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For east Syria, US troops are about much more than oil

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 9:20am

As U.S. troops beef up in eastern Syria to protect oil fields, residents hope their mission will bring stability and prosperity to the remote and resource-rich region —and keep the Syrian government out. The stretches of Syria east of the Euphrates, where the oil is located, have been lost to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad for most of the country's eight-year civil war.

Trump news – live: President considering Putin’s invitation to Russian military parade, as impeachment inquiry amasses ‘mountain of evidence’

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 8:59am

Donald Trump has told reporters at the White House he is considering Vladimir Putin’s invitation to attend Moscow’s May Day parade and is planning to release a new transcript of an earlier call with Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in an attempt to clear his name with the House impeachment inquiry ongoing.As the president’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney failed to show up for his deposition to the inquiry despite being issued with a subpoena late on Thursday, Democratic congressman Danny Heck has dismissed the significance of the White House’s refusal to co-operate, saying the panel has already amassed “a mountain of evidence” against the president.

Reports: Iran downs 'unknown' drone over Persian Gulf port

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 8:55am

Iran's air defense force has shot down an "unknown" drone in the country's southwest, the official IRNA news agency reported on Friday. The agency said that Iranian air defense forces hit the drone in the early morning at the port city of Mahshahr, which is in the oil-rich Khuzestan province and lies on the Persian Gulf. The provincial governor, Gholamreza Shariati, told IRNA that the drone belonged to a "foreign" country and that parts of it had been recovered in a nearby lagoon.

Tories Get Nervous as Chaos Hits Johnson’s U.K. Election Train

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 8:47am

(Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Just after 9 p.m. on Wednesday, half the British cabinet were marooned on a cold railway platform 114 miles northwest of London.Along with thousands of other passengers, senior ministers including Michael Gove, Liz Truss and Steve Barclay trudged through Birmingham International Station trying to make sense of the cancellations and delays as they searched for a working train to take them home.It was a chaotic end to a day of blunders that had damaged Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives as they launched their campaign for votes in the Dec. 12 general election. Senior party officials now fear their campaign is poorly organized and falling flat, and worry many more missteps will let opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn into power.Britain’s Election Gamble -- What You Need to Know: QuickTakeJohnson triggered the early election because he could not get his Brexit deal ratified in Parliament. Opposition parties refused to allow him to rush his agreement into law, then blocked his backup plan to take the country out of the European Union without a deal at the end of October.Eventually a humiliated prime minister was forced to accept a three-month Brexit delay -- despite repeatedly promising he would never do so.Johnson argued that an obstructive Parliament -- where his ruling Tory party lacked a majority -- must be replaced, and finally persuaded MPs to give him the election he craved to break the deadlock. Now he’s appealing to voters to return him to power with a majority so he can “get Brexit done” and move on to other priorities, including investing in schools, the police and health service.Self-Inflicted DamageBut the Tories spent Wednesday -- the first official day of campaigning -- battling to contain self-inflicted damage. Senior officials fought to protect cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg from calls to resign, after he suggested 72 people killed in a tower-block fire in 2017 hadn’t shown “common sense.”By lunchtime, another cabinet minister, Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns, quit over a scandal that stemmed from a collapsed rape trial. It was the first time a minister had been forced to resign from cabinet in the middle of an election campaign for at least 100 years.In Birmingham on Wednesday evening, Johnson tried to get his campaign back on track. Cabinet ministers swelled the audience of hundreds of activists in the National Exhibition Centre, next to the station, watching the barnstorming speech. He was aided by the fact Labour was suffering its own problems with the resignation of deputy leader Tom Watson.“What you have seen is an electric start to our campaign, in terms of a prime minister selling his vision,” Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said when asked about the setbacks. That vision hinges on getting Brexit done. “To deliver Britain’s exit from the European Union, he needs to have a working majority,” Williamson said in an interview.Daily FrustrationsYet the railway chaos that caught out the cabinet held a double irony -- not only was the Tory campaign running similarly off schedule, but the leaders of the party branded “out of touch” by opponents were suddenly facing frustrations that form part of daily life for many travelers in Britain.On the overcrowded platform, the stranded ministers allowed several slow, stopping services to pass through before piling onto a packed express train to London. They had to take whichever seats were free.The British railways were privatized by the Tories in the 1990s, and Corbyn wants to nationalize the network again. It’s populist policies like this -- and the promise of huge spending on public services -- that are likely to secure Labour support from voters who are fed up with a decade of austerity.Dueling Chancellors Send U.K. Spending Pledges Through the RoofIn 2017, Labour’s radical manifesto transformed Corbyn from an opposition leader who was written off by some as a joke to a popular left wing hero who almost took power, winning 40% of the vote.Tory FearsPrivately, some of the Conservative party’s most senior and experienced officials fear the veteran Labour leader could repeat the trick, even though his party is mired in infighting and allegations of antisemitism. Speaking on condition of anonymity because the matter is sensitive, one said Johnson won’t win a majority if the party continues to make blunders.Another said the party still has a huge task to explain why an election is needed now, given the last one was in 2017 and the next wasn’t due until 2022.Voters want to move on from Brexit, so focusing on it is risky for Johnson. It’s also an area that’s ripe for missteps. When a video emerged late Thursday of the prime minister explaining the implications of his divorce deal for Northern Irish trade, opposition parties said he sounded like he was making the case for staying in the EU.And while Johnson is promising to deliver the divorce quickly and then focus on domestic priorities, Corbyn’s campaign is already concentrating on the policies voters care about -- the National Health Service, housing, childcare and wages. That’s a calculation that is worrying Tory officials.It’s early days in a highly unpredictable election, but the fear for Conservatives is that while Johnson talks about moving on from Brexit, it’s Corbyn who looks as though he already has.(Adds detail on Labour in paragraph after ‘Tory Fears’ crosshead.)To contact the reporter on this story: Tim Ross in London at tross54@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson at, Stuart Biggs, Thomas PennyFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Netanyahu appoints hard-liner Bennett as defense minister

