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World News

    Thousands of Rohingya refugees marked the second anniversary of their exodus from Myanmar into Bangladesh on Sunday by rallying, crying and praying as they demanded Myanmar grant them their citizenship and other rights before they agree to return. Up to 30,000 joined a rally days after Bangladesh with the help of the U.N. refugee agency attempted to start the repatriation of 3,450 Rohingya Muslims. None agreed to go back voluntarily, citing fear for their safety and a lack of confidence in Myanmar. The UNHCR said on Thursday that building confidence was essential for repatriation. Myanmar had scheduled Aug. 22 for the beginning of the process but it failed for a second time after the first attempt last November. The repatriation deal is based on an understanding that the return has to be 'safe, dignified and voluntary.' The refugees also insisted on receiving Myanmar citizenship and other rights, which the Buddhist-majority nation has refused to grant so far. Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that her administration will not use force to send them back despite a huge burden on the South Asian country. More than 1 million Rohingya live in Bangladesh. In Kutupalong camp on Sunday, some carried placards and banners reading 'Never Again! Rohingya Genocide Remembrance Day' and 'Restore our citizenship.' They raised their hands at a prayer session and cried, many loudly as an imam led the sermon with an emotional narration of their sufferings. The prayer was held for the victims of the killings, rape and arson attacks by Myanmar soldiers and Buddhist militias. Security was tight in the camps despite the Rohingya groups' pledge that they would protest peacefully. 'Oh Allah, how much blood we have to give to have peace in our life? We have been shedding our blood for decades and now we are here. Please help us, we want to go back,' said the imam. 'We want to tell the world that we want our rights back, we want citizenship, we want our homes and land back,' said Muhib Ullah, one of the organizers of Sunday's protest. 'Myanmar is our country. We are Rohingya.' Myanmar has consistently denied human rights violations and says military operations in Rakhine state, where most of the Rohingya fled from, were justified in response to attacks by Rohingya insurgents. A U.N.-established investigation last year recommended the prosecution of Myanmar's top military commanders on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for the crackdown on the Rohingya. Myanmar dismissed the allegations. On Thursday, the U.N. Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar released a new report concluding rapes of Rohingya by Myanmar's security forces were systemic and demonstrated the intent to commit genocide. The report said the discrimination Myanmar practiced against the Rohingya in peacetime aggravated the sexual violence toward them during times of conflict. Fortify Rights, a human rights group that has documented abuses in Myanmar, called on the Myanmar government on Saturday to implement recommendations from the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, which was appointed by Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi in 2016 and led by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The commission recommended that the government end enforced segregation of Rakhine Buddhists and Rohinya Muslims, ensure full humanitarian access, tackle Rohingya statelessness and 'revisit' the 1982 Citizenship Law and punish perpetrators of abuses. 'Rather than deal with ongoing atrocities, the government tried to hide behind the Advisory Commission,' said Matthew Smith, chief executive officer of Fortify Rights. 'The commission responded with concrete recommendations to end violations, and the government should act on them without delay. The government needs to urgently address the realities on the ground.' On Thursday, the UNHCR in a statement said the agency and the U.N. Development Program had sought effective access in Myanmar. Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch, said that concerted efforts were needed 'to really raise the pressure on the Burmese generals. We're talking about targeted sanctions, we're talking about an arms embargo.' ___ Alam reported from Dhaka, Bangladesh. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JalamAP
  • North Korea said Sunday leader Kim Jong Un supervised the test-firing of a 'newly developed super-large multiple rocket launcher,' another demonstration of its expanding weapons arsenal apparently aimed at increasing its leverage ahead of a possible resumption of nuclear talks with the U.S. The North's Korean Central News Agency said Saturday's weapons test was successful and cited Kim as saying the rocket launcher is 'indeed a great weapon.' Kim underscored the need to 'continue to step up the development of Korean-style strategic and tactical weapons for resolutely frustrating the ever-mounting military threats and pressure offensive of the hostile forces,' according to the KCNA. The 'hostile forces' likely referred to the United States and South Korea, whose recently ended regular military drills infuriated North Korea. The North has called the drills an invasion rehearsal and conducted a slew of missile and rocket tests in response. Some experts said North Korea aims to show off its weapons to try to get an upper hand ahead of a possible restart of nuclear negotiations, which remain largely stalemated since the second summit between President Donald Trump and Kim in Vietnam in February fell apart due to squabbling over U.S.