Showing posts with label World Politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label World Politics. Show all posts

Nov 16, 2020

News | World Politics | Perú: Perú's President Merino resigns after deadly crackdown on protesters.


Women hold candles next to the names of two people who were killed in clashes during protests following the ouster of President Martin Vizcarra, in Lima, Peru November 15, 2020. The writing reads "Inti, Jack, thank you for so much"image copyrightReuters

image captionA vigil was held in Lima for two people killed in the protests

Peru's interim president has resigned, a day after two people died during protests against his government.

Manuel Merino, former speaker of Congress, had been in the post less than a week.

He replaced President Martín Vizcarra, who last Monday was removed in an impeachment procedure over bribery allegations, which he denies.

Politicians had called for Mr Merino's resignation after a violent crackdown on demonstrations against him.

Twelve ministers from his recently appointed cabinet resigned earlier on Sunday in protest against police brutality and his handling of the crisis.

Congress failed to agree a replacement for Mr Merino when it met on Sunday, rejecting a team led by Rocío Silva Santisteban, a writer and former human rights activist.

A new list, made up of an interim president and senior politicians from across the spectrum, was being drafted.

Why were there protests?

Tens of thousands of demonstrators - many of them young - have been taking part in protests against Mr Vizcarra's removal in recent days.

They accuse Congress of staging a parliamentary coup. Mr Vizcarra, 57, has enjoyed continued support among many voters for his attempts at reform.

Saturday's protests in Lima were largely peaceful but clashes broke out towards the evening between police and protesters.

A TV grab taken as Manuel Merino announces his resignation in a televised message from the Government Palace, on 15 November 2020image copyrightGetty Images

image captionMr Merino announced his resignation in a televised address on Sunday

Police reportedly fired tear gas and shotgun pellets to repel demonstrators, some of whom had thrown fireworks and stones.

Two students, Jack Pintado, 22, and Inti Sotelo, 24, were killed in the protests.

"I want to let the whole country know that I'm resigning," Mr Merino said in a televised address.

There are concerns of a growing political crisis as Peru faces a severe economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Peru imposed one of the earliest and strictest lockdowns in Latin America to stop the spread of coronavirus - but has still seen cases rise rapidly.

It has so far reported nearly 935,000 infections and more than 35,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University - making it the country with the third highest rate of deaths per 100,000 people in the world.

media captionPeru protests spurred by President Vizcarra's impeachment

Mr Merino had been expected to retain the presidency until July 2021 - when Mr Vizcarra's term was due to end.

Mr Vizcarra has been embroiled in a bitter battle with Congress, which is dominated by rival parties, since he took office in March 2018.

He has denied allegations that he accepted bribes worth 2.3m soles ($640,000; £487,000) when he was governor of the southern Moquegua region. 

Nov 10, 2020

News | World Politics | Canada: After Trump’s Tariffs and Insults, Canada Is Relieved at Biden’s Win

By Catherine Porter

Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Kamala Harris both have warm ties to Canada, and are more in line with Canadian views on issues like climate change.

Credit...Chris Wattie/Reuters

TORONTO — On a snowy evening in December 2016, a month after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada held a rare farewell state dinner for the departing vice president, Joseph R. Biden Jr. It was like a tearful goodbye between two old friends.

“We are more like family. That’s the way the vast majority of Americans feel about Canada and Canadians,” Mr. Biden said to a hall packed with politicians in Ottawa. “The friendship between us is absolutely critical to the United States.”

He ended with a toast: “Vive le Canada. Because we need you very, very badly.”

After four years of surprise tariffs, stinging insults and threats from President Trump, a giddy jubilation and sense of deep relief spread across Canada on Saturday, with the news that Mr. Biden had won the presidency. Many Canadians hope to return to the status of cherished sibling to the United States, and that the president-elect’s personal connection to Canada, and that of his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, will help heal the wounds.

“With Biden, we see the United States as having a centrist conciliator, a friend to Canada, and somebody we can be relaxed with and have genuine disagreements with without being disagreeable,” said Frank McKenna, a former Canadian ambassador to the United States.

He added that people in his yoga class on Monday said “Namaste for Joe Biden.”

“People have been walking on eggshells for four years for fear of annoying the president or his sycophants,” he said.


Credit...Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Over the weekend, Mr. Trudeau made a congratulatory call to Mr. Biden. “We’ve worked with each other before, and we’re ready to pick up on that work and tackle the challenges and opportunities facing our two countries — including climate change and COVID-19,” the prime minister wrote on Twitter, citing two issues where he has deep disagreements with Mr. Trump.

