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Trump accidentally refers to defense secretary Esper as 'Mark Esperanto' in tweet defending Syria withdrawal

Yahoo Top Stories Feed - October 20, 2019 - 9:50am

President Trump quoted "Mark Esperanto, Secretary of Defense" on Sunday. But the man in charge of the Pentagon is named Mark Esper, not Esperanto.


Worst Baku Clashes in Years Followed by Claims of Critic's Abuse

Yahoo Top Stories Feed - October 20, 2019 - 7:26am

(Bloomberg) -- The political fallout of rare anti-government demonstrations is spreading in Azerbaijan, with the European Union issuing a warning and an opposition leader saying he was beaten up by riot police following his arrest on Saturday.An unathorized rally by hundreds of protesters demanding freedom of assembly, which has effectively been denied since the start of 2019, ended in the worst violence the Azeri capital has seen in years. Ali Karimli, leader of the Popular Front of Azerbaijan Party, was detained with scores of his supporters as they defied a ban to demonstrate in central Baku.“Six to seven police officers handcuffed me, throwing me onto the floor and kicking me,” Karimli said in a video statement on his Facebook page. With bruises visible on his head, face and neck, Karimli said he was beaten so severely that at some point he lost consciousness.While Azerbaijan ranks among the world’s most corrupt and repressive governments, arrests or torture of leaders of opposition parties are rare in the energy-rich former Soviet republic.With parliamentary elections looming next year, demonstrators gathered on Saturday despite a heavy security presence, demanding the resignation of the country’s longtime President Ilham Aliyev. Karimli and other leaders of the secular opposition are using social media to galvanize public support for a peaceful shift to democracy.Authorities had offered demonstrators a remote location on the outskirts of the city to conduct the rally.Europe’s WarningThe EU’s executive arm called for an investigation into reports of excessive and unprovoked force, urging the Azeri government to release the detained opposition protesters.“Freedom of assembly is a fundamental human right and we expect Azerbaijan to ensure that it can be fully exercised, in line with the country’s international obligations,” European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said in a statement.After being detained and dragged into a police car, Karimli was eventually taken to hospital where he received stitches to his forehead and his body was screened for injuries. He was later released home.The Interior Ministry’s press service didn’t answer calls for comment. Sahlab Bagirov, commander of the riot police, on Saturday rejected claims police used excessive force.In a statement late Saturday, the Interior Ministry said 60 people were detained for attending the demonstration. Of those, 42 were “warned” and released. The remaining 18 will stand trial.To contact the editors responsible for this story: Torrey Clark at tclark8@bloomberg.net, Paul Abelsky, Angela CullenFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


UPDATE 1-Bangladesh to move Rohingya to flood-prone island next month

Yahoo Top Stories Feed - October 20, 2019 - 7:08am

Bangladesh will start relocating Rohingya Muslims to a flood-prone island off its coast next month as several thousand refugees have agreed to move, a government official said on Sunday. Dhaka wants to move 100,000 refugees to Bhasan Char – a Bay of Bengal island hours by boat from the mainland – to ease overcrowding in its camps at Cox’s Bazar, home to more than 1 million Rohingya Muslims who have fled neighbouring Myanmar. "We want to start relocation by early next month," Mahbub Alam Talukder, the Relief and Repatriation Commission chief based in Cox’s Bazar, told Reuters, adding that "the refugees will be shifted in phases".