-led sanctions on North Korea. The two leaders met again at the Korean border in late June and agreed to resume talks. Trump downplayed the latest launch, saying 'Kim Jong Un has been, you know, pretty straight with me. ... He likes testing missiles but we never restricted short-range missiles. We'll see what happens.' South Korea's military said North Korea fired two suspected short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast on Saturday morning and that they flew about 380 kilometers (236 miles) at the maximum altitude of 97 kilometers (60 miles). It was the seventh known weapons test by North Korea in about a month. North Korea has been pushing to develop powerful multiple rocket launch systems, whose projectiles resemble short-range missiles, some experts said. On Aug. 1, North Korea said it tested a large-caliber multiple rocket guided system, a day after South Korea said the North fired two short-range ballistic missiles. Most of the North Korean weapons tested in recent weeks have shown short-range flight distances. This suggested North Korea still doesn't intend to lift its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests, which would certainly derail the negotiations with Washington. The latest North Korean launches came two days after South Korea said it would terminate its intelligence-sharing deal with Japan amid trade disputes between the U.S. allies. Washington expressed its disappointment at the South Korean decision. In a development that could possibly further complicate ties between Seoul and Tokyo, South Korea's navy on Sunday began two-day exercises on and around a group of islets controlled by South Korea but also claimed by Japan. Japan's Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying the islets belong to Japan and called the drills 'unacceptable.' South Korean navy officers said the drills are the first of two regular exercises held every year near the islets called Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese. They said the drills involve aircraft landing on the islets and warships maneuvering nearby. Local media said South Korea originally planned the first drills in June, but delayed them in consideration of relations with Japan. ___ Associated Press writer Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo contributed to this report.
  • The Israeli military attacked targets near Damascus late Saturday in what it said was a successful effort to thwart an imminent Iranian drone strike on Israel, stepping up an already heightened campaign against Iranian military activity in the region. The late-night airstrike, which triggered Syrian anti-aircraft fire, appeared to be one of the most intense attacks by Israeli forces in several years of hits on Iranian targets in Syria. Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, said Iran's Revolutionary Guards' Al Quds force, working with allied Shiite militias, had been planning to send a number of explosives-laden attack drones into Israel. Conricus said Israel had monitored the plot for several months and on Thursday prevented Iran from making an 'advanced attempt' to execute the same plan. Then, Iran tried again late Saturday to carry out the same attack, he said. 'We were able to thwart this attack with fighter jets,' he said, saying the Iranian attack was believed to be 'very imminent.' He said Israel's chief of staff was meeting with senior officers and forces were on high alert near the Syrian frontier. On Twitter, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the attack by Israeli warplanes a 'major operational effort.' 'Iran has no immunity anywhere,' he said. 'If someone rises up to kill you, kill him first.' Israel has acknowledged carrying out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria in recent years, most of them aimed at arms shipments believed to be headed from Iran to its Shiite proxy Hezbollah. Direct clashes between Israel and Iranian forces have been rare. 'This was a significant plan with significant capabilities that had been planned for a few months,' Conricus said. 'It was not something done on a low level, but rather top down from the Quds Force.' Syrian state TV announced late Saturday that the country's air defenses had responded to 'hostile' targets over Damascus and shot down incoming missiles before they reached their targets. State TV did not give further details about the Israeli attack. Israel considers Iran to be its greatest enemy and has repeatedly vowed that it will not allow Iran to establish a permanent military presence in Syria, where Iranian troops have been fighting in support of President Bashar Assad during the country's eight-year civil war. In recent days, U.S. officials have said that Israeli strikes have also hit Iranian targets in Iraq. ___ Associated Press writer Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed to this report.
