Posts Tagged ‘Wall Street Journal’

China offers Xi meeting with Trump in China next month: WSJ

January 31, 2019

China trade negotiators are proposing a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump in China next month, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday citing unnamed sources.

Trump, in a tweet earlier on Thursday, said no trade deal would be final until he met with Xi “in the near future.”

Reporting by Susan Heavey

Reuters

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China Is Counting On Trump-Xi Meeting to Settle Trade Fight

President Trump is open to meeting with Chinese president as trade talks continue

China Trade Talks: Why the U.S. Wants to End ‘Forced Tech Transfer’

China Trade Talks: Why the U.S. Wants to End ‘Forced Tech Transfer’
As representatives from the U.S. and China try to hammer out an agreement on trade, the White House is seeking to stop what it calls “forced technology transfer.” WSJ’s Shelby Holliday explains.
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WASHINGTON—China is pinning its hopes on another meeting between President Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping to help solve the trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies, according to people briefed on the matter, as a wide gap remains between U.S. demands and what Beijing is willing to offer.

The Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He—Mr. Xi’s economic czar who is holding talks with American negotiators in Washington this week—has proposed to the U.S. that Mr. Trump meet with Mr. Xi in the seaside Chinese…

Read the rest:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-trade-negotiators-proposing-trump-xi-meeting-in-china-next-month-11548940089

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Malaysia examining whether China offered to bail out 1MDB

January 8, 2019

Malaysia is looking into allegations that China offered to help deter probes into 1MDB in exchange for infrastructure projects, after the Wall Street Journal reported that senior Chinese leaders offered to help bail out the troubled state fund in 2016.

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The government is unaware of the discussions detailed in the Journal report, which cited minutes from meetings the newspaper reviewed, and is examining the matter, said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.

The cost of China-backed projects was certainly enlarged and Malaysia will check whether that was due to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) links, Mr Lim said near Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday (Jan 8).

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Jho Low, a central figure in a multibillion-dollar scandal at a Malaysian development fund. A now-suspended Chinese ‘Belt and Road’ project in Malaysia might have partially bailed out the fund’s debts. Malaysian officials certainly knew of his extravagant life style, the expensive yacht, Equanimity and money spending. PHOTO: KRISTIN CALLAHAN/ZUMA PRESS

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 “Billionaire” Jho Low Threw Insane Parties for Celebs

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Kimora Lee Simmons and Tim Leissner enjoy the high life in Beverly Hills California. Tim Leissner  was involved in 1MDB while working for Goldman (Getty )

“But I have to refer back to see if there are details or thing explicitly said,” he said. “If this is said, this is something we will pursue.”

Chinese officials told visiting Malaysians that China would use its influence to try and get the United States and other countries to drop probes of allegations that allies of then Prime Minister Najib Razak and others plundered the fund, according to the newspaper.

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Yacht Equanimity

In return, Malaysia offered stakes in railway and pipeline projects as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The Chinese government information office did not respond to requests for comment, the WSJ said, adding that China’s Foreign Ministry had earlier denied that money in the programme was used to help bail out the 1MDB fund.

1MDB is at the centre of a global scandal involving claims of embezzlement and money laundering, with jurisdictions from the US, Malaysia and Singapore probing cases related to the fund. Najib has been charged with dozens of counts of corruption, criminal breach of trust and money laundering involving 1MDB-related monies.

He also stands accused of altering the report on a government audit into the fund to protect himself from criminal, civil or regulatory action. He has denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty to all charges.

China also offered to bug the homes and offices of Wall Street Journal reporters in Hong Kong who were investigating 1MDB, to learn who was leaking information to them, the newspaper said, citing the minutes of the meetings. It could not be determined whether China provided any such information, the newspaper added.

Bloomberg

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/china-offered-to-bail-out-malaysias-1mdb-fund-says-a-report

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Trump dares to act independently in Syria — Gets Help From Fake News By Wall Street Journal

January 7, 2019

Last weekend, The Wall Street Journal’s (WSJ) headline was adorned with a fake news story penned by three people: Michael R. Gordon, Nancy A. Youssef and Dion Nissenbaum.

Such a big lie takes a big team to fabricate, indeed.

According to the WSJ story, Turkey is asking the U.S. government to provide extensive military support to fight against Daesh and the American military should increase its presence in Syria instead of reducing it.

As usual, the source of the story is an unnamed U.S. official who says the Trump administration is unlikely to provide all of the military support the Turks are seeking.

