Catching up in climate zone 5   

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By Aileen Burke and Emily Paolicelli Chickens and stretch codes, the localized extensions to state codes that raise standards for energy efficiency, were on the docket at the most recent Albany Sustainability Advisory Committee meeting Thursday night. The main thrust of the meeting came from the New York State presentation on the implementation of stretch
          

Minister to ask states to uphold PPAs with green energy firms   

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Singh will emphasise at the meeting on October 11-12 in Gujarat that power purchase agreements have to be honoured, a senior government official told ET.
          

胡锦涛G20峰会发表讲话(英文版)   

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WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao has attended the weekend summit of the Group of Twenty (G20) aimed at tackling the world financial crisis, and his participation at the meeting has practical significance, said Chinese Fore
          

Trump Sows Turkey Chaos as U.S. Denies Endorsing Syria Incursion   

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Trump Sows Turkey Chaos as U.S. Denies Endorsing Syria Incursion(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump hasn’t endorsed a Turkish incursion into Syria, a senior administration official said, deepening confusion around his policy after an uproar from Republicans that he planned to abandon U.S. Kurdish allies.The official said Trump has cautioned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he will bear responsibility for Islamic State prisoners in the region, as well as a resurgence of violence if the militants are freed and any harm to civilians in areas Turkey occupies.The official briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.Trump later suggested his move to clear the way for a Turkish invasion was intended in part to pressure European countries including France and Germany that, he said, have refused to accept the return of citizens who joined Islamic State.Trump said at a meeting with military leaders that he had urged U.S. allies to reclaim their citizens, but they had refused.“We’re not going to move the fighters to Guantanamo Bay and take care of them for many, many years into the future, that’s not for us,” he said. “Now it’s time for Germany and France and all of the nations where they came from to take them back and they chose no. Maybe they’re going to change their tune now, I don’t know.”Trump has come under criticism from allies including Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and his former United Nations ambassador, Nikki Haley, for his announcement late Sunday that the U.S. wouldn’t stand in the way of the Turkish incursion.The White House statement was read around the world as Trump abandoning U.S. policy that Kurdish allies would be protected from Turkish aggression in exchange for their help in defeating Islamic State.Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is among the top Democratic contenders to challenge Trump’s re-election in 2020, said in a statement that “once again, an impulsive and erratic president has abandoned friends of the United States with a late-night tweet.”American officials didn’t immediately explain the president’s change in position on Syria. Trump’s order to remove about 50 U.S. troops from a Syria border region Turkey intends to invade doesn’t represent a green light for the incursion, the U.S. official said. The official added that Trump had discussed the decision with officials at the State Department and Pentagon before the White House announcement, and that the agencies should not have been surprised.The U.S. had successfully dissuaded Turkey from an invasion for two years, but if Erdogan orders an operation, the U.S. doesn’t want its soldiers endangered or caught in the crossfire, the official said.I’ve told President Erdogan, I hope he’s going to treat everybody with great respect,” Trump said at the meeting with military leaders. Earlier, he told reporters at the White House: “I have consulted with everybody.”“I fully understand both sides of it but I campaigned on the fact I was going to bring our soldiers home,” he said.The administration official did not say that any U.S. soldiers would be brought home as a result of the withdrawal. The troops moved from the border region, mostly special forces soldiers, would be re-positioned at different U.S. bases in Syria, the official said.(Updates with more Trump remarks, beginning in fourth paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Josh Wingrove in Washington at jwingrove4@bloomberg.net;Justin Sink in Washington at jsink1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, John HarneyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



          

North Korea criticizes upcoming UN Security Council meeting   

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North Korea criticizes upcoming UN Security Council meetingThe council scheduled closed consultations Tuesday on recent North Korean tests at the request of the United Kingdom, France and Germany. North Korea's U.N. Ambassador Kim Song told several reporters Monday the United States is "behind the impure moves" of the three countries, saying the meeting would not take place without the consent of the Trump administration.



          

US companies likely to invest more in Mandalay   

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THE recent meeting between Mandalay Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MRCCI) and representatives from US-ASEAN Business Council showed some hope for American companies coming to invest in Mandalay, said MRCCI Secretary U Okkar Kyaw.

He added, “These representatives are opening offices in ASEAN nations. The Deputy US Ambassador urged American businesses to come invest in Mandalay. The MRCCI has an American Economic Center and ASEAN intends to work closely with them,” he added.
The meeting on 3 October was attended by the US Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Mr George Sibley and seems to show the US’ interest to invest in Mandalay.
The business council delegation was led by its President & CEO Mr Alexander C Feldman with representatives from US companies Abbott, Amazon, Bower Group Asia, Chevron, Chubb, Coca-Cola, Diageo, Ford, Google, Jhpiego, MasterCard and Visa engaging in discussions with merchants and businesspeople from Mandalay.
—Khine Set Wai
(Translated by Zaw Htet Oo)
Ref; THE GLOBAL NEW LIGHT OF MYANMAR
PHOTO: PHOTO: KHINE SET WAI

          

Video of Goldberg and Matt Riddle Having Their Issues Surfaces Online   

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It was reported back in September that WWE had filmed footage of Matt Riddle’s meeting with Goldberg at Summerslam, which Riddle himself described during the Summerslam Watch Along. According to Riddle, the meeting went like this: “So, [Goldberg], I’m walking by and I see his locker room. I’ve already seen Brock’s, but I see Goldberg’s […]
          

Profit, not politics: Trump allies sought Ukraine gas deal   

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KYIV, Ukraine – As Rudy Giuliani was pushing Ukrainian officials last spring to investigate one of Donald Trump’s main political rivals, a group of individuals with ties to the president and his personal lawyer were also active in the former Soviet republic.

Their aims were profit, not politics. This circle of businessmen and Republican donors touted connections to Giuliani and Trump while trying to install new management at the top of Ukraine’s massive state gas company. Their plan was to then steer lucrative contracts to companies controlled by Trump allies, according to two people with knowledge of their plans.

Their plan hit a snag after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko lost his reelection bid to Volodymyr Zelenskiy, whose conversation with Trump about former Vice President Joe Biden is now at the center of the House impeachment inquiry of Trump.

But the effort to install a friendlier management team at the helm of the gas company, Naftogaz, would soon be taken up with Ukraine’s new president by U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, whose slate of candidates included a fellow Texan who is one of Perry’s past political donors.

It’s unclear if Perry’s attempts to replace board members at Naftogaz were coordinated with the Giuliani allies pushing for a similar outcome, and no one has alleged that there is criminal activity in any of these efforts. And it’s unclear what role, if any, Giuliani had in helping his clients push to get gas sales agreements with the state-owned company.

But the affair shows how those with ties to Trump and his administration were pursuing business deals in Ukraine that went far beyond advancing the president’s personal political interests. It also raises questions about whether Trump allies were mixing business and politics just as Republicans were calling for a probe of Biden and his son Hunter, who served five years on the board of another Ukrainian energy company, Burisma.

On Friday, according to the news site Axios, Trump told a group of Republican lawmakers that it had been Perry who had prompted the phone call in which Trump asked Zelenskiy for a “favor” regarding Biden. Axios cited a source saying Trump said Perry had asked Trump to make the call to discuss “something about an LNG (liquefied natural gas) plant.”

While it’s unclear whether Trump’s remark Friday referred specifically to the behind-the-scenes maneuvers this spring involving the multibillion-dollar state gas company, The Associated Press has interviewed four people with direct knowledge of the attempts to influence Naftogaz, and their accounts show Perry playing a key role in the effort. Three of the four spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. The fourth is an American businessman with close ties to the Ukrainian energy sector.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Energy Department said Perry, a former Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate, was not advancing anyone’s personal interests. She said his conversations with Ukrainian officials about Naftogaz were part of his efforts to reform the country’s energy sector and create an environment in which Western companies can do business.

Perry was asked about the AP’s reporting on Monday while in Lithuania, where he was meeting with officials from Ukraine and other eastern European countries to discuss energy security and cooperation. He said any suggestion that he tried to force a management change at Naftogaz was a “totally dreamed up story.”

“We get asked for our recommendations about people who are experts in areas, various areas,” Perry said. “Folks who have expertise in particular areas. Obviously having been the governor of the state of Texas, I know a lot of people in the energy industry.”

The Trump and Giuliani allies driving the attempt to change the senior management at Naftogaz, however, appear to have had inside knowledge of the U.S. government’s plans in Ukraine. For example, they told people that Trump would replace the U.S. ambassador there months before she was actually recalled to Washington, according to three of the individuals interviewed by the AP. One of the individuals said he was so concerned by the whole affair that he reported it to a U.S. Embassy official in Ukraine months ago.

THE BUSINESSMEN

Ukraine, a resource-rich nation that sits on the geographic and symbolic border between Russia and the West, has long been plagued by corruption and government dysfunction, making it a magnet for foreign profiteers.

At the center of the Naftogaz plan, according to three individuals familiar with the details, were three such businessmen: two Soviet-born Florida real estate entrepreneurs, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, and an oil magnate from Boca Raton, Florida, named Harry Sargeant III.

Parnas and Fruman have made hundreds of thousands of dollars in political donations to Republicans, including $325,000 to a Trump-allied political action committee in 2018. This helped the relatively unknown entrepreneurs gain access to top levels of the Republican Party – including meetings with Trump at the White House and Mar-a-Lago.

The two have also faced lawsuits from disgruntled investors over unpaid debts. During the same period they were pursuing the Naftogaz deal, the two were coordinating with Giuliani to set up meetings with Ukrainian government officials and push for an investigation of the Bidens.

Sargeant, his wife and corporate entities tied to the family have donated at least $1.2 million to Republican campaigns and PACs over the last 20 years, including $100,000 in June to the Trump Victory Fund, according to federal and state campaign finance records. He has also served as finance chair of the Florida state GOP, and gave nearly $14,000 to Giuliani’s failed 2008 presidential campaign.

In early March, Fruman, Parnas and Sargeant were touting a plan to replace Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolyev with another senior executive at the company, Andrew Favorov, according to two individuals who spoke to the AP as well as a memorandum about the meeting that was later submitted to the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, formerly known as Kiev.

Going back to the Obama administration, the U.S. Energy Department and the State Department have long supported efforts to import American natural gas into Ukraine to reduce the country’s dependence on Russia.

The three approached Favorov with the idea while the Ukrainian executive was attending an energy industry conference in Texas. Parnas and Fruman told him they had flown in from Florida on a private jet to recruit him to be their partner in a new venture to export up to 100 tanker shipments a year of U.S. liquefied gas into Ukraine, where Naftogaz is the largest distributor, according to two people briefed on the details.

Sargeant told Favorov that he regularly meets with Trump at Mar-a-Lago and that the gas-sales plan had the president’s full support, according to the two people who said Favorov recounted the discussion to them.

These conversations were recounted to AP by Dale W. Perry, an American who is a former business partner of Favorov. He told AP in an interview that Favorov described the meeting to him soon after it happened and that Favorov perceived it to be a shakedown. Perry, who is no relation to the energy secretary, is the managing partner of Energy Resources of Ukraine, which currently has business agreements to import natural gas and electricity to Ukraine.

A second person who spoke on condition of anonymity also confirmed to the AP that Favorov had recounted details of the Houston meeting to him.

According to Dale Perry and the other person, Favorov said Parnas told him Trump planned to remove U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and replace her with someone more open to aiding their business interests.

Dale Perry told the AP he was so concerned about the efforts to change the management at Naftogaz and to get rid of Yovanovitch that he reported what he had heard to Suriya Jayanti, a State Department foreign service officer stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv who focuses on the energy industry.

He also wrote a detailed memo about Favorov’s account, dated April 12, which was shared with another current State Department official. Perry recently provided a copy of the April memo to AP.

Jayanti declined to provide comment. Favorov also declined to comment.

On March 24, Giuliani and Parnas gathered at the Trump International Hotel in Washington with Healy E. Baumgardner, a former Trump campaign adviser who once served as deputy communications director for Giuliani’s presidential campaign and as a communications official during the George W. Bush administration.

She is now listed as the CEO of 45 Energy Group, a Houston-based energy company whose website describes it as a “government relations, public affairs and business development practice group.” The company’s name is an apparent nod to Trump, the 45th president.

