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Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton has advocated bombing North Korea — and he may be sabotaging talks

  • North Korea and the US backslid from previously rosy relations on Tuesday when media from Pyongyang attacked President Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton.
  • North Korea took issue with Bolton calling for a "Libya model" of denuclearization, as Libya's leader met with a violent death after disarming.
  • Bolton almost certainly knew what he was doing, and experts say he may be sabotaging the deal.
  • Bolton has written extensively to advocate for the US bombing North Korea.

North Korea and the US backslid from previously rosy relations on Tuesday when media from Pyongyang attacked President Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton for his comments about North Korean denuclearization.

Bolton, who has extensively advocated for the US using military options against North Korea, recently said that the US should treat North Korea's disarmament like Libya's, something which preceded the death of Libya's former leader, Muammar Gaddafi.

North Korean media shot back on Tuesday, calling the comparison "absolutely absurd" and expressing a "feeling of repugnance towards" Bolton.

Bolton must have known the Libya comparison carried dark connotations for North Korea, but he said it anyway, despite the fact that North Korea and Libya have extremely different weapons programs and geopolitical situations.

But according to experts, Bolton may have been trying both to provoke North Korea and over-inflate Trump's expectations in a bid t0 sabotage future peace talks.

Jeffrey Lewis, a top North Korea expert, said on his Arms Control Wonk podcast that Bolton is "trying to sabotage" the Trump-Kim summit "by talking about a Libya-style deal."

According to Lewis, Bolton is trying to "push the president to expect that when he shows up for that summit meeting, Kim is going to tell him where all the weapons are and encourage him to get on a plane to pick them up."

Lewis maintains that the talks will not be so easy, and that North Korea's promises thus far disguise true, more shrewd intentions.

Another common talking point among North Korea experts is that inflated expectations over the summits could lead to disaster when one or both parties find out the other isn't willing to give as much as the media or the South Korean go-between indicated.

The White House downplayed Bolton's comments after North Korea lashed out, with press secretary Sarah Sanders saying on Wednesday of Bolton's "Libya Model": "I haven't seen that as part of any discussions so I'm not aware that that's a model that we're using."

SEE ALSO: Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong Un could end in catastrophe — but that may be the point

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Jeff Bezos could be the first ‘woke’ billionaire philanthropist — but only if he’s willing to help solve the problems he’s created

  • Anand Giridharadas, author of Winners Take All, shares his thoughts on Bezos' latest charity announcement.
  • In light of the recent tech backlash, he said, Bezos has an opportunity to become the first "woke" billionaire philanthropist.
  • To establish a new paradigm of corporate giving, the CEO must be willing to acknowledge his shortcomings.

In June 2017, Jeff Bezos issued a vague solicitation to his followers on Twitter: "I'm thinking about a philanthropy strategy that is the opposite of how I mostly spend my time — working on the long term," he wrote. "If you have ideas, just reply to this tweet."

More than a year went by before Bezos finally revealed his plan for a $2 billion charity fund led by him and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos. Once he did, the Bezos Day One Fund was hounded by critics as a strategic move to distract from a recent string of bad press.

Shortly before the announcement, Business Insider published an article exposing the poor working conditions of the company's delivery drivers, who recounted a number of alleged abuses, from missing wages and lack of overtime pay to urinating in bottles in order to keep to their delivery schedules.

"Jeff Bezos can tout himself as a great philanthropist, yet it will not absolve him of responsibility if Amazon workers continue to be afraid to take toilet breaks and days off sick because they fear disciplinary action at work," writer James Bloodworth told the BBC.

This distraction method is part of what Anand Giridharadas, a former consultant turned author, calls the "moral glow" of tech companies. In his recent book, Winners Take All, Giridharadas argues that many wealthy tech firms use philanthropy as a sheen to cover the depth of their influence — or the extent of their abuses.

With his new fund, Bezos has a chance to avoid this trap.

In the wake of the CEO's announcement, Giridharadas took to Twitter to share his thoughts about the billionaire's philanthropic endeavor. "Givers often ask what they can do," Giridharadas said. "But imagine if Jeff Bezos set an example of asking what is rarely asked: What am I already doing? How am I involved in the problems? What could I do to solve them for all?"

It's a question worth considering as billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg and David Rubenstein garner criticism for setting near-impossible goals for their philanthropies, or hindering government from solving public issues.

For now, Bezos' two main goals seem innocent of both offenses: He plans to develop a support network for homeless families and establish free preschools in low-income communities.

