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World Politics

Page 878 - Get up to date with the latest news, scores & standings from the Cycling News Community.
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The whole sordid story (what we know so far) of the break in at the N.Korean embassy in Madrid - it's long but worth a read.

Who's paying the burgler's lawyer
Lee Wolosky, a New York lawyer and partner at Boies Schiller Flexner with extensive national-security experience.

That’s a great question,” said former CIA operative Kiriakou. If Wolosky has a security clearance, “it’s conceivable that he could be paid by the government, including the ODNI, the CIA, or even the NSC.” In fact, the chances that he has retained his clearance since leaving government are high: A defamation lawsuit against UANI that Wolosky handled was dismissed by a federal judge in 2015 after the government argued that it could reveal state secrets.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will hold talks with his visiting Venezuelan counterpart Jorge Arreaza in Moscow on Sunday to discuss the opposition’s attempt to seize power in that Latin American country on April 30. The meeting will take place ahead of Lavrov’s contacts with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, which are also expected to focus on Venezuela.

"There will be an exchange of opinion on the situation inside and around Venezuela in connection with the government coup attempt, the outlook for a political and diplomatic settlement of differences within the framework of the Venezuelan constitution, and various options of international mediatory efforts to promote a dialogue between the government and the opposition," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in connection with the forthcoming negotiations. "Certain steps will be discussed for expanding comprehensive Russian-Venezuelan partnership in the international scene, stepping up efforts by an informal group of countries for the protection of goals and principles enshrined in the UN Charter and also for resisting illegal, unilaterally imposed sanctions that worsen the social and economic situation in the country."

Pompeo to offer what? Not to invade Venezuela? The US have done Trump's normal fault - boxed themselves into a corner. Maduro won't step down from a position of strength when he knows what happened to Gaddafi.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó told the Washington Post that parliament would "consider" U.S. military help if offered by national security adviser John Bolton, calling recent reports out of Washington about possible U.S. intervention "great news."

Or in other words, "we can n't get rid of Maduro without military help." Pray for some sane heads at the Pentagon.

Robert5091 said:
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó told the Washington Post that parliament would "consider" U.S. military help if offered by national security adviser John Bolton, calling recent reports out of Washington about possible U.S. intervention "great news."

Or in other words, "we can n't get rid of Maduro without military help." Pray for some sane heads at the Pentagon.

When was the last time 'sane heads' ruled the Pentagon?
At least four Israelis and 23 Palestinians were killed in clashes over two days of worsening violence - the most intense in recent years.

Unconfirmed reports from a Hamas TV station say a ceasefire was agreed between the two sides, but there has so far been no word from Israel.

Parts of the international community, including the UN, had called for calm.

The Israeli army said on Sunday that more than 600 rockets had been fired into Israeli territory since Saturday, while it hit 320 targets in response.

Israel Defense Forces killed a Hamas commander in the Gaza Strip on Sunday in what the military described as a targeted strike and Palestinians said was the first such action since the 2014 Operation Protective Edge. A military statement said that Hamed al-Khoudary, 34, had been responsible for transferring funds from Iran to armed factions in Gaza.

US response, I believe, to rocket launches against Israel
The U.S. is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to "send a clear and unmistakable message" to Iran, National Security Advisor John Bolton said Sunday night.

"In response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings, the United States is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the U.S. Central Command region to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force."
Turkey's electoral body has ordered that Istanbul's local elections be re-held after a shock opposition victory in March.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party questioned the slim win by the opposition CHP, claiming there were "irregularities and corruption".

CHP deputy chair Onursal Adiguzel said the rerun showed it was "illegal to win against the AK Party".

The vote will reportedly be held in the city on 23 June.

An AKP representative on the electoral board, Recep Ozel, said the rerun was because some electoral officials were not civil servants and some result papers had not been signed.

This is what to do if you lose a vote - claim it was n't held right and redo it! Hope even more don't vote for the AK Party! :D
Under pressure to take military action in Venezuela, the Pentagon will deploy a military hospital ship to the region to help care for Venezuelan refugees.

Vice President Mike Pence, speaking at a gathering of Latin American diplomats at the State Department, announced the USNS Comfort will be dispatched in June for a five-month humanitarian mission to the Caribbean, Central America and South America.

