Canada stunned and worried about Trump trade threats seattlepi.com•Canada stunned and worried about Trump trade threatsTORONTO (AP) — It started with President Donald Trump’s attacks on Canadian dairy farmers. Then Washington slapped tariffs on Canadian steel, citing national security. There was that disastrous G-7 summit in Quebec. Now it’s a new North American free trade agreement that excludes America’s northern neighbor. Canadians are stunned by the repeated broadsides from what has long been their closest ally and some have even begun boycotts. „Everybody is afraid,” said Margot Lajeunesse, who helps run a family-owned bistro in Quebec. „We depend a lot on the U.S.” About 75 percent of Canada’s exports go to the U.S. so the tariff threat looms large after Trump snubbed Canada and reached a preliminary deal
AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s baseless claim of ‘fudged’ NBC tapeERIC TUCKER and HOPE YEN,•Trump accuses NBC’s Lester Holt of ‘fudging my tape on Russia’WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is making a baseless charge that NBC News somehow doctored an interview in which he cites the Russia investigation as a factor behind firing FBI director James Comey. In a tweet Thursday, Trump claims that NBC anchor Lester Holt was „caught fudging” the May 2017 interview.No evidence has been put forward by Trump or the White House showing that.A look at the claim:TRUMP: „What’s going on at @CNN is happening, to different degrees, at other networks – with @NBCNews being the worst … When Lester Holt got caught fudging my tape on Russia, they were hurt badly!” — tweet Thursday.THE FACTS: There is no evidence of the NBC interview having been „fudged” or doctored in any way, and the White House didn’t immediately respond to requests regarding what Trump was referring to. NBC declined to comment.In the interview, Trump referred in part to „this Russia thing” as a consideration in his decision to fire Comey. Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating possible obstruction of justice in the Russia probe.It’s possible Trump is frustrated that other comments from the same interview may have received less attention.Minutes after he acknowledged that „this Russia thing” was on his mind when he fired Comey, Trump also acknowledged that he knew the decision to terminate him might actually prolong the investigation. In fact it did, with Mueller investigating the firing for potential obstruction of justice.”I said to myself, I might even lengthen out the investigation. But I have to do the right thing for the American people,” Trump said. „He’s the wrong man for that position.”His lawyers and other supporters have contended that that sentiment is actually helpful for the president, suggesting he couldn’t have been trying to obstruct the investigation by doing something that he knew would actually draw it out longer._Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report._Find AP Fact Checks at http://apne.ws/2kbx8bd Follow @APFactCheck on Twitter: https://twitter.com/APFactCheckEDITOR’S NOTE _ A look at the veracity of claims by political figures
Memorial tributes to John McCainYahoo News Photo Staff•Memorial tributes to John McCain Former Vice President Joe Biden wipes a tear while giving a tribute during memorial service for Sen. John McCain at North Phoenix Baptist Church, Phoenix, Ariz., Aug. 30, 2018. (Photo: Matt York/Pool via Reuters)Former Vice President Joe Biden was due to lead mourners in saluting the late John McCain, his former Senate colleague, at a Phoenix church service on Thursday celebrating the life of the Vietnam War hero and two-time Republican presidential candidate.The memorial service at the North Phoenix Baptist Church marks the second of five days of commemorative tributes to McCain, who died on Saturday after a nearly yearlong battle with brain cancer. He was 81.On Wednesday, several thousand admirers stood in line for hours in the blazing Arizona sun and triple-digit heat to pay final respects to McCain, eventually filing past his flag-draped coffin as it lay in state in the Arizona Capital rotunda.The public viewing followed a brief ceremony for family and dignitaries led by Republican Governor Doug Ducey, who has said he would appoint McCain’s immediate successor in the Senate only after McCain’s burial on Sunday. (Reuters)See more news-related photo galleries and follow us on Yahoo News Photo Twitter and Tumblr.
