When asked about Gordon Sondland earlier this month, the president had said: “I hardly know the gentleman.”

Responding to queries from reporters after the hearing, President Trump said: “I know nothing about that, first time I’ve heard it.”

He said he recalled Gordon Sondland’s testimony, in which the diplomat said he spoke to the president “for a brief moment” and President Trump had “said no quid pro quo under any circumstances”.

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Gordon Sondland said he did not recall the phone call Bill Taylor described, “not even a little bit”, and “in any event it’s more second hand information”.

The impeachment inquiry has been going on for more than a month – but all previous hearings were private, with reports based on leaks and sources speaking to the media.

Today’s public hearings were the first time the public heard from witnesses directly and a chance for Democrats and Republicans to win over voters.

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Image source Wikimedia

Venice mayor has said that the severe flooding affecting much of the Italian city is a direct result of climate change.

Mayor Luigi Brugnaro tweeted that the highest water levels in the region in more than 50 years will leave “a permanent mark”.

“Now the government must listen,” he added.

“These are the effects of climate change… the costs will be high.”

According to the tide monitoring centre, the waters in Venice peaked at 6ft. Only once since official records began in 1923 has the tide been higher, reaching 6.4ft in 1966.

The city’s St Mark’s Square – one of the lowest parts of the city – was one of the worst hit areas.

St Mark’s Basilica was flooded for the sixth time in 1,200 years, according to church records.

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Mayor Brugnaro said the famous landmark had suffered “grave damage”. The crypt was completely flooded and there are fears of structural damage to the basilica’s columns.

Pierpaolo Campostrini, a member of St Mark’s council, said four of those floods had now occurred within the past 20 years.

The city of Venice is made up of more than 100 islands inside a lagoon off the north-east coast of Italy.

Two people died on the island of Pellestrina, a thin strip of land that separates the lagoon from the Adriatic Sea. A man was electrocuted as he tried to start a pump in his home and a second person was found dead elsewhere.

Mayor Brugnaro said the damage was “huge” and that he would declare a state of disaster, warning that a project to help prevent the Venetian lagoon suffering devastating floods “must be finished soon”.

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Cyclone Bulbul, expected to unleash surges as high as 7ft, has prompted the evacuation of more than 2 million people in India and Bangladesh.

The storm hit the Bay of Bengal at midnight local time on November 9, near Sagar Island in Indian West Bengal.

According to local reports, two people have already been killed by the cyclone.

Services at many seaports and airports in the region were suspended – including at the busy Kolkata airport.

Bangladesh’s two biggest ports, Mongla and Chittagong, were closed and flights into Chittagong airport were stopped.

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Shah Kamal, Bangladesh’s disaster management secretary, told AFP that the evacuated residents had been moved to more than 5,500 cyclone shelters.

Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister for the Indian state of West Bengal, tweeted before the cyclone made landfall urging people to stay calm.

She wrote: “Please do not panic.

“Kindly remain calm and co-operate with the administration in its rescue and relief efforts. Be alert, take care and stay safe.”

Forecasters expect Cyclone Bulbul to move north and weaken gradually.

According to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department, the cyclone is set to reach wind speeds of up to 75mph, with gusts of 94mph, and create tidal surges in the sea and rivers when it hits the coastal regions.

Along Bulbul’s predicted path is the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest and home to the endangered Bengal tigers.

Indian authorities said military ships and planes have been put on standby to assist with emergencies.

Bangladesh’s low-lying coast is often hit by deadly cyclones, but it has successfully reduced the number of casualties in recent years.

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President Donald Trump has repeatedly called for the whistleblower who triggered the impeachment inquiry to be unmasked, ignoring a cease-and-desist warning.

On November 7, a lawyer for a whistleblower told the White House that President Trump’s rhetoric was placing his client and family in physical danger.

However, the president renewed his attacks on the whistleblower and lawyer on November 8.

The whistleblower’s identity has so far been fiercely guarded by Democrats.

In August he filed a report that eventually triggered impeachment proceeding against President Trump.

The report expressed concern over a phone call a month earlier in which President Trump asked his Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden, a Democratic front-runner for the 2020 presidential election.

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In the letter, sent to White House counsel Pat Cipollone, the whistleblower’s lawyer Andrew Bakaj cites many examples of Donald Trump’s “fixation” on the identity of his client in his comments to the media, at rallies and on Twitter.

Andrew Bakaj wrote: “Such statements seek to intimidate my client – and they have.”  

The lawyer continued: “Should any harm befall any suspected named whistleblower or their family, the blame will rest squarely with your client.”

