Saturday, September 22, 2018

Team Trump says NBC News edited Holt's exclusive interview. Here's the truth - CNN

Team Trump says NBC News edited Holt's exclusive interview. Here's the truth

by Brian Stelter   @brianstelter
September 20, 2018

Trump tells NBC he planned to fire Comey
President Trump's legal team knows that his May 2017 interview with NBC's Lester Holt makes him more vulnerable to claims that he obstructed justice.
So they have come up with a curious explanation: The interview was "edited" and that's why people are confused about what Trump meant.

Trump attorney Jay Sekulow advanced this argument on "Cuomo Prime Time" on Wednesday night. Trump himself brought it up on Twitter a few weeks ago.

"When Lester Holt got caught fudging my tape on Russia, they were hurt badly!" Trump said in an anti-NBC tweet in late August.

This might be an appealing explanation to Trump's base, since it casts the media -- NBC in this case -- as the villain. But there is no sign that NBC "fudged" the tape of the interview or did anything else untoward.

This seems to be part of a pattern of Trump trying to deny what everyone heard for themselves on tape.

But Sekulow is making a more nuanced point: That one part of the Trump-Holt interview drowned out another part of the interview. Sekulow is trying to point people to a quote that he believes is exculpatory.

Notably, Sekulow revealed to Cuomo that Trump's legal team has repeatedly addressed this matter with Robert Mueller's special counsel office. This is another sign that the Mueller is looking seriously at obstruction of justice issues.

"In our professional discussions with the office of special counsel, we have addressed that on multiple occasions appropriately," Sekulow said.

So here's what this is all about
Holt lucked into one of the most important presidential interviews in years. NBC announced in May that Holt will sit down for an exclusive interview with Trump. The next day, Trump fired FBI director James Comey. There was immediate speculation that Trump was trying to stop the investigations into the Russian effort to support his campaign. Trump's critics accused him of engaging in a cover-up.

The Holt interview took place as scheduled on that Thursday.

Holt, the anchor of the "NBC Nightly News," repeatedly tried to get to the bottom of why Trump fired Comey. Trump blew up the White House's stated reason, which was that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein had officially recommended Comey's firing, and Trump had just accepted the recommendation.

Trump said to Holt, "He made a recommendation, but regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won."

Trump made this statement without any interruptions by Holt or editing by NBC. The camera stayed on Trump the entire time.

Holt later followed up with questions about Trump's mindset, like "Are you angry with Mr. Comey because of his Russia investigation?"

Trump responded, "I just want somebody that's competent."

Trump kept talking and talking. But most news reports from other outlets that covered the interview focused on the first statement -- where Trump confirmed that the FBI's Russia probe was on his mind when he fired Comey.

This clip with this quote has aired thousands of times since: "And in fact when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story."

But Sekulow is trying to draw attention to something Trump said a little while later.

"When you review the entire transcript, it is very clear as to what happened," Sekulow said on "Cuomo Prime Time."

Sekulow was apparently pointing to this part of the interview, one minute after Trump's "made-up story" comment, when Trump says he knew that firing Comey could prolong the Russia probe.

"As far as I'm concerned, I want that thing to be absolutely done properly," Trump said to Holt. "When I did this now, I said I probably maybe will confuse people. Maybe I'll expand that -- you know, I'll lengthen the time because it should be over with. It should -- in my opinion, should've been over with a long time ago because it -- all it is an excuse. But I said to myself, I might even lengthen out the investigation. But I have to do the right thing for the American people. He's the wrong man for that position."

After that sentence, there is clearly an edit in the NBC interview. Holt moves on to ask another question. But such edits are not uncommon in television news, especially when an interview subject is rambling.

NBC News published a 13-minute version of the interview on its website. To date, NBC News has not released the entire interview. (Some news organizations opt to publish complete transcripts of presidential interviews, while others do not.)

NBC News declined to comment on the Trump team's assertions. Sekulow did not respond to a followup request for comment from CNN on Thursday.

On "Cuomo Prime Time," Sekulow was making the case that Trump's later comment -- "I might even lengthen out the investigation" -- is important context.

Trump's legal team made a similar argument in a confidential January 2018 memo to Mueller. The New York Times obtained copies of the memo over the summer.

"By the way, I'm not faulting anybody to run a clip," Sekulow said on CNN Wednesday night. "But to turn that into literally a federal case, we don't think it's right, we don't think it's constitutional, and we think the entire transcript without question supports the president realized that when he fired James Comey, it might actually extend this investigation, and he said that on the tape."

That still doesn't explain why Trump accused NBC of "fudging" the tape.

Portrait of Kavanaugh Accuser Christine Blasey Ford: Thorough, Guarded, Accomplished Academic Dr. Ford - Wall Street Journal

Portrait of Kavanaugh Accuser Christine Blasey Ford: Thorough, Guarded, Accomplished Academic
Dr. Ford, a married mom of two sons, built a quiet life in California as a research psychologist

By Alexandra Berzon, Sadie Gurman and Zusha Elinson
Updated Sept. 19, 2018
Christine Blasey Ford sent an unusual Facebook message to her best college friend this summer with a question: Had she ever mentioned a sexual assault that occurred when she was in high school?

Her friend, Catherine Piwowarski, her onetime roommate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said she had no memory of that. She didn’t know at the time that Dr. Ford was considering coming forward with her allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her in the 1980s, when both were teenagers in suburban Maryland.

Christine Blasey Ford has alleged that Judge Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party when they were teenagers in the early 1980s. He denies the allegations.
Christine Blasey Ford has alleged that Judge Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party when they were teenagers in the early 1980s. He denies the allegations.
Interviews with friends and acquaintances of Dr. Ford paint a picture of a guarded person, one more interested in discussions of sports and science than politics and personal trauma. Her decision to go public this week with the explosive accusation has thrust her into an uncomfortable spotlight and put her three-decade-old memories at the center of a fight over the fate of President Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee.

Democrats have pointed to her allegation as a reason to disqualify Judge Kavanaugh. Republicans, without dismissing her claim, have questioned why her allegation wasn’t aired sooner, before hearings were held earlier this month. They also say that her recollections are spotty and imprecise but potentially tarnishing to a nominee they see as extremely qualified for the court.

In recent days, Dr. Ford has faced online intimidation and death threats, and her family relocated from their northern California home, her lawyers said. This harassment, her lawyers said late Tuesday, has made her reluctant to testify Monday about details of a night she has rarely discussed and has said she struggles to remember. While she had initially agreed to testify, her lawyers said she would only do so after an FBI investigation into her allegation, which Republicans have rebuffed, saying nothing new would be learned.

Born: November 1966
Education: Graduated from Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Md., in 1984. She has received degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Pepperdine University; the University of Southern California and Stanford.
Career and details: Dr. Ford is a professor of psychology and statistics at Palo Alto University, who teaches in consortium with Stanford University. She has co-written more than 50 scientific books and publications on topics such as the relationship between childhood abuse and neglect and adult depression; post-traumatic growth after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; and whether acupuncture is a useful treatment for depression during pregnancy.
Family: Husband, Russell Ford; two sons
Political affiliation: Democrat
Dr. Ford didn’t return calls for comment or answer the door this week at her home in Palo Alto, Calif., where she lives with her husband and two sons. Her lawyer Debra Katz also didn’t respond to requests for more information.

Dr. Ford, a 51-year-old research psychologist, said in a Washington Post article that she and Judge Kavanaugh were teenagers at a party in the early 1980s when he and a friend, whom she identified as Mark Judge, pulled her into a bedroom. Judge Kavanaugh pinned her down on the bed, groped her and tried to take off her clothes before she escaped, she said. Dr. Ford told the Post she didn’t tell anyone about the alleged incident in detail until a couples therapy session with her husband in 2012.

Judge Kavanaugh, 53, unequivocally denied the allegation, saying he didn’t know who had made the claim until Dr. Ford identified herself in the story on Sunday.

“I have never done anything like what the accuser describes—to her or to anyone,” he said.

Mr. Judge has told lawmakers he has no memory of the alleged incident.

Dr. Ford’s friends describe her as credible and trustworthy; Judge Kavanaugh’s have defended him as respectful and honorable.

Dr. Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University in California, graduated from the all-girls Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Md., not far from the Georgetown Preparatory School Judge Kavanaugh attended. High-school classmates recalled her as a kind and popular cheerleader who played soccer and was on the diving team.

“She was one of the nicest ones,” said Eliza Knable, who was in the same high-school class but not part of the same friend group as Dr. Ford.

Many Holton-Arms students socialized with or dated boys from nearby prep schools, including Judge Kavanaugh’s, said Samantha Semerad Guerry. She was among a group of Holton alumnae from the class of 1984 who signed a letter to lawmakers in support of Dr. Ford.

“One friend said, ‘If she can’t prove it, she doesn’t put pen to paper,’” Ms. Guerry said of Dr. Ford’s allegation. “She’s not an overly sentimental person. She brought logistical reasoning.”

Judge Kavanaugh’s friends are similarly convinced he is an honorable man incapable of the offenses Dr. Ford described.

“In every situation where we were together he was always respectful, kind and thoughtful,” Maura Kane, who dated him in high school, said in a statement. “The accusations leveled against him in no way represent the decent young man I knew.”

None of Dr. Ford’s high school or college friends interviewed for this story remembered her talking about the alleged incident at the party. Betsy Kingsley, a high-school friend, said she recalled a different gathering that both Dr. Ford and Mr. Judge attended during her sophomore year of high school.

Friends said it was clear Dr. Ford remained traumatized decades later. Jim Gensheimer, a friend in Palo Alto, said she confided in him that she needed more than one exit door in her bedroom to prevent her from feeling trapped.