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 8:39am

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has appointed hard-line politician Naftali Bennett as defense minister in his caretaker government. Ayelet Shaked of Bennett's New Right party, a former justice minister, confirmed on Friday that the party accepted the defense portfolio for Bennett. Netanyahu's Cabinet is to meet on Sunday.

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

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

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.

UN court says it has jurisdiction in Ukraine-Russia case

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 8:18am

The United Nations' highest court ruled Friday that it has jurisdiction in a case brought by Ukraine that alleges Russia breached treaties on terrorist financing and racial discrimination following its annexation of Crimea by arming rebels in eastern Ukraine and reining in the rights of ethnic Tartars and other minorities. The decision by the International Court of Justice means the case, which opened a new legal front in the strained relationship between Russia and Ukraine, will go ahead.

Labour Rejects 2020 Scottish Independence Referendum: U.K. Votes

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 7:55am

(Bloomberg) -- The U.K.’s political parties are focusing on domestic issues, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing new post-Brexit visas to fast-track foreign staff for the National Health Service, and Labour unveiling measures to improve working conditions for women.The Scottish National Party launched its campaign with a promise to block the state-run health care system from being included in any future trade deal with the U.S.. Labour rebuffed the SNP’s call for a referendum on independence in 2020 as the price for putting Jeremy Corbyn into power.Key Developments:Prime Minister Boris Johnson is campaigning in Wales, as is Brexit Party leader Nigel FarageSNP promises second referendum on Scottish independenceLiberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson visits marginal seat of North East Fife, which the SNP won by just two votes in 2017BBC announced further TV debates on Nov. 29 and Dec. 6Labour Rule Out 2020 Scottish Referendum (2 p.m.)Keir Starmer, Labour’s Brexit spokesman, rebuffed Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon’s demand for a 2020 referendum on Scottish independence as the price for helping put Jeremy Corbyn into power if he fails to win a clear majority (see 11:30 a.m.).“We are not in this to do anything other than win and we are not doing deals,” Starmer told Sky News. Asked if he could rule out an independence referendum next year, he said “yes, we are not in this to do deals.”Corbyn said in August he would not support a new Scottish referendum in “the formative years” of a Labour government.BBC to Host Johnson-Corbyn Debate on Dec. 6 (12:35 p.m.)The BBC said it will host a debate between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and main opposition Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn in Southampton on Dec. 6 -- six days before the general election.The broadcaster will also hold what it called a “seven-way podium debate” among “senior figures” from the major political parties on Nov. 29 in Cardiff.Televised debates -- and the question of which parties are invited to take part -- are already proving controversial. Nicola Sturgeon has threatened to take legal action against Sky News for excluding her Scottish National Party from its proposed debate between Johnson, Corbyn and Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson on Nov. 28. Swinson herself has objected to her exclusion from ITV’s planned Johnson-Corbyn debate on Nov. 19.Sturgeon: Scotland’s ‘Fundamental’ Choice (11:30 a.m.)Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland faces a “fundamental choice” at the Dec. 12 election: Vote SNP “to escape Brexit.”“A vote for the SNP is a vote to take Scotland’s future out of the hands of Boris Johnson and a broken Westminster system,” Sturgeon said at the SNP’s election campaign launch in Edinburgh. Her party will pursue a referendum on Scottish independence next year, she said. The last one was held in 2014.In comments that will have implications if the general election results in no party having a majority, Sturgeon ruled out backing any government unless it offers Scotland a plebiscite. And she suggested Jeremy Corbyn would support one. The Labour leader “supports self-determination for virtually every other country in the world,” she said. “It would be mighty strange if he didn’t support it for Scotland.”Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, also pledged to introduce a new law to protect the state-run National Health Service from inclusion in any trade deal with the U.S. It would mean the Scottish Parliament and other devolved legislatures would have to give their explicit consent, she said.Johnson Says NHS Not for Sale Under Tories (11 a.m.)In a pooled interview with broadcasters, Boris Johnson denied the U.K.’s state-run National Health Service would be up for negotiation in any future trade deal with the U.S.“We can do free trade deals with countries around the world but under us the NHS is not for sale,” Johnson said. “It’s not going to be on any kind of international trade negotiation.”The U.K.’s health service is always a key election issue but it’s significance is heightened this time because of Brexit, and the government’s promise to negotiate a free-trade deal with U.S. President Donald Trump. That’s increased concerns the NHS could come under threat from U.S. health insurers and drug companies.Johnson’s Brexit Analysis Provides Opposition Fodder (10 a.m.)Even as Boris Johnson’s Conservatives try to put the attention on the National Health Service and other domestic issues on Friday, a video of the prime minister explaining the benefits of his Brexit deal to Northern Ireland is dominating the early headlines.In a rambling speech, recorded at a meeting of local Conservatives in Northern Ireland, Johnson said the province got a “great deal” because it keeps freedom of movement with the European Union and access to the bloc’s single market.Such comments are a gift to Tory opponents, particularly the pro-EU Liberal Democrats. Tom Brake, the party’s Brexit spokesman, responded on Twitter: “I do agree on one point: the Single Market and freedom of movement are indeed a great deal - even @BorisJohnson recognizes this.”Meanwhile the Labour Party criticized Johnson for distorting the terms of his Brexit deal with Brussels when he told the audience there would be no checks on goods coming from Northern Ireland to Great Britain. The government has previously conceded some checks will be necessary on goods traveling in both directions.“Boris Johnson either doesn’t understand the deal he has negotiated or he isn’t telling the truth. Probably both,” Labour’s Brexit spokesman, Keir Starmer, said on Twitter.Earlier:Corbyn’s U.K. Labour Party Is a Mess But Can Still Win PowerU.K.’s Johnson Pledges New Post-Brexit Visas for Doctors, NursesJohnson, Corbyn Unveil Voter-Pleasing Plans: U.K. Campaign Trail\--With assistance from Robert Hutton.To contact the reporters on this story: Stuart Biggs in London at;Greg Ritchie in London at gritchie10@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at, Thomas Penny, Stuart BiggsFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Pompeo warns against China, Russia on eve of Berlin Wall anniversary

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 7:46am

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a stark warning against China and Russia on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, urging Western allies to defend hard-won freedoms. Stressing that "we can never take ... things for granted", he said the 70-year-old NATO alliance too "runs the risk that it will become obsolete" if leaders failed to tackle new challenges. France's President Emmanuel Macron had criticised NATO as suffering from "brain-death", prompting a sharp rebuke from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

UK election boosts hopes of pro-independence Scottish party

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 7:12am

The Scottish National Party launched its campaign for Britain's Dec. 12 election on Friday, urging Scots to send its lawmakers to London in order to bring Scotland a step closer to independence. The party currently holds 35 of Scotland's 59 House of Commons seats, and hopes discontent about Brexit will boost that number. In Britain's 2016 referendum on European Union membership, Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the 28-nation bloc.

