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Global Government Introduction:


      The move toward a global government received a big boost this summer by the introduction of a proposal for an International Criminal Court. Over U.S. objections, the United Nations Diplomatic Conference voted 120 to 7 in favor of establishing an international criminal court to try individuals accused of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression.










Behold a Black Horse

 Behold a Black




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Behold a Black Horse:

 Economic Upheaval and Famine


by Dr. Chuck Missler



The third of the “Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse” brings inflation and famine on an unprecedented scale.
•What is the real cause of inflation?
•What are the real causes of famine?

Most famines are the direct results of government’s deliberate decisions. Germany sank into the most severe hyperinflationary period in recorded history after printing 1.3 trillion marks: that translates to about 4 trillion in today’s dollars. Ironically, that is almost exactly the same amount of money the United States government has printed since 2008. What are the implications for us today?

How can one use Bayes’ Theorem in “reverse probability”? (Can you form a hypothesis based on experience, common sense and whatever data are available; then test the hypothesis not by what has happened before, but by what comes after?)

The theorem has proved its worth, such as in 2012 when it was used to successfully predict the outcome of the U.S. presidential election in all 50 states before the final vote counts were available.

Join Dr. Chuck Missler in the Executive Briefing Room of the River Lodge, New Zealand, as he explores the identity of the third of the Five Horsemen of Revelation.

This briefing pack contains 2 hours of teaching

Available in the following formats


•2 MP3 files

•1 PDF Notes file





Still seeking top diplomat, Trump taunts China

‎Yesterday, ‎December ‎6, ‎2016, ‏‎5:34:57 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Dec 5, 2016 - President-elect Donald Trump has fired off another Twitter broadside, attacking China over alleged currency manipulation and foreign policy, as the world waits to see who he will pick for the vital role of secretary of state.

Trump will have "a very full slate of meetings" on Monday as he looks to finalise key cabinet positions, senior aide Kellyanne Conway said Sunday.

America's friends and foes alike are keenly awaiting Trump's choice for the top diplomat role, hopeful that it will offer clues to the direction US policy will take after he is sworn in on January 20.

Based on Trump's Twitter activity on Sunday, relations with America's top trading partner may be headed for a downturn, with the businessman-turned-politician accusing Beijing of expansionism and of fiddling the exchange rate.

"Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into their country (the US doesn't tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea?" he demanded, adding: "I don't think so!"

The taunt came two days after Trump provoked a rebuke from China by accepting a call from the president of Taiwan -- the first such call in around four decades.

China regards self-ruling Taiwan as part of its own territory awaiting reunification, and any US move implying support for independence is gravely offensive to Beijing.

Washington does not formally recognise Taipei, and officially cleaves to a "One China" policy that says Beijing is the legitimate government.

In practice, the island enjoys many of the trappings of a full diplomatic relationship with the US.

Trump's incoming vice president, Mike Pence, played down the call's significance, describing it as a courtesy, and said any new policy on China would be decided after his inauguration.

However, The Washington Post reported Sunday that the call had been in the works for weeks, intended to signal a major shift in US policies toward Taiwan and China. The article cited people involved in planning the call.

- Trade war threat -

China was a frequent target for Trump during his presidential campaign and every sign points to his taking an aggressive line.

US politicians often accuse China of artificially depressing its currency, the renminbi, in order to boost its exports -- its value has fallen by around 15 percent in the past two-and-half years.

Trump has vowed to declare China a "currency manipulator" on the first day of his presidency, which would oblige the US Treasury to open negotiations with Beijing on the renminbi.

With China holding about a trillion dollars in US government debt, Washington would have little leverage in such talks, but the declaration would harm ties and boost the prospect of a trade war.

It is not yet clear whether Trump intends to recruit someone with greater diplomatic experience for the State Department role, but he has run the rule over several high-profile candidates.

Four names have been in circulation for weeks: former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton, former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and retired army general and ex-CIA chief David Petraeus.

But now more suggestions have begun to emerge.

"It is true that he's broadened the search," Conway told reporters at Trump Tower in New York.

Trump's former campaign manager said the eventual nominee must be ready to "implement and adhere to the president-elect's America First foreign policy, if you will, his view of the world."

Former Utah governor and ambassador to Beijing Jon Huntsman is also in the mix, according to CNN, while other reports said Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson and Republican Senator Bob Corker are under consideration.

"That list is expanding because... there is not a finite list of finalists," Conway said.

- Petraeus is keen -

Petraeus, who resigned in disgrace as head of the CIA in 2012 after he was caught sharing secrets with his mistress, said he has paid for his mistakes and is ready to work for Trump.

The 64-year-old scholar-warrior, who led the widely-praised "surge" in Iraq from 2008 to 2010, has a depth of experience in world affairs unmatched by the other known candidates.

He pleaded guilty in 2015 to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified materials after sharing Afghan war logs with his lover. He was put on two years' probation and fined $100,000.

Pence praised Petraeus as "an American hero" on NBC's "Meet the Press," adding that he "made mistakes and he paid for his mistakes."

Trump, he added, "will factor the totality of general Petraeus's career in making this decision."





Trump picks Twitter fight with China

‎Yesterday, ‎December ‎6, ‎2016, ‏‎5:34:57 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Dec 5, 2016 - US President-elect Donald Trump fired a Twitter broadside at China on Sunday, accusing the Asian giant of currency manipulation and military expansionism in the South China Sea.

The taunt came two days after Trump risked offending Beijing by accepting a call from the Taiwanese president, and heralded the prospect of a trade battle between the world's largest economies.

China was a frequent target of Trump's during his presidential campaign and, as he prepares to take office next month, every sign points to his taking an aggressive line with Beijing.

"Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into their country (the US doesn't tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea?" he demanded, adding: "I don't think so!"

China is the United States' largest trading partner, but America ran a $366 billion deficit with Beijing in goods and services in 2015, up 6.6 percent on the year before.

US politicians often accuse China of artificially depressing its currency, the renminbi, in order to boost its exports -- its value has fallen by around 15 percent in the past two-and-half years.

Trump has vowed to formally declare China a "currency manipulator" on the first day of his presidency, which would oblige the US Treasury to open negotiations with Beijing on allowing the renminbi to rise.

With China holding about a trillion dollars in US government debt, Washington would have little leverage in such talks, but the declaration would harm ties and boost the prospect of a trade war.

China charges an average 15.6 percent tariff on US agricultural imports and nine percent on other goods, according to the World Trade Organization.

Chinese farm products pay 4.4 percent and other goods 3.6 percent when coming into the United States.

On Friday, Trump courted Chinese anger by accepting a congratulatory call from Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen.

China regards self-ruling Taiwan as part of its own territory awaiting reunification, and any US move implying support for independence would gravely offend Beijing.

Trump's incoming vice president, Mike Pence, played down the significance of the call, describing it as a courtesy, and said any new policy on China would be decided after his inauguration.

China responded cautiously to the call, with state media putting it down to Trump's "inexperience."



Why the fuss? Trump, the US, Taiwan and China -- a guide

‎Yesterday, ‎December ‎6, ‎2016, ‏‎5:34:57 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Dec 5, 2016 - Diplomats, world leaders and China watchers were stunned when President-elect Donald Trump spoke by phone with Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen, breaking with decades of tradition.

Why was the single phone call the source of such concern? Here are the key issues surrounding the delicate relations between the United States, China and Taiwan.

- Bitter history -

The deep rift between China and Taiwan dates back to China's civil war, which erupted in 1927 and pitted forces aligned with the Communist Party of China against the Nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) army.

Eventually defeated by Mao Zedong's Communists, KMT chief Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan, which was still under KMT control.

From there, Chiang continued to claim the entirety of China -- just as the mainland claimed Taiwan.

Taiwan's full name remains the Republic of China, while the mainland is the People's Republic of China.

Both sides still formally claim to represent all of China.

- Why the fuss? -

Washington cut formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979, switching recognition to Beijing as the sole representative of China, and no US president or president-elect is believed to have spoken to a Taiwanese leader since then.

But the United States has maintained an ambiguous and at times contradictory approach to Taiwan.

On the one hand, America sells high-end weaponry to Taiwan, but it does not formally recognize Tsai, the country's president, as a sovereign leader.

The policy is designed to provide democratic Taiwan with enough military clout to fend off China's vastly bigger armed forces and preserve peace in the region.

Many observers saw the phone call, initiated by Tsai, as a possible shift in long-standing US policy.

China regards self-ruling Taiwan as part of its own territory awaiting reunification under Beijing's rule, and any US move implying support for independence -- even calling Tsai "president," as Trump did in a tweet announcing the call -- prompts grave offense in China.

It is also possible that Trump, a political novice and a newcomer to the international stage, didn't appreciate the ramifications of the call.

But The Washington Post, citing people involved in planning the call, said it was a deliberate move by the president-elect to strike a new tone, and was months in the making.

- 'One China' policy -

In 1992, Taiwan and mainland China both agreed that there is only "one China," covering both places, but they agreed to disagree about what that precisely meant.

The policy means that, essentially, countries must choose which territory represents "one China."