She told some classmates she was concerned that coming forward would diminish her privacy, Ms. Guerry said.

In July, Dr. Ford sent a tip to the Post and wrote a letter to her congresswoman, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D., Calif.), who encouraged her to reach out to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. She wanted to tell her story in confidence “so that lawmakers would have a full understanding of Brett Kavanaugh’s character and history,” Ms. Katz, her attorney, said in a letter to the committee. After reporters caught wind of the letter, Dr. Ford came forward to tell her story on her own terms, wrote Ms. Katz, who is well-known in Washington for her work representing women in the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.

Three Senators Key to the Kavanaugh Confirmation
Three Senators Key to the Kavanaugh Confirmation
Prof. Christine Blasey Ford recently accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school. The WSJ's Gerald F. Seib looks at the three senators who could delay the vote on the nominee. Photo: Getty
Friends say Dr. Ford isn’t intensely political. Federal records show that Dr. Ford, a registered Democrat, has made three donations since January 2017 totaling $42 to Act Blue, an online service that provides a one-stop donation platform used by Democrats seeking office.

The recent publicity Dr. Ford has received is in contrast to the quiet professional life she built for herself.

After high school, Dr. Ford threw herself into her studies, spending much of her time working in research labs, Ms. Piwowarski said.

At Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., where she pursued a master’s degree, she learned to surf and met Brian Merrick, an avid surfer, through mutual friends. They started dating around the end of 1991, which blossomed into an eight-year relationship, said Mr. Merrick, adding that she was “sweet, cute and with a good attitude.” He met and grew fond of her family in the Washington, D.C. area, describing her father as a self-made man whose conservative views sometimes clashed with her liberal outlook. But Mr. Merrick never saw her become involved in or working for a political cause.

At no point in their relationship did she mention an incident involving Judge Kavanaugh—whose name he had never heard before—or any case of sexual assault.

“It strikes me as odd it never came up in our relationship,” Mr. Merrick said. “But I would never try to discredit what she says or what she believes.”

Dr. Ford’s studies led to a distinguished career in psychology. She has co-written more than 50 scientific books and publications on topics such as the relationship between childhood abuse and neglect and adult depression; post-traumatic growth after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; and whether acupuncture is a useful treatment for depression during pregnancy.

After receiving her doctorate from the University of Southern California, Dr. Ford worked as a research associate in psychology and biostatistics for Allan Reiss, a psychiatry professor at Stanford Medical School.

Dr. Ford focused on the quantitative analysis in studies involving children with “genetic and medical risk factors for suboptimal behavioral outcomes,” Dr. Reiss said, including such rare conditions as fragile X syndrome and 22q deletion syndrome.

“She was thoughtful, thorough, collaborative, good-natured. And it’s hard to be good-natured, sometimes, in that role, because a lot of people may want the results to be in a certain direction or of a certain nature, and sometimes they’re not that way,” said Dr. Reiss, director of Stanford’s Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research. She served as a co-author on several of his papers.

Dr. Ford later moved her primary office to Palo Alto University, which operates programs in partnership with Stanford.

Samantha Buchman, who graduated from Dr. Ford’s clinical psychology doctoral program in 2017, said Dr. Ford talked sports, not politics, in class. “She likes to use a lot of surfing metaphors when she teaches because she is a surfer,” she said.

Ms. Piwowarski, the college roommate, said Dr. Ford visited her a few years ago in North Carolina ahead of the divisive 2016 presidential election, but they didn’t talk politics. Instead they chatted about their experience raising teenagers as their children played in a river.

—Jim Oberman, Paul Beckett, Jess Bravin and Lisa Schwartz contributed to this article.

Brett Kavanaugh: Judge accuser given more time for hearing - BBC News

Sept, 22, 2018.

Brett Kavanaugh: Judge accuser given more time for hearing

Brett Kavanaugh denies the allegations by Christine Blasey Ford
The woman who accuses US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault has been given extra time to decide whether she will testify against him at a confirmation hearing.

Allegations from a university professor, Christine Blasey Ford, emerged in the US media last week.

She gave details of an incident which she says happened at a party in 1982.

Her lawyer has accused Republicans of trying to "bully" her with "arbitrary" and "aggressive" deadlines.

The Friday deadline given by the Senate judiciary committee is now reported to have been switched to later on Saturday.

The truth about false assault accusations
Kavanaugh accuser 'faces death threats'
Could Kavanaugh confirmation be derailed?
President Donald Trump attacked Prof Ford's credibility on Friday, saying if the attack had been "as bad as she says", she would have reported it to the authorities sooner.

Judge Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Why the change in deadline?
Prof Ford insists she is ready to testify at the hearing, but negotiations over certain conditions she has set out, including it not taking place until next Thursday, have delayed proceedings.

The committee originally granted her a deadline of 22:00 on Friday (02:00 GMT Saturday) to agree to revised terms - though it is not yet known what these are.

But the professor's lawyer, Debra Katz, demanded another day to decide, saying: "Its sole purpose is to bully Dr Ford and deprive her of the ability to make a considered decision that has life-altering implications for her and her family."

In response, Senator Chuck Grassley - the lead Republican on the committee - said he had granted Prof Ford "another extension" - which, according to the New York Times, runs until 14:30 on Saturday (18:30 GMT).

Skip Twitter post by @ChuckGrassley


 Judge Kavanaugh I just granted another extension to Dr Ford to decide if she wants to proceed w the statement she made last week to testify to the senate  She shld decide so we can move on  I want to hear her.  I hope u understand.  It’s not my normal approach to b indecisive

1:42 PM - Sep 22, 2018

How did the allegations come to light?
The allegation against Judge Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump's pick for the US top court, became public last week.

It emerged Prof Ford had detailed the alleged assault in a confidential letter to the top Democratic senator on the judiciary committee, Dianne Feinstein, in July.

As the judge neared confirmation, news about the letter leaked to US media. Ms Feinstein then confirmed she had passed it onto the FBI.

After days of continued media speculation, Prof Ford went on record in a Washington Post article as the mystery accuser, detailing the alleged assault.

Media captionWhy it can take sexual assault allegations years to come out
She said Mr Kavanaugh tried to drunkenly remove her clothing at a party, pinned her to a bed and covered her mouth when she was 15 and he was 17.

Since then, her lawyers have been in a back-and-forth with the judicial committee, trying to agree on terms for her to testify.

She had asked for a number of preconditions, including not testifying with Mr Kavanaugh in the room and the subpoenaing of his friend, Mark Judge, who she said witnessed the alleged attempted rape.

Some Republicans, including President Trump, have accused her and Democratic politicians of deliberately trying to delay and obstruct the judge's confirmation, and urged them to push forward.

The feelings are strong on both sides - with both Prof Ford and Brett Kavanaugh and his wife both receiving threats and rallies of support over the matter.

Media captionAlumni of Ford's school: 'We believe her'
Why is it the hearing important?
The choice of a new justice for the Supreme Court is pivotal, as it often gives the final word on highly contentious laws and its nine judges have an immense impact on US public life.

As Mr Trump's pick, Brett Kavanaugh has to first approved in the Senate before he can take his seat - but before that vote can happen, he has to be approved by the judiciary committee, where Prof Ford may testify.

Why is the US top court so important?
Meet the Supremes - who are the justices?
The Senate is made up of 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats - so any testimony she gives on the allegations could prove pivotal.

Some have said there should not be a vote on his confirmation until Prof Ford has been heard.

What has Mr Trump said?
President Trump weighed in heavily on the allegations on social media on Friday.

In a series of tweets, he questioned why law enforcement was not called at the time of the alleged assault, in 1982.

Donald J. Trump

 I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn  date, time, and place!

11:14 PM - Sep 21, 2018

He also reiterated his full support for Judge Kavanaugh who he described as a "fine man, with an impeccable reputation".

Mr Trump's controversial comments were criticised by Democratic politicians and some Republicans.

Republican Senator Susan Collins said she was "appalled" by Mr Trump's tweet.

"We know that allegations of sexual assault - I'm not saying that's what happened in this case - but we know that allegations of sexual assault are one of the most unreported crimes that exist," she told reporters.

Only 23% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to the police, according to the Department of Justice's 2016 report.

On Friday, the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport trended on Twitter, with thousands sharing personal stories of sexual harassment and assault.

Patti Davis, the daughter of President Ronald Reagan, wrote in the Washington Post that she was raped 40 years ago.

"It doesn't surprise me that for more than 30 years, Christine Blasey Ford didn't talk about the assault she remembers," she wrote, adding: "It's important to understand how memory works in a traumatic event."

Brexit: What happens next? - BBC News

Brexit: What happens next?
21 September 2018

Theresa May: "I will not overturn result of the referendum"
Theresa May has warned that the Brexit negotiations are at an impasse and there will be no progress until the EU treats her proposals seriously.

She has accused EU leaders of showing the UK a lack of respect after they rebuffed her Chequers plan without, she said, any alternative or explanation.

With the clock counting down to the UK's scheduled exit on 29 March 2019, where does this latest row leave the chances of a deal and what could happen next in the Brexit process?

Beyond Salzburg
Thursday's gathering of European leaders in Salzburg was supposed to help bridge outstanding differences and pave the way for a potential deal by the middle of November at the latest.

May: EU must respect UK in Brexit talks
Kuenssberg: Will defiant words be enough
But instead, it has driven a wedge between the UK and the EU, with accusations of bad faith and "un-statesmanlike" behaviour.

Mrs May has said the two sides remain "a long way" apart on the crucial issues of how the UK will trade with the EU after Brexit and the future of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

She reiterated again her belief that her Chequers blueprint was the only way of properly implementing Brexit and also ensuring a "deep and special partnership" with the EU in the future.

