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Thousands flee to beaches amid devastating Australian wildfires

Top Stories - Tue, 12/31/2019 - 08:00

Thousands of Australians were forced to flee to beaches on Tuesday as wildfires continued to blaze in New South Wales and Victoria.About 4,000 people sought refuge on nearby beaches in the town of Mallacoota in Victoria, with thousands along the New South Wales coast needing to evacuate their homes, CNN reports. Fires have been raging in Australia for the past several months, and 70 new fires reportedly started in Victoria on Monday, while more than 60 fires haven't yet been contained in New South Wales."It was like we were in hell," a vacationer in New South Wales told CNN. "We were all covered in ash.""It should have been daylight but it was black like midnight and we could hear the fire roaring," a local business owner in Mallacoota told BBC News. "We were all terrified for our lives."After the death of a father and son in Cobargo, at least 11 people have died amid Australia's devastating fire season, during which more than 900 homes have been destroyed in New South Wales, The New York Times reports. Victoria Emergency Services Commissioner Andrew Crisp said there have been "significant" property losses, The Associated Press reports.Australian military aircraft and vessels will assist in the emergency services, BBC News reports, and the United States and Canada have also been asked to help in the effort. CNN reports that weather conditions are expected to improve in the next 24 hours before worsening by the end of the week, again "bringing dangerous fire conditions."More stories from theweek.com The Obama legacy is not what many liberals think Trump's scandals will haunt America for years The first decade in history

Israel Is Using Lasers to Shoot Down Flaming Kites (and Explosive Condoms)

Top Stories - Tue, 12/31/2019 - 07:55

Kites, balloons and even inflated condoms, launched across the Gaza border into southern Israel by Hamas and other Palestinian groups, have become a major problem for the Israeli military. A solution has arrived.

Revelers, protesters to see in the new year in Hong Kong

Top Stories - Tue, 12/31/2019 - 07:49

New Year's revelers and pro-democracy protesters were flocking to sites across Hong Kong on Tuesday to see out 2019. The semi-autonomous Chinese city has toned down the usually raucous celebrations this year amid continuing demonstrations that began in June in opposition to proposed extradition legislation. A fireworks display that traditionally lights up famed Victoria Harbor was canceled amid safety concerns, while some roads have been closed and barriers set up in the Lan Kwai Fong nightlife district for crowd control.

Turkey says will not evacuate posts in Syria's Idlib

Top Stories - Tue, 12/31/2019 - 07:32

It is "out of the question" for Turkey to evacuate its military observation posts in Syria's Idlib, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Tuesday, after Russian and Syrian forces intensified their bombardment of targets in the northwestern province. Turkey has 12 such posts in Idlib, and at home it hosts some 3.7 million Syrian refugees, the largest refugee population in the world.

A decade of Apple: The most impactful moments of the past 10 years

Macworld - Tue, 12/31/2019 - 07:15

As 2019 comes to a close, Apple is stronger than it’s ever been. Its market cap is well over a trillion dollars, services are in full swing, and all indications are that the holiday quarter will both set a new record and recover from last year’s stumble.

But the road to success wasn’t nearly as clear in the closing weeks of the 2000s. Yes, there were clear signs of the iPhone’s impending dominance, but the Apple we know today was quite different 10 years ago. Here are the top 10 moments that defined Apple’s decade.

The iPad is unveiled January 27, 2010

Apple entered several new categories over the past 10 years but none were more landscape-shaping as the iPad. An instant hit, the iPad took the iPhone’s 3.5-inch screen and super-sized it to 9.7 inches to make reading, watching movies, and surfing the web easier on the eyes. The iPad has spawned dozens of imitators, but no one has been able to nail it like the original iPad did.