Most countries have chosen Beijing, while also maintaining some ties, if nominally unofficial, to Taipei.

Washington does not formally recognize Taipei, and officially sticks to a the one-China policy that says Beijing is the legitimate government of all of China.

But in practice, the small island enjoys many of the trappings of a full diplomatic relationship with the United States.

While there is no US embassy in Taipei, Washington runs a nonprofit center called the American Institute in Taiwan, which serves as something of an unofficial consulate.

Many people in Taiwan today remain distrustful of Beijing while others are keen to explore warmer relations, especially when it comes to trade opportunities.



Some US conservatives praise Trump over Taiwan phone call

‎Yesterday, ‎December ‎6, ‎2016, ‏‎5:34:57 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Dec 3, 2016 - Amid an outpouring of condemnation over President-elect Donald Trump's telephone conversation with President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, some prominent US conservatives are commending his decision to take her call.

Trump's conversation with Tsai on Friday broke decades of US diplomatic policy, risking a serious rift with China by calling into question one of Beijing's self-described "core interests" -- the "One China" policy to which then-president Richard Nixon agreed in 1978.

No US president or president-elect has spoken to a Taiwanese leader since then. Some US conservatives however see no evil in the Friday call.

"I would much rather have Donald Trump talking to President Tsai than to Cuba's Raul Castro or Iran's Hasan Rouhani," Texas Senator Ted Cruz -- Trump's main challenger and a fierce critic during this year's Republican primary race -- tweeted on Saturday. "This is an improvement."

President Barack Obama has spoken with Rouhani by phone, and met Castro on a trip to Cuba.

Ari Fleischer, White House spokesman under former president George W. Bush, didn't think that accepting the call was a bad idea.

"China has been increasingly aggressive with us because they know we won't do anything meaningful about it," Fleischer tweeted. "I don't mind Trump pushing back."

China regards self-ruling Taiwan as part of its own territory awaiting reunification under Beijing's rule, and any US move implying support for independence -- even calling Tsai "president," as Trump did in a tweet announcing the call -- prompts grave offense in China.

- Foreign policy pivot? -

But some critics thought that Trump had crossed a dangerous line.

"What has happened in the last 48 hours is not a shift. These are major pivots in foreign policy w/out any plan. That's how wars start," tweeted Democratic Senator Chris Murphy.

Senior Trump aide Kellyanne Conway brushed aside the criticism, insisting that the call did not necessarily indicate a change of policy.

"Senator Murphy's tweet is pretty incendiary," she told CNN late Friday. "This is how wars are starting and it is a major policy shift because you get a phone call? That is pretty negative."

Asked whether Trump's decision to take Tsai's call was the result of a mistake by an inexperienced staff, she said the real estate billionaire was fully aware of the implications.

Trump's other defenders included Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton.

"I commend President-elect Trump for his conversation with President Tsai Ing-wen, which reaffirms our commitment to the only democracy on Chinese soil," he said in a statement.

"Obama breaks w/decades of US policy on Cuba & gets endless fawning coverage," the conservative journalist Stephen Hayes tweeted. "Trump breaks w/US policy by phoning Taiwan & he's reckless?"

- Surprise Palin criticism -

Trump received criticism on another matter from an unexpected source on Friday: the outspoken former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who strongly supported him during his campaign.

A favorite of the powerful far-right Tea Party movement, Palin condemned Trump's deal with the Carrier air conditioner company this week to keep 1,100 jobs in Indiana instead of shipping hundreds to Mexico, in return for what the company said would be a $7 million tax-break package from the state.

"When government steps in arbitrarily with individual subsidies, favoring one business over others, it sets inconsistent, unfair, illogical precedent," Palin wrote on the website Young Conservatives.

"We support competition on a level playing field, remember? Because we know special interest crony capitalism is one big fail."

Trump's transition team is believed to be considering Palin, a former Republican candidate for vice president, for a cabinet position.

During his presidential campaign, the Republican billionaire repeatedly threatened to slap tariffs on firms that decamped for Mexico, Asia and other regions with cheaper labor costs.

On Friday, Trump singled out another industrial company, tweeting, "Rexnord of Indiana is moving to Mexico and rather viciously firing all of its 300 workers. This is happening all over our country. No more!"



Six key issues facing Trump's Pentagon pick

‎Yesterday, ‎December ‎6, ‎2016, ‏‎5:34:57 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Dec 2, 2016 - How will President-elect Donald Trump's pick for defense secretary, retired Marine general James Mattis, steer America's largest bureaucracy and the world's biggest war machine through what likely will be turbulent years to come?

Here are six of the most pressing issues that will land on Mattis's plate if he is confirmed:

- Iran -

Mattis is hawkish on Iran and has publicly called it the "single most belligerent actor in the Middle East."

The former Marine general, who commanded a division during the invasion of Iraq, has blamed the deaths of some US troops on Iranian support for Shiite militias in Anbar province.

And Mattis has accused Tehran of continuing to finance extremist networks that are destabilizing the Middle East.

Trump has slammed the Iran nuclear deal, and Mattis has also challenged it.

He has said the White House isn't doing enough to counter Iranian military moves in the region -- and is likely to push for a hard line against the Islamic Republic.

- Defeating the Islamic State group -

During the campaign, Trump said he would "bomb the shit" out of the IS group, pledged to kill the relatives of suspected terrorists and to torture captives.

Mattis, however, has told Trump that he doesn't agree and the president-elect has seemed to cool on his torture pledge.

Mattis may struggle to come up with an anti-IS plan that diverges massively from the one already being pursued by the Obama administration -- namely, to bomb IS targets and train and equip local forces to kill the jihadists.

We will "pursue aggressive joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy" IS, Trump said in his foreign policy statement.

Trump last year suggested sending US troops into the region to snatch oil fields, but his public plan does not mention this.

- Military spending boom? -

The US military is by far the world's most powerful and most expensive -- with bases spanning the globe, an annual budget of more than $600 billion and about 1.3 million active-duty troops.

China is the world's second biggest defense spender, but with an annual budget that is about a quarter the size.

Trump said Thursday that his administration "will begin a major national effort to rebuild our badly depleted military." He wants more ships, troops, planes and weaponry.

Mattis would oversee a surge in active troop numbers, with the Army growing to 540,000 under Trump's pledges (up from the current planned number of 450,000) and an increase of ships and submarines to 350 (up from 308).

Trump also wants more warplanes and a "state of the art" missile defense system. US arms firms have seen stock prices surge amid a broader market rally.

But Trump's plans to boost spending would require Congressional approval.

- Demanding more from allies -

During his campaign, Trump accused NATO members and Asian allies of not paying their fair share to long-standing alliances underpinning regional security.

But since his election, Trump has dialed back some of this rhetoric.

A first order of business for Mattis would be to clarify with allies just what the new administration's position is.

The United States maintains hundreds of bases and military sites around the world and currently has more than 200,000 military personnel deployed across dozens of nations, including 28,500 in South Korea and about 50,000 in Japan.

- Afghanistan -

Fifteen years and hundreds of billions of dollars since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the security situation in the country remains fraught and Afghan security forces are struggling to contain a resurgent Taliban.

President Barack Obama was forced to slow a planned withdrawal of US troops, and about 8,400 will remain in the country when he leaves office.

Afghanistan got scarcely a mention during the campaign, but Trump on Thursday indicated a reluctance to intervene overseas.

"We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments, folks," he said. "Our goal is stability, not chaos."

Mattis, who has led troops in Afghanistan, had criticized Obama's plan to pull forces from the country.

- Russia -

Trump has openly praised Russian President Vladimir Putin's leadership abilities and was accused by his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton of being a "puppet" for America's longtime foe.

Russia has seized Crimea, carried out military exercises on its border with Eastern Europe and has for more than a year conducted an intense bombing campaign in Syria to prop up President Bashar al-Assad.

It remains to be seen whether Trump could ask Mattis to find ways to better coordinate with Russia in Syria or elsewhere, an idea once unthinkable for the US military.



Ukraine launches missile drills near Russia-annexed Crimea

‎Yesterday, ‎December ‎6, ‎2016, ‏‎5:34:57 AMGo to full article
Kiev (AFP) Dec 1, 2016 - Ukraine on Thursday unleashed a barrage of missile tests near Russian-annexed Crimea in a show of strength and defiance bound to irritate Moscow.

The two-day military drills near the Black Sea peninsula are a first for the former Soviet republic and a sign that it is regaining assertiveness in the face of its arch-foe Russia.

"No one will stop us," Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tweeted.

"We will be acting in the interests of the people of Ukraine!"

Kiev says Russia illegally annexed Crimea in March 2014 --- a month after Ukraine's Russian-backed president was ousted in a pro-EU revolt.

It also accuses Moscow of backing a 31-month pro-Russian insurgency in Ukraine's industrial east in a conflict that has claimed nearly 10,000 lives.

A Ukrainian military spokesman told the 112.ua Ukraine news site that Kiev was not violating international laws.

"The launches have started. Everything is going according to plan," Volodymyr Kryzhanovskiy was quoted as saying.

He said the war games included air defence units as well military drones and S-300 ground-to-air missile systems.