By Hakkı Öcal
Commentary
Daily Sabah

As I said before, nobody can hold a candle to Western journalists when it comes to ethics. Has the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, clearly and more than once said that Turkey is waiting for the U.S.’ total withdrawal from Syria to move in and cleanse northern Syria from Daesh terrorists? Yes, he has. Has Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, in a talk with troops on the border area only two days before the WSJ report was released, said that they would move in shortly after the U.S. troops completely leave the area? Yes, he has.

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Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar

President Trump promised last month in a phone conversation with President Erdoğan that the U.S. would withdraw its troops in northern and eastern Syria, leaving the task of eradicating the Daesh terrorists to Turkey. If Turkey needed an extensive U.S. support, would Erdoğan not mention it during this deal with Trump? The U.S. president confidently announced to the U.S. media that, “Erdoğan said Turkey could do this job. I believe him. An able man. Turkey’s Erdoğan is the man for the job in Syria.”

Look at the press accounts of this announcement. You will see assessments as to how wrong the U.S. president is in leaving Syria, and how Turkey would invade Syria, how Iran would send additional Shiite guerrillas to the Israeli border, but not one single line about the additional demands of Turkey to finish off Daesh.

Yet we saw an international chorus coming in line and starting shouting arguments about why the U.S. should not leave Syria, not now, not ever. We saw that U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis resigning from his post; we saw the U.S. special representative to the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and French President Emmanuel Macron tried to teach Trump a lesson or two on how to run his country.

Democrats rushed to the White House seeking assurances that Turks would not slaughter “Syrian Kurds” forgetting that more than a million Syrian Kurds fled to Turkey from the hands of the U.S.’ partner PKK-affiliated Syrian groups – the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and People’s Protection Units (YPG). Turkey had provided safe haven to Iraqi Kurds when Saddam Hussein gassed hundreds of them to death.

Yet the neocon plan to create an entity under the rule of the PKK in Iraq and Syria in the area to be a bumper between Iran and Syria is still on the books, as it has been since 2007. The president accused his predecessors and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of creating “unnecessary wars” that would not serve the U.S. interests during his election campaign two years ago, but he hasn’t done yet anything to change those situations. He promised to withdraw the U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Syria but kept the military and civilian bureaucrats in their positions, the very people who added more personnel to the Afghanistan and Syria troops. Nobody tells the truth to the president at the White House. The closest people to him are in fact against his policies to bring the troops home. He must be wondering how he managed the armed forces and his Syria policies with Jim Mattis at the helm of the defense department.

Mattis and Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy to the coalition against Daesh, have left in protest at his Syria policies but Trump should not feel too relieved; he still has other authors and defenders of that neocon policy in his team. Trump is now sending a group consisting of those who successfully brought his policy from “rapid withdrawal” to “let’s-discuss-a-timeline” to Ankara this week to discuss that timeline. We’ll see how it goes.

https://www.dailysabah.com/columns/hakki-ocal/2019/01/07/trump-dares-to-act-independently-in-syria

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Cyber-attack disrupts distribution of multiple US newspapers

December 30, 2018

Several US newspapers suffered major printing and delivery disruptions on Saturday following a cyber-attack, US media report.

The attack led to delayed distribution of The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and other titles belonging to Tribune Publishing.

The company said it first detected the malware on Friday, which hit papers sharing the same printing plant.

The attack is believed to have come from outside the US, the LA Times said.

The Los Angeles Times building is seen on February 6, 2018 in Los Angeles, California

West Coast editions of the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, which share the same production platform in Los Angeles, were also affected.

“We believe the intention of the attack was to disable infrastructure, more specifically servers, as opposed to looking to steal information,” an anonymous source with knowledge of the attack told the LA Times.

Tribune Publishing spokeswoman Marisa Kollias confirmed this in a statement, saying the virus hurt back-office systems used to publish and produce “newspapers across our properties”.

“Every market across the company was impacted,” Ms Kollias said, refusing to give more specifications on the disruptions, according to the LA Times.

Other publications owned by the company include the New York Daily News, Orlando Sentinel and the Annapolis Capital-Gazette, whose staff were the targets of a deadly shooting earlier this year.

Another publication, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel was also “crippled this weekend by a computer virus that shut down production and hampered phone lines,” according to a story on its website.

“We are aware of reports of a potential cyber incident affecting several news outlets and are working with our government and industry partners to better understand the situation,” a Department of Homeland Security official said in a statement.

Investigators at the Federal Bureau of Investigations were not immediately available for comment.