This was a couple of weeks after the Houston meeting with Favorov, the Naftogaz executive. Giuliani, Parnas and Baumgardner were there to make a business pitch involving gas deals in the former Soviet bloc to a potential investor.

This time, according to Giuliani, the deals that were discussed involved Uzbekistan, not Ukraine.

“I have not pursued a deal in the Ukraine. I don’t know about a deal in the Ukraine. I would not do a deal in the Ukraine now, obviously,” said Giuliani, reached while attending a playoff baseball game between the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins. “There is absolutely no proof that I did it, because I didn’t do it.”

During this meeting, Parnas again repeated that Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador in Kyiv, would soon be replaced, according to a person with direct knowledge of the gathering. She was removed two months later.

Giuliani, who serves as Trump’s personal lawyer and has no official role in government, acknowledged Friday that he was among those pushing the president to replace the ambassador, a career diplomat with a history of fighting corruption.

“The ambassador to Ukraine was replaced,” he said. “I did play a role in that.”

But Giuliani refused to discuss the details of his business dealings, or whether he helped his associates in their push to forge gas sales contracts with the Ukrainian company. He did describe Sergeant as a friend and referred to Parnas and Fruman as his clients in a tweet in May.

As part of their impeachment inquiry, House Democrats have subpoenaed Giuliani for documents and communications related to dozens of people, including Favorov, Parnas, Fruman and Baumgardner’s 45 Energy Group.

Baumgardner issued a written statement, saying: “While I won’t comment on business discussions, I will say this: this political assault on private business by the Democrats in Congress is complete harassment and an invasion of privacy that should scare the hell out of every American business owner.”

Baumgardner later denied that she had any business dealings in Ukraine but refused to say whether the replacement of Ambassador Yovanovitch was discussed.

Sargeant did not respond to a voice message left at a number listed for him at an address in Boca Raton.

John Dowd, a former Trump attorney who now represents Parnas and Fruman, said it was actually the Naftogaz executives who approached his clients about making a deal. Dowd says the group then approached Rick Perry to get the Energy Department on board.

“The people from the company solicited my clients because Igor is in the gas business, and they asked them, and they flew to Washington and they solicited,” Dowd said. “They sat down and talked about it. And then it was presented to Secretary Perry to see if they could get it together.

“It wasn’t a shakedown; it was an attempt to do legitimate business that didn’t work out.”

THE ENERGY SECRETARY

In May, Rick Perry traveled to Kyiv to serve as the senior U.S. government representative at the inauguration of the county’s new president.

In a private meeting with Zelenskiy, Perry pressed the Ukrainian president to fire members of the Naftogaz advisory board. Attendees left the meeting with the impression that Perry wanted to replace the American representative, Amos Hochstein, a former diplomat and energy representative who served in the Obama administration, with someone “reputable in Republican circles,” according to someone who was in the room.

Perry’s push for Ukraine’s state-owned natural gas company Naftogaz to change its supervisory board was first reported by Politico.

A second meeting during the trip, at a Kyiv hotel, included Ukrainian officials and energy sector people. There, Perry made clear that the Trump administration wanted to see the entire Naftogaz supervisory board replaced, according to a person who attended both meetings. Perry again referenced the list of advisers that he had given Zelenskiy, and it was widely interpreted that he wanted Michael Bleyzer, a Ukrainian-American businessman from Texas, to join the newly formed board, the person said. Also on the list was Robert Bensh, another Texan who frequently works in Ukraine, the Energy Department confirmed.

Gordon D. Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and Kurt D. Volker, then the State Department’s special envoy to Ukraine, were also in the room, according to photographs reviewed by AP. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to fear of retaliation, said he was floored by the American requests because the person had always viewed the U.S. government “as having a higher ethical standard.”

The Naftogaz supervisory board is supposed to be selected by the Ukrainian president’s Cabinet in consultation with international institutions, including the International Monetary Fund, the United States and the European Union. It must be approved by the Ukrainian Cabinet. Ukrainian officials perceived Perry’s push to swap out the board as circumventing that established process, according to the person in the room.

U.S. Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said Perry had consistently called for the modernization of Ukraine’s business and energy sector in an effort to create an environment that will incentivize Western companies to do business there. She said Perry delivered that same message in the May meeting with Zelenskiy.

“What he did not do is advocate for the business interests of any one individual or company,” Hynes said Saturday. “That is fiction being pushed by those who are disingenuously seeking to advance a nefarious narrative that does not exist.”

Hynes said the Ukrainian government had requested U.S. recommendations to advise the country on energy matters, and Perry provided those recommendations. She confirmed Bleyzer was on the list.

Bleyzer, whose company is based in Houston, did not respond on Saturday to a voicemail seeking comment. Bensh also did not respond to a phone message.

Perry has close ties to the Texas oil and gas industry. He appointed Bleyzer to a two-year term on a state technologies fund board in 2009. The following year, records show Bleyzer donated $20,000 to Perry’s reelection campaign.

Zelenskiy’s office declined to comment on Saturday.

In an interview Friday with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Perry said that “as God as my witness” he never discussed Biden or his son in meetings with Ukrainian or U.S. officials, including Trump or Giuliani. He did confirm he had had a conversation with Giuliani by phone, but a spokeswoman for the energy secretary declined to say when that call was or whether the two had discussed Naftogaz.

In Lithuania on Monday, Perry said he could not recall whether Bleyzer’s name was on the list provided to Zelenskiy. But Perry confirmed he had known Bleyzer for years and called him “a really brilliant, capable businessman.”

“I would recommend him for a host of different things in Kyiv because he knows the country,” Perry said of Bleyzer. “He’s from there. So, why not? I mean I would be stunned if someone said that would you eliminate Michael Bleyzer from a recommendation of people you ought to talk to about how to do business in the country, whether they’re knowledgeable. It’d be remarkable if I didn’t say, `Talk to Michael.“’


          

October 7 & 8, 2019 City Council Special Study Session   

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The City Council agenda for the October 7 & 8, 2019 Special Study Session is now available online. This meeting will be held at the CityView Events & Meeting Center, Illinois Terminal 4th Floor, 45 East University Ave, Champaign, at 5:30pm. The meeting is open to the public and participation is welcome and encouraged. Click […]
          

Council passes progressive "Community Covenant" at the first council meeting of the new council (10/1/2019).    

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The program begins with an introduction by long time newscaster and pundit Pat Nolan. This is new. In the past there was no commentator. Pat opens the meeting by giving stats on the makeup of the Council and the new diversity. The Council has its first member of the Muslim faith, its first Hispanic women, 20% of the body is openly LBGT and half the members are female. Nolan gives historical data from a time when the Council was all male to the present. Nolan summarizes what is on the agenda and what future controversies are brewing.

At timestamp 6:11 the vice mayor gavels the meeting to order. The meeting opens with an invocation and the pledge of allegiance. I don't know that anyone is advocating to discontinue this practice but in some progressive communities they have done so. Charlotte, N.C, Cleveland, OH, Phoenix, AZ. and a lot of smaller communities have discontinued the prayer to open city council meetings and the ACLU and atheist groups have been pushing to ban prayer at the opening of town council meetings. A few cities have discontinued opening meetings with a Pledge of Allegiance. It there was a move to ban opening prayer or a pledge in Nashville, it would be accomplished by removing that requirement from the rules of the Council. This meeting operates under the old rules.  The Council will adopt new rules on Dec. 3rd.

At timestamp 11:25, Mayor Cooper addresses the Council. The speech is congratulatory and an expression of a desire to work together to solve problems.

There is some housekeeping measures. Vacancies on various boards that are to be filled by the Council are announced. There are then the presentation of some memorable recognitions. Consideration of legislative agenda begins at timestamp 59:45.  None of the legislation was very significant and nothing of much interest happened in this the first meeting of the new Council.

RS2019-31 adopts a "community covenant" which is described as goals by which the Council can measure itself.  It is, "A resolution expressing the support and commitment of the Metropolitan Council toward principles constituting a Community Covenant with the aim of increasing prosperity and reducing poverty in Nashville and Davidson County." It calls for "equitable growth," and "diversity." It commends "living wages and family-friendly benefit."  While this bills lays out a plan that progressives will look upon as a pledge for a progressive agenda, it really is not.  If lays out goals and commends good things. It does not say how these things would be achieved.  I also favor affordable housing and prosperity and ending poverty and think a living wage is a good thing. I think progressive efforts to make these things happen and mandate them is most often counter productive.

Several of the new progressive Council members speak on the bill. Councilman Glover speaks on the bill and moves to amends it. Since the minutes of the meeting are not posted I do not know the exact wording of Glover's amendment but I understand that it clarified that the implementation of these goals would have to follow normal procedures and come back before the Council. It is discussed. There are points of order and some confusion. There are suspension of rules and an amendment to the amendment. I commend Vice Mayor Jim Shulman for patiently explaining the process and indulging procedural errors on the part of new council members and providing gentle guidance.

Council member Ginny Welsch, probably the most radical of the new progressives, speaks against Glover's proposal. Glover's amendment passes. The resolution is adopted by a voice vote.  This discussion is worth watching and the resolution worth reading to understand the tenor of the new Council. To see the discussion see timestamp 1:19:26 - 1:51:25.



          

BUSD board: ‘Accountability starts with us’   

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By Deb Murphy Bishop Union School District’s Board President Taylor Ludwick admitted the 2019-20 year got off to a rough start at a special meeting held Monday evening. The meeting had two items on the agenda: first, a clean-up motion on graduation requirements and, second, “communication between the Superintendent and school board.” Those in the […]

The post BUSD board: ‘Accountability starts with us’ appeared first on Sierra Wave: Eastern Sierra News.


          

Sydney Swans maintain August rendezvous with Joe Daniher wasn’t a pitch to fly the coop   

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Sydney Swans chief executive Tom Harley has defended his August rendezvous with Joe Daniher, saying the meeting wasn’t the catalyst for the Bomber’s trade request.


          

Palestinian Authority officially embraces BDS - slowly   

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It wasn't that long ago that the Palestinian Authority was on the record as adamantly opposing boycotting Israel, to the point of actually arresting BDS protesters.

Things have changed, though.

This week, the Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh and 12 members of his cabinet are meeting in Cairo for four days.

The stated purpose of the meeting is to come up with a plan to boycott Israeli goods and replace them with Jordanian, Iraqi and Egyptian goods. 

The attendees include the ministers of economy, agriculture, public works, higher education, endowments, interior, local government, communications, transport, energy, foreign affairs and finance.

The Palestinian economy is heavily dependent on imports from Israel now but the percentage of imports from Israel has been steadily decreasing over the years, While virtually all imports were from Israel in the 1990s, in 2016 only 58% of its imports came from Israel.

Interestingly, the meeting this week doesn't seem to be at all about Palestinian exports, of which 83% went to Israel as of 2016. This is especially interesting since while the PA exports tens of millions of dollars worth of items to Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and Qatar, there are virtually no exports to Egypt - the country hosting this conference. This seems to indicate that this conference isn't about diversifying the number of trade partners for Palestinians as it is for boycotting Israeli goods.






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Book Review: "I Am Not A Spy," the adventures of a Zionist Jew in the Arab world   

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I met Michael Bassin this past week. He is a super-nice, friendly, outgoing guy, and he told me about a book he wrote about his adventures in the Arab world and later in the IDF.

If I hadn't met him in person, I wouldn't have believed the stories in the book. And his book, "I Am Not A Spy," published in 2017, is a must-read.

As an idealistic American high school student, Bassin asked Dennis Ross what he could personally do to help bring peace between Israel and the Arab world. Ross answered that he must get to know the other side on a personal level, reminding him that one doesn't make peace with friends.

Bassin took this advice as literally as one can.

After studying classical Arabic at George Washington University, Michael spent a semester at the American University at Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates - over the objections of his Conservative Jewish parents.

Michael first stopped off in Egypt, and later visited Amman, Jordan. Being a naturally open guy, and not wanting to deceive anyone, he let people who asked know that he was Jewish. He was quickly informed by Christians in Egypt - screamed at, actually - that revealing that he was Jewish was an incredibly stupid and dangerous thing to do in the most antisemitic country in the world.

Even so, when he went to Sharjah, he decided to tell anyone who asked that he was Jewish and let his winning personality allow people to see that Jews weren't evil.

