• U.S.
    Associated Press

    Iran uses violence, politics to try to push US out of Iraq

    Iran has long sought the withdrawal of American forces from neighboring Iraq, but the U.S. killing of an Iranian general and an Iraqi militia commander in Baghdad has added new impetus to the effort, stoking anti-American feelings that Tehran hopes to exploit to help realize the goal. The Jan. 3 killing has led Iraq's parliament to call for the ouster of U.S. troops, but there are many lingering questions over whether Iran will be able to capitalize on the sentiment. It is not clear whether the protesters will try to recreate a New Year's Eve attack on the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad by Iran-supported militias in the wake of U.S. airstrikes that killed 25 militiamen along the border with Syria.

  • Politics
    The Daily Beast

    It’s Time for the Democrats to Stop Playing Along and Call a Sham a Sham

    Since the end result is almost assuredly a foregone conclusion, the real question may be whether this looks like an  impeachment trial—or just a rushed show trial that was always rigged from the beginning.Republicans, anxious to please their president and move on, seem hell-bent on proving the latter.On Tuesday, every single Republican senator voted to block documents such as emails and memos that are related to impeachment but that the White House has refused to turn over.McConnell Redraws His Impeachment ‘Roadmap’ on Day OneIt’s hard to imagine why, if the goal is really to get to the bottom of the question of innocence or guilt, they would do this (with the usual caveats about relevance and not revealing national security secrets). The obvious conclusion here is that Senate Republicans aren’t concerned about checks and balances, separation of powers, or even (gasp!) discovering the truth.Although Mitch McConnell’s original proposal was revised at the last minute, we are still left with a framework that is understandably rigged toward the majority party. For example, only after both sides present their opening arguments and take questions will there be a vote on whether to even allow witnesses and documents. Absent any witnesses or documents, one could imagine a scenario where Republicans simply conclude that it’s easier and more politically expedient to simply call no witnesses and end the “trial.” Of course (and I realize this sounds naive), it’s still possible that at least four Republicans will decide to make this—OK, maybe not a real trial, but at least, a bit more interesting theater. If that happens, the trial will be longer and more serious. And, ironically, more helpful to Trump when the Senate predictably votes not to convict, because at least then the trial won’t have been a complete sham.This brings us to one of those weird situations where winning may be losing and losing may be winning. If Democrats are permitted to call witnesses, then Democrats will have also legitimized this trial. Conversely, if Republicans rush this and don’t allow witnesses, the narrative shifts from “Mean Democrats and their witch hunt!” to “Republicans railroaded them.” Assuming it’s impossible to get 20 Republicans to convict, which scenario is more helpful to Democrats in the long run? Keep in mind, there’s no guarantee that witnesses will help. Anyone paying attention already knows that Donald Trump is guilty. Would hearing John Bolton say he thinks what Trump did was “bad” (but possibly not impeachable) make a huge difference? I’m not so sure. Who knows? Maybe under oath, Bolton would reveal some smoking gun evidence that would persuade Republicans to finally turn on Trump. But by virtue of the games Bolton has played so far, it seems just as likely that he would be, at best, an unreliable witness. After all, he has a career as a Fox News conservative to take care of. He has a PAC to raise money for. There are wars to be started… books to be sold! And what if Democrats have to trade a Hunter Biden appearance to get John Bolton? Although it has no relevance to Trump’s impeachment, it’s impossible to predict how that might play out. You might end up sinking the guy who has the best chance of defeating Trump in November. With the odds of removing Trump very low, it may well be that the next most important thing to come out of this trial is the moral high ground, perception of victimhood, and momentum heading into the 2020 elections. And here, I’m not just talking about the presidential election. Vulnerable Republican Senators like Martha McSally of Arizona, Cory Gardner of Colorado, and Susan Collins of Maine are probably in a lose-lose scenario, either way. Alienate Trump voters, and they risk a Trump tweet that would boost a primary challenger or simply depress base turnout in November. Hug Trump too hard, and risk alienating swing voters and suburban soccer moms. Based on procedural votes taken on Tuesday, they have already given their Democratic opponents the ability to plausibly run a TV ad saying they voted against allowing key documents to be introduced into the trial. That won’t necessarily disappear even if they later vote to allow witnesses (although doing so would serve to also anger their base). The point here is that Democrats might be better off looking at this as a long-term battle—which probably means accepting the fact that this short-term game is rigged. When you’re outgunned, instead of playing by the other side’s rules, you play a different game. It’s asymmetric warfare. If Democrats are destined to lose this Senate trial by a party-line vote, anyway, maybe they can win by losing?Indeed, their best bet might be to simply quit playing along in an unfair process they can’t win, and call a sham a sham. Democrats don’t need to win the election in January, they need to win the one in November. If they can make it clear that this process was rigged from the beginning, they can lose this battle but still win the war.  Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