“United States military and medical personnel, working alongside their counterparts from across the region, will provide medical assistance to communities in need and help relieve countries overwhelmed by the influx of people fleeing Venezuela,” Pence said during his address to the 49th Annual Washington Conference on the Americas.

Amid the uncertainty following an unsuccessful opposition uprising in Venezuela, the Trump administration has been scrambling for new ideas to increase pressure on the government of Nicolás Maduro.

Hospital ship? That's the Pentagon saying to Trump were not doing anything crazy. CIA are sitting on their hands too.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó on Saturday said he’s instructed his political envoy in Washington to immediately open relations with the U.S. military in a bid to bring more pressure on President Nicolás Maduro to resign.

The leader said he’s asked Carlos Vecchio, who the U.S. recognizes as Venezuela’s ambassador, to open “direct communications” toward possible military “coordination.”

The remarks, at the end of a rally Saturday, mark one of his strongest public pleas yet for greater U.S. involvement in the country’s fast-escalating crisis. While Guaidó has repeatedly echoed comments from the Trump administration that “all options” are on the table for removing Maduro, few in the U.S. or Venezuelan opposition view military action as likely nor has the White House indicated it’s seriously considering such a move.

But with tensions between the U.S. and Maduro running high, the saber rattling is getting louder.
Guaidó has said that as Venezuela’s rightful leader he reserves the right to invite foreign military actions in the same way independence hero Simon Bolivar hired 5,000 British mercenaries to liberate South America from Spain. He says any such help should be considered “cooperation,” instead of intervention, something he has accused Maduro of allowing in the form of military and intelligence support from allies Cuba and Russia.

What will the "troika of tyranny" (Bolton/Trump/Pompeo) do next?
The US government has approved the deployment of a Patriot missile defence battery and another warship to the Middle East amid increasing tensions between the US and Iran.

The USS Arlington, which transports marines, amphibious vehicles, and rotary aircraft, as well as the Patriot missiles, will join the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group, which already passed through Egypt's Suez Canal on Thursday, and is currently sailing in the Red Sea, according to CNN.

The US says the deployments of military hardware to the region comes in response to "heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations".
In an advisory posted on Thursday, the US Maritime Administration (MARAD) said that since early May there had been an increased possibility of Iran or its regional proxies taking action against US and partner interests.

These included, MARAD said, oil production infrastructure, after Tehran threatened to close the vital Strait of Hormuz chokepoint in the Arabian Gulf through which about a fifth of oil consumed globally passes.

"Iran or its proxies could respond by targeting commercial vessels, including oil tankers, or US military vessels in the Red Sea or the Persian Gulf," MARAD said.

MARAD?! How the [bleep] would they know what Iran was up to? Geezus ...

(There's a weird connection between these two stories - in Venezuela -
On Saturday, Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino condemned what he said was an illegal incursion by a U.S. Coast Guard cutter into Venezuelan territorial waters. He provided no evidence to back the claim but said that the Venezuelan Navy vessels forced it to withdraw..

“I don’t know if other republics will accept actions like this in their jurisdiction, but we will not,” he said.

Army Col. Amanda Azubuike, a South Command spokeswoman, said a U.S. Coast Guard vessel was conducting a drug interdiction mission in the international waters of the Caribbean Sea. She declined to provide further comment.
Saudi Arabia said Monday two of its oil tankers were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in attacks that caused "significant damage" to the vessels, one of them as it was en route to pick up Saudi oil to take to the U.S.
Earlier Sunday, Lebanon's pro-Iran satellite channel Al-Mayadeen, quoting "Gulf sources," falsely reported that a series of explosions had struck Fujairah's port. State and semi-official media in Iran picked up the report from Al-Mayadeen, which later published the names of vessels it claimed were involved.

The AP, after speaking to Emirati officials and local witnesses, found the report about explosions at the port to be unsubstantiated.
Sunday's incident comes after the U.S. Maritime Administration, a division of the U.S. Transportation Department, warned Thursday that Iran could target commercial sea traffic.

"Since early May, there is an increased possibility that Iran and/or its regional proxies could take action against U.S. and partner interests, including oil production infrastructure, after recently threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz," the warning read. "Iran or its proxies could respond by targeting commercial vessels, including oil tankers, or U.S. military vessels in the Red Sea, Bab-el-Mandeb Strait or the Persian Gulf."

Early Sunday, the agency issued a new warning to sailors about the alleged sabotage, while stressing "the incident has not been confirmed." It urged shippers to exercise caution in the area for the next week.