The PM, visibly angered by the reception she got from her fellow leaders in Austria, also rejected the two options put on the table by the EU - a Norway-style association agreement and a much looser relationship based on Canada's trade deal with the EU.

For its part, the EU has said the Chequers plan is unworkable as it fragments the single market.

The next few weeks will be crucial if these differences are to be resolved and the two sides are to fulfil their shared aim of an orderly Brexit and an outline agreement on trade, security and other issues.

Boris Johnson quit over the Chequers plan and has since criticised it relentlessly
Mrs May has suffered plenty of Brexit setbacks in the past and soldiered on and it looks like she is determined to do so again.

The only problem is that many of her own MPs don't think she is going about the process of leaving the EU the right way.

The number of Tories who say they won't vote for the Chequers plan seems to be growing by the day and, remember, any deal she negotiates with the EU has to get through Parliament.

There is enormous pressure from the Brexiteer-wing of the party for her to rip up Chequers and throw her weight behind a turbo-charged version of Canada's deal with the EU.

The so-called Canada Plus Plus option, which removes most customs duties on goods but without paying for access to the single market, is backed by Boris Johnson, David Davis and Jacob Rees-Mogg, among others, who believe the UK Parliament will vote for it.

Many Conservative Remainers, like former minister Justine Greening, have also lost faith in Chequers and think there should be a referendum (more of that later) while some Tories think the UK may well end up in a temporary European Economic Area-style arrangement, sometimes called the Norway option.

This would mean accepting the free movement of people and the indirect recognition of European Court of Justice rulings - but would allow businesses access to the EU single market, with some strings attached.

Amid speculation about further cabinet resignations if she persists with Chequers, calls for the PM to think again are likely to reach a crescendo at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham.

If the PM does not shift on the substance of her Chequers plan, expect much frenzied talk of leadership challenges.

Decision time in Europe (November)

Will the French president give Brexit the thumbs-up?
Salzburg may have caused a dust-up but it hasn't changed the underlying reality that both sides want as amicable a divorce as possible.

Some Tory MPs favour a clean break with the EU, which would see the UK fall back on its membership of the World Trade Organization, the global body governing international trade, but they are in a minority.

Both sides are ramping up talk of no-deal contingency planning.

But they also know that such an outcome would be seen as a political failure and a disaster for business - particularly as the 21-month transition period planned after Brexit day would be scrapped.

A summit on 18-19 October of EU leaders was, for a long time, pencilled in as the moment that the two sides would have to look each other in the eye and reach a deal.

However, this is not now seen as feasible and the focus is on a special one-off summit that has been arranged for mid-November.

An agreement then, the thinking goes, would still allow enough time for the UK and European Parliaments and a supermajority of European states - that's 20 out of 27 - to ratify any deal before the 29 March deadline.

So, the clock is ticking but the EU is renowned for finalising deals at the 11th hour and it wouldn't be the first time the talks have seemed on the brink of collapse only for a deal to be pulled out of the fire.

The Parliamentary showdown (December-February)
If she brings a deal back from Brussels, Theresa May has another big hurdle to negotiate. She must persuade Parliament to back it, in a vote likely before the end of the year or in early 2019.

Tory Brexiteers opposed to Chequers have suggested up to 80 MPs would be prepared to vote against it.

Although we don't know what the final deal will look like and the size of any rebellion would, in all likelihood, be much smaller, even a dozen Conservatives defying the leadership would risk defeat for the PM, with her non-existent Commons majority.

The opposition parties are unlikely to come to the PM's aid, with Labour saying any deal is unlikely to pass its six tests guaranteeing workers' rights and all the "benefits" of the single market and customs union.

The Labour leadership is hoping to inflict a defeat as a way of triggering a general election.

Brexit Day, another referendum or general election? (2019)

Some Leave campaigners are bracing themselves for another referendum
Reality Check: How would the UK hold a second EU referendum?
Reality Check: Can the UK change its mind on Article 50?
Court to rule on whether UK can halt Brexit
It is written into law that the UK will be leaving at 23:00 GMT on 29 March 2019, two years to the day after the government notified the EU of its intention to quit, by triggering Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty.

But if there is no deal or Parliament rejects the deal, we are in uncharted territory and it is impossible to say with any certainty what will happen next.

Mrs May has insisted the 2016 referendum result will not be overturned but if Parliament cannot agree on what kind of Brexit it wants, a fresh public vote might yet end up being the only way to break the deadlock.

There are a growing number of people who believe this is the case, although they are largely confined to people who voted Remain in 2016 and they can't all agree on what question should be asked on the ballot paper.

The Liberal Democrats and the cross-party People's Vote campaign, backed by about 30 Labour MPs, five Conservatives, the four Plaid Cymru MPs and Green MP Caroline Lucas, wants the option to stay in the EU to be put before voters.

Critics say there won't be enough time for another referendum - and Mrs May has explicitly ruled out extending the two-year Article 50 process, amid reports EU leaders might be open to that.

However, and it is a big however, should Mrs May resign in the event of her deal being rejected, her successor would have a new mandate.

Some European leaders believe Brexit can be halted but, in the absence of a referendum, the only other way this could conceivably happen is if there were a general election before 29 March next year.

A new government with a majority would have the power to delay or reverse the process but whether it would have the desire - given Labour's policy so far has been to respect the Brexit vote - is another matter entirely.

If the UK does leave as planned, it is far from the end of the story.

It is only then that discussions about future co-operation - including a trade deal - will really begin in earnest.

The size of investment to become a Turkish citizen was sharply reduced as the country copes with currency crisis. - Al Jazeera

Turkey lowers requirements for citizenship by investment
The size of investment to become a Turkish citizen was sharply reduced as the country copes with currency crisis.

19 Sept 2018
The lira crisis began days after the US doubled steel and aluminium tariffs on Turkey [Khalil Ashawi/Reuters]

Turkey has eased the financial and investment criteria for foreigners who want to become Turkish citizens as the country copes with its currency crisis caused by US tariffs.

The amount of dollars or other foreign currency needed as one of the criteria to become a Turkish citizen were sharply reduced, according to revised regulations published in the Official Gazette on Wednesday.

The size of bank deposits was cut from $3m to $500,000 and the amount of required fixed capital investment was reduced to $500,000 from $2m, the decision said.

Two other options for receiving a passport by investment were also eased. The applicant could qualify by employing 50 Turkish citizens, down from 100, or by investing $250,000 in the real estate market, half the previously required amount.

The new measures come weeks after Turkey's currency, the lira, lost more than 40 percent of its value against the US dollar last month, prompting a 20 percent inflation.

US tariffs
The crisis began days after US President Donald Trump announced via Twitter a doubling of steel and aluminium tariffs on Turkey as Washington pushed Ankara to release Evangelical Christian pastor Andrew Brunson, who is being held on terrorism charges.

The lira stood at 6.39 against the dollar on Wednesday.

According to Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News, French actor Gerard Depardieu, who received Russian citizenship in 2013, was among those considering Turkish citizenship by investment.

The report published on Tuesday quoted Depardieu as saying that he would visit Turkey in October and discuss his interest in obtaining a Turkish passport with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.


US criticises treatment of Uighur Muslims in latest China row - Hong Kong Free Press

US criticises treatment of Uighur Muslims in latest China row
22 September 2018

by Francesco Fontemaggi

The United States on Friday denounced China’s treatment of its Uighur Muslims in unusually strong terms, adding to a growing list of disputes in increasingly turbulent relations between the two powers.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo voiced alarm after a United Nations report described the mass internment of Uighurs under the pretext of preventing extremism in the western Xinjiang region where the minority group is concentrated.

“Hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of Uighurs are held against their will in so-called re-education camps where they’re forced to endure severe political indoctrination and other awful abuses,” Pompeo said in a speech on the state of religious freedom around the world.

“Their religious beliefs are decimated,” Pompeo said.

In a letter to Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, both Republican and Democratic members of Congress late last month called for sanctions on Chinese officials implicated in the internment of Uighurs.

Pompeo did not say whether the United States would take punitive measures.

Even so, the remarks were striking for their tone, with President Donald Trump’s administration putting human rights on the back seat in relations with allies such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

The Trump administration itself has faced criticism at home and abroad for its stance on Muslims, with the president as a candidate calling for a complete ban on Muslims entering the United States and, soon after taking office, barring entry to citizens of several Muslim-majority countries.

Embed from Getty Images

Pompeo also expressed concern about the fate of Christians in China, who he said had been targeted in a government crackdown.

The government, he said, has been “closing churches, burning Bibles and ordering followers to sign papers renouncing their faith.”

China defends treatment

In an interview earlier in the week, Pompeo had described China as a greater threat to the United States than Russia, saying that Beijing was a “non-transparent government.”

“It treats our intellectual property horribly, it treats its religious minorities horribly,” he told Fox News.

China has rejected the findings of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Hua Chunying
Hua Chunying. File Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said last month that the report was “based on so-called information that is yet to be verified and has no factual basis.”

Hua added that China was doing what was needed to combat extremism and terrorism on its western frontier.

Uighurs have long complained of systematic discrimination in the region, which activists call East Turkestan, with tensions especially rife in areas that have seen large-scale migration from China’s dominant Han ethnicity.

The Uyghur Human Rights Project, an advocacy group that uses an alternative spelling for the minority group’s name, has estimated that an entire 10 percent of the population has been detained as part of an indoctrination campaign.

Rising disputes

The fresh focus on human rights comes as trade disputes mount between the world’s two largest economies.