‘Gauls’ resistant to change – MacronHungary summons Swedish ambassadorEU: Prepare for ‘no-deal’ Brexit President Emmanuel Macron has angered opponents by accusing French „Gauls” of being resistant to change.On a visit to Copenhagen, Mr Macron praised Denmark’s economic model – combining a flexible labour market with generous welfare benefits.But he said cultural differences between the „Lutheran” Danes and the French „Gauls” made it difficult to adopt such a system in France.Mr Macron came to power on a pledge to reform France’s enormous labour code.He has long stated his ambition to overhaul France’s labour market towards a more „Nordic model”.His speech in Denmark was not the first time he has used a foreign visit to highlight what he sees as the resistance to those reforms.Last year, on a visit to Romania, Mr Macron said France was „not a reformable country”, adding: „Many have tried and failed, because the French hate reforms.”Weeks later, speaking in Greece, the French president angered critics by saying he would not cede ground to „slackers”.Mr Macron’s latest comments came on Wednesday at an event in Copenhagen in which he reiterated his admiration for the Danish „flexicurity” model.”What is possible is linked to a culture, a people marked by their own history. These Lutheran [Danish] people, who have lived through the transformations of recent years, are not exactly Gauls who are resistant to change,” he said.Opposition politicians quickly seized on his speech, with many criticising his reference to „Gauls” – the name given by the Romans to those who lived in the region that now includes France, Belgium and the Netherlands.”By his words of confusing foolishness, #Macron in Denmark is not only very contemptuous against his own people, but also very ignorant about the Gauls who were formidable inventors,” tweeted left-wing French MP Alexis Corbière.Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Rally, tweeted: „As usual, he shows contempt for the French while abroad. The ‘Gauls’ will be happy to respond to his arrogance and contempt.”Republican MP Fabien Di Filippo said the president had made „a new insult to the French people”, adding: „Emmanuel Macron has outdone himself in Denmark.” Amid a torrent of criticism on social media, Mr Macron sought to clarify his remarks on Thursday, saying they were „humorous”.”I love France and the French and I love in all its components. I love them, these Gallic tribes, I like what we are,” he said during a visit to the Finnish capital, Helsinki.A government spokesman said Mr Macron had been referring to political parties when he spoke of resistant Gauls.Mr Macron took office in May last year, still a political novice – never previously elected and little versed in the cut-and-thrust of French politics.His government promised to cut unemployment from 9.5% to 7% in five years, but Mr Macron admitted that he expected months of resistance to some of the proposed new employment laws.In September last year, union-organised protests took place in cities across France against proposed changes to labour laws.Many placards reflected Mr Macron’s remarks about French workers, with messages such as „too lazy to think up a slogan” and „slackers on the move”, which mocked the name of the president’s centrist LREM party (Republic on the Move).
Russia to hold major drills in Mediterranean off Syria as UN warns of ‘perfect storm’Josie Ensor,•Syrian and Russian forces are expected to soon launch an offensive on the last rebel stronghold of Idlib – REUTERSRussia has announced it will hold a week-long military drill in the Mediterranean off the coast of Syria, as the UN warned a “perfect storm” was brewing in the battle for the country’s last rebel stronghold.Moscow’s defence ministry said it will deploy 25 ships, including a Marshall Ustinov missile cruiser, and 30 jets for the exercises, which would focus on anti-air and anti-submarine defence.The armada is the biggest task force sent by President Vladimir Putin’s government since Russia’s intervention in the Syrian conflict in 2015.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the drills were justified by the situation around the Idlib, the northwestern province where Syrian and allied Russian forces are expected to soon launch an offensive.
„The situation in Syria has the significant potential of exacerbating,” Mr Peskov said. “Nothing good can come out of this terrorist hotbed that formed there, if no one acts. So tightened security measures are totally justified and reasonable.”
The manoeuvring in the Mediterranean came as Russia accused Britain and the US of preparing a “false-flag” chemical attack in Idlib to frame the Syrian government and justify a a Western attack on its forces.
Russian embassies and a network of Kremlin-owned media outlets have been pushing stories of potential chemical attacks as part of a large-scale disinformation campaign.
The Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets said the buildup was connected to the prospect of an attack by the US, which last week sent guided-missile destroyer USS Ross to the eastern Mediterranean.
Nato has expressed concern about the naval manoeuvering.
„We will not speculate on the intention of the Russian fleet, but it is important that all actors in the region exercise restraint and refrain from worsening an already disastrous humanitarian situation in Syria,” said Oana Lungescu, Nato’s chief spokeswoman.
Government forces have been massing around Idlib for days and looked poised to launch what could be the last major battle of the seven-year civil war.
Some 2.7 million people are living in Idlib under the control of several thousand jihadists and other more moderate rebels.
A major military operation would pose a particular humanitarian nightmare because there is no opposition territory left in Syria where people could be evacuated to and the country’s border with Turkey has been closed.
‘There is a perfect storm based on warnings, counter-warnings (from the US and Russia),” said Staffan de Mistura, UN envoy to Syria.
„There is no other Idlib,” he added, stressing the need to ensure civilians can evacuate to nearby areas under government control, with guarantees their rights will be respected once they get there.
„It would be a tragic irony frankly if at almost the end of… a territorial war inside Syria, we would be witnessing the most horrific tragedy to the largest number of civilians.”
Mr de Mistura offered to personally travel to Idlib to help ensure civilians can leave through a humanitarian corridor, though did not say to which safe area they would lead.
The envoy said there were an estimated 10,000 al-Qaeda and affiliated fighters in Idlib, along with their families.
The most powerful of them, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), appeared to leave the door open to a negotiated settlement on Thursday during last-ditch talks.
„We in HTS are striving to find an effective solution in the liberated Syrian north that would protect our people from a possible offensive by the criminal regime and its allies,” read a statement published on its propaganda agency Ibaa.
Turkey, which backs the Syrian opposition, has been in talks with Russia and Iran to prevent an offensive, which it fears would send millions more refugees its way.
Russia, in return, has demanded that Ankara remove all al-Qaeda elements, such as HTS, before any deal is made.
While Turkey actively sponsors rebel forces in Idlib, its influence over HTS is less clear and experts warned the chances of success were slim.
Video: Trump Says There’s No Reason for War Games With South Korea
BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s defense ministry said on Thursday that navy chief Shen Jinlong plans to visit the United States in September, despite an escalating trade row that threatens to spill into other areas of tension between the two countries.
The announcement the ministry’s spokesman Wu Qian comes two months after U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis visited Beijing. China said that visit yielded positive results, and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe has accepted an invitation to visit the United States before the end of the year.
Speaking at a regular monthly news briefing, Wu said that Shen plans to visit the United States in the middle or towards the end of next month, to attend an international naval forum and also to pay a working visit to the country.
He gave no other details.
Ties between the two countries have been strained on a number fronts in recent months.
In May, the Pentagon withdrew an invitation to China to join a multinational naval exercise, citing China’s military moves in the South China Sea. The U.S. decision upset Beijing and was raised during the visit by Mattis, Chinese officials said at the time.
Beijing and Washington are also locked in a spiraling trade row that is threatening to worsen the relationship across the board, from cooperation on North Korea to the disputed South China Sea.
U.S. backing for self-ruled Taiwan have also fueled China’s suspicions in recent months, as the current U.S. administration has signaled fresh support towards the island that Beijing claims as its own.
The navy has been a key part of President Xi Jinping’s ambitious military modernization program that has rattled nerves around the region, though China says it has no hostile intent.
Wu separately announced that the country’s second aircraft carrier has begun its second round of sea tests, leaving from its base in the northern port city of Dalian, where it was built.
China’s Maritime Safety administration earlier on Thursday said an area of the northern part of the Yellow Sea off Dalian would be closed to shipping for military drills from Friday for a week-long period.
The still-unnamed carrier, the first to be built domestically, was launched last year, but Chinese military experts have told state media it is not expected to enter service until 2020, once it has been fully kitted out and armed.
Little is known about China’s aircraft carrier program, which is a state secret. But the government has said the new carrier’s design draws on experiences from the country’s first carrier, the Liaoning, which was bought second-hand from Ukraine in 1998 and refitted in China.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Writing by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
If negotiations are „limited … I think that can be done,” she said.