Sharjah takes up the major part of Bassin's story, and it is fascinating. Bassin is not the idealistic, "Jewish Voice for Peace" type that you would imagine would want to spend time in the Arab world telling people how evil Israel is. Michael is a Zionist and a very well informed one. On the other hand, he truly wants to forge relationships with the Arabs he meets.

The cast of characters at the university is diverse. There is Mo, who loves the excitement of being friends with a Jew but whose brother is trying to defame Michael among the students at every turn. There is Jake, a Christian American who is mistaken as a Jew. A professor admits to Michael that he used to work in Israel and loves it there. Other professors don't even try to hide their antisemitism.  Two Arabs from Jerusalem become unlikely Zionist allies, delighting in making other Arabs uncomfortable with their stories of how good Israel is. An apparent UAE spy is sent to seduce him and ply him with drugs to give an excuse to expel him from the country. Osama, a dead ringer for Bin Laden, tries to convert Michael to Islam.

Michael is accused of being an Israeli spy at school, but he laughs it all off - after all, a spy wouldn't admit he was Jewish. Yet when he feels discomfort at how people are treating him, especially the Palestinians on campus, he is not intimidated - instead, he attends a Palestinian Cultural Club event.  While everyone is shocked, over the next few weeks a number of Palestinians approach him individually and ask him to explain the Israeli point of view. His guts, and the PCC leaders who didn't dare confront him at the meeting making them look like cowards, increased everyone's respect for him.

One of the curious Palestinians was a beautiful, hijabi girl, Samira, who had been frightened of him before the event. They flirted with each other but they  knew that he cannot go further, because her life would be in danger should the news get out. Innocent things can mean life and death. Michael found this out later when a friend whose computer he used to email an Israeli friend (his own Internet was shut down by a vindictive dormitory manager) ended up getting abducted and beaten by UAE security forces, accusing the friends of being an Israeli spy.

To me, the most foolhardy thing Michael did was go to Beirut on vacation - right after the 2006 Lebanon war. Originally invited by Lebanese students, they all ended up canceling their plans as Hezbollah was set to possibly violently take over the country. Michael and Jake went ahead, and saw that even all of the Beirut Sunnis and Christians abandoned the city in fear. But once they were there, they toured the ruins of the Shiite sections of Beirut.

One detail from this episode stood out for me. As they approached the bombed out section they say posters with photos of young boys who were "martyred" by Israeli bombs. Michael felt bad for the loss of innocent lives. Then they meet 17-year old Mohammed, excited to see Americans, who tells them, "Everyone left Beit Jibail when the war started. But Hezbollah picked certain people to stay and become shahid. They said it was important to have people stand in front of fighters  when they fight the Israelis."

Mohammed's own younger brother was one of those chosen to be a human shield for Hezbollah. And Mohammed was happy that his brother was chosen to be a martyr just so Hezbollah could accuse Israel of killing kids.

Amazingly, Michael and Jake even manage to get to Damascus for a couple of days, followed by a member of the not-so-secret police - they end up asking him for directions to a good restaurant since it was so obvious he was following them.

The book takes a turn when, after college, Bassin volunteers for the IDF, where his fluency in Arabic is taken advantage of. He is assigned patrol duty in Judea and Samaria and tries to bring humanity to the Palestinians he meets, and he narrates the tension between wanting to be friendly and knowing that he must act as an authority figure or else security at large would suffer. This section of the book resembles parts of Marc Goldberg's "Beyond the Green Line."

"I Am Not A Spy" is sprinkled with funny and touching anecdotes - his search with his Emirati friends for a jinn is worth the price of the book by itself.

Most importantly, Bassin describes the Arab mentality better than anyone else has. So many so-called "experts" pretend to know how the Arabs think, but Arabs know how they must act around NGOs and journalists to avoid bringing shame to their people. By living with them and being pro-active instead of timid, Bassin gained the respect and trust of many Arabs who candidly told him of the antisemitism they were taught from birth.

It was an unexpected treat to meet Michael and another treat to read his book. I strongly recommend it to everyone - especially the "progressives" who pretend to want peace but whose idea of peace is to meekly do whatever the Arabs demand from them.

Bassin respects and wants peace with Arabs but, unlike the progressive crowd, he also respects himself.





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10/03 Links Pt1: Rina Shnerb's alleged murderer linked to European-funded BDS affiliates; The Arab World Can’t Blame All of Its Problems on the West; IDF indicts 5 Palestinians in murder of soldier Dvir Sorek    

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From Ian:

Rina Shnerb's alleged murderer linked to European-funded BDS affiliates
Samer Arbid, the alleged leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist cell responsible for murdering 17-year-old Rina Shnerb near Dolev in August, worked for a European-funded NGO linked to BDS, NGO Monitor reported on Wednesday.

Arbid, 44, considered one of the PFLP’s top officials in Ramallah, was previously arrested for preparing PFLP explosive devices during the Second Intifada.

IDF and Border Police forces arrested him on Sunday for allegedly preparing and detonating the improvised explosive device that killed Shnerb and wounded her father Eitan and brother Dvir.

On Monday, Haaretz reported that the Justice Ministry opened an investigation into “potential wrongdoing” by officers of the Shin Bet (Israeli Security Agency) after Arbid was in critical condition in at Hadassah-University Medical Center on Mount Scopus following his interrogation, which involved torture. It was subsequently reported that the agents were authorized to conduct a “violent interrogation” but went “too far.”

Media sources reported on Tuesday that the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) and several Joint List MKs sent a letter to Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit demanding a criminal investigation be opened regarding Arbid’s interrogation.

According to the NGO Monitor, Arbid was listed as an accountant for Addameer (Arabic for conscience) Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, a Palestinian NGO that provides legal representation to Palestinians detained in Israel. The Ramallah-based organization’s mandate includes “ending torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment inflicted upon Palestinian prisoners” and “guaranteeing fair, impartial and public trials.” The organization was listed as a PFLP-affiliated institution on Fatah’s website in September 2015.
NGO Monitor: Samer Arbid’s Alleged Terror Activities, Arrests, and NGO Affiliations
According to Israeli security officials, on August 23, 2019, Samer Arbid commanded a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror cell that carried out a bombing against Israeli civilians, murdering 17-year old Rina Shnerb, and injuring her father and brother. According to the Israel Security Agency (Shabak), Arbid prepared and detonated the explosive device.

Ties to PFLP-linked NGOs
Arbid worked for Addameer – a Palestinian NGO closely linked to the PFLP, 1 which listed him as the organization’s accountant for several years.

In addition to his work for Addameer, Arbid appears to have worked for another NGO with ties to the PFLP, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC). According to Samidoun, yet another PFLP-linked NGO, Arbid was the “financial director of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees in the West Bank” in 2016.
Prior Arrests
- In an Addameer-produced video from April 2013, Arbid describes his numerous arrests. He states that he was arrested at the beginning of 2003 and sentenced to two and a half years in prison, and served an additional year in administrative detention.
- According to Samidoun, Arbid was placed in administrative detention from March 2007 to August 2008.
- Similarly, Samidoun reported that Arbid was arrested on September 23, 2013 and placed in administrative detention.
- According to Samidoun, Arbid “was ordered to an additional three months’ administrative detention” on March 12, 2016.

Israel reportedly arrests another Palestinian behind the deadly Dolev Spring attack
A senior member of the terror cell suspected of being responsible for the West Bank bombing that killed teenager Rina Shnerb in August was arrested by Israeli security forces early on Thursday, Palestinian media reported.

According to the reports, security forces arrested Walid Muhammed Hanatsheh at his home in the village of al-Tireh outside of Ramallah during overnight arrest raids across the West Bank, which saw 13 Palestinians arrested by IDF troops and Border Police officers.

Wafa News reported that the raids took place in several villages in the Ramallah area including Kobar, Deir Abu Mashaal, Jifna and al-Tireh. During Hanatsheh’s arrest, a Palestinian TV cameraman was injured after troops fired a rubber bullet toward rioters.

Hanatsheh, who acts as finance and administration manager for the health work committees (HWC), has been a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine since the Second Intifada, and has been arrested by Israel several times for his membership in the terrorist group.
BBC-promoted NGO’s terror links surface again
The terror cell leader, Samer Arbid, was employed (despite his past history of involvement in terror activity) as an accountant by the Palestinian NGO ‘Addameer’ which is known for its links to the PFLP – a designated terror organisation in the US, the EU, Canada and Israel.

Five days after Rina Shnerb was murdered the BBC News website published a video report which included an interview with the director of ‘Addameer’, Sahar Francis.

Partisan report on detained Palestinian ‘children’ from BBC’s Gender and Identity correspondent

That heavily promoted report was made available on the BBC News website for fourteen consecutive days.

In other words the producers of that report, along with additional BBC journalists, apparently saw nothing at all problematic in the amplification of the unchallenged narrative of a political NGO that is linked to a terrorist organisation that the BBC knows has murdered Israeli civilians in the past and which, we now learn, employed the leader of the PFLP terror cell apparently responsible for the brutal murder of a seventeen-year-old out hiking with her family.



How the Myth of the Israel-Palestinian Conflict’s Supreme Importance Distorted 70 Years of American Middle East Policy
After failing in 1948 to stop the U.S. from supporting the creation of a Jewish state, writes Samuel Tadros, the Middle East experts of the State Department put forth the theory that America could not achieve its strategic goals in the region without first solving the Arab-Israeli conflict. This soon became “dogma” in Foggy Bottom, at think tanks, and in academia. Even President Trump, for all his unorthodoxies, is not immune to the allure peacemaking.

In reality, no one [in the Middle East] actually cared about the Palestinians, at least not the region’s rulers. [Their] priorities were everywhere besides Palestine: toppling the monarchs for some, searching for hegemony for others, or, for most, simply protecting their rule from revolutionary upheaval. The Palestinians, if they were considered at all, served simply as a bargaining chip; a cause to rally supporters and attack opponents.

Despite this, Washington’s Middle East experts were not deterred. The centrality of the issue was never to be questioned, but the method to solve it changed.

[Today], stepping back from the details and daily changes on the ground, [it is necessary to confront] an inconvenient proposition: maybe there is no solution to the conflict. After all, it is uniquely American to think that every problem must have a solution. Maybe the reality is that there are two peoples who claim the same piece of land and that no amount of effort or innovative solutions can solve this simple fact.
The Arab World Can’t Blame All of Its Problems on the West
For the past several weeks, the death of Israa Ghrayeb, a twenty-one-year-old Palestinian woman, has garnered much attention on Arabic-language social media and also in the Arab press. Ghrayeb was apparently beaten to death by family members for appearing in public—at a café—with her fiancé. To Hussain Abdul-Hussain, her death is a stark reminder of the ways in which Arab intellectuals have used the ideas of the Egyptian-American literature professor Edward Said, along with the those of the many postcolonial theorists who followed in his footsteps, to avoid critical examination of honor killings and other social ills:

“Orientalism” [was the term Said gave to] the collection of stereotypes through which the West is purported to understand the Middle East. For anti-colonialists . . . those stereotypes are proof that the colonial powers failed to understand the people they colonized. Honor killing is one of the stereotypes unjustly attributed to Muslims and Arabs, so the argument goes. But it is no stereotype. . . . It is a reality.

Though women are the main victims, honor killing falls under the Islamist concept of “promotion of virtue and prevention of vice.” For many Arabs and Muslims, this involves the restoration of some long-ago, supposedly perfect society that exists only in their imagination. But [this mythic ideal] is used to justify killing adulterers (of both sexes) or homosexuals or men who are perceived as effeminate, such as the Iraqi teenager whose murder by stabbing was recorded by his killer. . . . In Lebanon, a non-Druze man who married a Druze woman had his penis cut off by relatives of the bride.