However, the next day, President Trump launched a fresh attack at the White House.

“The whistleblower is a disgrace to our country… and the whistleblower because of that should be revealed,” the president told reporters.

“And his lawyer who said the worst things possible two years ago, he should be sued, and maybe for treason.”

President Trump may have been referring to the whistleblower’s other lawyer, Mark Zaid, who has been under fire from the president’s allies over tweet posted in 2017 in which he vowed – among other things – to “get rid of him [Donald Trump]”.

Meanwhile, first daughter Ivanka Trump said in an interview with the Associated Press that she did not believe the whistleblower’s identity was “particularly relevant”.

“The whistleblower shouldn’t be a substantive part of the conversation,” Ivanka Trump said, adding that the person “did not have firsthand information”.

Ivanka Trump echoed her father’s view that the impeachment investigation was about “overturning the results of the 2016 election”.

Democrats have said the whistleblower’s identity is immaterial. They argue that the complaint, which alleges abuse of power by President Trump, has been substantiated by witness testimony to the impeachment committees.

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives will next week hold televised hearings for the first time in this inquiry.

If the House eventually votes to impeach President Trump, the Republican-controlled Senate will hold a trial of the president.

If President Trump is convicted – which is widely viewed at present as unlikely – he would be removed from office.

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A district judge in Oregon has temporarily blocked a rule proposed by President Donald Trump that would require immigrants to prove they will have health insurance within 30 days of arrival in the US, or can pay for medical care.

Judge Michael Simon granted a preliminary injunction against the proposal.

A lawsuit opposing the rule has been filed by 7 American citizens and an NGO.

They argued it would block hundreds of thousands of legal migrants.

According to the lawsuit, the number of immigrants who enter the US with family-sponsored visas would drop considerably, or be eliminated altogether.

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Judge Michael Simon said the potential damage to families justified a US-wide ban.

“Facing a likely risk of being separated from their family members and a delay in obtaining a visa to which family members would otherwise be entitled is irreparable harm,” his legal order read.

Would-be immigrants had been struggling to establish how to get the required insurance coverage. The US healthcare system is complex, and has not generally catered to people yet to arrive there.

The healthcare immigration proclamation is part of President Trump’s effort to shift the US away from a family-focused immigration system.

Judge Michael Simon’s 28-day temporary restraining order will prevent the rule from coming into effect on November 3, but the legal battle is likely to continue.

The Trump administration has argued that legal immigrants are about three times more likely to lack health insurance than US citizens, and that taxpayers should not bear their medical costs.

However, US policy experts say immigrants are less likely to use the healthcare system than American citizens.

According to a research from George Washington University, recent immigrants without insurance made up less than a tenth of 1% of US medical fees in 2017.

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President Donald Trump has announced he will switch his permanent residence from Trump Tower in New York to Florida.

The president said he had been badly treated by New York’s political leaders, despite having paid millions of dollars in tax.

Donald Trump was born in New York but has increasingly spent more time at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach.

The Republican president has been at odds with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio – both Democrats.

Both welcomed the news that the president was Florida-bound.

Mayor De Blasio tweeted: “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out or whatever.”

Governor Cuomo challenged President Trump’s assertion that he had paid his taxes, adding: “He’s all yours, Florida.”

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Donald Trump has owned the Mar-a-Lago resort since 1985 and travels frequently between there and the White House.

He is running for a second term in next year’s election and made clear on October 31 that he hoped to be in the White House for another five years.

The president said he would always cherish New York but added: “Unfortunately, despite the fact that I pay millions of dollars in city, state and local taxes each year, I have been treated very badly by the political leaders of both the city and state. Few have been treated worse.”

The New York Times reported that

President Trump and his wife Melania filed for residency in Florida in September, the New York Times reported.

According to documents obtained by the publication, President Trump’s “other places of abode” are listed as 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (the White House) and his private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

An apartment in Trump Tower, Manhattan, has been Donald Trump’s primary residence since 1983. It is not clear if the prsident will retain it.

President Trump has spent 99 days at Mar-a-Lago compared with 20 days at Trump Tower since taking office, according to NBC News.

The White House has not commented on the president’s reasons for changing his permanent address but the New York Times quoted a person close to the president as saying that the reasons were mainly for tax purposes.

Florida does not have a state income tax or inheritance tax.

A resolution setting out the next steps in President Donald Trump’s impeachment have been published by House Democrats.

The motion sets out a more public phase of the inquiry and hands the lead role in hearings to the chairman of the intelligence committee, Adam Schiff.