Kryzhanovskiy added that none of the missiles would land closer than 30 kilometres (19 miles) from Crimea.

Ukrainian media was full of speculation on Wednesday that Russia intended to shoot down the Ukrainian missiles once the tests began.

Ukrainian foreign ministry spokeswoman Mariana Betsa told the Ukrainska Pravda website that Kiev had received several "notes and letters from the Russian foreign and defence ministries" protesting the drills.

Moscow's messages stressed that the "tests supposedly violate the sovereignty of Russia and international law," Betsa was quoted as saying.

The Kremlin did not initially confirm sending warning messages.

But spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Thursday's online edition of the Vedomosti daily that Russia would indeed shoot down the missiles if it felt threatened.

Peskov said the tests could "create dangerous conditions for international flights crossing the territory of Russia and neighbouring regions".

An unnamed source in the Crimean military told Russia's RIA Novosti state news agency that his region's anti-missile systems had been put on a heightened state of alert.

Ukraine's national security council chief warned on Wednesday that such intimidation would not work.

"Threats to use weapons against Ukraine are an effort to turn the hybrid war that Russia has been waging against us for the past three years into an active war," Oleksandr Turchynov said.

The second set of tests are due to last for two hours on Friday.



Ukraine warns Russia of missile tests near Crimea

‎Yesterday, ‎December ‎6, ‎2016, ‏‎5:34:57 AMGo to full article
Kiev (AFP) Nov 30, 2016 - Ukraine ratcheted up tensions with Moscow on Wednesday by warning the Kremlin its army intended to hold two days of missile-launching exercises near the border with Russian-annexed Crimea.

The tests set for Thursday would almost certainly further damage relations between two former Soviet neighbours that treat each other as open foes.

Such exercises near the Crimean peninsula would be a first for Ukraine and it was not immediately clear what sparked their preparation.

Ukraine also failed to say whether the tests would involve specific targets or if the missiles would only be fired into the air.

They come after Moscow last week arrested an alleged spy for the Ukrainian military in Crimea and accused Kiev of abducting two Russian servicemen from the region.

Kiev says Russia illegally annexed the Black Sea peninsula in March 2014 following the preceding month's ouster of Ukraine's Russian-backed president.

It also accuses Moscow of backing a 31-month pro-Russian insurgency in Ukraine's industrial east in a conflict that has claimed nearly 10,000 lives.

Russia calls its takeover of Crimea legal and denies either plotting or backing Ukraine's bloodiest conflict since World War II.

Ukraine's Deputy Defence Minister Oleksandr Dublyan said the missile test launches would begin on Thursday in conformity with international law.

"We are not violating a single international norm," the Dzerkalo Tyzhnya news website quoted Dublyan as saying.

Kiev and the overwhelming majority of the international community consider Crimea -- a mostly Russian-speaking resort region of around two million people -- to be part of Ukraine.

Moscow-based RIA Novosti state news agency earlier quoted Russia's civil aviation authority as saying that Ukraine's missiles would even approach the Crimean capital of Simferopol.

Kiev's media was full of speculation that Russia intended to shoot down the Ukrainian missiles once the tests begin.

Ukraine's national security council chief warned that such threats would not work.

"Threats to use weapons against Ukraine are an effort to turn the hybrid war that Russia has been waging against us for the past three years into an active war," Oleksandr Turchynov said in a statement released to reporters.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin's official spokesman kept to a more cautious line.

"The Kremlin would not like to see any sorts of actions from Ukraine that contradict international law," Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow.

He added that the tests could "create dangerous conditions for international flights crossing the territory of Russia and neighbouring regions".




EU to boost joint defence spending

‎Yesterday, ‎December ‎6, ‎2016, ‏‎5:34:57 AMGo to full article
Brussels (AFP) Nov 30, 2016 - The EU unveiled ambitious plans Wednesday to boost joint defence spending including on shared assets like drones and helicopters, as concerns grow that President-elect Donald Trump may downgrade the US security commitment.

Trump shocked long-time NATO allies in Europe when he suggested on the campaign trail be would think twice about coming to their aid if they had not paid their defence dues.

That prospect, combined with the Ukraine and migrant crises plus nuclear-armed Britain's shock vote to quit the European Union, have moved security sharply up the bloc's agenda.

"If Europe does not take care of its own security, nobody else will do it for us," European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement as the plans were announced.

"A strong, competitive and innovative defence industrial base is what will give us strategic autonomy," said Juncker, who has long pushed for a more active EU military role and ultimately what he calls a "European Army".

To stand on its own two feet, the EU "must invest in the common development of technologies and equipment of strategic importance -- from land, air, sea and space capabilities to cyber security," he said.

EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini said this was not about the bloc striking out on its own given the doubts raised by a Trump presidency, or about it stepping on NATO's toes.

"We are not talking about a European headquarters here ... about a European army," Mogherini told reporters.

"It is about streamlining what we have to make EU defence work better ... it is not about competition or duplication," she said, adding that all member states were "fully on board" in support of the plans.

Some 22 of the EU's 28 member states also belong to NATO and several of them, led by Britain, oppose any measure which they fear could undermine the US-led alliance.

- Defence 'single market' -

What is known as the European Defence Action Plan targets more efficient defence spending and increased joint research and procurement.

It proposes increasing the current 25 million euros ($27 million) allocated to defence research in the overall EU budget to 90 million euros by 2020, when it should be replaced by a dedicated programme worth 500 million annually.

Another fund, potentially worth five billion euros per year, would help member states acquire military assets jointly to reduce the cost, the statement said, citing as examples drones or helicopters.

EU Commissioner for Jobs and Growth Jyrki Katainen stressed that this five billion euros was not new spending and not EU money -- it would simply be up to member states to band together as and when they wanted to procure new equipment.

The overall programme is meant to strengthen what the statement said was the "Single Market for Defence" -- putting it on a par with the EU's other single markets which aim to break down national barriers, be it in telecoms or energy.

Total annual defence spending by the 28 EU member states comes to nearly 200 billion euros ($215 billion), accounted for largely by Britain on 48 billion euros, France 39 billion euros and Germany 35 billion euros.

The Commission proposals will now be discussed by member states before going up to an EU leaders' summit in December set to be dominated by concerns over what tack Trump will take as president.



Aides of Philippines' Duterte attacked in ambush: military

‎Yesterday, ‎December ‎6, ‎2016, ‏‎5:34:57 AMGo to full article
Manila (AFP) Nov 29, 2016 - Seven military bodyguards of President Rodrigo Duterte and two other soldiers were wounded Tuesday in an ambush by suspected Islamic militants on the eve of his planned visit to the southern Philippines, the military and president said.

Military spokesmen said a bomb hit the soldiers' convoy as it drove on a road in a southern region where an armed group which had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group operated, wounding nine.

"My advance party was ambushed a while ago. The Presidential Security Group was hit by an IED (improvised explosive device)," Duterte said in a speech during a visit to a northern Philippines military camp.

"But I'm going there. The advice was to postpone it (the trip), but I said no. We are taking the same route if possible," Duterte added without explaining the purpose of his trip.

The convoy that was attacked in Marawi city also included local troops as well as staff members of the presidential communications office, though no civilians were hurt, military officials said.

The planned Duterte visit came days after the military began operations against dozens of armed members of the Maute group holed up in an abandoned government building in the mainly Muslim rural town of Butig on Mindanao island.

Butig is about 800 kilometres (500 miles) south of Manila, and an hour-long drive from Marawi.

Fifteen soldiers were injured in the fighting while 35 militants were killed, military spokesman Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla told AFP.

The ambush came a day after the police said the Maute group left a bomb near the US embassy in Manila which authorities later safely exploded.

The Maute gang was also blamed for a bombing in Duterte's home town in the southern city of Davao in September that killed 15 people.

Padilla said it was likely the Maute group was behind Tuesday's ambush.

"We know their supporters are surrounding the area and possibly planted bombs on the side of the roads to disrupt the movement of troop reinforcements," Padilla said.

Muslim groups have waged a decades-long armed independence struggle in the south of the mainly Catholic Philippines that is believed to have claimed more than 120,000 lives.

On Monday, Duterte said IS, which controlled vast swathes of Iraq and Syria, had linked up with the Maute gang, a departure from previous military denials of formal links between IS and local extremist groups.



Stunned tech sector ponders future under Trump

‎Yesterday, ‎December ‎6, ‎2016, ‏‎5:34:57 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Nov 27, 2016 - After disbelief, anger and grief, the US tech sector is looking to come to grips with the presidency of a man described by many of its leading lights as a "disaster" for innovation.

The major US technology companies, almost uniformly opposed to Donald Trump's candidacy, saw huge stock declines in the wake of November 8, but most have now rebounded to near their pre-election levels.

Some observers are saying it makes little difference who is in the White House, and others argue Trump is unlikely to carry out the promises -- and threats -- he made during a bitter campaign.

Trump sent shivers through Silicon Valley during his election bid by pledging to squeeze trade from China, clamp down on immigration which is critical to many tech firms, and even warning that online giant Amazon could have "a huge antitrust problem" if he were elected.