  • A heavily fortified Turkish observation post in the northwestern village of Morek stood surrounded on all sides by Syrian troops Saturday, a testament to the rapid advance of President Bashar Assad's forces in Syria's northwest over the past three weeks as rebel defenses collapsed. Syrian authorities took a group of journalists to tour the observation post, several newly captured villages and the town of Khan Sheikhoun, which was a major rebel stronghold until it was taken by government forces earlier this week. In Morek, there was no sign of friction between the Turks and the Syrian troops who took positions hundreds of meters away from the observation post. The journalists were kept about 2 kilometers (1.2 mile) away from the Turkish post. Relations between Turkey and Syria have deteriorated sharply since Syria's crisis began in 2011, with Damascus accusing Ankara of undermining its security by allowing thousands of foreign fighters to come battle the Syrian army. Turkey is a strong backer of opposition gunmen fighting Assad's forces and has 12 observation posts in northwestern Syria as part of an agreement reached last year with Russia, a main backer of the Syrian government. Farther north, on the road to Khan Sheikhoun, metal black banners could be seen on the roads with signs reading: 'Islam is safety,' ''singing is prohibited' and 'Islam is the solution.' They appeared to be placed by members of al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the most powerful group in the northwestern province of Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold in Syria. In Khan Sheikhoun, despite widespread damage, most of the buildings were standing as it was far from the front lines. Khan Sheikhoun is important as it sits on the highway linking the capital Damascus with the northern city of Aleppo. The link has been cut by rebels since 2012. One of the main aims of the Syrian army offensive is to open the highway and workers on Saturday were seen paving parts of it in preparation of opening it on the assumption that Syrian troops will capture more areas farther north. Opposition activists, including the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said government forces are now massing troops to push north in their offensive toward the town of Maaret al-Numan, another major town on the highway known as M5. 'The battle was well organized,' a Syrian officer said about their push into Khan Sheikhoun over the past days. 'Once we took the hills overlooking Khan Sheikhoun it became easy to take the town.' During the tour of the town, explosions and heavy machine gun fire could be heard from the distance, while warplanes flew overhead. Syrian soldier Hussein Hassane, 23, said the battle was difficult in the beginning until the rebels' defenses collapsed and that's 'when we got the orders to enter Khan Sheikhoun. We moved in and the gunmen were either crushed or fled.' If Syrian troops keep moving north, there are two other nearby Turkish posts just on the southern edge of Idlib. The situation in Idlib is expected to be a main topic during a summit between the presidents of Turkey and Russia in Moscow next week. A Syrian officer in Morek told The Associated Press that Turkish troops and some opposition fighters and their families were inside the sprawling observation post that is surrounded by blast walls. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had denied any Turkish troops were besieged in Syria. Assad adviser Bouthaina Shaaban told the Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen TV that the Turkish base in Morek is under siege, adding that the 'Syrian army, God willing, will be able to remove all Turkish posts and terrorists.' The village itself has suffered massive destruction, in which entire buildings were knocked out and only Syrian troops were seen inside as many of its residents fled since the Syrian army began its last offensive on April 30, forcing more than half a million people to leave their homes. ____ Associated Press writer Bassem Mroue contributed to this report from Beirut.
  • Deal or No Deal? One might think the issue would be on the minds of two leaders at the vortex of the question of whether the UK will leave the European Union without a deal in October.  But as Britain and the European Union hurtle toward a no-deal Brexit, the contest Saturday seemed to be who is going to go down in history with the blame and the label: Mr. No-Deal. As world leaders touched down in the French seaside resort of Biarritz for the Group of Seven summit, the long-running tensions over Britain's departure from the EU got a tad personal. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU Council president Donald Tusk each suggested that the other is bent on scuttling the chances that the UK will break away from the single market of 500 million with an agreement. Tusk went first. In a comment that laid bare his exasperation, he told reporters at the summit that Johnson would be the third British prime minister with whom he'd discussed the issue. The EU cooperated with David Cameron who wanted to remain, and with Theresa May, who wanted to avoid a no-deal Brexit. 'One thing I will not co-operate on is no deal,' Tusk said. 'I still hope that Prime Minster Johnson will not like to go down in history as 'Mr. No Deal.'' That didn't go down well at Downing Street. Johnson, who took power last month, is betting his political future on a promise to lead Britain out of the EU on Oct. 31, with or without an agreement. He says the threat of a no-deal Brexit is the only way to force the EU into making concessions. So as he jetted to France, he offered a riposte to Tusk. Johnson said their fates were tied over the thorny issue of the Irish border. Everyone wants to keep the border open, but disagree bitterly on how it should be done. 'I say to our friends in the EU, if they don't want a no-deal Brexit then we have got to get rid of the backstop from the treaty,' Johnson said. 'If Donald Tusk doesn't want to go down as 'Mr. No-deal Brexit' then I hope that point will be borne in mind by him, too.' The main sticking point of the EU-UK deal was the so-called Irish backstop, designed to prevent the return of customs checks on the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. There are concerns the backstop would keep Britain tied to the EU indefinitely and threaten the integrity of the U.K. because it would treat Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the country. No deal is troublesome because of the consequences. The fallout of leaving without a withdrawal agreement could include disruptions to the supply of medicines, a decrease in fresh food availability and potential fresh water shortages due to difficulties in importing water treatment chemicals — among many other issues that come from unraveling decades of free trade in goods and services.