The House, controlled by the Democrats, will vote on the measure on October 31.

A White House spokeswoman said the resolution was an “illegitimate sham”.

So far, hearings have been held behind closed doors. This vote to make the impeachment process public is about the procedure, and not a ballot on whether or not to impeach the president.

Meanwhile, Republicans have criticized Democrats for the closed hearings up to this point, in which Republican lawmakers have also taken part. However, Democrats insist they were needed to gather evidence ahead of the public stage of the inquiry, and deny allegations they have been secretive.

President Trump is accused of trying to pressure Ukraine into investigating unsubstantiated corruption claims against his political rival, Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden, who worked with Ukrainian gas company Burisma.

The president denies wrongdoing and calls the impeachment inquiry a “witch hunt”.

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On October 29, the impeachment inquiry heard from Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a White House official who had monitored a phone call on July 25 between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

That call sparked a whistleblower complaint and led to the impeachment probe.

Col. Alexander Vindman said he was “concerned” by the call as he “did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a US citizen”.

The eight-page document sets out a two-stage process for the next phase of the inquiry.

In the first, the House Intelligence Committee will continue its investigations and hold public hearings. It will have the right to make public transcripts of depositions taken in private.

In the second phase, a public report on the findings will be sent to the House Judiciary Committee which will conduct its own proceedings and report on “such resolutions, articles of impeachment, or other recommendations as it deems proper”.

President Trump’s lawyers will be allowed to take part in the Judiciary Committee stage.

Republicans on the committees will be able to subpoena documents or witnesses – although they could still be blocked as both committees are Democrat-controlled.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said a House vote on the resolution would take place on October 31. She has previously said such a vote is not required under the US Constitution.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, speaking before the resolution was unveiled, said the entire process was a “sham.”

Referring to the closed-door meetings and depositions he said: “You can’t put the genie back in the bottle. Due process starts at the beginning.”

Alberto Fernández has been elected president of Argentina in a vote dominated by economic concerns.

The center-left opposition candidate secured more than the 45% of the vote needed to win, beating conservative incumbent Mauricio Macri.

Raucous crowds gathered at Alberto Fernández’s election headquarters to celebrate the result.

The vote was held amid an economic crisis that has left a third of Argentina’s population in poverty.

Mauricio Macri had trailed behind his challenger in pre-election polls and was trounced by the opposition in primary elections in August.

The incumbent president conceded defeat on October 27. Congratulating his political rival, Mauricio Macri said he had invited Alberto Fernández to the presidential palace on October 28 to discuss an orderly transition.

Alberto Fernández later told supporters he would collaborate with the outgoing president “in every way we can”, according to Reuters.

With more than 90% of ballots counted, Alberto Fernández had 47.79% of the vote, compared to Mauricio Macri’s 40.71%.

To win in the first round, a candidate needs at least 45% of the vote, or 40% and a 10-point lead over the second-place contestant.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

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Alberto Fernández will assume the presidency on December 10.

The vote was dominated by concerns over the economy. With nearly one in three people now living in poverty, voters backed the candidate they thought was best-placed to lead Argentina out of the crisis.

Mauricio Macri promised to achieve “zero poverty”, but things actually worsened during his four-year rule. His supporters say he inherited a broken economy when he came to power and needed more time to sort it out.

Alberto Fernández has vowed to play things safe financially.

Career politician Alberto Fernández has caused quite a stir since he first appeared in the limelight of Argentine politics some six months ago.

The former campaign strategist began his bid for the presidency in May – something of a surprise as ex-president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner had been widely tipped to be the center-left opposition coalition’s candidate for the top office.

However, Alberto Fernández really came into his own in August when he defeated Mauricio Macri by nearly 15 percentage points in primary elections, a compulsory vote for all electors which is seen is a dry-run for the presidency.

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Thirty nine Chinese nationals were found dead in a refrigerated trailer in Essex, UK.

Police have been granted an extra 24 hours to question truck driver Mo Robinson, 25, on suspicion of murdering the eight women and 31 men.

Three properties in Northern Ireland have been raided and the National Crime Agency is working to establish if “organized crime groups” were involved.

The truck arrived in Purfleet on the River Thames from Zeebrugge in Belgium.

Ambulance staff discovered the bodies in the container at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays just after 01:30 local time, on October 23.

The trailer left the port at Purfleet shortly after 01:05.

According to police, the tractor unit – the front part of the truck – entered the UK via Holyhead in Wales on October 20, having travelled from Dublin.