Close to 150 tech icons -- including founders of Apple, Wikipedia and Reddit -- penned an open letter in July warning the Republican nominee would be an "disaster for innovation."

Gene Munster, analyst on the tech sector at Piper Jaffray, said the initial beating in tech shares had created a "rare opportunity to buy the fear."

But in a research note last week Munster argued that "the tech industry is in more control of its own destiny than Donald Trump and will work through these problems."

The analyst said an antitrust probe of Amazon was unlikely, nor does he expect major changes on skilled immigration under Trump.

Any tariffs on electronics or components could potentially impact firms like Apple, but would be spread equally over manufacturers because they all rely on imports, Munster noted.

- 'Smart businesspeople' -

In the meantime, any negative impact could be offset by Trump's pledge to lower taxes on capital repatriated from overseas, which could be a boon for Apple, Google and others and encourage investment in the US, analysts noted.

The tech sector holds the lion's share of an estimated $2.5 trillion held by US firms overseas.

"There could be a lot of money that is repatriated by tech companies," said Bob O'Donnell, analyst and consultant at Technalysis Research in Silicon Valley.

"If they could use it for job creation, that could be interesting."

More broadly, O'Donnell said the tech sector may get "a fresh look at the kinds of services and technologies that people want to invest in" under Trump.

For example, a major push on infrastructure investment "could be a big opportunity" to integrate "smart" technology for services such as transportation.

While tech leaders "did a lot of soul searching" after the election, O'Donnell said that "they are smart businesspeople and they realize they have to work in this new environment."

- A new tack -

Although Trump has said little about his agenda for the sector, O'Donnell noted that "tech is a huge part of the economy and you can't ignore it; but things that might be viewed as special privileges might be taken away."

Some are concerned that a Republican administration may seek to roll back so-called "net neutrality" that prohibits broadband firms from playing favorites, which could mean difficulties for online video operators like Netflix and Amazon.

Many tech leaders have had to take a new tack after an emotional campaign that featured ugly rhetoric on both sides.

Tech leaders clashed with Trump during the campaign on issues ranging from law enforcement surveillance to immigration to gay rights.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook said in a memo to staff that the company's "North Star hasn't changed" and that "the only way to move forward is to move forward together," according to the Wall Street Journal.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg brushed off the vote by telling a tech conference that "most progress... is made by private citizens," and that "it would not be right to say (the election of Trump) changes the fundamental arc of technology or progress over time."

- 'That's us now' -

Others were less diplomatic.

Box founder Aaron Levie tweeted after the election, "You know those times where we watch other countries and are like "oh man you guys are crazy". Shit that's us now."

Tech investor Anil Dash wrote on Twitter: "I am not moving to Canada, not surprised by white supremacists & misogynists, and not afraid of Donald Trump. We have got to get to work."

Charlie O'Donnell at the investment firm Brooklyn Bridge Ventures said it's not time to panic.

"If you felt good about what you were doing at your company yesterday, you should feel good about it today," he said in a blog.

But he also said the election offers a lesson that "we need to start caring about a much wider tent of people than we have been."

Meanwhile Dex Torricke-Barton, a former Facebook and Google executive, quit his job at SpaceX to work for social causes after news of the Trump election.

"As an immigrant and the son of a refugee, and as someone dedicated to advancing the interests of humanity, I don't want to watch while the world slips backwards," Torricke-Barton said on Facebook.

"So I'm choosing to go and make whatever contribution I can -- no matter how small -- toward making the change we need: standing up for openness, compassion and sound global leadership."









Turkey reinstates over 6,000 teachers suspended after coup: ministry

‎Monday, ‎November ‎28, ‎2016, ‏‎5:26:06 AMGo to full article
Ankara (AFP) Nov 25, 2016 - Turkish authorities have reinstated over 6,000 teachers suspended after the July failed coup accused of terror links, the education ministry said on Friday.

"6,007 personnel suspended over links to terrorist organisations have returned to their jobs," the ministry said on its official Twitter account.

Tens of thousands of teachers were suspended or sacked over links to Kurdish militants and coup plotters since July 15 when a rogue faction tried to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from power.

Ankara accuses the US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen and his movement -- which funds many schools across the world -- of masterminding the attempted putsch, but he strongly denies any involvement.

But critics have accused the authorities of using the state of emergency imposed after the coup for a swoop that goes well beyond alleged supporters of Gulen.

Some 11,500 teachers suspected of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) -- which has waged an insurgency since 1984 -- were suspended in September alone.

The move comes amid reports of teacher shortages that existed even before the suspensions began this summer, in particular in the Kurdish-majority southeast where most of the suspensions took place.

Some union chiefs have expressed alarm over the impact on children's education if inexperienced teachers were forced to be called in as replacements.

Huseyin Ozev, president of the Istanbul teachers' union, said in September, there were 40,000 to 50,000 vacancies. But Ankara said in the same month that by October 10, 20,000 new teachers would start their jobs.

Among the teachers suspended over alleged links to Kurdish rebels, Turkish media said some 9,400 were members of leading education union Egitim Sen, which has 120,000 members in total.

The union's chief Kamuran Karaca told AFP in October that none of his members have links to the coup or terrorism and that they support "secular education, peace and democracy".

Meanwhile, more than 100,000 people in total have been arrested, dismissed or sacked as part of the investigation into the coup bid in a widescale crackdown that has caused alarm in Western capitals.

The country has seen a major upsurge in violence in the southeast with almost daily attacks against Turkish security forces since a fragile ceasefire collapsed last year.



Britain's Patten slams Hong Kong independence movement

‎Monday, ‎November ‎28, ‎2016, ‏‎5:26:06 AMGo to full article
Hong Kong (AFP) Nov 25, 2016 - Hong Kong's last British colonial governor Chris Patten attacked the city's pro-independence movement Friday as the push for a split with China grows over fears of Beijing's tightening grip.

Patten said he was fully behind the strengthening of democracy in Hong Kong, but accused independence activists of "making a mockery" of the issue.

His comments came on the same day that two publicly elected young lawmakers, Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching, appealed against a ban against them taking up their seats in the legislature.

They were disqualified in a High Court judgement last week after they added expletives and used derogatory terms for China when taking their oaths of office in October.

The High Court's move had been preempted by an an earlier intervention from Beijing which said they should not be allowed to join parliament.

Patten was governor of Hong Kong when it was handed back to China by Britain in 1997 under a semi-autonomous deal protecting its freedoms for 50 years. There are deep-seated concerns that those liberties are now under threat.

He said that he believed passionately in the city's rule of law and freedoms, but dismissed the pro-independence camp as resorting to headline-grabbing "antics".

"It would be dishonest, dishonourable and reckless for somebody like me to pretend that the case for democracy should be mixed up with an argument about the independence of Hong Kong," he told a packed room at the Foreign Correspondents' Club during a visit to the city.

Patten said independence would never happen and that the movement had diluted support for democracy.

"Taking oaths isn't something of a lark," he added,

"In London, I take an oath with my hand on the bible," Patten said.

- 'Moral high ground' -

Pro-democracy campaigners who led mass rallies calling for fully free leadership elections in 2014 risked losing the moral high ground by championing independence and self-determination, Patten said.

Some of those leaders, including popular figures Joshua Wong and Nathan Law -- Hong Kong's youngest lawmaker -- are now campaigning for self-determination, with independence as an option, after the huge "Umbrella Movement" protests failed to win concessions on political reform.

Patten told AFP that they should instead campaign for "immediate objectives" such as reform of the pro-Beijing committee that currently chooses the city's leader and better democratic representation in the legislature.

"There are lots of people who agreed with them on democracy who won't touch this stuff about self-determination with a barge pole," he told AFP.

However, Patten did criticise the slow pace of democratic development in Hong Kong -- something which has frustrated young campaigners -- and said the city should eventually be able to choose its own leader.

The city's next chief executive will be chosen in March 2017 by an electoral committee of interest groups skewed towards Beijing.

Patten also told the audience during his FCC address that Beijing should leave the Hong Kong courts to decide on the fate of the banned pro-independence legislators.

Responding to Patten's comments, disqualified lawmaker Leung said those elected on a pro-independence ticket could not ignore the calls of voters.

"The discussion of self-determination or even independence is a step...to protect the freedom of our system," he told reporters at the High Court.



Military in Castro's Cuba: political, economic pillar

‎Monday, ‎November ‎28, ‎2016, ‏‎5:26:06 AMGo to full article
Havana (AFP) Nov 26, 2016 - Cuba's Revolutionary Armed Forces, which preceded the bearded rebels Fidel Castro led to power in 1959, have become economic and political pillars that will remain crucial for the government following the ex-leader's death.

During the golden age of Soviet support, the Cuban military was one of the world's most capable: with nearly 300,000 men, it projected Cuban power into Africa, notably Angola where it contended successfully with the formidable South African army.

The implosion of the Soviet bloc at the end of the 1980s and the 1989 execution of Cuba's most celebrated military commander, Arnaldo Ochoa, allegedly for drug trafficking, saw the army prove its resilience.