The two countries will launch new tariffs on Monday, with Washington targeting $200 billion in Chinese exports and Beijing hitting $60 billion worth of American products.

The two sides have already imposed tariffs on $50 billion in goods from each country.

Trump in his first year appeared to relish a chummy rapport with Chinese President Xi Jinping, whom he invited to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. But relations have wobbled as Trump takes an increasingly hard line to protect domestic industry.

Moving a step further, the United States said Thursday it was placing financial sanctions on the Equipment Development Department of China’s defense ministry as well as its top administrator for violating sanctions on Russia by buying Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 surface-to-air missiles.

Russia and China both lashed out at the move, with Beijing urging the United States to withdraw the sanctions or “bear the consequences.”

Friday, September 21, 2018

'Least impressive sex I ever had': Stormy Daniels tells all about Trump in bombshell book - MSNBC News

'Least impressive sex I ever had': Stormy Daniels tells all about Trump in bombshell book
The book, titled "Full Disclosure," was obtained ahead of its Oct. 2 release by The Guardian newspaper.
by Adam Edelman / Sep.18.2018

Adult film star Stormy Daniels, who claims she had an affair with President Donald Trump more than a decade ago and is suing the president, described sex with the future commander in chief as "the least impressive sex I’d ever had" in a new book.

The book, titled "Full Disclosure," was obtained ahead of its Oct. 2 release by The Guardian newspaper. NBC News has not obtained the book.

"It may have been the least impressive sex I'd ever had, but clearly, he didn't share that opinion," she wrote, according to The Guardian.

Daniels had lingering remorse over the experience for years, writing that any time she'd see Trump on television, she'd think: "I had sex with that, I’d say to myself. Eech."

The White House had no immediate comment about the new book.

Victory for Stormy Daniels as Trump, Cohen give up on hush deal
After the tryst with Daniels, Trump promised to put her on his "The Apprentice" reality show, Daniels writes in the book, according to The Guardian, and even indicated he would fix the results in her favor to have her last on the show.

"We'll figure out a way to get you the challenges beforehand," Daniels quoted Trump has having told her. "And we can devise your technique."

"He was going to have me cheat, and it was 100 percent his idea," she wrote, according to The Guardian.

China hits back at Trump, adds tariffs to $60B of U.S.-made products
Years later, when Trump would decide to run for president, Daniels repeatedly dismissed the idea he could win — until, of course, he eventually did.

"It will never happen, I would say," Daniels wrote. "He doesn’t even want to be president."

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, also describes Trump’s sex organs in graphic detail.

Daniels has suggested she had a one-time sexual encounter with Trump in a hotel room. She alleged in a civil lawsuit that she and Trump had an "intimate relationship" that lasted from summer 2006 "well into the year 2007" and which included meetings in Lake Tahoe and at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The White House denies Trump had an affair with her.

But Trump's private attorney, Michael Cohen, admitted in February he had paid her $130,000 — which she says was to buy her silence over the "intimate relationship." NBC News reported in April that Daniels is cooperating with federal investigators as part of their criminal investigation into Cohen.

In May, Trump said Daniels was paid to stop "false and extortionist accusations" she made about a sexual encounter with him. Trump has forcefully denied the affair. Daniels has filed two lawsuits against Trump, one to get out of a nondisclosure agreement she signed in October 2016 ahead of the November presidential election in exchange for the $130,000, and another for defamation.

All the plastic you can and cannot recycle - BBC News

Sept. 21, 2018.

All the plastic you can and cannot recycle
By Wesley Stephenson
Data journalist

Most people are trying their best to recycle plastic - but the many different ways in which recycling is collected by different councils across the UK has left them confused.

What can be recycled and what can't? We are putting more plastic in the recycling than ever before - but pictures of sea life tangled in all manner of waste plastic mean the pressure is on to do more.

The government is now considering changing the way plastic is recycled in England. In the rest of the UK the strategy for recycling is a devolved issue.

Each council collects their plastic recycling differently. BBC analysis shows there are 39 different sets of rules for what can be put in plastic recycling collections:

Most collect bottles
Others collect pots, tubs and trays
Some collect a much wider range

Around the UK, all four nations are hoping to improve their recycling rates. The review by the government may change the target for recycling in England, but currently the aim is that 50% of waste will be recycled by 2020.

Scotland has a target to recycle 70% of waste by 2025 as does Wales. Northern Ireland has a proposal that 60% of municipal waste is recycled by 2020.

Waste plastic is collected is different ways too:

Some local authorities collect all their recycling in one bin
Others ask households to separate their plastics from the rest of their recycling
Councils also employ many different companies to collect and sort their plastics.

And having different recycling schemes in different areas - for example, in some areas you can recycle margarine tubs and in other areas you cannot - makes labelling difficult.

Five ways to break up with plastic
Giant plastic catcher heads for ocean clean-up
The woman who found a new threat in plastic
Most people in Britain regularly recycle plastic but almost half have had disagreements at home about what type they can put in which bin, a ComRes poll for the BBC suggests.

And more than a quarter have these disagreements at least once a month.

What to expect from the government's review?

Of all the things we recycle, plastic is the most complicated. It comes in a profusion of very different types.

Many products carry labels about recycling but some do not. And the labels themselves can be a problem.

Your eye might fall on a recycling symbol but miss the very small print saying the item will not actually be collected from your home.

If you see the phrase "widely recycled" on a packet or carton, it means many councils will take it but not necessarily all of them.

Each of the UK's local authorities has come to its own decisions about what to accept and what to refuse:

In Reading, a yoghurt pot can be thrown into recycling
In Manchester it cannot
Swindon has plans to join the small band of councils recycling no plastic at all
The government realises the arrangements can be confusing, even irritating. And in England it's undertaking a review of the whole recycling system.

Ministers could order manufacturers to use only the types of plastic that are easiest to recycle - but might that lead to higher prices?
They could insist on labels that everyone can see and understand - but how would that work on tiny pots and bottles?
A more controversial idea is to get councils to harmonise their plastic recycling systems - but that risks provoking an uproar over local democracy
The desire to boost plastic recycling rates is clear. But every option comes with challenges. The word is, we'll see the government's plans in November.

Plastic can often become too contaminated for recycling and have to be sent to landfill or incinerated instead. This happens for several reasons:

People are confused about what goes in which bin
People are not always very careful about what they put in
The plastic is contaminated with food waste
In areas where all recycling is collected in one bin, one type of waste can contaminate another
Bottles are mainly made of PET and HDPE and these are easy to collect and recycle
Most trays are made from polypropylene and this is pretty easy to recycle too but not all councils have access to the right facilities
LDPE, used to make some carrier bags and cling film, is easy to process but more difficult to sort and can often be contaminated with food
Polystyrene, used to make some yoghurt pots and plastic cutlery, is not widely recycled
PVC makes up small amount of packaging but can contaminate other plastic recycling
Biscuit wrappers and meat trays can be made from a mixture of many different types of plastic, making them the most difficult type of packaging to recycle
All plastic can be recycled - but it is not always economical to do so.

Bottles attract the best prices, especially clear ones, which is why almost all councils recycle them
Coloured plastic is less desirable because the colour cannot be removed, restricting its reuse
Polystyrene is almost never recycled because there is no market for it
Most bottles will be sent for reprocessing in this country.

But plastic that is less valuable - about two-thirds collected for recycling - goes overseas and this figure has been rising.

Earlier this year, the National Audit Office reported the plastic sent abroad could be highly contaminated, meaning it may not be reprocessed and could end up in landfill or contributing to pollution.

Some countries are refusing to take any more of our waste.

China and Thailand have banned waste imports
Malaysia is considering banning imports of waste plastic
These bans are having an effect on the prices paid for waste plastic.

And this year the prices of the more contaminated plastics have fallen below zero, meaning companies are now expecting to be paid to take them away.

Republican Lawmaker Blasted for Joking About Sexual Assault - Bloomberg ( source : Associated Press )

Republican Lawmaker Blasted for Joking About Sexual Assault
September 21, 2018, 11:09 AM GMT+10

Rock Hill, S.C. (AP) -- U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman's off-color remark at a campaign event in which he made a joke involving the Supreme Court nomination battle in Washington has drawn fire.

The Republican congressman made light Thursday of the ongoing debate involving Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, joking that another high court judge has emerged with her own accusations of sexual assault. The Post and Courier reports the Rock Hill lawmaker, during a Kiwanis Club debate, asked the crowd if they'd heard the late-breaking news from the Kavanaugh hearings.

The punchline, the report says: "Ruth Bader Ginsburg came out that she was groped by Abraham Lincoln."

The remark drew scattered laughter and applause at the event, and sparked immediate condemnation from South Carolina Democrats and others on social media.


Information from: The Post and Courier,

Amazon Plans to Build Thousands of ‘Cashierless’ Stores Across America - TIME

Amazon Plans to Build Thousands of ‘Cashierless’ Stores Across America

Posted: 19 Sep 2018 02:14 PM PDT Inc. is considering a plan to open as many as 3,000 new AmazonGo cashierless stores in the next few years, according to people familiar with matter, an aggressive and costly expansion that would threaten convenience chains like 7-Eleven Inc., quick-service sandwich shops like Subway and Panera Bread, and mom-and-pop pizzerias and taco trucks.

Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos sees eliminating meal-time logjams in busy cities as the best way for Amazon to reinvent the brick-and-mortar shopping experience, where most spending still occurs. But he’s still experimenting with the best format: a convenience store that sells fresh prepared foods as well as a limited grocery selection similar to 7-Eleven franchises, or a place to simply pick up a quick bite to eat for people in a rush, similar to the U.K.-based chain Pret a Manger, one of the people said.
An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment. The company unveiled its first cashierless store near its headquarters in Seattle in 2016 and has since announced two additional sites in Seattle and one in Chicago. Two of the new stores offer only a limited selection of salads, sandwiches and snacks, showing that Amazon is experimenting with the concept simply as a meal-on-the-run option. Two other stores, including the original AmazonGo, also have a small selection of groceries, making it more akin to a convenience store.

Shoppers use a smartphone app to enter the store. Once they scan their phones at a turnstile, they can grab what they want from a range of salads, sandwiches, drinks and snacks — and then walk out without stopping at a cash register. Sensors and computer-vision technology detect what shoppers take and bills them automatically, eliminating checkout lines.

The challenge to Amazon’s plan is the high cost of opening each location. The original AmazonGo in downtown Seattle required more than $1 million in hardware alone, according to a person familiar with the matter. Narrowing the focus to prepared food-to-go would reduce the upfront cost of opening each store, because it would require fewer cameras and sensors. Prepared foods also have wider profit margins than groceries, which would help decrease the time it takes for the stores to become profitable.

News of the company’s potential ambitions for AmazonGo sent shares of grocery and retail rivals lower. Walmart Inc. declined as much as 0.6 percent, reversing an earlier gain, while Target Corp. dropped about 1.5 percent and Kroger Co. slid as much as 3.1 percent.

Amazon has become the world’s largest online retailer by offering a vast selection and quick, convenient delivery. In physical stores, Amazon is emphasizing convenience over selection to win business. Amazon’s other brick-and-mortar initiatives include about 20 bookstores around the U.S. and the natural grocery chain Whole Foods Market, acquired last year. AmazonGo is the most distinctive of all of its physical stores.

At a Washington D.C. event last week, Bezos said Amazon was “very interested” in physical stores, but only if it has something new to offer. “If we offer a me-too product, it’s not going to work,” he said.

Such an expansion could put Amazon back into an investment cycle. Bezos is willing to lose money on long-term initiatives when he smells opportunity. Amazon Web Services, the company’s fast-growing and profitable cloud-computing business, was unprofitable for years and Bezos stuck with it, according to a person familiar with the matter. Amazon also routinely loses money expanding internationally.

Adding 3,000 convenience stores would make AmazonGo among the biggest chains in U.S. The internet giant is considering plans to have about 10 locations open by the end of this year, about 50 locations in major metro areas in 2019, and then as many as 3,000 by 2021, said the people, who requested anonymity discussing internal plans. Opening multiple locations in proximity, like it’s doing in Seattle, could also help Amazon reduce costs by centralizing food production in one kitchen serving many stores.

The U.S. currently has 155,000 convenience stores, with 122,500 of them combined with gas stations, according to industry group NACS. Non-fuel purchases at convenience stores totaled $233 billion in 2016, with cigarettes and other tobacco products the best-selling items.

Amazon is targeting dense urban areas with lots of young, busy, affluent residents willing to spend a little more than a typical fast-food experience for better quality food, the people said. The target locations make it less of a threat to suburban gas station-convenience store combinations and more of a threat to big cities’ quick-service eateries, such as Subway Restaurants, Panera Bread Co. and Pret a Manger. U.K.-based Pret has 450 locations worldwide, including New York, Boston and Chicago, focusing on fresh, healthy grab-and-go foods.

AmazonGo will be more of a threat to fast-casual restaurants if it is targeting cities, said Jeff Lenard, vice president of NACS. Shoppers rate location and a lack of lines as the most important factors when shopping for convenience, he said.

“AmazonGo already has no lines,” Lenard said. “The key to success will be convenient locations. If it’s a quarter mile from where people are walking and biking, the novelty of the technology won’t matter. It’s too far away.”

Lisa Lerer Hi. Welcome to On Politics, your guide to the day in national politics - New York Times

The New York Times
September 20, 2018 |  Evening Edition

Lisa Lerer Hi. Welcome to On Politics, your guide to the day in national politics. I’m Lisa Lerer, your host.
Katherine Kendall, one of the first women to accuse Harvey Weinstein, said she was unprepared for the way her story would be challenged.
Katherine Kendall, one of the first women to accuse Harvey Weinstein, said she was unprepared for the way her story would be challenged.  Emily Berl for The New York Times
On Sunday, Christine Blasey Ford was a lone voice telling her story.
Four days later, she might be the only person not telling her story.
Politics has a way of chewing people up and leaving their lives almost unrecognizable. But the speed and aggression by which both parties have transformed Dr. Blasey’s #MeToo story into a political football has been striking.

On Capitol Hill, Democrats are calling for an F.B.I. investigation. Republicans are rejecting that, and want to question her instead. As of Thursday night, they’re negotiating, with Dr. Blasey’s lawyer ruling out a Monday hearing but saying she’d be open to testify next week.
So far, Dr. Blasey has been silent, communicating only through her lawyers.
We know that Dr. Blasey understood that telling her story came with risks. She told the Washington Post that she held off going public because of concerns about what it would mean for her family.
Katherine Kendall, one of the first women to come forward with accusations against Harvey Weinstein, told me that she was unprepared for the onslaught of media attention and the way her story would be challenged.
“There were people who were like, ’Why are you doing this?’ Like rocking the boat of Hollywood was my mission in life. And it really wasn’t,” she said. “All I did was tell the truth. I wasn’t trying to start something.”

Ms. Kendall attended private school in Washington around the same time as Dr. Blasey, and she said that while they didn’t know each other, their worlds were likely very similar.
“Part of the culture was like, ‘Don’t speak out,’” Ms. Kendall said. “I was definitely taught that it wouldn’t be well received and you would be the one that gets hurt. And now we’re seeing that is exactly what happens.”

The scrutiny on Dr. Blasey is more intense than what Ms. Kendall faced, because it involves not just power and money but politics, too. The stakes are enormous: The outcome of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing will set the direction of the Supreme Court for a generation.
And yet, there’s something deeply familiar about her experience, particularly in the Trump era. The president has used his platform (and frequently his Twitter account) to insult private citizens, typically those who oppose him, in a way that’s largely unprecedented in recent national politics.
So, where does all this leave Dr. Blasey? We don’t know yet. Her lawyers say that since she went public, she’s faced death threats, had her email hacked and had to leave her home.
As for her life after all this is done? Well, that might be the one thing in this whole mess that is clear: For Dr. Blasey, nothing will ever be the same.
Fleg’s four questions for Texas
There’s a Senate race in Texas this year — it’s pretty close, perhaps you’ve read about it? On Friday, at last, Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke are meeting for their first debate. Matt Flegenheimer, a Times political reporter who has covered this race (and Mr. Cruz’s 2016 run for president), has some questions:
1) Can “Beto-mania” translate off the stump?
Mr. O’Rourke’s skills as a campaigner are legitimate, premised on a gift for making even the generic sound inspirational. (“This is a time for us to be for something,” he thundered in Houston recently.) Debates are different. Can he afford to summon the same high-mindedness when Mr. Cruz batters him from a few feet away as an out-of-touch liberal?
2) Can Cruz channel his inner debate champ?
Mr. Cruz was an accomplished debater in college. This can cut both ways. In 2016, he had some highly effective moments — slashing, funny, quick on his feet — setting traps for President Trump and his rivals. But Mr. Cruz could also occasionally come off as litigious, pestering moderators and getting lost in the weeds. Can he strike a balance on Friday? Because …
3) Will Cruz be “likable” enough?
Mr. Cruz has his fans; you don’t finish second in a presidential primary by accident. But he also has a reputation. Mr. Cruz is acutely aware of the perception, telling a debate audience in 2016 that “if you want someone to grab a beer with, I may not be that guy.” He asked voters, instead, to make him America’s designated driver. (Really, this was his pitch! It was actually refreshing candor.)
4) Can O’Rourke make Cruz pay for Trump-whiplash?
Memories are short in politics, but Mr. Cruz has tested the limits of selective amnesia. First he embraced Mr. Trump during the 2016 primaries. Then he attacked him as a pathological liar and unrivaled narcissist. Then he wouldn’t endorse. Then he did. Does any of that matter anymore? Does anything?
Nate’s number

We’ve asked Nate Cohn, elections and polling reporter at The Upshot, to check in with On Politics from time to time with a number that’s on his mind. For his first installment, Nate sent us this:
Midterm elections are usually a referendum on the party in power, and the president’s approval rating might be the best single measure of whether the national political environment augurs well for a so-called “wave” election.
Today, the president’s rating is around 40 percent. That’s about the same as it was for Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama before their parties lost control of Congress in 1994, 2006 and 2010.
One reason the president’s approval rating is so useful: It synthesizes everything that voters consider.
Take the economy. One might wonder whether strong economic growth could help the Republicans this year. It could, but if the economy isn’t good enough to lift the president’s approval rating, it probably isn’t good enough to lift the G.O.P.’s fortunes, either.
That’s how it seems to be playing out in our polls of top battleground districts. This week, we’re asking voters about taxes, tariffs, and whether people think the president’s policies have helped their own economic situation.
The results aren’t final, but so far the Republicans are doing all right on economic issues. Voters are split on the tax reform bill, 45 to 46 percent, and they’re also split on the question on the president’s policies, with 47 percent saying they have helped them or their families personally.
Yet the same voters disapprove of the president’s performance, by a 40 to 55 percent margin, and they want Democrats to take control of the House, 50 to 43 percent.
If you haven’t seen The Upshot’s Live Polls yet, check it out. The Times is polling voters in 50 races and posting the results in real time, helping readers understand how polling works — and why it sometimes doesn’t.
Want to feel smarter?
• In late August, a team of New York Times journalists visited a small town in southeast Puerto Rico, near where Hurricane Maria made landfall, to document the damage that remains. See that story here.
• Pinterest is challenging what it takes to build a successful company in Silicon Valley. Its first users weren’t teenagers, but women in the Midwest. It also seems to be one of the few social media services Russians haven’t cracked into. Read about it here.
• The way our country talks about obesity is both medically and personally destructive, this article in HuffPost argues. In reality, the “epidemic” is nuanced, heartbreaking and empowering. Read the story.
… Seriously
According to The Post and Courier, Representative Ralph Norman, Republican of South Carolina, opened an election debate on Thursday with a joke about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Abraham Lincoln and sexual assault. Really.
Isabella Grullón Paz and Margaret Kramer contributed to this newsletter.
Thanks for reading. Politics is more than what goes on inside the White House. On Politics brings you the people, issues and ideas reshaping our world.
Is there anything you think we’re missing? Anything you want to see more of? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at

India bishop accused of rape arrested in Kerala - BBC News

Sept. 21, 2018.