For those who have watched Mr. Trudeau maintain a disciplined silence in the face of Mr. Trump’s attacks, it was easy to read quiet celebration in Mr. Trudeau’s message. He said he and Mr. Biden had “agreed to keep in touch and work closely together.”

Bruce Heyman, a former U.S. ambassador to Canada, noted that many of Mr. Biden’s positions mirror those of the Trudeau government, including the advancement of women’s rights and the importance of fighting climate change.

“This is a man who is more aligned with the Canadian value set, regardless of party,” said Mr. Heyman, who was sworn in as ambassador by Mr. Biden in 2014, and ran a campaign to get overseas Democrats to vote this year.

Both Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris have personal connections to Canada. At that state dinner four years ago, Mr. Biden noted that his first wife, Neilia, had Canadian family roots, and said that both his sons dreamed of becoming “Mounties,” members of Canada’s national police force.

He recalled that when Neilia and their baby daughter Naomi were killed in a car accident in 1972, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Justin’s father, reached out to him personally “and commiserated with me.”

Ms. Harris spent her formative teenage years in Montreal, after her mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris, a breast cancer specialist, got a job working at McGill University and the Jewish General Hospital. Students and teachers gathered on the steps of her alma mater, Westmount High School, on Monday with “Congratulations Kamala” signs. Quebec’s premier, François Legault, noted on Twitter that she had “spent part of her youth in Montreal.”


Credit...Michael Cohen

“We hope to see you soon. You will always be welcome in Quebec,” he wrote.

Few countries had as much at stake in the American elections as Canada. The two countries share the world’s longest border, and two-thirds of Canada’s population lives within 60 miles of it. Roughly three-quarters of Canada’s exports head to the United States, and before the pandemic, many Canadians crossed over regularly to shop, vacation or visit.

As Mr. Trudeau says frequently, sometimes with obvious restraint, the relationship with the United States is Canada’s most important, but it is also one that has suffered serious damage in the past four years.

The previous five presidents made a point of traveling to Canada for a state visit within a few months of taking office, and each visited multiple times. Mr. Trump went only once as president, for the 2018 Group of 7 meeting, and lashed out at Mr. Trudeau as he left, calling the prime minister “very dishonest and weak.”

By then, he had slapped tariffs on the country’s steel and aluminum, claiming national security concerns, which most Canadians found deeply unfair and insulting. Mr. Trudeau relied on quiet diplomacy and a team of surrogates who built alliances with people around Mr. Trump, and eventually Canada reached a critical new trade deal with the United States and Mexico.

But Canadian feelings toward Mr. Trump continued to sour, plummeting to the lowest view of any president over the past 20 years. Recent polls show that as many as four in five Canadians hoped Mr. Biden would be elected president. In an editorial, The Globe and Mail, a leading newspaper, said, “Our downstairs neighbors have gone long enough without an adult in the White House.”

Jagmeet Singh, leader of Canada’s left-leaning New Democratic Party, said at a news conference last week, “It would be better for the world if Trump loses.”

The 5,525-mile border between the United States and Canada has been closed since March, when the number of daily new coronavirus infections took off in both countries. Despite the huge economic and personal implications, the vast majority of Canadians support keeping it shut until the United States reduces its infection rate, which is now triple Canada’s.


Credit...Lars Hagberg/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“The single biggest thing that matters to Canada is whether Biden will be able to bring the virus under control,” said Janice Stein, the founding director of the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto. Given how polarized the United States remains, that seems unlikely, she said.

“The politicization of the pandemic is not going to go away,” Professor Stein said.

Even with Mr. Biden’s election, many Canadians say their relationship with their neighbor won’t be the same as it was before. For one thing, Mr. Biden’s economic plan is protectionist, like Mr. Trump’s.

It is a “new world,” said Laura Macdonald, a political science professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, and “we have not gone through careful rethinking of what that means for Canada.”

“Canadians have to shift our mind-set,” she said. “We can’t rely always upon U.S. being there for us, when we are looking for a market. We need more diversification.”

At a news conference in Ottawa on Monday, Mr. Trudeau reiterated that the two countries enjoy a “unique relationship.” He extended congratulations to Mr. Biden and to Ms. Harris, whose election as the first female, first Black and first South Asian vice president he called “an inspiration and a reminder that everyone’s voice belongs in politics.”

He said he was confident in the U.S. democratic system and that, despite Mr. Trump’s claims, “we can be quite certain of the results.”

Until the Trump administration ends on Jan. 20, Mr. Trudeau will continue to work with it, but he is unlikely to hold a farewell dinner for the departing vice president, Mike Pence.

“There is no particular relationship of consequence between him and our government,” Mr. McKenna said. “He’s only been here to chastise us.”

Dan Bilefsky contributed reporting from Montreal.