Led from 1959 to 2008 by Fidel Castro's brother Raul, the FAR retreated from the battlefield and assumed a purely defensive posture, while quietly moving first into the island's political and then economic spheres.

With active duty troops in the tens of thousands, the FAR can also count on a million-member "territorial militia" and 3.5 million members enrolled in the country's "production and defense brigades."

All are organized under a defensive doctrine of "total popular war," which would involve mobilizing the entire country in the event of a US invasion.

- Repairing weapons -

Equipped by the Soviet Union until 1989, the army, navy and air force today make do with weapons considered obsolete but kept going through an extraordinary domestic training, repair and modernization effort.

Even as the military arm has weakened, the armed forces have gained political influence.

As the FAR's boss for nearly half a century, President Raul Castro relied on associates from the military to run the country since he replaced Fidel in July 2006 after the latter fell ill. Raul Castro officially assumed the presidency in February 2008.

Succeeding his brother in April 2011 at the head of the all-powerful Cuban Communist Party, Raul later named six generals to the 15-member Politburo, which also includes retired military officers and veterans of the guerrilla war.

But today, the army's weight is felt most heavily in the economic realm.

After becoming president, Raul named General Julio Casas Regueiro minister of defense, putting him in charge of all the army's commercial enterprises. He died in 2011.

- Economic force -

The army's arrival as a force in the Cuban economy dates to the early 1990s. The collapse of the Soviet bloc plunged Cuba into an unprecedented crisis and the army was used to bring discipline and effectiveness to the economy.

The military is active in many sectors: communications, transportation, industry, mines. Tens of thousands of young military recruits are employed in agriculture.

The sensitive tourism sector -- with its contacts with foreigners and direct access to foreign currency -- is one of the army's favorite domains.

Today the military manages the Cubanacan and Gaviota tourism conglomerates, which include an airline, hotels, restaurants, marinas, stores and car rental agencies.



Russia detains ex-naval officer in Crimea as suspected 'Kiev spy'

‎Monday, ‎November ‎28, ‎2016, ‏‎5:26:06 AMGo to full article
Moscow (AFP) Nov 24, 2016 - Russia's FSB security service said Thursday it had detained a retired officer in its Black Sea naval fleet based in Crimea on suspicion of passing on military secrets to Kiev.

Leonid Parkhomenko was detained Tuesday in the naval port of Sevastopol on the Russian-annexed peninsula.

FSB said the retired second captain had worked in the Black Sea fleet's headquarters and was still a reservist.

Russian television showed FSB-released footage of a handcuffed mustachioed man with greying hair flanked by FSB officers in balaclavas.

He is being questioned as part of an FSB probe into treason and could face up to 20 years in jail.

Parkhomenko "carried out assignments from Ukraine's defence ministry's central intelligence directorate" and "collected and handed over information that is a state secret about the activities of the Black Sea fleet," the security service said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists that "Ukraine's provocative and destructive activity in Ukraine is continuing, including in Crimea."

Russian special forces "are doing what they have got to do," he said.

Kiev's military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told AFP that Russia's action showed "desperation and lack of professionalism."

The FSB announcement came after Ukraine said on Monday it had captured two of its soldiers at its frontier with Crimea.

It said the men were former Ukrainian soldiers who had deserted after the 2014 annexation of Crimea and joined the Russian army. They could face up to 15 years in jail.

Moscow in turn accused Kiev of unlawfully abducting the men from Russian soil.

The FSB earlier this month announced the arrest of a group of suspects whom it accused of planning acts of sabotage in Crimea on the orders of the Ukrainian defence ministry.

Earlier this year, the FSB also claimed it had foiled "terrorist attacks" in Crimea.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has dismissed the accusations of plotting attacks on Crimea as "fantasies" concocted by Moscow.



CORRECTED: ADB chief urges Trump to remain engaged with Asia

‎Monday, ‎November ‎28, ‎2016, ‏‎5:26:06 AMGo to full article
Manila (AFP) Nov 24, 2016 - The head of the Asian Development Bank on Thursday urged Washington to remain engaged with Asia, days after US President-elect Donald Trump vowed to scrap a trans-pacific trade pact.

Takehiko Nakao told reporters the incoming US leader had previously talked about the importance of the "trade relationship".

He added, "it's important for the United States to continue to engage in Asia and that is good for the Asian region as a whole".

The US-led Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP), promoted by outgoing US President Barack Obama as part of his Asia pivot, liberalises inter-regional trade among 12 countries but Trump has charged it will cost the US jobs and hurt American businesses.

The president-elect said earlier this week he would ditch the TPP on his first day in the White House.

But Nakao cited the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) as well as the China-endorsed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as regional trade arrangements that could still prosper even if the TPP fails.

"There is a strong case for certain regional arrangements," he said.

Nakao defended open trade, saying it had helped Asia develop in recent decades.

"We should look at how the world has become a better place for many people from many countries," he added.

Critics have said a US withdrawal would make the TPP meaningless and amount to Washington abdicating its leadership role in the region.



S. Korea, Japan sign intelligence deal despite China criticism

‎Monday, ‎November ‎28, ‎2016, ‏‎5:26:06 AMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Nov 23, 2016 - Japan and South Korea on Wednesday signed an agreement to share defence intelligence about North Korea, despite protests from opposition parties and activists in Seoul and strong criticism from China.

South Korea's defence ministry said the accord was necessary in the face of growing military threats from Pyongyang, which has conducted two nuclear tests and more than 20 missile launches this year.

"It is ready to conduct additional nuclear tests and missile launches at any time," the ministry said in a statement.

"Since we can now utilise Japan's intelligence capability to effectively deal with North Korea's escalating nuclear and missile threats, it will enhance our security interests."

Japan's foreign ministry said in a statement the military agreement would allow the two governments to "share information even more smoothly and swiftly".

But China, already angry at South Korea's planned deployment of a US missile defence system, sharply criticised Seoul and Tokyo for what it termed a "cold war mentality".

The agreement "will aggravate the situation in the Korean peninsula and bring new unsecure and unstable factors to Northeast Asia", said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang at a regular briefing in Beijing.

"While conducting military cooperation, relevant countries should respect the security concerns of regional countries and do more things for peace and development, not the opposite."

China says Seoul's earlier decision to deploy the THAAD missile defence system will increase the risk of military conflict in the region.

Seoul and Tokyo currently use their mutual ally Washington as an intermediary when sharing military intelligence on Pyongyang, under a deal signed in 2014.

The new intelligence-sharing agreement is also controversial in South Korea, where memories of Japan's harsh 1910-45 colonial rule still mar relations with Tokyo.

South Korea and Japan were on the verge of signing an intelligence-sharing deal in June 2012, but Seoul backtracked at the last minute in response to a public outcry.

Noting Tokyo's surveillance assets and geographic location, South Korea's defence ministry said the deal would be a "big help" in better analysing Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes and collecting more intelligence about its submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

North Korea has slammed the military pact, labelling it as "a dangerous act" that would further raise already-high tensions on the Korean peninsula and open a door to Japan's "re-invasion".

The contentious issue comes as South Korean President Park Geun-Hye faces growing calls for her resignation over a widening corruption and influence-peddling scandal that has sparked huge street demonstrations.

The deal has been fiercely opposed by South Korean opposition parties and activists, who point to Seoul's failure to seek public support and historical sensitivities.

South Korea's main opposition party has called the deal "unpatriotic and humiliating" and threatened to impeach Defence Minister Han Min-Koo if the agreement was pushed through.



Philippine fishermen decry Duterte's disputed shoal ban

‎Monday, ‎November ‎28, ‎2016, ‏‎5:26:06 AMGo to full article
Manila (AFP) Nov 23, 2016 - Philippine fishermen on Wednesday criticised President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to ban them from a rich South China Sea fishing ground, part of his efforts to ease tensions over disputed waters controlled by China.

Duterte's aides said he had made a "unilateral" declaration to make the lagoon at Scarborough Shoal a protected marine sanctuary, after raising the issue during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a regional summit in Peru last weekend.

It was not clear whether Xi supported the plan.

The two neighbours both claim the shoal as part of their territory. But China took control of the ring of reefs just 230 kilometres (140 miles) from the main Philippine island of Luzon in 2012 after a standoff with the Philippine navy.

"We fear that declaring it as a marine sanctuary would pave way for another fishing blockade," Fernando Hicap, chairman of fishermen support group Pamalakaya, said in a statement.

"This time it will be our own law and government that will prohibit (Filipino fishermen), not China," he added.

After taking control of the shoal in 2012, China banned Filipino fishermen from operating there. The ban was eased last month after Duterte visited Beijing to mend ties, with the Filipinos allowed to fish outside the lagoon.

A spokesperson for Duterte told AFP on Wednesday his office would soon release an executive order on the new "no-fishing zone" for both Filipinos and Chinese fishermen.

"This would be subject to friendly negotiations so we won't create friction with other claimants," said Ana Marie Banaag, presidential communications assistant secretary.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang on Tuesday had no comment on Duterte's declaration but said Beijing had made "proper arrangements for fishing activities".

However Filipino fishermen told AFP the Duterte plan would hurt their livelihood.