Malmstrom also insisted that whatever deal was reached would fall well short of the ambitions of the TTIP talks, an earlier attempt by Brussels and Washington to reach a wide-ranging trade deal that collapsed after the protectionist Trump took office.
Brussels (AFP) – The European Commission on Wednesday urged France and Britain to find an „amicable” solution after fishermen from the two countries clashed in the English Channel over a hoard of scallops.
Brussels insisted however that it could not get involved in the fight as arrangements for trawling for the prized shellfish were made between individual countries, not at a European level.
„We saw the reports of incidents involving French and British fishermen off the coast of Normandy,” European Commission spokesman Daniel Rosario told a daily briefing in Brussels.
„Scallop fishery is regulated at national level and over the past years common management measures have been agreed between France, the UK and Ireland,” the spokesman added.
„So it is in the interest first and foremost of the fishermen that this agreement is in place. And we invite the national authorities to resolve any dispute in an amicable way as has been done in the past.”
As a years-long dispute boiled over, five heavily outnumbered British scallop boats sailed into battle with around 35 French vessels in the incident on Tuesday.
Fishermen from both sides hurled stones and insults at each other while some of the boats also rammed each other, according to video footage.
The skirmish took place more than 12 nautical miles out to sea where the British are legally allowed to fish all year round.
But their French counterparts, restricted to fishing for scallops between October 1 and May 15, have accused the British of depleting stocks and want them to face the same rules.
The issue is doubly sensitive given the uncertain future of arrangements for fishing in the area after Britain leaves the EU in March 2019, particularly if Britain crashes out without a withdrawal deal.
By Poppy McPherson
YANGON (Reuters) – Myanmar rejected on Wednesday a report by United Nations investigators that called for top generals to be prosecuted for genocide, saying the international community was making „false allegations”.
The U.N. report marked the first time the organization has explicitly called for Myanmar officials to face genocide charges over a brutal crackdown on Rohingya Muslims last year.
„Our stance is clear and I want to say sharply that we don’t accept any resolutions conducted by the Human Rights Council,” the main government spokesman, Zaw Htay, said in an interview published in state media.
The fact-finding mission on Myanmar was established in March 2017 by the U.N. Human Rights Council.
Myanmar did not allow U.N investigators to enter the country, Zaw Htay said, adding: „That’s why we don’t agree and accept any resolutions made by the Human Rights Council”.
He said the country has „zero tolerance to any human rights violation” and had set up a Commission of Enquiry to respond to „false allegations” made by the U.N. and „other international communities”.
The government earlier this year set up a panel comprised of two Myanmar and two international members – Filipino diplomat Rosario Manalo and Kenzo Oshima, Japan’s former ambassador to the U.N. – to investigate human rights abuses.
Myanmar has denied most of the allegations, saying the military responded to a legitimate threat from Rohingya militants, who attacked police posts across the western Rakhine state.
„If there is any case against human rights, just give us strong evidence, record and date so that we can take legal action against those who break the rules and regulations,” Zaw Htay said.
Malaysia’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday it was Myanmar’s responsibility to take action against those to blame for the alleged genocide committed in Rakhine State.
Should Myanmar prove „unwilling or incapable of ensuring justice”, the U.N. Security Council should step in and establish an international judicial mechanism to try the individuals most responsible for the crimes, the ministry said.
„Malaysia will continue to speak about the plight of the Rohingyas. We will also continue to call for international support for the Government of Bangladesh, in which close to a million Rohingyas have found refuge,” Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said in the statement.
Around 700,000 Rohingya have fled the military crackdown in western state of Rakhine to neighboring Bangladesh, according to U.N. agencies. They joined nearly 200,000 Rohingya who had been already been living in camps there for years.
In the Bangladesh capital Dhaka, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam told reporters the U.N. produced „the most comprehensive, factual and crucial report since the attack in August last year”.
Alam said it was natural for Myanmar to reject the report, but he added: „That does not matter. The world knows everything”.
