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Iran says shot down infiltrator drone near key port – not one of ours, US responds — RT World News



Iranian air defense forces have shot down a foreign drone near the port city of Mahshahr, Iranian media reported, showing alleged footage of the intercept as proof. The US Central Command said it didn’t lose any of its UAVs.

The drone was taken down on Friday by an Iran-developed Mersad surface-to-air missile, the Iranian Mehr news agency reported. Alleged footage of the takedown released by the Iranian side showed a missile being fired, followed by an explosion.

Gholamreza Shariati, the governor of the Khuzestan province where Mahshahr is located, said a wreck of the drone was recovered from the marshlands in the suburbs of the city.

The Iranian official said the aircraft “definitely belonged to a foreign country”, but would not say which.

Responding to the news, the US Central Command stated that none of the drones operated by the US military had been lost. Israel, another party that could fly a surveillance UAV inside Iranian airspace, declined to comment on the incident.

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Iran’s Revolutionary guard shot down a sophisticated US drone in June. Tehran and Washington disputed whether the aircraft violated Iranian border, which was what Iran stated, or was destroyed illegally in international airspace.

The incident comes amid a period of high tension in the Middle East, as the US continues its so-called “maximum pressure campaign” to cripple the Iranian government through unilateral sanctions, twisting of arms of its trade partners and military brinkmanship.

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‘This Will Be Forever’: How the Ambitions of Evo Morales Contributed to His Fall



It was a watershed moment for democracy in Latin America.

Evo Morales, an Indigenous leader who rose to prominence in the hardscrabble world of coca growers unions in Bolivia, stood before his compatriots to take the oath of office in 2006, mincing no words as he described the sea change his landslide presidential victory represented.

“Our communities, historically, have been marginalized, humiliated, hated, despised and condemned to extinction,” Mr. Morales said in his inauguration speech. “Our people were never recognized as human beings, even though these communities are the rightful owners of the noble land and its natural resources.”

The rise of Mr. Morales and other pathbreaking populist leftists who won elections across Latin America in the early years of the new millennium brought hope that democracy in a politically turbulent region had reached a new level of maturity.

They promised greater social inclusion and a more equitable distribution of wealth — goals that materialized, to varying degrees, for millions.

As Mr. Morales hastily flew out of the capital and went into hiding Sunday night amid rumors that his arrest was imminent, the debate over his downfall laid bare the region’s deep ideological polarization.

Mexico’s government and Argentina’s incoming president, Alberto Fernández, condemned the events in Bolivia as a coup. Others, including Carlos Mesa, the former Bolivian president who is vying to replace Mr. Morales, and Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s far-right leader, saw it as the triumph of peaceful resistance to a despot.

The starkly different takes reflect how tarred Mr. Morales’s legacy became as he bent democratic norms to stay in power longer than the two terms that Bolivia’s Constitution allows.

“If he had groomed a successor and accepted a transition of power, he would have been seen as a Nelson Mandela of South America,” said Mark Goodale, a professor of anthropology at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland who follows Bolivia closely. “He wouldn’t have just been a good leader for Bolivia, but one of the great political leaders in Latin America.”

Mr. Morales strode into the presidency with a sweeping mandate, having trounced his opponents in the 2005 election. He proposed profound changes to Bolivia’s power structure, and during his first term oversaw the drafting of a new Constitution that sought to erase the structural classism and racism that had long kept Bolivia’s Indigenous people, a majority in the nation, second-class citizens.

The president’s rhetoric was often radical, especially with respect to the United States, which he regarded as a scheming, colonialist actor that had held too much sway over Latin America. Mr. Morales, who as a coca leaf union leader was targeted and roughed up by American narcotics agents, took pleasure in kicking out the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2009.


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ECB’s Benoit Coeure to lead central bank effort on digital currencies



Benoit Coeure

Jason Alden | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Outgoing European Central Bank (ECB) executive board member Benoit Coeure will lead a new unit at the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) focused on financial technology like digital currencies, the group announced Monday.

Coeure was tapped to run the BIS’ new “Innovation Hub,” which was set up earlier this year to understand how technology is affecting central banks around the world. The effort comes as big tech companies like Facebook and Apple are expanding rapidly into financial services.

The BIS, known as the central bank of central banks, is based in Basel, Switzerland. It is owned by 60 central banks including the U.S. Federal Reserve, the ECB and the People’s Bank of China.

“I look forward to bringing my expertise to the global central banking community at this time of rapid technological change,” Coeure said in a press release Monday. “We must make the best use of innovation to support financial stability and promote financial inclusion.”

Coeure has served as a member of the ECB’s executive board since 2012, where he was in charge of market infrastructure and payments and the oversight of payment systems. The French economist also led the Group of Seven working group on stablecoins and has been a leading voice on how technology is shaping the world’s payments infrastructure.

