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Which Political Party Has the Best Track Record for U.K. Stocks?

Yahoo World News Feed - November 9, 2019 - 1:00am

(Bloomberg) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.The winner of next month’s U.K. election is increasingly hard to predict. Equities watchers may take some comfort in knowing that historically, it hasn’t really made much difference who was in power.The old adage suggests that the Conservative Party is pro-business and better for markets than the left-of-center and, in this election, socialist-leaning Labour Party. Yet taking real returns, adjusted for inflation, for U.K. equities from 1900 to the present day, Kleinwort Hambros found little difference between the two major parties.Conservative governments have held office for a total of 67 years during that period, delivering a 7.6% real return, according to a recent report from the private bank. Labour has had 37 years in power and returned 7.7%. The remaining years had the Liberal Party in office in the early part of the 20th century, and investors would have lost 0.7% in real terms under their tenure.Ultimately, “the basic inference is that it really doesn’t matter,” who is in Downing Street, said Fahad Kamal, chief market strategist at Kleinwort Hambros.Clearly, there are caveats. This period includes two world wars, market crashes and global geopolitical troubles from the Cuban missile crisis to 9/11. And the correlation between the benchmark FTSE 100 and the S&P 500 as well as the MSCI World has been increasing over the years and is now close to the perfect value of 1, signaling that U.K. equities are much more sensitive to global and U.S. market movements than internal political affairs such as Brexit.As Britain prepares to head for the polls, early data gives the Conservatives a clear lead. But because it’s effectively a second referendum on Brexit, foretelling the impact on equity markets could turn into a fool’s game as sentiment shifts during the campaign.“The outcomes here are very messy” and something of a “a dog’s dinner,” said Nathan Thooft, head of global asset allocation at Manulife Investment Management. “Even if you know what the possibilities are, you don’t know what the probabilities are and furthermore, you don’t know what the market interpretation will be because there are so many moving parts.”To contact the reporters on this story: Sam Unsted in London at sunsted@bloomberg.net;Ksenia Galouchko in London at kgalouchko1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Beth Mellor at bmellor@bloomberg.net, Jon Menon, Namitha JagadeeshFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Hopes of young Lebanese to escape sectarianism put to test

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 11:47pm

Singer Tania Saleh grew up amid a civil war that robbed her of her childhood, of her friends and neighbors and of the Lebanon she so loved. Based on a poem written in 1975, the year the war broke out, the lyrics still felt searing and relevant enough for Saleh to add to an album in 2017. The demonstrators have provided those eager to see the country move past its sectarian legacy with a glimpse of what can be.


Iranian media say injuries jump to 520 in Friday quake

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 11:09pm

Iran's state TV is saying the number of injured people from a magnitude 5.9 earthquake on Friday has jumped to 520 from more than 300. Saturday's report said the updated figure followed the end of rescue operations in more than 80 remote villages Tark county in Iran's Eastern Azerbaijan province, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) northwest of the capital, Tehran. Iran experiences an earthquake per day on average.


Why Iran's Military Is So Focused on Missiles (Think History and a War with America)

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 11:00pm

The increasing number, precision, range, and lethality of Iran's missiles indicate the seriousness of the Iranian government’s determination to strengthen its defensive capabilities as one of the most important pillars of its national security.


