China’s Xi Fires Shot Across Trump’s Bow (Source Yahoo)
Good morning from Switzerland, where on Tuesday morning I witnessed one of the most extraordinary political speeches I’ve ever heard, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s address to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos. The conference came to a standstill as heads of state and giant corporations gathered up to an hour ahead of time for the greatly anticipated speech. Xi didn’t disappoint. In a veritable through-the-looking glass moment, the head of the Chinese Communist Party spoke powerfully and passionately in favor of “economic globalization.” He quoted Dickens, drawing “best of times, worst of times” attention to immense wealth and yawning inequality brought on by economic growth. He sprinkled his talk with Chinese proverbs. But perhaps the most shocking moment, one that brought guffaws of surprise from Westerners seated around me, came when Xi evoked Abraham Lincoln. Speaking of “development,” rather than “government,” as Lincoln did at Gettysburg, Xi said economic progress must be “of the people, for the people, and by the people.
A large Chinese delegation attended Xi’s speech. And yet it was a predominantly Western audience that found itself in the unusual circumstance of being lectured to by the president of China speaking against protectionism and for protecting the earth’s climate.
Xi made no mention whatever of the incoming U.S. president. But it was impossible to miss his not-so-veiled references to Donald Trump and his tweetstorm provocations since his election. “We are not jealous of others’ success,” Xi said, a startling message to discontented U.S. voters and their standard bearer. He declared that “no one will win a trade war,” adding that locking oneself in a dark room assuredly will keep out the rain but also sunshine and fresh air.
Deploying a variety of water metaphors, Xi termed globalization as inevitable as the tides of the ocean. Perhaps that’s true. The only thing that feels inevitable now is that the ship of international relations as we’ve known them for seventy or so years is headed into uncharted territory.
UK and USA are WEAK: Angela Merkel calls for German-led EU ARMY to defend Europe (Source express.co.uk)
ANGELA Merkel has renewed her call for the European Union to have its own army, warning the bloc will not be able to rely on others to guarantee its security with Donald Trump in the White House and Britain set to leave. The Berlin chief said Brussels will have to take on “more responsibility in the world” as she predicted a cooling in trans-Atlantic ties under the eurosceptic President-elect. And describing Brexit as “emotional” for her she urged the remaining 27 member states to use Britain’s decision to leave to railroad through ever closer military cooperation. Mrs Merkel made the remarks as she picked up honorary degrees from two Belgian universities which were awarded in recognition of her work towards a ‘unified Europe’. They come as eurocrats continue to press forward with plans for much closer European cooperation on military matters – a so-called ‘Defence Union’ – which is seen by most observers as the back-door creation of an EU army. EU chiefs were recently forced to drop controversial plans for a joint military headquarters in Brussels after Britain pledged to veto them, but Mrs Merkel hinted they will be back on the table immediately after Brexit. Concerns have been raised that an EU army will fatally undermine NATO – the western military alliance which has kept peace on the continent for 50 years – by creating a competing command structure. But Mrs Merkel insisted such a force will need to come into being in part because of the indifference of Mr Trump, who takes office on January 21, towards the entire euro project.
THAAD In Korean Peninsula To Trigger War? Russia, China Agree To Take Countermeasures Over US Anti-Ballistic Missile System Deployment (Source International Business Times)
Russia and China have agreed to take countermeasures over deployment of a U.S. anti-ballistic missile system in the Korean Peninsula, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported Thursday. The deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea to tackle growing nuclear threat from North Korea has left Beijing and Moscow concerned over security in the region. The countermeasures will be taken to protect China and Russia’s interests and to maintain strategic balance in the region, Xinhua reported, citing a statement released by both the nations. Moscow and Beijing also urged the U.S. and South Korea to avoid deploying THAAD. South Korea, which has substantial trade relations with China, had previously denied any formal discussion with the U.S. about the installation of THAAD, which can reportedly shoot down short-, medium- and immediate-range ballistic missiles. However, it decided otherwise after series of missile and nuclear tests by carried out by North Korea last year. In July, Seoul and Washington announced they had agreed to install THAAD in South Korea.
