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U.S. presses Brazil to take larger role in war on drugs

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LA PAZ — Brazil should play a more dynamic role in the war on drugs in Bolivia since 60 percent of the latter country’s cocaine winds up in the former, a US diplomat has said.

Under the principle of shared responsibility, Brazil should play a bigger part in discouraging Bolivia from producing cocaine since it is Brazil’s main supplier of the drug, US attache John Creamer told local media.

Creamer acts as a de facto US ambassador to Bolivia because under leftist President Evo Morales the two countries have not exchanged official ambassadors since 2008.

Late that year, Morales accused the United States of supporting an alleged plot by his conservative political rivals, a claim that led Washington to withdraw its ambassador.

Brazil believes it receives 60 percent of Bolivia’s cocaine, with half of that haul being sold on the streets and the other half being shipped on to Europe.

This year, Brazil — South America’s economic powerhouse — started a cooperation program aimed at helping to discourage cocaine production in Bolivia. It includes coca leaf crop monitoring with US assistance. Coca leaves are the raw material from which cocaine can be made.

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Bolivia is the world’s number three cocaine producer after Peru and Colombia, according to UN data.

Photo AFP/File, Aizar Raldes

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Russians to prod Putin on poverty and his personal life as his ratings tank

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Russians are set to ask President Vladimir Putin about growing poverty at home and tensions abroad during an annual televised phone-in Thursday, which comes following a fall in his approval ratings.

The leader is also likely to face a degree of grilling on his personal life, according to questions submitted by the public online ahead of the live show.

Set to be held for the 17th time since Putin came to power in 1999, the show starts at 0900 GMT and usually lasts several hours.

Ahead of the carefully choreographed show, more than one million questions had been submitted, organisers told Russian news agencies.

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Trump could turn on Hope Hicks just like Michael Cohen: Trump family biographer warns

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Trump family biographer Emily Jane Fox explained that she didn't think that the president would turn on long-time aide Hope Hicks, but then again, it was the same thought about Michael Cohen as well.

In a panel discussion about Hicks' testimony during MSNBC's Brian Williams' Wednesday show, Fox recalled that Micahel Cohen once said that he would take a bullet for the president. Once it appeared that Trump would throw him under the bus, Cohen began looking for a way out.

The same scenario seems to be happening with Hicks now.

"She works at new Fox, which is a company run by a Murdoch son," Fox said. "It's a company that's brand new. She's the head of communications there. And there are shareholders who would take issue with the fact that a senior member of this company is being put in this situation and being thrust on the world stage."

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Trump jumped to Speaker Pelosi’s defense in marathon Fox News interview

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In a strange twist, President Donald Trump appeared to defend House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity Wednesday.

Hannity began by saying to Trump that he believes Pelosi has lost control of her own party, as officials like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) continue to call for impeachment.

"I say Nancy Pelosi is the speaker in name only," Hannity told Trump, calling Ocasio-Cortez the real start.

But what Trump said was the unusual point.

"I think Nancy Pelosi probably has control of it, I hear different things, but I think she does," Trump said, appearing to defend the Speaker. "She knows what she's doing. We will see how it all comes out."

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