Trump cancels Davos trip citing ‘Democrat intransigence’ on shutdown

US President Donald Trump has canceled his planned trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, citing the ongoing impasse with congressional Democrats that’s keeping parts of the US government closed for a third week.

Trump, who is visiting the US-Mexico border on Thursday, tweeted from Texas that he will be “respectfully canceling” the Davos trip because of the “Democrats intransigence on border security.”

Because of the Democrats intransigence on Border Security and the great importance of Safety for our Nation, I am respectfully cancelling my very important trip to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum. My warmest regards and apologies to the !

The Davos conference is scheduled to start on January 22, so Trump’s announcement means the current government shutdown may continue to that date and beyond.

The US government has been partially shut down for 20 days now, after Senate Democrats refused to back a Republican-majority House bill that would allocate $5.7 billion to building the border wall just before Christmas.

Democrats took over the House on January 3, and have proposed several bills to reopen the government, but have rejected any funding for the wall, ever, calling it “immoral.”

Also on rt.com ‘Total waste of time’: Trump walks out of shutdown talks with Democrats...

Trump walked out of a meeting with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) on Wednesday, calling it a “waste of time” because the Democrats were not willing to negotiate.

Some 800,000 federal workers will soon miss their expected paychecks, and each side has accused the other of ignoring their needs and interests.

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Cyberattack Hits US Newspaper Distribution

A cyberattack caused major printing and delivery disruptions on Saturday at the Los Angeles Times and other major US newspapers, including ones owned by Tribune Publishing Co such as the Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun.

The cyberattack appeared to originate outside the United States, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing a source with knowledge of the situation.

The attack led to distribution delays in the Saturday edition of The Times, Tribune, Sun and other newspapers that share a production platform in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Tribune Publishing, whose newspapers also include the New York Daily News and Orlando Sentinel, said it first detected the malware on Friday.

The West Coast editions of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times were hit as they are also printed on the shared production platform, the Los Angeles Times said.

Tribune Publishing spokeswoman Marisa Kollias said the virus hurt back-office systems used to publish and produce "newspapers across our properties."

"There is no evidence that customer credit card information or personally identifiable information has been compromised," Kollias said in a statement

The Wall Street Journal and New York Times did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Most San Diego Union-Tribune subscribers were without a newspaper on Saturday as the virus infected the company's business systems and hobbled its ability to publish, the paper's editor and publisher Jeff Light wrote on its website.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security said it was studying the situation.

"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," said DHS spokeswoman Katie Waldman in a statement.

Representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation were not immediately available for comment.

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'UK, US look at jihadist groups as useful, are they as against terrorists as they pretend to be?'

A Times' article portraying Chechen jihadists as freedom fighters because they are anti-Russian is an attempt to whitewash a connection between the Ukrainian government and terrorist groups, former US diplomat Jim Jatras told RT.

The British newspaper published a highly controversial interview with a Chechen who is fighting against anti-government forces in Eastern Ukraine. The head of his battalion earlier admitted that his fighters waged jihad in Syria and that the leader was even part of a terror group committing atrocities in Russia.

"Some of the battalion's gunmen admit to having honed their combat skills at Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) training camps in Iraq and Syria," the article says.

Former US diplomat Jim Jatras, commenting on the timing of the article to RT, said that the editorial decision to let this information out now is perhaps because "somebody just discovered the significance of it" especially in light of President Trump's announcement to withdraw US troops from Syria after Islamic State's defeat.

 
Ukrainian Chechen volunteer battalion leader Muslim Cheberloevsky interview by Ukrainian TV in November 2017

 

He said that it has been known since 2014 that there are "Chechen fighters on the Kiev government side".

"This has been a magnet for anti-Russian elements from all sorts of countries, Georgia and from Europe, people fighting with these non-governmental militias that are allied with the Ukrainian forces. And some of them are very extreme, very radical ideologically. This should come as no surprise that somebody admits that they have this relationship with ISIS," he said. 