Publicly available satellite images of the area taken Sunday showed no smoke or fire.

See also -
At a special meeting on U.S.-Iran tensions with Israel's intelligence chiefs and top military brass, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would make every effort not to get dragged into the escalation in the Gulf and would not interfere directly in the situation, Israeli officials tell me.

The backdrop: Israel was one of the main sources of intelligence on alleged Iranian plots against the U.S. and its allies in the region. The U.S. has spread the alarm about such threats and deployed additional military assets. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke on the phone earlier this week with Netanyahu to coordinate their responses to rising U.S.-Iran tensions, the officials say.

So Bibi gets Trump & Kushner all fired up, Bolton & Pompeo get major [bleep]-ons at the thought of bombing Iran, then Bibi says, "don't drag me into this". WTF?! Seems like the rocket attacks from Gaza, have started the finger wagging and pointing at Iran.
Netanyahu still struggling to sway Liberman as coalition deadline looms
Yisrael Beytenu leader calls prime minister’s compromise, which would dilute draft law for Haredi men, 'a game'; special committee approves bill to disperse Knesset, will be voted on second and third times Wednesday; Kahlon's Kulanu party unites with Likud despite vow to remain independent
With a little over 24 hours left before the deadline to present a new coalition, no agreements had been reached by Tuesday night between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman. Netanyahu is seeking to bring the five-MK party into his new coalition.
If elections are indeed approved, the expected date is September 17, just five months after the April 9 elections, and the cost is estimated to be NIS 574 million.
A Government helping people?! Geezus! :D
After more than a year of curiosity and speculation, New Zealand’s Labour coalition government has unveiled its “world-first” wellbeing budget, to widespread praise from social agencies charged with looking after the country’s most vulnerable people.

The finance minister, Grant Robertson, unveiled billions for mental health services and child poverty as well as record investment in measures to tackle family violence.

“Success is making New Zealand both a great place to make a living, and a great place to make a life,” Robertson told parliament.

He said many New Zealanders were not benefitting from a growing economy in their daily lives, and this year’s budget had been designed to address the growing disparity between the haves and have-nots. According to predictions by the International Monetary Fund, the economy is expected to grow at about 2.5 % in 2019 and 2.9% in 2020.

Zucman and Saez’s latest estimates show that the top 0.1% of taxpayers—about 170,000 families in a country of 330 million people—control 20% of American wealth, the highest share since 1929. The top 1% control 39% of U.S. wealth, and the bottom 90% have only 26%. The bottom half of Americans combined have a negative net worth.

Bibi has to go back to the electorate -https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-48454514
Israeli lawmakers have voted to dissolve parliament after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government.

The vote triggered a fresh election, which will be held on 17 September.

Mr Netanyahu was unable to reach a deal for a fresh right-wing coalition following last month's election.

At the heart of the impasse was a military conscription bill governing exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students.

It is the first time in Israel's history that a prime minister-designate has failed to form a coalition.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was captured on a secret audio recording saying it has been "devilishly difficult" to contain the situation in Venezuela.

The Washington Post heard tape of Pompeo speaking during an off-the-record meeting with Jewish leaders last week, during which he talked about the growing crisis in Venezuela. The U.S. government and several other countries recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country's leader, not its socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

"Our conundrum, which is to keep the opposition united, has proven devilishly difficult," Pompeo said. "The moment Maduro leaves, everybody's going to raise their hands and [say], 'Take me, I'm the next president of Venezuela.' It would be forty-plus people who believe they're the rightful heir to Maduro."

Pompeo indicated the Trump administration has tried for nearly two and a half years to oust the Maduro regime and help install a new government to quell unrest in the South American country and stabilize the economy.
An outbreak of African swine fever, a highly contagious disease that’s been called “pig Ebola,” is ravaging Asia’s pig industry with no signs of letting up.

The current outbreak of the virus, which kills almost all animals it infects, began in China in August. Since then, some 22 percent of the country’s pig herd has been lost to the disease and to culling, Christine McCracken, an animal protein expert at Rabobank, told Vox.

African swine fever is also now spreading in several countries neighboring China, including Mongolia, Russia, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
Officials in China have tried in vain to get the outbreak under control to protect the country’s roughly 440 million pigs, which make up more than half of all pigs on earth. So far, it says it has culled 1.2 million pigs, putting thousands of small producers out of business. McCracken and others say that is a significant underestimate.