  • Backed by military aircraft, Brazilian troops on Saturday were deploying in the Amazon to fight fires that have swept the region and prompted anti-government protests as well as an international outcry. President Jair Bolsonaro also tried to temper global concern, saying that previously deforested areas had burned and that intact rainforest was spared. Even so, the fires were likely to be urgently discussed at a summit of the Group of Seven leaders in France this weekend. Some 44,000 troops will be available for 'unprecedented' operations to put out the fires, and forces are heading to six Brazilian states that asked for federal help, Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo said. The states are Roraima, Rondonia, Tocantins, Para, Acre and Mato Grosso. The military's first mission will be carried out by 700 troops around Porto Velho, capital of Rondonia, Azevedo said. The military will use two C-130 Hercules aircraft capable of dumping up to 12,000 liters (3,170 gallons) of water on fires, he said. An Associated Press journalist flying over the Porto Velho region Saturday morning reported hazy conditions and low visibility. On Friday, the reporter saw many already deforested areas that were burned, apparently by people clearing farmland, as well as a large column of smoke billowing from one fire. The municipality of Nova Santa Helena in Brazil's Mato Grosso state was also hard-hit. Trucks were seen driving along a highway Friday as fires blazed and embers smoldered in adjacent fields. The Brazilian military operations came after widespread criticism of Bolsonaro's handling of the crisis. On Friday, the president authorized the armed forces to put out fires, saying he is committed to protecting the Amazon region. Azevedo, the defense minister, noted U.S. President Donald Trump's offer in a tweet to help Brazil fight the fires, and said there had been no further contact on the matter. Despite international concern, Bolsonaro told reporters on Saturday that the situation was returning to normal. He said he was 'speaking to everyone' about the problem, including Trump, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and several Latin American leaders. Bolsonaro had described rainforest protections as an obstacle to Brazil's economic development, sparring with critics who say the Amazon absorbs vast amounts of greenhouse gasses and is crucial for efforts to contain climate change. The Amazon fires have become a global issue, escalating tensions between Brazil and European countries who believe Bolsonaro has neglected commitments to protect biodiversity. Protesters gathered outside Brazilian diplomatic missions in European and Latin American cities Friday, and demonstrators also marched in Brazil. 'The planet's lungs are on fire. Let's save them!' read a sign at a protest outside Brazil's embassy in Mexico City. The dispute spilled into the economic arena when French leader Emmanuel Macron threatened to block a European Union trade deal with Brazil and several other South American countries. 'First we need to help Brazil and other countries put out these fires,' Macron said Saturday. The goal is to 'preserve this forest that we all need because it is a treasure of our biodiversity and our climate thanks to the oxygen that it emits and thanks to the carbon it absorbs,' he said. In a weekly video message released Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the Group of Seven leaders 'cannot be silent' and should discuss how to help extinguish the fires. Bolivia has also struggled to contain fires that swept through woods and fields. A U.S.-based aircraft, the B747-400 SuperTanker, is flying over devastated areas in Bolivia to help put out the blazes and protect forests. On Saturday, several helicopters along with police, military troops, firefighters and volunteers on the ground worked to extinguish fires in Bolivia's Chiquitanía region, where the woods are dry at this time of year. Farmers commonly set fires in this season to clear land for crops or livestock, but sometimes the blazes get out of control. The Bolivian government says 9,530 square kilometers (3680 square miles) have been burned this year. The government of Bolivian President Evo Morales has backed the increased cultivation of crops for biofuel production, raising questions about whether the policy opened the way to increased burning. Similarly, Bolsonaro had said he wants to convert land for cattle pastures and soybean farms. Brazilian prosecutors are investigating whether lax enforcement of environmental regulations may have contributed to the surge in the number of fires. Brazil's justice ministry also said federal police will deploy in fire zones to assist other state agencies and combat 'illegal deforestation.' Fires are common in Brazil in the annual dry season, but they are much more widespread this year. Brazilian state experts reported nearly 77,000 wildfires across the country so far this year, up 85% over the same period in 2018. More than half of those fires occurred in the Amazon region. ___ Associated Press journalists Juan Karita in Robore, Bolivia; Victor Caivano in Porto Velho, Brazil; Christopher Torchia in Caracas, Venezuela, contributed to this report.
  • Britain's Prince Andrew responded to intense media scrutiny of his links to Jeffrey Epstein by issuing a statement Saturday denying any knowledge of criminal behavior by his one-time friend who killed himself in a New York jail while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. 'At no stage during the limited time I spent with him did I see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction,' Andrew said in the written statement, referring to Epstein's 2008 conviction after pleading guilty to prostitution-related state charges. Epstein served 13 months behind bars. Andrew again said it was a 'mistake' to visit Epstein after his release in 2010. Queen Elizabeth's son also expressed 'tremendous sympathy' for Epstein's victims. Epstein, 66, killed himself Aug. 11 while awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy. Saying he wanted to clarify their 'association,' Andrew said, 'I met Mr. Epstein in 1999. During the time I knew him, I saw him infrequently and probably no more than only once or twice a year. I have stayed in a number of his residences.' Saturday's statement was not the first time Andrew has commented on Epstein. Earlier this month, Andrew rejected suggestions he may have been involved in Epstein's crimes. That statement came after the Mail on Sunday newspaper obtained a Dec. 6, 2010, video showing Andrew inside Epstein's New York home waving goodbye to a young woman. The video was recorded after Epstein's 2008 conviction.