NATO’s Defense Guarantee Is Potent Because It’s Vague

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 10:00pm

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- French President Emmanuel Macron’s doubts about the potency of the North Atlantic Treaty’s one-for-all clause, expressed in his frank interview with the Economist, stem from Article 5’s intentional vagueness. That vagueness, however, is also the greatest source of the commitment’s power — and one reason Vladimir Putin's Russia hasn’t tested it yet.During the drafting of the 1949 treaty, the NATO founders, especially the U.S., strove to avoid any language that would automatically force them to go to war in response to an armed attack against one of them. So Article 5 says only that each NATO country must respond with “such action as it deems necessary.” That leaves a lot of space for legal and political interpretations, discussed at length in a 2019 article by Aurel Sari, an expert on international law at the University of Exeter. He points out, for example, that Dean Acheson, the U.S. secretary of state at the time of the treaty’s signing, thought that an armed attack could mean “the combination of external force with internal revolution.” But the International Court of Justice has ruled since then that providing weapons and logistical support to rebels doesn’t constitute an armed attack, so all an adversary state fomenting a revolution or a secession needs to do is avoid directly controlling the insurgent forces.The legal side of what constitutes an armed attack and what doesn’t leaves a lot of room for actors such as Putin, and his allies like Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, to come up with creative strategies that may or may not rise to the level of threat that would trigger Article 5. If the NATO member on the receiving end asks for help, the others, and above all the U.S., would need to decide whether to respond at all, and then what kind of response is commensurate with the threat.In his interview, Macron mentioned a realistic scenario that would require such decisions. “If the Bashar al-Assad regime decides to retaliate against Turkey, will we commit ourselves under it?” he asked. The retaliation is unlikely to look like a direct Syrian attack on Turkey, which would be suicidal given Turkey’s military superiority. But Assad, helped by Iran and Russia, could stage deniable but deadly attacks on Turkish forces in the border areas they control. When the U.S. triggered Article 5 after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, it was important for the other NATO members that the attack was “directed from abroad.” But what about attacks on Turkish troops in Syria planned from Syria — would they be treated the same?It’s also worth contemplating what NATO would do if Russia decided to foment rebellions similar to those in eastern Ukraine in the areas of the Baltic states with significant Russian populations. Would a putative Narva People’s Republic in Estonia, supplied with weapons and instructors across the Russian border, be considered part of a Russian armed attack or merely an insurgency?Would an uprising in Latvia meant to hand power to the Russian-speakers’ party — which won a plurality in last year’s general election but was again denied a role in the coalition government — qualify for Article 5? Would a more successful Russian-backed coup in Montenegro than the one in 2016 — but an equally deniable one — cut it now that the Balkan country is a NATO member?Russia doesn’t have the resources or the political will to sustain a direct invasion of a hostile country even if there’s no threat of NATO retaliation, as in Ukraine. But rebellions, secessionist movements and coups aren’t out of the question. And then there are high-tech attacks. In August, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg wrote an article claiming that “a serious cyberattack could trigger Article 5 of our founding treaty.” But what does “a serious cyberattack” mean, and what kind of action would it set off? The U.S. and the U.K. have blamed Russia for the NotPetya ransomware attack, which hit civilian targets including hospitals in the U.S. and Europe and inflicted substantial financial damage, but there was no talk of an Article 5 response afterward. “What will Article 5 mean tomorrow?” Macron asked in his interview, and he’s right that nobody, in the U.S. or elsewhere, can give him a clear answer. That, however, means that Putin doesn’t know the answer, either. For all the doubts that European NATO members would want to go all in for Turkey, or that U.S. President Donald Trump would get into a war with Russia for Estonia or Montenegro, Putin — or, say, Assad — cannot confidently predict that it wouldn’t happen.That uncertainty would be gone if NATO countries clearly specified their red lines. But doing so would be a direct invitation to adversaries to invent and carry out attacks that don’t cross these red lines. The vagueness around Article 5 is a kind of protective shield because in the end, it’s not the legal technicalities that count but the political decisions that NATO members will make, individually and collectively, in any given situation.For that matter, the mutual defense clause in the Treaty on European Union is almost identical to NATO’s Article 5 both in its power and its purposeful lack of precision. By advocating a stronger EU-based defense union, Macron isn’t investing in any stronger security guarantee than the one that exists in NATO. That’s because a stronger one isn’t really possible.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Tobin Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Pompeo hits Iran on IAEA inspector, amplifies claim of undeclared nuclear materials

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 8:40pm

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday criticized Iran for undermining international nuclear agreements, including allegedly possessing undeclared radioactive material and impeding an international inspector's work. During a special meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors on Thursday, representatives discussed an undeclared site outside Tehran that Israeli officials say holds an illegal stockpile of nuclear materials. The officials also said there were several other secret nuclear facilities run by the Iranian Defense Ministry outside its civilian program, the AP reported.