BBC News

Wall Street Journal Critical of Washington Post Trump Coverage: ‘Undermines the Credibility of the Press’

December 28, 2018

“These reporters can’t even begin a news account of a presidential visit to a military base,” the Wall Street Journal editorial page says

Last Updated: December 27, 2018 @ 6:29 PM

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The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page offered a feisty Boxing Day pieceon Wednesday lashing into the Washington Post over coverage of President Trump’s Christmastime visit to the troops.

The Journal focused on this piece by the Post’s Philip Rucker and Paul Sonne, citing the opening two paragraphs and accusing it of needlessly working in unrelated Trump scandals into a piece that did not call for it.

“Can anyone reading those opening two sentences wonder why millions of Americans believe Donald Trump when he tells them that he can’t get a fair shake from the press?” the Journal asked. “The point isn’t to feel sorry for Mr. Trump, whose rhetorical attacks on the press have often been contemptible. The point is that such gratuitously negative reporting undermines the credibility of the press without Mr. Trump having to say a word.”

“These reporters can’t even begin a news account of a presidential visit to a military base without working in a compilation of Mr. Trump’s controversies, contradictions, and failings,” the paper added.

The offending paragraphs were quoted verbatim by the journal:

“President Trump touched down Wednesday in Iraq in his first visit to a conflict zone as commander in chief, a week after announcing a victory over the Islamic State that his own Pentagon and State Department days earlier said remained incomplete.

“The president’s visit to Al Asad Air Base west of Baghdad, which was shrouded in secrecy, follows months of public pressure for him to spend time with troops deployed to conflicts in the Middle East and punctuates the biggest week of turmoil the Pentagon has faced during his presidency.”

The story with the passages cited was subsequently picked up by several local news sites like The Oregonian but no longer appeared to exist in any version of the story on the Post’s own site Thursday morning. A look at the Internet Archive’s WayBackMachine reveals the piece was edited after publication, though the original language cited by the Journal appears to have been removed before being archived.

When asked for comment, reps for the Post told TheWrap: “The story was updated as news developed over the course of the day. It presented facts that were accurate and context that was clearly relevant, as evidenced by the president’s own comments to American troops regarding Syria and U.S. military commanders.

“As for President Trump making the trip after criticism for not previously visiting a war zone, the Wall Street Journal’s own news story makes the same point,” the statement added.

Wall Street Journal editorial chief James Taranto also did not immediately respond to an inquiry from TheWrap about the matter.

https://www.thewrap.com/wall-street-journal-shreds-washington-post-trump-coverage-undermines-the-credibility-of-the-press/

Christmas 2018 — Do We Still Need A Savior? Can’t We Solve All The Problems of the World By Man’s Own Abilities?

December 25, 2018

Why are we rejoicing on this day?  Why is Christmas so well celebrated all over the world, especially in the West and even in some parts of Asia?  The simple answer is that Christ our Saviour has been born.  This is what the bible says.  This is what the responsorial psalm says, “Today a saviour has been born to us: he is Christ the Lord.  O sing a new song to the Lord, sing to the Lord all the earth. O sing to the Lord, bless his name.  Let the heavens rejoice and earth be glad, let the sea and all within it thunder praise, let the land and all it bears rejoice, all the trees of the wood shout for joy at the presence of the Lord for he comes, he comes to rule the earth.”  This is what the Church says.  This is what all Christians are saying.  Repeatedly and consistently, this is the reason given in the Christian tradition as to why we celebrate Christmas.

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But are the Church’s sentiments our personal feelings as well?  Or are we rejoicing because it is so to speak, the best time of the year?  It is cool and cold and cozy.  Businesses have slowed down.  Work has slowed down.  It is the holiday season.  We can take a break.  We have received our year-end bonuses.  It is time to celebrate.  There are parties held in many places.  It is a time of merry making.  It is a time to receive presents, which gives us a good reason to shop and spend lavishly.  It is a time of fun and joy.

But I am afraid that Christmas is celebrated all over the world without the birthday boy in whose honour we are celebrating.  Ironically, in many parts of the world, in the name of religious freedom, we are no longer free to wish each other Merry Christmas.  We wish each other ‘Happy Holidays’ or simply “Compliments of the Season”, presumably winter!  What the world is celebrating at most perhaps are the effects and outcomes of the birth of our Lord.  They are enjoying the peace and love that our Lord brings, but failing to recognize Him as their savior.  It is like many people in the world who have many talents and gifts and blessings, but they take them for granted.  They fail to consider where their health, talents, beauty, resources and blessings come from.   They never ask where their intellectual capacity and the many opportunities in life come from.  They simply enjoy them without asking the source, like the wedding guests at Cana.

