World News March 2019:
By Benjamin Mueller and Palko KaraszLONDON — Hundreds of thousands of protesters marched through London on Saturday afternoon in a last-ditch, long-shot effort to reverse Britain’s looming split from the European Union, calling on lawmakers to heed the enormous anger among pro-Europeans and break the political stalemate by holding a second referendum. The protesters, some of whom traveled for hours on buses and trains, set off from Hyde Park holding placards that nodded at their European roots — “50 percent French, 50 percent British, 100 percent European,” one boy’s sign read — and employed a bit of British understatement — “Brexit really not going well, is it?” read another. The crowd — organizers estimated a million people turned out, though there was no way to independently confirm it — clogged vast stretches of central London, with thousands of people still waiting to begin marching by the time those at the front of the rally were filling Parliament Square. “This is the first time I’ve felt that I needed to come and take part,” said Jenny Chandler, 54, a food writer from Bristol, arriving under the Victorian arches of London’s Paddington Station on Saturday morning. “I’m feeling disempowered and frustrated, and even though it feels slightly futile, I wanted to be here today,” Ms. Chandler said. “It’s our last glimmer of hope to stay in the E.U.” But hanging over the march was the reality that, as frustrated as many Britons have become over the gridlock in Parliament, there remains little appetite among lawmakers for another public vote. And as much as anti-Brexit organizers have tried to cast their movement as inclusive of the people who voted to leave the Europe Union in a referendum 2016, the idea of a second referendum is still divisive. Still, marchers on Saturday said they were reaching for a way out of the bleak political landscape in Parliament. Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal has repeatedly been rejected, including by her putative allies, and the prospect of a calamitous no-deal Brexit is looming.
New Zealand’s response to the mosque attacks is a strong rebuke of the alleged shooter’s divisive ideology.By Jennifer Williams“New Zealand mourns with you. We are one.” Those are the powerful words New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told the crowd of thousands of mourners who had gathered Friday for a Muslim prayer service in front of the Al Noor Mosque — one of two mosques where a gunman who espoused white nationalist views killed 50 worshippers last week. It’s the same sentiment Ardern expressed in her very first public statement during the chaotic moments immediately after the attacks, when she declared: “Many of those affected may be migrants, may be refugees. ... They are us. ... The perpetrator is not.” It’s also a sentiment that has been echoed by thousands of New Zealanders from all walks of life in the week since the atrocity. And it’s a sentiment that represents a stunningly powerful rebuke of the alleged shooter’s ideology of division and hate. New Zealanders have united to support and embrace their Muslim neighbors. “According to the Prophet Muhammad … the believers in their mutual kindness, compassion, and sympathy are just like one body,” said the prime minister, who was dressed in a black headscarf, at the huge gathering in Christchurch’s Hagley Park on Friday. “When any part of the body suffers, the whole body feels pain,” she continued. “New Zealand mourns with you; we are one.” Thousands of other non-Muslim women, from police officers to TV news presenters to everyday citizens, followed Ardern’s lead by wearing headscarves Friday at the memorial. They also donned headscarves at similar events at mosques around the country, out of respect for and in solidarity with the Muslim community. The Muslim call to prayer, or adhan, was also broadcast on national radio and television across New Zealand at the beginning of the memorial service, followed by a two-minute moment of silence. And around the country, New Zealanders came out to perform the traditional Maori ceremonial dance known as the “haka” to honor the victims of the shooting. Maori are indigenous to New Zealand, and their culture and traditions are a big part of that country’s national culture and identity. Numerous hakas, many of them impromptu, have taken place around the country in the week since the attacks — performed by everyone from students to leather-clad bikers.
By Ben Wedeman and Lauren Said-Moorhouse, CNNEastern Syria (CNN) ISIS has lost its final stronghold in Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces announced Saturday, bringing an end to the so-called caliphate declared by the terrorist group in 2014. The coalition of Kurdish and Arab soldiers backed by US, British and French special forces said it defeated ISIS and fully liberated Baghouz in eastern Syria. "Syrian Democratic Forces declare total elimination of so-called caliphate and 100% territorial defeat of ISIS. On this unique day, we commemorate thousands of martyrs whose efforts made the victory possible," tweeted Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF press office. Ending weeks of combat, the US-backed Syrian forces raised a yellow flag atop a building in the town as they celebrated the victory over ISIS. At its peak, ISIS controlled a huge stretch of territory stretching from western Syria to the outskirts of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. But the final battle took place in the past several weeks around the small and otherwise unremarkable Syrian town of Baghouz, on the banks of the Euphrates River. The SDF launched the last assault on the ISIS enclave in early February. For weeks, US-led coalition airstrikes had pummeled parts of the town while fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) pushed forward on the ground. The final battle played out on a hillside near Baghouz. On Saturday morning, inside what was the group's final enclave, all that remained was a junkyard of wrecked cars, tattered tents, ditches and dead bodies. Before the offensive started, SDF officials estimated that 1,500 civilians and 500 ISIS fighters remained, but as the assault got under way it became clear that the actual number was much higher. The final phase of the battle was delayed to allow thousands more civilians -- along with foreign ISIS supporters -- out of of the besieged town. The militants who mounted the last stand in Baghouz included some of the most battle-hardened and experienced personnel remaining in ISIS, and the wives and children of the fighters were used as human shields. SDF commanders told CNN that its fighters had faced fierce resistance from the terror group, which slowed the offensive with snipers, improvised explosive devices improvised and heat-seeking missiles. The militants had also dug a network of underground tunnels that allowed them to move from house to house undetected.
By Daniella CheslowThe Trump administration has backed Israel's claim to sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The move comes weeks before Israeli general elections and reverses the position U.S. administrations have held for decades. President Trump made the announcement via tweet Thursday. "After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!" the president wrote. After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 21, 2019. Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in a 1967 war and annexed the territory, a move not recognized by the U.S. or the international community. For years, the U.S. has tried to broker a regional agreement that would involve Israel exchanging captured territory for peace. Under the Trump administration, the U.S. has repeatedly endorsed controversial Israeli positions. In early March the U.S. closed its Jerusalem Consulate, which has been the lead diplomatic mission to the Palestinians, NPR's Daniel Estrin reported. It folded that job into the U.S. embassy to Israel. Last year the U.S. moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and backed Israel's assertion that the city is its capital. Palestinians claim part of the city as the capital of their future state. Previously, the U.S. held that the status of the city would be determined in peace talks. After the U.S. moved the embassy, Palestinian leaders cut contacts with the Trump administration. Washington has also shut off most funding to the Palestinians, leaving unfinished school and sewage projects in the West Bank.