"We are against that because it is inside the lagoon where there is more catch," said Charlito Maniago, village captain in Infanta, one of the main Scarborough Shoal fishing towns on Luzon.

Maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal said Duterte's declaration favoured China since the Philippines could further lose access to the shoal.

"China could just as easily accept the Philippine move and not act in return, because they derive the benefit anyway," Batongbacal said in a statement.

Following a case brought by Duterte's predecessor Benigno Aquino three years ago, a UN-backed international tribunal in July declared the shoal a common fishing ground for surrounding nations.

It also ruled that China's claim to most of the South China Sea was without legal basis, in a resounding legal victory for the Philippines.

But Duterte, 71, pivoted his country's diplomacy away from traditional ally the United States and towards China.

Soon after his ice-breaking trip to Beijing, Chinese vessels stationed at Scarborough allowed Filipino fishermen to fish outside the lagoon.



Dalai Lama has 'no worries' about Trump

‎Monday, ‎November ‎28, ‎2016, ‏‎5:26:06 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Nov 23, 2016 - The Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama said Wednesday he had "no worries" about US President-elect Donald Trump and looked forward to meeting him -- a prospect which would anger Beijing.

The Nobel laureate called the US "a leading nation of free world" at a press conference on a visit to Mongolia, where he met with Buddhist worshippers despite strident demands from Beijing that he be barred from entering the country.

"Sometimes I feel during election, the candidate has more freedom to express," he said in English in response to a question about the US elections.

"Once they [are] elected, having the responsibility, then they have to planning their sort of vision, their works according [to] reality," he added. "So I have no worries."

He said he had plans to visit the US next year and looked forward to meeting Trump -- then giggled.

Beijing views the exiled Buddhist monk as a devious separatist bent on breaking apart China and consistently condemns foreign leaders who meet with him.

Outgoing US President Barack Obama hosted the Dalai Lama at the White House for the fourth time in June, prompting sharp criticism from Beijing.

Mongolia is home to devout Buddhists, whose religion is closely related to the Tibetan tradition, but the country is heavily dependent on trade with China, and Ulan Bator has tried to avoid angering its giant neighbour.

The Mongolian monastery that organised his trip said the visit was purely religious and separate from political affairs.

China hoped that the international community would "see through the anti-China and separatist nature of the Dalai Lama", foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told reporters Wednesday.

"Instead of being in a temple to focus on practising Buddhism, he travels around the world to meet with other foreign leaders in order to try to undermine relations between China and those countries," he said.

The Dalai Lama says he seeks more autonomy for Tibet rather than outright independence.

His last visit to sparsely-populated Mongolia came in 2011, in the midst of a wave of self-immolations by Tibetans in China angry about what they saw as religious repression and growing domination by the country's majority Han ethnic group.



Trump's pledges -- the firm, the changing, the unknown

‎Monday, ‎November ‎28, ‎2016, ‏‎5:26:06 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Nov 23, 2016 - From populist candidate to US president-elect, Donald Trump has stuck to certain campaign pledges, on trade for instance, but has wavered on others including climate and health insurance, while keeping his options open on immigration and foreign policy.

- Consistent: Trade -

Trump, who has blasted international trade agreements as costing American jobs, has said he will announce the United States' withdrawal from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, as soon as he takes office on January 20.

"Instead, we will negotiate fair bilateral trade deals that bring jobs and industry back onto American shores," the Republican tycoon said.

- Consistent: Infrastructure -

It is one of the rare Trump proposals hailed by the International Monetary Fund, the Federal Reserve and opposition Democrats: a $550 billion investment to rebuild infrastructure that could boost economic growth and create thousands of jobs.

The chief strategist for the president-elect's upcoming administration, self-described "economic nationalist" Steve Bannon, argues that with interest rates abnormally low now is the time to launch major work projects, such as highways, bridges, airports and schools.

- Consistent: Abortion, guns -

Trump said after his election that he would name Supreme Court justices opposed to abortion and favorable to the constitutional right to own weapons.

"The judges will be pro-life," he said, and "they're going to be very pro-Second Amendment."

- Shifting: Climate change -

Trump, who in the past vowed to tear up international climate agreements, said in an interview this week he has an "open mind" about supporting global accords

The billionaire had called global warming a "hoax" invented by the Chinese and not scientifically proven.

Trump has in parallel pledged to cancel "job-killing restrictions" on natural-gas and shale-oil production, as well in the coal industry.

- Shifting: Health insurance -

Trump on the campaign trail had promised to "completely repeal" the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature healthcare insurance program.

Since his election, Trump has said he hopes to preserve some of the most popular features of Obamacare.

- Shifting: Clinton emails -

Trump backed away from a campaign threat to prosecute his White House rival Hillary Clinton over her past email practices, saying to do so would be "very divisive for the country."

Candidate Trump had vowed to have the Democrat investigated for using a private email server while she was secretary of state, saying she would face jail if he were elected.

- Shifting: Torture -

Trump said that advice from a Marine general had convinced him to rethink his plan to authorize the torture of detainees to gain information.

The billionaire said he had been "very impressed" when retired general James Mattis, a potential pick for defense secretary, told him that torture was not effective and recommended building a rapport instead.

"Give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers and I'll do better," Mattis told him.

- Shifting: The 'alt-right' -

Trump has disavowed the white nationalist "alt-right" movement that has cheered his election, saying he did not want to "energize" them.

"I condemn them. I disavow, and I condemn," he told the New York Times.

He has pushed back against claims that Steve Bannon, his pick for chief strategist, is affiliated to alt-right or racist movements.

As head of Breitbart News, Bannon described the group last July as "the platform for the alt-right."

- Unclear: Immigration -

A key theme of his campaign, Trump promised to build a wall on the border with Mexico to keep out illegal immigrants. But he has remained low-key about the wall since his election.

The president-elect now says he will deport as many as three million illegal immigrants with criminal records, after previously vowing to deport all of the estimated 11 million undocumented in the country.

He has named an anti-immigration senator, Jeff Sessions, to be attorney general.

Trump plans on his first day in office to order an investigation of visa abuses.

- Unclear: 'Draining the swamp' -

Trump, a harsh critic of Washington elites and the political mainstream who vowed to "drain the swamp" if elected, has vowed to ban administration officials from lobbying their former employers for five years after leaving their jobs.

He has also named prominent lobbyists to his transition team and appointed several Republican stalwarts, such as party chairman Reince Priebus as chief of staff, and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as US ambassador to the United Nations.

- Unclear: Iran -

Like many Republicans, Trump is deeply suspicious of Iran and had promised to scrap the international deal with Tehran aimed at preventing the Islamic republic from developing nuclear weapons.

He has not publicly discussed the subject since his election but he has named as Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo, a hawkish Republican congressman and strident critic of the Iran nuclear deal.

The future CIA head tweeted the day before his nomination: "I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism."

- Unclear: Syria -

Trump has said he has an "opposite view" to others on the Syrian conflict, without delving into details.

He has argued it would be preferable to focus more on fighting the Islamic State group than on ousting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. If the US attacks Assad, he said, "we end up fighting Russia," Damascus's ally.

- Unclear: Russia -

The big question mark hanging over US foreign policy concerns the country's notoriously difficult relations with Moscow.

"It is a great thing that we can get along with not only Russia but that we get along with other countries," Trump told the Times on Tuesday.

The president-elect has praised President Vladimir Putin's leadership and said he looks forward to "a strong and enduring relationship with Russia."

- Unclear: Israel -

Trump said he "would love to be the one who made peace with Israel and the Palestinians." But he has angered Palestinians by saying Jerusalem should be recognized as Israel's capital, an idea contrary to traditional US policy.



Japan PM confident in Trump's diplomacy debut

‎Friday, ‎November ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎6:16:28 AMGo to full article
New York (AFP) Nov 18, 2016 - Japan's prime minister voiced confidence Thursday about Donald Trump as he became the first foreign leader to meet the US president-elect, who was narrowing in on cabinet choices.

Trump, who has been receiving a flurry Republican operatives at his Manhattan skyscraper since his shock victory last week, appeared to be selecting staunch backers but also considering former rivals for top jobs.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met for 90 minutes with the billionaire at Trump Tower to sound him out after a campaign that alarmed many US allies.

"As an outcome of today's discussions, I am convinced Mr Trump is a leader in whom I can have great confidence," Abe told reporters, describing a "very warm atmosphere."

But Abe, a nationalist who has struggled both to perk up Japan's economy and face the rise of China, declined to go into specifics.

Japan is one of Washington's closest allies but Trump alarmed Tokyo policymakers during the campaign by musing about pulling the thousands of US troops from the region and suggesting that officially pacifist Japan may need nuclear weapons.

Trump also vowed during the election to tear up the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed vast trade pact backed by outgoing President Barack Obama and which Abe had made a top priority.

Obama, who has refrained from overt criticism of his successor since the election, was wrapping his final visit to Europe in Berlin -- where some commentators saw him as passing the torch as the world's champion of liberal democracy to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Trump also met Thursday with Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama and hinted that he would offer a prime position to the Republican, one of the earliest supporters of Trump's once longshot campaign who shares the 70-year-old billionaire's antipathy to immigration.