The truth is that we cannot enter into the true and lasting joy of Christmas unless we see the need of a Saviour.  The real problem is that modern man does not see the need of a Saviour.  He can do all things by himself.  He is his own savior.  He thinks that he is able to solve all the problems in the world by himself, using his own ingenuity.  He thinks mightily of himself.  Today, no one speaks about God and the grace of God in the world.  It is a taboo for political and corporate leaders to mention about God in their work or that we need His grace.  There is a common agreement that this world is dependent on our hard work and ingenuity alone.  Beyond ourselves, there is nothing else.

Secondly, the contemporary lives only for this world.  There is no thought of the world to come.  Either they cannot be bothered or are agnostic about it.  In a word, many of us live as if this is the only life and world we have.  After death, we disappear into nothingness.  That is why many just live only for this life and this world.  We try to enjoy as much as we can and take out of this world as much as we could because after death, it is the end of everything.  Why should we therefore care about tomorrow when there is no tomorrow?  Why should we sacrifice our happiness today for the sake of the future generations?  Nay, since there is no life beyond death, we should take care only of ourselves, do all we can, enjoy all that we could for after that, it will be no more.  It would be so silly to miss this great opportunity by sacrificing for the next generation.

Thirdly, the situation has changed.  In the days of old, most people were poor.  Life was very simple and spartan.  They did not have the luxuries that we are now enjoying.   Many suffered from all kinds of illnesses and diseases which had no cure.  Life was tough.  Many lived in tents and were nomads, fighting the cold and the heat throughout the year.   Above all, each tribe or nation had to protect themselves from other tribes and nations.  Enemies were all around them.  The powerful nation was always waiting to seize the lands of other nations and dominate them.  Within the nation, there were so much injustice, corruption and manipulation of the poor by the rich, and those in power.  The poor did not have proper recourse to justice.

Today, the world has become a much better place.  More countries are developed.  Of course, there are still many peoples in some parts of the world that are impoverished or living in inhumane conditions.  But for those who live in modern cities like ours, our lives are very comfortable.  We have jobs and are able to have a decent lifestyle.  We might not all be rich and live in beautiful bungalows and palaces, but even our two-room flats are very comfortable.  We have modern amenities and easy access to communication.  With science and technology, many things can be resolved without the help of God.  Man thinks he can solve every problem using his brains and knowledge.  There is a judicial system that ensures a certain level of justice and impartiality, much better than the olden days where the powerful controlled even the judges.  Today, we speak of the sovereignty of the nations and we do not have another nation seizing another nation without condemnation from the rest of the world.

Consequently, it is not difficult to understand why man has become so arrogant.  This world does not need God.  This is what secularism is saying.  There is no God; only us.  So there is no need for anyone to have a savior.  In fact, it is a novelty to tell someone that you are a freethinker or an agnostic or an atheist.  It shows that you are in control of your own life.  To believe in God is a form of escapism.  It is a sign of weakness and folly.  Only people who are weak and helpless seek refuge in God.  Indeed, many seek God only when they are desperate; such as when they are struck with an incurable or terminal illness, or faced with bankruptcy, or at risk of losing their jobs or a failed relationship.

So, do you think there is a savior?  This is the question you need to answer sincerely if you are to celebrate Christmas.  In the first reading, the Israelites felt the need for a savior because they were living in darkness.  They were in exile.  All hopes were gone. They lost their land, their kingdom and their temple.  They lost everything.  They were under the captivity of their enemy.  Hence they were looking for a savior.  “The people that walked in darkness has seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone. You have made their gladness greater, you have made their joy increase; they rejoice in your presence as men rejoice at harvest time, as men are happy when they are dividing the spoils.  For the yoke that was weighing on him, the barb across his shoulders, the rod of his oppressor, these you break as on the day of Midian. For all the footgear of battle, every cloak rolled in blood, is burnt, and consumed by fire.”  It was their hope that the savior would set them free and bring joy to their lives again by giving them land, wealth, peace and freedom.  The psalmist says, “With justice he will rule the world, he will judge the peoples with his truth.”  What they sought for was peace, wealth and justice in their lives.