China and Russia have maintained its opposition to THAAD, citing security concerns. Beijing has consistently said that the THAAD system could be used to monitor its missile launches as far inland as Xian in the northwest. Moscow, meanwhile, argues that the deployment could aggravate tensions in the Korean Peninsula. Last July, Russia urged South Korea and the U.S. to “weigh all circumstances and prevent any unreasoned actions which may lead to tragic and irreversible consequences for the situation both in North East Asia and beyond.” However, in an interview to Russian news agency Sputnik last September, the then South Korean President Park Geun-hye maintained THAAD will not be used against Russia or other countries. “There is no reason, nor practical benefit, for the THAAD system to target any third country, and the Korean Government does not have any such intentions or plans,” Park said at the time. “So far, the Korean Government has faithfully explained our basic position to the Russian Government. If Moscow feels that there is a need for additional explanation, the Korean Government will continue to communicate closely in the days to come.” South Korea is planning to deploy the anti-ballistic missile defense system by the end of this year.
Trump’s offer to Russia: an end to sanctions for nuclear arms cut (Source Reuters) U.S. President-elect Donald Trump will propose offering to end sanctions imposed on Russia over its annexation of Crimea in return for a nuclear arms reduction deal with Moscow, he told The Times of London. Criticizing previous U.S. foreign policy in an interview published on Monday, he described the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 as possibly the gravest error in the history of the United States and akin to “throwing rocks into a beehive”. But Trump, who will be inaugurated on Friday as the 45th U.S. president, raised the prospect of the first big nuclear arms control agreement with Moscow since the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty signed by President Barack Obama in 2010. “They have sanctions on Russia — let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia,” the Republican president-elect was quoted as saying by The Times. “For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it. But Russia’s hurting very badly right now because of sanctions, but I think something can happen that a lot of people are gonna benefit.” The United States and Russia are by far the world’s biggest nuclear powers. The United States has 1,367 nuclear warheads on deployed strategic missiles and bombers, and Russia has 1,796 such deployed warheads, according to the latest published assessment by the U.S. State Department. Under the 2010 New START treaty, Russia and the United States agreed to limit the number of long-range, strategic nuclear weapons they can deploy.
Trump has said he will seek to improve relations with Moscow despite criticism that he is too eager to make an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The United States and other Western powers imposed sanctions on Russia in 2014 over its annexation of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine and its support for pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine. Asked whether he would trust German Chancellor Angela Merkel or Putin more, Trump said: “Well, I start off trusting both –but let’s see how long that lasts. It may not last long at all.”
His relations with Moscow have faced renewed scrutiny after an unsubstantiated report that Russia had collected compromising information about Trump. The information was summarized in a U.S. intelligence report which was presented to Trump and Obama this month. The report concluded Russia tried to sway the outcome of the Nov. 8 election in Trump’s favor by hacking and other means. It did not make an assessment on whether Russia’s attempts affected the election’s outcome. Trump accused U.S. intelligence agencies of leaking the information from the unverified dossier, which he called “fake news” and phony stuff.” Intelligence leaders denied the charge and Moscow has dismissed the accusations against it.
A Nevada woman dies of a superbug resistant to every available antibiotic in the US (Source statnews.com)
If it sometimes seems like the idea of antibiotic resistance, though unsettling, is more theoretical than real, please read on.
Public health officials from Nevada are reporting on a case of a woman who died in Reno in September from an incurable infection. Testing showed the superbug that had spread throughout her system could fend off 26 different antibiotics. “It was tested against everything that’s available in the United States … and was not effective,” said Dr. Alexander Kallen, a medical officer in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s division of health care quality promotion. Although this isn’t the first time someone in the US has been infected with pan-resistant bacteria, at this point, it is not common. It is, however, alarming. “I think this is the harbinger of future badness to come,” said Dr. James Johnson, a professor of infectious diseases medicine at the University of Minnesota and a specialist at the Minnesota VA Medical Center. Other scientists are saying this case is yet another sign that researchers and governments need to take antibiotic resistance seriously.
Holness invites Israeli prime minister to visit Jamaica (Source Jamaica Observer)
PRIME Minister Andrew Holness has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make an official visit to Jamaica, following a meeting yesterday in Jerusalem. The two men discussed possibilities for cooperation in water, agriculture and domestic security.