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Putin, Ukraine's leader talk about natural gas, prisoners

Top Stories - Tue, 12/31/2019 - 07:03

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine have spoken by telephone to express satisfaction with a newly signed contract on natural gas transit and the recent exchange of prisoners between Ukraine and Russia-backed rebels in Ukraine's east. A Kremlin statement says the Tuesday call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy took place on Ukraine's initiative. Sunday's swap of a total of 200 prisoners has raised hopes of an end to the five-year-long war in eastern Ukraine that has killed 14,000 people.

Immigration in 2019: Trump restricts asylum and overhauls legal immigration

Top Stories - Tue, 12/31/2019 - 06:43

2019 was arguably the Trump administration's most successful one in its quest to severely restrict asylum and overhaul the legal immigration system.

European Gas Prices Fall as Ukraine, Russia Deal Averts Crisis

Top Stories - Tue, 12/31/2019 - 06:33

(Bloomberg) -- European gas and power prices extended declines after a last-gasp accord between Russia and Ukraine on natural gas flows averted a winter supply crisis.The two former Soviet allies late on Monday signed all agreements needed for flows to Gazprom PJSC’s main markets in the west to continue for the next five years. Steady shipments from Europe’s dominant supplier, coupled with record amounts of liquefied natural gas this year, mean that a glut of the fuel won’t end anytime soon.“There’s no more transit risk,” said Thierry Bros, an associate at Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian & Eurasian Studies. “We are in a world with a lot of LNG and piped gas and the Russians want to keep their market share in Europe.”Benchmark Dutch gas prices dropped 0.7%, taking their record annual plunge to 44%. German power traded at its lowest level since May 2018.Natural gas flows are a key feature in the fraught relationship between Russia and Ukraine and getting a final deal done before the end of the year will appease energy traders across Europe. Supplies to the region have been cut twice during in the past 13 years at times of peak demand because of financial and political disputes between the two neighboring countries.“After five days of non-stop bilateral talks in Vienna, final decisions have been taken and final agreements reached,” Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexey Miller said in an emailed statement, adding that the package of agreements ensures that Russia ships gas via Ukraine beyond Dec. 31. The current transit deal expires on Jan. 1.QuickTake: How Russia and Ukraine Averted a European Gas CrisisDespite tense political relations, Ukraine remains the main export route for Russia’s gas to Europe. The nation will earn at least $7 billion from the transit deal in the next five years, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a statement.The deal is a “good and important signal” for European supply security, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday.For the European Union, which is targeting an unprecedented shift to a green economy, the accord means uninterrupted flows of a fuel that is less polluting than other fossil fuels such as coal or oil, European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said in an interview.“Gas is considered as a very important transitional fuel. For the coming years it will play a very important role in our strive to be a carbon-neutral economy by the mid-century,” he said.Russia has been the EU’s biggest, and often cheapest, energy supplier with Gazprom providing about 37% of region’s fuel last year.Gazprom is seeking to reduce its reliance on Ukraine’s Soviet-era pipeline network to ship its gas and is building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline under the Baltic Sea directly to Germany. Work on that link, which had been planned to be completed this year, halted this month because of U.S. sanctions on the company laying it.Eastern European nations have been strongly opposed to Nord Stream 2 as it could allow Gazprom to cut off their supply while continuing to supply its main markets in western Europe.“The imposition of the U.S. sanctions related to Nord Stream 2 project” facilitated the negotiations, said Andriy Kobolyev, the chief executive officer of Ukrainian national gas company Naftogaz JSC.The agreement built on the framework deal reached earlier in December with the help of European Union officials. The two nations have met all the pre-conditions outlined in that accord, including mutual legal issues, they said.“The Ukrainian gas transportation system will be filled and that means energy security and welfare” for our citizens, Zelenskiy said.However, Naftogaz is not dropping its claims against Russia regarding its assets seized in the Crimea Peninsula annexed in 2014, the Ukrainian company said.The first bilateral talks between Zelenskiy and Russia’s Vladimir Putin earlier this month added impetus to get the deals done. The leaders met during the so-called Normandy peace talks with France and Germany about the military conflict in eastern Ukraine. That meeting also accelerated the process of a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and two breakaway regions supported by the Kremlin.The Russian gas producer has paid Ukraine’s gas company Naftogaz $2.9 billion, as awarded by a Stockholm arbitration court in 2018. In return, Naftogaz withdrew its $12.2 billion legal claim relating to transit. At the same time, the Ukrainian government approved an “amicable agreement” with Gazprom on canceling an antitrust claim that has reached about $7.2 billion.Legal ClaimsBoth companies have agreed not to start any new gas lawsuits against each other related to the current contract and to cancel all their current legal claims not subject to court rulings.Ukraine will reserve a pipeline capacity of 65 billion cubic meters for Russian gas next year and 40 billion cubic meters a year in 2021-2024, according to the protocol. These are the minimum volumes, while the actual transit can be higher, Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in an interview with RBC. There is also a “pump or pay” clause that ensures Ukrainian income, Naftogaz Chief Commercial Officer Yuriy Vitrenko said.Last year Gazprom sent 87 billion cubic meters via Ukraine, just shy of all the annual demand in Germany, Europe’s biggest user of the fuel.The companies also agreed to consider transit through 2034. An extension may be on the same terms as the five-year deal, according to Ukraine’s Energy Ministry.The package of the gas agreements does not include a deal on direct Russian gas supplies to Ukraine.“Naftogaz noted Gazprom’s interest in resuming gas supply to Ukraine” based on prices at the NetConnect Germany gas hub, the Ukrainian company said, confirming an earlier statement from the Russian producer.\--With assistance from Olga Tanas, Vanessa Dezem, Ewa Krukowska and Volodymyr Verbyany.To contact the reporters on this story: Dina Khrennikova in Moscow at dkhrennikova@bloomberg.net;Daryna Krasnolutska in Kyiv at dkrasnolutsk@bloomberg.net;Mathew Carr in London at m.carr@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: James Herron at jherron9@bloomberg.net, Lars Paulsson, John DeaneFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Impeachment Fallouts