Speaking after a magistrate granted Essex Police more time to question Mo Robinson on October 24, Deputy Chief Constable Pippa Mills said her priority was “preserving the dignity of the 39 people who have died and ensuring that we get answers for their loved ones”.

The truck has been moved to a secure site at Tilbury Docks and police are due to begin the process of moving the bodies to a mortuary at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.

They will be taken by private ambulance so that post-mortem examinations can take place, with the force expecting all the bodies to have been moved by the weekend.

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Global Trailer Rentals Ltd confirmed to RTE News that it owned the trailer and said it had leased it on October 15.

The company said it had given Essex Police the details of the person and company they had leased it to.

Essex Police said it was the largest murder investigation in the force’s history and the victims were all “believed to be Chinese nationals”.

It said formal identification of the 39 people, one of whom is a young adult woman, “could be a lengthy process”.

China’s ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming tweeted that the embassy had read the reports of the deaths “with heavy hearts” and was in close contact with British police.

Police initially suggested the truck could be from Bulgaria, but later said officers believed it entered the UK from Belgium.

A spokesman for the Bulgarian foreign affairs ministry said the truck was registered in the country under the name of a company owned by an Irish citizen.

The Belgian Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office said the container arrived in Zeebrugge at 14:29 on October 22 and left the port later that afternoon.

It was not clear when the victims were placed in the container or if this happened in Belgium, a spokesman said.

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Chile’s President Sebastian Piñera vowed to increase the basic pension by 20% and proposed a law that would see the state cover the costs of expensive medical treatments after days of violent protests.

The protests were sparked by a rise in subway prices but grew into something bigger as thousands took to the streets over austerity and inequality.

Fifteen deaths have been reported during protests as more than 5,000 were detained.

Speaking from the presidential palace in the capital Santiago, Sebastian Piñera said he had received a clear message from Chileans.

He said he hoped to turn recent violent protests into an “opportunity” for Chile “to make up for lost time, pick up the pace and take concrete and urgent steps”.

The president vowed to increase the minimum wage as well as introducing a new higher tax bracket. Electricity rates will also be cut under the reform plan.

People began to protest in Santiago in the wake of an increase in subway fares. High school pupils and university students called on passengers to evade fares by jumping over the turnstiles. The rise in subway prices has since been overturned.

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Protests quickly turned into mass demonstrations in several cities as Chileans sought action on rising living costs and low wages.

Chile is one of the most prosperous countries in the region but has high levels of inequality.

Ten cities have been placed in a state of emergency and under a night curfew. There have been outbreaks of looting and arson.

On October 22, many schools and shops remained closed in both Santiago and other cities, and long queues formed at petrol stations.

In Santiago, rioters damaged the city’s subway system with repairs estimated to total at least $200 million. The subway is still only partially running due to the damage.

UK’s PM Boris Johnson has said he will press on “undaunted” with Brexit on October 31, despite losing a crunch Commons vote.

He must now ask the EU for an extension to that deadline after the Prliament backed an amendment aimed at ruling out a no-deal Brexit, by 322 votes to 306.

Boris Johnson has told EU Council President Donald Tusk that he will now send a letter seeking the delay.

Under the terms of the so-called Benn Act, passed last month by UK lawmakers, he has until 23:00 local time on October 18 to send it.

Having spoken to the prime minister at 19:15 local time, EU Council President Donald Tusk tweeted that he was “waiting for the letter”.

An EU source said that once Donald Tusk received the letter, he would start consulting EU leaders on how to react.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Boris Johnson has vowed to bring in legislation on October 21 to implement the deal he struck with Brussels this week.

Lawmakers could also be given another vote on the deal then, if Commons Speaker John Bercow allows it.

The Commons defeat is a major setback for the prime minister, who has repeatedly insisted that the UK will leave at the end of the month come what may.

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PM Boris Johnson told the Commons he was not “daunted or dismayed” by the defeat and remained committed to taking Britain out by the end of the month on the basis of his “excellent deal”.

In a letter to lawmakers and peers on October 19, Boris Johnson warned the EU could reject “Parliament’s request for further delay”.

He wrote: “It is quite possible that our friends in the European Union will reject Parliament’s request for further delay (or not take a decision quickly).”

The PM added that it was to his “great regret” that lawmakers had voted for more delay, and that he “will not negotiate a delay”.

“I will tell the EU what I have told the British public for my 88 days as prime minister: further delay is not a solution,” he said.

Downing Street refused to offer any explanation as to why the prime minister did not consider he was obliged to negotiate a fresh extension.