By Stephen Castle and Steven ErlangerBRUSSELS — European Union leaders on Thursday agreed to extend the deadline for Britain’s looming exit from the bloc in order to give Prime Minister Theresa May and the British Parliament more time to get their act together. Thursday’s agreement effectively averted the possibility of a disorderly and possibly chaotic departure by Britain on March 29. Yet that still remains a possibility just a few weeks later. After hours of difficult and sometimes passionate talks, the leaders decided that Britain’s exit date will be pushed back to May 22 if next week Mrs. May can persuade lawmakers in Parliament to accept her plan for leaving the bloc, which they have already rejected overwhelmingly, not once but twice. If she cannot persuade lawmakers to accept her plan, Mrs. May will get a shorter delay in exiting the European Union — until April 12. But Britain could stay in the bloc longer if it decides it needs more time for a more fundamental rethink of Brexit, as the process is known. For a longer extension, though, it would have to take part in elections to the European Parliament in May — something Mrs. May said early Friday would be an absurdity, three years after Britons voted in a referendum to leave the bloc. Speaking at a news conference after the extended deadlines were announced, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said that until April 12, “all options will remain open and the cliff-edge date will be delayed.” But he added that if there was no agreement in Parliament, and Britain had not indicated by April 12 that it was willing to take part in the European elections, “the option of a long extension will automatically become impossible.” The European leaders wanted to make sure that next week does not result in a crashing out of Britain, which neither side wants, and they wanted to settle the extension issue now, without having to come back again for another urgent meeting so close to March 29. The leaders also made it clear that it is for Britain to make serious choices, and soon, and that failure should not be laid at the door of Brussels. Thursday’s decision on extending the deadline was made by the leaders of 27 nations of the European Union, without Mrs. May. But she was consulted throughout, Mr. Tusk said, and agreed to the decision.
By Charles Riley and Ivana Kottasová, CNN BusinessLondon (CNN Business)Banks and other financial companies are shifting more assets and jobs out of the United Kingdom as the country lurches towards Brexit. Financial services companies in Britain have announced plans to move £1 trillion ($1.3 trillion) into the European Union, according to consultancy EY. That's up from an earlier estimate of £800 billion ($1.1 trillion). Many banks have set up new offices in Germany, France, Ireland and other EU countries to safeguard their regional business after Brexit. That means they also have to move substantial assets there to satisfy EU regulators. Other companies are moving assets to protect their clients against the wild market swings and sudden changes in regulation that could accompany the rupture between Britain and its biggest trading partner. The financial services industry accounts for roughly 12% of the UK economy, and employs 2.2 million people. EY has tracked 222 of the biggest financial services companies in the United Kingdom since the Brexit referendum in June 2016. It said there has been a "steady increase" in the number of companies announcing that they are moving employees, operations and assets in preparation for Brexit.Lost tax revenueThe number of jobs that will be relocated out of the United Kingdom in the near future stands at 7,000, according to EY. It estimates that will cost Britain at least £600 million ($794 million) in lost taxes. EY said its estimate of assets moving to Europe was "conservative." But it roughly matches the expectations of the European Central Bank. Andrea Enria, head of banking regulation at the ECB, told the Financial Times last week that the central bank expects about €1.2 trillion ($1.4 billion) of assets to be moved from Britain to the 19 EU countries that use the euro currency. The ultimate scale of the exodus is likely to depend on the terms of the divorce and when it occurs. Britain is due to leave the European Union in just nine days, but Prime Minister Theresa May has failed to win support in the UK parliament for the divorce deal she struck with the rest of the European Union. Full Story
The death toll in Mozambique from Cyclone Idai could reach 1,000, President Filipe Nyusi has said. It made landfall close to the port city of Beira on Thursday with winds of up to 177 km/h (106 mph), but aid teams only reached the city on Sunday. The official death toll stands at 84 following flooding and high winds, which have destroyed homes and ripped roofs from concrete buildings. The cyclone has killed at least 180 people across southern Africa. On a visit to Beira, President Nyusi said that its impact had been devastating, adding that he had seen bodies floating in the floodwater. Earlier, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Society (IFRC) described it as "massive and horrifying". People have had to be rescued from trees, head of the IFRC assessment team, Jamie LeSeur, told the BBC. In neighbouring Zimbabwe, 98 people have died and 217 people are missing in the east and south, the government says. This includes two pupils from the St Charles Lwanga boarding school in the district of Chimanimani, who died after their dormitory was hit when rocks swept down a mountain. Malawi has also been badly hit. The flooding there, caused by the rains before the cyclone made landfall, led to at least 122 deaths, Reliefweb reports.Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law Monday that imposes strict fines for publishing “fake news” and online comments that show “blatant disrespect” for the state, Reuters reports. Individuals who disseminate information that officials determine to be false will be forced to pay up to $6,100 if the information sparks a “mass violation of public order.” If the information shows “blatant disrespect“ for Russia, the Kremlin, the public, or the flag, individuals can be fined up to $1,525—and can be jailed on repeat offenses. The law also allows officials to block websites that refuse to remove allegedly false information. Opponents of the law fear that it opens the door for state censorship; advocates say that it’s necessary to stem misinformation and online abuse.By William Booth and Karla AdamLONDON — The speaker of Britain’s House of Commons, famous for his erudite put-downs and booming calls for “Order!” in Parliament, threw Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to attempt to pass her Brexit deal again — on a third try, probably this week — into doubt Monday. John Bercow said he would not allow the government to present May’s European Union withdrawal agreement to the House again unless that deal was “substantially” different from the first two times it was voted down. The ruling, which overturned May’s strategy to revive her Brexit deal at the 11th hour, appeared to blindside 10 Downing Street. “The speaker did not forewarn us of the content of his statement or the fact that he was making one,” May’s spokeswoman, who by custom is not identified by name, told reporters. Bercow’s ruling stoked further uncertainty about a process that has already been widely condemned as chaotic — and left stunned lawmakers wondering aloud what comes next. Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union on March 29. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt had told the BBC Monday morning that the government was hopeful there would be a third “meaningful vote” Tuesday on Brexit. Robert Buckland, the government’s solicitor general, said Bercow’s announcement could have “huge reverberations” for the Brexit process. “We are in a major constitutional crisis here,” he told the BBC. He suggested one way around the ruling would be to end the parliamentary session, start a new session and then hold a vote on May’s Brexit deal. “We are now talking about not just days but hours to the 29th of March. Frankly, we could have done without this,” he said. May suffered humiliating defeat in the two earlier votes.Trump’s Breitbart Biker Threat Came From the Putin Playbook—Then Tweet Deleted After Mosque MassacreTrump told Breitbart there could be biker violence against leftists. Sounded even worse after New Zealand mosque massacre manifesto called him "a symbol of renewed white identity."By Anna NemtsovaMOSCOW—They call themselves The Night Wolves, “a new kind of motorcycle club,” or, sometimes, “Putin’s Angels.” And just as much as the Orthodox Church or the military, the Wolves have become a symbol of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. But the idea that they might be used as his extra-legal enforcers in times of trouble is usually implicit—embedded in their flag-waving Putinized patriotism—never really spelled out. U.S. President Donald Trump is not so subtle, however, especially when he takes his cues from the Kremlin. Leave it to him to put the potential for violent defense of his interests by a motorcycle gang front and center in the public view. “I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump—I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough—until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad,” he told Breitbart on Monday in an interview published Wednesday. On Thursday, as the remark was drawing wide and largely unfavorable attention, he tweeted a link to the Breitbart home page. On Friday morning, as news broke of the massacre at mosques in New Zealand allegedly carried out by a right-wing extremist whose sometimes ironic manifesto called Trump “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose,” the Breitbart tweet came down. Trump, you will recall, learned his special brand of politics from the promoters and crowds at pro wrestling events, where violence in the ring is staged, but that’s not always true in the stands. So he’s not likely to give up on the tough-guy iconography offered by bikers, or the way it can be used to incite others. And Russia remains a great example for him. Here, the Night Wolves are familiar figures, and have been since the 1990s. Their tall, burly, bearded leader Alexander Zaldastanov, nicknamed Khirurg (surgeon), often hugs Putin on camera, usually being careful not to make him look too short. (On bikes they look the same height.)Associated PressSYDNEY (AP) — The gunman behind at least one of the mosque shootings in New Zealand that left 49 people dead on Friday tried to make a few things clear in the manifesto he left behind: He is a 28-year-old Australian white nationalist who hates immigrants. He was angry about attacks in Europe that were perpetrated by Muslims. He wanted revenge, and he wanted to create fear. He also, quite clearly, wanted attention. Though he claimed not to covet fame, the gunman — whose name was not immediately released by police — left behind a 74-page document posted on social media under the name Brenton Tarrant in which he said he hoped to survive the attack to better spread his views in the media. He also livestreamed to the world in graphic detail his assault on the worshippers at Christchurch’s Al Noor Mosque. That rampage killed at least 41 people, while an attack on a second mosque in the city not long after killed several more. Police did not say whether the same person was responsible for both shootings.By Choe Sang-HunNorth Korea threatened on Friday to suspend negotiations with the Trump administration over the North’s nuclear arms program and said its leader, Kim Jong-un, would soon decide whether to resume nuclear and missile tests. Addressing diplomats and foreign correspondents at a news conference in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui said that personal relations between Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump were “still good and the chemistry is mysteriously wonderful.” But she said that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and John Bolton, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, had created an “atmosphere of hostility and mistrust” that thwarted the top leaders’ negotiations in Hanoi, Vietnam, last month. After the Hanoi meeting ended without a deal, the North Korean leader had serious doubts about the merits of continuing negotiations with Mr. Trump, Ms. Choe said. “We have neither the intention to compromise with the U.S. in any form nor much less the desire or plan to conduct this kind of negotiation,” said Ms. Choe, according a report from Pyongyang by The Associated Press, which has a bureau there. She also said the North might end its self-imposed moratorium on tests of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.By Sherisse Pham, CNN BusinessHong Kong (CNN Business) Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are struggling to halt the spread of horrific footage that appears to show a massacre at a mosque in New Zealand as it was taking place. Dozens of people were killed Friday in shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch. One of the shooters appears to have livestreamed the attack on Facebook (FB). The disturbing video, which has not been verified by CNN, purportedly shows a gunman walking into a mosque and opening fire. "New Zealand Police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the livestream commenced and we quickly removed both the shooter's Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video," Mia Garlick, Facebook's director of policy for Australia and New Zealand, said in a statement.What we knowHours after the attack, however, copies of the gruesome video continued to appear on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, raising new questions about the companies' ability to manage harmful content on their platforms. Facebook is "removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we're aware," Garlick said. Twitter (TWTR) said it suspended an account related to the shooting and is working to remove the video from its platform. YouTube, which is owned by Google (GOOGL), removes "shocking, violent and graphic content" as soon as it is made aware of it, according to a Google spokesperson. New Zealand police asked social media users to stop sharing the purported shooting footage and said they were seeking to have it taken down. CNN is choosing not to publish additional information regarding the video until more details are available.By Laura Kuenssberg Political editorMore than 80 times Theresa May vowed we would leave the European Union at the end of this month. As the days, then weeks, then months passed with first delays in reaching a deal, and then MPs rejecting it twice, slowly, but surely, that date became less and less realistic. But it was disquiet in Parliament that forced her to relinquish it publicly. Now, it is still technically possible that we could leave at the end of this month - the law has not changed. But politically it is now almost entirely out of reach. The prime minister is accepting she will miss one of the biggest targets she has ever set herself. Tonight's vote is awkward for another reason, as it again displays the Conservatives' fundamental divisions. This is more than a quarrel among friends, but a party that is split down the middle on one of the most vital questions this administration has posed, with cabinet ministers, as well as backbench Brexiteers, lining up to disagree with Theresa May.By Tara John, CNNLondon (CNN) UK lawmakers have voted in favor of delaying the Brexit process, acknowledging that more time is needed to break the deadlock over Britain's departure from the EU. But they decisively rejected a call for a second referendum. Prime Minister Theresa May will now ask European leaders to grant an extension to Article 50, the legal process under which Britain is leaving the European Union. Unless a delay is approved by all 27 remaining EU leaders, Britain is heading for a chaotic exit on March 29. May had reluctantly agreed to support a delay, after the House of Commons overwhelmingly rejected her imperiled