Iraq's spiritual leader calls for road map out of impasse

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 6:59am

Iraq's most senior Shiite spiritual leader called Friday for a road map out of the impasse, saying the country's political class has a "unique opportunity" to meet the demands of protesters who have taken to the streets for weeks, demanding change — only to have their rallies met with a deadly crackdown. In the latest violence, masked men attacked anti-government protesters in the southern city of Basra late on Thursday, killing five people, Iraqi state TV and medical officials said. The shooting also wounded around 120, said medical officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

China Issues Death Penalty for Shipping Opioid to U.S.

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 6:28am

XINGTAI, China -- A court in China convicted and sentenced to death Thursday a man accused of trafficking fentanyl to the United States after a joint investigation with U.S. law enforcement agencies.The case, involving nine defendants, was a rare example of cooperation against a surge in fentanyl-related deaths that American officials, including President Donald Trump, have blamed directly on China's lax enforcement and even complicity in fueling a drug epidemic on U.S. streets.The man sentenced to death, Liu Yong, led an illicit network of labs that produced and shipped packages of fentanyl to American users who placed orders online through a dealer simply known as "Diana," according to the Chinese and American officials.A judge in Xingtai, a city in Hebei province about 220 miles south of Beijing, sentenced Liu to death after detailing a broad conspiracy to manufacture and smuggle fentanyl that evaded China's strict controls on pharmaceutical production.Liu's death sentence was suspended for two years, leaving open the possibility that it could be commuted to life in prison. Eight other co-defendants were also sentenced, including distributors and online sellers. They received sentences ranging from six months in prison to life.The case started with an arrest by the Drug Enforcement Administration in New Orleans in August 2017, leading to an international investigation into a sprawling underground production network that prosecutors said Liu orchestrated.The network included one lab and two distribution centers in Shanghai and the neighboring province, Jiangsu. They were shut down, and 12 kilograms, or about 26 pounds, of fentanyl was seized as part of the investigation, according to the officials and the court's ruling."The successful outcome of this case, especially the heavy sentences to the main criminals and others, fully demonstrates the position and determination of the Chinese government to severely punish fentanyl-related crimes," Yu Haibin, deputy director of China's National Narcotics Control Commission, said at a news conference in Xingtai after the court's sentencing hearing.He was joined by diplomats from the U.S. Embassy, underscoring China's eagerness to show it was cooperating with U.S. law enforcement to combat the fentanyl scourge. Many officials in the United States have accused China of abetting the trade.Austin Moore, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official working in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, attended the sentencing along with other American diplomats and afterward welcomed the Chinese cooperation in the case, which he said had also resulted in arrests and indictments in New York and Oregon."I have one more thing to say to those who make it their business to spread illegal narcotics," he said at the news conference. "We make it our business to find you, arrest you and hold you accountable for your crimes."Moore said the United States looked forward to greater collaboration as the Chinese government enforces a decision to classify all variants of fentanyl as controlled substances subject to strict enforcement.That legal change, which China's leader, Xi Jinping, promised to Trump last year, closed a loophole in the country's laws that allowed manufacturers here to make precursors or slight variations of fentanyl that were not explicitly banned in China.As anger rose in the United States over Chinese complicity in the epidemic, the Chinese have complained that they have been unfairly blamed for a problem that stems from pervasive drug abuse.Yu, sitting beside Moore in a hotel ballroom, reiterated that view Thursday. He noted that overdose deaths in the United States had continued to rise even as China intensified its cooperation with U.S. law enforcement agencies and tightened its own export controls.He cited U.S. statistics showing that customs officials had seized 536 kilograms of fentanyl since October 2018 but that only 5.87 kilograms of that came from China."This data does not support that China is the main source of fentanyl substances in the United States," he said.The sentencing Thursday comes as aides to Xi and Trump try to finalize an interim deal in the trade war. The cooperation on display could help smooth the way.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company