In the gospel, the people during the time of Jesus too were living in poverty because of the political and religious institutions that kept them poor.  The people sought freedom from the Romans.  But they were also living in sin, in hypocrisy, especially the religious leaders.  That was why Jesus saw His mission as one of liberation of the people from their sins and oppression by changing the social and religious structures.  “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.”  (Lk 4:18)

The Gentiles too felt the need of a saviour to teach them how to live life purposefully and meaningfully.  The Gentiles were living sinful lives under the bondage of the flesh.  Not only were they engaging in idolatry but they were living sensual lives, a life of promiscuity, pleasure and greed.   The people were ambitious and the cities were thriving, but their affluence also led to all kinds of sin.  Life was meaningless like ours, working, eating, drinking and carousing.  Life was empty.  It was only for this world.  And so Jesus the Saviour came to teach them how to live an authentic life of joy and love in this world for the world to come.  This is what the second reading says, “God’s grace has been revealed, and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race and taught us that what we have to do is to give up everything that does not lead to God, and all our worldly ambitions; we must be self-restrained and live good and religious lives here in this present world, while we are waiting in hope for the blessing which will come with the Appearing of the glory of our great God and saviour Christ Jesus.”

What about us?  Why do you need a saviour?  To the extent you need a saviour, to that extent you will be glad and rejoice because Christ is our saviour.  If we are humble enough to know that all we have come from God and that this life is not everything, then we will recognize our nothingness before God.  If we come to realize our sinfulness and that without His example and His wisdom we can never overcome our sin that separates us from God and our fellowmen, then we need a saviour.  Indeed, “He sacrificed himself for us in order to set us free from all wickedness and to purify a people so that it could be his very own and would have no ambition except to do good.”  If we are aware that our life is not here on earth but in heaven, then we need a saviour.  So Christ is our Saviour because He teaches us the way to peace through truth and love.  Jesus reveals to us our origin and our destiny.  So we can rejoice because as the angel assured us, “Do not be afraid. Listen, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” So with the angels, we sing, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to men who enjoy his favour.”

Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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In Hoc Anno Domini

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Every Christmas Eve since 1949 the Wall Street Journal has been publishing the same editorial.  (The Journal doesn’t publish on December 25, the stock exchange being closed.)  Obviously the editors must be pretty proud of it.  It’s also one of my favorites.  From year to year the words are the same but the meaning changes with the times.  In the last few years its message has been clear: Jesus came to save us from government regulation.

That was probably not the major point at the moment of intensifying Cold War when the editorial first appeared.  The dangerous allure of Friedrich Hayek’s “road to serfdom” was merely implied.  But the Journal readers of 1949, who would have spontaneously understood Caesar to be operating out of the Kremlin, have been replaced by the readers of 2015, daily instructed that today’s Caesar operates from the White House and the federal bureaucracies.

Entitled “In Hoc Anno Domini,” the editorial describes the world at the moment of Saul of Tarsus’s conversion: a world “in bondage,” with but one state and one master, his oppressive power maintained through legions and executioners, persecution of free thought, and enslavement of nations.  “Then, of a sudden, there was a light in the world, and a man from Galilee saying, Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”

Having begun with Saul, the editorial ends with Paul:  “Stand fast therefore in the liberty where with Christ has made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

There are a number of historical and scriptural oddities about “In Hoc Anno Domini.”

Its sketch of a totalitarian empire under one master does not describe the Rome of Tiberius Caesar but the U.S.S.R. of Stalin.  For the editorial, the people who live in darkness are not the happy recipients of divine light but the imperial or, more properly, Communist agents striving to extinguish the light: significantly, they try to “lower a curtain.”  The new Kingdom of freedom offered by the “voice from Galilee” is labeled, curiously, the “Kingdom of Man.”  The possibility that by freedom from the yoke of bondage Paul meant something more that freedom from Caesar is left unexplored.

Still, it was hardly unthinkable in 1949 to stretch things a little to trumpet the Gospel’s challenge to totalitarianism.  What does it mean, however, to make this, and only this, your Christmas message for sixty-six years running?

The threat of totalitarian oppression always remains, although in this century it may have a theocratic as much as purely statist cast.  A “soft totalitarianism” may even lurk behind the dynamism of market capitalism.  But what about all the other obvious dimensions of the Christmas story: peace, for instance, or the identification of God with the humble, homeless, or exiled?

I don’t dispute the Journal’s preference for freedom rather than the “yoke of bondage.”  I cannot read its prize editorial without noting the editors’ daily eagerness to spy that yoke of bondage in every business-adverse action by the Securities and Exchange Commission or the National Labor Relations Board.  Tiberius Caesar reigns forever in the Federal Reserve, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the corporate tax; the yoke of bondage resides in the Internal Revenue Service and the Environmental Protection Agency.  The anti-government fervor of the paper’s editorial pages is relentless.  So I cannot be surprised that, year after year, this is the meaning the editors find in the birth in Bethlehem.  Such tidings of comfort and joy, it’s touching.