Honor killing . . . is a flaw in Muslim society and it can be rectified only if that society is prepared to look inward at itself rather than blaming outsiders. . . . [B]ashing colonialism and Orientalism won’t solve the [Arab world’s] problems. On the contrary, it will only conceal them. . . . [T]o eradicate an abomination such as honor killing, Arabs and Muslims must first acknowledge its existence and take ownership of it.
PMW: Palestinian women's lives endangered by PA religious leaders' ruling
Top PA religious figures prohibit Palestinian women from submitting complaints over spouses to Israeli police

PA Ministry of Justice is working on improving legislation on family matters, including "ensuring punishment of those who commit crimes from a motive of honor"

The Israeli Arab party The Joint List has announced that it will boycott today's swearing-in ceremony of the Israeli Parliament in protest of what it calls the government's failure to address the rising levels of violence in Arab towns. Yet while Israeli Arab politicians are complaining that not enough is being done to tackle the growing problem of violence in Israeli Arab communities, the PA is telling Palestinian women not to go to the Israeli police with complaints over their husbands
"Anti-Normalization" With Israel: The True Goal
An anti-Israel group called the Association for Supporting Resistance and Confronting Normalization claimed that Jordanians who work in Eilat and other Israeli cities are often recruited as informants by the Israeli security services. The group accused the Jordanian government of "complying with all the demands of the Zionists on the pretext of cooperation for the sake of peace." The claim that Jordanians who go to work in Israel or help clean the beach are recruited as spies is aimed at painting them as traitors, a charge that is likely to put their lives at risk.

Instead of thanking Israel for allowing Jordanians to come and work in Eilat, the "anti-normalization" activists are inciting the workers to boycott Israel. These activists, of course, are not offering the Jordanian workers jobs and salaries.

In March 2019, Israel agreed to increase by 33% the number of Jordanian day laborers employed at hotels in Eilat from 1,500 to 2,000. The permits for the Jordanians are designed to allow them to work in the hotel industry of Eilat, close to the border with Jordan. The move is part of an agreement signed between Israel and Jordan to advance ties between the two countries through economic and social cooperation initiatives.

As far as the "anti-normalization" activists are concerned, inciting their people against Israel and the Jordanian workers is more important than any economic and social initiatives. These activists hate Israel to a point where they prefer to see 2,000 workers lose their jobs than continue working and earning good salaries in Eilat.

If greeting a Jew on his or her holiday, cleaning the beach with an Israeli, or working in Israel are considered by many Arabs a "crime," what will be the fate of any Arab who makes peace with Israel?

Those who are calling for boycotts of Israel -- and are threatening and inciting their people against any Arab who dares to host a Jew or send him or her greetings -- are also emphatically opposed to peace with Israel. For them, making peace with the "Zionist entity" is considered an act of treason. They are worried that an Arab who greets a Jew may one day make peace with Israel. They are worried that an Arab state that hosts Israeli athletes may one day make peace with Israel. They are worried that Arabs who go to work in Israel may fall in love with Israelis and stop thinking of ways to kill them or destroy Israel.
US gives cold shoulder to major Palestinian donor parley
The United States gave a cold shoulder last week to the major bi-annual meeting for donor aid to the Palestinian Authority, known as the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), which has operated for the last 25 years.

“We limited our participation to working-level observers only,” US special envoy Jason Greenblatt told The Jerusalem Post this week as he described the downgrade.

It is the latest Trump administration action against traditional venues that help provide financial assistance to Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority.

As part of its peace plan known as the “Deal of the Century,” the administration plans to create new funding venues for the Palestinians, the blueprint for which was unveiled at a Bahrain conference in June. But action on the plan is dependent on success with the political part of the peace process, which has yet to be published.

The US was previously one of the largest donors to the Palestinians and the PA, providing upward of half-a-billion dollars a year through the United Nations and other venues, but it has slowly halted that funding over the last two years.

The high-level 15 member AHLC meeting, held in the spring in Brussels and in the fall in New York, is one of the bedrock pillars of international funding for the Palestinians. It has remained a neutral venue where Israelis, Palestinians and the United States interact, even when all other communication is frozen.

In the past, the meetings chaired by Norway have been attended by high-level officials such as Greenblatt, or secretaries of state such as John Kerry. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini often attends, and was one of the dignitaries who gathered in New York for the meeting on September 26.
Rivlin: Israel is in crisis, needs government now
Israeli democracy is in a state of emergency, and a government must be formed as soon as possible, President Reuven Rivlin said at the 22nd Knesset’s inaugural meeting, which was overshadowed by the political uncertainty on Thursday.

Rivlin and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein addressed the long period of political uncertainty, which saw the 21st Knesset be inaugurated and dissolved in a period of less than two months, less than six months ago. They both said the solution is a unity government.

“We are facing a time of crisis for the House of Jacob, an emergency for Israel’s security and for Israeli society, an emergency for Israeli democracy,” Rivlin said. “Forming a government is not only the wish of the people. More than ever, in times like these, it is an economic and security need the likes of which we have not known for many years.”

Rivlin said a broad governing coalition would allow Israelis “to put the disagreements between us to one side and work on finding areas of agreement...to give us all an opportunity to breathe a little, to heal.”

The President listed a number of “real life” areas that the government must address, from combatting the Iranian threat to making day-care cheaper to tacking rising crime in Arab communities.
Lapid forgoing rotation as prime minister
Blue and White’s co-candidate for prime minister in last month’s election, MK Yair Lapid, announced on Thursday that he would no longer be a candidate for prime minister in the next government.

The announcement came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused him of being the obstacle to the formation of a national unity government. Netanyahu said Lapid was trying to stop Gantz from joining a coalition government that he is currently trying to form because he would not give up his goal of rotating in the Prime Minister’s Office with Gantz.

“For the sake of a unity government, I’m forgoing the rotation,” Lapid told the Blue and White Party. “There won’t be a rotation with three people. That’s not serious. Running a country is a serious matter. It’s far more important to me that there’s unity in the country. That there won’t be another election. That this country begins a healing process. Mends the wounds. Changes the national priorities.”

Lapid warned that Netanyahu is trying everything to drag Israel to its third election within a year.

“One man with three indictments stands between us and a national unity government,” he said. “That’s what the country needs.

This country needs a national unity government led by Blue and White, with Likud, with Liberman, with Labor. That’s what we said throughout the campaign. In that government there will be a rotation. Gantz will be prime minister for the first two years. There’s no other option.”

Lapid ruled out a coalition in which Gantz rotates as prime minister with Netanyahu but did not rule out a rotation with another Likud leader.
Benjamin Netanyahu invites Avigdor Liberman to join coalition
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman to join the government he is forming, in a meeting Thursday morning at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu told his former aide and ally and current political nemesis that he should join as soon as possible in order to contribute to the formation of a unity government.

But Netanyahu’s spokesman said there did not end up being a breakthrough in the meeting.

Liberman released a statement after the meeting saying that he urged Netanyahu to have Likud, Blue and White and Yisrael Beytenu meet to decide the next government's guidelines on policy and only then deal with distributing portfolios and who should go first in a rotation in the Prime Minister's Office.

"I am making a major effort to form a broad unity government," Netanyahu told the Likud faction. "This is what the voters decided, and this is what is right. This should be taken for granted."

Following the meeting with Liberman, Netanyahu went to update the heads of the right-wing and religious parties in his political bloc.
IDF indicts 5 Palestinians in murder of soldier Dvir Sorek
The IDF Prosecution filed an indictment in the Judea Military Court on Thursday against five Palestinians in connection with the murder of IDF Corporal Dvir Sorek on August 8.

The five Palestinians, all of who are affiliated with Hamas according to the indictment, are: Qasem al-atzafra, Nazir al-atzafra, Ahmad al-atzafra, Yusef Zahur and Mahmoud Atuna.

Previously, the IDF announced that it sent messages to the defendants' families announcing its intention to demolish their houses.
Some of the defendants have already objected and the High Court of Justice will hear the issue on October 31.

The stabbing attack occurred against Sorek near Migdal Oz on August 8.
Greenblatt: PA Must End "Pay to Slay"
U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt told Asharq Al-Awsat in an interview: "I can't imagine a world in which a peace agreement is signed where issues like the Palestinian Authority's 'Pay to Slay' program remains - a program that rewards terrorists who murder or attack Israelis. It's a basic concept that you cannot encourage people to kill and expect a peace deal that works."

"I can't imagine the Israeli government ever signing such an agreement. It would make no sense and it's completely antithetical to the concept of peace. To deal with that abhorrent program, the USA has cut all funding to the PA and we continuously raise awareness of this issue to other donor countries. I cannot understand how donor countries continue to donate funds knowing that some of their taxpayers' money is used to fund terrorism and the murder of Israelis."
PA claims 24 'incursions' on Temple Mount
The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Religious Endowments and Religious Affairs published a report on the holy sites, which included 24 Jewish 'incursions' of the al-Aqsa mosque and 52 cases of denial of prayer for prayer at the Ibrahimi Mosque in the Patriarchs Cave.

The Ministry of Endowments accused Israel of continuing the 'siege' and intervention at the Ibrahimi Mosque (the Cave of the Patriarchs) and closed it completely to Muslim worshipers during Rosh Hashanah.

According to the report, the Israeli authorities were not only content with preventing Muslims from entering the place, but they allowed settlers to get on the roof of the Cave of the Patriarchs and IDF soldiers attacked and humiliated Muslim workers.

It was also alleged that the "occupation forces" demolished the Al-Uma Mosque in Jabal Jawhar Hevron, which was in final stages of construction, and the level of incitement at the Al-Aqsa Mosque increased as Jewish holidays and the calls of the Temple Mount trustees came closer.
Hamas Takes Action in Nepotism Case following Public Pressure
Every year, the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Hajj and Umra hosts for free 1,000 people from the families of Palestinian martyrs to perform the hajj in Mecca.

After Anas Radwan, son of Hamas leader Ismail Radwan, went on the pilgrimage, activists argued on social media that he did not have the right to do so.

To calm public anger, Hamas formed a committee to investigate the incident, which concluded that Anas was not supposed to join the pilgrims. He was fined 5,000 dinars ($7,000), to be distributed among those who were denied travel to Mecca.

The Palestinian street is not accustomed to Hamas disclosing the details of any punitive measures against its leaders and members.


Israel-Egypt gas deal gets a boost as shares soar
Gas giant Delek Group Ltd.’s announcement that it had updated an agreement for the export of liquefied natural gas from the Leviathan and Tamar offshore reservoirs to Egypt sent share prices soaring on Wednesday.

In February 2018, Delek Drilling and Texas-based Noble Energy – partners in the Leviathan and Tamar LNG projects – signed a $15b. decade-long deal to supply 64 billion cu.m. of natural gas to Egypt’s Dolphinus Holdings Ltd.

The new agreement provides for a 35% increase in the total gas supply that will now reach 85 billion cu. m.

“The agreement is a further proof of the important economic cooperation between the two countries and the tremendous positive impact that these relations have on the Egyptian economy and the Israeli economy, as well as the great potential for additional cooperation in the mutual interest of the parties,” Yossi Abu, CEO of Delek Drilling, said in a statement on Wednesday.

The deal with Egypt followed a September 2016 agreement worth $10b. between Jordan’s National Electric Power Company Ltd. and the Leviathan project partners to supply a gross quantity of 45 billion cu.m. of natural gas to Israel’s eastern neighbor over 15 years.
Death Toll Climbs as Iraqi Protests Escalate for Third Day
Police and gunmen exchanged fire in a southern Iraqi city on Thursday killing one person, after 11 others were killed overnight as nationwide anti-government protests escalated into one of the worst security challenges in years.

At least 19 people have been killed since the protests erupted three days ago, seemingly independent of any organized political party and taking the security forces by surprise.

Police said protesters carrying guns had fired at them in the town of Rifae on Thursday morning, near the southern city of Nassiriya where seven people died overnight. Fifty people were wounded in Rifae, including five policemen, they said, adding to hundreds already injured across the country.

Clashes in another southern city, Amara, killed four people overnight.

A curfew, lifted early in the morning in southern cities, was reimposed immediately in Nassiriya and later in Amara.

In Baghdad, the authorities attempted to head off protests by imposing a curfew from 5 a.m. Troops patrolled main roads and public spaces, but by morning sporadic demonstrations had begun, and troops opened fire with live rounds to disperse them.

“Despite the curfew we are going out to protest to call for our rights. We want to change the regime. They have arrested our people. They have done things to our people they did not even do to Islamic State,” a youth told Reuters TV after gunshots could be heard nearby.

“They have beat them up and humiliated them while firing live gunfire. What did we do? Are we suicide bombers? We are here to call for our rights and all these people.”
Report: Iranian Entrenchment in Syria (PDF)
Iran's deployment of its own forces and proxy militias recruited from other countries has been decisive in the Assad regime's reversal of territorial losses to the Syrian opposition.