“Jamaica, like Israel, is a strong democracy, and we have long admired the advances that Israel has made in technology, particularly in cyber security and in agriculture, and in other areas. The potential for cooperation between our two countries is great and Jamaica is very interested in exploring those areas of cooperation,” a Jamaica House release quoted Holness. “The Jamaican people and the Caribbean region is a zone of peace, and we wish peace for all the peoples of the world. And we do extend our sympathies to the people of Israel for the very unfortunate attack on your soldiers recently.
US embassy Jerusalem move ‘assault’ on Muslims, says mufti (Source timesofIsrael.com)
Jerusalem’s Grand Mufti on Friday branded plans by President-elect Donald Trump to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem an “assault” on Muslims across the globe. “The pledge to move the embassy is not just an assault against Palestinians but against Arabs and Muslims, who will not remain silent,” Muhammad Hussein said in a sermon at the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City. On Tuesday, Palestinian leaders called for Friday prayers at mosques across the Middle East this week to protest Trump’s campaign pledge.Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to help stop the United States moving its embassy to Jerusalem, a top Palestinian official said Friday. Saeb Erekat said he had passed on the message from Abbas to Putin during a visit to Moscow during which he met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. “The letter asks President Putin to do what he can about the information we have that President-elect Donald Trump will move the embassy to Jerusalem, which for us is a red line and dangerous,” Erekat said.
US tanks and troops in Poland a threat, Russia says (Source bbc.com)
Russia says it views the arrival of more than 3,000 US soldiers in Poland as a threat to its own security. The troops are part of President Barack Obama’s response to reassure Nato allies concerned about a more aggressive Russia. It is the largest US military reinforcement of Europe in decades. President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the BBC that the move “threatens our interests and our security”. “It’s a third country that is building up its military presence on our borders in Europe,” he said. “It isn’t even a European country.”
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Mechkov called the deployment a “factor destabilising European security”.
The plan is to rotate the forces every nine months. Other nations involved in the rotation are Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. The US Armoured Brigade will also carry out military exercises in the Baltics, all part of President Obama’s response to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and to reassure nervous Nato allies. Last October, Russia sent nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to its exclave of Kaliningrad, sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania, followed a month later by Bastion anti-ship missile launchers. The arrival of the US forces in eastern Europe comes just days before the inauguration of Donald Trump, who has signalled he wants to improve relations with Moscow.
Running on Fumes: Pandemonium at Mexico’s Gas Pumps (Source thedailybeast.com) A week of protests in Mexico has devolved into looting, vandalism, and violence after a double-digit increase in gas prices that landed with a bang as the New Year began.
On Saturday, hundreds of protestors descended on the border dividing San Diego from Mexico, taking control of Mexican Customs and forcing a southbound border shutdown lasting several hours. Thousands of Mexicans returning home from California were forced to turn back toward the U.S. and seek out alternative border crossing points. And that was neither the worst nor the end of it.
These increasingly violent protests did not begin because of “The Wall” that U.S.-President-Elect Donald Trump will ask Congress to fund (for now), but they will certainly have an impact on the border he says he wants to defend. And the more he pressures Mexico economically, the worse it’s going to get. Through the week, roads across Mexico were blocked by protesters and burning tires, thousands of businesses were ransacked, upward of 1500 people—among them, police officers— were arrested, and at least five people were killed as furious citizens took to the streets following the more than 20 percent price gas hike.
Russia’s Gazprom reports record gas exports as Europe shivers
(Source Reuters)Russia’s Gazprom said its daily supplies of natural gas to countries outside of the former Soviet Union have reached a record high due to cold weather in Europe. Gazprom pumped 615.5 million cubic metres of gas to countries outside the former USSR borders on Jan. 6, beating its previous record hit on Jan. 5 by nearly 1 million cubic metres. “We have reached a totally new level of gas exports in conditions of a cold snap, lower extraction volumes in Europe and higher demand for gas on the energy market,” Gazprom’s CEO Alexei Miller said in a statement. Gazprom delivers around a third of EU’s gas, and the recent spike in European demand boosted Gazprom’s supplies through Nord Stream pipeline to an all-time high of 165.2 million cubic metres in the past few days, up from 160.75 million cubic metres on Jan. 1., Gazprom said. The current volumes of gas supply, if extrapolated throughout the year, exceed the Nord Stream’s projected volumes by 10%.