The tycoon in a statement said he was "unbelievably impressed" with Sessions but had not yet made decisions on his cabinet.

- Victory lap for Trump -

MSNBC reported that Trump may also be considering one of his harshest Republican critics, Mitt Romney, as secretary of state. Trump was apparently set to meet with the former Massachusetts governor over the weekend.

"I think Mr Romney would be quite capable of doing a number of things," Sessions told reporters after his talks with Trump.

Romney, who lost to Obama in 2012, had described Trump as vulgar, dishonest and out of line with US values, rebuking the tycoon for proposals such as banning all foreign Muslims from the United States.

Romney would bring a more orthodox Republican worldview to foreign policy. In 2012 Romney described Russia as the top geopolitical threat -- a striking contrast to Trump who has exchanged compliments with President Vladimir Putin.

Earlier reports said Trump may give the job of top diplomat to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, an Indian American woman who would inject rare diversity into his team. Haley headed into Trump Tower on Thursday but did not speak to reporters.

Another name floated for the State Department has been former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, a combative longtime backer of Trump, who would likely face tough Senate scrutiny over his business dealings.

Officials at the State Department and the Pentagon said Thursday that Trump's team had reached out on the transition, easing concerns of critics who note Trump's lack of governing experience.

Trump also met 93-year-old Henry Kissinger, the apostle of realpolitik who guided foreign policy for presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, and with Ron Dermer, Israel's ambassador to the United States.

"Israel has no doubt that President-elect Trump is a true friend of Israel," Dermer said.

- Democrats face internal challenge -

Trump pulled off the biggest upset in modern US political history through support from white working-class voters, defeating Hillary Clinton in a number of states that had given Obama comfortable victories including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

George Gigicos, the campaign's advance team director, told reporters that Trump would head to some such states after next week's Thanksgiving holiday in his first post-election trip outside the New York area and Washington.

"We're working on a victory tour now. It will happen in the next couple of weeks," he told reporters.

Transition officials said Trump would head Friday to his exclusive golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.

The location would offer more seclusion and comes amid complaints by New Yorkers about the congestion in front of Trump Tower on bustling Fifth Avenue.

Trump has drawn the most post-election outrage by tapping anti-establishment firebrand Stephen Bannon, who pushes white identity politics, with House Democrats almost universally urging Trump to cancel his appointment as chief strategist.

But top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi, meeting in Washington with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, said her party stood ready to work with Trump on areas of potential agreement such as improving child care access -- an issue the tycoon embraced during the campaign.

Pelosi, 76, a liberal from San Francisco who as House speaker was the highest-ranking woman in US history, has led House Democrats since 2002 with strong internal support.

But 43-year-old Congressman Tim Ryan from industrial Ohio on Thursday announced he would challenge Pelosi, saying the election showed that Democrats need to change.

"Keeping our leadership team completely unchanged will simply lead to more disappointment in future elections," Ryan said in a statement.




Britain deepens defence ties with France, despite Brexit

‎Friday, ‎November ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎6:16:28 AMGo to full article
Paris (AFP) Nov 17, 2016 - Despite voting to leave the EU, Britain is deepening defence ties with France, agreeing to pool missile development research centres in a step presented Thursday as "historic".

European countries have been slow to pool arms know-how, fearing an erosion of their sovereignty.

The deal announced at a Franco-British defence council in Paris goes much further than the usual arms cooperation programmes, with Franco-British missile manufacturer MBDA setting up four joint centres for research in missile technology -- two on either side of the Channel.

The French defence ministry said the agreement paves the way for "real interdependence in a highly strategic sector and industrial streamlining between the two countries."

"Each country depends on the other for a part of the skill set in these areas," the ministry said.

Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, in a tweet, called the deal, which is expected to lead to cost savings, "an historic step".

His British counterpart Michael Fallon said the deal aimed to "extend the boundaries of traditional interstate co-operation, to the advantage of both countries, including by increasing UK and French military capability and promoting competitiveness in exports."

MBDA is Europe's biggest supplier of tactical missiles and the world's second-largest.

A defence source said the accord could serve as a template for boosting cross-Channel interdependency in other sectors.



Turkey seeks 30,000 new soldiers after post-coup purge: report

‎Friday, ‎November ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎6:16:28 AMGo to full article
Istanbul (AFP) Nov 16, 2016 - Turkey is seeking to recruit more than 30,000 new personnel to fill shortfalls after thousands were kicked out of the army in the wake of the failed July coup, state media reported Wednesday.

Tens of thousands of people have been either detained or sacked in the wake of the July 15 putsch blamed by the government on rogue elements in the army led by Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen.

Around 9,300 army personnel have been arrested, including 118 generals and admirals, while thousands more have been discharged dishonourably or suspended.

But the dismissals came with the army facing challenges on all sides, fighting a conflict to destroy Kurdish militants in the southeast and also waging a cross-border operation inside Syria.

The state-run Anadolu news agency said the armed forces are aiming to recruit 30,159 personnel in order to meet needs in the aftermath of the post-coup dismissals.

This would include 1,322 officers, 3,547 non-commissoned officers, 7,159 trained soldiers, and 11,907 contracted soldiers, according to the news report.

The Turkish authorities have repeatedly insisted that the purge in the army after the coup has not affected its operations, pointing to the launch of the Syria incursion just over a month after the failed putsch.

But analysts have said that the effect on the military has been severe, with a shortage of pilots particularly acute.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in an interview in August that Turkey was in need of military pilots and this is "not something that can be done in a day".

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the US state of Pennsylvania since 1999, has denied that he was linked to the coup in any way.



Britain rules out resettlement of US naval base islands

‎Friday, ‎November ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎6:16:28 AMGo to full article
London (AFP) Nov 16, 2016 - Britain on Wednesday ruled out resettling inhabitants of the British-controlled Chagos Islands in their homeland, promising 40 million pounds (47 million euros, $50 million) for the exiled communities instead.

The announcement marks the latest twist in a dispute following the expulsion of the Indian Ocean islands' residents in 1973 and the establishment of a vital US military base on one of its atolls, Diego Garcia.

The government also said it was renewing the agreement with the United States to host the base, which would have run out this year, until 2036.

"I am today announcing that the government has decided against resettlement of the Chagossian people to the British Indian Ocean Territory on the grounds of feasibility, defence and security interests, and cost to the British taxpayer," junior foreign minister Joyce Anelay told parliament.

"In coming to this decision the government has considered carefully the practicalities of setting up a small remote community on low-lying islands and the challenges that any community would face.

"The government has also considered the interaction of any potential community with the US naval support facility -- a vital part of our defence relationship," Anelay said in a statement.

The funding for exiled Chagossians, who live mainly in Britain, Mauritius and the Seychelles, will be available over a 10-year period and will be used to fund health and social care, education and jobs.

Anelay said the fund would also be used for a "significantly expanded programme" of visits to the Chagos Islands for the former residents.

But supporters of the Chagossians' campaign to return to their islands voiced their disappointment.

Adventurer and television presenter Ben Fogle, patron of the UK Chagos Support Association, said: "It's another heartbreaking day for the Chagossian community, who have repeatedly been betrayed and abused by their own government.

"That even now, with so many reasons to support their return, the government has failed to do the right thing, makes this a dark day in our country's history."

Poet and writer Benjamin Zephaniah, also a patron of the association, added: "Once again, the people of the Chagos Islands are met with injustice".

As its colonial empire collapsed, Britain purchased the Chagos Islands from Mauritius in 1965.

A year later Britain leased the Chagos Islands to the US for 50 years -- until December 2016.

Between 1968 and 1973 around 2,000 Chagos Islanders were uprooted, a process blithely described in a British diplomatic cable of the time as the removal of "some few Tarzans and Man Fridays".

Most were shipped to Mauritius and the Seychelles.

The strategic nature of the remote and isolated Diego Garcia base became increasingly important through the 1970s as the fall of Saigon, the Khmer Rouge takeover of Cambodia and an assertive Soviet navy extended communist influence in the Indian Ocean.

Later, it became a staging ground for the US bombing campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Today, there are estimated to be around 10,000 Chagossians and their descendants.



US troops train in Philippines despite Duterte threat

‎Friday, ‎November ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎6:16:28 AMGo to full article
Manila (AFP) Nov 16, 2016 - Filipino and US troops began training exercises this week, the Philippines military said Wednesday, despite President Rodrigo Duterte's threats to end joint war games and kick American soldiers out of his country as he edges closer to Beijing.

Duterte has called for the withdrawal of American troops from his country and has branded US President Barack Obama a "son of a whore" in response to international criticism of his deadly war on drugs.

He also announced an end to joint war games after an amphibious exercise involving several hundred US and Filipino marines finished last month.

But on Wednesday, military spokesmen told AFP about an ongoing month-long joint training exercise involving around 30-40 Filipino solders and an unspecified number of US Special Forces.

"This is a very small bilateral activity," Filipino military spokesman Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla said, referring to the exercise that kicked off on Monday on the island of Palawan in the west of the archipelago.