Nikki Haley: ‘There’s Just Nothing Impeachable’ About Trump’s Actions

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 7:29pm

Stephanie Keith/GettyAs the impeachment inquiry against him heats up, President Trump appears to have gotten perhaps his most dramatic defense yet from former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley: According to her, impeachment proceedings are akin to “the death penalty for a public official” and Trump simply doesn’t deserve the death penalty. In excerpts from an interview with CBS News released late Friday, Haley scoffed at the idea that Trump would actually be removed from office.“You're going to impeach a president for asking for a favor that didn't happen and giving money and it wasn't withheld?” Haley told CBS' Norah O'Donnell. “I don't know what you would impeach him on.”The former ambassador, who resigned in late 2018, went on to liken impeachment proceedings to capital punishment.“And look, Norah, impeachment is like the death penalty for a public official. When you look at the transcript, there's nothing in that transcript that warrants the death penalty for the president,” she said, referring to a transcript of the July 25 phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian president that sparked the impeachment inquiry.O'Donnell pushed back, noting that the National Security Council's top Ukraine expert, Alexander Vindman—who listened in on the call—had testified to Congress that the rough transcript of the call released by the White House was not complete.“There's still things that are missing from it,” O'Donnell said.“The Ukrainians never did the investigation, and the president released the funds,” Haley replied. “I mean, when you look at those, there's just nothing impeachable there.”“I think the biggest thing that bothers me is the American people should decide this,” Haley added, apparently taking issue with Congress' constitutional right to impeach a president if deemed appropriate. “Why do we have a bunch of people in Congress making this decision?”The first public hearings of the impeachment inquiry are slated to begin next week—with former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and two top diplomats, William Taylor and George Kent, expected to testify. The inquiry was sparked by a whistleblower complaint about the July 25 call. The whistleblower raised concerns about Trump leveraging military aid to pressure Ukraine into investigating widely debunked corruption allegations against his potential political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, along with alleged 2016 election interference by Ukrainians.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


UN experts say Libya airstrike likely tied to Hifter allies

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 7:14pm

U.N. experts say it is "highly probable" that a deadly airstrike on a migrant detention center in Libya was carried out by a fighter jet operated by a government supporting Khalifa Hifter, who launched an offensive in April seeking to capture the capital, Tripoli. The July 3 night attack on the detention center in Tajoura near Tripoli killed more than 50 people and injured over 130 others. U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has said the attack could amount to a war crime.


Trump's maximum pressure policy on Iran has backfired and experts say it will fail

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 6:42pm

It’s been one year-and-a-half since Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the nuclear deal with Iran – calling it the worst deal ever – and embarked on a policy of “maximum pressure”.Mr Trump has been piling sanctions and heating up the rhetoric against the Islamic Republic.


No coalition troops hurt in rocket attack at Iraq base

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 5:57pm

A barrage of Katyusha rockets targeted an Iraqi air base that houses American troops south of the city of Mosul on Friday, officials said. The rocket fire appears to have originated in Mosul and struck the Iraqi army base in Qayyara, about 60 kilometers (38 miles) south of Mosul, where coalition forces are helping the Iraqis battle remnants of the Islamic State group, Iraqi security officials said. Iraqi officials did not immediately say whether there were any casualties, though a coalition spokeswoman later said no coalition troops had been injured.


Moody's downgrades Britain debt outlook to negative

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 5:40pm

Credit ratings agency Moody's on Friday downgraded the outlook for Britain's debt, citing mounting policy challenges amid the Brexit debate. The ratings agency Fitch had similarly put Britain on "negative watch" in February. In addition, Britain's "economic and fiscal strength are likely to be weaker going forward and more susceptible to shocks than previously assumed," Moody's said in a statement.