In a speech in September, Coeure said Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency project called libra has been a “wake-up call” for central banks around the world.

“The demand for fast, reliable and cheap cross-border payments is bound to grow further in coming years,” he said. “Policymakers and central banks should respond to these challenges.”

Lawmakers, policymakers and regulators around the world have piled on criticism of libra citing risks like financial stability, money laundering, terrorism financing and data privacy. Some EU officials have vowed to block the effort entirely saying a stablecoin backed by a consortium of companies puts sovereign currencies at risk. The goal of the cryptocurrency project, according to Facebook and the non-profit Libra Association overseeing its rollout, is to provide a faster, easier payments for users around the world.

Coeure’s eight-year term at the ECB expires December 31, and he will begin the new role at the BIS January 15, 2020, the group said.


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Trump loses challenge to New York law allowing tax returns release



President Donald Trump attends the opening ceremony of the Veterans Day Parade in Madison Square Park on November 11, 2019 in New York City.

Eduardo Munoz | VIEW press | Corbis News | Getty Images

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., on Monday dismissed President Donald Trump’s lawsuit seeking to bar a House committee from using a New York state law to obtain his state tax returns, suggesting the president’s legal action belonged in another courthouse.

The ruling by Judge Carl Nichols does not mean that Trump’s state tax returns will be released to the House Ways and Means Committee anytime soon.

Neither that committee, nor the two other congressional committees that under certain circumstances can obtain a president’s tax returns under the new state law, has actually invoked it to get Trump’s state returns.

Nichols’ ruling in Trump’s own suit had failed to establish that a judge in Washington federal court had jurisdiction over a challenge to New York’s law, known as the TRUST Act.

That act allows the chairs of the Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Committee on Taxation, to get New York state returns of certain federal, state and local public officials, “for a specifed and legitimate legislative purpose.”

Nichols’ ruling said that Trump did not establish a conspiracy between the Ways and Means Committee and New York officials, which could have established that a Washington court had jurisdiction over the suit.

“Nowhere in his Amended Complaint does Mr. Trump allege the existence of a conspiracy; in fact, the word ‘conspiracy’ does not even appear in his pleadings,” Nichols wrote.

But Nichols did note that Trump “may renew his claim” that New York state tax officials are barred from releasing his state tax returns in the event that they are sought by one of the congressional committees under the New York law.

The judge also noted that Trump could file his suit in “another forum” — meaning another court — “presumably in New York.”

The information on those state returns would largely mirror details of Trump’s federal income tax returns, which are being sought by the House Ways and Means Committee.

That committee is suing the Treasury Department and the IRS to obtain those federal returns.

Before that suit was filed, both the Treasury Department and the IRS had rejected a demand from the committee to turn over those returns despite a section of the federal tax code saying that the Treasury “shall furnish” an individual’s returns if a formal written request is made by the committee.

Trump has refused to publicly disclose his tax returns either before or after winning the 2016 election, despite a longstanding tradition of presidential candidates and presidents doing so.

Last week, a federal appeals court in New York rejected Trump’s bid to bar a grand jury in Manhattan state court from obtaining eight years of personal and corporate tax returns from his accountants as part of an ongoing criminal probe. Trump’s lawyers plan to ask the U.S. Supreme Court this week to hear an appeal of that decision.

Trump had sued the Ways and Means Committee, the New York attorney general and the state’s tax chief in federal court in Washington in July, citing concerns that the committee’s chairman, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., soon would try to obtain his state tax returns under New York’s TRUST Act, which was signed into law earlier that same month.

When Trump sued the Ways and Means Committee over its potential use of New York’s law to obtain his state tax returns, his lawyer Jay Sekulow said, “We have filed a lawsuit today in our ongoing efforts to end Presidential harassment.”

“The actions taken by the House and New York officials are nothing more than political retribution,” Sekulow said.

On the heels of Nichols’ ruling in the case on Monday, Sekulow said, “We are reviewing the opinion.”

The White House had no immediate comment.

New York Attorney General Letitia James said, “We have said all along that this lawsuit should be dismissed and we are pleased with the court’s conclusion.”

“The TRUST Act is an important tool that will ensure accountability to millions of Americans who deserve to know the truth,” James said. “We have never doubted that this law was legal, which is why we vigorously defended it from the start and will continue to do so.”

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., a Ways and Means Committee member who has argued for the release of Trump’s tax returns, said Nichols had “made the right decision, and when Trump and his lawyers make more attempts to block oversight, I am confident the ruling will be upheld.”

“Trump and his myriad enablers in the administration have moved heaven and earth to violate the law and keep Trump’s taxes hidden from sunlight,” Pascrell said. “It’s time for full transparency of Trump’s corruption.”

— Additional reporting by CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger.


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