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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to chair the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to chair the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem May 26, 2019. Jim Hollander/Pool via REUTERS

May 26, 2019

By Jeffrey Heller

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embarked on Sunday on what he termed a “final effort” to break a deadlock on forming a governing coalition ahead of a Wednesday deadline for a deal.

In power for the past decade, Netanyahu has unexpectedly struggled to seal an agreement with a clutch of right-wing, far-right and ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties that would align with his Likud party and ensure him a fifth term following Israel’s April 9 election.

Divisions between former Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party and United Torah Judaism over a military conscription bill governing exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students have plunged the coalition talks into stalemate.

Lieberman has long said ultra-Orthodox men must share other Israeli Jews’ burden of mandatory service. Ultra-Orthodox parties say seminary students should be largely exempt from conscription as they have been since Israel was founded in 1948.

A 42-day deadline mandated by law to announce a new government expires on Wednesday, and President Reuven Rivlin can then assign the task to another legislator after consultations with the leaders of political parties.

That could open the way for former military chief Benny Gantz, leader of the centrist Blue and White party, to try. But he would need the backing of some of Likud’s allies to persuade Rivlin he could put together a ruling majority in parliament.

Likud and Blue and White each won 35 of the Knesset’s 120 seats seats in the April ballot, but Netanyahu was seen as having clinched victory because of the right-wing majority that emerged.

In a video published on Twitter on Sunday, Netanyahu said he had invited all of his negotiating partners to meet him in “a final attempt to form a right-wing government” and avoid “an unnecessary election”.

A Likud source said the sessions would be held later in the day and on Monday.

Parallel to the negotiations, Likud announced preparations for a possible national ballot, with November already touted by political analysts as a likely date.

Likud lawmaker Miki Zohar released a draft of a dissolution bill that he said he was submitting to parliament, but no date for a vote in the legislature was announced. Likud said its secretariat would meet on Tuesday “to prepare for an election”.

Some political commentators saw those moves as an attempt to pressure Likud’s negotiating partners into a deal, given the possibility of a voter backlash against another national ballot so soon after the previous one and the uncertainty of the election’s outcome in a country riven by divisions.

The scheduling of an election – and Likud could face an uphill battle for the necessary 61 votes in parliament to pass a dissolution resolution – would pre-empt a coalition-building assignment from Rivlin and ensure Netanyahu remains as interim prime minister until a new government is formed.

Already locked in a legal battle over his potential indictment in three corruption cases, Netanyahu has vowed to remain in office even if he is charged. He denies any wrongdoing and is scheduled to argue against indictment at a pre-trial hearing in October.

(Editing by Frances Kerry)

Source: OANN

Britain's Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell arrives at Cabinet Office in London
FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell of the Labour Party, arrives for cross party Brexit talks at Cabinet Office in London, Britain May 7, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville

May 26, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s opposition Labour Party will seek to prevent Prime Minister Theresa May’s successor taking the country out of the European Union without a deal, its finance spokesman John McDonnell said on Sunday.

May said on Friday she would step down next month, and several of those vying to replace her have said Britain must leave the EU on its Oct. 31 deadline even if that means quitting without a deal.

“There is real threat now of an extremist Brexiteer becoming the leader of the Conservative Party and taking us over the cliff edge of a no deal,” McDonnell told Sky News, saying Labour was seeking to work with other opposition parties.

“We have got to move forward now, bring people together and block a no deal and if that means going back to the people (for a second referendum), so be it.”

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Keith Weir)

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FILE PHOTO: North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump talk in the garden of the Metropole hotel during the second North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi
FILE PHOTO: North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump talk in the garden of the Metropole hotel during the second North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi, Vietnam February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

May 24, 2019

By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea said on Friday an “arbitrary and dishonest” U.S. position had resulted in the failure to reach a deal during a second North Korea-U.S. summit, warning the nuclear issue would never be resolved without a new approach.

A spokesman for North Korea’s foreign ministry accused the United States of trying to shift the blame for the breakdown of the summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump in February by raising a “completely irrelevant issue”. He did not elaborate.

“The underlying cause of setback of the DPRK-U.S. summit talks in Hanoi is the arbitrary and dishonest position taken by the United States, insisting on a method which is totally impossible to get through,” the unidentified spokesman said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

“The United States would not be able to move us even an inch with the device it is now weighing in its mind, and the further its mistrust and hostile acts toward the DPRK grow, the fiercer our reaction will be.”