Impeachment inquiry: Fiona Hill tells lawmakers she's received death threats

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 2:44pm

Former top Russia expert at White House says harassment reached a peak after she agreed to testify in impeachment hearingsFiona Hill arrives for a closed door meeting as part of the House impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, 4 November 2019. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/APThe former top Russia expert at the White House has said she has been subjected to a campaign of harassment and intimidation, including death threats, which reached a new peak after she agreed to testify in congressional impeachment hearings.Fiona Hill, who was the senior director for Europe and Russia in the National Security Council (NSC) said other NSC staff had been “hounded out” by threats against them, including antisemitic smears linking them to the liberal financier and philanthropist, George Soros, a hate figure on the far right.In her testimony to Congress, a full transcript of which was released on Friday, Hill described a climate of fear among administration staff.The UK-born academic and biographer of Vladimir Putin said that the former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, was the target of a hate campaign, with the aim of driving her from her post in Kyiv, where she was seen as an obstacle to some corrupt business interests.Yovanovitch was recalled from Ukraine in May on Trump’s orders. In a 25 July conversation with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Trump described Yovanovitch as “bad news” and predicted she was “going to go through some things”. The former ambassador has testified she felt threatened by the remarks.Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, led calls for Yovanovitch’s dismissal, as did two of Giuliani business associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. All three are under scrutiny in hearings being held by House committees looking at Trump’s use of his office to put pressure on the Ukrainian government to investigate his political opponents.“There was no basis for her removal,” Hill testified. “The accusations against her had no merit whatsoever. This was a mishmash of conspiracy theories that…I believe firmly to be baseless, an idea of an association between her and George Soros.”“I had had accusations similar to this being made against me as well,” Hill testified. “My entire first year of my tenure at the National Security Council was filled with hateful calls, conspiracy theories, which has started again, frankly, as it’s been announced that I’ve been giving this deposition, accusing me of being a Soros mole in the White House, of colluding with all kinds of enemies of the president, and of various improprieties.”She added that the former national security adviser, HR McMaster “and many other members of staff were targeted as well, and many people were hounded out of the National Security Council because they became frightened about their own security.”“I received, I just have to tell you, death threats, calls at my home. My neighbours reported somebody coming and hammering on my door,” Hill said, adding that she had also been targeted by obscene phone calls. “Now, I’m not easily intimidated, but that made me mad.”“When I saw this happening to Ambassador Yovanovitch, I was furious,” she said, pointing to “this whipping up of what is frankly an antisemitic conspiracy theory about George Soros to basically target nonpartisan career officials, and also some political appointees as well.”In Yovanovitch’s case, Hill said: “the most obvious explanation [for the smear campaign] seemed to be business dealings of individuals who wanted to improve their investment positions inside of Ukraine itself, and also to deflect away from the findings of not just the Mueller report on Russian interference but what’s also been confirmed by your own Senate report, and what I know myself to be true as a former intelligence analyst and somebody who has been working on Russia for more than 30 years.”Hill dismissed the suggestion that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election was a “conspiracy theory” intended to distract attention from Russia’s well-documented role.The treatment of Yovanovitch, Hill said “had a really devastating effect on the morale of all of the teams that I work with across the interagency because everybody knows Ambassador Yovanovitch to be the best of the best in terms of a nonpartisan career official.The former national security official, who resigned in July, said she thought that the fact that Yovanovitch was a woman in a high position also played a role in the attacks.“I don’t see always a lot of prominent women in these positions – she was the highest ranking woman diplomat,” Hill said.