The British establishment, including the media and intelligent services, have been at the forefront of the anti-Russian campaign even before the 2016 US presidential election, according to Jatras. "They even had this entire group that was set up within the British government to generate anti-Russian press material."

The point of this "disinformation against Russia", he said, is "not only to blacken Russia but to make sure there could be no rapprochement between Moscow and Washington as Donald Trump has said he wants to have. And this effort has been wildly successful."

"Portraying these Chechen jihadists as 'freedom fighters', because they are anti-Russian wouldn't be necessarily unusual for the British media and you would expect that," Jatras said. 

In his view, "the real tit-bit was the fact that somebody overlooked the significance of these fellows admitting that they have this relationship with the Islamic State which supposedly is the big enemy that we have been fighting against in Syria… But nothing could be farther from the truth."

Jatras suggested that the US' real reason for being in Syria is "to try to get rid of the Assad government and also to block the Iranians and to thwart the Russian effort in that country."

He said that IS "at best has been a kind of 'frenemy' that we treated as an enemy sometimes but also find it useful for larger political goals there."

 
Activists of far-right parties in front of the presidential administration headquarters in Kiev, Ukraine November 26, 2018 © Reuters / Gleb Garanich

 

He thinks this story isn't "all that surprising given the bent of the British media."  

Jatras believes the article to be an intentional attempt to whitewash the connection between the Ukrainian government and terrorist groups "while knowing that they are cooperating with the Ukrainian government."

The government in Kiev is chaotic, weak and "at the mercy of the extreme nationalist elements," the former diplomat said.

"Of course they can't control these groups like Azov battalion and others on the field. It shouldn't be surprising that when they invite other radical groups to participate in the war that are nominally not part of the official Ukrainian forces, they also cooperate with them while allowing them to continue on an independent basis. I don't see how that morally whitewashes or isolates the Ukrainian authorities from the radical politics of these terrorists," Jatras noted.

In Jatras' opinion, these jihadists have been the biggest threat to the Western world for the last couple of decades, however, the UK and the US government don't look at this that way.

"They look at these groups as useful. And this has a long history, not only going back to the efforts against the Soviets in Afghanistan, but to Bosnia, to Kosovo, to Libya, to Syria… The idea that we don't have this long relationship with these groups is extremely naive," Jatras said.

"How many people put two and two together and say 'wait a minute, this doesn't smell right.' Why is our government, why is the British government, which is a close ally of the US, working with these terrorist groups? I thought we were against terrorism. And I think it is very hard for a lot of people to look at this and say 'wait a minute, maybe we are not as against the terrorists as we pretend to be?'"

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Venezuela: President Maduro Calls For Unity Against Attacks

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has called upon his people to defend their Motherland against imperialist and interventionist agressions.

President Nicolas Maduro, called upon national unity of Venezuelans to defend peace and the country's independence against possible attacks from other governments of the Americas.

RELATED: Brazil's Bolsonaro Says He Will Target Venezuela, Cuba

During the Bolivarian Congress of Peoples held in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, the president urged the "national union to defend peace and independence, defend the right to life, the happiness of the people."

President Maduro also warned about serious events that could occur in Venezuela, "from now on I say people unite and go to the streets, regain power and make a more radical Revolution, it is an order to the people."

El Congreso de los Pueblos tiene tres tareas para el 2019: derrotar a los imperialistas, oligarcas y traidores para lograr la paz, luchar por la recuperación económica, el crecimiento y la prosperidad de Venezuela, y enfrentar la indolencia, el burocratismo y la corrupción.

"The People's Congress has three tasks for 2019: defeat the imperialists, oligarchs and traitors to achieve peace, fight for economic recovery, growth and prosperity of Venezuela, and face indolence, bureaucracy and corruption."

The Venezuelan executive power asked the Venezuelan people and the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) to "be prepared for everything, to defend and guarantee the peace of the country under any circumstances," adding that more than 80 percent of Venezuelans repudiate any foreign intervention.