India bishop accused of rape arrested in Kerala

Bishop Franco Mulakkal denies wrongoing
A bishop has been arrested in the southern Indian state of Kerala over allegations that he raped a nun 13 times times between 2014 and 2016.

The 44-year-old woman registered a police complaint in June, alleging that the Catholic Church had taken no action despite repeated appeals.

It led to unprecedented protests by nuns who came out in support of her.

The case has shocked what is one of India's oldest Christian communities and attracted national attention.

The bishop, 54-year-old Franco Mulakkal, was arrested on Friday after being questioned by police for three days, a senior police official speaking on condition of anonymity told BBC Hindi's Imran Qureshi.

Bishop Mulakkal, who denies the accusations, will be brought to court on Saturday.

The Vatican temporarily relieved him of his duties on Thursday.

Mr Mulakkal is the bishop of a diocese in Jalandhar in the northern state of Punjab. And the nun who has accused him belongs to the Missionaries of Jesus, a congregation in Kerala that is part of the Jalandhar diocese.

She alleged that the assaults happened when he visited the convent where she lived in the city of Kottayam, in Kerala.

Sex abuse and the Catholic Church
She has not spoken to the media but she petitioned the Vatican and wrote an open letter to the Pope's representative in the Indian capital of Delhi earlier this month. She claimed that this was the fourth letter she had addressed to the Vatican.

Nuns in Kerala have been demanding the bishop's arrest for weeks
"We experience neglect from every side. We feel the Catholic Church is having concern only for the bishops and priests. We would like to know if there is any provision in the Canon Law for justice for nuns and women,'' she wrote.

India Christian priest arrested over rape charge
Mother Teresa India homes in 'baby trade' investigation
The nuns who held protests for two weeks to demand the bishop's arrest welcomed Friday's news.

"We have won the first round of our struggle," Sister Anupama, who led demonstrations near the Kerala High Court, told the BBC.

"Our struggle is for many such sisters suffering in silence, and we will continue our campaign until all our sisters get justice."

Kerala's Christians
Christians are a tiny minority in India - less than 3% of the population. But in the southern coastal state of Kerala, they make up around 20%.

Christians have lived and worshipped in Kerala for some 2,000 years. Kranganor, on the coast of Kerala, is the cradle of Christianity in India where according to legend, St Thomas, or Doubting Thomas - one of the 12 apostles of Jesus - first came ashore in AD52.

All Kerala Christians who trace their ancestry to these times call themselves Syrian Christians. Some have become Catholic or Protestant in their outlook, while others are Orthodox.

Brett Kavanaugh nomination: Trump challenges accuser - BBC News

Sept. 21, 2018.

Brett Kavanaugh nomination: Trump challenges accuser

Brett Kavanaugh denies the allegations by Christine Blasey Ford
President Donald Trump has challenged the woman who has accused his Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault, demanding she provide evidence.

Mr Trump questioned why the FBI was not called at the time of the alleged assault, in 1982, if it was "as bad as she says".

The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh has been held up while the allegations of Christine Blasey Ford are assessed.

Both have agreed to testify before a Senate committee.

However, Prof Ford has set out conditions for her appearance which have yet to be agreed by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The committee must approve the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh before it passes to the full Senate for a vote.

The truth about false assault accusations
Kavanaugh accuser 'faces death threats'
Could Kavanaugh confirmation be derailed?
The choice of a new justice for the Supreme Court is pivotal, as it often gives the final word on highly contentious laws and its nine judges have an immense impact on US political life.

What has Mr Trump said?
In a series of tweets, the president again delivered his full support for Judge Kavanaugh, saying he was a "fine man, with an impeccable reputation".

He went on: "I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!"

He added: "Why didn't someone call the FBI 36 years ago?"

Mr Trump also attacked "radical left wing politicians who don't want to know the answers, they just want to destroy and delay".

Skip Twitter post by @realDonaldTrump

Donald J. Trump

 The radical left lawyers want the FBI to get involved NOW. Why didn’t someone call the FBI 36 years ago?

11:29 PM - Sep 21, 2018

President Trump had also weighed in on the process on Thursday, telling Fox News: "I don't think you can delay it any longer. They've delayed it a week already... they have to get on with it."

The Senate Judiciary Committee vote on Judge Kavanaugh had originally been scheduled for Thursday.

What was Prof Ford's account?
The details of the alleged assault at a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County, Maryland, were carried in the Washington Post this week when Prof Ford decided to reveal her identity and tell the story.

She made it clear in the Post that she had told no-one of the incident in any detail until 2012 when she attended couples therapy with her husband.

The psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California said she was being treated for what she said had been the long-term effects of the incident.

She told a senior Democratic lawmaker of her allegation in a confidential letter this summer and only went public after it was leaked.

Judge Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied the allegation.

Where is the committee at now?
Committee chairman Chuck Grassley had called for written testimony by this Friday from Prof Ford and scheduled a hearing on the matter for Monday.

Her lawyer, Debra Katz, rejected this and in a phone call to the committee on Thursday spelled out her client's conditions for testifying.

They include:

Prof Ford will not testify if Judge Kavanaugh is in the room
Judge Kavanaugh must testify first
There can be no appearance before next Thursday
Questions to be posed preferably by senators and not outside counsel
Mark Judge, who is reported to have been a witness to the alleged assault, should be subpoenaed to appear
Agrees to a public hearing but wants limits on the media coverage
Will the conditions be accepted?
There are problems with at least three of the requests.

Why it can take sexual assault allegations years to come out
The Senate Judiciary Committee would have to change the Monday hearing.

It is also not traditional for the accused to testify first and not have an opportunity for rebuttal.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said: "Asking for that usual sequence to be reversed is very unusual."

Why is the US top court so important??
Meet the Supremes - who are the justices?
Neither is it traditional for any subpoenas to be issued for the nomination process.

However, Ms Katz suggested there appeared to be room for negotiation when she sent a letter to the committee after the phone call, saying: "The only issue I said was a deal breaker was that Dr Ford cannot appear at a hearing on Monday."

Threats to all sides
Prof Ford, Mr Kavanaugh and the judge's wife have all been receiving threats, as the case becomes increasingly contentious.

Ms Katz said of her client: "She's been receiving death threats which have been reported to the FBI and she and her family have been forced out of their home."

Thursday, September 20, 2018

How the Financial Crisis Undermined America’s Place Atop the Global Order - TIME Business

How the Financial Crisis Undermined America’s Place Atop the Global Order

Posted: ( will be posted in October isue of TIME )

Ten years on, the reverberations from the global financial crisis are still shaking up the world order. While the catastrophe led to movements toward nationalism in several countries, it also accelerated America’s departure from its position as leader of the world–and in the void, a new power has begun to rise.

Confidence that the U.S. is a force for international stability began eroding well before Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. U.S. policymakers had presided over a downsizing of the nation’s role in the world in advance of the 2008 crash, and Americans elected increasingly isolationist Presidents. Widespread opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq marked a crucial post–Cold War turning point by aligning the views of a majority of America’s European allies with Russia.
The financial crisis and all that followed sharply exacerbated these negative attitudes by calling into question the long-term viability of Western capitalism. (If the U.S. can’t properly regulate its own banks, how can it serve as a model for developing countries?) The search for an alternative model took on new urgency.

A decade ago, China wasn’t yet ready to offer one. But the U.S.-based meltdown presented Beijing with an unprecedented opportunity to showcase the virtues of state-driven economic development. The country’s political leaders demonstrated their ability to respond to the crisis with fast and effective emergency measures. In 2008, China’s economy was smaller than Japan’s. Today it’s more than twice as large–and about equal to the combined total of the 19 countries that use the euro. As China’s economy expanded, so did its influence.

Stability had rarely been more appealing. A sovereign debt crisis created existential threats for the euro zone. A collapse in commodity prices–in late 2008, oil fell from $147 per barrel to about $30 per barrel in less than five months–helped create conditions for the wave of unrest that toppled governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya; set the Saudis on edge; and shoved Syria and Yemen into civil war. Waves of desperate migrants fleeing this upheaval made their way north, further irritating Europe’s precarious politics and inspiring pressure for tighter borders and new attitudes toward immigration.

These pressures certainly boosted support for Brexit and Trump. They also led voters to turn from traditional parties of center right and center left in France, Germany, Italy and elsewhere toward new voices and political parties promising new kinds of change. But this was not just a U.S.-European trend. Voters in Mexico and Pakistan pushed aside establishment parties and political dynasties in search of a new direction. Voters in Brazil may well follow suit in October.