  • A 13-year-old boy driving his stepfather's SUV set off a chase through the German city of Hannover that ended with the teenager driving into a patrol car, police said Saturday. Officers were alerted late Friday evening to a car with what appeared to be a very young driver and its lights switched off. A patrol car located the SUV, but its driver ignored signals for him to stop and headed toward the city center. Several more police cars with flashing lights set off in pursuit of the Suzuki SUV, which tried to evade them by turning onto a tram track. A patrol car blocked the track, but the young driver didn't stop and collided with it. The 13-year-old and a passenger in the patrol car were slightly hurt. Police said there was no indication that the boy was intoxicated. He was taken to a hospital for observation and his family informed. Under German law, children under 14 can't be held criminally responsible. In a separate case, an 8-year-old boy in western Germany was put into psychological counseling after taking his mother's car for a joyride for a second time this week.
  • Austria is preparing to repatriate two sons of an Austrian Islamic State group supporter believed to have died in Syria after she headed there in 2014. Foreign ministry spokesman Peter Guschelbauer told public broadcaster ORF's Oe1 radio Saturday that 'there is a positive DNA test and so the children are clearly identified.' He said there has also been an Austrian court decision on custody 'and so the conditions for repatriation are fulfilled.' ORF reported that a court last week awarded custody to the grandparents of the boys, who are 1 ½ and 3. It said they have been at the al-Hol camp in Syria, controlled by Kurdish forces, for the past few months. Four German children fathered by IS militants were handed over to Germany by Syria's Kurdish-led administration Monday.
  • North Macedonia police say a 20-year old migrant from Bangladesh was killed and 12 others injured when a van packed with migrants collided with a truck on the main highway in the south. Police said Saturday that a van with 13 migrants hit the rear of the truck near the town of Demir Kapija late Friday and caught fire. Ten migrants were Pakistanis and three were Bangladeshi. Four seriously injured migrants were transferred to clinics in the capital Skopje, while eight others are being treated at a hospital in the town of Kavadarci. The van driver ran away from the scene. The migrants are believed to have entered illegally from Greece and to have paid smugglers to take them north through Serbia towards Europe's prosperous heartland.
  • A single blood test may be able to detect your risk of dying within five to 10 years. That’s according to new research published this week in the journal Nature Communications, for which scientists in the Netherlands examined blood sample data on 44,168 Europeans ages 18 to 109 from 12 cohorts. More than 5,500 participants died during follow-up studies. When looking through the data, lead researcher Eline Slagboom and her team identified 14 biomarkers in the blood independently associated with “all-cause mortality.” These biomarkers, which are “involved in various processes, such as lipoprotein and fatty acid metabolism, glycolysis, fluid balance, and inflammation,” ultimately help determine one’s score (or risk) of dying within five to 10 years. “Such a score,” study authors wrote, “could potentially be used in clinical practice to guide treatment strategies, for example when deciding whether an elderly person is too fragile for an invasive operation.” But how well can those 14 biomarkers actually predict risk of death? To find out, the scientists also compared their data with a 1997 cohort in Finland. According to data on more than 7,600 Finnish individuals (1,213 of whom had died during follow-up), the 14 biomarkers initially examined predicted patient deaths within five to 10 years with approximately 83% accuracy, according to the study. This suggests the biomarkers “clearly improve risk prediction of five and 10-year mortality as compared to conventional risk factors across all ages,” study authors wrote. Conventional risk factors, such as systolic blood pressure and total cholesterol, typically have a mortality prediction accuracy of 78% to 79%. Still, further research is certainly needed before a blood test based on the 14 biomarkers is used in clinical settings. Because the data used in the study comes from a variety of cohorts, future efforts should focus on creating a biomarker score based on individual-level data. Read the full study at nature.com.
  • A federal judge has placed the man at the center of the John Grisham book 'The Innocent Man' on the path to potential freedom. Karl Fontenot’s story was also made into a Netflix documentary series. U.S. District Judge James Payne, of Muskogee, ruled there is reasonable doubt that Fontenot should have been convicted in 1988 in the kidnapping and killing of Ada convenience store clerk Denice Haraway in 1984.  Judge Payne's opinion discusses alleged misconduct by police, investigators and prosecutors. Fontenot and co-defendant Tommy Ward were convicted in Haraway's murder in part due to a recording of them talking about dreams they had about her murder.