As a result, Iran now has wide latitude to pursue its own geopolitical agenda on Syrian territory, including the introduction of sophisticated weapons systems that will enable Iran to open a new front against Israel and threaten freedom of navigation in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Syria Study Group believes the U.S. can still influence the outcome of the Syrian war in a manner that protects U.S. interests.

The U.S. has meaningful tools of leverage to prevent the reemergence of ISIS and counter other terrorist groups, stop Iran from turning Syria into a forward operating base, provide relief to displaced Syrians and Syria's hard-pressed neighbors, and advance a political outcome that stops Syrian territory from serving as a net exporter of terrorism and instability.

The key near-term goal should be to prevent further entrenchment of Iran and its partners and proxies while raising the cost to Iran for its actions in Syria.

To this end, the U.S. should continue its support of Israeli air strikes; enforce sanctions aimed at undermining Iran's ability to fund its proxies and partners in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq; and maintain the U.S. military presence at the al-Tanf military base.

The U.S. should insist that any political settlement require the withdrawal of Iranian forces and proxies from Syria.
France: President Macron Must Stop Appeasing Iran's Mullahs
Has French President Emmanuel Macron forgotten that he is helping and appeasing a state leading in human rights violations? In 2018, according to Javaid Rehman, the UN expert on human rights in Iran, at least 273 people were executed in Iran, and 6,000 over ten years, according to Iran Human Rights.

In addition, the use of cruel and inhuman punishment is also on the rise in Iran; according to Amnesty International, the use of various forms of torture such as amputation and flogging has been increasing at an alarming rate.

Macron also fails to recognize that the nuclear deal never contained or adequately addressed Iran's multifaceted threats, which include but are not limited to: The arming and financing of terror and militia groups in the region; intervening in the internal affairs of regional countries; pursing a sectarian agenda by pitting Shiites and Sunnis against each other; carrying out cyber attacks against other nations; and committing human rights violations inside Iran and abroad through its proxies.
IRGC Commander Confirms Missile-Cities Hidden under Iran's Mountains
We have been digging tunnels since 1984 when we first began making missiles.” These were the words of Revolutionary Guards general Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the IRGC’s Aerospace Force. He was interviewed by the Iranian regime’s Documentary TV a few hours after the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)- US representative office, revealed the existence of numerous tunnel formations across Iran that were used to stock long-range missiles.

Hajizadeh had played a vital role in the September 14, 2019 drone and cruise-missile attack against Saudi Arabia’s ARAMCO facilities deep inside Saudi territory, according to information revealed on September 30 by the NCRI’s US representative office in Washington DC.

Even though Hajizadeh is not a member of the regime’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), according to the NCRI’s information, provided by the People’s Mojahedin (PMOI, Mujahedin-e Khalq or MEK), he was present in the SNSC’s session on July 31, 2019, when the decision to prepare an attack on Saudi oilfields was made.

After the decision was approved by the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei, Hajizadeh was instructed to begin the implementation of the plan.

More than ten points of construction/stockpiling of missiles with ranges of up to 2000 km were revealed for the first time by the NCRI’s US representative office. Satellite photos of all the locations were made available to the public.

“We have to protect our arsenal in an adequate way. The idea goes back to 1984, just when we began thinking of missiles. Before the first such material was imported into the country, we had already begun digging the tunnels to hide them,” Hajizadeh affirmed in his interview, broadcast a few hours after the revelations made by the Iranian Resistance.


PreOccupiedTerritory: Pakistan Wondering How Much Longer It Can Keep Citizen Anger Focused On Faraway Israel (satire)
A proven political strategy to divert popular resentment from the corrupt, repressive government and toward an outside foe might not remain effective forever, a new report by this Islamic country’s ministry of the interior warns.

Israel remains a potent rhetorical magnet for focusing Pakistanis’ anger despite its physical distance and negligible measurable impact on Pakistani lives, acknowledged the report, but the authors caution that overplaying the Israel card may carry unwanted consequences during a time of increased access to alternative sources of information that can both attenuate the desired anti-Israel and anti-Jewish effect of the rhetoric and reflect some of the anger back at Pakistan’s own leadership. The risk of this development has reached a likelihood unknown thirty years ago, according to the report, and appears to increase with each passing year, such that by the middle of this century, it estimates, Pakistan may be forced to forgo anti-Zionism as a primary domestic pacification strategy.

“Whereas during the latter half of the previous century the very mention of Israel, Zionists, or Palestine served as a reliable lightning rod for popular anger, it no longer riles the populace as it once did,” the report warned. “An outright majority of Pakistanis still view an assertive Jewish presence on historically Muslim-ruled land as a source of existential shame, but indications have emerged that they no longer rank that shame at the top of their troubles, a development that points to an emerging challenge for the leadership in deflecting attention from its cronyism, nepotism, incompetence, corruption, support for terrorists, warped domestic priorities, and other issues best left shrouded in distraction.”



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Begalka: Circle may have faded, but it remains unbroken   

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Since 1878, the Ladies Home Circle of Marengo served as a doorway for newcomers to town and a treasure trove of local history, passed down through the generations.

On Sept. 11 that ended, when a small group of holdovers gathered for one last lunch. Membership had dwindled from a high of 79 to eight, despite the fact that dues had weathered inflation admirably – climbing from a quarter to just $1 after all of these years.

Older members had died or moved away and younger women are too busy nowadays between working and raising children.

But the club’s legacy continues in the memories, stories and archive of pictures and minutes donated to the McHenry County Historical Society.

The Kishwaukee Farmers Club gave rise to the group, by inadvertently serving as a gathering point for the women who prepared the meals for their husbands in the club. The ladies decided they needed their own group.

Organized with the help of Mrs. Maria Louise Rogers Seward – sister-in-law to Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of State W.H. Seward – there were 13 charter members. The initial meeting was in Seward’s home, located at 19809 E. Grant Highway in Marengo, and meetings continued on the third Wednesday of each month. The meeting hostess, who typically entertained and fed 12 to 15 people in her house, also was responsible for readying the club-owned table settings and linens.

And they had better be washed and ironed just so!

“When you first came to Marengo back then, you weren’t accepted at face value,” said Marcia Lockwood, wife of a prominent doctor in town and a Circle member since 1963. “I remember that in its heyday there was [local historian] Eleanor Corson. How would you have reckoned with her?”

Beach those Bermuda shorts. Young women were reminded that ladies wore dresses.

When vacancies occurred, first consideration was given to daughters and daughters-in-law of members. There also were legacy members. Regardless, you had to be invited. Women nominated for membership also required two sponsors and the unanimous vote of club members present during a closed-door meeting.

The club’s aims included home improvement and intellectual advancement. Topics ranged from making butter to Temperance to female American authors. But the social graces figured prominently. It was a matter of tradition to greet other Ladies Circle members with a handshake and an amusing quip or saying. Women made a point of arriving early, Lockwood said. There were fewer people to address.

Members included Lu Nichols, wife of high school principal E.C. Nichols; Ruth Tanner, wife of news agency owner and alderman Howard Tanner; and Susie Dawes, daughter-in-law to Charles Dawes, vice president during the Calvin Coolidge administration. The roster was populated with movers and shakers, the cream of Marengo’s crop.

A nomination was followed a meet-and-greet of sorts, in which a candidate’s manners, sociability and personality were scrutinized to ensure she would fit in, and then a closed-door vote.

Joining the Circle amounted to a Good Housekeeping stamp of approval.

“You were a big shot,” 50-year member Betty Struckmeier said with a smile. “You were accepted into the upper crust of the community.”

An early history of the Ladies Home Circle, written by Dorothy Jevne on the occasion of the club’s 90th anniversary, recorded a seminal moment at a Farmers Club meeting in which guest speaker, suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton, put her hosts in their place … much to the ladies’ delight.

“Mrs. Stanton took notes on everything the men said and in rebuttal reminded the men that the chief part of raising boys was done by women, that half of the products of the farm belong to farmers’ wives, and that it was the duty of men to see that the women’s cooking utensils were as good and up to date as the farm machinery.”

Lockwood said she will miss all of the camaraderie, the visiting with friends.  Member Nancy Clinnin especially is grateful for all of the friendships she made. Meetings were a touchstone, a chance to catch up on the latest scuttlebutt and hear news about the “kids” who had grown up and moved elsewhere.

But for Barbara Carder, it was also about keeping local history alive and learning about the community’s past. Had a question? Someone at a Circle was bound to have the answer – or knew someone who did.

•••

The city of Waukegan is expected to transfer ownership of the historic Carnegie Library to the Waukegan Park District and Waukegan Historical Society later this year or early 2020.

The 1903 building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is one of 105 libraries built in Illinois by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

It remained in use until 1965 when the library relocated. Since then it has fallen into disrepair. In 2018, the Waukegan Historical Society commissioned a structure report and conceptual design study on the building as a potential site for its growing collection and archives, as well as exhibit space. It has been mentioned as a site for future museum dedicated to author Ray Bradbury.

• Kurt Begalka is administrator of the McHenry County Historical Society & Museum. He may be reached at kurt@mchenrycountyhistory.org.


          

Profit, not politics: Trump allies sought Ukraine gas deal   

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KYIV, Ukraine – As Rudy Giuliani was pushing Ukrainian officials last spring to investigate one of Donald Trump's main political rivals, a group of individuals with ties to the president and his personal lawyer were also active in the former Soviet republic.

Their aims were profit, not politics. This circle of businessmen and Republican donors touted connections to Giuliani and Trump while trying to install new management at the top of Ukraine's massive state gas company. Their plan was to then steer lucrative contracts to companies controlled by Trump allies, according to two people with knowledge of their plans.

Their plan hit a snag after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko lost his reelection bid to Volodymyr Zelenskiy, whose conversation with Trump about former Vice President Joe Biden is now at the center of the House impeachment inquiry of Trump.

But the effort to install a friendlier management team at the helm of the gas company, Naftogaz, would soon be taken up with Ukraine's new president by U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, whose slate of candidates included a fellow Texan who is one of Perry's past political donors.

It's unclear if Perry's attempts to replace board members at Naftogaz were coordinated with the Giuliani allies pushing for a similar outcome, and no one has alleged that there is criminal activity in any of these efforts. And it's unclear what role, if any, Giuliani had in helping his clients push to get gas sales agreements with the state-owned company.

But the affair shows how those with ties to Trump and his administration were pursuing business deals in Ukraine that went far beyond advancing the president's personal political interests. It also raises questions about whether Trump allies were mixing business and politics just as Republicans were calling for a probe of Biden and his son Hunter, who served five years on the board of another Ukrainian energy company, Burisma.

On Friday, Trump told a group of Republican lawmakers that it had been Perry who had prompted the phone call in which Trump asked Zelenskiy for a "favor" regarding Biden, according to a person familiar with Trump's remarks.

The person, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity to describe a closed conversation among GOP officials, recounted that Trump said it was Perry who asked him to make the July call to discuss "something about an LNG (liquefied natural gas) plant." Trump's remarks were first reported Saturday by the news site Axios.

While it's unclear whether Trump's remark Friday referred specifically to the behind-the-scenes maneuvers this spring involving the multibillion-dollar state gas company, The Associated Press has interviewed four people with direct knowledge of the attempts to influence Naftogaz, and their accounts show Perry playing a key role in the effort. Three of the four spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. The fourth is an American businessman with close ties to the Ukrainian energy sector.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Energy Department said Perry, a former Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate, was not advancing anyone's personal interests. She said his conversations with Ukrainian officials about Naftogaz were part of his efforts to reform the country's energy sector and create an environment in which Western companies can do business.

Perry was asked about the AP's reporting on Monday while in Lithuania, where he was meeting with officials from Ukraine and other eastern European countries to discuss energy security and cooperation. He said any suggestion that he tried to force a management change at Naftogaz was a "totally dreamed up story."

"We get asked for our recommendations about people who are experts in areas, various areas," Perry said. "Folks who have expertise in particular areas. Obviously having been the governor of the state of Texas, I know a lot of people in the energy industry."

Perry also confirmed he had urged Trump to call Zelenskiy, but said the subject was the potential growth of Ukraine's energy sector.

"Absolutely, I asked the president multiple times, 'Mr. President, we think it is in the United States' and in Ukraine's best interest that you and the president of Ukraine have conversations, that you discuss the options that are there,'" Perry said, recounting his conversations with Trump.