withdrawal deal earlier this week. However, her offer is conditional on Parliament approving her plan when she puts it before MPs for a third time next week. She faces a monumental effort to turn around the huge opposition to the deal within her own party. MPs approved her plan to postpone Brexit by 412 votes to 202. But in a sign of the divisions that continue to plague her Conservative Party, eight Cabinet ministers and 188 of her MPs -- more than half her parliamentary bloc -- voted against it. Minutes after wrapping up the debate for the government, in which he urged Parliament to support the delay, her Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay did exactly the opposite. It was a striking act of defiance by the Cabinet minister responsible for delivering the Prime Minister's Brexit strategy. In a rare moment of victory for Britain's embattled leader, May saw off a proposal for Parliament to take greater control of the Brexit process. A plan for MPs to seize control of parliamentary business next week, in order to vote on alternative Brexit plans, was rejected by two votes. She was also buoyed by an emphatic defeat for supporters of a second Brexit referendum. MPs voted 334 to 85 against a second vote, after the opposition Labour Party told its MPs to abstain.Israeli military attacking 'terror sites' in Gaza, hours after it said two rockets were fired at its cultural capital. Israel launched air strikes on Gaza hours after rockets were fired near Tel Aviv, raising fears of a major escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Explosions were heard in the Gaza Strip early Friday and Palestinian witnesses said Israeli planes bombed Hamas security positions. There was no immediate word of casualties in air strikes that hit four buildings used by Hamas' security forces, which had been evacuated as a precaution. The Israeli military said it was attacking "terror sites" in Gaza, hours after it said two rockets were launched from the enclave at the Tel Aviv area. The air attacks were taking place in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, about 25km south of Gaza City. The rocket fire on Tel Aviv, the first since 2014, marks a significant escalation that raised the likelihood of a harsh Israeli reprisal. The rockets triggered air raid sirens across the city - about 80km north of Gaza - which is Israel's densely populated commercial and cultural capital. Explosions were heard in Tel Aviv and witnesses said Iron Dome interceptor missiles were fired skyward and detonated - although the military said no rockets were shot down. Naftali Bennett, Israeli's security minister, accused Hamas of responsibility. "It's time to defeat Hamas. It's time to act unilaterally and demilitarise Hamas in order to defend Israeli citizens," said Bennett.By Rod NordlandThe airstrikes on Wednesday reportedly happened while American soldiers were patrolling on the outskirts of Tirin Kot, the capital of southern Uruzgan province, near an Afghan National Army base. For the second time in a few days, an Afghan army base was destroyed on Wednesday — but this time by US airstrikes that followed a firefight between the Afghans and Americans, Afghan officials said. A local Afghan official said six soldiers were killed and nine others badly wounded, or nearly all of the 17 soldiers at the base. Qais Mangal, a spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry, confirmed that the airstrikes had taken place, but said he did not have details. The US military did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but a spokesman said officials were looking into the matter. There were no reports of American casualties, although the US military rarely releases details on wounded soldiers.British pound surges the most in nearly two years after UK lawmakers vote to reject a no-deal BrexitBy Yun LiSterling rose on Wednesday after U.K. lawmakers rejected leaving the European Union without a withdrawal agreement. The pound was up 2 percent against the dollar at $1.3339 as investors become more optimistic that a hard Brexit would be ruled out. That’s the biggest move since April 2017. “Our base view — and the currency is telling you this — is we will get some form of resolution,” said KKR’s global head of macro and asset allocation Henry McVey on CNBC’s Closing Bell. “Clearly, there’s been slowing related to Brexit. The way we’re approaching it is this is going to be a slow-growing economy [with] low inflation.” The rejection of a no-deal Brexit, passed with 312 votes to 278, set up another vote Thursday on whether its official departure date should be extended. The result was widely expected as most members of Parliament want to avoid the economic uncertainty and trade disruptions that it could cause.By The New York TimesBritain’s Parliament on Tuesday soundly defeated Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to exit the European Union, a 391 to 242 vote that is likely to delay Brexit and could derail it entirely. It is a devastating blow to Mrs. May that threatens her hold on power. The vote left the nation with no obvious way forward, just 17 days before the deadline for leaving the European Union. Parliament is sharply divided on when, how and even whether to proceed with Brexit, and whether to call an election or a second referendum. Confusion and uncertainty deepen: Parliament’s rebuke to Prime Minister Theresa May, on the issue that has dominated British politics for three years, casts the nation’s political and economic future into confusion with just 17 days left until its scheduled exit from the European Union. The vote is sure to intensify calls for her to either step down, call a general election, or both. Plenty of Conservative lawmakers would like to take her place as party leader and prime minister, but there is no obvious front-runner, and the outcome of a general election is just as unclear. Mrs. May’s plan, painstakingly negotiated with the European Union, would have set the terms for Britain’s scheduled exit on March 29.By DANICA KIRKA Associated PressLONDON — British regulators on Tuesday barred one of Stephen Hawking's former nurses from practicing after finding she failed to provide appropriate care to the late physicist. The Nursing and Midwifery Council struck off Patricia Dowdy, 61, who faced multiple misconduct charges, including financial misconduct, dishonesty, not providing appropriate care, failing to cooperate with the council and not having the correct qualifications. Dowdy worked for Hawking between 1999 and 2004 and again from July 2013 until being handed an interim suspension in March 2016. "The panel has found Mrs. Dowdy failed to provide the standards of good, professional care that we expect and Professor Hawking deserved," said Matthew McClelland of the council. "As a result, Mrs. Dowdy will no longer be able to practice as a nurse." The best-known theoretical physicist of his time, Hawking wrote so plainly about the mysteries of space, time and black holes that his book "A Brief History of Time" became an international best-seller. Though suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, Hawking stunned doctors by living with the normally fatal illness for more than 50 years. A severe attack of pneumonia in 1985 left him breathing through a tube, forcing him to communicate through an electronic voice synthesizer. Hawking died a year ago at the age of 76.The US has told Germany it would curb intelligence sharing with Berlin if it allows Huawei to participate in its 5G mobile network. The warning came in a recent letter from the US ambassador to Germany seen by the Wall Street Journal. The US has been lobbying its allies to boycott Huawei due to national security risks. The firm has pushed back against claims it poses a security threat including suing the US government. US ambassador Richard Grenell said the US would not be able to keep the same level of co-operation with German security agencies if Germany allowed Huawei or other Chinese firms to participate in its next-generation 5G mobile network, the Wall Street Journal reported.By Fabiola Sanchez & Scott SmithCARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The U.S. said late Monday that it is pulling its last remaining diplomats from Venezuela, saying their continued presence at the country’s embassy in Caracas had become a “constraint” on U.S. policy as the Trump administration aggressively looks to oust socialist President Nicolas Maduro. The announcement came from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a tweet shortly before midnight comes as Venezuela struggles to restore electricity following four days of blackouts around the country. The U.S. has led an international effort to replace Maduro with opposition leader Juan Guaido, who vows to hold a new presidential election. Guaido is backed by some 50 countries, while Maduro maintains support from countries such as China, Russia and Cuba. Maduro ordered all U.S. diplomats to leave Venezuela in late January because of its support for Guaido, but he later retreated and allowed them to stay. The U.S. still withdrew the bulk of embassy personnel, leaving a skeletal staff led by career foreign service officer James Story. Pompeo said the remaining diplomats would be out of Venezuela by the end of the week but gave no indication of future policy steps despite past warnings that “all options” — including the use of military force — are on the table for removing Maduro. The move came after another day of chaos as power outages that began Thursday evening continued to cause problems for Venezuelans, leaving them with little power, water and communications. People converged on a polluted river to fill water bottles in Caracas, and scattered protests erupted in several citiesBy John HudsonThe Trump administration has taken a harder-line approach to denuclearizing North Korea since the summit in Vietnam last month, raising doubts about whether the two sides will reach a deal on the centerpiece of President Trump’s foreign policy. In remarks Monday, a top U.S. envoy said the United States would not lift sanctions on North Korea until it completely dismantles its nuclear and ballistic missiles. The United States is also seeking an end to Pyongyang’s chemical and biological weapons, he said. “We are not going to do denuclearization incrementally. The president has been clear on that,” Stephen Biegun, the special U.S. envoy for North Korea, said at a forum hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. Biegun added that there was “complete unity” inside the Trump administration on that approach. North Korea has long insisted that any steps it takes to denuclearize must be met with corresponding measures from the United States, including relief from economic sanctions. The Trump administration’s apparent rejection of that approach has left analysts baffled over where the two sides might find room to negotiate an eventual deal. “If we’re going to stay firm on the maximalist position, it’s hard to see where we go from here because there’s no way Kim is going to accept this,” said Vipin Narang, a North Korea expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.By Joshua KeatingBritain is currently scheduled to leave the European Union in less than three weeks—March 29—and its leaders have waited until the absolute last minute to figure out how that’s going to happen. This may be the week that will determine Britain’s economic future for decades to come—or they’ll just do it all again in a few months. Here’s a look at what’s coming. Prime Minister Theresa May’s office says Parliament will hold another “meaningful” vote on her Brexit deal on Tuesday. But it’s not exactly clear what they’ll be voting on. The deal May negotiated with the EU on the future relationship between Britain and the union was rejected by a record-setting margin in January. The sticking point, then and now, had to do with the border between Northern Ireland the Republic of Ireland, the U.K.’s only land border with Europe. In order to avoid a hard border with customs checks, which could jeopardize hard-won peace in the region, May’s deal included a “backstop” that would keep Britain in customs and regulatory alignment with Europe. This is not a popular idea, since one of the main reasons for leaving the EU is to avoid its regulations.Ethiopian Airlines grounded the rest of its new Boeing 737 Max 8 planes while it investigates Sunday's crash that killed 157 people. Flight 302 to Nairobi, Kenya went down minutes after takeoff from Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa. The victims come from 35 countries, and eight of them are American. Debora Patta reports from Nairobi.By Choe Sang-HunSEOUL, South Korea — North Korea acknowledged for the first time on Friday that the summit meeting last week between its leader, Kim Jong-un, and President Trump ended without an agreement, claiming that people “in and outside” the North were blaming the United States for the breakdown. Until now, North Korea’s state news media had not reported the collapse of the summit meeting, held in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Feb. 27 and 28. The failed summit was considered a big embarrassment for Mr. Kim because he had to return home empty-handed after Mr. Trump rejected his demand for relief from United Nations sanctions. “People in and outside the North had hoped that the second North Korea-United States summit meeting, held in Hanoi, would yield good results,” the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper published by the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, said in a commentary on Friday. “After it unexpectedly ended without an agreement, they are letting out sighs of regret, all arguing that the United States was responsible.” But the commentary also said that “the whole world sincerely hopes that the peace process on the Korean Peninsula will proceed smoothly and the North Korea-United States relations will improve soon.” The North’s recent move to rebuild facilities that it has used to launch satellites into orbit and test missile technologies has raised fears among some analysts that the country might resume missile tests. But since the Hanoi meeting, North Korea has shied away from using harsh language against the United States or Mr. Trump. By only indirectly blaming Washington for the failure and voicing hopes for better ties, Friday’s commentary appeared to signal a willingness to keep diplomacy alive with the United States.By Tim Ross and Robert HuttonU.K. Prime Minister Theresa May warned that Brexit could be delayed, diluted, or even canceled if members of Parliament reject her deal in a crunch vote next week. The prime minister urged euro-skeptics in her own Conservative Party to compromise for the sake of delivering on the result of the 2016 Brexit referendum by backing the divorce agreement she’s brokered with the bloc in a vote on March 12. If these Tories refuse to back down because they want a cleaner break with the EU than her deal allows, they risk achieving the opposite -- an even softer, Norway-style accord, she said. “Back it and the U.K. will leave the European Union. Reject it and no one knows what will happen,” May told an audience in Grimsby, northeast England, on Friday. “We may not leave the EU for many months. We may leave without the protections that the deal provides. We may never leave at all.” Second Vote: May issued her warning just four days before Parliament votes for a second time on whether to accept or reject the separation agreement she’s spent two years negotiating with the EU. In January, the Commons threw out the deal, defeating May by a record 230-vote majority. In the two months since, the premier has been trying to extract changes to the deal to address MPs’ concerns that the so-called Irish border backstop will indefinitely lock Britain into EU trade rules. She faces stubborn opposition from a hard core of pro-Brexit Conservatives who dislike her deal because it keeps Britain tied too closely to the bloc.By Tom O'ConnorA senior Chinese general listed 10 privileges that Beijing would be willing to grant Taiwan should it reunite with the communist mainland government. In an