According to Giridharadas, this gives him a chance to pioneer a new model of philanthropy — one that helps solve the problems he's been instrumental in creating. That starts not with scaling education programs or homeless initiatives, but with addressing the root of these issues, such as zoning, taxation, or unfair pay practices.

Giridharadas cites the Supreme Court case San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriquez, which allowed Texas schools to be partially funded by property taxes, creating disparities in the quality of public education. By challenging these policies, he said, Bezos could have a meaningful impact on local communities.

That's a tall order, given the CEO's history of hoarding his personal fortune. But in an age of increasing skepticism of powerful institutions, Bezos must contend with a new adversary: a growing sense of public scrutiny.

According to Giridharadas, Bezos is the first mega-giver to enter the arena of big philanthropy in the wake of a national backlash against tech companies — one that likely contributed to the rise of populist figures like Donald Trump. As such, Bezos is probably aware of the fact that the eyes of the world are upon him, and citizens are eager to hold him accountable.

"I just hope he would bring to his giving the same daring and irreverence and weirdness that he brought to building Amazon," said Giridharadas. "What would be disappointing is if his giving was one of conventions and clichés, while his money-making was done with such imagination."

If Bezos breaks from the standard of corporate philanthropy, he could ignite a paradigm shift in the industry. Giridharadas refers to this new type of billionaire as the "woke giver," or someone who recognizes their complicity in the world's problems and makes an effort to right these wrongs, even if it comes at his or her expense.

One prime example is Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation, whom Giridharadas interviewed for Winners Take All. As a black, gay man born into poverty, Walker remains keenly aware of the issues he's attempting to solve, as well as the the ability of large corporations to exacerbate inequality.

"I think Darren is able to have that double consciousness of being in that [board] room and thinking, 'This room really could make a difference, and this is the kind of room that throughout history has used the idea of making a difference to screw people,'" Giridharadas said.

While he isn't certain that Bezos can strike the same balance, Giridharadas is cautiously optimistic. It will boil down to whether Bezos recognizes that there's more to charity than self-image and improving the bottom line. And it will mean looking inward before looking outward.

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May rallies EU leaders with ‘not perfect’ Chequers plan

By Aubrey Allegretti, political reporter

Theresa May has tried to rally EU leaders for a divorce deal to tackle the "uniquely complex situation" of Brexit.

Over a private dinner in Salzburg, the prime minister announced hopes for a "shared close future" but warned "we never said Brexit would be easy".

Her comments came hours after Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab threatened to undermine the Chequers proposal by admitting it was "not perfect".

A new summit is expected to be set up for November, as the deadline for a deal by the end of autumn looms.

Participants of the EU Informal Summit of Heads of State or Government in Salzburg Austria attend a dinner at the Felsenreitschule on September 19, 2018. (Photo by GEORG HOCHMUTH / APA / AFP) / Austria OUT (Photo credit should read GEORG HOCHMUTH/AFP/Getty Images)
Image: EU leaders dined on wiener schnitzel with potatoes and Austrian wine

Mrs May addressed EU27 leaders over wiener schnitzel with potatoes and Austrian wine, pitching her Chequers proposal before sit-down meetings begin on Thursday.

Fighting back against the EU's suggestion that Northern Ireland could stay in the customs union to avert a hard border, Mrs May said separating it from the rest of the UK was "not credible".

What is the Chequers proposal?

What is the Chequers proposal?

It is one of the most controversial government documents in recent history

She also hit back at whispers in Brussels of a referendum on the final Brexit deal, saying: "We all recognise that time is short but delaying or extending these negotiations is not an option.

"I know that for many of you Brexit is not something you want – but it is important to be clear there will be no second referendum."

:: Where are we at with Brexit? Your questions answered

EU and Union flags together
Image: Brussels said Britain needed to 'acknowledge the EU rules'

Earlier, Mr Raab warned that if the EU did not follow the UK's lead and compromise it would be "lose-lose" for both sides.

In remarks likely to fire up Brexiteers campaigning for the government to "chuck Chequers", he added the proposal conceived at the prime minister's countryside retreat was "not perfect".

But Mr Raab insisted it was "the most credible plan" for Brexit, challenging critics by saying it was "a bit late in the day" for alternative proposals.