Top Stories - Tue, 12/31/2019 - 06:30

Impeachment is shaping up as unpredictably explosive, but not in the way imagined.There are lots of things that we do know about the present impeachment of Donald Trump — and we know that there are even more areas that remain unknown.Quietly, the approval ratings of Trump have been rising to pre-impeachment levels and are nearing a RealClearPolitics average of 45. Support for impeaching Trump and/or removing him is not increasing as the House Democrats expected. It is essentially static, or slowly eroding, depending on how polls phrase such questions.Apparently, an exhausted public did not see “Ukrainian” impeachment as a one-off national crisis akin to the Nixon inquiry and the Clinton impeachment and trial that merited national attention. The impeachment vote instead is being confirmed in the public mind as part of a now boring three-year impeachment psychodrama (from impeachment 1.0, the Logan Act, the emoluments clause, the 25th Amendment, and Michael Avenatti/Stormy Daniels comedies to Robert Mueller’s “dream team” and “all-stars”). The progressive logic of the current jump-the-shark monotony is to become even more monotonous, the way that a driller leans ever harder on his dull and chipping bit as his bore becomes static.The Democrats believed that all of these efforts would be like small cuts, each one perhaps minor but all combining to bleed Trump out. But now we know, given polling data and the strong Trump economy, that the long odyssey to impeachment has had almost no effect on Trump’s popularity, other than losing him 3–4 points for a few weeks as periodic media “bombshells” went off.The reality may be the very opposite of what Democrats planned. The more the Left tries to abort the Trump presidency before the election, the more it bleeds from each of its own inflicted nicks. As an example, Rachel Maddow’s reputation has not been enhanced by her neurotic assertions that Trump’s tax returns would soon appear, or that the Steele dossier was steadily gaining credibility, or that yet another tell-tale Russian colluder had emerged from under another American bed.The past three years of Trump mania did not induce a recession, despite last summer’s sudden hysteria that “recession” was on the horizon. It is hard to envision a looming recession when real wages of workers continue to rise, unemployment is at historic lows, U.S. energy production is at record highs, inflation is low, interest rates are manageable, and growth is moderate but steady. We collectively have an appointment with the staggering national debt and stock-market exuberance, but probably not until after 2020. And the Left has completely nullified that issue by proposing trillions of dollars in new spending.For now, the Democrats in extremis have redefined impeachment for the first time in American history as a Sword of Damocles, now permanently hanging by a horse’s hair over Trump’s head. Impeachment is being reinvented as way of presidential life that will supposedly impale Trump one day or at least constrain him, as occasional additional writs are added on, as the polls, media, and Democratic fancy dictate. Nancy Pelosi has rewritten the U.S. Constitution after reading a few op-eds by Trump-hating academics. Most Americans accept that if the Republican Congress had tried the same with Barack Obama (at a time when just wearing an Obama mask got a rodeo clown fired for life from a state fair), we would have had a revolution.Most presidents need 50 percent approval ratings in the lead-up to a reelection bid to win another four years. But Trump, who won the election without 50 percent approval, may not. He is polling now not far from where Obama was while on his trajectory to reelection in 2012, and his approval is about what it was at the time of his own election victory in 2016.The Left remains scared that the polls, which seemed accurate in the midterm elections when Trump was not on the ballot, may not be accurate in 2020. The flawed analytics on election eve 2016 remain a terrifying specter. Democrats fear that few who voted for Trump in 2020 will defect and that some who did not vote for Trump will approve of the economy and change their minds this November. All irony is lost on the Left that their four-year-long climate of MAGA intolerance and contempt for the deplorables, irredeemables, clingers, crazies, the so-called toothless, and Joe Biden’s dregs may well have polluted their own polls.It is not just anger at the Left or a wish to avoid confrontations that camouflages Trump support. The existential hatred of Donald Trump is such that average Americans may not wish to accurately express their support even anonymously to pollsters either by phone or on computers. There are recent widespread (and increasingly legitimate) fears of electronic data mining and the compilation of information that might later be used against respondents (what was once considered quite paranoid is no longer so, given revelations about the ethos of Silicon Valley). Plenty of Americans don’t think it's wise to honestly