News | World Politics | US - China: Putin's problem with Biden? A lack of chemistry, expert says

Holly Ellyatt

Good chemistry: President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a joint press conference after their summit on July 16, 2018 in Helsinki, Finland.

Good chemistry: President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a joint press conference after their summit on July 16, 2018 in Helsinki, Finland.

Chris McGrath | Getty Images News | Getty Images

With Russian President Vladimir Putin so far failing to send congratulations to Democrat Joe Biden following his projected U.S. presidential election win, experts say there could be one big — and personal — problem between them: a lack of chemistry.

“Something we should keep in mind is that neither Biden nor Putin like each other,” Anton Barbashin, a political analyst and editorial director of Russian affairs journal Riddle, told CNBC Monday.

“There could be no chemistry between them, thus U.S.-Russia relations are bound to become even more confrontational.”

While European leaders congratulated Biden, the winner of the Nov. 3 presidential election according to NBC projections, Russia stayed silent until Monday, when the Kremlin’s spokesman said that Russia would not comment on the election until the official result was released and that Moscow had noted President Donald Trump’s announcement of legal processes related to the vote.

Nonetheless, Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Monday that Putin had repeatedly said he was ready to work with any U.S. leader, and Russia hoped it could establish dialog with the new U.S. administration, and find a way to normalize relations.

The apparent coolness of Russia’s response to the projected win for Biden is in marked contrast to its enthusiastic greeting of Trump’s 2016 election win.

Russia was accused of meddling in that election, particularly in the hack and dissemination of Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic party emails in 2016, and had sanctions imposed on it by the U.S. as a result.

Still, sanctions didn’t appear to stop there being a seemingly warm relationship between Trump and Putin, leaders who, in the public view at least, appeared to respect and like each other.

Trump’s praise of his Russian counterpart made waves in 2018 when, following a high-profile summit with Putin in Helsinki, Trump blamed both countries for the “strained relationship” and said he believed Putin’s repudiation of allegations of meddling, despite advice to the contrary from the U.S. intelligence community.

Trump then claimed the day after the summit that he had misspoken when he said he did not see why Russia would have meddled in the election, insisting that he meant to say he did not see any reason why it wouldn’t have been Russia that interfered.

‘Immense challenge’ for Russia

Biden is widely expected to adopt a more assertive stance toward Russia. Outstanding issues include progress over a peace agreement between Russia and Ukraine, and Nord Stream 2, the massive gas pipeline project from Russia to Germany that is opposed by the U.S.

Under Trump and his “America First” agenda which characterized his approach to trade and foreign policy, Russia was not a great concern for the administration, and that suited Putin, experts noted.

“For Moscow the chief benefits of the Trump presidency were that it amplified America’s internal divisions, estranged Washington from its traditional allies, and was inconsistent in its articulation and execution of policy goals,” Daragh McDowell, head of Europe and principal Russia analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, told CNBC Monday.

“The Kremlin will have mixed feelings about the result of the U.S. presidential elections,” he added, with a Biden presidency expected to adopt a “more aggressive Russia policy,” he said.

“Looking forward, Moscow faces an immense challenge in dealing with the incoming Biden administration. Beyond allegations of electoral interference in 2016, the U.S. has also accused Russia of placing bounties on U.S. forces in Afghanistan. There is also broad consensus across the U.S. political spectrum on issues such as opposition to Nord Stream 2. With America still divided, a more aggressive Russia policy is one of the few areas where bipartisanship can be expected to be sustained,” he noted.


Experts agree that there is something that President-elect Biden offers that Russia does like, and that’s stability.

Experts like McDowell note that the same characteristics that made the Trump administration suit Russia — such as its lack of consistency and estranging of erstwhile allies — was also “unsettling for a Kremlin that prioritizes stability and predictability.”

Political analyst Barbashin agreed that Biden’s presidency “means more predictability which at least simplifies planning and makes it easier to predict U.S. behavior.”

There are also some areas where Biden and Putin could even cooperate, they note, with Iran’s nuclear program, arms control and even Syria all being potential areas for negotiation.

Arms control is definitely a good place to start for Biden and Putin, experts agree. In 2019, Biden signaled that he would want to see an extension of the major U.S.-Russian nuclear arms reduction treaty, known as the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (or New START) that’s due to expire in February 2021, or the implementation of a similar deal.

McDowell said there could be a similar impetus on the Russian side to restart arms control negotiations as well: “A key Putin priority will be restarting the negotiations on the New START arms control treaty, as bilateral nuclear agreements with the U.S. are one of the metrics by which Russia measures itself as a ‘great power’.”