Today, the global balance of power is no longer clear. Trump says the U.S. can win a trade war with China, but his political vulnerability has only emboldened Chinese President Xi Jinping. In the realm of cyberspace, meanwhile, conflicts are even more dangerous because unlike nuclear missiles, these weapons can actually be used to test an adversary’s strength.

China also now offers an increasingly credible alternative to both multiparty democracy and free-market capitalism, one with real appeal for governments, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, that want to maintain a tight grip on power. As China’s investments expand in every region of the world, it becomes ever more obvious that U.S. power isn’t as persuasive as it used to be.

Additionally, the U.S. has not responded to the 2008 crisis by investing in the future. It’s one thing to bail out industry and banks. It’s another to address the country’s growing inequality that leaves many people feeling as if they have no future. There is no credible plan to help those who lose jobs as the workplace automates. And Americans still invest for short-term gain rather than long-term productivity. That’s why the stock market is rising while infrastructure crumbles. Ten years on, these important lessons have still not been learned.

As a result, America’s longevity at the top is now very much in doubt. China, North Korea and Iran have reason to believe they can wait Trump out. And given that the U.S.’s influence has been eroding so quickly and for so long, it’s clear that for the foreseeable future, its leaders will need to continue to grapple with the limits of a superpower’s power.

This appears in the October 01, 2018 issue of TIME.

Ex-Malaysia PM Najib hit with 25 charges of money laundering and abuse of power - BBC News

Sept. 20, 2018.

Ex-Malaysia PM Najib hit with 25 charges of money laundering and abuse of power

Mr Najib has pleaded not guilty to all 25 charges
Malaysia's former prime minister, Najib Razak, has been charged with 21 counts of money laundering, in a case linked to a multi-million dollar corruption scandal.

He was charged in court on Thursday in relation to the alleged transfer of $556m (£421m) from state fund 1MDB into his personal bank account.

He was also charged with four counts of abuse of power.

Mr Najib has pleaded not guilty to all 25 charges.

The latest charges come on top of three counts of money laundering levelled against him in August.

Mr Najib, members of his family and several allies are accused of embezzling huge sums allegedly used to buy everything from artwork to high-end real estate around the globe.

Corruption, money and Malaysia's election
Najib Razak: Malaysia's PM defeated by his mentor
1MDB: The case that has riveted Malaysia
The allegations played a central role in his defeat in an election that was eventually won by his former mentor and long-time PM, 93-year old Mahathir Mohamad.

Demonstrators took to the streets in the run-up to Mr Razak's electoral defeat
1MDB, set up by Mr Najib in 2009, was meant to turn the capital, Kuala Lumpur, into a financial hub and boost the economy through strategic investments.

Instead, it started to attract negative attention in early 2015 after it missed payments for some of the $11bn it owed to banks and bondholders.

Then the Wall Street Journal reported it had seen a paper trail that allegedly traced close to $700m from the fund to Mr Najib's personal bank accounts.

Billions of dollars are still unaccounted for.

Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court Confirmation Is Now the Ultimate Test of Political Power in 2018 - TIME Politics

Sept. 20, 2018.

Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court Confirmation Is Now the Ultimate Test of Political Power in 2018
 Kavanaugh is sworn in for his Supreme Court confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 4.

From the beginning, the women were determined to be disruptive. There sat Brett Kavanaugh, looking every bit the world’s most decent man, with his even demeanor and sparkling résumé, ready to go through the motions and receive the benediction of the Senators before him.

Since the day of his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, Kavanaugh had portrayed himself as a champion of women. Introducing himself to the nation, he emphasized the women he cherished, saying his mother, a judge, was his ultimate role model, talking about his daughters and the “majority” of female law clerks he’d hired. Members of the girls’ basketball teams he’s coached sat in the front rows behind him at his Senate confirmation hearing. Earlier, he had recited the names of his daughter’s teammates: “Anna, Quinn, Kelsey, Ceane, Chloe, Alex, Ava, Sophia and Margaret,” he said. “I love helping the girls grow into confident players.”

He had spent a lifetime pushing all the right buttons, and now nothing seemed to stand between the conservative federal judge and a seat on the nation’s highest court. But one after another, women interrupted. Protesters popped up in the back of the room, yelling and waving signs before being hustled out by police. Women Senators spoke out of turn: “Mr. Chairman, I’d like to be recognized,” pleaded Democrat Kamala Harris of California, to no avail. Kavanaugh sat quietly in the middle of it all, a cherubic smile on his face.

TIME photo-illustration; Thomas: J. David Ake–Getty Images; Kavanaugh: Chip Somodevilla–Getty Images
But the women, it turned out, weren’t done disrupting him. Just when the end seemed in sight–his confirmation vote less than a week away after a hearing that had turned up no more than the usual partisan angst–Christine Blasey Ford, a California college professor, decided to put her name to a devastating accusation, charging that, some 36 years prior, when they were both in high school, Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her.

It was a hazy accusation: hesitantly lodged, short on detail and curiously timed. But Ford’s charge shattered Kavanaugh’s carefully crafted tableau, calling into doubt the image he projected. The row of young girls, legs bare in their private-school skirts, looked different now. In the ensuing scramble, Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote was postponed, and he and Ford were invited to testify before the committee on Sept. 24. The prospect of such an extraordinary public hearing conjured obvious parallels to Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas. Twenty-seven years later, another professor with misgivings about coming forward had leveled allegations against a conservative Supreme Court nominee on the eve of his confirmation. And what had seemed a done deal became a fraught and fitting modern morality play.

But while the political spectacle may be similar, this battle will unfold in a different era. Every week brings new variations on the theme of women, racked with pain and rage, rising up in protest after too many years of trauma and terrified silence. Every week, too, has brought fresh reminders of the extent to which our whole reality is the product of the privilege and prejudices of entitled men. They decided what the story was, who got ahead, what the laws were and to whom they applied. Who lived and who died, from prisoners on death row to the fetus in the womb. Who was believed and who was destroyed. The men handled the disruptions quickly and quietly, with lawyers and payments and handshakes, with the grip of a policeman’s fist and a gavel pounded on a desk. Until suddenly there were too many to be contained.

Kavanaugh rejects the charge made against him. “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation,” he said in response. “I did not do this back in high school or at any time.” The White House has stood behind him, and his supporters say he is determined to surmount this last-minute obstacle. “What is being attempted here is a smear campaign to destroy his reputation as a decent man, and he’s not going to allow that to happen,” says a source involved in the confirmation process who speaks to Kavanaugh regularly. “He’s steadfast in his resolve to see it through and to tell the truth and to clear his name.”

His opponents say this must be the time when the scales tip in the other direction. “Now is our moment,” says Ilyse Hogue, head of the abortion-rights group NARAL. “We’ve had enough. We’re not going to take any more. Women are determined to make this a turning point in this country.”

With just a few weeks to go until the first national election of the Trump era, one in which all signs point to a tsunami of female rage as the decisive factor, a dramatic face-off between Kavanaugh and his accuser may be on the horizon–a showdown between two individuals and their memories of what did or didn’t happen so many years ago. But the stakes go beyond that, to who is believed and who decides the truth at this turbulent moment in America. Decisions–a high schooler’s, a judge’s, a middle-aged professor’s–have consequences. How the Kavanaugh drama plays out could be the ultimate test of today’s struggle for political and cultural power.

Kavanaugh answers questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearings.
Kavanaugh answers questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearings. Mark Peterson—Redux
It was 1982 or thereabouts: “Eye of the Tiger,” Reaganomics, E.T. Christine Blasey, approximately 15, lived in an affluent suburb of Washington, D.C., and attended an elite all-girls private school in Bethesda, Md. One summer night, perhaps after a day at the country-club pool, she went to a party at someone’s house. She was wearing her one-piece bathing suit under her clothes.

She drank beer in the family room, along with some boys she didn’t know well. They were from Georgetown Prep, the all-boys private school a few miles away. The boys at Georgetown Prep had fathers who were lobbyists and businessmen and government officials. They were being groomed to perpetuate the prosperity and status into which they’d been born.

In Ford’s account, Kavanaugh pushed her into a bedroom as she came up the stairs. Loud music was playing. His friend Mark Judge, across the room, was laughing, Ford recalled, as a drunken Kavanaugh pinned her down and tried to get under her clothes to her teenage body.

Ford wasn’t laughing. She was terrified. What if I die? she thought. She tried to scream, but he covered her mouth with his hand. He fumbled, frustrated, with her swimsuit. Finally, after Judge jumped on them, she wriggled free, locked herself in a bathroom and, when she’d heard the boys leave the room, ran out of the house, she said in an interview with the Washington Post.

About a decade later, as Ford moved through young adulthood to her academic career, a different man, Clarence Thomas, was nominated to the Supreme Court. Anita Hill, a woman who’d worked with him, came forward to accuse him of a prolonged campaign of sexual harassment. She faced a wall of male Senators from both parties, who needled and disbelieved her, and voted through the nominee, after he called the hearing a “high-tech lynching.” A year later there was an election, and women mobbed the polls, vastly expanding their numbers in Congress. Hill had lost her confrontation with the forces of power, but she’d helped propel a decades-long shift in the way women perceived their place in society.

Many more years would pass before Christine Blasey Ford confronted what she said happened when she was a teenager. Thirty years after the alleged incident, a 51-year-old married mother of two working as a research psychologist at a university in Northern California, it still weighed on her. She’d never told anyone the details of the incident until, in 2012, she related the story to her therapist and her husband. Notes from that session largely corroborate her account, according to the Post story, but if Ford said the boy’s name, the therapist didn’t write it down.

