The Shutdown Isn’t About the Wall. It’s About Trump’s Future | Time


Trump now faces divided government for the first time in his political career, bringing with it the threat of investigations into his campaign, his business and his Administration. For a man whose career was spent at the top of a family-run business, it also means he may have to compromise or accept defeat on certain goals.

The border wall has become not just a symbol of Trump’s restrictive approach to immigration, but a potent metaphor of his political power.

For the White House, any concession on this signature campaign promise risks teaching Democrats that they can bully him with their newfound legislative power for the remainder of his first term.

Source: The Shutdown Isn’t About the Wall. It’s About Trump’s Future | Time

Trump administration downgrades EU mission to US | DW


The unannounced move by the US State Department, which has not previously been reported, downgraded the EU delegation’s diplomatic status in Washington from member state to international organization.

“We don’t exactly know when they did it, because they conveniently forgot to notify us,” an EU official who is familiar with the matter told DW in an interview.

“I can confirm that this has not been well received in Brussels,” the person said, adding that the issue and an official EU response was still being discussed.

Meanwhile EU officials in Brussels said on Tuesday that per protocol, the diplomatic rank of David O’Sullivan, the EU’s ambassador to Washington, had been reinstated.

Source: Trump administration downgrades EU mission to US | Americas| North and South American news impacting on Europe | DW | 08.01.2019

Iran says Taliban must have Afghan role, but can’t dominate

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“I think it would be impossible to have a future Afghanistan without any role for the Taliban,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is in New Delhi for talks with Indian leaders, told NDTV in an interview.

“But we also believe that the Taliban should not have a dominant role in Afghanistan.”

Source: Iran says Taliban must have Afghan role, but can’t dominate

‘Unprecedented’ U.S. sanctions are pressuring Iran: Khamenei | Reuters


“The sanctions do put pressure on the country and the people,” Khamenei said, according to a transcript on his website of a speech in Tehran to commemorate an event from the 1979 revolution.

“The Americans happily say that these sanctions are unprecedented in history. Yes, they’re unprecedented. And the defeat that the Americans will face will be unprecedented, God willing,” he added.

Khamenei lambasted U.S. officials’ approach to Iran as irrational, saying: “They are first-class idiots.”

Source: ‘Unprecedented’ U.S. sanctions are pressuring Iran: Khamenei | Reuters

U.S. should review its approach to Syria’s Assad | Reuters

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Confusion over Syrian policy preceded the president’s withdrawal announcement.

Trump has said that he had earlier given the Pentagon a firm deadline for withdrawal and had refused to extend it.

Yet in the weeks leading up to his December announcement, Bolton and his top Syrian envoy, James Jeffrey, publicly maintained that American forces would remain in Syria as long as Iranian forces and proxies did, which is to say indefinitely. So either the president had not given clear instructions, or his principal advisers did not take his guidance seriously.

Either explanation would be cause for concern.

Source: Commentary: U.S. should review its approach to Syria’s Assad | Reuters

Saudi private jet industry stalls after corruption crackdown | Reuters


Dozens of planes, owned by individuals and charter companies and worth hundreds of millions of dollars, are stranded at airports across the kingdom including Riyadh and Jeddah, four people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Some were handed over to the state in settlements reached after the crackdown was launched in late 2017, when dozens of princes, businessmen and government officials were detained, they said.

Source: Exclusive: Saudi private jet industry stalls after corruption crackdown | Reuters

U.S. official Rosenstein, overseeing Russia probe, set to leave | Reuters


Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has overseen the Russian election meddling probe, is preparing to leave the U.S. Department of Justice in coming weeks as President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the department is set to take over, a department official said on Wednesday.

Source: U.S. official Rosenstein, overseeing Russia probe, set to leave | Reuters

116th Congress breaks records for women, minority lawmakers | TheHill

The numbers of African-American, Hispanic and Asian-American lawmakers are at new highs, as is the number of lawmakers who are openly LGBT. The new Congress also includes a number of historic firsts, including the first Muslim women and first Native American women to serve.

The differences between the two parties, though, are stark, with most of the women and an overwhelming number of minority lawmakers on the Democratic side.

Here’s a breakdown of the voting members of the 116th Congress.

Source: 116th Congress breaks records for women, minority lawmakers | TheHill

Republican senators skeptical of using national emergency for wall funding | TheHill

Republican senators are keeping their distance from talk of declaring a national emergency to get funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall, even as President Trump has floated the possibility.

Several GOP senators on Tuesday appeared skeptical about taking the controversial step, though they stressed they didn’t know what Trump was planning. The senators added that they would prefer to resolve the border stalemate through legislation.

Source: Republican senators skeptical of using national emergency for wall funding | TheHill

How corporations are approaching sustainability and the Global Goals


Corporations are increasingly building sustainability into their business strategies, and linking outcomes to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as seen in the 7,500 companies issuing annual sustainability or corporate responsibility reports in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative.

Given this evolution in corporate thinking and action, the pertinent questions are “why” and “how.”

To investigate, we studied 40 companies with a strong record on sustainability.

Source: How corporations are approaching sustainability and the Global Goals