On the same day that the U.N. released its report, Facebook shut down the account of army general Min Aung Hlaing and other top military officials, accusing them of using its platform to spread „hate and misinformation”.
In the interview published on Wednesday, Zaw Htay said the government had not ordered the ban and was questioning Facebook about the action, saying it had caused „mounting criticism and fear among the people”.
Myanmar’s civilian government shares power with the military, which controls key ministries including home affairs and immigration.
(Reporting by Poppy Elena McPherson in YANGON; Additional reporting by Joseph Sipalan in KUALA LUMPUR and Ruma Paul in DHAKA; Editing by Richard Pullin and Darren Schuettler)
By Ju-min Park and Jane Chung
SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea’s ruling family has long dreamed of a state-of-the-art rail system linking its major cities with each other and the wider world.
Now, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is looking to capitalize on an easing in international tensions with his isolated regime to advance plans for a high-speed rail network to rival those in Europe and neighboring South Korea.
Kim has instructed officials to seek partnerships with countries such as South Korea and France, according to a South Korean broker with knowledge of the matter and a senior North Korean diplomat.
Engineers and consultants in South Korea say they are also drawing up plans for possible rail projects with the North.
Both Koreas see new railways as a key that could unlock regional trade and tourism, connecting the Korean peninsula with Russia, China and beyond.
The prospect has boosted shares in Hyundai Rotem <064350.KS> and other South Korean train and rail companies since the first inter-Korean summit in more than a decade in April.
But plans face numerous hurdles, not least wide-ranging sanctions on doing business in North Korea over its pursuit of nuclear weapons in defiance of the United Nations, and the country’s unstable electricity infrastructure.
Officials in both Koreas hope rail projects might be exempt from U.N. sanctions under a provision allowing some „non-commercial public utility infrastructure”.
A senior North Korean diplomat told the French senate in June the country would like to partner with France on railway construction, specifically naming Alstom , the maker of the iconic TGV bullet train, and French national railway operator SNCF, as potential partners.
„There are subjects and fields that aren’t impacted by sanctions,” said Kim Yong Il, North Korea’s chief delegate at UNESCO in Paris, according to a previously unreported transcript of his remarks.
South Korea adopted Alstom’s technology for its KTX bullet trains introduced in 2004. The system is about six times faster than the North’s aging rail networks.
But it’s far from clear how infrastructure would be defined under the United Nations sanctions, and the French rail operators told Reuters they had no plans to team up with North Korea.
„Given the international context surrounding North Korea, such cooperation is not conceivable, which is what SNCF communicated,” a spokeswoman said.
Alstom said it does not „maintain contact or discussions with any of the country’s representatives”.
The Dutch mission at the United Nations, which chairs the sanctions committee on North Korea, did not have immediate comment, while the North Korea mission did not return calls for comment.
LONG-HELD DREAM FOR KIM
A month before his death in 1994, Kim’s grandfather and founding leader of North Korea, Kim Il Sung, said a railway connecting two Koreas, China and Russia could generate North Korea $1.5 billion annually from transporting commodities.
Kim Jong Un publicly expressed admiration for South Korea’s railways during a summit in April. Kim told South Korean President Moon Jae-in that his sister and delegation were in awe of South Korea’s bullet trains, which they traveled in to get to the Pyeongchang Olympics in February.
In May, foreign journalists took 12 hours to travel roughly 415 km (258 miles) by train to watch the demolition of North Korea’s nuclear test site in Punggye-ri, averaging just 35 km/h. The same distance would take about 2.5 hours by South Korea’s KTX.
A bullet train system in North Korea could take at least five years to build and cost up to $20 billion, according to experts and railway executives.
Seoul and Pyongyang have discussed trans-Korean rail networks since the first inter-Korean summit in 2000.
A December 2015 North Korean investment brochure, seen by Reuters, says Pyongyang aims to build an „international rapid transit railway” to promote its special economic zone in the western city of Sinuiju bordering China.
The plan included converting some of the rail line to the capital into a „high-speed railway system,” according to the brochure.