Peter Steinfels, co-founder of the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture and a former editor of Commonweal, is the author of A People Adrift: The Crisis of the Roman Catholic Church in America.

Israel-Saudi rapprochement said to face setback due to Khashoggi murder fallout

December 18, 2018

Two aides to crown prince fired following backlash were deeply involved in Riyadh’s covert outreach to Jerusalem, Wall Street Journal reports

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the Future Investment Initiative conference, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on October 23, 2018. (AP/Amr Nabil)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the Future Investment Initiative conference, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on October 23, 2018. (AP/Amr Nabil)

    Israel-Saudi rapprochement said to face setback due to Khashoggi murder fallout

    The ongoing secret rapprochement with Saudi Arabia has reportedly been hindered by the international backlash over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Wall Street Journal reports.

    The US-based writer was killed on October 2 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, with the CIA concluding Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was at least aware of the plan.

    In the international fallout, two key aides to the crown prince have lost their jobs.

    Citing several unnamed officials “familiar with the matter,” the WSJ report says that both sacked officials — Saud al-Qahtani and Ahmed al-Assiri — were deeply involved in Riyadh’s outreach to Israel, which has now faced a setback.

    Almanarnews English@AlmanarEnglish

    Turkey Seeks Arrest of MBS Allies: Assiri, Qahtani http://english.almanar.com.lb/635340 

    See Almanarnews English’s other Tweets

    Qahtani, a media adviser, reportedly ordered Saudi press to soften Israel’s image as an enemy, and his subordinate Assiri made several secret visits to the Jewish state — making him the highest-ranked Saudi official to visit the country. The discussions were said to focus on purchasing Israeli surveillance software.

    The report adds that Mossad chief Yossi Cohen met Saudi officials several times during the past year. It says Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates regularly share intelligence information with one another on Iran and on transit through the Red Sea.

    https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog-december-18-2018/

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    Trump Urges Fed to ‘Feel the Market,’ Forgo Another Rate Hike

    December 18, 2018
    • Wall Street Journal opines that it’s ‘Time for a Fed Pause’
    • Don’t focus on ‘meaningless numbers,’ president says in tweet
    Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

    President Donald Trump issued a fresh appeal to the Federal Reserve to avoid making “yet another mistake” just hours before the U.S. central bank starts a two-day meeting at which it’s widely expected to raise interest rates.

    “I hope the people over at the Fed will read today’s Wall Street Journal Editorial before they make yet another mistake,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday. “Also, don’t let the market become any more illiquid than it already is. Stop with the 50 B’s. Feel the market, don’t just go by meaningless numbers. Good luck!”

    In a piece Tuesday titled “Time for a Fed Pause,” the Journal urged the Federal Open Market Committee to forgo a rate hike amid a lack of inflation and a possible slowing in U.S. economic growth. The Dow Jones Industrial Average of stocks fell more than 500 points on Monday and is down 12 percent since early October. Trump’s “50 B’s” may refer to the Fed’s current policy of reducing its bond holdings by a maximum of $50 billion per month.

    At a critical juncture in the Fed’s effort to prevent the economy from overheating, Trump is presenting the biggest presidential challenge to U.S. central bank independence in decades. While there may be an economic case for Chairman Jerome Powell to hold off on the ninth rate hike since December 2015, a larger threat may be eroding the Fed’s inflation-fighting credibility by appearing to cave to Trump’s demands.

    “The FOMC would be justified in pausing at this meeting given tighter financial conditions and global growth risks, especially with core inflation still below their objective,” BNP Paribas Asset Management Senior Economist Steven Friedman said in an email. “But pressure from the White House makes it harder for the committee to consider this option.”

    Donald J. Trump

    @realDonaldTrump

    I hope the people over at the Fed will read today’s Wall Street Journal Editorial before they make yet another mistake. Also, don’t let the market become any more illiquid than it already is. Stop with the 50 B’s. Feel the market, don’t just go by meaningless numbers. Good luck!

    15.7K people are talking about this

    Trump’s tweet follows one on Monday slamming the Fed for “even considering” another interest-rate increase, laying out arguments against a hike to savor the achievement of a strong U.S. economy.