The official was referring to North Korea by the initials of its official name – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The statement was the latest criticism of the United States since the failed summit in Vietnam, where Kim had sought sanctions relief in return for the partial dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear program.

Trump called for a full roadmap for denuclearization including the transfer of bombs to the United States.

Tension has again mounted in recent weeks. The North fired short-range missiles early this month and Washington unveiled the seizure of a North Korean ship suspected of illicit coal shipments in breach of sanctions.

Kim has set a year-end deadline for the United States to show more flexibility, but Trump and other U.S. officials have brushed that aside, calling for Kim to take action on a commitment to denuclearize.

Unless the United States offered a new method of calculation, the stalled nuclear talks would never be restarted, the foreign ministry spokesman said.

“And by extension, the prospect for resolving the nuclear issue will be much gloomier,” the official said.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Source: OANN

Wads of British Pound Sterling banknotes are stacked in piles at the Money Service Austria company's headquarters in Vienna
Wads of British Pound Sterling banknotes are stacked in piles at the Money Service Austria company’s headquarters in Vienna, Austria, November 16, 2017. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

May 24, 2019

By Ritvik Carvalho

LONDON (Reuters) – Sterling has been the focus for global investors rattled by Britain’s planned departure from the European Union, plunging immediately after the vote to leave and then moving wildly ever since on Brexit-related headlines.

Click https://tmsnrt.rs/2WW8QBb for an interactive Reuters graphic on Brexit and the moves in sterling.

   

Investors have largely been positioned for the pound to weaken — adding to those bets as Britain first struggled to agree a withdrawal plan with Brussels, and then as lawmakers in London this year rejected the deal three times.

Recent falls in the pound have been pronounced because investors had cut back on short positions, hoping Prime Minister Theresa May would reach a compromise with the opposition Labour Party over her Brexit deal.

But the failure of those talks, and the prospect of a new eurosceptic prime minister ahead of an Oct. 31 Brexit deadline, has renewed investor jitters that the UK could leave without any agreement to smooth economic disruption.

Such a no-deal Brexit, investors warn, would send sterling reeling to multi-decade lows.

(Graphic by Prasanta Kumar Dutta; Writing by Tommy Reggiori Wilkes; Editing by Catherine Evans)

Source: OANN

Gay newlyweds walk on a giant rainbow flag at a pro same-sex marriage party after registering their marriage in Taipei
Gay newlyweds walk on a giant rainbow flag at a pro same-sex marriage party after registering their marriage in Taipei, Taiwan May 24, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

May 24, 2019

By Yimou Lee

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Same-sex couples tied the knot in emotional scenes in Taiwan on Friday, the first legal marriages in Asia hailed by activists as a social revolution for the region.

Taiwan’s parliament passed a bill last week that endorsed same-sex marriage, although the measure could complicate President Tsai Ing-wen’s bid for re-election next year.

More than 160 same-sex couples married on Friday, according to government data, after years of heated debate over marriage equality that has divided the self-ruled and democratic island.

Twenty couples queued to tie the knot at a marriage registration office in downtown Taipei, where rainbow flags were on display alongside stacks of government-issued, rainbow-themed registration forms.

“I feel very lucky that I can say this out loud to everyone: I am gay and I am getting married,” said Shane Lin, a 31-year-old baker who with his partner were the first couple to register in the Taipei office.

“I am extremely proud of my country Taiwan,” said a tearful Lin.

The euphoria and emotion among the island’s gay community was on display as newly-wed couples walked down a rainbow-colored carpet in a nearby park, watched by families and friends as well as diplomats and reporters.

RIPPLE EFFECT

Chi Chia-wei, an activist who brought a case to Taiwan’s constitutional court that led to a landmark court ruling on same-sex marriage in 2017, congratulated the couples.

“This is the right that we deserved from a long time ago,” he said, draped in a giant rainbow flag that symbolizes the colors of the international gay movement.

“As a beacon in Asia, I hope Taiwan’s democracy and human rights could have a ripple effect on other countries in Asia,” he added.

Supporters also celebrated on social media, sharing posts with the rainbow colors of the gay rights movement.

Friday’s celebration followed a years-long tussle over marriage equality that culminated in the 2017 declaration by the constitutional court giving same-sex couples the right to marry, and setting a deadline of May 24 for legislation.

Marriage equality was backed by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), but the measure could complicate President Tsai’s bid for a second term in elections next year.