answer, whether in a phone conversation or by text, an anonymous pollster asking about opinions on Trump.In addition, the odium among the Left is so pernicious and so ubiquitous that the surveyors themselves may pollute the very taking of polls. Pollsters know that massaging polls creates momentum for media stories about Trump’s “unpopularity” and the “erosion” in his support. Thus in theory a few true believers could warp, within limits, their own data, in service to a noble cause. When the Hill/Harris and the USA/Suffolk polls have a two-point gap between Trump’s approval and disapproval, while Politico has him down 15 points, something seems to the public haywire somewhere.No one knows the effect that the Horowitz report, following the Mueller-investigation dud, is having on the credibility of the mainstream media — so far, the great force multiplier of the abort-Trump Left. It may be that we are nearing the point at which “bombshells” and “walls are closing in” are little more than soap bubbles. Certainly, the public was lied to about the “Steele dossier” and the “Schiff memo,” to the point that the media may soon be not a catalyst but a retardant of the Left, a smelly albatross around its collective neck. The Durham investigations are not yet in, and the fate of Brennan, Clapper, Comey, and McCabe may make Horowitz’s damning report seem tame. What would happen if paid TV analysts got indicted after predicting that everyone who was innocent would go to jail?We are living in bizarre times -- the rhetoric of Trump hatred is nearing its logical end, and scant further popular animus can be expressed beyond smashing his face, shooting him, burning him up, or blowing up the White House, and no further political venom voiced than urging progressives to surround Trump officials and harass them at restaurants and stores.Many who voted for Trump were quite aware that Trump’s rhetoric often bothered them. They now weigh that discomfort against his achievements and the shrill Democratic alternative — and find the latter far scarier. Few on the left ever contemplate the effect on the general public of the 24/7, 360-degree pure hatred of Trump on network and cable news, public TV and radio, and late-night TV talk shows, as well as print media. The silent disdain many people have for the progressive media nexus is especially potent when the haters so often fit a stereotypical profile in the public mind: counterfeit elite as defined by education, zip codes, careers, or supposed cultural influence; smug in their parrot-like group-speak and accustomed to deference.This paradox was brought home to me not long ago when I asked an unlikely Trump minority supporter why in the world he would vote against his family’s and community’s political heritage. He answered at once, with simply, “I hate the people who hate him.”Translated, I think that means we often are missing a cultural element to Trump Agonistes, exacerbated by the latest toxic impeachment episode.Again, millions of Americans actually leave Trump per se out of their voting equations. They do not give him full credit for a remarkable economy and an unorthodox foreign policy that is addressing China, Iran, and the Middle East in a way many once advocated but few seriously believed would ever be enacted.Instead, voters are exhausted by his haters and their crazy agendas. They grow enraged over how the Mueller and Horowitz investigatory reports have disproved all the daily media, celebrity, and political assertions. And they are upset about the larger culture of the anti-Trump Left, from the fundamentals of open borders and identity politics to the trivia of transgendered athletes, Colin Kaepernickism, and the open-border, Green New Deal socialism. An auto worker who votes as a true-blue union Democrat but likes Trump’s trade policies, a no-nonsense farmer who worries about farm exports but likes deregulation, and a teacher who votes a liberal slate but has no way to control his classroom may not seem like Trump voters, but some such voters are terrified by the cultural trajectory of what the Trump-hating Left has in store for them all.For a majority, refined and arrogant progressive mendaciousness voiced in condescending nasal tones has become far more repugnant than all-American hype in a Queens accent.* * *National Review Institute (NRI) is the nonprofit 501(c)(3) journalistic think tank that supports the NR mission and 14 NRI fellows (including this author!), allowing them to do what they do best: Advance principled and practical conservative journalism. NRI is currently in the midst of its End-of-Year Fund Appeal and seeks to raise over $200,000 to support the work of the NRI fellows. Please consider giving a generous end-of-year tax-deductible contribution to NRI. Your gift, along with all those from the NR Nation, will provide the essential fuel for our mission to defend those consequential principles for which National Review has fought since 1955, and for which, with your support, it will carry the fight far into the future. Thank you for your consideration.