    The Fed began gradually shrinking its balance sheet in 2017 after inflating it to more than $4 trillion by buying bonds to fight the financial crisis and revive the economy. The balance-sheet runoff cap, which had gradually increased, hit its maximum of $50 billion starting in October. That means the central bank can let up to $30 billion in Treasury and $20 billion in agency debt run off without reinvestment each month.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-18/trump-warns-fed-not-to-make-mistake-ahead-of-likely-rate-hike

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    China demands Canada release Huawei executive — “She’s a Big Fish”

    December 6, 2018

    China on Thursday demanded Canada release a Huawei Technologies executive who was arrested in a case that adds to technology tensions with Washington and threatens to complicate trade talks.

    Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, faces possible extradition to the United States, according to Canadian authorities. The Globe and Mail newspaper, citing law enforcement sources, said she is accused of trying to evade U.S. curbs on trade with Iran.

    The timing is awkward following the announcement of a U.S.-Chinese cease-fire in a tariff war over Beijing’s technology policy. Meng was detained in Vancouver on Saturday, the day Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping met in Argentina and announced their deal.

    Asian stock markets tumbled on the news, fearing renewed U.S.-Chinese tensions that threaten global economic growth. Market indexes in Tokyo and Hong Kong by 1.9 percent and 2.8 percent and Shanghai was off 1.7 percent at midday.

    The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa said Meng broke no U.S. or Canadian laws and demanded Canada “immediately correct the mistake” and release her.

    “The Chinese side expresses firm opposition and strongly protests this serious violation of human rights,” said an embassy statement.


    A profile of Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is displayed on a Huawei computer at a Huawei store in Beijing, China, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. Canadian authorities said Wednesday that they have arrested Meng for possible extradition to the United States. (Ng Han Guan/Associated Press)

    Huawei Technologies Ltd., the biggest global supplier of network gear used by phone and internet companies, has been the target of deepening U.S. security concerns. Washington has pressured European countries and other allies to limit use of its technology.

    The U.S. sees Huawei and smaller Chinese tech suppliers as possible fronts for Chinese spying and as commercial competitors that the Trump administration says benefit from improper subsidies and market barriers.

    Trump’s tariff hikes this year on Chinese imports stemmed from complaints Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology. But American officials also worry more broadly about Chinese plans for state-led industry development they worry might erode U.S. industrial leadership.

    U.S. leaders also worry that Beijing is using the growth of Chinese business abroad to gain strategic leverage.

    “The United States is stepping up containment of China in all respects,” said Zhu Feng, an international relations expert at Nanjing University. He said targeting Huawei, one of the most successful Chinese companies, “will trigger anti-U.S. sentiment in China.”

    “The incident could turn out to be a breaking point,” Zhu said.

    Last month, New Zealand blocked a mobile phone company from using Huawei equipment, saying it posed a “significant network security risk.” In August, Australia banned the company from working on the country’s fifth-generation network due to security concerns.

    The Wall Street Journal reported this year that U.S. authorities are investigating whether Huawei violated sanctions on Iran. The Chinese government appealed to Washington to avoid any steps that might damage business confidence.

    Huawei’s Chinese rival, ZTE Corp., was nearly driven out of business this year when Washington barred it from buying U.S. technology over exports to North Korea and Iran. Trump restored access after ZTE agreed to pay a $1 billion fine, replace its executive team and embed a U.S.-chosen compliance team in the company.

    Huawei is regarded as far stronger commercially than ZTE. The company based in Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, has the biggest research and development budget of any Chinese company and a vast portfolio of tech patents, making it less dependent on American suppliers.

    It also has a growing smartphone brand that is one of the top three global suppliers behind Samsung Electronics and Apple Inc. by number of handsets sold.

    Meng was changing flights in Canada when she was detained “on behalf of the United States of America” to face “unspecified charges” in New York, according to a Huawei statement.

    “The company has been provided very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng,” the statement said.

    A U.S. Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.

    Huawei said it complies with all laws and rules where it operates, including export controls and sanctions of the United Nations, the United States and European Union.

    Meng is a prominent member of China’s business world as deputy chairman of Huawei’s board and the daughter of its founder Ren Zhengfei, a former Chinese military engineer.

    Despite that, her arrest is unlikely to derail U.S.-Chinese trade talks, said Willy Lam, a politics specialist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

    “I think too much is at stake for Xi Jinping. He desperately wants a settlement,” said Lam. “So I don’t think this will have a really detrimental impact on the possibility of both countries reaching a deal.”

    Longer term, however, the case will reinforce official Chinese urgency about developing domestic technology suppliers to reduce reliance on the United States, said Lam.

    Trump has “pulled out all the stops” to hamper Chinese ambitions to challenge the United States as a technology leader, Lam said. That includes imposing limits on visas for Chinese students to study science and technology.

    “If the Chinese need further convincing, this case would show them beyond doubt Trump’s commitment,” said Lam.

