IT40 News for 12/02/2018

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#1 China, U.S. declare 90-day halt to new tariffs: White House

By Michael Martina and Roberta Rampton

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - China and the United States agreed to halt additional tariffs in a deal that keeps their trade war from escalating as the two sides try again to bridge their differences with fresh talks aimed at reaching an agreement within 90 days.

The White House said on Saturday that President Donald Trump told Chinese President Xi Jinping during high-stakes talks in Argentina that he would not boost tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25 percent on Jan. 1 as previously announced.

Beijing for its part agreed to buy an unspecified but "very substantial" amount of agricultural, energy, industrial and other products, the White House said in a statement.

The two sides would also launch new trade talks to address issues including technology transfer, intellectual property, non-tariff barriers, cyber theft and agriculture, it said.

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#2 U.S.Massive Earthquake Hits Alaska, Continues To Deliver AftershocksParis police say 133 injured, 412 arrested during France’s worst urban riot in yearsBush to lie in state in US Capitol from Monday eveningTrump says next meeting with North Korea’s Kim likely in early 2019From Bush to Clinton, a grace note for the agesNeil deGrasse Tyson Sexual Misconduct Claims Being Investigated by Fox, ‘Cosmos’ Producers

Residents of Anchorage, Alaska, are assessing the damage from a massive earthquake that struck Friday morning and are breathing a sigh of relief after officials canceled tsunami warnings.

Measured as a magnitude 7.0 quake by the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake hit at 8:29 a.m. local time, with the epicenter just 10 miles from the city of nearly 300,000 residents. Residents of Fairbanks, a city of about 30,000 more than 350 miles away, reported feeling shaking there too.

The Anchorage Police Department said in a statement that there is “major infrastructure damage” throughout the city, but officials have yet to release any estimates of damage, injuries or fatalities.

“We are using the Alaska State Troopers aviation assets for damage assessment,” Police Chief Justin Doll said. “We are evaluating the damage. We’ve been in communication with the Alaska National Guard, moving emergency response personnel to areas we can’t get to, if necessary.”

People have begun to share photos and videos of destruction on social media. An image from the KTVA newsroom, the CBS affiliate station in Anchorage, shows collapsed tables and computers and TVs dangling from their mounts. All local TV stations were reportedly knocked off the air.

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#3 PoliticsCohen is a ‘serial liar,’ says former Trump aide LewandowskiEx-lawyer says he told Trump about Kremlin contact: court filingTrevor Noah: Donald Trump First POTUS Candidate To Run “While Working Side Hustle”

Former Trump presidential campaign manager Corey Lewandowski called the president’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, a “serial liar” who had “nothing to do with the campaign,” a description contradicted by multiple sources who have described Cohen playing a central role in the kickoff of Trump’s presidential bid and related events.

Lewandowki’s account, in an interview with the Yahoo News “Skullduggery” podcast, came a few hours after Cohen pleaded guilty on Thursday to lying about his aggressive pursuit of approval from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s office for a giant Trump World Tower in the Russian capital.

“Michael Cohen had never had a role in the campaign” and “had nothing to do with the campaign,” Lewandowski insisted. “He had no authority in the campaign. He had no campaign email. … He’s now admitted he lied to Congress … and he’s going to jail. Maybe he’ll share a cell with Paul [Manafort]. Maybe he and Roger [Stone] will all put the band together.”

Manafort was chairman of Trump’s campaign during the summer of 2016 and had been cooperating with the investigation of Russian interference in the election until special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors accused him of lying to them and called off the deal. Stone has been a friend and informal adviser to Trump and also figures in the special counsel’s investigation.

Lewandowski also denied that he was the “senior campaign official” mentioned in Cohen’s guilty plea whom the lawyer spoke to about the possibility of going to Russia to promote the Moscow project. “I don’t know who Michael Cohen spoke to,” Lewandowski said.  “I knew nothing about it.”

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#4 PoliticsMueller’s Russia investigation picks up steam, and so do Trump’s tweetsEx-lawyer says he told Trump about Kremlin contact: court filingTrevor Noah: Donald Trump First POTUS Candidate To Run “While Working Side Hustle”

Key developments in the special counsel’s investigation of possible collusion between Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Russian government were very much on the president’s mind this week.

While past presidents often strove to keep their emotions hidden from the public, Trump’s rising irritation was chronicled in his Twitter feed. Posting more than a dozen times on the subject of Robert Mueller’s methodical inquiry since Monday, Trump made his outrage plain.

The week began with the news that Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, had breached his plea agreement with Mueller. According to the special counsel, Manafort repeatedly lied to Mueller’s team after entering into an agreement in September to cooperate, in exchange for a lighter sentence for his convictions on financial fraud and related charges.

Trump, however, started his day responding to a comment made over the weekend by law professor Alan Dershowitz, who told ABC News’ “This Week” that Mueller’s final report “is going to be devastating to the president.” The president did his best to reframe the coming report, questioning why Mueller’s team had not interviewed staffers who were not implicated in contacts with Russia.

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#5 NewsA high-five from Putin and that awkward photograph – Saudi prince’s G20 summit

By Cassandra Garrison

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin walked up to Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at a summit of G20 world leaders, high-fived him and then shook his hand heartily. Moments earlier the prince had been pictured on the far edge of the traditional "family portrait" photograph, ignored by other leaders.

The two moments captured the dilemma facing world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires this weekend: How to deal with the crown prince, who is dogged by controversy over the murder of a Saudi journalist but is also de facto leader of a rich, oil-producing kingdom that is a major global investor.

To be sure Putin's exuberant greeting of the prince was seen as over the top and promptly went viral. But, while leaders appeared to ignore Prince Mohammed on stage during the "family photo," many went on to have closed-door bilateral meetings with him during the two-day summit.