The head of state reiterated that they do not want President Iván Duque getting involved in the affairs of his country. "(Ivan Duque) can not govern Colombia and wanting to govern Venezuela." Maduro added that either "they are with the foreign cause against Venezuela or they are with the Bolivarian Government that I preside, that the whole world is defined, we are with the country or with the war empire," the president said.

He also said that the Brazilian vice president-elect, Hamilton Mourao, said that in Venezuela there will be a coup d'état and, subsequently, the Brazilian government would send an army to prevail in that nation. "Here I am waiting for you with several million men and women, and with a FANB ready to defend the Constitution, independence and the Revolution, Mourao I'm waiting for you here," told Maduro to Murao.

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BREAKING: Columbine High School on 'LOCKDOWN' after incident – police on scene

School officials in Jefferson County say several schools are on lockdown because of a suspicious person.

This means students have to remain inside the school.

Its Twitter account said: “All schools in Columbine, Chatfield, & Dakota Ridge areas have been placed in lockout due to a suspicious person in the Columbine area.

“Will update when we have more. Lockout means students remain inside; entry/exit are restricted.”

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Trump Worried About Impeachment, Thinks It's "Real Possibility": Report

Washington: US President Donald Trump has expressed concern that he could be impeached when Democrats take over the House and saw it as a "real possibility", a source close to him told CNN.

But Trump isn't certain it would happen, the source said on Monday night.

A separate source close to the White House told CNN that aides inside the West Wing believe "the only issue that may stick" in the impeachment process is the campaign finance violations tied to the President's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen's payouts to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, both women have alleged to have affairs with Trump.

Impeachment talk has ratcheted up in recent days following a blockbuster filing from prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.

In the filing, prosecutors directly alleged for the first time that Cohen was being directed by Trump when he broke the law during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Democrats were suggesting that Trump committed an impeachable offence and could be sent to prison when his term in the White House is over.

The incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Jerry Nadler, said on Sunday the allegations, if proven, would constitute "impeachable offences".

Democratic Senato Chris Coons said earlier on Monday that Trump could be indicted after he leaves office.

White House officials, at the moment, still do not believe that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion will result in impeachment.

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'Undiplomatic': Russia Rejects US Reaction to Military Cooperation with Venezuela

The deployment of the Russian warplanes follows Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro’s visit to Russia last week.

Russia sent military airplanes to Venezuela to show its willingness to defend the country against a “foreign military intervention.”

RELATED: Venezuela, Russia Begin Defense Training Exercises

The deployment did not go unnoticed by the White House as Mike Pompeo, U.S. secretary of state took a jab at both nations labeling them “corrupt” and accused them of allegedly making their people “suffer.”

The Kremlin responded to what it believes are "inappropriate" and "non-diplomatic" comments by Pompeo.

The U.S. secretary of state's comments were issued in the framework of a Russia-Venezuela joint cooperation which does not accommodate U.S. interests, and which were not made in consultation with the North American Nation, and puts its hegemony over the region in suspense.

“Two TU-160 bombers, an An-124 heavy military transport plane and an II-62 long-haul plane of the Russian aerospace forces that took off from aerodromes in Russia have landed at the Maiquet at ‘Simon Bolivar’ International Airport of the Venezuelan capital city,” according to Russia’s defense ministry.

The Russian servicemen were met by the honor guard of Venezuela’s air force. They discussed “combined operational flights.”

“We are getting prepared to defend Venezuela if it is needed,” and “we will do it with our friends who advocate respect-based relations between states,” stated Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez, after the landing.

The operational flights to be held between both nations are considered to be a “demonstration of strength,” by Venezuela’s defense ministry.

“Military-technical cooperation is one of many areas of our cooperation. Over the past years it has been developing very fruitful,” stated Vladimir Zaemsky, Russia’s ambassador to Venezuela, Tuesday.

The deployment of the Russian warplanes follows Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s visit to Russia last week.