The Trump and Giuliani allies driving the attempt to change the senior management at Naftogaz, however, appear to have had inside knowledge of the U.S. government's plans in Ukraine. For example, they told people that Trump would replace the U.S. ambassador there months before she was actually recalled to Washington, according to three of the individuals interviewed by the AP. One of the individuals said he was so concerned by the whole affair that he reported it to a U.S. Embassy official in Ukraine months ago.

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THE BUSINESSMEN

Ukraine, a resource-rich nation that sits on the geographic and symbolic border between Russia and the West, has long been plagued by corruption and government dysfunction, making it a magnet for foreign profiteers.

At the center of the Naftogaz plan, according to three individuals familiar with the details, were three such businessmen: two Soviet-born Florida real estate entrepreneurs, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, and an oil magnate from Boca Raton, Florida, named Harry Sargeant III.

Parnas and Fruman have made hundreds of thousands of dollars in political donations to Republicans, including $325,000 to a Trump-allied political action committee in 2018. This helped the relatively unknown entrepreneurs gain access to top levels of the Republican Party – including meetings with Trump at the White House and Mar-a-Lago.

The two have also faced lawsuits from disgruntled investors over unpaid debts. During the same period they were pursuing the Naftogaz deal, the two were coordinating with Giuliani to set up meetings with Ukrainian government officials and push for an investigation of the Bidens.

Sargeant, his wife and corporate entities tied to the family have donated at least $1.2 million to Republican campaigns and PACs over the last 20 years, including $100,000 in June to the Trump Victory Fund, according to federal and state campaign finance records. He has also served as finance chair of the Florida state GOP, and gave nearly $14,000 to Giuliani's failed 2008 presidential campaign.

In early March, Fruman, Parnas and Sargeant were touting a plan to replace Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolyev with another senior executive at the company, Andrew Favorov, according to two individuals who spoke to the AP as well as a memorandum about the meeting that was later submitted to the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, formerly known as Kiev.

Going back to the Obama administration, the U.S. Energy Department and the State Department have long supported efforts to import American natural gas into Ukraine to reduce the country's dependence on Russia.

The three approached Favorov with the idea while the Ukrainian executive was attending an energy industry conference in Texas. Parnas and Fruman told him they had flown in from Florida on a private jet to recruit him to be their partner in a new venture to export up to 100 tanker shipments a year of U.S. liquefied gas into Ukraine, where Naftogaz is the largest distributor, according to two people briefed on the details.

Sargeant told Favorov that he regularly meets with Trump at Mar-a-Lago and that the gas-sales plan had the president's full support, according to the two people who said Favorov recounted the discussion to them.

These conversations were recounted to AP by Dale W. Perry, an American who is a former business partner of Favorov. He told AP in an interview that Favorov described the meeting to him soon after it happened and that Favorov perceived it to be a shakedown. Perry, who is no relation to the energy secretary, is the managing partner of Energy Resources of Ukraine, which currently has business agreements to import natural gas and electricity to Ukraine.

A second person who spoke on condition of anonymity also confirmed to the AP that Favorov had recounted details of the Houston meeting to him.

According to Dale Perry and the other person, Favorov said Parnas told him Trump planned to remove U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and replace her with someone more open to aiding their business interests.

Dale Perry told the AP he was so concerned about the efforts to change the management at Naftogaz and to get rid of Yovanovitch that he reported what he had heard to Suriya Jayanti, a State Department foreign service officer stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv who focuses on the energy industry.

He also wrote a detailed memo about Favorov's account, dated April 12, which was shared with another current State Department official. Perry recently provided a copy of the April memo to AP.

Jayanti declined to provide comment. Favorov also declined to comment.

A Florida lawyer representing Sargeant, Christopher Kise, issued a statement Monday confirming that his client was at the Houston dinner with Parnas, Fruman and Favorov, but insisted he was there only to offer "broad industry guidance and his expert view on the challenges presented by operating in foreign markets."

"Attending a single, informal dinner in Houston does not place Mr. Sargeant at the center of any Naftogaz or Ukrainian business plan," Kise said. "Mr. Sargeant never discussed any role or participation in any Ukraine venture, nor any specifics regarding the potential business ventures of the other dinner participants."

The statement did not address whether Yovanovitch's fate was discussed at the dinner. Kise also said Sargeant has not met at Mar-a-Lago with Trump since he became president.

On March 24, Giuliani and Parnas gathered at the Trump International Hotel in Washington with Healy E. Baumgardner, a former Trump campaign adviser who once served as deputy communications director for Giuliani's presidential campaign and as a communications official during the George W. Bush administration.

She is now listed as the CEO of 45 Energy Group, a Houston-based energy company whose website describes it as a "government relations, public affairs and business development practice group." The company's name is an apparent nod to Trump, the 45th president.

This was a couple of weeks after the Houston meeting with Favorov, the Naftogaz executive. Giuliani, Parnas and Baumgardner were there to make a business pitch involving gas deals in the former Soviet bloc to a potential investor.

This time, according to Giuliani, the deals that were discussed involved Uzbekistan, not Ukraine.

"I have not pursued a deal in the Ukraine. I don't know about a deal in the Ukraine. I would not do a deal in the Ukraine now, obviously," said Giuliani, reached while attending a playoff baseball game between the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins. "There is absolutely no proof that I did it, because I didn't do it."

During this meeting, Parnas again repeated that Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador in Kyiv, would soon be replaced, according to a person with direct knowledge of the gathering. She was removed two months later.

Giuliani, who serves as Trump's personal lawyer and has no official role in government, acknowledged Friday that he was among those pushing the president to replace the ambassador, a career diplomat with a history of fighting corruption.

"The ambassador to Ukraine was replaced," he said. "I did play a role in that."

But Giuliani refused to discuss the details of his business dealings, or whether he helped his associates in their push to forge gas sales contracts with the Ukrainian company. He did describe Sergeant as a friend and referred to Parnas and Fruman as his clients in a tweet in May.

As part of their impeachment inquiry, House Democrats have subpoenaed Giuliani for documents and communications related to dozens of people, including Favorov, Parnas, Fruman and Baumgardner's 45 Energy Group.

The House Intelligence Committee also issued sweeping document requests to Parnas and Fruman, due Monday, and scheduled depositions for later in the week.

John Dowd, a former Trump attorney who now represents Parnas and Fruman, said he and his clients have not yet decided whether to comply. Democrats on Monday threatened to issue subpoenas if they don't show.

Baumgardner issued a written statement, saying: "While I won't comment on business discussions, I will say this: this political assault on private business by the Democrats in Congress is complete harassment and an invasion of privacy that should scare the hell out of every American business owner."

Baumgardner later denied that she had any business dealings in Ukraine but refused to say whether the replacement of Ambassador Yovanovitch was discussed.

Dowd said it was actually the Naftogaz executives who approached his clients about making a deal. Dowd says the group then approached Rick Perry to get the Energy Department on board.

"The people from the company solicited my clients because Igor is in the gas business, and they asked them, and they flew to Washington and they solicited," Dowd said. "They sat down and talked about it. And then it was presented to Secretary Perry to see if they could get it together.

"It wasn't a shakedown; it was an attempt to do legitimate business that didn't work out."

___

THE ENERGY SECRETARY

In May, Rick Perry traveled to Kyiv to serve as the senior U.S. government representative at the inauguration of the county's new president.

In a private meeting with Zelenskiy, Perry pressed the Ukrainian president to fire members of the Naftogaz advisory board. Attendees left the meeting with the impression that Perry wanted to replace the American representative, Amos Hochstein, a former diplomat and energy representative who served in the Obama administration, with someone "reputable in Republican circles," according to someone who was in the room.

Perry's push for Ukraine's state-owned natural gas company Naftogaz to change its supervisory board was first reported by Politico.

A second meeting during the trip, at a Kyiv hotel, included Ukrainian officials and energy sector people. There, Perry made clear that the Trump administration wanted to see the entire Naftogaz supervisory board replaced, according to a person who attended both meetings. Perry again referenced the list of advisers that he had given Zelenskiy, and it was widely interpreted that he wanted Michael Bleyzer, a Ukrainian-American businessman from Texas, to join the newly formed board, the person said. Also on the list was Robert Bensh, another Texan who frequently works in Ukraine, the Energy Department confirmed.

Gordon D. Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and Kurt D. Volker, then the State Department's special envoy to Ukraine, were also in the room, according to photographs reviewed by AP. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to fear of retaliation, said he was floored by the American requests because the person had always viewed the U.S. government "as having a higher ethical standard."

The Naftogaz supervisory board is supposed to be selected by the Ukrainian president's Cabinet in consultation with international institutions, including the International Monetary Fund, the United States and the European Union. It must be approved by the Ukrainian Cabinet. Ukrainian officials perceived Perry's push to swap out the board as circumventing that established process, according to the person in the room.

U.S. Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said Perry had consistently called for the modernization of Ukraine's business and energy sector in an effort to create an environment that will incentivize Western companies to do business there. She said Perry delivered that same message in the May meeting with Zelenskiy.

"What he did not do is advocate for the business interests of any one individual or company," Hynes said Saturday. "That is fiction being pushed by those who are disingenuously seeking to advance a nefarious narrative that does not exist."

Hynes said the Ukrainian government had requested U.S. recommendations to advise the country on energy matters, and Perry provided those recommendations. She confirmed Bleyzer was on the list.

Bleyzer, whose company is based in Houston, did not respond on Saturday to a voicemail seeking comment. Bensh also did not respond to a phone message.

Perry has close ties to the Texas oil and gas industry. He appointed Bleyzer to a two-year term on a state technologies fund board in 2009. The following year, records show Bleyzer donated $20,000 to Perry's reelection campaign.

Zelenskiy's office declined to comment on Saturday.

In an interview Friday with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Perry said that "as God as my witness" he never discussed Biden or his son in meetings with Ukrainian or U.S. officials, including Trump or Giuliani. He did confirm he had had a conversation with Giuliani by phone, but a spokeswoman for the energy secretary declined to say when that call was or whether the two had discussed Naftogaz.

In Lithuania on Monday, Perry said he could not recall whether Bleyzer's name was on the list provided to Zelenskiy. But Perry confirmed he had known Bleyzer for years and called him "a really brilliant, capable businessman."

"I would recommend him for a host of different things in Kyiv because he knows the country," Perry said of Bleyzer. "He's from there. So, why not? I mean I would be stunned if someone said that would you eliminate Michael Bleyzer from a recommendation of people you ought to talk to about how to do business in the country, whether they're knowledgeable. It'd be remarkable if I didn't say, 'Talk to Michael.'"

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Biesecker and Lardner reported from Washington. Associated Press reporter Alan Fram contributed.

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Key findings from this story are summarized at the AP News website.

___

Follow AP investigative reporters Desmond Butler at http://twitter.com/desmondbutler, Michael Biesecker at http://twitter.com/mbieseck and Richard Lardner at http://twitter.com/rplardner

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Contact AP's global investigative team at Investigative@ap.org.

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This story has been corrected to show Bleyzer's first name is Michael, not Robert.


          

Microsoft brings support for Samsung smartwatches to Outlook for Android   

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Outlook for Android is getting some nifty features in the latest update, Microsoft confirmed in a blog post. If you own a Samsung smartwatch, you'll be happy to know that the latest version of Outlook for Android lets you see your messages on smaller screens.

But this isn't the only new features added in the most recent Outlook update. There's a new optimized search experience with a two-pane layout for tablets. Actionable messages is another improvement that lets you act quickly on them when the sender includes the appropriate markup.

Also, you'll now see the meeting location and ...
          

Making the meeting between Saint Francis and the Sultan contemporany   

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Making the meeting between St. Francis and the Sultan contemporary: this was the theme that dominated the third day of celebrations held in Jerusalem for the 800th anniversary of the […]
          

Franciscan sources tell the story of the encounter between St. Francis and the Sultan   

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Franciscan historical sources are the protagonists of the second day of conferences held in Jerusalem on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the meeting between St. Francis and the […]
          

October 2, 2019 Meeting Minutes   

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President Joan C. Smith called the meeting to order at 12:03 P.M. Participating in the meeting were Overseer Leroy Watson, Executive Committee member Cheri Watson, Legislative Director Burton Eller, Steward Amanda Brozana-Rios, Membership Director Stephanie Wilkins, Treasurer Jessie Cope, National … Continue reading
          

Comment on IVRPA Belfast 2019: Save the Date! by George S. Pearl    

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Why does this organization always need to hide the name of the meeting hotel from their members when they announce where the yearly meeting is going to be held??!?!?!!!?!??!!! We need to make travel arrangements way in advance to get the best deals, or even be able to attend! What HOTEL is this at??
          