China Urged to Curb Risky Lending to Vulnerable Pacific Nations

Yahoo Top Stories Feed - October 20, 2019 - 7:01am

(Bloomberg) -- China should put the brakes on its lending in the South Pacific to avoid lumping economically vulnerable nations with unsustainable debt, according to a report released by an Australian think tank.“The sheer scale of China’s lending and its lack of strong institutional mechanisms to protect the debt sustainability of borrowing countries poses clear risks,” the Lowy Institute said in a report released Monday. “China cannot remain a major lender in the Pacific at the same scale as in the past without fueling significant” dangers, it said.According to Lowy, six South Pacific governments are debtors to China: Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu. Between 2011 and 2018, China made official loan commitments to the region totaling about $6 billion, or about 21% of regional GDP.As China spreads its influence beyond the South China Sea to the South Pacific -- a region comprised of island nations traditionally under U.S. hegemony and on Australia’s doorstep -- officials in Washington and Canberra are increasingly concerned Beijing may use debt through infrastructure loans as leverage to establish military bases in the region.Opaque LendingLast November, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence criticized President Xi Jinping’s Belt-and-Road Initiative, which Morgan Stanley has said may total $1.3 trillion by 2027 -- dwarfing the funds the U.S. and allies have mobilized. Pence said the U.S. doesn’t “drown our partners in a sea of debt” or “offer a constricting belt or a one-way road.”While the Lowy report said there was no evidence to suggest China was engaging in deliberate “debt-trap diplomacy” in the South Pacific, it urged Beijing to adjust “the scale, nature, and opacity of China’s lending activities” in the region.“If China wants to remain a major development financier in the Pacific without fulfilling the debt-trap accusations of its critics, it will need to substantially restructure its approach, including adopting formal lending rules similar to those of the multilateral development banks,” it said.China has increased its economic and diplomatic footprint in the region by funding and building much-desired transport and utility infrastructure, compared with the traditional focus by U.S. and Australia on bolstering governance, health and education services.Increasing AidAccording to Lowy, between 2011–2017 China was responsible for 37% of all official sector loans to the region, with traditional creditors including Asian Development Bank and World Bank responsible for the bulk of the balance. China is the single largest creditor in Samoa and Vanuatu, and accounts for more than half of Tonga’s total outstanding debt, it said.In response to China’s rising power in the region, the U.S. recently established a Directorate of Pacific Affairs within the White House National Security Council, which provides a hub for coordinating U.S. policy in the region with other like-minded countries, including Australia.Australia unveiled a A$2 billion ($1.4 billion) infrastructure fund for the region last last year, while the U.S. joined a group that includes Japan, the European Union and the ADB to fund projects.“There is scope for Australia’s more modest infrastructure lending plans to be sustainable,” the Lowy report said. “If Australia wants to do more in the Pacific though, it should reverse the current stagnation in its overall aid budget.”To contact the reporter on this story: Jason Scott in Canberra at jscott14@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at rpollard2@bloomberg.net, Muneeza NaqviFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


'A threat to democracy': William Barr's speech on religious freedom alarms liberal Catholics