Mar 2, 2020

World Politics: 'We don't plan to go to war with anyone,' Putin says, amid Syria-Turkey tensions

Holly Ellyatt

GP: Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Vladimir Putin 180404
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin last April. 
Adem Altan | AFP | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that his country is not going to go to war with anyone, and that it would seek to deter any other country that considered an armed conflict with Russia.
“We are not going to fight against anyone. We are going to create conditions so that nobody wants to fight against us,” Putin told Russian news agency TASS in an interview published Monday.
“Moreover, our annual expenditures are falling. In contrast, other countries’ [military] spending has been rising,” he said.
Putin’s comments come against a backdrop of rising tensions in Syria between government troops — who are backed by Russia — and Turkish forces and rebel groups in the northwestern Idlib province, which is now the center of a battle for control between opposing sides.
Government forces under President Bashar al-Assad want to wrestle the region, which borders Turkey, back from Syrian rebel groups and Jihadist forces. Idlib is seen as the last major province still largely under rebel control.
Turkey, meanwhile, backs some rebel groups opposed to Assad and does not want to give up control of the border amid fears of being over-run with refugees fleeing the conflict. There are already over three million Syrian refugees in Turkey and the country says it cannot cope.
Tensions between Turkey and its neighbor Syria escalated further last week when 34 Turkish soldiers were killed in an airstrike carried out by Syrian forces. On Sunday, when Turkey launched a retaliatory operation, called ‘Operation Spring Shield,’ 19 Syrian soldiers were killed in Turkish drone strikes on Idlib, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Sunday.
There are now concerns over how far Russia could get involved in the dispute, which marks another chapter in Syria’s nine-year civil war.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart have been communicating regularly over the escalating tensions, with both stressing “how important it is to improve the effectiveness of coordination between the Russian and Turkish defense ministries,” the Kremlin noted, of a phone call that took place on Friday.
Russia and Turkey are in an awkward position given their good record of diplomatic relations, but opposing positions regarding Syria. Turkey has urged Russia to use its influence to rein in Syria. Erdogan is due to visit Russia on Thursday for a one-day trip to discuss the Syrian developments.
On Sunday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said his country did not “aim to face-off with Russia. Our only aim is to stop the Syrian regime’s massacres, radical groups, the displacement of civilians.”
The Kremlin said on Monday that Russia’s stance on Syria remains unchanged and that it wanted to see the Turkish-Russian agreement upheld, Reuters reported.
Turkey has a deal with Russia that aims to create a “safe zone” or “buffer zone” in Syria along the Turkish border that is occupied by Turkish troops. The aim is to stop Kurdish forces (which Turkey labels “terrorists”) establishing a separatist area on its doorstep — a move that it sees as a threat — and to keep prevent refugees entering Turkey.
Russia’s military said it could not guarantee the safety of Turkish planes over Syria’s Idlib province, however.

Jan 13, 2020

China is the 'most serious threat' to the United States, says former security advisor to Obama

Abigail Ng

GP: Xi Jinping china flags
Chinese President Xi Jinping stands by national flags.
Johannes Eisele | AFP | Getty Images
Beijing has been forthcoming about its long-term goals and is the “most serious threat” to the U.S., according to a former U.S. national security advisor.
“China has been very clear about what its long-term goals are strategically,” James Jones, who served as NSA under former President Barack Obama, told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble. “We need to take that very seriously.”
One Chinese goal is “total control of their own people using technology,” he said at the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. “They’re making astonishing progress to control every single citizen, whatever he or she does.”
“They’re giving grades for citizenship, which will affect their jobs you’re going to hold, the travel you can do and everything else,” he added, seeming to refer to China’s social credit system. “Where they’re moving is scary,” he said. “They obviously want to export that to other countries.”

‘Trojan horse effect’

He said Beijing is using a “Trojan horse” strategy to gain influence in “many parts of the world.”
“They penetrate the economies, they buy up everything they can, pay off everybody they can...get a chokehold on the economy as much as they can and then make demands for the behavior of the government,” he said.
That’s something the U.S. should address, said Jones.
“One of the things that concerns me a little bit is that we’ve stopped talking about values in the world...even in the democratic countries. We should talk about human rights,” he said.
Asked if the U.S. should support protesters in Hong Kong even if it puts trade talks with China at risk, Jones said: “Is trade more important than human values?”
He noted that the U.S. didn’t trade with the Soviet Union during the Cold War until the Berlin Wall came down and the regime collapsed. “But in China’s case, we were asleep at the switch,” he said. “They were making astonishing progress, and all of a sudden they’re pure competitors.”
“I’m not sure that we really understand the degree to which China is strategically intent on replacing the United States as the most dominant culture in the world,” he said.