Conservative groups that oppose same-sex marriage said the legislation disrespected the people’s will.

Same-sex marriage is not recognized by Hong Kong and neighboring China, which regards Taiwan as a wayward province to be returned to the fold by force, if necessary.

It marks another milestone in Taiwan’s development as one of the region’s more liberal societies, in contrast with China’s strongly autocratic government.

Across the strait, many Chinese congratulated Taiwan’s newlywed same-sex couples on platforms such as Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.

“For once I thought the legalization of same-sex marriage in Taiwan would impact on the Chinese government, making them heed our appeals,” one Weibo user said.

“But then I found the shock actually makes the government more scared, stepping up their crackdown on us.”

(Reporting By Yimou Lee; additional reporting by Lusha Zhang in BEIJING; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Darren Schuettler)

Source: OANN

Spread the love

Wells Fargo and TD Bank have already handed over President Trump’s financial records to the House Financial Services Committee, according to a Wednesday report.

Two sources familiar with the House’s investigation into Trump’s finances told NBC News that Wells Fargo handed the committee thousands of documents and TD Bank also provided multiple documents, joining seven other financial institutions that have complied with the committee’s subpoenas. The committee, chaired by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., wants documents on business the banks conducted with suspected Russian and Eastern European money launderers.

The committee sent subpoenas to the two banks, along with Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of America, and JP Morgan Chase, in April with a May 6 deadline. Other banks have failed to meet the deadline, but the Royal Bank of Canada is in the process of complying.

Wednesday’s news comes the same day a federal judge ruled that Deutsche Bank and Capital One can share Trump’s financial documents with Congress and two days after a federal judge ruled against blocking the committee’s subpoena of Mazars USA, Trump’s accounting firm. Deutsche Bank has lent Trump more than $2 billion over the years, and Trump’s latest financial disclosures indicate he still owes the organization $130 million.

Read More:
https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/wells-fargo-td-bank-have-turned-trumps-financial-records-over-to-house

Image Credit: Anna Moneymaker

Spread the love

Wells Fargo and TD Bank have already handed over President Trump’s financial records to the House Financial Services Committee, according to a Wednesday report.

Two sources familiar with the House’s investigation into Trump’s finances told NBC News that Wells Fargo handed the committee thousands of documents and TD Bank also provided multiple documents, joining seven other financial institutions that have complied with the committee’s subpoenas. The committee, chaired by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., wants documents on business the banks conducted with suspected Russian and Eastern European money launderers.

The committee sent subpoenas to the two banks, along with Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of America, and JP Morgan Chase, in April with a May 6 deadline. Other banks have failed to meet the deadline, but the Royal Bank of Canada is in the process of complying.

Wednesday’s news comes the same day a federal judge ruled that Deutsche Bank and Capital One can share Trump’s financial documents with Congress and two days after a federal judge ruled against blocking the committee’s subpoena of Mazars USA, Trump’s accounting firm. Deutsche Bank has lent Trump more than $2 billion over the years, and Trump’s latest financial disclosures indicate he still owes the organization $130 million.

Read More:
https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/wells-fargo-td-bank-have-turned-trumps-financial-records-over-to-house

Image Credit: Anna Moneymaker

FILE PHOTO - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits Russia
FILE PHOTO – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during their talks in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, Russia, May 14, 2019. Pavel Golovkin/Pool via REUTERS

May 24, 2019

By Arshad Mohammed and Jonathan Landay

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department failed to meet a deadline on Thursday to provide information to three congressional committee chairmen looking into whether an annual arms control report slanted and politicized assessments about Iran, a congressional aide said.

In a May 16 letter, the Democratic chairmen of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs, Armed Services and Intelligence committees asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to provide a State Department briefing and documents no later than Thursday.

The chairmen’s letter cited a Reuters article on April 17 about how the administration’s annual report to Congress on global compliance with international arms control accords provoked a dispute with U.S. intelligence agencies and some State Department officials.

The dissenting officials, sources said, were concerned that the document politicized and skewed assessments against Iran in a bid to lay the groundwork to justify military action.

A U.S. official familiar with the issue and speaking on condition of anonymity said the chairmen were to be invited to a briefing by State Department and other government experts about the report on “adherence to and compliance with arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament agreements and commitments.”

