North Korea said the United States will not drop its hostile policy even though their two leaders have a "special relationship", state media KCNA said on Monday. A North Korean official said in the statement U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was undermining North Korea's willingness to return to dialogue, criticizing his recent remarks on sanctions on North Korea. Pompeo had said after a teleconference with G7 foreign ministers last week that all nations must remain united in calling for North Korea to return to negotiations and applying diplomatic and economic pressure over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Fox News primetime star Tucker Carlson has been credited with pushing President Donald Trump to take the coronavirus pandemic seriously and has received mainstream media plaudits for seemingly calling out his own colleagues for actively downplaying the outbreak.Yet, while Carlson has been applauded for preaching concern about the viral outbreak while his fellow pro-Trump hosts on the network attempted to dismiss the COVID-19 fears as a partisan ploy, he has actually played both sides for his audience, giving voice to reckless conspiracies, unserious characters with no expertise, and wholly dangerous rhetoric.Earlier this month, as confirmed cases and deaths began surging across the country, Carlson gained widespread acclaim when he called out those “minimizing” COVID-19, calling the pandemic a “very serious problem.” It was seen at the time that Carlson was calling out both Trump and many of his Fox News colleagues—without naming them, of course—for reacting inappropriately to the impending crisis.That March 9 monologue apparently helped prompt the president to finally take action on the pandemic after waving it away for weeks, with White House sources saying Carlson’s segment was a “turning point” for Trump. The Fox News host, who has informally advised the president on other matters in the past, also traveled down to Mar-a-Lago the previous weekend to convince the president about the gravity of the situation, later saying he felt it was his “moral obligation” to do so.As a result, Carlson has been the focus of several largely sympathetic portraits and interviews in the mainstream press. Various outlets remarked positively on Carlson’s “moral obligation” to convince Trump to take the crisis seriously, with some noting that the Fox host “admirably focused” on pandemic from the beginning.The Fox host’s portrayal in the media as courageously standing alone among his overtly pro-Trump primetime brethren has rankled network brass. According to The New York Times, the network’s PR chief Irena Briganti has complained about Carlson “casting himself to reporters as a heroic truth-teller in contrast with other hosts.”While it is true that Carlson was essentially alone among the network’s key stars in sounding the alarm on coronavirus—for instance, now-former Fox Business host Trish Regan labeled it an “impeachment scam” the same time Carlson was declaring the pandemic was “real”—his early warnings also revolved around peddling baseless conspiracies and blaming “woke” politics for the spread of the virus.Tucker Carlson Appears to Call Out Trump, Fox Colleagues for ‘Minimizing’ CoronavirusThroughout February, Carlson floated the debunked theory that the virus was created by the Chinese government in a research laboratory, potentially as a bioweapon against the United States. The theory began making rounds in the right-wing media ecosystem after former Trump adviser Steve Bannon began pushing it on his radio show.Despite a medical expert shooting down the now-debunked theory earlier in the month, Carlson continued to peddle it on subsequent broadcasts. On Feb. 18, Carlson hosted The Washington Times’ Bill Gertz, whose specious reporting was the basis of Bannon’s theory, to discuss his speculation. During the interview, the Fox host claimed unnamed “experts” were considering the possibility the virus was created in a Chinese lab while adding it is “worth getting to the bottom of.”When he wasn’t wildly speculating that the virus was a Chinese bioweapon, Carlson also spent weeks blaming “diversity” for the virus. Taking aim at progressive writers who warned against racist attacks in the wake of the pandemic—hate crimes against Asian-Americans have been on the rise—Carlson groused that “identity politics trumped public health and not for the first time.”