Yahoo Top Stories Feed - October 20, 2019 - 6:53am

Attorney general’s recent address at Notre Dame is a ‘dog whistle’ to conservatives who have aligned themselves with TrumpWilliam Barr, US attorney general, speaks to students at the University of Notre Dame law school on 11 October. Photograph: Robert Franklin/Associated PressProminent liberal Catholics have warned the US attorney general’s devout Catholic faith poses a threat to the separation of church and state, after William Barr delivered a fiery speech on religious freedom in which he warned that “militant secularists” were behind a “campaign to destroy the traditional moral order”.The speech last Friday at the University of Notre Dame law school, in which Barr discussed his conservative faith and revealed how it affects his decision-making as the nation’s chief law-enforcement officer, has set off a fierce debate among Catholic intellectuals from across the political spectrum, as well as among Catholics inside the justice department.C Colt Anderson, a Roman Catholic theologian and professor of religion at Jesuit-run Fordham University, said in an interview that he was unaware until this week that Barr was a fellow Catholic. Now, after reading the speech, Anderson believes the attorney general, in revealing his devotion to an especially conservative branch of Catholicism, is a “threat to American democracy”.He described the speech as a “dog whistle” to ultra-conservative Catholics who, he says, have aligned themselves to Donald Trump in a campaign to limit the rights of LGBTQ Americans, immigrants and non-Christians, especially Muslims, and to criminalize almost all abortions. “The attorney general is taking positions that are essentially un-Democratic” because they demolish the wall between church and state, Anderson said.In the hallways of the justice department in Washington, there has been a similar furor among some Catholics employees who answer to Barr. “I was shocked by the speech and all this fire and brimstone,” said a senior department career official who considers himself a devout Catholic, speaking on condition that he not be identified for fear of losing his job.“At least it helps me understand why Barr has been so willing to put his own reputation on the line to defend Trump so fiercely in every battle,” beginning with the congressional investigation that is likely to end in the president’s impeachment, he said. “Trump is Barr’s imperfect vessel in serving a much higher cause: the gospel.”In the speech, delivered to an invitation-only crowd at Notre Dame, one of the nation’s largest and best known Catholic universities, the attorney general described threats to religious freedom.He warned that Catholicism and other mainstream religions were the target of “organized destruction” by “secularists and their allies among progressives who have marshalled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry and academia”.He insisted that “the traditional Judeo-Christian moral system” of the United States was under siege by “modern secularists” who were responsible for every sort of “social pathology”, including drug abuse, rising suicide rates and illegitimacy.Barr did not address the fact that many of the policies of the Trump administration are strongly opposed by the Vatican. Pope Francis has repeatedly pleaded for the United States to open its doors to more refugees, even as Barr has defended policies that turn away or imprison immigrants seeking refugee status at the US-Mexico border, even separating parents from their children.The reaction to Barr’s address came as another Trump cabinet member, secretary of state Mike Pompeo, was drawing fire from civil liberties groups over the state department’s decision this week to promote his recent speech titled Being a Christian Leader on the department’s online homepage.The speech by Pompeo, an evangelical Christian, was delivered on Friday, the same day as Barr’s speech, to a meeting of the American Association of Christian Counselors in Nashville.“It’s perfectly fine for secretary Pompeo to be a leader who is a Christian,” the group Americans United for Separation of Church and State said in a statement. But the decision to promote Pompeo’s speech on the department’s official website sends “the clear message that US public policy will be guided by his personal religious beliefs”.Barr’s speech at Notre Dame was a reminder of a fact often overlooked in analysis of Trump’s political base – that while the president enjoys the support of many high-profile right-wing Christian evangelical leaders, he has also surrounded himself with conservative Roman Catholics associated with organizations that some others in the faith consider extreme.One example: Barr and Patrick Cipollone, Trump’s White House counsel, have both served on the board of directors of a Washington-based organization staffed by priests from the secretive, ultra-orthodox Catholic sect Opus Dei.William Barr departs the annual Red Mass at the Cathedral of St Matthew the Apostle in Washington DC. Photograph: Sarah Silbiger/ReutersBarr’s speech last week was hailed by many conservative religious commentators. “Barr took the gloves off, saying that religion is not jumping to its death; it’s being pushed,” wrote Ron Dreher at the American Conservative magazine.“As we religious conservatives think about how to vote in the election next fall, we should ponder the fact that under Donald Trump, as awful as he is in so many ways, a man of William Barr’s convictions is heading up the Department of Justice,” Dreher continued. “Thank God Bill Barr is there.”Liberal Catholics, on the other hand, said they were dumbfounded at Barr’s willingness to so publicly link his Catholicism to his work at the justice department.“This should put the fear of God into anybody who cares about freedom, democracy and the separation of religion and politics,” said Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, a group that advocates for Catholics who support a woman’s right to abortion and other reproductive freedoms.Barr’s speech, he said, shows that “Christmas is coming very early” for conservative Catholics and other Christians who want to see an end to abortion rights.In his Notre Dame speech, Barr spoke of the need for the United States to recognize “natural law”, a concept in Catholic theology that has been cited by the Vatican in recent decades to try to outlaw artificial contraception and medical procedures such as in vitro fertilization.O’Brien said he worried that under Barr, who was sworn in last February, that the justice department could impose a de facto litmus test on federal judicial candidates, requiring them to commit themselves to “natural law”.Anderson, the Fordham theologian, said he was so alarmed by the tone of Barr’s speech that he was now concerned the attorney general intends to use his authority to put the United States on the path of increasingly authoritarian European nations like Poland, where democratically government leaders have cited their devout Catholicism to justify a crackdown on free speech and the purging of judges.That Barr is a devout, conservative Catholic is no surprise to anyone who has studied his writings and speeches. In a 1995 article in Catholic Lawyer magazine, Barr, who had previously served as attorney general under George H W Bush, warned that “we are living in an increasingly militant secular age” and that Catholic lawyers should “take the battlefield and enter the struggle” in support of laws “designed to restrain sexual immorality, obscenity or euthanasia”.The article denounced the “evil” of abortion and bemoaned the rise of the gay rights movement. “How can it be that the homosexual movement, at one or two percent of the population, gets treated with such solicitude while the Catholic population, which is over a quarter of the country, is given the back of the hand?” he wrote.But in his Senate confirmation hearings in January, Barr was asked few questions about his faith and how it might bear on his actions on the Justice Department.Barr was not questioned in any detail, for example, about his membership on the board of directors of the Catholic Information Center in Washington, the Opus Dei-linked group that offers as a meeting place for prominent Catholics in the capital.The center’s board has also included Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society, the right-wing legal group tasked by Trump to help him pick federal judges, including members of the supreme court. Leo led campaigns to support of the supreme court nominations of John Roberts, Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh, all of them Catholics, who now serve on the court.A week later, Barr’s speech at Notre Dame remains the subject of “a lot of chatter” on campus, said professor David Campbell, chairman of the university’s political science department.Campbell said in an interview that he was reluctant to be drawn into the debate about Barr’s religious views, although he suggested that the attorney general was wrong in one of his central arguments: that so-called secularists, a term generally applied to people who want a strict separation between church and state, were a threat to the freedom of Catholics or others to worship as they please.In fact, Campbell, who is just about to publish a book on the subject, said that opinion polls and other reliable scientific research showed that Americans who describe themselves as secularists are “quite supportive of the free exercise of religion, particularly when it comes to minority religions”. The attorney general and other conservative Catholics might believe that secularists are some sort of threat to their religious freedom, Campbell said, “But, the truth is, it’s a myth.”