Former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn fled prosecution in Japan in a private jet, under a fake name, hiding in a musical instrument box, reports suggest

Top Stories - Tue, 12/31/2019 - 06:27

Japanese authorities are trying to find out how Ghosn, one of its highest-profile defendants, managed to evade surveillance and leave the country.

4,000+ People Trapped on Pristine Australia Beach as Wildfires Close In

Top Stories - Tue, 12/31/2019 - 06:20

More than 4,000 people, including residents, hundreds of tourists, and children, are trapped on beaches near the town of Mallacoota on Australia’s east coast, surrounded as raging wildfires fueled by strong winds are barreling toward them. Officials are telling them they may need to jump into the sea to save themselves. David Jeffrey, a local business owner, told BBC News that he and other residents sheltering on an adjacent beach nearby were preparing to jump into the sea before sudden winds pushed the flames in the other direction. “There’s a rock wall that they’ve built to keep back the sea, and that was where we were going to jump into the water if the radiant heat had hit,” he told BBC by Skype. “It looks a lot like Armageddon. It’s terrifying.” The Australian government announced that it is readying naval ships and military helicopters to carry out evacuations after all roads leading to the area are now blocked by raging blazes. More than 200 fires are now burning across the the states of New South Wales and Victoria.The apocalyptic images cut a stark contrast as fireworks lit up over Sydney Harbour as New Year’s celebrations rang out, despite widespread protests over fears of the pyrotechnics starting more fires amid the country’s heat and wildfire emergency.A father and son are reported to have died and four other people are missing after several people tried to escape through the fires, despite government warnings to shelter in place until they can be rescued, according to government officials. The Australian government has called for assistance from the U.S. and Canada, which are preparing to send fire crews to help fight the blazes that have burned some 10 million acres and killed more than a dozen people over the last several weeks. The fires have been fueled by extreme temperatures and strong winds coupled with a three-year drought. Several people are trapped on beaches around Batemans Bay, which is a popular New Year’s Eve destination for those who travel to Australia to enjoy the summer in the Southern Hemisphere.Many of those trapped have posted eerie photos on social media of the blood-red skies and night-like conditions in the afternoon as smoke from the raging fires blocks the sun.One woman posted a terrifying photo of her young son wearing a mask and a life jacket on a boat as they tried to escape Mallacoota.Firefighters have also been trapped in the fires, with one unit posting a video as they tried to reach safety as the fire surrounded their truck. Australian authorities say they have no prediction for when the fires will be contained. Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