Tech competition

Jones also said the U.S. should compete with China “everywhere they are in the world, including Africa and other places.”
Competing on technology is “more serious”, but the U.S. “can win,” he predicted.
Referring to next-generation wireless networks, he said: “If China successfully captures the infrastructure aspects of the 5G emergence...that affects the GDP of countries significantly, anywhere from 1.5% to 2.5%.”
“This is a competition that I think the United States can win, because we have a completely different philosophy about what the 5G world will look like,” he said.
“We have a completely different marketing strategy...I think we’re going to be successful.”
—CNBC’s Evelyn Cheng and Shirley Tay contributed to this report.

Oct 27, 2019

World Politics | Russia: Russian military questions US account of raid that killed ISIS leader

2minutos - Source: CNN

The Russian military on Sunday questioned the official US account of the military raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, saying it was not aware of any US military operations in the region.
In a statement, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said the Russian military “does not have reliable information” on a US Special Operations raid in Syria’s Idlib province, adding: “The increasing number of direct participants and countries that allegedly took part in this ‘operation,’ each one giving completely contradictory details, raises legitimate questions and doubts about its existence and especially the level of its success.”
In a statement that followed the raid, President Trump thanked Russia for its assistance, as well as Turkey, Syria, Iraq and the Syrian Kurds.
Russia maintains a major base in Syria at Latakia. Konashenkov said, however, that the Russian military had observed no strikes by US aircraft in the region.
“Firstly, on Saturday and in recent days no air strikes were made on the Idlib de-escalation zone by US aircraft or the so-called ‘international coalition’ were recorded,” Konashenkov said. “Secondly, we are not aware of any alleged assistance to the passage of American aviation into the airspace of the Idlib de-escalation zone during this operation.”
Konashenkov argued in his statement that Syrian government backed by Russian air power had defeated ISIS, saying that al-Baghdadi’s death “has absolutely no operational significance on the situation in Syria or on the actions of the remaining terrorists in Idlib.”
Russia, which backs the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has long argued that the US military has no legal basis to operate in Syria.

Sep 29, 2019

World Politics: Australia's relationship with China in a 'terrible' state after Morrison's US visit, Labor says

Sarah Martin

Labor’s shadow defence minister, Richard Marles, says Australia’s relationship with China is in a “terrible” state following Scott Morrison’s visit to the United States.
Speaking fresh from a visit to Beijing, Marles said that Morrison’s “megaphone diplomacy” alongside Donald Trump about China’s status as a developing country had inflamed tensions.
“What we saw this week was the prime minister in the United States in the context of there being trade tensions between the US and China, and from there, taking pot shots against our largest trading partner,” Marles said.
“The context in which he has engaged in this megaphone diplomacy is absolutely the issue, and it’s not the way in which this issue should be dealt with in a respectful way.”
Following calls from Morrison and Trump for China’s status to be upgraded from a developing country, as defined under World Trade Organisation rules, Marles said it was a “matter of fact” that China was still rightly defined as developing.
He pointed to average income figures for China as being less than $10,000 – below the World Bank threshold of $12,000 for a “developed” country, and compared to Australia’s average income of $47,000, according to the same index.
“China is a very large economy and it will become the largest economy in the world and it is still developing, that’s the matter of fact,” Marles said.
“But the point here is that exactly where China fits in terms of its place within the WTO, indeed its place within the world, ought to be a matter of negotiation with countries in the world, but certainly from an Australian point of view, that’s something that we should be negotiating and working through with China in a respectful way.”
After a series of meetings with officials in Beijing, Marles said that while he did not want to comment directly on how China had reacted to Morrison’s remarks in the US, he had heard clearly that the relationship was not in good shape.
“What I can say is that the state of the relationship as it exists between Australia and China right now is terrible,” Marles said.
“There is a sense in which we are falling down their ladder of relevance, that China is not seeing us in the serious way in which it has seen us in the past.”
He accused the government of mismanaging the “complex” relationship, which would have ramifications for Australian jobs dependent on exports.
He said an opinion piece written by the Liberal MP Andrew Hastie had been raised with him as an example of Australia’s disregard for China.
“That did resonate in Beijing,” Marles said. “People are unhappy about it. There is no moral equivalence between China and Nazi Germany. It’s a ridiculous thing to say and it’s damaging to the relationship.
“If you ask the question – has the relationship been managed well from an Australian point of view over the last six months – the answer is that it has been managed terribly,” Marles said.
“There is complete ineptness on the part of this government, and that is a matter of concern for everybody in this country who is engaged in the export to China, and everybody in this country who benefits from that – and we’re talking about millions of Australians in that category.”
He said the government needed to do more to address the trust deficit between the two countries, saying joint defence exercises was one way this was occurring.
“Right now, we have a massive trust deficit in terms of our relationship with China, and we need to build trust,” he said.
“If we’re engaging, then we need to be having the best relationship with China that we possibly can have. And right now, this government is not delivering it. In fact, they’re inept.”
But he also said Australia needed to be able to raise issues of concern, such as human rights issues, within that relationship.