By July 2018, the boy she remembered was mentioned on the short list of potential nominees to the Supreme Court. The last thing she wanted was to be caught in the middle of that–she had a quiet life, was politically liberal but hardly an activist, had suffered enough already. But it didn’t feel right not to say anything. So she sent a letter to her Congresswoman and left an anonymous message on a newspaper tip line. She figured they would find a way to do something about it; she figured she could keep her name out of it.

The Congresswoman and the newspaper didn’t know what to do with the anonymous accusation. The boy was on course to replace his former boss, retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, potentially changing the face of American law by cementing a conservative majority for a generation. On July 30, Ford wrote a letter to California Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, saying Kavanaugh had assaulted her but requesting anonymity. Feinstein said nothing publicly until mid-September, when, with Kavanaugh on the cusp of his confirmation vote, she announced that she had referred an unspecified matter to the FBI.

Ford had hired a lawyer and taken a lie-detector test, but as rumors circulated and reporters started showing up at her door, she concluded she would have to put her name behind the allegation. “Now I feel like my civic responsibility is outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation,” she told the Washington Post in a detailed account that is the only public statement she has made. Ford’s lawyer didn’t respond to an interview request for this article.

For his part, Kavanaugh stood by his blanket denial. “This is a completely false allegation,” he said. “I have never done anything like what the accuser describes–to her or to anyone.”

The reaction was swift and furious. The Senate delayed a Sept. 20 committee vote on Kavanaugh, and Judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley scheduled a hearing for Monday, Sept. 24. Ford had said she was willing to give her testimony to the Senate, but on Sept. 18 her lawyer announced that Ford wanted a proper investigation first. Democrats insisted more time was needed for the FBI to probe the matter; by midweek it wasn’t clear whether the planned hearing would go forward.

Ford’s fears about going public have been validated. Furious partisans bombarded her with threats and abuse, forcing her to hire security and move out of her home temporarily, her lawyer said. Ford also received an outpouring of support, the lawyer added. The White House of Donald Trump–a President who has been accused of sexual misconduct by at least 19 women, has been caught on tape boasting about sexual assault and has admitted to paying off women who claim to have had affairs with him–was measured in its response. Senior counselor Kellyanne Conway said Ford “should not be insulted and should not be ignored.” Trump, who has called all his accusers liars and frequently expressed sympathy for men accused of sexual misconduct, lamented the accusation but said it merited a delay in the process.

At the same time, Republicans geared up to defend Kavanaugh. A conservative group announced it would spend $1.5 million to air an ad featuring a longtime female friend attesting to his character. Advocates released supportive statements from two of his former girlfriends. The suite of offices on the fourth floor of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building that served as the nerve center for Kavanaugh’s nomination hearings once again bustled with activity. Kavanaugh huddled with White House counsel Don McGahn, who is shepherding his nomination, and repeated his blanket denials, a White House official said. He made calls to lawmakers and spent hours in mock cross-examination about the allegation, his conduct and his character.

Because he has explicitly denied ever behaving in the manner Ford described, any evidence that supports her account would shatter his credibility. “He emphatically denied that the allegations were true,” said Senator Susan Collins, the moderate Maine Republican who is considered a key swing vote, after discussing the allegations with Kavanaugh in an hourlong phone conversation. “He said that he had never acted that way, not only with this unnamed accuser but with any woman. He was absolutely emphatic about that.” Collins added, “Obviously, if Judge Kavanaugh has lied about what happened, that would be disqualifying.”

At the same time, the details missing from Ford’s story make it equally possible that evidence will emerge to undermine it. She says she is not sure when the alleged incident occurred, who hosted the party or how she got to the party. The source involved in the process expects new revelations to fill what he called the “gaps” in Ford’s story. “An individual who puts an allegation out with some serious gaps invites that kind of gap filling,” the source says. “Sometimes that gap filling helps corroborate what’s already there, and sometimes it completely blows the story out of the water.”

The same moderate Republicans and red-state Democrats to whom Kavanaugh’s squeaky-clean introduction was targeted are now jittery and hesitant about his confirmation prospects. Collins and Senator Lisa Murkowski, another Republican who supports abortion rights, were among the first to call for hearings. Democrats Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Donnelly, Jon Tester, Claire McCaskill and Joe Manchin, all of whom are up for re-election in states Trump won handily and were considered possible votes for Kavanaugh, also called for further investigation. The GOP’s one-vote majority means that without any Democratic votes, it can afford only one defection to get the nomination through.

All this comes against the backdrop of an election season that was already shaping up as a referendum on male impunity and female empowerment. Before Ford came forward, the major issues in Kavanaugh’s hearings were how he might rule on cases related to abortion and Trump’s susceptibility to prosecution–two issues that relate directly to the same questions of power and autonomy. Both parties have every incentive to fight to the finish: Democrats see an opportunity to galvanize their already furious base, while Republicans, who’d hoped to put a big election-eve win on the board, fear discouraging theirs.

Into this storm will step two people, a man and a woman, who were once a boy and a girl, who may or may not have collided on a hot suburban night so many years ago. What happens next will answer the central question: Decisions have consequences–but for whom?

With reporting by Charlotte Alter and Alana Abramson/New York; Philip Elliot/Tampa; and Brian Bennet, Tessa Berenson, Abby Vesoulis and Justin Worland/Washington

China Raises Tariffs on $60 Billion of U.S. Goods in Technology Fight - TIME

China Raises Tariffs on $60 Billion of U.S. Goods in Technology Fight

Posted: 18 Sep 2018

(BEIJING) — China on Tuesday announced a tariff hike on $60 billion of U.S. products in response to President Donald Trump’s latest duty increase in a dispute over Beijing’s technology policy.

The announcement followed a warning by an American business group that a “downward spiral” in their conflict appeared certain following Trump’s penalties on $200 billion of Chinese goods.

The Finance Ministry said it was going ahead with plans announced in August for the increases of 10 percent and 5 percent on 5,207 types of U.S. goods. A list released last month included coffee, honey and industrial chemicals.

The increase is aimed at curbing “trade friction” and the “unilateralism and protectionism of the United States,” the ministry said on its website. It appealed for “pragmatic dialogue” to “jointly safeguard the principle of free trade and the multilateral trading system.”

The Trump administration announced the tariffs on some 5,000 Chinese-made goods will start at 10 percent, beginning Monday. They are to rise to 25 percent on Jan. 1.

A Commerce Ministry statement earlier said Trump’s increase “brings new uncertainty to the consultations” but there was no word on whether Beijing would back out of talks proposed last week by Washington.

The United States complains Chinese industry development plans including “Made in China 2025,” which calls for creating global champions in robotics and other fields, are based on stolen technology, violate Beijing’s market-opening commitments and might erode American industrial leadership.

American companies and trading partners including the European Union and Japan have longstanding complaints about Chinese market barriers and industrial policy. But they object to Trump’s tactics and warn the dispute could chill global economic growth and undermine international trade regulation.

The American Chamber of Commerce in China warned Washington is underestimating Beijing’s determination to fight back.

“The downward spiral that we have previously warned about now seems certain to materialize,” the chamber chairman, William Zarit, said in a statement.

Trump imposed 25 percent duties on $50 billion of Chinese products in July. Beijing retaliated with similar penalties on the same amount of American goods.

The U.S. duties targeted Chinese goods Washington says have benefited from improper industrial policies. Beijing’s penalties hit soybeans and other farm goods from states that voted for Trump in 2016.

Trump threatened Monday to add a further $267 billion in Chinese imports to the target list if China retaliates for the latest U.S. duties. That would raise the total affected by U.S. penalties to $517 billion — covering nearly everything China sells the United States.

“Contrary to views in Washington, China can — and will — dig its heels in and we are not optimistic about the prospect for a resolution in the short term,” said Zarit of the American Chamber of Commerce. “No one will emerge victorious from this counter-productive cycle.”

The chamber appealed to both governments for “results-oriented negotiations.”

As Beijing runs out of U.S. goods for retaliation, American companies say regulators are starting to disrupt their operations.

Last week, the American Chambers of Commerce in China and in Shanghai reported 52 percent of more than 430 companies that responded to a survey said they have faced slower customs clearance and increased inspections and bureaucratic procedures.

The U.S. government withdrew some items from its preliminary list of $200 billion in Chinese imports to be taxed, including child-safety products such as bicycle helmets. And in a victory for Apple Inc., the administration removed smart watches and some other consumer electronics products.

“China has had many opportunities to fully address our concerns,” Trump said in a statement. “I urge China’s leaders to take swift action to end their country’s unfair trade practices.”

Trump has also complained about America’s gaping trade deficit — $336 billion last year — with China, its biggest trading partner.

In May, in fact, it looked briefly as if Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He had brokered a truce built around a Chinese offer to buy enough American farm products and liquefied natural gas to put a dent in the trade deficit. But Trump quickly backed away from the truce.

In the first two rounds of tariffs, the Trump administration took care to try to spare American consumers from the direct impact of the import taxes. The tariffs focused on industrial products, not on things Americans buy at the mall or via Amazon.

By expanding the list to $200 billion of Chinese products, Trump may spread the pain to ordinary households. The administration is targeting a bewildering variety of goods — from sockeye salmon to baseball gloves to bamboo mats — forcing U.S. companies to scramble for suppliers outside China, absorb the import taxes or pass along the cost to their customers.

Sohn said the Trump administration is pursuing a legitimate goal of getting China to stop violating international trade rules but that it should have enlisted support from other trading partners, such as the European Union, Canada and Mexico, and presented Beijing with a united front.

Trump has strained relations with potential allies including the European Union, Canada and Mexico by raising tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. He demanded Canada and Mexico renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement to make it more favorable to the United States.