By the end of the year, she estimates China will be forced to cull more than 200 million pigs. That’s an astonishingly high number, considering that a single pig can produce 200 pounds of food. It’s also remarkable when you compare it to the 250 million poultry in 63 countries that were culled following the outbreak of avian flu in China in 1996.

This African swine fever outbreak, in other words, is much worse than that avian flu outbreak in terms of livestock losses. “It’s historic; there’s never been anything like this in the history of modern animal production,” said McCracken. “And it’s a frightening situation only in that there is no current control.”

The Danes & Germans making some extra bucks from "exploding" pig prices - upp over 20 % since January.
More on the PM2.5 and other pollutants over South Korea -

South Koreans are growing increasingly concerned about the effects the pollution is having on their health - 97% of people asked by the ministry of environment last year said air pollution was causing them physical or psychological pain.

The government's response has been to declare the "fine dust' as a social disaster to release emergency funding.

Asia's fourth largest economy has spent billions over several decades to defend itself against the threat of war from its North Korean neighbour - now it has to turn its attention to the effects the air is having on its population.

On the research flight between China and South Korea over the Yellow Sea -
...after an hour flying over the Yellow Sea, there is no longer a view outside my window. The air is not just hazy, it is so thick only shreds of light make their way through. We are about 500m above sea level and the scientists are busy recording various readings of sulphur dioxide and what was described to me as black carbon.

The head researcher Ahn Joon-young is pointing out some of his findings. It seems the closer we get to China, the more polluted the air is becoming. On this day at least.

"My research goal is: where does this pollution come from, how much is it coming to Korea, and what is it we have to collaborate with other countries [on] to reduce our air pollution," he tells me.

"I am finding higher concentrations of black carbon and sulphur dioxide over the sea than we found inland. That means that some pollutants have travelled from another region to Korea."

When I ask him where they may have travelled from he laughs a little nervously.

"It is a political issue, I hear," he says.

Check on your PM2.5 levels at http://aqicn.org/map/world/ - California is always worrying.
The Constitutional Court of Moldova declared Zinaida Greceanii’s election as speaker of parliament illegal, according to a decision made two hours after the voting in the parliament.

"The court finds the decision as of June 8, 2019, taken by members of the 10th parliament to elect Zinaida Greceanii to the post of speaker of parliament to be unconstitutional," the court reported on its website. The court also declared all documents that the parliament will adopt in the future to be illegal.

The Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM), that controlled the ruling majority in the previous parliament, submitted a request for delivery of judgement by the Constitutional Court of Moldova.

Moldova’s parliament has approved the government headed by Maia Sandu, with 61 out of 101 parliamentary members voting for it. The parliament’s session was broadcast on web portal Privesc, which transmits official events of Romania and Moldova.

Sandu stated that her program stipulates "the country’s liberation from the oligarchical regime", the restoration of economy and cooperation with the International Monetary Fund, as well as the fight against corruption and poverty.
Representatives for the Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM), which controlled the previous government, were not present at the session. Electricity was turned off in the parliament’s building and no secretariat staff was present. Earlier on Saturday PDM Vice President Andrian Candu stated that the party will not recognize the decisions that will be made by the current parliament.

Expect troubles - and NATO membership pressure.
Dozens of crew members have been rescued after abandoning two oil tankers hit by explosions in the Gulf of Oman.

Ship operators said 21 crew on board the Kokuka Courageous and 23 on the Front Altair had been evacuated.

Iran rescued the 44 after an "accident", state media said, although the cause is unconfirmed. The US Navy said it received two distress calls.
Wu I-fang, a spokesman for Taiwan's state oil refiner CPC Corp, which chartered the Front Altair, said it was carrying 75,000 tonnes of naphtha and was "suspected of being hit by a torpedo", although this has not been confirmed.

He said all the crew had been rescued from the Marshall Islands-flagged vessel. The ship's owner, Norwegian firm Frontline, said the vessel was on fire.

The operator of the Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous, BSM Ship Management, said its crew abandoned ship and were rescued by a passing vessel.

The tanker was carrying methanol and was not in danger of sinking, a spokesman said. It is currently located about 80 miles from Fujairah in the UAE and 16 miles from Iran.

Somebody wants to cause an incident or two for their own ends.
The US has blamed Iran for an early-morning assault on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, which ended a Japanese mediation effort and raised fears over the safety of vessels passing through the key oil artery to the west, the Strait of Hormuz.