  • Business
    Reuters

    Boeing CEO expects to resume 737 MAX production before mid-year

    WASHINGTON/CHICAGO (Reuters) - Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun told reporters on Wednesday the U.S. planemaker expects to resume 737 MAX production months before its forecasted mid-year return to service and said it did not plan to suspend or cut its dividend. The company announced a production halt in December, when the global grounding of the fast-selling 737 MAX following two deadly crashes in five months looked set to last into mid-2020 -- a timeline pushed back after Boeing endorsed new simulator training for pilots. "I am all in on it and the company is all in on it," Calhoun said, adding Boeing will not launch a marketing campaign to get customers to get back on 737 MAX planes.

  • World
    Bloomberg

    The Australian Dream Is Dying in the Wildfires

    (Bloomberg) -- Australia has some big decisions to make about its future. For insight into the stories that matter, sign up for our new weekly newsletter.The fabric of Australian life, that sun-licked, healthy, outdoor way of living that has drawn people to the continent for decades, is under assault.The unprecedented wildfires that have killed at least 28 people, incinerated an area almost the size of England and blanketed cities with toxic smoke, have also dealt a psychological blow to the nation. Behind the debris of the disaster lies the dread among many Australians that more of these extreme, weather-driven catastrophes could threaten the outdoor lifestyle for which the nation is famous.“This is going to change the whole way we organize our lives,” said Angela Rintoul, a 39-year-old health policy researcher from Melbourne, who was stranded in the beachside resort of Mallacoota on the southeast coast with her 17-month-old son Rex, partner and parents when fire swept into town in the final days of 2019.They sheltered in a cinema with about 650 others as flames raced through the main street. Rintoul and her family were eventually evacuated on an Australian Navy transport ship, the 16,000-ton HMAS Choules. She fears it may become too risky to spend summer vacations at the beach or in the wilderness.First-World Refugee Camps in Australia Highlight Climate FearsRintoul said the crisis, which has burned through more than 10 million hectares across all six Australian states, destroyed or damaged more than 3,000 homes and killed an estimated 1 billion native animals, is making her think about bigger things than just holiday plans: “Our future in general, what we are leaving our children, and the world we are creating for them.”Coordinating a nationwide response, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has sent in 3,000 army reservists to help the largely volunteer rural fire services and committed A$2 billion ($1.4 billion) for the recovery. Still he’s refused to step up efforts to curb carbon emissions at the expense of jobs and growth, instead focusing on practical steps Australia can take to become more resilient to climate-driven threats, including building dams, clearing land and being more discriminating about where homes can be built.But it’s beyond any government to control the climate. Australia’s crisis is a wake-up call for individuals to shake off the lethargy that has long blighted efforts to slow global warming, and take personal responsibility for the impact it’s having on their lives.While heavy weekend rains bought some relief to firefighters, more than 60 blazes are still burning across New South Wales, according to the Rural Fire Service. Conditions are set to worsen again, with temperatures in parts of Sydney forecast to top 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) on Thursday.Australian school kids, reared on a diet of outdoor play and sunscreen, have been shuttered inside this fire season to escape what at times has been the most dangerous air on the planet. Cherished beaches have been turned into refuges of last resort for thousands of holidaymakers escaping massive fires tearing through forested coastal communities. Dozens of national parks -- home to remote walks and camping grounds, eucalyptus trees, wallabies and koalas -- have closed, if they haven’t burned out.It’s a trajectory with parallels in wildfire-ravaged California, perhaps Australia’s most obvious equivalent in the northern hemisphere. Both Australia and the Golden State have hot and dry summers, beaches, forests and vineyards, and both appear to be on a collision course with a changing global climate.The warnings about the frequency and severity of Australia’s bushfires have been sounded by government scientists and the United Nations since at least 2007. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, dangerous bushfire conditions are becoming more common, with the season starting earlier in southern and eastern parts of Australia.It’s difficult to overstate Australians’ affinity with the ocean, the beach and the “bush,” a catch-all reference to rural life. During the southern hemisphere summer holiday season that peaks in January, Australia’s urban populations drain into bays along the coast and the green hinterlands. Regional towns swell with visitors and campgrounds that are empty in winter suddenly throng. It’s where the fires have hit the hardest.For those left in Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne, summer is typically a period of barbecues, outdoor festivals and cooling swims in open-air pools. Bushfires are normally a distant distraction.That changed on Nov. 11, when authorities said Sydney faced a “catastrophic” fire-danger rating for the first time. Since then, winds have sporadically blown in thick smoke from outlying blazes.The rhythm is now different in the city, where grassy parks and famous sandy strips such as Bondi Beach usually bustle with runners, exercise classes and families.Nicholas Chapman, who runs outdoor training sessions about 3 kilometers from the Sydney Opera House at Rushcutters Bay, says the smoke on the worst days last month made his clients light-headed, dehydrated and short of breath, and his own eyes started weeping. He’s started moving classes indoors.“It’s a big shift in how you think, how you live,” said Chapman. “I’ve got a little girl, and there’s been days when I haven’t taken her to the park to run around. When has an Australian had to think about that as a thing? That’s really sad.”Kids are among those most at risk from the harmful particles in woodfire smoke, doctors say. The tiny matter can embed itself deep in the lungs, heightening the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and cancers.It’s this fallout that particularly worries Kathy Patrick, the general manager of Kidz Child Care, which has five centers for pre-schoolers in eastern New South Wales. This season’s smoke has kept children indoors more than ever, and Patrick said she had to temporarily close the southernmost site after fires reached Batemans Bay just before New Year.“I feel it might be part of the new normal,” said Patrick, who’s worked in the childcare industry for more than two decades. “It’s going to be very sad for our children that they don’t have that outdoor play.”Wildfires More Than Double Australia’s Annual Carbon EmissionsPatrick, an asthmatic, said she’s had to increase her medication and she fears the children will develop more health issues, too. That enviable life she loved? “It’s kind of disappeared,” she said.Even Australians who haven’t been directly impacted by the fires have been saturated with viral images of the disaster: Charred livestock; dying koalas, blow-torched properties; and mid-morning rural skies that have turned midnight black with smoke.The pictures have been so distressing that it may deter people from visiting regional Australia, said Simon Westaway, executive director of the Australian Tourism Industry Council, which represents more than 8,000 tourism businesses.“Our worry is this is really going to infringe on people’s minds,” said Westaway.A new Tourism Australia advert fronted by singer Kylie Minogue, designed to target potential visitors from the U.K., instead highlights what’s been lost in the bushfires. The three-minute video features golden beaches, koalas under blue Sydney skies, and haze-free cricket matches.Rob Vickers, owner of the Aussie Boatshed hire business in Forster, a coastal town about a 3 1/2-hour drive north of Sydney, says the fires are already putting people off.Bushfires north of Forster blanketed the town with smoke in October and deposited a scum of ash onto surrounding beaches. Vickers says kayak rentals dried up and demand hasn’t yet recovered.“I think everyone was a bit too scared to leave their houses,” said Vickers, who was evacuated from his home twice last year because of the fire risk. “If we get this every summer, it would be devastating.”Critics of those who link the crisis to climate change argue that Australia, the world’s driest-inhabited continent, is no stranger to fire and drought. But data suggests this is no ordinary cycle. Last year was the hottest since 1910 and the driest in data going back to 1900, according to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology.“This isn’t a flash in a pan,” said David Bowman, a professor of pyrogeography and fire science at the University of Tasmania who has studied bushfires in Australia for 40 years. “We’re going to have to change.”(Adds number of fires still burning in New South Wales in eighth paragraph.)\--With assistance from David Stringer.To contact the reporter on this story: Angus Whitley in Sydney at awhitley1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edward Johnson at ejohnson28@bloomberg.net, Peter VercoeFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Lifestyle
    Yahoo Style UK

    This £40 suitcase has hundreds of five-star reviews: 'Light, sturdy and spacious'

    It's lightweight, it comes in 11 colourways and it means you can afford to spend more on your actual holiday.