The congressional aide, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said no such communication had been received.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

U.S.-Iranian tensions rose following U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal last year from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and his reimposition of tough economic sanctions. They sharpened earlier this month after Trump tightened sanctions to try to eliminate Iran’s oil exports.

Strains further deepened with Saudi Arabia accusing Iran of ordering armed drone attacks on two oil pumping stations and the May 12 sabotage of four vessels, including two Saudi tankers, off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

U.S. government sources said Washington strongly suspects militias with ties to Tehran were behind those attacks as well as a rocket strike in Baghdad’s Green Zone.

Iran denied involvement in the incidents.

In their May 16 letter to Pompeo, the three chairmen said they were “deeply concerned” the arms control report may have been produced by political appointees “disregarding intelligence or distorting its meaning.”

The State Department, they noted, was legally bound to submit to Congress a “detailed report” on compliance by the United States and other countries with international arms control accords.

Instead, they wrote, this year’s report was only 12 pages long, “contains no meaningful discussion” of U.S. and Russian compliance with such agreements and “consists largely of hypotheticals or opinion.”

Several sources told Reuters that the report made them wonder if the administration was painting Iran in the darkest light possible, much as the George W. Bush administration used bogus and exaggerated intelligence to justify its 2003 invasion of Iraq.

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed and Jonathan Landay; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Source: OANN

Miwa Moriya cries while she speaks during an interview with Reuters at her house in Yokohama
Miwa Moriya cries while she speaks during an interview with Reuters at her house in Yokohama, Japan, April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-hoon

May 23, 2019

By Chang-Ran Kim

TOKYO (Reuters) – Miwa Moriya was 6 when social workers told her she was going to a Christmas party, but instead moved her into a group home for about 60 children in a small city in western Japan.

The “party” turned into more than eight years of living away from her mother, and the beginning of a long battle with loneliness, bullying, and trauma.

She never knew exactly why she was sent to the home – only that the state thought she would be better off there than with her family.

Unlike most developed countries, which place the majority of children who are abused, neglected, or can’t live with their parents for other reasons in foster homes, Japan puts more than 80% of the 38,000 such children in residential-care facilities, according to government figures.

Once there, about one in seven stay for more than a decade, data show – despite UN guidelines that say children should grow up in a family setting.

The government has made the issue a legislative priority after several high-profile child-abuse deaths and a sharp rise in overall abuse cases. Local authorities have been given a deadline of next March to draw up a plan to improve the situation.

Last summer, the Japanese government said it wanted at least three-quarters of preschoolers in need of state care to live in foster homes within seven years, and the number of adoptions to double to at least 1,000 within five.

Hundreds of care facilities were set up after World War Two to shelter orphaned street children, and state care has largely been relegated to them since then. About 600 are operating today.

Such facilities – most of which house 20 or more children – have helped many, but are a poor alternative to a healthy family setting, experts say. A government investigation last month found sexual violence among children was widespread at institutions.

“Everyone here says, ‘Children are important,’ but that’s bogus,” Yasuhisa Shiozaki, an influential lawmaker who has led efforts to improve children’s welfare in recent years, told Reuters. “Children have always taken a back seat to adults’ interests in Japan. That has to change.”

‘NO ESCAPE’

Miwa, now 23, said that when she first got to the institution, called Kobato Gakuen, in Wakayama Prefecture, she cried at night for days, pining for her mother.

But once Miwa realized that crying wasn’t going to bring her home, she gave up and stopped.

“That made the staff think the children had adapted, but that’s a big mistake,” she said.

Some of the staff were nice, she said. But caretakers came and went without warning. Children lived in fear of the bullies and the strict, chastising adults, she said.

“There’s no escape when you live with your adversaries,” Miwa said.

In such scenarios, and without nurturing attention, institutionalized children can develop what specialists call Developmental Trauma Disorder, said Satoru Nishizawa, a clinical psychologist who has worked with children in state care for nearly 40 years.

“The child doesn’t feel protected and safe,” he said. The disorder can hinder self-control, triggering fits of rage over seemingly petty things. “To calm those tendencies, a person might turn to self-injury, and relationships often go haywire.”

SLEEPLESS NIGHTS

Miwa has many of those symptoms. Every so often, she changes her phone number to sever ties with acquaintances, she said, or is driven to smash things around the flat. The scars on her wrist are a reminder of self-harm.

Still, at Kobato, Miwa considered herself lucky. Unlike the others, she eventually started spending weekends and long breaks with her mother. Many kids rarely, if ever, saw their parents.