In a statement carried by state media in 2015, Kim said a high-speed railway should be built between Pyongyang and a new international airport near the capital.
Kim also has more ambitious plans to build a high-speed railway linking Pyongyang to South Korea and China, a South Korean businessman said, citing North Korean officials charged with economic development.
„Kim is eyeing foreign currency earnings from ticket sales, and officials are pursuing a multinational consortium under his instruction,” said the businessman, who asked not to be named due to sensitivity of the matter.
RISKY, BUT POTENTIAL MONEY-SPINNER
Seoul, too, has seen potential benefits from such a tie-up. In 2015, a state-run railway association estimated trans-Korean railways linking the peninsula to China and Russia could halve the time to transport freight, and generate substantial transit fees for the South.
„In the past, the inter-Korean rail project was simply linking disconnected lines but now it’s about working on practical ways to modernize rails, operate them and create economic value,” Ahn Byung-min, a member of the South Korea’s presidential committee on economic cooperation with the North, told Reuters.
But a bullet train for the North has not been discussed in early talks with Pyongyang, Ahn said.
„Realistically, it will only come up later on the agenda because it involves a lot of money and complicated logistics.”
South Korea is budgeting 504 billion won ($450 million) next year for cross-border economic projects such as the modernization of North Korea’s roads and railways, up 46 percent from this year. It did not provide a breakdown for railways.
Seol Young-man, chief executive of Korea Engineering & Construction, told Reuters his firm is working on a high-speed railway and highway pitch for the South Korean government.
„We have to be prepared and ready to take initiative in competing against China and Russia in rebuilding North Korea’s rails and working with Kim Jong Un on economic cooperation,” Seol said.
A joint Chinese project to build hydro power stations in North Korea’s border region, as well as Russia’s rail project to transport Russian coal to a North Korean port have both received U.N. sanction exemptions.
But many risks remain in doing business with North Korea, including its secrecy and chronic power shortages, said Lee Chul, former president of South Korea’s state-run railroad operator.
„For railroad cooperation between South and North Korea, we thought it would be really good to understand the North’s railroad conditions,” said Lee, who met North Korean officials in 2006 to discuss restoring inter-Korean railways. „But North Korea considered it almost like military secrets and wouldn’t let us see.”
(Additional reporting by Joori Roh in SEOUL, Inti Landauro, Sudip Kar-Gupta, John Irish in PARIS, Editing by Soyoung Kim, Josh Smith)
The mystery of a partially-dressed woman who rang the doorbell of a Texas home in the dead of night and disappeared took a sordid turn on Wednesday when it led police to a scene of violence and death.
The woman from the video was subjected to domestic violence but is now safe, police said, five days after she was caught on the surveillance camera ringing the doorbell of a house.
From the day the video went viral, concerned people the world over were hooked to the hunt for the woman’s identity and for clues to her story.
Police said they arrived at a house on Wednesday in response to a call about a man threatening to kill himself, and found the woman’s 49-year-old boyfriend lying dead of a gunshot wound.
The death is believed to be suicide, police said.
The 32-year-old woman was mentioned in his suicide note but was not on the scene, officials stated.
Authorities were still in the dark about what may have been the most disturbing part of the video — something that appeared to be broken restraints on both her wrists.
„There are some issues obviously with the video surveillance and why she was wearing those restraints and the circumstances surrounding it,” Lieutenant Scott Spencer of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office said. „She is currently outside Montgomery County and our investigators will be meeting with her to continue the investigation.”
The house was in Sunrise Ranch, the same neighborhood as the one whose doorbell the woman had tried to ring. A resident who lives in the area, but does not wish to be identified, told ABC News that the woman had rung the doorbell of several different neighbors, but by the time they answered their doors, she had disappeared.
In the 7-second video that was shared over 32,000 times and received more than 8,600 comments as of Wednesday night from people from as far as the United Kingdom, the woman can be seen emerging from behind a bush next to the house, barefoot and wearing only a T-shirt, with unknown items dangling from both of her wrists.