interview with local radio outlet Voice of the Strait, Major General Wang Weixing first laid out five reasons that the people of Taiwan had "lost their right to know the truth" since the nationalist government there formed in the wake of its 1949 loss to revolutionary forces now in control of China,Taiwan News reported. The ruling Chinese Communist Party has always contended that it would eventually reunite with Taiwan, which has rejected even a limited venture to join the two governments. Wang said that the self-ruling island failed to understand the "one country, two systems" proposal because of "first, the long-term anti-communist education of the Taiwanese authorities; second, the bad influence of the separatist ideology of Taiwan independence; third, the unwillingness to reunify and willingly evade and reject any plans for reunification; fourth, some media are misguided; fifth, the dissemination of information about 'one country, two systems' is insufficient to allow the Taiwanese people to understand it." He then explained that there would be twice as many ways in which Taiwan would retain some degree of autonomy should it reconnect with its rival across the disputed strait.By Austin Ramzy and Paul MozurHONG KONG — The Chinese electronics giant Huawei sued the United States government on Wednesday, arguing that it had been unfairly and incorrectly banned as a security threat. The lawsuit will force the government to make its case against the company more public, but it could also leave Huawei vulnerable to deeper scrutiny of its business practices and relationship with the Chinese government. The United States has argued that Huawei poses a risk because its equipment could be used by the Chinese authorities to spy on communications and disrupt telecommunications networks. That position has led major wireless carriers in the United States to avoid Huawei’s equipment. Huawei denies the allegations and says the lawsuit is meant to prove it does not engage in such practices. The company’s plans to file the lawsuit were first reported Monday by The New York Times. “The U.S. Congress has repeatedly failed to produce any evidence to support its restrictions on Huawei products,” Guo Ping, Huawei’s rotating chairman, said in a statement announcing the filing of the lawsuit. “We are compelled to take this legal action as a proper and last resort.” The lawsuit, which was filed in a United States District Court in Plano, Tex., where Huawei has its American headquarters, argues that part of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act is unconstitutional because it singles out Huawei. The act bans government agencies from contracting with Huawei or companies that use the company’s equipment. The suit is part of a legal and public relations offensive that Huawei has recently mounted to push back against spying accusations. The company, China’s biggest maker of telecommunications gear, has been under pressure for months by the United States authorities. In December, Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei’s founder and the chief financial officer of the company, was detained in Canada at the behest of the United States, which is seeking to extradite her. Her father, Ren Zhengfei, the company’s founder, has since rejected the claims against his daughter and said that he would wait to see if President Trump would intervene in the case. Ms. Meng has been in court this week in Vancouver, British Columbia, as part of an extradition hearing. In the meantime, Huawei has battled against many of its customers and nations that have said they would pull back from buying its products. China has also retaliated against Canada by detaining several Canadian citizens. Huawei’s lawsuit argues that by singling out the company, Congress has violated constitutional principles on the separation of powers and also the bill of attainder clause, which prohibits legislation that singles out a person or entity for punishment without trial.By Choe Sang-HunSEOUL, South Korea — North Korea has started rebuilding the facilities it uses to launch satellites into orbit and test engines and other technologies for its intercontinental ballistic missile program, according to American military analysts and South Korean intelligence officials. The revelation comes days after the breakdown of the second summit meeting between the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and President Trump last week in Hanoi, Vietnam. It could be a first sign that North Korea is preparing to end its moratorium on missile tests, which Mr. Trump has claimed as a major diplomatic achievement. North Korea began dismantling the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Tongchang-ri near its northwestern border with China last summer, after Mr. Kim held his first meeting with Mr. Trump in June in Singapore. It partially took down an engine test site, a rocket launchpad and a rail-mounted building used by engineers to assemble launch vehicles and move them to the launchpad. The North did not completely dismantle the facilities, and when Mr. Kim met with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea in September, he offered to destroy them in the presence of American experts. But that offer is now in doubt, after Mr. Kim’s meeting with Mr. Trump in Hanoi ended without an agreement on how to end the North’s nuclear weapons and missile programs. In Hanoi, Mr. Kim asked for the removal of punishing United Nations sanctions in return for the dismantling of its Yongbyon nuclear complex north of Pyongyang, the North’s capital, as well as the Tongchang-ri facilities. Mr. Trump rejected the demand, calling the lifting of sanctions too high a price to pay for partial moves toward denuclearization. Although the Yongbyon complex has been used to produce nuclear bomb fuel, North Korea is believed to have other fuel-making facilities elsewhere, as well as fissile materials, nuclear warheads and missiles that it keeps in secret locations. Analysts have wondered what Mr. Kim’s next move might be after the breakdown of the Hanoi talks. In a New Year’s Day speech, he warned that North Korea would find a “new way” if the United States persisted with sanctions. The news of rebuilding at Tongchang-ri first emerged hours after Mr. Kim returned home on Tuesday from Hanoi. Speaking to lawmakers behind closed doors at South Korea’s National Assembly on Tuesday, officials from its National Intelligence Service indicated that North Korea had been rebuilding the Tongchang-ri facilities even before the Hanoi summit meeting, South Korean news media reported on Wednesday.Satellite imagery suggests that North Korea may be taking steps to reactivate a partially decommissioned long-range rocket test site on the 'country's west coast. Experts say they see evidence that workers are rebuilding at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station. In a matter of days, a rocket-engine test stand and a large transfer structure have been reassembled, according to Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., a senior fellow for imagery analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The structures were taken down over the course of last summer, Bermudez says, and reassembled in a matter of days. "We've seen a remarkably quick rebuilding," he says. News of the apparent activity comes less than a week after a second summit between the U.S. and North Korea ended in stalemate. President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Feb. 27 and 28. But the two sides wrapped up talks early after it became apparent that they were far apart on any deal over North Korea's nuclear program. North Korea wanted sanctions relief in exchange for the dismantlement of a major nuclear weapons research site at Yongbyon. The U.S., meanwhile, insisted that the North must surrender its entire nuclear program in exchange for economic benefits. The Sohae facility, also referred to as Dongchang-ri and Tongchang-ri, is the site from which North Korea attempted satellite launches in 2012 and 2016. It's also the location of a test stand that Pyongyang has used to fire some of its rocket engines on the ground. More recently, Sohae figured prominently in the ongoing talks between North Korea and the United States. Last June, after the first U.S.