Let jihadists return home, French anti-terror magistrate urges

Yahoo Top Stories Feed - October 20, 2019 - 5:39am

The refusal of the French government to take back Islamic State fighters from Syria could fuel a new jihadist recruitment drive in France, threatening public safety, a leading anti-terrorism investigator has told AFP. David De Pas, coordinator of France's 12 anti-terrorism examining magistrates, said that it would be "better to know that these people are in the care of the judiciary" in France "than let them roam free". Turkey's offensive against Kurdish militia in northeast Syria has sparked fears that some of the 12,000 jihadists, including thousands of foreigners, being held in Syrian Kurdish prisons could escape.


US forces withdraw from key base in northern Syria

Yahoo Top Stories Feed - October 20, 2019 - 4:37am

US forces withdrew from a key base in northern Syria Sunday, a monitor said, two days before the end of a US-brokered truce to stem a Turkish attack on Kurdish forces in the region. An AFP correspondent saw more than 70 US armoured vehicles escorted by helicopters drive past the town of Tal Tamr carrying military equipment. The Syrian Observatory for the Human Rights said the convoy was evacuating the military base of Sarrin.


China, Australia complete joint army training exercise in Hainan: Xinhua

Yahoo Top Stories Feed - October 20, 2019 - 2:33am

The Chinese and Australian armies have concluded a joint military training exercise in China's southern island province of Hainan, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday. The joint exercise comes amid a downturn in Sino-Australia relations, with China in August formally arresting Chinese-born Australian writer Yang Hengjun on suspicion of espionage and Canberra expressing concern over China's actions in disputed South China Sea waters.


Hong Kong police and protesters exchange tear gas and petrol bombs

Yahoo Top Stories Feed - October 20, 2019 - 2:07am

Hong Kong police fired tear gas at protesters throwing petrol bombs on Sunday as thousands staged an illegal march through the Kowloon district that will test the strength of the pro-democracy campaign after four months of unrest. Police inside the Tsim Sha Tsui police station fired volleys of tear gas and used a loudspeaker to called on protesters in the street below to disperse. Hardcore black-clad protesters threw petrol bombs at the station's iron gate and inside the compound.


Indian soldiers, Pakistani civilians among dead in Kashmir clash

Yahoo Top Stories Feed - October 20, 2019 - 12:20am

India said on Sunday two soldiers and a civilian were killed in cross-border shelling with Pakistan in the disputed Kashmir region, while Islamabad said six died on its side, making it one of the deadliest days since New Delhi revoked Kashmir's special status in August. Three Indian civilians were injured and some buildings and vehicles destroyed because of several hours of heavy shelling by both sides in the Tanghdar region in northern Kashmir late on Saturday night, a senior police official said. Pakistan said 6 of its civilians were killed and 8 wounded in the clash.


Defense chief: US troops leaving Syria to go to western Iraq

Yahoo Top Stories Feed - October 19, 2019 - 9:29pm

Defense Secretary Mark Esper says that under the current plan all U.S. troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq and the military will continue to conduct operations against the Islamic State group to prevent its resurgence. Speaking to reporters traveling with him to the Middle East, Esper did not rule out the idea that U.S. forces would conduct counterterrorism missions from Iraq into Syria. Esper said he has spoken to his Iraqi counterpart about the plan to shift the more than 700 troops leaving Syria into western Iraq.