Rising Risk of Impeachment Tests Ties Between Barr and the President

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 6:26am

WASHINGTON -- For a while at least, he seemed to have found his Roy Cohn, a lawyer to defend him against his accusers and go after his enemies. But the relationship between President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr may be growing more complicated with the rising threat of impeachment.Rather than publicly join the fight against House Democrats pursuing the president, Barr has remained out of the fray, resisting requests by intermediaries from Trump to go before the cameras to say no crime had been committed. While Barr exonerated the president in the spring at the end of the Russia investigation, he has been more reticent in the current matter.The reluctance hints at a new distance between the two men, according to people who have spoken with them. Trump, angry with his coverage, is aggravated with Barr for urging him to release a reconstructed transcript of the telephone call with Ukraine's president at the center of the impeachment drive. For his part, Barr was bothered that Trump on that call lumped him together with Rudy Giuliani, the president's private lawyer, like interchangeable parts of his personal defense team.The two remain on much better terms than Trump was with his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, whom he repeatedly berated in public for not protecting him from the Russia investigation and eventually fired. The president has given Barr extensive leeway and largely deferred to his judgment. Barr has spoken with pride about how much Trump relies on him and treats him as a confidant.But the impeachment debate seems to be testing those ties as House Democrats investigate whether Trump committed high crimes and misdemeanors by using his office to pressure Ukraine to provide incriminating information about former Vice President Joe Biden and other Democrats. The Justice Department concluded there was no campaign finance violation, but Barr has not gone beyond that."The easiest read of this is, yes, there's a limit," said Harry Litman, who served as a deputy assistant attorney general under President Bill Clinton. "Yes, he will push the envelope, but if it's not plausible to say there's no crime, he won't do it."Trump on Thursday angrily denied a report in The Washington Post, which was confirmed by The New York Times, that he wanted Barr to hold a news conference to say that the president had broken no laws, only to be rebuffed by the attorney general.In a Twitter post, Trump called The Post's article "pure fiction," adding: "We both deny this story, which they knew before they wrote it. A garbage newspaper!" Barr, however, did not publicly deny the account.Late Thursday, Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman, said, "It was President Trump who decided to release the entire, unredacted phone call showing everyone he's done nothing wrong, and while shady sources attempt to push a false narrative of division, the president has a great relationship with the attorney general and respects his decades of service to this country."The attorney general's public absence in recent weeks contrasted with his willingness to act as Trump's defender after the special counsel, Robert Mueller, wrapped up his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and ties between Moscow and Trump's campaign.Barr released a four-page letter summing up Mueller's findings that critics considered tilted to the most sympathetic interpretation for the president. Then, after releasing the special counsel report, the attorney general took it upon himself to declare that its findings did not add up to obstruction of justice, even though Mueller was not willing to conclude that. At a news conference and before Congress, Barr insisted Trump had done nothing wrong.Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University and friend of Barr's, said the Ukraine matter is fundamentally different because it is still under investigation by the House. Barr offered his judgments about the Russia case only after Mueller wrapped up his inquiry.It would be "highly inappropriate for Attorney General Barr to exonerate the president on a controversy that was still unfolding," Turley said.If anything, Turley added, Barr should be credited for ensuring that as much information be released as possible, in both the Russia and Ukraine cases."What's ironic is that Barr has one of the most robust views of executive privilege," Turley said, "yet it's breathtaking to see the level at which he has secured the release of information about the president and the speed with which he has done it."Barr had to negotiate hard with Trump to release the vast majority of Mueller's report with only some redactions. His news conference defending the president essentially grew out of that discussion, with Barr agreeing to offer his own conclusions publicly as long as the report was turned over to Congress. A White House official denied late Thursday that there had been such a debate.Similarly, Barr recommended that Trump release the reconstructed transcript of the July 25 call with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine, arguing that it would show that Trump did nothing wrong. Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, agreed with that recommendation, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo argued against releasing the call record, saying that it would hurt American diplomacy if foreign leaders thought their conversations with the president might be made public. Pompeo was also on the call -- which he initially obscured -- giving him added reason to not want it publicly aired.Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, was not included in the discussion and instead was among a number of aides blindsided when he learned that the president had decided to release the reconstructed transcript. In New York with Trump for meetings at the United Nations, Mulvaney declared to other aides that he would not be the one defending the call, according to people involved in the matter.In the run-up to the release of the Ukraine call notes, the White House and the Justice Department exchanged plans for how they would share the information. When the Justice Department said it would release a statement rather than hold a news conference saying that it found no campaign finance violation, the White House did not push back, according to an administration official.To the extent that Trump was convinced that releasing the reconstructed transcript would clear him of wrongdoing, it was a major miscalculation. The record showed that after Zelenskiy talked about his country's need for more security aid from the United States in the face of Russian aggression, Trump immediately pivoted and asked him to "do us a favor, though," and investigate a conspiracy theory about Ukraine's involvement with Democrats in 2016 as well as Biden and his son Hunter Biden.Democrats have seized on that to say it made clear the president was pressing a foreign power for help against his domestic political rivals. In the days that followed, reports emerged about Barr's own contacts with foreign leaders for help investigating the origins of the Russia interference investigation. While the Ukraine pressure campaign is separate from the Justice Department's newest investigation into the 2016 election, critics have said it is more evidence that the Trump administration is trying to carry out work that personally benefits Trump.Since the release of the reconstructed transcript, Trump has grown irked when he sees news coverage asserting that the call was problematic, harkening back to the fact that Barr was among those who told him it would be wise to release it, according to two people close to the president. One of them said that Mulvaney has fueled the president's concerns about Barr, telling Trump that it was a mistake to make the document public.In the call, which took place the day after Mueller testified before Congress, effectively ending his inquiry, Trump suggested that Barr was part of his effort to get damaging information about Democrats. "I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it," Trump told Zelenskiy.Barr sought to distance himself from the pressure campaign, however. After the release of the reconstructed transcript, his department said that Barr had no knowledge of the call until a whistleblower filed a complaint and that Trump had not spoken with the attorney general "about having Ukraine investigate anything relating to former Vice President Biden or his son."Even so, Barr's department had advised the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, to keep the whistleblower complaint from Congress and in a written statement ruled out any campaign finance violation by the president.While the attorney general has otherwise remained silent about Trump, he has distanced himself from Giuliani. After reports that federal prosecutors in New York were investigating Giuliani, the head of the Justice Department's criminal division said he would not have met with him in Washington had he known.But for every Cabinet officer in Trump's turnover-heavy administration, a countdown clock begins ticking from the moment they are appointed and the question is when it will eventually go off. For Barr, it is still ticking, at least for now.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company