:: Leak reveals airport safety risks of 'no-deal' Brexit

Dominic Raab
Image: Dominic Raab admitted the Chequers proposal was 'not perfect'

Britain and the EU both want to reach a deal by the end of 2018, to allow enough time for all the bloc's national parliaments to debate and vote on it before the expected Brexit day of 29 March 2019.

The informal gathering in Salzberg has been seen as a staging post in talks, but is unlikely to yield much progress – in public at least.

:: Most Britons disapprove of Chequers Brexit deal – Sky poll

Brussels has remained adamant it is the UK that needs to change its position.

"A Brexit deal needs the UK to acknowledge the EU rules," Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told Sky News as he entered the talks.

Antonio Tajani, the European Parliament president, added that the four freedoms underpinning the EU were indivisible.

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There must be a level playing field with the UK post-Brexit, he said, with no cherry picking.

:: Brexit forensics examines the issues dominating Britain's exit from the EU

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‘His trial balloon went over like the Hindenburg’: Democrats are skeptical of Michael Bloomberg’s potential 2020 run

  • Michael Bloomberg, the former Republican mayor of New York, is considering a run for the presidency in 2020 as a centrist Democrat, despite an energized left wing and a crowded field.
  • Many Democratic strategists say Bloomberg has no path to victory.
  • "It's hard to imagine someone more out of touch with the Democratic base," said one operative.

Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire media mogul and former New York mayor, is seriously considering a run for the presidency in 2020 as a centrist Democrat, despite an energized left wing and a crowded field.

The former Republican, who's spending $80 million largely on Democratic candidates in this year's midterm elections, has received a warm welcome into the Democratic fold from party leaders, but strategists on the left say a presidential bid would likely be dead on arrival.

Despite his newfound allegiance to the Democratic Party, Bloomberg holds an array of positions anathema to the progressive left.

While an influential champion of gun control and environmental protection policies, Bloomberg defends stop-and-frisk policing (ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in 2013), breaks with progressive Democrats on bank regulation, and believes the movement against sexual misconduct has gone too far in some cases, according to a recent interview he did with The New York Times.

The 2020 primary is looking to be a competitive battle for the left — half a dozen likely presidential contenders in the Senate have spent the last few years catering to the party's energized base with increasingly progressive policy proposals and rhetoric. Some Democratic operatives say Bloomberg couldn't be farther from what progressives are looking for.

"It's hard to imagine someone more out of touch with the Democratic base than a billionaire who defends racist policing tactics, advocates going soft on Wall Street, and dismisses the significance of the #MeToo movement," said one New York-based Democratic strategist, who requested anonymity to avoid jeopardizing relations with fellow Democrats. "Even millions of dollars couldn't make those viewpoints palatable to Democratic voters."

Other liberal Democrats expressed the same sentiment, in slightly softer terms.

"I think it's great that the Democratic presidential primary is shaping up to be robust, but at the same time I feel as though he may not be completely in touch with where the Democratic Party is right now," said Carolyn Fiddler, communications director for the progressive advocacy group Daily Kos.

Bloomberg has long been called out of touch — both on the left and the right. And this isn't the first time he's mulled a presidential run. He considered running as an independent in 2016 — an idea the GOP laughed off, citing his positions on guns and abortion as far too liberal to appeal to a primary electorate. He ultimately decided not to run after determining he had no path to victory.

"His trial balloon went over like the Hindenburg," the Democratic strategist said.

But others in the party would like a moderate in Bloomberg's mold on the general election ticket, although they concede the chances of that happening are low.

"In a general election he would do exceptionally well, he would pull in a lot of independents, he would pull in a lot of moderates," said Adrienne Elrod, a former spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton's campaign, said of Bloomberg, adding, "The left and progressives are louder than they've ever been. They're vocal, they're energized, they're motivated, and they want someone whose ideologies align with theirs."

SEE ALSO: Michael Bloomberg is weighing a 2020 run as a centrist Democrat

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BAT chief Durante smoked out by share price fall

By Mark Kleinman, City editor

The chief executive of British American Tobacco (BAT) is preparing to step down in the wake of a sector-wide share price decline prompted by investor concern over slowing sales growth.

Sky News has learnt that Nicandro Durante, who has run the world's biggest cigarette manufacturer by number of countries since 2011, is expected to leave the company at some point in the next year.

Sources said on Wednesday evening that Mr Durante, a Brazilian-Italian national, was likely to be replaced by an internal candidate.

Jack Bowles, BAT's chief operating officer, is regarded as the frontrunner to be the company's new boss, although the chief marketing officer, Andrew Gray, is also rumoured to have been a contender for the role.