Aug 27, 2019

World Politics: Brazil to reject $22 million G-7 fund aimed at controlling Amazon fires

Chloe Taylor

GP: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Speaks At U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Brazil Day Event
Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s president, speaks during a Brazil Day conference at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., on March 18, 2019.
Alex Edelman | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Brazil has said it will reject $22 million offered by the G-7 nations to help control fires raging in the Amazon rainforest.
Speaking to Brazilian news website G1 on Monday, Bolsonaro’s Chief of Staff Onyx Lorenzoni accused French President Emmanuel Macron of hypocrisy over his stance on the Amazon fires.
“Thanks, but perhaps these resources are more relevant to reforesting Europe,” Lorenzoni said. “Macron cannot even prevent a predictable fire in a church (Notre Dame Cathedral) that is a World Heritage Site, and (he) wants to teach lessons to our country?”
He added that Brazil could teach “any nation” how to protect their native forests, according to a translation of the interview.
France’s iconic Notre Dame Cathedral was severely damaged in a fire in April, causing the landmark’s roof and spire to collapse. Macron then pledged to rebuild the cathedral within five years.
Despite publicly rejecting the G-7 fund, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said Tuesday that Brazil may accept the aid if Macron withdraws his “insults” regarding the issue, Reuters reported.
The two leaders have been embroiled in a spat that was sparked by Macron’s calls for international action on the crisis, with Bolsonaro attacking Macron last week for displaying a “misplaced colonialist mindset.”
On Monday, Bolsonaro said on Twitter that Brazil could not accept Macron’s “unreasonable attacks” on the Amazon, adding that “the idea of an ‘alliance’ of the G-7 countries to ‘save’ the Amazon” treated Brazil like a colony.
He also claimed that other heads of state sympathized with Brazil, and that Colombian President Ivan Duque agreed with him that the countries making up the Amazon needed a joint plan on the crisis to “guarantee our sovereignty and natural wealth.”
Macron announced on Monday that the G-7 countries — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. — would pledge $22 million to help reduce the fires in the Amazon.
The French president has publicly pushed for international action in the Amazon, after satellite data from Brazil’s space agency showed last week that fires are burning in the Amazon at a record rate. The number of forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon so far this year surged by 84% from the same period in 2018.
On Monday evening local time, Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs made a statement criticizing the G-7 initiative, Brazilian news site Globo reported.
“The Brazilian Government reminds those who are considering launching such initiatives that there are already several instruments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to finance deforestation reduction and reforestation activities,” the statement said.
“France — and other countries that may support its ideas — are expected to engage seriously in discussions within the UNFCCC, rather than launching redundant initiatives, with amounts well below their international commitments.”
Brazil’s rejection of the fund came even though Environment Minister Ricardo Salles told reporters in Sao Paulo on Monday that the G-7 financial aid was welcome, according to Reuters.
Bolsonaro, who has faced criticism for his environmental policies, previously said it was difficult to curb increasing deforestation with limited resources. However, on Saturday, he said he would send the army to fight the fires, sharing a video of the air force extinguishing flames in the Amazon.
Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio also announced on Monday that Earth Alliance, the environmental charity that he co-chairs, would donate $5 million to the efforts in the Amazon. Earth Alliance is also collecting additional donations online.
The Amazon rainforest covers land in Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. According to the World Wildlife Fund, it makes up half of the world’s remaining tropical forests.

Aug 22, 2019

World Politics: G-7 summit set to end without an agreement for the first time in history

Sam Meredith

RTRS: G7 summit France, Biarritz 2019 EU
A view shows the Hotel du Palais summit venue ahead of the G7 Summit in the French coastal resort of Biarritz, France, August 21, 2019.
REUTERS | Regis Duvignau
The Group of Seven (G-7) summit is set to end without a joint communique for the first time in its 44-year history, after French President Emmanuel Macron decided to abandon the tradition citing “a very deep crisis of democracy.”
It will be the first time since meetings began in 1975 that the forum has failed to end a summit without an agreed statement, laying bare the deepening rift between heads of state from seven of the world’s largest economies.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the G-7 meeting at a news conference in Paris on Wednesday, Macron said an attempt to produce a joint communique would most likely be a “pointless” exercise.
He referenced President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from a landmark climate agreement restricting global efforts to cut carbon as one example of why it would be difficult to display a united front.
The annual summit brings together the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. It will be held in the seaside town of Biarritz in southwest France from Saturday through to Monday.
Securing an agreement at the annual summit has proved increasingly difficult in recent years, partly because the U.S. president has expressed a preference for bilateral trade pacts over multilateral agreements.
“It is impossible to predict what the U.S. will do — we might be in for some surprises from Trump,” Agathe Demarais, global forecasting director at the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), told CNBC via telephone.
“I’m not sure what he is going to do, maybe Trump doesn’t know either,” Demarais said, citing the U.S. as a notable exception in its approach to handling disputes.