Hondurans call for president to step down after drug verdict

Yahoo Top Stories Feed - October 19, 2019 - 7:04pm

Opposition groups called Saturday for more protests to demand that Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández be removed from office after his younger brother was convicted of drug trafficking in a New York court. President Hernández insisted via Twitter that the verdict is not against the state of Honduras, saying his government has fought drug trafficking. On Saturday he attended a parade to honor the country's armed forces and posted pictures of himself on Twitter smiling alongside the U.S. chargé d'affaires to Honduras, Colleen Hoey.


Boeing board to meet in Texas as scrutiny intensifies: sources

Yahoo Top Stories Feed - October 19, 2019 - 5:38pm

Several industry sources said there was speculation inside the company of significant job cuts as Boeing, unable to deliver 737 MAX planes to customers, continues to drain cash. The schedule for the board's face-to-face meetings was set for Sunday and Monday in San Antonio, one of the people said, two days before Boeing reports earnings on Oct. 23. The week after, Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg - who was stripped of his job as board chairman eight days ago - is due to testify before U.S. Congress about the plane's development.


Restored 1972 Dodge Challenger Rallye Crosses Auction Block

Yahoo Top Stories Feed - October 19, 2019 - 5:17pm

Bid on this classic Mopar. If you’re on the hunt for a classic American muscle car fresh off a rotisserie restoration, this 1972 Dodge Challenger Rallye should be of interest. It has accumulated few than 1,000 miles since it was restored, ensuring everything looks excellent. Whether you’re cruising through town or attend a local car meet, this Mopar is sure to impress.While looks are certainly important with this car, the 440ci V8 shoved under the hood is just as key to your enjoyment. After all, muscle cars are supposed to be all about offering monumental power. Dual 4bbl carbs help with the engine breathing freely, while an 8-core aluminum radiator keeps it from running too hot. In addition, there’s a nice 4-speed manual transmission and a pistol grip shifter, so you can double-clutch this ride to victory.Now that you know this is a proper performance vehicle, you can concentrate on how this Dodge looks. The Hemi Orange Metallic paint sparkles in the sunlight, with black accents on the hood, door handles, and spoiler, matching the black vinyl roof. Both bumpers look almost liquid, thanks to the fresh chrome. This car rolls on 17-inch Rev custom wheels, matching the exterior perfectly.Restored with amazing care, you’ll find the interior is virtually all stock. That includes the fresh vinyl upholstery which matches the original design, fresh black carpeting, and even the wood grain portions of the dash. Air conditioning through a Vintage Air system has been added, along with an Alpine CD/MP3 sound system.  One of the most iconic pony cars to emerge from the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Dodge Challenger is a household name today. That’s great news if you want to grab one as an investment. Through a combination of iconic looks and thrilling performance, this vehicle earned a well-deserved reputation.If you’re interested in buying this particular car, contact Premier Auction Group for information about placing a bid. Read More * Turn The Key In This 1969 Chevy Impala * Conquer The Terrain With A 1963 Volvo L3314 Laplander Camper


The Latest: Lebanon party pulls out of embattled government

Yahoo Top Stories Feed - October 19, 2019 - 3:26pm

A Lebanese Christian leader has asked his four ministers in the Cabinet to resign amid nationwide protests against the country's political elite. Samir Geagea, who heads the right-wing Lebanese Forces party, said late Saturday he no longer believes the current national unity government headed by Premier Saad Hariri can steer the country out of a deepening economic crisis. The protesters are calling for the government to resign.


Trump calls Mexico's president to express 'solidarity'

Yahoo Top Stories Feed - October 19, 2019 - 2:42pm

Mexico's president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, said on Saturday that President Trump called him to express his "solidarity" following an attempt to arrest a drug kingpin's son that prompted a wave of violence in the city of Culiacan.


FACT: Cuba Hosted Russian Spy Planes to Use Against America

Yahoo Top Stories Feed - October 19, 2019 - 1:00pm

A forgotten tale of the cold war.


'She stole their lives': Woman convicted of passing school bus, killing 3 kids in crash

Yahoo Top Stories Feed - October 19, 2019 - 12:08pm

Alyssa Shepherd was found guilty of three felony counts of reckless homicide for the Oct. 2018 crash that killed three siblings.


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