The Latest: UN envoy hails 1st round of Syria charter talks

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 6:15am

The U.N. envoy for Syria says first talks on the country's constitution involving Syrian opposition, government and civil society representatives have "gone much better" than many would have expected. The helicopters flew east from the Kuweires air base to Ayn Issa and Raqqa and then back.

Turkish patrol kills protester amid shaky truce in NE Syria

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 6:08am

A Syrian protester was killed after he was run over by a Turkish military vehicle during a joint Turkish-Russian patrol in northeastern Syria on Friday, Kurdish forces and a Syria war monitoring group said. The man was among a group of residents who had chased and pelted the convoy with shoes and stones, prompting Turkish troops to fire tear-gas to disperse the protesters. Ten people were hospitalized, according to the Rojava Information Center, an activist operated group in Kurdish-held areas.

Ukraine foes set to pull back troops Saturday

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 6:05am

The withdrawal of forces is a precondition for the first face-to-face talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky. The summit, whose date has yet to be set, will be mediated by French President Emmanuel Macron and Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel. Kiev said earlier it was ready to begin the withdrawal of troops near the village of Petrivske in the Donetsk region on Friday but the separatists insisted that the withdrawal be delayed until Saturday.

Boy whose mother joined IS in Syria returns to dad in Italy

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 5:41am

An 11-year-old Albanian boy whose mother took him to Syria five years ago when she joined the Islamic State group returned on Friday to Italy for a joyous reunion with his father and sisters. The boy, Alvin, wearing a red cap, smiled shyly as he was escorted by two policewomen at Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport to an airport reception where his father, Afrim Berisha, and two older sisters took turns hugging him, long and tightly. Red Cross and Red Crescent staff worked with Albanian and Italian government officials to facilitate his return from the crowded al-Hol detention camp in northeastern Syria where he was living without his family.