The 10 best iPhone and iPad games of 2019

Macworld - Tue, 12/31/2019 - 06:15
Ordia ($2.99)

Image by Loju LTD

Ordia plays a lot like Angry Birds: Pull back on your avatar with your finger, and it fires off in the direction you aimed in. But that’s about where the similarities end. Here you’re a gloopy eye-like blob ascending through the primordial ooze, so you do your platforming vertically rather than horizontally. Along the way, you plop over to other gloopy blobs for support and calculate catapults over spikes, until at last you break through the surface at the end of the stage—and, perhaps, to the next stage of evolution.

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Explainer: The case for Trump's impeachment - and the case against it

Top Stories - Tue, 12/31/2019 - 06:09

The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted on Dec. 19 to formally charge President Donald Trump, a Republican, with "high crimes and misdemeanors," making him only the third U.S. president in history to be impeached. Here is the Democrats' case for removing Trump from office, and the Republican counterargument. In their articles of impeachment https://www.congress.gov/116/bills/hres755/BILLS-116hres755ih.pdf, Democrats charge that Trump abused his power as president by pressuring a foreign government, Ukraine's, to help him win re-election.

Ukraine and Russia Can Deal When They Must But Peace Isn’t Close

Top Stories - Tue, 12/31/2019 - 06:05

(Bloomberg) -- Quickfire agreements on energy and the Kremlin-backed war that erupted after Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea show Ukraine and Russia can increasingly look past their differences to strike deals.The natural-gas pact agreed late Monday, which ended fears of disruptions to European Union supplies, comes a day after the former allies’ second prisoner swap in four months. EU diplomats, mediating in both cases, may feel they’re making headway in easing tensions more than five years after the conflict in eastern Ukraine rekindled Cold War animosity and brought a barrage of sanctions against Russia.That Ukraine and Russia now meet at all -- let alone reach consensus on hot-button issues like these -- marks undoubted progress. It’s been driven by pragmatism and a readiness to compromise under EU and U.S. pressure, including the Trump administration’s sanctions against Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.The gas deal was necessary as transit contracts ran down. Putin wants sanctions relief and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has prioritized ending a war that’s killed more than 13,000 people.The fundamental question -- whether Ukraine leans east or west -- is going nowhere without concessions regarded as impossible by one side or another. The standoff with Moscow over Ukraine’s desire to join the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will remain a headache for world powers from Brussels to Washington.“The events of the past several years have created significant changes in how the two governments and their people relate to one another, and to the rest of Europe,” said Alex Brideau, an analyst at Eurasia Group. “Recent developments help ease tension, but they don’t reset that relationship.”Ensure FlowsThe EU will nevertheless breathe a sigh of relief after the accord was signed to ensure flows of gas through Ukraine from Russia’s Gazprom for the next five years. Supplies to the region have been cut twice during in the past 13 years at times of peak demand because of financial and political disputes between the two neighboring states.Russia, keen to take advantage of French President Emmanuel Macron’s push to reintegrate it after years of isolation, has less incentive to cause mayhem this time. But it retains its long-term goal of seeking to slash dependence on Ukraine’s transit network.That Russia agreed to a longer-than-expected gas deal this time reflects potential fallout from the U.S. sanctioning its Nord Stream 2 pipeline to send flows directly to Europe bypassing Ukraine rather than any act of kindness. For Zelenskiy, it ensures Ukraine remains one of the key transit routes for Russian gas