Expensive, Glitchy Voting Machines Expose 2020 Hacking Risks

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 1:30pm

(Bloomberg) -- The first sign something was wrong with Northampton County, Pennsylvania’s state-of-the-art voting system came on Election Day when a voter called the local Democratic Party chairman to say a touchscreen in her precinct was acting “finicky.” As she scrolled down the ballot, the tick-marks next to candidates she’d selected kept disappearing.Her experience Nov. 5 was no isolated glitch. Over the course of the day, the new election machinery, bought over the objections of cybersecurity experts, continued to malfunction. Built by Election Systems & Software, the ExpressVote XL was designed to marry touchscreen technology with a paper-trail for post-election audits. Instead, it created such chaos that poll workers had to crack open the machines, remove the ballot records and use scanners summoned from across state lines to conduct a recount that lasted until 5 a.m.In one case, it turned out a candidate that the XL showed getting just 15 votes had won by about 1,000. Neither Northampton nor ES&S know what went wrong.Digital voting machines were promoted in the wake of a similarly chaotic scene 19 years ago: the infamous punch-card ballots and hanging chads of south Florida that tossed the presidential contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore into uncertainty.But now, the machinery that was supposed to be the solution has spawned a whole new controversy, this time with national security at stake—the prospect of foreign states disrupting American elections.Security experts say the cheapest, and to their minds, most reliable and hack-proof method to cast votes also happens to be the lowest tech: paper ballots marked by hand and fed through scanners (no chads) to tally the results. They have called for replacing computerized equipment—particularly paperless older models—with the decidedly Luddite alternative.The devices have “raised far more security questions than paper ballots because you have a potentially hackable computer standing between the voter and the record,” said J. Alex Halderman, a computer science professor at the University of Michigan, adding that without sufficient research, these new machines could be “a waste of money.”The switch to paper can’t come soon enough, they fear, as election officials prepare for the first presidential election since Russia meddled in the 2016 race, hacking Democratic Party emails and targeting election systems in all 50 states, according to federal authorities. While there didn’t appear to be any votes changed or election machines manipulated in that race, there’s little doubt that U.S. adversaries will try again. “Russia, China, Iran and other foreign malicious actors all will seek to interfere in the voting process or influence voter perceptions,” national security leaders including Attorney General William Barr said in joint statement on Nov. 5. Yet many state and local jurisdictions, like Northampton County, are buying a new generation of computerized voting machines ahead of the 2020 presidential election that security experts say are less secure and cost more—about $24 per voter, compared with $12 per voter in jurisdictions using a mix of the two systems, according to the University of Pittsburgh, which analyzed costs in Pennsylvania.After the failure in Northampton, ES&S apologized and assured voters that the results were accurate. “At this point, ES&S has not determined root cause of the reporting issue and is working closely with the state and county to conduct a thorough investigation, including a review of the machines,” the Omaha-based company said.Cybersecurity experts are baffled by local election officials choosing the computerized voting machines. “It’s a mystery to me,” said Rich DeMillo, a Georgia Tech computer science professor and former Hewlett-Packard chief technology officer. “Does someone have 8 x 10 glossies? No one has been able to figure out the behavior of elections officials. It’s like they all drink the same Kool-Aid.” The animus is mutual. At conferences, election administrators swap complaints about cyber experts treating them like idiots, said Dana DeBeauvoir, head of elections in Travis County, Texas, whose office purchased a computerized system DeMillo deplores. Hand-marked ballots are “a supremely horrible idea” cooked up by people in Washington “who have never had to really conduct an election,” she said.Election machines are just one way hackers could try to infiltrate an election to change the vote or undermine its credibility. They also could corrupt voter registration rolls or lock up the computers of voting officials with ransomware. Only in the case of voting machines, though, does the safest technology also happen to be simpler and cheaper.“These elaborate election systems benefit companies’ bottom line far more than the taxpayers and voters paying for them”It’s an argument that has barely budged the voting-machinery market. By 2020, the use of paper ballots with scanners is set to increase by about 2% since the last presidential election, while devices with a touch-screen component have dropped .2% across precincts, according to data compiled by the Verified Voting Foundation, a non-profit focused on election transparency and best practices.Paper ballots are marked with a writing utensil before being fed into a scanner. The more expensive ballot-marking devices use touchscreens to produce a paper record that the voter may review before putting into a scanner for tabulation. Neither method is entirely safe, as the scanner tallying paper ballots could be breached. But cybersecurity experts argue that the computerized model is riskier, because a hacked or buggy ballot marker could contaminate the paper record needed to audit results. A voter marking a ballot by hand could spoil his own but no one else’s. With ballot computers, it's up to the voter to catch and report errors in the receipt, and many don’t do that, according to a study DeMillo published in December. If authorities find a machine is at fault, the only fix is a new election, because the paper record is ruined. In a report on Russian election meddling, the Senate Intelligence Committee voiced support for paper ballots and optical scanners, calling them “the least vulnerable to cyber attack.”Winning