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Trump’s Commerce Dept plagued by low morale and ‘disarray’ as chief Wilbur Ross falls asleep in meetings: report

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For months, there has been speculation in Washington, D.C. that Wilbur Ross, secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce for the Trump Administration, is on his way out. Reports that Ross falls asleep in meetings don’t exactly instill confidence in his leadership. And Politico’s Daniel Lippman, in a troubling report, describes the Commerce Department as being in a state of chaos and disorganization.

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Lippman reports that according to his sources, the 81-year-old Ross “spends much of his time at the White House” in order to “retain President Donald Trump’s favor.” And the Commerce Department is suffering, Lippman observes, because of Ross’ “penchant for managing upward at the expense of his staff.”

Examples of chaos in the Commerce Department that Lippman cites range from “infighting among top officials” to “sudden departures of senior staffers without explanation.” And Ross, according to Lippman’s sources, is viewed as “a leader who is disengaged and prone to falling asleep in meetings.”

A former outside advisor to the Commerce Department told Politico that Ross is “sort of seen as kind of irrelevant” and that “the morale is very low there because there’s not a lot of confidence in the secretary.” Ross, that source told Politico, is “not respected in the building.”

According to that source, “Because he tends to fall asleep in meetings, they try not to put him in a position where that could happen. So, they’re very careful and conscious about how they schedule certain meetings. There’s a small window where he’s able to focus and pay attention and not fall asleep.”

Examples of chaos in the Commerce Department that Lippman cites range from “infighting among top officials” to “sudden departures of senior staffers without explanation.” And Ross, according to Lippman’s sources, is viewed as “a leader who is disengaged and prone to falling asleep in meetings.”

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A former outside advisor to the Commerce Department told Politico that Ross is “sort of seen as kind of irrelevant” and that “the morale is very low there because there’s not a lot of confidence in the secretary.” Ross, that source told Politico, is “not respected in the building.”

According to that source, “Because he tends to fall asleep in meetings, they try not to put him in a position where that could happen. So, they’re very careful and conscious about how they schedule certain meetings. There’s a small window where he’s able to focus and pay attention and not fall asleep.”

“Things come to a screeching halt because (Comstock) demands to be the final decision on everything, whether it’s an e-mail that goes out to (Capitol) Hill or a letter to respond to X, Y and Z,” a White House source familiar with the Commerce Department told Politico.

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During the late 2016 lame duck session, then-President-Elect Trump announced that he would be nominating Ross (a veteran banker) for secretary of the Commerce Department. Ross was confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate on February 27, 2017.


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Trump to unveil Middle East peace plan despite accusations of pro-Israel bias

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US President Donald Trump on Tuesday will ignore accusations, led by the Palestinians themselves, of pro-Israel bias and unveil what he says is a peace plan capable of solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Long held secret, the plan will finally be aired jointly by Trump and visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.

Given that it has been rejected by the Palestinians, the latest of many US proposals to address the bitter, multi-generational Mideast conflict might seem to have little future.

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The global spread of the coronavirus: Where is it?

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A SARS-like virus that has claimed 41 lives since emerging in a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan has spread around the world.

Here are the places that have confirmed cases of 2019 Novel Coronavirus:

- China -

As of Saturday, almost 1,300 people have been infected across China, the bulk of them in and around Wuhan.

Nearly all of those who died were in the Wuhan region, but officials have confirmed two deaths elsewhere.

The city of Macau, a gambling hub hugely popular with mainland tourists, has confirmed two cases.

In Hong Kong, five people are known to have the disease. Three of those cases were confirmed in the 24 hours to Saturday morning.

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Israel’s Netanyahu withdraws bid for parliamentary immunity from corruption charges

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday he is withdrawing his bid for parliamentary immunity from prosecution on corruption charges.

Israel’s longest-serving prime minister said in a statement the immunity proceedings in parliament would have been a “circus” and he did not want to take part in this “dirty game”.

Netanyahu, who denies all wrongdoing, said: “I informed the Knesset speaker that I am withdrawing my immunity request.”

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