France will want to avoid another ‘G-6+1 summit’

Last year, at the G-7 summit in Ottawa, Canada, Trump threw typically stage-managed proceedings into disarray.
The U.S. president made an early exit from the meeting, refused to sign the collective final statement and engaged in personal insults over trade with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The summit appeared to demonstrate fraying ties between the U.S. and its traditional allies, with one photo seemingly summing up divisions in the room.
The image, which appeared on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Instagram account, showed world leaders gathered around Merkel on one side of a table, while a seated Trump looked on with his arms folded.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel deliberates with U.S. President Donald Trump during the G-7 summit in Canada on June 9, 2018.
Jesco Denzel | Bundesregierung | Getty Images
From a French perspective, the hosts will “want to try to manage this G-7 so it doesn’t turn into another embarrassing mess with everyone arguing with each other,” Constantine Fraser, European political analyst at the TS Lombard research group, told CNBC via telephone.
“I think it is quite possible” there will be no joint communique at the end of this year’s summit, Fraser said, before adding the statement was now little more than an “increasingly desperate fig leaf.”
“The G-7 is no longer for the world’s richest countries to show a united front… And the lack of a joint communique is a recognition of where we are at,” Fraser said.
French media dubbed last year’s gathering in Ottawa as the “G-6+1 summit,” citing Washington’s refusal to sign the final statement.

Tech tax

Alongside environment and trade, analysts expect Brexit, inequality, the possible reinstatement of Russia and universal taxation on digital giants to dominate proceedings.
Late last month, Trump warned he “might” slap tariffs on French wine in response to the country’s new tax affecting technology companies.
“This is a very, very contentious topic. France wants to impose this digital tax but the problem is most digital giants are American,” the EIU’s Demarais said.
French President Emmanuel Macron pictured before a meeting at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris on July 22, 2019.
LUDOVIC MARIN | AFP | Getty Images
France passed a 3% charge in early July that would affect firms such as Facebook and Google. It is expected to draw about $28 million or more in revenue from digital services in France.
The Trump administration has since started an investigation under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.
“France has decided to go ahead with this tax knowing it will provoke the U.S. … Trump will get angry and there will probably be a big row about it,” TS Lomabrd’s Fraser said.

Feb 22, 2019

World Politics | Renewed US sanctions on Iran revive fortunes of an Indian bank

3-4 minutes

by Pradipta Mukherjee
Renewed U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil exports are giving a boost to the profits of one of India’s smaller state-owned banks, which has been struggling under the weight of a mountain of bad loans.
Kolkata-based Uco BankNSE 1.62 % expects its privileged status processing refiners’ payments for Iranian oil shipments to add more than Rs 800 crore ($110 million) to annual earnings, according to Chief Executive Officer Atul Kumar Goel. Indian refiners are required to deposit any money destined for Iran without interest with Uco Bank during periods when U.S. sanctions are in force.
“Being involved in the country’s oil imports from Iran gives us access to zero-interest funds, which refiners place with us,” Goel said in a recent interview at his Kolkata office. “It will improve our net interest income as well as operating profit.”
Uco Bank was first designated by India’s government as the payment bank for Iranian oil in 2012, as the U.S. tightened an earlier round of sanctions in an effort to get Iran to accept controls on its nuclear program. The bank was chosen because of its limited international presence, which made it less vulnerable to any repercussions from its involvement in the oil trade, processed in euros and rupees to avoid exposure to the U.S. banking system.

Those sanctions were lifted in 2015, leading to a drop in Uco Bank’s profits as other Indian banks entered the business. But the lender has resumed its former privileged role as U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal last year and started reimposing penalties.
India was one of eight countries benefiting from a U.S. waiver, allowing it to import 9 million barrels of Iranian oil a month until April. Uco Bank, which was chosen by the government to pay for the imports during the waiver, said it started receiving the funds to pay for these shipments earlier this year and now has a steady float of more than 100 billion rupees.
“Money from refiners has started coming in from January and we are making payments on a daily basis to exporters,” Goel said. The bank is paying out more than one billion rupees a day for the oil, he added.
The boost to earnings from the interest-free float may bolster the bank’s efforts to come out of a so-called Prompt Corrective Action plan -- under which lenders are restricted from making loans while they mend balance sheets -- which was imposed by the Reserve Bank of India. Uco Bank will also get an injection of about 33 billion rupees by March 31 to strengthen its risk buffers, as part of the government’s capital infusion plan announced on Wednesday.
As much as a quarter of Uco Bank’s loan book had soured as of Dec. 31, though Goel said he doesn’t expect that to increase in coming quarters.