The precise timing of an announcement about the succession plan is unclear and one source cautioned that it may not be imminent.

A ‎changing of the guard at the Lucky Strike and Dunhill maker will come little more than 18 months after BAT announced the takeover of US tobacco group Reynolds in a $49.4bn deal.

However, BAT shares‎ have slumped by nearly a quarter during the last 12 months amid declining growth in core tobacco products and uncertainty about the future success of its range of so-called next-generation products.

The latter category, which includes BAT's vaping brand, Vype, and Glo, its tobacco pipe, are an increasingly important driver of cigarette manufacturers' profits.

BAT's London-listed rival, the Davidoff- and West-maker Imperial Brands, ‎has also seen its shares decline by more than a fifth during the last year.

Mr Durante‎ has spent 37 years at BAT and its subsidiaries, joining its Brazilian unit in 1981, before being seconded to the company's UK head office in 1995.

He then spent time in Asia, South America ‎and joined BAT's board in 2008 as its chief operating officer.

Despite its weak share price performance, BAT remains one of the largest companies in the FTSE-100 by market value.

Under Mr Durante, BAT's efforts to grow its next-generation division have included a number of acquisitions, including Ten Motives, a UK-based e-cigarette company.

He has acknowledged that the industry has "entered a dynamic period of change"‎ but insisted that the growth in alternative products has given the company the opportunity to "transform tobacco".

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At the close of trading on Wednesday, BAT, which operates in more than 200 countries, was valued at £82.6bn.

BAT declined to comment.

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‘There are multiple witnesses who should be included’: A lawyer for the woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault raises the stakes ahead of planned hearing

  • The attorney for Christine Blasey Ford, a 51-year-old research psychologist and professor who accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in the 1980s, called for additional witnesses to testify at a hearing planned for Monday.
  • Attorney Lisa Banks argued that her client, a mother of two teenagers, was "thrust into the public spotlight" after going public with her allegation against Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court.
  • One key witness in the allegation appeared reluctant to discuss the incident or has no memory of it.

The attorney for Christine Blasey Ford, a 51-year-old research psychologist and professor who accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in the 1980s, claimed that the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing scheduled for Monday felt rushed and called for additional witnesses to testify.

Attorney Lisa Banks argued that her client, a mother of two teenagers, was "thrust into the public spotlight" after going public with her allegation against Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court.

Ford said Kavanaugh was "stumbling drunk" during a small party in high school, at which he pinned her to a bed, groped her over her clothes, and covered her mouth with his hand when she started to scream.

After coming forward and having her identity revealed, Ford has reportedly moved out of her house and hired private security after receiving death threats and vulgar messages on social media.

"Dr. Ford was reluctantly thrust into the public spotlight only two days ago," a statement from Banks said. "She is currently unable to go home, and is receiving ongoing threats to her and her family's safety."

"Fairness and respect for her situation dictate that she should have time to deal with this," Banks said. "She continues to believe that a full non-partisan investigation of this matter is needed and she is willing to cooperate with the Committee."

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, gave Ford's lawyers a Friday deadline to answer whether or not their client will testify.

Grassley noted he had offered Ford several venues for her testimony, including a public or private setting, or an option for her to speak to his staffers in California, where she lives, according to committee spokesman Garrett Ventry.

Kavanaugh, who has categorically denied the claims, said he was willing to testify.

While Republican lawmakers are willing to hear testimony from Ford, they have demurred Democratic lawmakers and Ford's request for an FBI investigation. A vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation was delayed this week. Some Republicans have urged their colleagues to get past Ford's allegations and proceed with a vote.

Banks said the "rush to a hearing is unnecessary," and called for the Judiciary Committee to summon additional witnesses from the alleged incident.

"However, the Committee's stated plan to move forward with a hearing that has only two witnesses is not a fair or good faith investigation; there are multiple witnesses whose names have appeared publicly and should be included in any proceeding," Banks said in the statement.

Key witnesses have appeared reluctant to discuss the incident, or claimed to have no memory of it. Mark Judge, a former high school classmate of Kavanaugh's who became implicated in the allegation, has signaled he is unwilling to appear before the Judiciary Committee.

It was unclear whether Ford would testify, regardless of whether the FBI makes the unlikely move to launch a formal investigation into the allegation, or whether the Judiciary Committee calls for more witnesses. Ford's attorneys were not immediately available for comment on Wednesday evening.

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