over the nation’s election administrators to that point of view is no simple task. They are splintered among thousands of state and local governments and often lobbied by privately held election companies anxious for sales, as taxpayers tend to pay for new voting equipment only once a decade.Decision makers include state officials in some states and local ones in most. Some of those officials have other duties, like approving zoning permits and marriage licenses or, in Texas, cattle brands. Some have technical expertise. Some do not.Familiarity, practicality, professional relationships and campaign money compete with security concerns when purchasing decisions are made. “These elaborate election systems benefit companies’ bottom line far more than the taxpayers and voters paying for them”In Philadelphia, a three-person election commission discounted cybersecurity warnings and, in February, selected ExpressVote XL from ES&S after a massive lobbying effort. It has a 32-inch touchscreen at a cost of $29 million, or $27.59 per voter, not including roughly $3.8 million over 10 years in fees.But the decision raised suspicions. State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale noted that the request for proposals appeared to favor equipment of the XL’s type and size. An investigation by City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart later found that ES&S had courted the tiny commission for six years, spending almost half a million dollars lobbying it. The company paid a $2.9 million penalty—the highest in Philadelphia history—for failing to disclose lobbying on bid documents, according to the city controller’s office.The company acknowledged that it erred by failing to register its lobbyists, saying it was due to a flawed interpretation of the city's procurement provisions. But the company’s “inadvertent omission in no way impacted the RFP process,” according to an ES&S statement on Aug. 15.Asked this week about the relative security of the hand-marked or computer-marked ballots, an ES&S spokeswoman said they are both very secure. “In either instance, votes are counted via technology, and both use human-readable paper records for audit purposes,” Katina Granger said in an emailed statement in which she noted that computer ballot markers also are easier for the disabled to use.In North Carolina, the state elections board initially decided against allowing counties to buy digital-voting machines like ExpressVote after hearing arguments “that simpler is better and that hand-marked paper ballots were the gold standard,” said board member Stella Anderson. Then one member asked to change his vote, and a second quit in an uproar after making an offensive joke in a speech.The new state elections chairman, Damon Circosta, replaced him. In August, he cast the deciding vote certifying ES&S’s ExpressVote and later said many voters prefer the familiarity of touchscreens. “The challenge we have with the cyber advocates who are laser focused on the ballot-marking devices is that they can’t see the forest for the trees,” Circosta said in an interview. After last week’s fiasco in Northampton, opponents of the county’s decision to buy the ExpressVote system were saying I told you so. “The local elections administrators just fell in love with these machines,” said Deb Hunter, a school teacher who served on the board that selected the XL system from ES&S, the dominant player in the industry. She had pushed for hand-marked paper ballots. “This administration just railroaded this.”  ES&S and several other manufacturers said they aren’t in the business of telling election administrators what to buy but rather are simply offering options of varying price ranges and technological abilities. Some favor the more expensive electronic models because voters are comfortable with using a touchscreen, they said.Computer-voting’s defenders say there’s never been proof hacking has altered an election’s result, which is true, and that computers can’t be compromised if not connected to the internet, which is not. They also note that the systems all but eliminate human error by not allowing  voters to mark more than one candidate in a race, for instance. (Modern scanners also reject such ‘overvotes’ on hand-marked ballots.)David Becker, founder of the Center for Election Innovation & Research in Washington, argued that the machines are safe and that complaints “are more heat than light, fueled by activism and anger and social media.”But Susan Greenhalgh, vice president at the National Election Defense Coalition, said too many election officials have been convinced by vendors and colleagues that spending more money and deploying more technology will result in a better, safer election.“That isn't always true,” said Greenhalgh, whose group advocates for better election security. “These elaborate election systems benefit companies’ bottom line far more than the taxpayers and voters paying for them.”In Northampton, election officials said the silver lining was that the system allowed the flawed initial results to be checked.But the paper record they’re counting on isn’t reliable, said Philip Stark, a University of California-Berkeley statistics professor who invented the kind of post-election audit that security experts say is needed. “There’s no reason to believe that the paper trail generated by the XL accurately reflects voters’ selections,” he said.Northampton Republicans are no less skeptical. Lee Snover, the local party chairwoman, said the results can't be trusted and the experience has shaken voters’ trust going into 2020. “We think voters were disenfranchised,” she said. “I actually supported these machines, but I had no idea they could be so flawed. I think we were better off the old-fashioned way.”In another echo of Bush v. Gore, local Republicans sent for investigators from the Republican National Committee: The party is considering a lawsuit against the county and ES&S, which has apologized for the snafu.The only solution, Snover said, is to conduct another election with—wait for it—punch-card paper ballots.To contact the authors of this story: Kartikay Mehrotra in San Francisco at kmehrotra2@bloomberg.netMargaret Newkirk in Atlanta at mnewkirk@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Martin at amartin146@bloomberg.net, Flynn McRobertsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