Source: Economic Times - India Times

May 25, 2018

Irish voters flock to the polls to take part in historic referendum on abortion. World Politics | MarketWatch.

Irish voters flock to the polls to take part in historic referendum on abortion

Ciara Linnane

Irish voters flocked to the polls on Friday to cast their votes in a historic referendum on abortion that may overturn what are some of the most restrictive laws in the world.
Thousands of eligible voters living overseas flew in or took ferries to participate in a referendum that is asking them to repeal or uphold a constitutional amendment that makes abortion illegal in almost all cases, including rape and incest, unless the life of the mother is at risk.
The Eighth Amendment in Ireland’s constitution means that women with unviable as well as unwanted pregnancies are forced to travel overseas for a termination with no aftercare when they return. The repeal side argues for women’s right to health care and choice, while the save-the-8th side is concerned that repealing the amendment will lead to abortion on demand.
The daily newspaper the Irish Times reported that turnout at some polling places was higher by early afternoon than had been the case at the same time of day during Ireland’s referendum on marriage equality in 2015.
That referendum also saw a strong push to encourage Irish people who can still vote to go home and do so, but this time many people were also donating money to pay travel expenses. A Facebook FB, -0.59% group was matching donors who are no longer eligible to vote with people who can but are unable to afford the trip.
Irish law allows nationals to continue to vote for 18 months after leaving the country, but there are no absentee-ballot provisions. (Disclosure: This reporter is an Irish citizen who is no longer permitted to vote.)
Social media was full of images and reports of cheering crowds at airports welcoming travelers, with one woman cheerfully dispensing Tayto crisps, a popular brand of Irish potato chips, to new arrivals.
On Twitter TWTR, +0.64% the hashtag #hometovote was trending, along with #repealthe8th, #togetherforyes and #savethe8th. There were emotional scenes at airports and ferry terminals, with many women making the point that their journeys were the inverse of the trips that roughly nine Irish women are reported to make every day: to the U.K. for pregnancy terminations.
The Eighth Amendment to the constitution was introduced in 1983 and gives equal rights to a pregnant woman and an unborn fetus. If the amendment is repealed, it is expected to lead the Irish government to allow abortion for a restricted period of up to 12 weeks after conception.
The reason for the referendum: The wording of the amendment (see below) has had consequences for some women whose pregnancies have gone wrong, as they wereunable to terminate nonviable pregnancies.
The amendment is widely viewed as contributing to at least one high-profile death: that of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar, who was refused an abortion in a Galway hospital in 2012 during a miscarriage that lasted three days. Halappanavar died of sepsis. An inquest found her death was caused by “medical misadventure” as doctors failed to intervene until it was too late.
The 1983 referendum happened at a time when the Catholic Church had a strong role in Irish society, but that has changed. The sexual-abuse scandals involving members of the clergy that broke in the 1990s and 2000s have contributed to a dramatic weakening of the influence of the church in Ireland, which once virtually co-governed and ran many schools and other institutions.
The church was mostly left out of debates leading up to Friday’s vote, which were conducted by women on both sides, and included many emotional tales of the trauma of being forced to seek medical help overseas at a highly vulnerable time in a woman’s life. The penalty for an illegal abortion in Ireland, either by back-street means or through the use of abortion pills, is a 14-year prison term.
The referendum is necessary because the Irish constitution includes a provision stipulating that any change must be voted on by the whole nation — one reason that Ireland has in the past voted on issues including divorce and marriage equality.
The polling stations opened at 7 a.m. local time and will stay open until 10 p.m. The final tally will be announced at Dublin Castle on Saturday.
The Irish taoiseach, or prime minister, Leo Varadkar, is supporting repeal, as are all the major political parties. Campaigners on both sides were still busy canvassing on Friday, according to local media.
Social media had been awash with bots retweeting opinions and articles with a strong anti-abortion-rights message, according to observers, while Facebook users were bombarded with privately sponsored or anonymous ads in an attempt to influence their decisions, according to data from the nonprofit Transparent Referendum Initiative.
That led Google GOOG, -0.18% to make the unusual decision to ban all ads on the referendum from its search engine and YouTube, while Facebook banned all ads that came from advertisers outside Ireland. There were many reports of foreign money, including from pro-life groups in the U.S., seeking to sway the vote.

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