“Wokeness is a cult,” he added. “They would let you die before they admitted that diversity is not our strength.”He would continue to blame “identity politics” for the spread of the virus, resulting in him at one point turning to conservative columnist Eddie Scarry—best-known as the “AOC creepshot guy”—for coronavirus expertise in late February. As financial markets started to experience record drops over COVID-19 fears, Carlson gave primetime airspace to the Examiner writer, who called the disease the “Commie cough” while claiming it originated from Chinese people eating skunks. Carlson, meanwhile, applauded Scarry, claiming “everything” he said “is true” as the trollish columnist railed against political correctness and its supposed impact on the health crisis.In the wake of his call for conservatives to take coronavirus seriously, Carlson kept blasting “wokeness” as one of the central causes of the disease’s spread, at one point insisting that not calling it the “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus” could literally kill people. “In times of crisis euphemisms kill,” he said. “You need accuracy and clear language in the way you talk about the threat. It’s essential.” He later applauded Trump for publicly using the term “Chinese virus.”Moreover, and more recently, Carlson seemed to backpedal on his “serious” concerns over the pandemic this week. With the president’s declared desire for an early end to social distancing restrictions, many conservatives backed Trump’s push despite the warning of public health experts.Texas Lt. Gov: Senior Citizens Willing to Die to Save Economy for GrandkidsDuring last Monday’s broadcast of his show, Carlson brought on Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to defend the president’s suggestion, who subsequently said that elderly people such as himself would be willing to die from coronavirus to save America’s economy for their grandkids.“No one reached out to me and said as a senior citizen, ‘Are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’” Patrick said. “And if that is the exchange, I’m all in.”At the end of the segment, Carlson nodded along with Patrick and added: “We really needed to hear that perspective.”The following night, Carlson hosted Fox News analyst Brit Hume to defend Patrick’s comments after they sparked controversy. In Hume’s opinion, Patrick saying grandparents were willing to sacrifice themselves to reopen the economy was an “extremely reasonable viewpoint.” Carlson, for his part, seemed confused why the lieutenant governor’s remarks “enrages so many people,” prompting Hume to say it was due to anti-Trump sentiment.Other guests that appeared this past week to share their coronavirus wisdom included comedian Adam Carrola, goofy podcaster Dave Rubin, and talk-radio blowhard Buck Sexton.But Carlson’s newfound reputation as a sober and earnest broker on the crisis perhaps looked the silliest on Wednesday when he brought on a self-proclaimed “corona truther” to wax poetic on self-isolation. Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy, a notorious troll and semi-regular guest of Carlson’s, showed up to talk about how he has taken a “financial beating” because the casino business is currently down—before discussing his choice of sweatpants and his TV-viewing habits.Prior to his Carlson appearance, Portnoy had spent weeks mocking concerns about the pandemic, comparing the virus to “the common cold” and saying he didn’t “care about the people dying... I just care about my wallet.”In fact, just two weeks before appearing on Tucker’s primetime show, Portnoy griped about the NBA suspending its season amid the outbreak, calling himself a “corona truther” and insisting that concern over the virus—which has now killed over 25,000 people worldwide—is either a “fraud, overreaction, or media concoction.”Carlson may have won media plaudits for his early concerns about the pandemic, but a closer look at his overall coverage proves we shouldn’t be so easily fooled.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.