US wants UN to take up Dalai Lama succession: envoy

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 1:08pm

The United States wants the United Nations to take up the Dalai Lama's succession in an intensifying bid to stop China from trying to handpick his successor, an envoy said after meeting the Tibetan spiritual leader. Sam Brownback, the US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, said he spoke at length about the succession issue with the 84-year-old Dalai Lama last week in the monk's home-in-exile of Dharamsala, India. "I would hope that the UN would take the issue up," Brownback told AFP after returning to Washington.


UN experts: 'Brutal' prison killed Egyptian ex-president

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 12:39pm

U.N. rights experts say Egypt's ex-President Mohammed Morsi endured "brutal" prison conditions that contributed to his death in custody. Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, was from the Islamist, now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.


Pompeo warns China's treatment of civilians 'horrifyingly similar' to East Germany on eve of Berlin Wall anniversary

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 11:56am

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned against the threat posed by Russia and China and called for Nato to grow on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Speaking in Germany, Mr Pompeo warned that 21st century authoritarianism posed a threat equal to that seen during the Cold War. “The Chinese communist party is shaping a new vision of authoritarianism, one the world has not seen for an awfully long time. It uses methods to suppress its own people that would be horrifyingly familiar to former East Germans,” Mr Pompeo told an audience in Berlin, speaking just a few metres away from where the wall ran past the German capital's world-famous Brandenburg Gate.  The Secretary of State also fired off a broadside against Moscow, saying: “Russia, led by a former KGB officer based in Dresden, invades its neighbours and slays political opponents.” He also responded to French President Emmanuel Macron's comments earlier in the week that Nato was suffering "brain death" due to Washington "turning its back" on its European partners - comments German leader Angela Merkel described as "drastic".  Stressing that "we can never take ... things for granted", Mr Pompeo said the 70-year-old alliance too "runs the risk that it will become obsolete" if leaders failed to tackle new challenges. Dismissing the debate around Macron's comments as "kerfuffle," Mr Pompeo acknowledged that "NATO needs to grow and change, it needs to confront the realities of today and the challenges today." "The United States and its allies should "defend what was so hard-won... in 1989" and "recognise we are in a competition of values with unfree nations," he added. Relations between Berlin and Washington have been severely strained since Donald Trump became US President in 2016, with Mr Trump and Chancellor Angela Merkel often trading barbs on issues such as immigration and racism. Throughout the speech Mr Pompeo sought to emphasise the common values that unite the two allies. “If you don’t lead [in the world], if America doesn’t lead, who will?” he asked. Meanwhile, President Trump has said he is weighing up an invitation from Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend the May 9 Victory Day parade in Moscow. "I appreciate the invitation," Trump told reporters on Friday. "It is right in the middle of political season, so I'll see if I can do it, but I would love to go if I could." The event commemorates the May 1945 Allied victory over Nazi Germany. Russia uses the annual parade to show off its military might. Trump said the event, which next year marks the 75th anniversary of the victory, was "a very big deal."