  • On a day of big losses on the stock markets sparked first by China levying new tariffs on imports from America, President Donald Trump wasted no time Friday afternoon in announcing higher import duties against the Chinese, plunging the two countries even deeper into an economic standoff which could have negative worldwide ramifications. 'China should not have put new Tariffs on 75 BILLION DOLLARS of United States product,' the President tweeted about an hour after the close on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones dropped over 600 points. 'Starting on October 1st, the 250 BILLION DOLLARS of goods and products from China, currently being taxed at 25%, will be taxed at 30%,' the President wrote.  'Additionally, the remaining 300 BILLION DOLLARS of goods and products from China, that was being taxed from September 1st at 10%, will now be taxed at 15%,' he added. The President also called on American companies to take their manufacturing businesses out of China, arguing that the United States was the victim of an 'unfair Trading Relationship.' 'Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA,' Mr. Trump tweeted. The White House did not provide any explanation as to how the President would have the power to force U.S. companies to abandon their manufacturing operations in China. Economic experts and businesses were worried by the days events. “(T)his is a major risk as it's the economy - households and businesses - that are in play,” said Gregory Daco of Oxford Economics. “The administration's approach clearly isn't working, and the answer isn't more taxes on American businesses and consumers,” said the National Retail Federation. “Where does this end?'  “These added tariffs will ratchet up consumer prices, stall business investment, escalate uncertainty and cost American jobs,” said the pro-free trade group Tariffs Hurt the Heartland. “In just the past three years, U.S. soybean exports to China have fallen nearly 80 percent, and once these tariffs kick in, things are likely to get worse,” said Roger Johnson, the head of the National Farmers Union.  The standoff with China was a far cry from President Trump's prediction in March of 2018, when he wrote on Twitter that trade wars are 'easy to win.' As for Democrats - even though many of them would like to see the United States be more forceful with China - their answer is not retaliatory tariffs and a trade war. “Our economy is showing signs of weakening due to the president’s trade war, and these back-and-forth tariffs will only make things worse,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). “The facts are clear: President Trump's destabilizing and reckless trade war is undermining growth,” said Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA). “Your tariffs are hurting our country badly,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). “There's nothing funny about tanking people's retirement accounts with a failed trade war,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA).
  • The Trump campaign has a message for its female supporters: It’s time to come out of hiding. “There’s a lot of people that are fearful of expressing their support, and I want you ladies to know it’s OK to have felt that way, but we need to move past that or the Democrats win,” said Tana Goertz, a Trump campaign adviser, at an Iowa “Women for Trump” event on Thursday. The Iowa event, held in the back room of a barbecue joint in a Des Moines suburb, was one of more than a dozen in battleground states nationwide as part of a push to make the president’s case on the economy and train volunteers. The move is a recognition of the president’s persistent deficit with women — an issue that has the potential to sink his chances for reelection. Over the course of his presidency and across public opinion polls, women have been consistently less supportive of President Donald Trump than men have. Suburban women in particular rejected Republicans in the 2018 midterm by margins that set off alarms for the party and the president. Trump himself called into a gathering of hundreds in Tampa, Florida, and insisted, to cheers: “We’re doing great with women, despite the fake news.”
  • With the United States set to slap a new 10 percent tariff on billions of dollars in Chinese goods coming into the U.S. on September 1, the Chinese government officially retaliated on Friday, announcing its own new tariffs on American products, and denouncing President Donald Trump's get-tough actions on trade. 'The US measures have led to the continuous escalation of Sino-US economic and trade frictions, which have greatly harmed the interests of China, the United States and other countries,' the Chinese Minstry of Finance announced. The documents released by China today apply to over 5,000 categories of items imported from the United States, covering everything from diapers to pipes and cigarette holders, to a range of agricultural products like barley, wheat, oats, corn, sorghum, soybeans, peanuts, cotton, covering about $75 billion in U.S. goods. Much like a 122 page list of targeted items put out by the United States earlier this month, China issued over 100 pages of products which would face new import duties. The reaction from Congress and business groups was negative. 'This trade war is not holding China accountable,' said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA). 'It's hurting farmers and small business owners all over the country who are just trying to earn a living.' “The fact of the matter is that nobody wins a trade war, and the continued tit-for-tat escalation between the U.S. and China is putting significant strain on the U.S. economy, raising costs, undermining investment, and roiling markets,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said in a statement. As for President Trump, he has not wavered in his public statements about taking on china, tariff for tariff, as one of his Friday tweets caused some shock on  the markets. “Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China,” the President wrote. “Here’s the thing: Somebody had to take on what China was doing to the United States economically,” the President told reporters this week. “We’re winning big. I took it on. And it should have been done by previous Presidents,” he added. And on Twitter Friday morning, the President expressed no concerns about the Chinese response. Asked by reporters earlier this week about the trade war with China, Mr. Trump said he was the only President who had decided to actually confront Beijing. “I am the chosen one,” the President said, as he looked skyward.