Agenda for October 2019 Regular Meeting of the Franklin Town Council Released   

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The Franklin Town Council will be holding its regular meeting for October 2019 on Monday night in the lower level of the town hall. The meeting begins at 6pm and is open to the public. Macon Media intends to be there to stream live video of the meeting and to record it for later uploading to the internet.

Copies of the public agenda and agenda packet are posted below. Several readers have said they cannot access documents in a PDF format, so I (Bobby) have attempted to transcribe portions of the agenda packet so they can be read.


Franklin Town Council
Agenda
October 7, 2019
6:00pm

1. Call to Order - Mayor Bob Scott

2. Pledge of Allegiance - Vice Mayor Barbara McRae

3. Adoption of the October 7, 2019 Town Council Agenda

4. Approval of Consent Agenda for October 7, 2019

A.) Approval of the September 3, 2019, Town Counmtil Minutes
B.) Budget Amendments
C.) Street Closing Request for Jeepers Creepers
D.) Tax Releases
E.) Forward Re-Zoning Petition to the Town Planning Board
F.) Set Public Hearing for Plat Stamp Amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance

5. Public Session (Public Comments)

6. New Business:

A.) Presentation on Growing Outdoor Communities - Cory McCall
B.) Discussion on Love Street Property - Joyce Handley
C.) Discussion on Waiving Tap Fees for Macon County's New Dog Park - Town Manager Summer Woodard
D.) Discussion on W-R Contract for Phase II of the Water Treatment Plant - Town Manager Summer Woodard
E.) Update on Leash Law- Town Manager Summer Woodard and Town Attorney John Henning Jr
F.) Update on Opportunity Zones - Vice Mayor Barbara McRae

7. Legal:

A.) Discussion on Town of Franklin Guardrail Policy - Town Attorney John Henning Jr.
B.) Update on NCDOT SidewalkAgreement along US-441 South to Prentiss Bridge - Town Attorney John Henning Jr.

8. Announcements

A.) Town Hall Movie Night will be Friday, October 8, 2019
B.) Pumpkinfest will be Saturday, October 19, 2019, from 9am to 4pm
C.) Second Annual Town of Franklin Leaf Pickup is available

9. Adjourn


Copy of Agenda Packet sent to media outlets




Expanded Public Agenda


Franklin Town Council
EXPANDED Agenda
October 7, 2019
6:00pm

1. Call to Order - Mayor Bob Scott

2. Pledge of Allegiance - Vice Mayor Barbara McRae

3. Adoption of the October 7, 2019, Town Council Agenda

4. Approval of Consent Agenda for October 7, 2019

A.) Approval of the September 3, 2019, Town Council Minutes
B.) Budget Amendments
C.) Street Closing Request for Jeepers Creepers
D.) Tax Releases
E.) Forward Re-Zoning Petition to the Town Planning Board

The family of the Lillian Fouts Estate would like to have this parcel rezoned from R-1 to C-3. The parcel is in the ETJ and not in the city limits. It adjoins R-1 to the north and west, C-3 off of US-441 N 9Georgia Road) & Belden Circle to the north, east and south. Currently the only road access is off of Dryman Road. The site is served with city 6" water line, the nearest sewer line is down on the Georgia Road. The only major consideration to review is the traffic on Dryman Road for a commercial development.

F.) Set Public Hearing for Plat Stamp Amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance

The town manager suggests (if approved) set a public hearing for plat stamp amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance for Monday, November 4, 2019 at 6:05pm.

Copy of the proposed change and resolution:

Ordinance No. 2019-008
AN ORDINANCE
ADOPTING CERTAIN AMENDMENTS TO THE UNIFIED DEVELOPMENT ORDINANCE FOR THE TOWN OF FRANKLIN TO PROVIDE A STANDARD PLAT REVIEW ZONING CERTIFICATE OF APPROVAL

WHEREAS, there was adopted a unified development ordinance for the Town of Franklin, by a unanimous vote of the Board of Aldermen, at its regular meeting held on the 1st day of October, 2007; and

WHEREAS, the Acts of the State Legislature of the State fo North Carolina empower and authorize the Legislative Body of this Town to adopt ordinances, and to revise, amend, augment, and restate ordinances adopted pursuant to that authority; and

WHEREAS, as the Legislative Body of the Town of Franklin, the Town Council deems it necessary and expediant to adopt certain amendments to the unified development ordinance for the Town of Franklin, and has considered adoption of the same after due advertisement and public hearing;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED by the Town Council of the Town of Franklin that:

Section 1. §152.052(E)(4)(i) of the Unified Development Ordinance is hereby amended as follows:

"(i) All the following certifications shall appear on the final plat, including the Zoning Certificate of Approved Nonconformity, if applicable:

...

5. Zoning Certificate of Approved Nonconformity. The proposed [boundary line adjustment, subdivision] depicted herein is not in conformance with the requirements of the Unified Development Ordinance of the Town of Franklin. This recording is now listed as a legal nonconforming use and is hereby approved for recording in the Office of the Register of Deeds of Macon County.

5. 6. Review Officer Certification. State of North Carolina, County of Macon, I, ____, Review Officer of Macon County, certify that the map or plat to which this certification is affixed meets all the statutory requirements for recording.
(Date) (Review Officer)

Section 2. Except as amended hereby, the affected sections of the Unified Development Ordinances shall remain in full force and effect as enacted.


Planning Board Recommendations
Town of Franklin
September 16, 2019

Findings

• Applicant - Town of Franklin
• Original apllication was submitted on August 27, 2019
• This addition to the UDO would give the Land Use Administrator another stamp he/she could use to properly apprive of plats for zoning approval to be recorded.
• The only stamp currently allowed has potential to stamp a plat that is non-conforming and say that it conforms to the UDO.

Recommendation Consideration:

152.163(A)

1. The proposal will place all property similarly situated in the area in the same, category, or in appropriate complementary categories. Yes

2. There is convincing demonstration that all uses permitted under the proposed classification would be in the general public interest and not merely in the interest of an individual or small group. Yes, so property owners would be made aware of the non-conforming use at the time of recordation.

3. There is convincing demonstration that all uses permitted uder the proposed districty classification would be appropriate in the area included in the proposed change. Yes

4. There is convincing demonstration that the character of any neighborhood will not be materially and adversely affected by any use permitted in the proposed change. Yes, it will just simple be making everyone aware of the non-conforming use.

5. The proposed change is in accord with the principles of growth, sound planning principles and any applicable small area plan. Yes

Recommendation: Planning Board recommends this UDO amendment change.

5. Public Session (Public Comments)

6. New Business:

A.) Presentation on Growing Outdoor Communities - Cory McCall

Macon County Economic Development Commission
July 11, 2019 Meeting
SCC - Macon - Franklin, North Carolina

MINUTES

Present: David Hubbs, Vice-Chair; Barbara McRae, Secretary; Tommy Jenkins, Executive Director; Ken Murphy; Bill Futral, Mark West, Roger Plemons, Cory McCall. Guests: Robin Jenkins, Luke Barber (reporter/Franklin Press)

Absent: Johnny Mira-Knippel, Chair; Brain Stiehler, Jim Breedlove, Brett Murphy, Karl Gillespie, Ronnie Beale, Derek Roland

In the absence of Chairman Johnny Mire-Knippel, Vide-Chair David Hubbs conducted the meeting.

Mark West: Motion to approve minutes of May 9, 2019 meeting.
Bill Futral: Second.
Passed unanimously.

Mr Hubbs introduced Noah Wilson, Director of Growing Outdoor Partnerships, who gave a presentation on this regional effort.

Growing Outdoor Partnerships

Economic development and outdoor recreation are coming together in the region, Mr Wilson said. Last year, partners created 200 outdoor industry jobs in the 25 Western North Carolina Counties his project covers.

Growing Outdoor Partnerships is funded by ARC [editors note: Appalachian Regional Commission URL] and is considered a pilot for other Appalachian communities that are moving toward a goal of healthy people, healthy places. The effort is part of an ARC commitment to replace the economic importance of coal in the region. In Macon County, the loss of the Caterpillar plant was part of a cascade of economic impacts related to the decline of coal mining.
The question ARC considered is: How can we help these rural counties use recreation as a driver?

Noting "You can't outsource the mountains," Mr Wilson explained that, despite the popularity of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, and other outdoor attractions, the Appalachians have not been as successfully branded as the Rockies.

The project includes six basic areas of focus:

1. Workforce development. The goal: anyone who wnats a job in the outdoor space can get a job and anyone who needs workers can find an employee.

Efforts to build workforce include creation of five or six certificate programs at WCU [editors note: Western Carolina University URL], such as Masters in Recreation. The degrees are given through established departments of the school.

Another aspect of workforce creation is participation by Growing Outdoor Partnerships in a large outdoor-retailers show. EDC member Cory McCall serves on the GOP advisory board and attended the show this year.

Mr Wilson also mentioned the partnership's recruiting efforts and a new textile programs to promote a resurgence of sewing work in WNC 9Tents, outdoor gear and kayaks, for example). This requires specialized sewing skills but build on skills many in thie regional already posses.

2. Expanding entrepreneurship & capital access. Mountain BizWorks is the primary manager & fiscal agent of the customized training portion of this effort. Capital access is through Capital Investment Fund, SW Commission loan fund; and NCI for larger projects.

3. Regional Branding & Marketing. The Most-Visited Places (GSMNP and BR Parkay) are in our backyard, but "all the imagery is Rocky Mountains." How do we fill that brand out? We can leverage it through all partnerships, including regional TDAs and TDCs.

\4. Connecting supply chains. Downloadable data is available through Manufactured NC, supply chain working group. We need to figure out what we can make in NC, and market it well, Mr Wilson said. Who has those capacities? He noted that people want US manufactured items. "There is opportunity, catcvh that wave!"

5. Weaving together regional outdoor community. Organize all segments around supply chains. Identify the parties: Marketing and branding. Infrastructure. Local government. Summer camps. Permitting agencies. Lawyers and accountants who understand seasonal cycles, how pieces fit together.

An annual regional conference bringning all partners together has been held at WCU, but has outgrown it and moved to Asheville:

Outdoor Economy Conference: October 10, Crown Plaza, Asheville.

6. Driving Economic Development. It is important for developers to understand the culture of the outdoors, what makes someone in that industry take notice of you, how you dress. "Make plans to build an industry."

Discussion on an Outdoor Economy

Noah Wilson's presentation stimulated a lengthy discussion on how Macon County can develop its own outdoor economy. Following are some of the questions and thoughts members expressed.

Bill Futral: How do you get the word out?

Noah Wilson: Networking

Ken Murphy: Is Franklin Chamber equipped to get the word out? He suggested mini-courses for merchants and others, so they know how to answer visitors' questions, re "What is there to do here?"

Cory McCall & Ken Murphy: Something like "Heart of Brevard" - map of county with locations of waterfalls, overlays that show mountain bike trails, etc. Perhaps on Outdoor 76 building.

Noah Wilson: Existing businesses are a catalyst for the industry, as anyone who wants to put a business in the county tends to be someone who wants to be outdoors.

Cory McCall: The outdoor industry includes more than just "earthy" pursuits like hiking. ATVs, fishing, and much more are part of it.

Ken Murphy: What activities are going on that we could participate in that include outreach to municipal areas?

Noah Wilson: How do you ensure that we're marketing to right people, being smart with our dollar?

Cory McCall: We need to coordinate branding - run with a strong, consistent brand.

Tommy Jenkins: The thought The thought in the past was that Asheville was the center of this, but you (GOP) are doing a good job of spreading it out.

Noah Wilson: There are 19 projects in this program; every one has a rural focus.

Tommy Jenkins: We have as a community a lack of focus on planning for outdoor recreation. This would be a convenient time to look at how to develop a strategic plan from a community perspective on how to develop our outdoor economy. Cory serves on Growing Outdoors Partnerships' advisory board. I have asked him to develop a working group to do a strategic plan for the county.