during the remainder of his five-year term and beyond, earning the country billions of dollars in fees.Still, the fact an initial deadline to finalize the deal was missed stems from a lack of trust that prompted demands for safeguards to be added to the new contracts.Prisoner DealThere are similar reasons to scrutinize the exchange of prisoners.Despite efforts to return all his countrymen, Zelenskiy remains frustrated, with hundreds still being held.What’s more, the latest swap included Ukrainian riot police who sided with the Kremlin-backed leader that protesters toppled in 2014 after more than 100 were killed on the streets of Kyiv. Handing over those officers, who aren’t prisoners of war, prompted demonstrations against their release back home.The gas agreement and the prisoner swap cap a month in which Putin and Zelenskiy held their first face-to-face meeting during talks on the conflict in eastern Ukraine in Paris. While the detente remains fragile, the two sides enter 2020 with potentially the best prospects in years for easing tensions.Putin and Zelenskiy spoke by phone on Tuesday and agreed to coordinate lists of detainees for possible future exchanges, according to a statement from the Ukrainian president’s office. The gas agreement creates a “favorable atmosphere for resolving other bilateral problems” and the Dec. 29 prisoner swap “helps strengthen mutual trust,” the Kremlin said in a statement.There may be more prisoner exchanges, though “I do not think we will see real compromises on big issues” from Russia in relation to resolving the conflict, said John Herbst, director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center and a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.To contact the reporters on this story: Daryna Krasnolutska in Kyiv at dkrasnolutsk@bloomberg.net;Andrew Langley in London at alangley1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrea Dudik at adudik@bloomberg.net, Tony Halpin, Gregory L. WhiteFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Fresh starts: Hey, cord-cutters! Stream a few of these movies to ring in the new year

Macworld - Tue, 12/31/2019 - 06:00
These great movies celebrate the New Year, and they're all available for streaming.

PreSonus Eris E4.5 BT speakers review: The convenience of Bluetooth, the accuracy of studio monitors

Macworld - Tue, 12/31/2019 - 06:00
The PreSonus Eris E4.5 BT are Bluetooth speakers aimed at owners of home music and video studios, but anyone who wants good sound can use them.

Uber sues California over gig-economy labor law

Top Stories - Tue, 12/31/2019 - 05:44

Ride-hailing giant Uber and delivery company Postmates have filed a lawsuit against the state of California, claiming a new law that would treat gig-economy freelancers as employees is unconstitutional. The legislation, known as Assembly Bill 5 and due to go into effect on Wednesday, would mean that -- under certain conditions -- independent contractors are classified as employees and granted the minimum salary and health insurance benefits that entails. This would include drivers for both Uber and Postmates.

A Plan for World War III: How the Warsaw Pact Planned to Defeat NATO

Top Stories - Tue, 12/31/2019 - 05:30

History had other ideas.

Mexico arrests seven suspects in Mormon family massacre

Top Stories - Tue, 12/31/2019 - 02:29

Mexican authorities have arrested seven suspects in connection with last month's massacre of nine Mormon women and children in the country's north, the attorney general's office said. A local police chief suspected of links to organized crime was among those taken into custody, according to local media. The victims -- six of them children -- had dual US-Mexican nationality and were shot dead on a rural road in a lawless region known for turf wars between drug cartels fighting over lucrative trafficking routes to the United States.

Japan Airlines Is Giving Away 50,000 Free Flights to Tourists. Here's How to Get One

Top Stories - Tue, 12/31/2019 - 02:21

Tourists flying to Japan with Japan Airlines this summer can win free tickets to a surprise destination in the country


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