The Saudi government media office, in a statement responding to an earlier Reuters story about Prince Mohammed being sidelined in the photo, said he was standing "in the same proximity to the center of the group" as in a similar photo at the G20 summit in China two years ago.

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#6 NewsFrance’s Macron learns the hard way: green taxes carry political risksNewsFrance’s Macron learns the hard way: green taxes carry political risksNewsKremlin hopes Putin and Trump can hold talks before June next year

By Bate Felix

PARIS (Reuters) - When Emmanuel Macron rose to power, he put the environment at the heart of his agenda. Eighteen months later, anger over those policies has stoked protests that are a huge challenge for the French president. 

Rioters torched cars and buildings in central Paris on Saturday following two weeks of protests caused partly by higher fuel taxes which Macron says are needed to fight climate change. Some protesters called for him to resign.

Macron's plight illustrates a conundrum: How do political leaders' introduce policies that will do long-term good for the environment without inflicting extra costs on voters that may damage their chances of re-election?

It is a question facing leaders across the world as delegates hold talks in the Polish city of Katowice this week to try to produce a "rule book" to flesh out details of the 2015 Paris Agreement on fighting climate change.

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#7 NewsReaders write: Dangers of plastic pollution, possible solution in charcoal, walk through little-seen aspects of Africa, and race against timeNewsKremlin hopes Putin and Trump can hold talks before June next yearNewsRemembering George H.W. Bush, a calm hand at the tiller in a turbulent time

Dangers of plastic pollution

It is always startling to read articles like the Oct. 22 Points of Progress article, “Growing activism fights plastic trash.” While we know ostensibly that the plastic pollution in our oceans is a problem that needs to be addressed now, it is jarring to read statistics like “Nearly 8 million tons of plastic entered the oceans in 2010” and then to see that this number is actually expected to double by the end of the decade. It is hard to comprehend such massive numbers – 8 million tons is 16 billion pounds, which makes the aforementioned beachcombers’ haul seem trivial. 

But that doesn’t mean we should give up. There in an admirable willpower in those people who are willing to work to clean up a mess they didn’t make alone, and it does have a positive outcome. 

Recommended: Readers Respond Readers write: Violence on the left and the right

New legislation and technology are emerging to counter the problem. We have the power to halt plastic pollution and maybe even begin undoing the damage. With widespread education on plastic waste management and access to these evolutions of technology, change can be achieved.

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#8 NewsWith new president’s inauguration, leftist leadership comes back to MexicoNewsGlobal Newsstand: The unseen costs of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and moreNewsWith new president’s inauguration, leftist leadership comes back to Mexico

Mexico has a long history of ties with the global political and intellectual left, from taking in exiled leftist politicians like Leon Trotsky to cozying up to Cuba during the cold war, or even dating back to its famous 1910 Revolution that overthrew dictator Porfirio Díaz.

Yet, despite these instances that suggest Mexico as a bastion for leftist, revolutionary ideals in the region, it hasn’t had a leftist leader of its own for nearly eight decades.

This weekend, surrounded by world leaders including Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro, that’s poised to change. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, popularly known as AMLO, will be inaugurated as Mexico’s 58th president and its first leftist leader since 1940. He campaigned on promises to end corruption and stamp out inequality, and has pledged that his sexenio, or six-year term, will go down in history as the newest Mexican revolution, creating an entirely new political and social landscape here.

Recommended: As caravan wends its way north, Mexico walks a fine line

Latin America rode a wave of leftist leadership, focused on broad social-welfare spending and policies that emphasized equality and opportunities for minorities, for most of the 21st century so far. Yet, this so-called “Pink Tide” never reached Mexican shores. Now, the regional trend is shifting to the right, with conservative and right-wing leadership taking power from Brazil to Peru to Argentina.

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#9 NewsU.N. condemns spate of ‘brutal’ sexual attacks in South SudanNewsArgentinian woman leaves Syria after two year ‘kidnap’ ordealNewsMacron tours damaged Arc de Triomphe after Paris hit by riot

JUBA (Reuters) - The United Nations condemned on Sunday a wave of "brutal" sexual attacks on women and girls in the northern town of Bentiu in South Sudan which took place in what it described as a government controlled area of the region.

On Friday, the aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said that unknown gunmen have raped 125 women during a 10-day spree of violence in Bentiu, but local officials disputed the report.

South Sudan has suffered a wrenching five-year civil war and, despite a fragile peace accord signed two months ago by the government and rebel groups, remains riven with ethnic grievances and awash with weapons. Civilians from rival groups bear the brunt of the violence and cycle of revenge.

The U.N. mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said approximately 125 women and girls have sought medical treatment after having been raped or sexually assaulted as they walked along roads near Nhialdu and Guit on their way to Bentiu and that victims reported the attacks as having been carried out by young men in civilian clothing or military uniforms. They were also beaten and robbed, it said.

"The violent assaults happened in a Government-controlled area," David Shearer, the head of the U.N. mission, said in a statement. "UNMISS peacekeepers have immediately sent patrols to the area to provide a protective presence and our human rights team has launched an investigation to identify the perpetrators."

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#10 NewsGovernment can win Brexit vote in parliament: UK environment ministerNewsExplainer: Netanyahu investigation – What happens next?NewsMacron visits riot-damaged Arc de Triomphe, state of emergency mulled

LONDON (Reuters) - British environment minister Michael Gove said on Sunday he believed the government could win a vote in parliament on its Brexit deal, again arguing that the alternatives to the agreement were much worse.

"I believe that we can win the argument and win the vote. I know it's challenging but my view is ... that we've got to make those arguments and we've got to look properly at what those alternatives are," he told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper)

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