The EU said it was up to the UK to “inform it of the next steps”.

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Image source: KCNA

Kim Jong-un has climbed North Korea’s highest mountain, Mount Paektu, on horseback, according to state media.

A series of photos released by KCNA show the North Korean leader astride a white horse on a snow-covered mountain.

This is not the first time Kim Jong-un has scaled the 2,750-meter peak and analysts say such gestures have been known to precede major announcements.

Mount Paektu holds a special place in North Korea’s identity and is feted as the birthplace of Kim Jong-un’s father.

A KCNA report released on October 16 said: “His march on horseback in Mt Paektu is a great event of weighty importance in the history of the Korean revolution.

“Sitting on the horseback atop Mt Paektu, [he] recollected with deep emotion the road of arduous struggle he covered for the great cause of building the most powerful country, with faith and will as firm as Mt Paektu.”

In 2017, Kim Jong-un visited the mountain a few weeks before his New Year’s address, where he hinted at a diplomatic thaw with South Korea.

The North Korean leader has reportedly climbed Mount Paektu at least three times, and made a joint visit to the mountain with South Korean president Moon Jae-in in 2018.

Kim Jong-un climbs Mount Paektu

KCNA previously released photos of Kim Jong-un atop the mountain, after apparently climbing it in black leather shoes.

Mount Paektu, an active volcano, is said to be the birthplace of Dangun, the founder of the first Korean kingdom more than 4,000 years ago.

The mountain is hundreds of kilometers from the capital Pyongyang, and sits right on the border between North Korea and China.

Earlier this month, North Korean officials held talks with US officials in Sweden, the first since President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un met briefly at the DMZ in June.

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Hunter Biden has defended his foreign business dealings amid attacks by the White House and increasing media scrutiny.

The son of former Vice-President Joe Biden – who has had business ties in Ukraine and China in recent years – told ABC news that he had done “nothing wrong”.

However, he admitted to “poor judgment”, leaving him open to political attacks.

Hunter Biden’s foreign work and President Donald Trump’s intervention have sparked impeachment proceedings against the president.

His interview with ABC comes ahead of Tuesday evening’s Democratic debate, where Joe Biden – a 2020 frontrunner – will square off against 11 other presidential hopefuls.

Breaking his silence on his foreign business dealings, Hunter Biden, 49, dismissed claims of impropriety.

“Did I do anything improper? No, and not in any way. Not in any way whatsoever. I joined a board, I served honorably,” he said, adding that he did not discuss such business with his father.

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However, Hunter Biden acknowledged the possible political ramifications of his work, saying his failure to do so previously demonstrated “poor judgment”.

“Did I make a mistake? Well, maybe in the grand scheme of things, yeah,” he said.

“But did I make a mistake based upon some ethical lapse? Absolutely not.”

Hunter Biden stressed his record on the board of the UN World Food Program and work for US corporations to defend his lucrative role as a board member for a Ukrainian gas company.

He said: “I think that I had as much knowledge as anybody else that was on the board, if not more.”

However, he acknowledged the appointment may have resulted from his father’s clout.

“I don’t think that there’s a lot of things that would have happened in my life if my last name wasn’t Biden,” Hunter Biden said.

His foreign business ventures have pulled him to the epicenter of the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

President Trump and his allies have claimed that as vice-president Joe Biden encouraged the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor because the prosecutor was investigating Burisma, a gas company that employed Hunter Biden.

These allegations – though widely discredited – were raised by President Trump in a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

This call has fuelled the Democratic-led impeachment investigation. The inquiry is trying to establish whether President Trump withheld nearly $400 million in aid to nudge President Zelensky into launching an inquiry into the Bidens.

President Trump tweeted: “A big scandal at @ABC News. They got caught using really gruesome FAKE footage of the Turks bombing in Syria. A real disgrace. Tomorrow they will ask softball questions to Sleepy Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, like why did Ukraine & China pay you millions when you knew nothing? Payoff?”

The president has continued to seize on Hunter Biden’s dealings in Ukraine and China to stage political attacks against him and his father, charging both Bidens with corruption, without offering specific evidence.

In an interview on October 15, Hunter Biden dismissed the president’s claims as a “ridiculous conspiracy idea”.

Last week, Hunter Biden announced he would step down from the board of BHR (Shanghai) Equity Investment Fund Management Company.

His lawyer, George Mesires, told media his client had not acquired an equity interest in the fund until 2017, after his father had left office.

Hunter Biden said last week that he would not work for any foreign-owned companies if his father is elected president.