-North Korea summit, in Singapore, Trump said Kim had given his word that he would close "a major missile-engine testing site." "I got that after we signed the agreement," Trump said at a press conference following his meeting with Kim. "I said, 'Do me a favor. You've got this missile-engine testing site. We know where it is because of the heat.' It's incredible, the equipment we have, to be honest with you. I said, 'Can you close it up?' He's going to close it up." During a summit in September with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Kim followed up with an official announcement that he was closing Sohae. In that announcement, he referred to Sohae as Dongchang-ri. Some analysts suggest the name change might have been an effort to obfuscate that he was offering the same site to the South Koreans that he had offered to Trump three months earlier. Regardless, satellite imagery suggested that North Korea did begin disassembling the site in the summer of 2018. Cranes began pulling down a large building at the site used to transfer rockets from an assembly building to a launchpad. Work also began on taking down heavy steel sections of the engine test stand. But by August, the work had stalled, and little further activity was observed.By Elisha FieldstadtInvestigators said they are "treating the incidents as a linked series." Three packages rigged as improvised explosive devices, one of which ignited, were found Tuesday near two London airports and a rail station. Officers discovered that the three postal bags were small IEDs, which appeared "capable of igniting an initially small fire when opened," according to the Met Police Counter Terrorism Command. Investigators said they are "treating the incidents as a linked series." The Metropolitan Police received the first report of a suspicious package at Heathrow Airport's administrative Compass Centre. Staff at the building had opened the package, and the device ignited and burned a part of the bag, police said. No one was injured but the building was evacuated, according to police. No flights were affected. The second package, which was not opened, was reported from a post room at the Waterloo rail station. The station was evacuated and the package was rendered safe by specialists, according to police. Trains operated normally. The third package, found at City Aviation House near London City Airport, also wasn't opened. The building was evacuated and the package was rendered safe, according to police. Flights were not affected, but Docklands Light Railway services to the airport were briefly interrupted. No arrests have been made, and police encouraged people at travel hubs to be vigilant and report any suspicious packagesBy Euan McKirdy, CNN(CNN) A second high-profile minister has resigned from the cabinet of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, amid a corruption scandal that threatens to destabilize his government ahead of this year's national election. Jane Philpott, who had held several portfolios in Trudeau's cabinet before becoming treasury board president, announced her decision to leave Monday. In a tweet she said had lost confidence in the government's handling of an inquiry into allegations that officials linked to Trudeau had pressured a former minister to help Quebec-based construction company SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution. "The solemn principles at stake are the independence and integrity of our justice system.... Sadly, I have lost confidence in how the government has dealt with this matter and in how it has responded to the issues raised," she said in her resignation letter. "There can be a cost to acting on one's principles, but there is a bigger cost to abandoning them." With her resignation she joins Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former minister of justice and attorney general, and Gerald Butts, Trudeau's former top aide, in stepping down. Wilson-Raybould initially brought the firestorm around Trudeau's government, alleging in testimony to the House Justice Committee in February that she faced "veiled threats" and "sustained" pressure from government officials to intervene in a corruption and fraud case against SNC-Lavalin, one of the world's largest construction and engineering companies. Second cabinet minister to resign. On Monday, Trudeau thanked his former cabinet secretary for her service, and said that the growing scandal had opened a critical window on the country's political institutions. "In a democracy like ours, and in a space where we value our diversity so strongly, we're allowed to have disagreements and debate. We even encourage it," he told a crowd at the Liberal Climate Action Rally in Toronto. "This matter has generated an important discussion -- how democratic institutions, specifically the federal ministry, and the staff and officials who support it, conduct themselves. It is critical and core to all of our principles." The scandal now threatens to engulf Trudeau's Liberal party ahead of elections scheduled to take place before October this year. The leader of the opposition Conservatives, Andrew Scheer, said that Philpott's resignation "clearly demonstrates a government in total chaos led by a disgraced prime minister," according to CNN affiliate CTV, calling on other cabinet ministers to either resign or demand Trudeau step down. "Is this what you got into politics for?" he asked, in a press conference. "If not, it's time for them to stand up and be heard, like Jane Philpott did today." NPD leader Jagmeet Singh also capitalized on Philpott's move as well, tweeting that her resignation "underscores the need for a public inquiry (into the SNC-Lavalin scandal) now more than ever" and "raises serious questions about PM Trudeau's interference... Canadians deserve a government on their side." His party is calling for Trudeau to testify under oath about the SNC-Lavalin scandal, CTV reports.North Korean leader to visit Moscow following the breakdown of talks between his team and the US in Vietnam. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will visit Russia, according to the press secretary of the Russian president who did not share dates or other details of the trip. "Such a visit is indeed on the agenda," said Dmitry Peskov. "We hope that the precise date and venue will be determined via diplomatic channels within the foreseeable future." The announcement came as Kim makes his way back to Pyongyang following talks with US President Donald Trump in Vietnam, where the two sides failed to sign an agreement on denuclearisation or easing of sanctions on North Korea. On Monday, Russian media reports said members of a parliamentary group that deals with Russia's relations with North Korea will visit Pyongyang on April 12.Jerusalem -- The United States has officially shuttered its consulate in Jerusalem, downgrading the status of its main diplomatic mission to the Palestinians by folding it into the U.S. Embassy to Israel. For decades, the consulate functioned as a de facto embassy to the Palestinians. Now, that outreach will be handled by a Palestinian affairs unit, under the command of the embassy. The symbolic shift hands authority over U.S. diplomatic channels with the West Bank and Gaza to Ambassador David Friedman. The Trump bankruptcy-lawyer-turned diplomat has made personal financial contributions to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, notes CBS "Face the Nation" moderator Margaret Brennan, which has led to strong distrust among Palestinians. Consolidating contact with the Palestinians under his control will only add to doubts that the Trump administration will be a fair broker in the long-awaited peace process being brokered by presidential son-in-law and envoy Jared Kushner. The announcement from the State Department came early Monday in Jerusalem, with the "merger" effective the same day. "This decision was driven by our