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said the US believed blasts on the two tankers were carried out by Iran “based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation”. He also claimed that the attacks had such a high degree of sophistication they could not be carried out by a proxy.

Pompeo offered no evidence for his claim, but said Iran’s actions “present a clear threat to international peace and security”, and that the US intended to raise the matter at the UN security council.

Quelle surprise! It's Iran's doing - why would they do it? :confused:
US meddling in Moldavian politics -
Moldovan President Igor Dodon has congratulated the nation on the victory, although symbolic, "over the usurpers of power" in the country.

"I would like to congratulate you on the victory, although symbolic, over the usurpers of power," he told a briefing in parliament on Friday, commenting on the Democratic Party’s decision to go into opposition and send the Pavel Filip government to resignation.
He called on the Constitutional Court to revise its previous illegal rulings. Otherwise, he warned, it will be done by other court judges who would be appointed by the new parliament and government. ( :lol: )
... deputy leader of the Democratic Party Vladimir Cebotari announced the party’s decision to go into opposition. However, in his words, this move and the Pavel Filip cabinet’s resignation cannot be seen as a solution to the "problem of legal and constitutional blocking," as the Constitutional Court had ruled to dissolve the parliament and recognized its decisions, including on the Sandu government, as illegal.

A source in the party told TASS earlier that the decision had been taken after a visit to the party’s office by US Ambassador to Chisinau Dereck Hogan. The party leaders, in his words, had never stopped to hope for Washington’s support in the confrontation with the president, parliament and the Sandu cabinet, but received none.

Typical Trump - fine promises, push comes to shove ... naaaaaah. "We'll see what happens".
Lock her up! Mrs Bibi cops a plea -
Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israel’s prime minister, has been convicted of illegally misusing thousands of pounds of public funds on lavish meals.

A Jerusalem court on Sunday accepted a plea bargain in which Netanyahu agreed to admit to a lesser charge than the original fraud accusations. She will pay about $15,000 (£12,000) in fines and reimbursements to the state.

The sentencing ended one of the long-running cases against the family. However, Benjamin Netanyahu still faces the prospect of three corruption indictments later this year that may end his decade as leader and even result in a prison sentence. He denies all charges.
The 60-year-old child psychologist has been a controversial presence at her husband’s side throughout his political career. In addition to the fraud case, she has faced mistreatment accusations from employees and was described in a newspaper as “Israel’s Marie Antoinette”.

In 2017, Netanyahu was ordered to pay tens of thousands of pounds in damages in a dispute with two former domesticstaff who accused her of bullying. She faces a third lawsuit from an employee who alleged staff were treated like “slaves”.

Last year, an audio recording emerged of Netanyahu furiously scolding a family publicist over a gossip column. She was angry with him for not highlighting her professional qualifications in the press.

“BA, MA,” she was heard shouting, exclaiming each syllable in reference to her bachelor and master’s degrees. Her husband responded to public shock over the tirade, saying on Facebook that everyone “gets angry and says a few words that [they] didn’t mean”.
Iran said on Tuesday it had dismantled a new espionage network linked to the US Central Intelligence Agency and arrested a number of spies.

“Following clues in the American intelligence services, we recently found the new recruits Americans had hired and dismantled a new network,” state news agency IRNA said, quoting an intelligence ministry official.

It said some members of the CIA network had been arrested and handed over to the judiciary, while others still required “additional investigations”.

In what it termed a “wide-reaching blow” to US intelligence, IRNA said Tehran had carried out the operation in cooperation with “foreign allies”, without naming anyone.

The agency’s source did not say how many foreign agents were arrested or whether they were only operating in Iran.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have been escalating following US accusations that Tehran was behind attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week.

Iran denies any involvement and the crew of one of the tanker’s appeared to contradict Washington’s account of the attacks.
Turkey's ruling party has lost control of Istanbul after a re-run of the city's mayoral election, latest results show.

The candidate for the main opposition party, Ekrem Imamoglu, won 54% of the vote with nearly all ballots counted.

He won a surprise victory in March which was annulled after the ruling AK party complained of irregularities.
Mr Imamoglu's lead of more than 775,000 votes marks a huge increase on his victory in March, when he won by a margin of just 13,000.

Erdogan is still president but this will boost the opposition.
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