A new Russia-Venezuela meeting is being prepared to discuss new joint projects, “These projects will provide great assistance in developing mutually beneficial relations between Russia and Venezuela,” stated Zaemsky.

The TU-160 bomber is the largest supersonic (Mach 2+) combat aircraft in the world and it was designed by the Soviet Union. The vessel is capable of carrying nuclear as well as conventional missiles. The bomber is considered to be “long-range” as it can cover distances of more than 12,000 km without having to refuel.

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In Major Shift, US Now Exports More Oil Than It Ships In

The United States last week exported more crude oil and fuel than it imported for the first time on record, according to data released on Thursday, the same day OPEC ended a meeting without a decision to curb global output to balance out the historic surge in U.S. supply.

When adding in all imports and exports of crude and refined products, the U.S. exported a net 211,000 barrels per day for the week through Nov. 30 - the first time that has happened, according to U.S. Energy Department figures dating to 1973. That was on the back of a jump in crude exports to a weekly record of more than 3.2 million bpd.

"So when does the U.S. send a delegate to OPEC meetings?" said Kyle Cooper, consultant at ION Energy in Houston. "It's really quite amazing. I do think that will occur more and more often in coming years."

The United States historically has been a heavy importer of crude oil in part due to a four-decade ban on crude exports that was lifted in late 2015 by then-President Barack Obama.

Petroleum exports until recently were dominated by products like gasoline and diesel, but that has changed since the U.S. shale revolution that has sped up drilling and extraction of oil, helping boost overall U.S. production to a record 11.7 million bpd.

The data comes on the same day that the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries adjourned a meeting without announcing a supply-cut agreement as it grapples with sinking prices due in part to the surge in U.S. output that has upended the global supply equation.

Crude inventories fell 7.3 million barrels last week, the first drawdown since September, as net crude imports hit a record low of 4 million bpd, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Thursday.

Graphic: U.S. turns into net exporter of oil (https://tmsnrt.rs/2Rz57Xn)

U.S. crude prices have sagged almost a third since hitting a four-year high near $76 a barrel in October. That was in part due to concerns about oversupply coming to the fore again as U.S. production rose in tandem with increased output from Saudi Arabia and Russia. The three countries are the world's largest producers of oil.

That has created a dilemma for Saudi-led OPEC, which wants to maintain higher prices but avoid ceding more market share to shale producers. On Thursday, OPEC adjourned its meeting in Vienna, aiming to reach an agreement with Russia on Friday.

"It seems EIA has a habit of sending bad news to OPEC during its Vienna meetings. In the past, it has been surging U.S. production numbers. But this time was truly remarkable and historic showing data for net crude imports as -211,000 bpd," said Joe McMonigle, analyst at Hedgeye in Washington.

U.S. crude production is expected to average more than 12 million bpd in 2019, according to the EIA, an increase of more than 3 million bpd in 2016. Shale production surged in the early part of the decade as companies started to use hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to extract oil in basins in Texas, North Dakota and other states.

U.S. output rose to 9.7 million bpd in mid-2015, just shy of the nation's all-time high set in 1970, but fell off when OPEC flooded the world markets with supply to try to hinder the shale industry. But OPEC was forced to curb output in 2016 as oil-producing nations faced budget shortfalls, and as prices recovered, shale's output accelerated.

"Every single month, every single year, we're going to become more of a global pie and that's a part of the pie you can't control - it's completely different than the OPEC piece," said Bernadette Johnson, vice president in market intelligence at Drillinginfo in Denver.

For the week, the United States also posted net exports of 4.2 million bpd of products like gasoline and diesel.

The weekly figures are subject to wide fluctuations, however, so the sudden shift may be a temporary occurrence. Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston, said he was not surprised this happened in the winter, a seasonally slow period for domestic gasoline demand.

U.S. oil prices ended Thursday lower, due to concern that planned OPEC production cuts will be smaller than originally anticipated. U.S. crude futures lost 2.7 percent on the day, while Brent crude dropped by 2.4 percent.

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