Washington Insider

  • On a day of big losses on the stock markets sparked first by China levying new tariffs on imports from America, President Donald Trump wasted no time Friday afternoon in announcing higher import duties against the Chinese, plunging the two countries even deeper into an economic standoff which could have negative worldwide ramifications. 'China should not have put new Tariffs on 75 BILLION DOLLARS of United States product,' the President tweeted about an hour after the close on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones dropped over 600 points. 'Starting on October 1st, the 250 BILLION DOLLARS of goods and products from China, currently being taxed at 25%, will be taxed at 30%,' the President wrote.  'Additionally, the remaining 300 BILLION DOLLARS of goods and products from China, that was being taxed from September 1st at 10%, will now be taxed at 15%,' he added. The President also called on American companies to take their manufacturing businesses out of China, arguing that the United States was the victim of an 'unfair Trading Relationship.' 'Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA,' Mr. Trump tweeted. The White House did not provide any explanation as to how the President would have the power to force U.S. companies to abandon their manufacturing operations in China. Economic experts and businesses were worried by the days events. “(T)his is a major risk as it's the economy - households and businesses - that are in play,” said Gregory Daco of Oxford Economics. “The administration's approach clearly isn't working, and the answer isn't more taxes on American businesses and consumers,” said the National Retail Federation. “Where does this end?'  “These added tariffs will ratchet up consumer prices, stall business investment, escalate uncertainty and cost American jobs,” said the pro-free trade group Tariffs Hurt the Heartland. “In just the past three years, U.S. soybean exports to China have fallen nearly 80 percent, and once these tariffs kick in, things are likely to get worse,” said Roger Johnson, the head of the National Farmers Union.  The standoff with China was a far cry from President Trump's prediction in March of 2018, when he wrote on Twitter that trade wars are 'easy to win.' As for Democrats - even though many of them would like to see the United States be more forceful with China - their answer is not retaliatory tariffs and a trade war. “Our economy is showing signs of weakening due to the president’s trade war, and these back-and-forth tariffs will only make things worse,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). “The facts are clear: President Trump's destabilizing and reckless trade war is undermining growth,” said Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA). “Your tariffs are hurting our country badly,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). “There's nothing funny about tanking people's retirement accounts with a failed trade war,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA).
  • With the United States set to slap a new 10 percent tariff on billions of dollars in Chinese goods coming into the U.S. on September 1, the Chinese government officially retaliated on Friday, announcing its own new tariffs on American products, and denouncing President Donald Trump's get-tough actions on trade. 'The US measures have led to the continuous escalation of Sino-US economic and trade frictions, which have greatly harmed the interests of China, the United States and other countries,' the Chinese Minstry of Finance announced. The documents released by China today apply to over 5,000 categories of items imported from the United States, covering everything from diapers to pipes and cigarette holders, to a range of agricultural products like barley, wheat, oats, corn, sorghum, soybeans, peanuts, cotton, covering about $75 billion in U.S. goods. Much like a 122 page list of targeted items put out by the United States earlier this month, China issued over 100 pages of products which would face new import duties. The reaction from Congress and business groups was negative. 'This trade war is not holding China accountable,' said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA). 'It's hurting farmers and small business owners all over the country who are just trying to earn a living.' “The fact of the matter is that nobody wins a trade war, and the continued tit-for-tat escalation between the U.S. and China is putting significant strain on the U.S. economy, raising costs, undermining investment, and roiling markets,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said in a statement. As for President Trump, he has not wavered in his public statements about taking on china, tariff for tariff, as one of his Friday tweets caused some shock on  the markets. “Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China,” the President wrote. “Here’s the thing: Somebody had to take on what China was doing to the United States economically,” the President told reporters this week. “We’re winning big. I took it on. And it should have been done by previous Presidents,” he added. And on Twitter Friday morning, the President expressed no concerns about the Chinese response. Asked by reporters earlier this week about the trade war with China, Mr. Trump said he was the only President who had decided to actually confront Beijing. “I am the chosen one,” the President said, as he looked skyward.