Cory McCall: I've been impressed with individuals on the advisory board. There is great potential in our community... I've been shocked at how many people commented on the outdoor recreation economy, asked about interviews, wanted quotes. This is prime time to step up and ride this wave. We need to maximize how we capitalize on this and develop a feasible plan.

Tommy Jenkins: It is important to reach out to others in this sector, include them and get their input. I will get together with Cory next week, develop a timeline, see who we can pull in from the community. We'll depend on Bill Futral for Highlands input.

Ken Murphy: Part of this should be working with other counties in the region.

Cory McCall: Everyone understands that we're all in the same boat. We're more connected than ever. We have no option - we have to work together. The emphasis is on rural.

Tommy Jenkins referred to a handout showing $1.64 billion per year spent on outdoor recreation in 11th Congressional District. [editor's note: the handout was not included in the agenda packet]

Cory McCall: It is exciting to see our region taking a lead on this.

Noah Wilson: We have been building organically. We need to do this as a region, build out brand and run with it.


Motion on Strategic Plan

Barbara McRae moved and Cory McCall seconded that we proceed with deveoping a strategic plan for the county on the outdoor recreation economy. The motion passed unanimously. (As noted above, Mr Jenkins has asked Cory MCCall to lead this effort. He asked Bill Futral to represent Highlands in the working group.)

Director's Report

Mr Jenkins did not have a written report but gave a brief oral report. Highlights include:

• We continue to work on some projects involving new retail on 441 bypass.
• EDC is working on a company expansion that would add quite a few jobs. We are doing a grant application for that project.
• Braodband continues to be a matter of importance. Otto community's Little Tennessee Broadband iniative is going forward. There is movement on their work with Haywood EMC, and that could impact Scaly Mountain as well.

(Aside. David Hubbs: Starlink, Elon Musk's initiative, launched 60 satellites in May. These are the first 60 of about 12,000 he will eventually put in orbit. His intention is to provide internet access from low earth orbit to the entire planet. With an antennaae [editor's note: correct spelling is antenna] the size of a pizza box, that would give you 40 mg. [editor's note: it is unknown what HUbbs was trying to say. The goal is to provide Gigabit service to rural and underserved customers. See x for more information on the project.] Initial launch is expected in May. A few days after launch, a guy in the Netherlands got a video of train of satellites going across. No word on how much the service will cost. Probably by 2024-2025 Starlink will start providing service.)

• Workforce development: EDC is working with NC Career Center, staying on top of demand for employees.

Other

Barbara McRae provided information on several projects:

• Upcoming charette for Franklin Comprehensice Plan (June 17-19).
• Status of work and funding for onumental staue planned for Little Tennessee River and Nikwasi Mound area.
• Recent expansion of Women's History Trail to 14 sites.
• Decision of Cerokee Tribal Council to place $150,000 recurring line item in their budget to fund Nikwasi Initiative. This will allow NI to hire staff and fund other expenses.

Having no additional business, the meeting adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,

Barbara McRae, Secretary



B.) Discussion on Love Street Property - Joyce Handley

C.) Discussion on Waiving Tap Fees for Macon County's New Dog Park - Town Manager Summer Woodard

Macon County has requested that the Town of Franklin waive all tap fees associated with the dog park the county is building on Phillips Street. A transcribed copy is posted below:

Ms Woodard, Mayor Scott and Honorable Councilmembers,

I hope this letter finds each of you well. As you are aware, construction of a new dog park facility is currently underway, on the 7.35 acre tract of land owned by Macon County, located inside the Town of Franklin. The property, which is bordered by Phillips Street to the East, is more particularly describes PIN# 659418589 in records furnished by the Macon County Tax Office. [editor's note: Link to property description on the county website http://gis2.maconnc.org/lightmap/Property/PropertyDetails.aspx?PID=6594185859 ]

Upon completion, the fenced-in dog park will contain public restrooms, a walking trail and additional parking. We feel strongly, that this $120,000 investment will benefit residents and visitors to both Macon County and the Town of Franklin. In light of the mutual benefits this facility will provide, we would respectfully request that the Town Council consider waiving all tap fees associated with the proposed new dog park facility.

Kindest Regards,

Derek C Roland
Macon County, Manager

D.) Discussion on W-R Contract for Phase II of the Water Treatment Plant - Town Manager Summer Woodard

A copy of the proposed Agreement for Engineering Services to the Town of Franklin for Phase II of the Water Treatment Plant expansion has been extracted from the agenda sent to media outlewts and is embedded below for transparency purposes.




E.) Update on Leash Law- Town manager Summer Wooard and Town Attorney John Henning Jr
F.) Update on Opportunity Zones - Vice Mayor Barbara McRae

7. Legal:

A.) Discussion on Town of Franklin Guardrail Policy - Town Attorney John Henning Jr.

A transcribed copy of the proposed Town of Franklin Streets and Sidewalks policies is included below.

Town of Franklin
Streets and Sidewalks Policies


I. Town Policy

It is the Town's policy to provide for the common good of its citizens by maintaining streets and sidewalks that are the most efficient, useful, and safe condition that can be provided within the Town's resources.

II. Regulations

Where federal and state laws and regulations supercede these policies, they shall be interpreted and enacted to conform to such laws and regulations. Where the Town has previously enacted an ordinance that conflicts with this policy, the ordinance shall prevail. The Town Manager is authorized to adopt changes to this policy that are mandated by applicable law. In situations that are not addressed by law or ordinance, the Town Manager is authorized to act on behalf and in the best interests of the Town.

III. Traffic Safety Devices

A. INSTALLATION OF GUARDRAILS AND OTHER SAFETY DEVICES. Guardrails and other safety devices shall be installed upon the recommendation of the Public Works Director, within funds budgeted by the Town Council. The Public Works Director shall base the recommendation upon current and applicable regulations of the North Carolina Department of Transportation.


B.) Update on NCDOT SidewalkAgreement along US-441 South to Prentiss Bridge - Town Attorney John Henning Jr.

A copy of the proposed agreement between the town and the NCDOT has been extracted from the agenda packet and embedded below.




8. Announcments

A.) Town Hall Movie Night will be Friday, October 8, 2019
B.) Pumpkinfest will be Saturday, October 19, 2019 from 9am to 4pm
C.) Second Annual Town of Franklin Leaf Pickup is available

9. Adjourn



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Published at 4:44pm on Monday, October 6 2019













          

At BrooklynSpeaks meeting Thursday (with electeds), a chance to discuss a "new plan" for affordable housing, traffic, and more. But what's the leverage?   

Cache   
The sponsors of the BrooklynSpeaks coalition--neighborhood and housing groups--and some allied elected officials are holding a forum tomorrow night at the Montauk Club (25 8th Avenue) in Park Slope at 7 pm.

"Sixteen years of promises, but we still have a hole in the ground. It's time for a new plan," the announcement says:
  • Fix the traffic problems. Improve transit.
  • Design spaces that work in Brooklyn.
  • Create real affordable housing.
Assemblymembers Walter Mosley and Jo Anne Simon are expected.

Developer pre-empts the meeting?

Surely in anticipation of the meeting, developer Greenland Forest City Partners this week floated an article in the New York Post regarding new plans to start the first half of the Vanderbilt Yard platform next year, dutifully regurgitated as Brooklyn’s Pacific Park moves to fast track.

Three towers over railyard,
but no timetable
The developer also released a glossy image (left) of those three towers over the railyard, plus the B4 tower flanking the Barclays Center.

As I wrote, it's surely progress, but it's not quite the fast track, because the developer provided no specific timetable for completion of the platform, or the start of future towers.

Still, the three towers over the railyard (B5/B6/B7) might plausibly start in a year or two, as suggested on the tentative project schematic below, given the projected time for the platform, as I write today. Then again, is there a market for all that?


Either way, there still will be a large "hole in the ground" over the eastern block of the railyard, slated for the final three towers, which could take until 2035 and must be built before the lion's share of the much-touted open space can be completed.

See photo below right.

What's on the agenda?

What might the "asks" be?

Eastern block of railyard
As Gib Veconi, a BrooklynSpeaks leader, wrote to me, "In the past, the BrooklynSpeaks sponsors have called for traffic mitigations like residential permit parking, and affordability levels that better reflect the needs of the most rent-burdened members of the community."

Whether it be permit parking and/or other reforms, expect new concerns from neighbors about parking and street safety and new buildings and a school open near congested Sixth Avenue, close to fire and police stations.

Affordability, as of now, relies significantly on the revised Affordable New York program, as I wrote Monday. There's a tension between an increased number of units and more affordability: buildings with 30% affordable units have more middle-income units, while those with 25% affordable units have more low-income ones. That said, an additional commitment by government entities could enhance affordability.

BrooklynSpeaks also once warned that open space behind buildings "is likely to feel more like a private backyard than a public park." In 2015, when the most recent open space design was unveiled, I suggested that Veconi was generous in not repeating that critique.

Let's see if BrooklynSpeaks takes a harsher stance, especially since the open space so far is fractional and there's no timetable for the full open space.

No voluntary changes

It's unlikely that Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees/shepherds Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, is looking to adopt a new plan.

After all, a recent effort to allow nearly 100,000 square feet in below-grade space for a fitness center and fieldhouse under the B12 and B13 sites was approved by ESD despite criticism from BrooklynSpeaks, Simon, and Veconi. He also sits on the advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), which, at his instigation, reached a first-ever split vote, unable to endorse (or oppose) that below-ground space.

Nor was any public benefit--such as increased affordability, or public space--provided as reciprocation for what many saw as a gift to developer TF Cornerstone, which leased the sites from master developer Greenland Forest City Partners.

What's the leverage?

There may be points for future leverage. The most dramatic would be a lawsuit, such as a challenge to the fitness center and field house approval process. But there's been little talk of such an effort.

Another would be an oversight hearing, conducted by the state Assembly.

Another option would be pressure during the expected (but not yet launched) effort to change the project plan to approve a much larger, two-tower project at Site 5, currently home to P.C. Richard and Modell's.

Veconi suggested another pathway:
The main leverage at this point may be the unstable state of the project. It’s not easy to see how Atlantic Yards’ affordable housing deadline will be met without building over the railyard, and the recent announcement about construction of the platform above block 1120 doesn’t speak to when the buildings above it will be built or by whom. China’s monetary policy no longer favors foreign investment in real estate, as evidenced by the recent pattern of sales of development leases. And the project’s financing strategy was conceived at a time when City and State subsidy policies for affordable housing was very different that they are now (to say nothing of what may change in 2022 when Affordable New York expires).
He's right that, as project uncertainty rises, the chance for leverage increases, but I still think it's possible--as suggested yesterday--to meet the affordability deadline by building just two towers over the railyard.

I also spoke with Mosley, who said he'd stress the affordable housing component, while Simon, in whose district Site 5 sits, may focus on that issue.

"My issue is the deliverability of the affordable housing within the time frame that was renegotiated," said Mosley, who noted that legislators' query to ESD about a timetable has not drawn a response.

"I've had preliminary conversation about possibility of having oversight hearings," he said. Like Veconi (and speaking before the latest announcement), he expressed skepticism about Greenland USA's commitment, "in terms of the market, the geopolitical landscape."

Mosley said he hoped the meeting would provide "a clearer directive from our constituents as to how we could proceed."

The housing conundrum and the larger transparency issue

The difficulty in requesting more affordability, for example, is that that likely would require an extra subsidy from government or, perhaps, an extra benefit to the developer.

(The Site 5 negotiation could offer leverage on that, but it's also possible that Site 5 would deliver additional affordable units beyond the 2,250 required--seemingly a boon--but would skew toward middle-income households.)

That's because there's no way to hold Greenland Forest City to the once-pledged housing configuration, in which 40% of the affordable units would be low-income. The definition of affordable housing in the guiding Development Agreement is far more broad, encompassing units in various subsidy/assistance programs.

The overarching Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park issue is transparency: the timing of towers, the plan to meet affordability, the progress of the railyard, the likelihood the eastern section will actually be built.

Despite Greenland Forest City's latest strategic announcement, starting a platform does not translate into a project timetable.


          

Joe Biden Donors Gather for Emergency Closed-Door Meeting as Campaign Loses Steam   

Cache   
Breitbart | The New York Times was first to report the meeting on Sunday, noting the financiers were treated to a behind-the-scenes view of the campaign’s headquarters and strategy, including a private address by the former vice president.
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