UN experts call Morsi's death in Egypt 'arbitrary killing'

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 10:20am

An independent panel of United Nations experts said Friday the death of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi in June could amount to "a state-sanctioned arbitrary killing". "Morsi was held in conditions that can only be described as brutal, particularly during his five-year detention in the Tora prison complex," a statement said. Egypt's first democratically elected civilian president Morsi died in June after collapsing in a Cairo courtroom while on trial.


Iran downs unidentified drone that 'infiltrated' near Gulf coast: reports

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 9:58am

Iran shot down an unidentified drone that "infiltrated" near Bandar-e Mahshahr port on the Gulf coast Friday, Iranian media reported, after the downing of a US drone nearly triggered air strikes earlier this year. Relevant units acted "in response to a violation of our airspace by a drone (that) infiltrated", IRIBNEWS reported, citing Brigadier General Alireza Sabahi Fard, commander in chief of aerial defence. "The drone was shot down before it could reach sensitive sites thanks to the great vigilance of our unified aerial defence system," he said.


Trump says he might attend Russian military celebration

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 9:35am

President Donald Trump said Friday that he's considering accepting Vladimir Putin’s invitation to attend Russia’s military parade celebration in May, but that the 2020 campaign season might get in the way. “President Putin invited me,” Trump told reporters on the White House lawn. Putin earlier this year invited Trump to attend Russia’s Victory Day festivities, which commemorate the Soviet Union's triumph in World War II and are a celebration of Russian military might.


Boris Johnson Sows Confusion Over Northern Irish Trade After Brexit

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 9:29am

(Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s comments in Northern Ireland, filmed on a mobile phone and released on Twitter, seemingly contradict what his own government has said about the Brexit deal he negotiated. What’s going on?The BackgroundPoliticians in Northern Ireland are worried the deal creates a border between them and Great Britain, the island that makes up most of the United Kingdom. And businesses in Northern Ireland are worried that goods will be subject to new checks as they cross the Irish Sea.Johnson’s claim that there will be no checks puts him at odds with his own Brexit Secretary, Steve Barclay -- who had to go to Parliament last month to clarify the prime minister’s policy.Goods Going From GB to NI: What Johnson Said“There will not be checks on goods going from GB to NI that are not going on to Ireland. That’s the whole point.”Goods Going From GB to NI: What Barclay Said“Goods that are not at risk of moving to the European Union will attract no tariffs. Goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland that are destined for the European Union will have to comply with European Union rules. To ensure that the correct tariffs are applied and that goods comply with the rules of the single regulatory zone, some information will be needed on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.”Sam Lowe, trade researcher at the Center for European Reform, said the effect of the deal is to place the EU’s external border in the Irish Sea. “There will be checks,” he said.Goods Going from NI to GB: What Johnson Said“The great thing that people have misunderstood about this is that there will not be checks -- I say this as prime minister of the U.K. and a passionate unionist -- there will not be checks on goods going from Northern Ireland to Great Britain. Because we’re the government of the U.K. and we will not institute or implement or enact such checks.”Goods Going from NI to GB: What Barclay Said“The deal also explicitly allows the U.K. to ensure unfettered market access for goods moving from Northern Ireland to Great Britain. There will be minimal targeted interventions.”According to Lowe, what those checks will look like is a live question. “There are certain obligations we will have to meet. Businesses will have to make exit declarations. But there might be flexibility in how that’s done. We’re in a unique situation, where the U.K. is the regulator on both sides of the border. So it’s conceivable that we could find a different way of doing that.”So Really, No Checks?Challenged by a member of his audience, who said he’d been told his staff would have to fill in forms, Johnson gave this commitment:“If somebody asks you to do that, tell them to ring up the prime minister, and I will direct them to throw that form in the bin. There will be no forms, no checks, no barriers of any kind. You will have unfettered access.”Is that really right? Lowe was skeptical. “He’s giving massively big assurances without any detail about how it would work,” he said.\--With assistance from Greg Ritchie and Thomas Penny.To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Edward Evans, Thomas PennyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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