  • Before the leaders of the G7 nations had even boarded their flights for the meeting in Biarritz, France, President Donald Trump was already stirring the political pot associated with the meeting of western allies, making it clear he wants to see Russia return to the group, after being exiled in 2014 over the seizure of the Crimea from Ukraine. 'We spend a lot of time talking about Russia at those meetings,' the President told reporters this week. 'And they're not there. I think it would be a good thing if Russia were there so we can speak directly.' Russia was a member of what was then known as the 'Group of Eight' - but Moscow was booted out in 2014 after Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine. 'President Obama thought it wasn't a good thing to have Russia in,' Mr. Trump said to reporters. 'But I think it's much more appropriate to have Russia in.' But there seems to be little chance of that happening in the current political environment in Europe, especially with Russian backed forces fighting in Ukraine. During a meeting with Vladimir Putin earlier this week, French President Emmanuel Macron made clear his opposition to such a move proposed by President Trump, arguing that Russia must first address Crimea - and the ongoing proxy war pushed by Russian backed forces inside Ukraine - before any such change is made. 'In effect, the resolution of this conflict is a magic wand that will open the door for Russia to return to the G7 club,' Macron said . With the two leaders seated before reporters, Macron labeled the Ukraine situation an 'irritant' in Russian relations with the West. 'It is obvious that the return to the G8 format and normal relations with the EU requires the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis,' Macron added. Last year, the 2018 meeting of world leaders from the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom, ended in odd fashion, when President Trump suddenly left the meeting early, refusing to endorse a joint communique by the leaders. In order to avoid a dispute along those lines in 2019, Macron has decided there will not be a joint communique issued by the G-7. It will be the first time since the meetings began in the 1970's that the group will not issue a statement of joint goals. White House officials previewing the President's trip said much of his focus at the G-7 will be on free, fair and reciprocal trade, as he has often criticized Canada and the European Union of unfair trade barriers to U.S. exports.
  • Back in their home districts on an extended summer break, the drip-drip sound Democrats hear is not coming from the watering the plants, but rather from the halls of the Congress, where more and more Democratic members of the House are publicly announcing their support for impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. A flurry of announcements were made on Thursday, as a series of Democrats said they would back an impeachment inquiry by the House Judiciary Committee, bringing the total number to 135 - more than a majority of Democrats in the House. 'I cannot ignore the call to defend our institutions, to safeguard our democratic norms, and to stand up for our democracy,' said Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) on Thursday afternoon. A few hours earlier, Rep. William Keating of Massachusetts told his Bay State constituents that the Mueller Report left too many unanswered questions about the President, accusing the White House of stonewalling legitimate Congressional oversight. 'No person in America is above the law, including the President of the United States,' said Rep. Lauren Underwood, a freshman Democrat from Illinois. 'I support moving forward with an impeachment inquiry, which will continue to uncover the facts for the American people and hold this president accountable,' said Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), the fourth ranking Democrat in the House.  'This is not a position I’ve reached lightly,' Lujan said earlier this week. When Democrats left town four weeks ago for their six week summer break, the number of lawmakers endorsing the start of an impeachment idea was nowhere near 100. But it's been creeping up on almost a daily basis - and more lawmakers seem likely to join in the weeks ahead.
  • Unlikely to qualify for the next debate among Democratic candidates for the White House, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington State told supporters in an email on Wednesday night that he was dropping his bid for the Democratic Party's nomination for President, further thinning the field with just over five months until the first vote is cast. 'I want to share a tough decision with you,' Inslee said to supporters, as he cited his top priority of climate change. 'But I've concluded that my role in that effort will not be as a candidate to be the next president of the United States,' Inslee added. Earlier in the week, Inslee touted that his campaign had hit 130,000 donors - one of the qualifying requirements for the next Democratic debate in Houston. But Inslee had no chance to register at 2 percent or higher in four different polls, leaving him on the sidelines - and off the debate stage. 'As a result, I don't believe we can compete for the attention and exposure needed to have a reasonable shot at the nomination,' Inslee said. Inslee had tried hard to be the loudest voice in the party on climate change, bringing it up in both debates, and doing numerous events on the subject. But the former Congressman, and current Governor, was never able to break out of the lower tier of Democratic candidates. “I want to once again thank everyone who helped in this effort. We have so much to be proud of,” Inslee wrote to his backers.  “Make no mistake, we also have a lot more work to do.” On MSNBC Wednesday night, Inslee said it was clear this was the right choice. “I'm not going to be carrying the ball,” Inslee said in an interview.  “I'm not going to be the President, so I'm withdrawing tonight.”