    David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said U.S. and Canadian business executives could face reprisals in China.

    “That’s something we should be watching out for. It’s a possibility. China plays rough,” Mulroney said. “It’s a prominent member of their society and it’s a company that really embodies China’s quest for global recognition as a technology power.”

    Mulroney said Canada should be prepared for “sustained fury” from the Chinese and said the arrest will be portrayed in China as Canada kowtowing to Trump. He also said the Iran allegations are very damaging to Huawei and China will push back hard.

    The Chinese will view Meng’s arrest on the same day as Trump’s meeting with the Chinese leader as a planned conspiracy to do damage, said Wenran Jiang, a senior fellow at the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia.

    “She was in transit though Vancouver. That means the intelligence agencies in Canada and the U.S. were tracking her and planning to arrest her for some time,” he said.

    Jiang foresees a crisis in relations between the three countries if Meng is extradited. Any talk of a free trade agreement between Canada and China would be over, he said.

    U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican member of the Senate Armed Services and Banking committees, said Huawei is an agent of China’s ruling Communist Party and applauded Canada for the arrest.

    “Americans are grateful that our Canadian partners have arrested the chief financial officer of a giant Chinese telecom company for breaking U.S. sanctions against Iran,” he said.

    Associated Press

    CIA says crown prince messaged key aide around time of Khashoggi murder – report

    December 1, 2018

    Wall Street Journal reports excerpts from intelligence assessment which says Saudi royal sent at least 11 text messages in hours surrounding killing to man who oversaw hit squad

    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the Future Investment Initiative conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on October 23, 2018. (Fayez Nureldine/AFP)

    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the Future Investment Initiative conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on October 23, 2018. (Fayez Nureldine/AFP)

    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent at least 11 text messages to his closest adviser, said to have overseen the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, in the hours preceding and following the journalist’s murder, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday, citing excerpts from a highly classified CIA assessment.

    The Saudi royal sent the messages to Saud al-Qahtani, who is thought to have supervised the 15-man team that killed Khashoggi. The content of the electronic messages is unknown, the newspaper reported.

    The assessment also notes that the prince told associates in August 2017 that “we could possibly lure [Khashoggi] outside Saudi Arabia and make arrangements,” if the dissident journalist living in the United States could not be persuaded to return to the kingdom, The Hill website reported.

    The Journal report noted that from the excerpts it is unclear whether the comment came directly from Prince Mohammed, or was instead a description of his communications.

    In this image made from a March 2018 video provided by Metafora Production, Jamal Khashoggi speaks during an interview at an undisclosed location. (Metafora Production via AP)

    Although the excerpts do not directly state that the order to kill Khashoggi came from the crown prince, the US intelligence agency apparently had “medium-to-high” confidence that the crown prince had targeted the dissident writer and to the point of “probably ordering his death,” the Journal reported.

    US President Donald Trump has said it may never be known who was responsible for the killing, and in public comments — and a long and unusual statement last week — he reinforced the United States’ long-standing alliance with the Saudis. Trump has praised a pending arms deal with the kingdom that he says will provide the US with jobs and lucrative payments, though some outside assessments say the economic benefits are exaggerated.

    On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended Washington’s continued strong ties with Riyadh despite Khashoggi’s murder, and denied reports linking the Saudi crown prince to the killing.

    “I do believe I’ve read every piece of intelligence unless it’s come in in the last few hours … There is no direct reporting connecting the crown prince to the order to murder Jamal Khashoggi,” Pompeo told reporters.

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo walks up to the microphones to speak to members of the media after leaving a closed-door meeting about Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

    Khashoggi, a US resident who wrote for The Washington Post and had been critical of Prince Mohammed, was lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get marriage documents on October 2, where he was killed and reportedly dismembered. His body has not yet been found.

    Saudi Arabia initially said Khashoggi had walked out of the consulate before shifting its account of what happened amid Turkish intelligence leaks. Riyadh is now seeking the death penalty for five members of the hit squad in a move that appeared to be aimed at appeasing international outrage over the killing and distancing the killers and their operation from the crown prince.

    Saudi prosecutors maintain that the 15-man team sent to Istanbul exceeded its authority when the lead negotiator in the team decided to kill Khashoggi for refusing orders to return.

    World leaders on Friday welcomed Prince Mohammed at the G20 summit, showing he was no pariah less than two months after the killing.

    READ MORE:

    https://www.timesofisrael.com/cia-says-crown-prince-messaged-key-aide-around-time-of-khashoggi-murder-report/

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