(Bloomberg) - The Kremlin’s sudden shift of ownership of multi-billion-dollar oil projects in Venezuela shields oil giant Rosneft PJSC from further U.S. sanctions but keeps Moscow firmly behind embattled President Nicolas Maduro amid a wider stand-off with Washington.“Russia is not walking away from Maduro and will seek to thwart U.S. efforts to depose him,” said Vladimir Frolov, a former diplomat and foreign policy analyst in Moscow. “Moscow is just shielding Rosneft from sanctions which could result in a blanket embargo on all Rosneft exports.”Fears of broader sanctions have grown after the U.S. in recent months slapped restrictions on Rosneft trading companies for handling business with Venezuela. More recently, the U.S. has hinted that it might step up pressure on the Russian oil sector to reduce production. That followed Moscow’s decision early this month not to deepen output cuts agreed with OPEC led Saudi Arabia to boost output, flooding the market and pushing prices to the lowest levels in decades.The administration of President Donald Trump has already reached out to Saudi leaders to reconsider their strategy, which has battered producers in the U.S. with low prices.Read: Putin and MBS Draw Trump Into Grudge Match for Oil SupremacyRosneft late Saturday announced it’s turning over its Venezuelan projects to an unnamed state-owned company in what it called an effort to protect its shareholders’ interests. Rosneft, which produces 40% of Russian oil and 5% of world output and has substantial exposure in the western financial system, can’t afford the risk of broad U.S. sanctions that could cripple its operations. Earlier this month, a Chinese company said it wouldn’t buy crude from Rosneft because of the risks caused by the sanctions on the trading companies.“As recently as February, the Venezuelan business was profitable, which offset the sanctions risk,” said Ivan Timofeyev, an analyst at the Kremlin-founded Russian International Affairs Council. “Now the desire to avoid sanctions coincided with the need to avoid losses” after oil prices plunged, he added.The Russian giant has already cut its exposure under multi-billion-dollar prepayment deals reached several years ago. Venezuela’s oil producer PDVSA owes Rosneft only $800 million at the end of the third quarter of 2019, according to the last available data, down from $4.6 billion at the end of 2017.Sanctions ProtectionThe latest Russian maneuver mirrored its strategy in 2018 when it used Promsvzyabank to set up a new banking vehicle to serve the defense industry after state-owned weapons producers came under U.S. sanctions, thereby shielding the country’s two largest banks, government-controlled Sberbank and VTB. Unlike those big lenders, which have significant exposure to western financial institutions and thus are at risk from sweeping U.S. sanctions, the new special entity operated largely out of Washington’s reach.While Rosneft may even push to have the recently imposed sanctions on the trading units lifted, risks remain.“Rosneft is trying to stay out of the firing-line but nothing stops the Americans from finding another pretext to sanction it,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, who heads the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, a research group in Moscow that advises the Kremlin.“Russia understands that Maduro is in an awful situation, especially with oil prices at rock bottom,” he said. “But Putin’s psychology is that you should stick with partners in difficulty.”Maduro said on state TV on Saturday evening that ”President Putin sent me a message through his ambassador reaffirming their strategic and integral support to Venezuela in all areas.”Rosneft StakeFrolov said, “Moscow thinks that Maduro is actually winning the fight with the opposition and is likely to split it to the point where he would be able to win parliamentary elections this year.” Russia has backed Maduro even as the U.S. and its allies back opposition leader Juan Guaido.For Rosneft, the deal also could give management, led by Igor Sechin, its influential chief executive, greater control, since the company is receiving 9.6% of its own shares in the transaction. That may mean the government’s share in Rosneft falls below a controlling stake, according to Andrey Polischuk, Moscow-based analyst for Raiffeisenbank.Neither the company nor the government would comment on whether the deal will bring state ownership below 50%.“Sechin gets Rosneft shares and Putin gets the chance to trade with Trump,” said Konstantin Simonov, head of the National Energy Security Fund in Moscow.For 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.
Ten unclaimed urns sit in the crematorium in Jingzhou, a city in central China's Hubei province hard-hit by coronavirus. Not only are funerals banned across China, in places like Jingzhou bereaved relatives who are stuck in their homes must wait even to retrieve the remains of their loved ones. The ashes of the dead "are under our care for now because their family members are in quarantine, or they're away and can't come back yet," said the director of the Jingzhou crematorium, who gave only his surname, Sheng, as he was not permitted to speak to the media.
Lonnie Franklin, the convicted serial killer known as the "Grim Sleeper" who preyed on the women of South Los Angeles for more than two decades, has died in prison. California corrections officials said Franklin was found unresponsive in his cell at San Quentin State Prison on Saturday evening. An autopsy will determine the cause of death; however, there were no signs of trauma, corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton said in a statement.