She said she never knew why she was living at Kobato, and never thought to ask. It was only in the past six months that she started to wonder.

Her mother told her that welfare workers convinced her Miwa would be better off at a group home, noting she had failed to complete paperwork for Miwa to enter primary school.

In February, Miwa requested the release of her casework to learn more. The 276-page file paints a picture of a struggling mother who needed someone to look after Miwa while searching for work or a place to live away from her partners, including Miwa’s father.

The file shows social workers were in no rush to reunite Miwa and her mother. Miwa doesn’t recall a caseworker ever visiting her when she was little – a fact the records corroborate.

It’s a case in point for critics of the system, who argue that child welfare workers are too busy and may lack the training and expertise to make informed decisions for children.

Shiozaki, the lawmaker, is still trying to push through changes that would boost the number of child welfare workers and require state-level certification, but opposition has been fierce, with critics citing a lack of both people and money. 

Miwa’s psychological state also isn’t discussed much in the records until she was a teenager.

In 2008, she began having trouble sleeping at night. Soon after, doctors diagnosed Miwa with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, characterized by delays in socialization skills. A year later, they prescribed Paxil for depression, the files show.

By the time the welfare office sent Miwa back to her mother, she was 15.

Kobato Gakuen and Wakayama prefecture declined to discuss Miwa’s case with Reuters, citing privacy policies.

SOCIAL PATHOLOGY

Government surveys show that when children leave state care and enter the “real world” at age 18, they struggle most with loneliness and financial strife. Only a third enter university, versus 80% of high-school graduates nationwide.

With few options, about a tenth end up in work that provides housing. Many can’t hold down a job; a tenth end up on welfare, and some become homeless.

As social costs mount, Japan has asked local governments to draw up by next March a roadmap to base alternative care around family scenarios. That includes recruiting foster and adoptive parents, and turning large group homes into family-sized units.

“We have the laws and policies in place,” said Shiozaki, who as a cabinet minister helped revise the Child Welfare Law in 2016 to state that children – not just parents – have rights. “Now the problem is implementation, and making sure things actually change.”

Many experienced caretakers say it won’t be easy.

A ten-fold rise in child-abuse cases in the past two decades raises the question of whether Japanese society has what it takes to properly care for its most vulnerable young members, they say.

“Personally, I want to know what took the government so long,” said Norihisa Kuwahara, who heads a group home in western Japan and is chairman of the national council of children’s residential-care facilities.

Kuwahara says he has no objections to family-based care. But as someone who has worked at the same facility for more than 50 years, he said he knows first-hand the difficulty of caring for a growing number of abused children with increasingly complex psychological scars.

“Now, when the family unit has become so fragile and child-rearing so dysfunctional, rushing through these changes is the wrong approach.”

(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Gerry Doyle)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Hockey players from the unified Korean team carry the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics
FILE PHOTO: Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics – Opening ceremony – Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium – Pyeongchang, South Korea – February 9, 2018 – Hockey players from the unified Korean team carry the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo

May 23, 2019

(Reuters) – The organizers of July’s Swimming World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea and the world swimming body FINA have appealed to North Korea to participate in order to promote peace on the peninsula.

Nuclear-armed North Korea’s participation is in doubt after it raised tensions by test-firing rockets and at least one short-range missile this month.

“As president of the organizing committee, I would like to express the hope of 1.5 million citizens from Gwangju,” the city’s mayor, Lee Yong-sup, told reporters on Thursday.

“They’re sincerely expecting North Korea’s participation … North Korea’s presence is crucial for the success of this event as the motto of the competition is ‘Dive into Peace’.

“We would like to emphasize this message to the world. Last February, ministers from the two countries met with the IOC (International Olympic Committee) in Lausanne and this issue was discussed, but so far we have no answer from the North Korean side.”

FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu said correspondence was being exchanged in the hope of securing North Korea’s presence. The registration deadline is June 12.

“This is an ongoing process, and we are confident that over 190 nations will be present in Gwangju,” Marculescu said.

Sports diplomacy has been a prominent feature of the thaw in relations between the Koreas since early 2018, when they fielded a unified women’s ice hockey team at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and marched under a unified flag.

The two countries agreed to field joint teams in various sports in February and have also expressed interest in jointly hosting the 2023 women’s soccer World Cup.

However, the rocket drill brought talks about sports and other inter-Korean exchanges to a halt.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Source: OANN


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