Pompeo Says NATO Risks Extinction Unless It Adapts to Reality

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 5:38am

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said NATO risks becoming irrelevant, adding fuel to criticism of the military alliance as grandees gathered in the German capital to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.A day after Emmanuel Macron slammed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, President Donald Trump’s top envoy said the alliance would lose significance if its 29 members don’t contribute enough to common defense.“If nations believe they can get the security benefit without providing NATO with the resources that it needs, if they don’t live up to their commitments, there’s a risk that NATO could become ineffective or obsolete,” Pompeo told the audience at a forum next to the Brandenburg Gate.Macron drew fire from key allies, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, for saying that NATO is suffering “brain death.” While the French leader has sought to advance Europe’s own military capabilities and independent foreign policy, Pompeo’s comments echoed Trump’s blunt criticism that NATO members aren’t contributing enough.Germany has been a specific target of Trump’s charge that the country must meet an obligation to raise defense spending to 2% of gross domestic product. While Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said she aims to meet that target by 2031, the chancellor’s Social Democratic coalition partners oppose an increase on that scale.‘So Many Cameras’The U.S. secretary of state, who had just given a speech heralding German-U.S. ties three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, hesitated when asked by a moderator whether NATO is “obsolete, brain dead, or both, or neither.”“So many good answers, so many cameras,” he quipped.As NATO leaders prepare to gather for a summit in London next month to coincide with the 70th anniversary of its founding, Pompeo said that the Brussels-based institution’s staying power can’t be taken for granted.“We can never assume that because this infrastructure, this beautiful building that’s in Brussels, that it will exist, that it will of its own force, just by the nature of it, that it will continue to be relevant and important and effective,” Pompeo said.The comments were softer than those of Macron, who appeared to call for a wholesale alteration in Europe’s security architecture -- a stance that calls into question NATO’s future role. Taking on Trump’s lack of commitment, Macron said the uncertainty placed the alliance’s key collective defense clause in question. “What will Article Five mean tomorrow?,” he asked in an interview with The Economist.Merkel RebukeThe comments drew a rare rebuke from Merkel, who referred to the French president’s “drastic words.”“This is not my view of cooperation within NATO,” Merkel said Thursday alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Pompeo was scheduled to meet with Merkel later on Friday.Stoltenberg acknowledged earlier Friday that there are differences on some issues within NATO -- such as over Syria -- but said that the alliance remains solid and the U.S. and Europe are united.“What I know is that NATO is strong and North America and Europe are doing more together now than they have done for many, many years,” Stoltenberg said in an interview with Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio.“The reality is that NATO has not expanded its collective defense capacity so much in decades,” he added. “We do that together, North America and Europe.”Stoltenberg also said that Russia should not become isolated and NATO should work to improve relations with Moscow.‘Comatose State’Russia signaled its pleasure at developments. President Vladimir Putin is impressed by Macron’s approach to relations, which is “much more thoughtful” than the “Russophobic apocalyptic scenarios” heard from many experts, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Friday on a conference call.As for NATO’s health, “it’s not for us to decide whether NATO is alive or dead, or which parts of the body of this alliance are in a comatose state,” Peskov said. “We are not pathologists.”Pompeo said standing up to authoritarian regimes like China and Russia and “protecting freedom” is a tough task that needs greater joint effort from NATO allies. He attacked China for methods he said “would be horrifyingly familiar to former East Germans” and Russia for “invading its neighbors and slaying political opponents.”“We must recognize that free nations are in a competition of values with unfree nations,” Pompeo said. “It’s our duty to decide the terms on which our people live.”To contact the reporters on this story: Patrick Donahue in Berlin at;Iain Rogers in Berlin at irogers11@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at, Chris ReiterFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

If we don't embrace the Balkans, others will, says EU's Von der Leyen

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 5:30am

North Macedonia and Albania have made enormous efforts to secure European Union membership, future European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday, implictly contesting France's decision to veto further talks on their accession. Von der Leyen was speaking after talks in Berlin with Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said it was "a matter of "extremely important strategic European interest" that the two countries continue to have a prospect of membership. "Albania and North Macedonia have made unbelievable efforts to get to this," Von der Leyen said.

UPDATE 2-Scottish Nationalists float Labour alliance in return for independence vote

Yahoo World News Feed - November 8, 2019 - 5:24am

Scottish Nationalists will seek "a progressive alliance" with the opposition Labour Party if an election next month results in no one winning an overall majority, but the party wants a second independence vote in return, its leader Nicola Sturgeon said on Friday. Britons head to the polls on Dec. 12 for a snap election which Prime Minister Boris Johnson called to end the Brexit impasse, with polls showing the governing Conservatives ahead of Labour but by varying margins. In Scotland, the Scottish National Party (SNP) already has 35 out of 59 lawmakers, with some pollsters suggesting they will make further gains, positioning them as possible kingmakers.