global efforts to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our diplomatic engagements and operations," State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement. "It does not signal a change of U.S. policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip." When first announced by U.S. Secretary Mike Pompeo in October, the move infuriated Palestinians, fueling their suspicions that the U.S. was recognizing Israeli control over east Jerusalem and the West Bank, territories that Palestinians seek for a future state. Palestinian official Saeb Erekat called the move "the final nail in the coffin" for the U.S. role in peacemaking. The downgrade is just the latest in a string of divisive decisions by the Trump administration that have backed Israel and alienated the Palestinians, who say they have lost faith in the U.S. administration's role as arbiter in any peace process. Last year the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and relocated its embassy there, upending U.S. policy toward one of the most explosive issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians in turn cut off most ties with the administration.By Travis Fedschun, Fox NewsA top mafia fugitive dubbed the second most dangerous man in Italy was arrested Saturday after spending 14 years on the run. Marco Di Lauro, 38, was arrested at an apartment in Naples, where he lived with his wife, according to police. Di Lauro, the fourth son of ex-Camorra boss Paolo Di Lauro, was sitting with his two cats and eating pasta when he was taken into custody in an operation that involved around 150 officers, Agence France-Presse reported. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte praised the arrest on Twitter, thanking police for the swift capture. “A great job and an extraordinary team operation,” he said, calling the arrest “another blow to organized crime.” The 38-year-old was wanted over charges that include murder, drug trafficking, arson, armed robbery, racketeering and extortion, according to Europol. The crime-fighting agency told Sky News that Di Lauro had joined a criminal organization that clashed with other mafia groups in 2000, starting the reported “secondigliano feud,” which resulted in several killings. Naples police chief Antonio De Lesu told reporters at a press conference that “unusual activity” had led police to the fugitive. Di Lauro was considered the second most dangerous man in Italy, after Sicilian Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro, according to Italian media.By Matthew S. Schwartz(NPR) The U.S. State Department is offering a reward of $1 million for information leading to the location of Hamza bin Laden, the son of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden. The government says Hamza bin Laden "is emerging as a leader" of al-Qaida, posting videos on the Internet calling for attacks on the U.S. and its western allies. He is particularly interested in exacting "revenge" against the U.S. for its 2011 killing of his father, the State Department says. The U.S. added the young bin Laden to its terror blacklist in 2017 and froze his assets in the U.S., finding that he was "actively engaged in terrorism." According to the State Department, Hamza bin Laden is in his early thirties and married to the daughter of Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker in the Sept. 11 terror attacks against the World Trade Center. Letters seized from Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, "indicate that he was grooming Hamza to replace him as leader of al-Qa'ida," the State Department said. "He could be anywhere," said Michael Evanoff, an assistant secretary for diplomatic security at the State Department, according to USA Today. Evanoff said Hamza bin Laden is likely hiding somewhere around the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. On Thursday, the United Nations Security Counsel added Hamza bin Laden to its sanctions list. That means he's subject to an assets freeze and travel ban. Hamza "has called for followers of Al-Qaida to commit terror attacks" and "is seen as the most probable successor of [Ayman] al-Zawahiri," the U.N. said. Al-Zawahiri became the leader of al-Qaida after the death of Osama bin Laden.By Yolande Knell BBC News, JerusalemBenjamin Netanyahu - currently seeking to be elected for a fifth term as Israel's prime minister - has known many challenging times in politics, but none quite like this. The attorney general has confirmed that he plans to bring serious criminal charges against him - bribery, fraud and breach of trust - pending a hearing. These could carry jail terms if he is convicted. He stands accused of doing favours for wealthy friends in return for a "supply line" of pink champagne and expensive cigars and for getting positive media coverage. On top of that, he is facing his most formidable political rival in years: a former chief of the armed forces, Benny Gantz, who leads the new centrist Blue and White party and has promised clean governance. It is currently polling higher than the prime minister's Likud party. In a televised statement on Thursday night, Mr Netanyahu came out on the counter-attack. He strongly denied any wrongdoing, accusing the attorney general - whom he appointed - of capitulating to the left and saying he was the victim of "an unprecedented witch hunt" to topple his right-wing government. 'Battle of survival' "He's very much under pressure, he's very much acting impulsively," says Anshel Pfeffer, a Haaretz journalist who wrote a recent biography of the prime minister. "The more these indictments create problems for him and the more the challenges on the political scene with a new party, like the Gantz party - and with rivals within Likud perhaps starting to speak out against him - we'll see less the statesman and more the local politician fighting a very dirty battle of survival." Mr Netanyahu - who flew back early from a meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow as the attorney general's decision was about to be announced - misses no chance to stress his undoubted achievements on the world stage. Recently, huge billboards were put up in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem showing the prime minister with President Trump, beaming and shaking hands. "Netanyahu: a different league" read the slogan. The prime minister aims to show how his close relations with this White House have helped deliver a tough approach on Iran and the Palestinians as well as US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. This angered Palestinians who claim the east of the city as the capital of their future state.By Michael SchwirtzCalling it a “mere pretext” for sinister intent, Russia vetoed an American resolution in the United Nations Security Council on Thursday for new elections and unhindered distribution of humanitarian aid in Venezuela. It was the latest clash in a Cold War-style quarrel playing out amid the chaos unfolding in Venezuela, once Latin America’s most prosperous country. From the outset, there was little hope the American measure would surmount opposition from Russia, which proposed a rival resolution that was roundly rejected by the Security Council. China, another permanent member of the council, also opposed the American resolution. The Kremlin has aligned closely with President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela even as the United States and about 50 other countries, many of them in Latin America and Europe, have renounced relations with him. They have accused Mr. Maduro’s government of grossly mismanaging the country and driving the economy to the brink of collapse, causing a humanitarian catastrophe that has forced more than 3.4 million to flee. These countries have thrown their support behind Juan Guaidó, the 35-year-old leader of the opposition in Venezuela’s National Assembly, who declared himself president last month. On Thursday he arrived in Brazil for talks with that country’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, a harsh Maduro critic.
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