Philippine Army spokesman Colonel Benjamin Hao earlier told reporters that the exercise was intended "to test the basic war fighting skills of our soldiers (and) to improve the relationship of both armed forces".

Harry Harris, commander of the US Pacific Command, said in Washington that military cooperation between the US and the Philippines is unchanged for now.

The Philippine military said it was awaiting guidelines from Duterte on whether the joint war games with its key defence ally would continue to be held next year. The country hosts 28 such exercises annually.

Duterte has made no secret of his hostility for the US, calling for US Special Forces to leave the Philippines' troubled Mindanao region where they currently train Philippine soldiers in counter-terrorism.

He has also threatened to scrap a defence pact intended to counter Chinese expansion in the South China Sea as he courts Beijing for aid and investment.

Duterte's war on drugs has seen more than 4,000 people killed, with the United Nations, the European Union and rights groups raising concerns about alleged extrajudicial killings and a breakdown in the rule of law.

Duterte has insisted he is not doing anything illegal, but added he would be "happy to slaughter" three million drug users.



Maverick Macron enters French presidential race

‎Friday, ‎November ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎6:16:28 AMGo to full article
Paris (AFP) Nov 16, 2016 - Political outsider Emmanuel Macron joined the increasingly unpredictable race for France's presidency on Wednesday, vowing to take on "the same men and the same ideas" that dominate national politics.

Macron, a 38-year-old former economy minister, announced as widely expected that he will stand as an independent in next year's vote, backed by his centrist movement "En Marche" ("On the Move").

Never elected and "neither of the left or the right" in his own words, the pro-business and tech-savvy former investment banker is hoping to shake up a race dominated by older, more familiar faces.

"We have entered a new era," Macron declared Wednesday, referring to a crisis for Western democracies as well as the dangers of global warming and growing inequality.

"We can't respond with the same men and the same ideas," he added at a news conference held symbolically at a jobs training centre in a gritty Parisian suburb.

The centre-right Republicans party is tipped to win the two-stage election in April and May.

But some analysts are questioning such assumptions after Donald Trump's stunning upset in the United States.

Macron's entry adds another element of uncertainty, with the Republicans and ruling Socialist parties yet to nominate their candidates less than six months before the voting.

The resurgent far-right National Front under leader Marine Le Pen, who announced her slogan "In the name of the people" on Wednesday, is seeking new momentum after Trump's win.

Dismissing Macron as "a candidate of the banks", she said Wednesday that "there is undeniably a new world emerging and there is an old order that is collapsing in on itself."

Her new campaign headquarters are close to the presidential palace on one of Paris' most expensive streets, leading her to joke about having to travel "only 1.7 kilometres" (a mile) to claim power.

- Empty political system -

Macron, who quit the beleaguered Socialist government in August to focus on his own political movement, is expected to steal centrist voters from the Republicans as well as the left.

A poll Tuesday showed him as one of France's most "presidential" figures behind the election favourite Alain Juppe, a 71-year-old former prime minister with one of the longest CVs in French politics.

Juppe is favoured over ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy and former prime minister Francois Fillon for the Republicans' nomination, but polls are tightening ahead of primary voting this Sunday and next.

Macron has a mere two years' experience in government, serving as a sometimes rebellious economy minister from 2014-2016 and as an economic advisor to his one-time mentor, President Francois Hollande.

"I believe that the French people won't put their destiny in the hands of someone with no experience," Fillon said Wednesday.

But Macron believes youth and inexperience are assets in a country weary of a political class blamed for years of low growth, high unemployment and mounting government debt.

"Our political system is blocked," said the high-flying graduate of elite universities who wrote a thesis on Machiavelli, the famously scheming Italian political theorist.

Macron, who quit Hollande's government in August, threw new barbs at his ex-boss on Wednesday.

"I've seen the emptiness of our political system from the inside," he said.

Macron is left-wing on social issues, pledging to bring jobs to deprived areas and a defender of public services, but also pro-business, notably as a vocal critic of France's strict labour laws.

A maverick in politics as well as in his private life, the accomplished pianist is married to his former schoolteacher, a divorcee with three children who is some 20 years his senior.

- Unpopular president -

President Hollande, who has yet to announce whether he will run in next year's election, is reportedly furious at what he sees as betrayal by his one-time protege.

The president called Tuesday for "cohesion" and "uniting" in the divided Socialist party.

Hollande is one of the most unpopular presidents since World War II after a five-year term marked by multiple terror attacks, stubbornly high unemployment and U-turns on key policies.

He was widely panned, even by his own prime minister, after agreeing to collaborate for a tell-all book published in October in which he criticised ministers, judges and the national football team.





Signs of infighting as Trump weighs key posts

‎Friday, ‎November ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎6:16:28 AMGo to full article
New York (AFP) Nov 16, 2016 - President-elect Donald Trump pressed ahead Tuesday with efforts to build his cabinet with former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani tipped for secretary of state -- but reports said vicious infighting was hobbling the crucial process.

The Republican billionaire drew a barrage of criticism over his pick of chief strategist: the anti-establishment firebrand Steve Bannon, onetime head of the provocative Breitbart website seen by critics as a darling of white supremacists.

Top Trump ally Giuliani, hawkish former UN ambassador John Bolton, retired general Michael Flynn and Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions were all reported to be on the shortlist for a top administration job.

But the high-stakes process of filling more than a dozen cabinet posts has been tumultuous by many accounts. One source cited by CNN described the intense lobbying as a "knife fight."

Vice president-elect and transition leader Mike Pence spent much of the day at Trump Tower -- which has been a hive of activity since last Tuesday's vote -- but his only comment to media as he left was "Great day."

Among other sightings at the Manhattan high-rise was Ted Cruz -- the arch-conservative Texas senator who the real estate mogul attacked relentlessly during the Republican primaries, dubbing him "Lyin' Ted."

Asked whether he wished to be considered for a spot in Trump's administration or would remain in the Senate, he replied: "This election was a mandate for change."

"And I look forward to working hard to help lead the fight to actually accomplish the conservative agenda that Donald Trump and Mike Pence and Republicans across this country campaigned and promised the voters to deliver."

- 'Non-traditional names' -

Jason Miller, a transition communications adviser, told reporters Trump and Pence would be "reviewing a number of names" for cabinet positions, including "non-traditional names."

"People will be excited when they see the type of leaders the president-elect brings into this administration," he said.

But Trump's transition team has faced a string of setbacks as it tackles the daunting task of building an administration with the clout to support the 70-year-old political novice when he takes office in just nine weeks.

The first shake-up came Friday, when Trump reshuffled the team, placing Pence in charge. Then on Tuesday, the transition team's head of national security, Mike Rogers, resigned in what was interpreted as a new sign of disarray.

Further reinforcing the impression of tensions, The New York Times reported Tuesday that Trump had removed from the transition a second top defense and foreign policy official, consultant Matthew Freedman.

According to a US defense official, by mid-afternoon Tuesday the Pentagon transition team still had not been contacted by Trump's transition team.

- Giuliani for State, or Bolton? -

On Sunday, Trump named Reince Priebus, a mainstream Republican operative who backed Trump while chairman of the Republican National Committee, as his White House chief of staff.

Trump's choice of Priebus -- announced at the same time as Bannon -- suggested a leader torn between a promise to shake up Washington and the need to build a cabinet with political experience and connections with Congress.

According to a top Trump aide, Giuliani -- a member of Trump's inner circle -- is a "serious" contender to become the next secretary of state.

The crime-fighting former prosecutor was mayor of New York on 9/11, and his decisive leadership after the World Trade Center's twin towers were toppled in the September 2001 attacks made him a national hero.

But CNN reported that Team Trump was looking into whether the 72-year-old's business ties -- including work as a lobbyist for a Venezuelan oil firm -- could complicate his confirmation in the role.

Bolton, a neo-conservative hawk and former undersecretary of state, also was reported to be in the running for the top diplomatic post.

He was a controversial choice for UN envoy in 2005, having once said if the UN headquarters lost 10 floors, "it wouldn't make a bit of difference."

"John would be a very good choice," Giuliani said Monday at a forum sponsored by The Wall Street Journal.

Asked if there were anybody better, Giuliani quipped: "Maybe me, I don't know."

Giuliani outlined his foreign policy vision at the forum, putting the fight against the Islamic State group atop his agenda, and arguing that Russia was not a military threat to America.

His comments chime well with Trump's promise to improve ties with Moscow -- and his call for the United States to place less emphasis on ousting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose main backer is Russia, and more on fighting IS.

In an interview aired Tuesday, Assad said that Trump would be a "natural ally" if he fulfills his pledge to fight "terrorists."





NATO chief 'certain' Trump will meet US commitments

‎Friday, ‎November ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎6:16:28 AMGo to full article
Brussels (AFP) Nov 15, 2016 - NATO head Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday said he was sure Donald Trump would live up to all US commitments to the alliance, just days after urging the president-elect not to go it alone.

"President-elect Donald Trump stated during the election campaign that he is a big fan of NATO," Stoltenberg said in Brussels as he arrived for talks with EU defence ministers.

"And I am certain that he will be a president... who will live up to all the commitments of the United States in the alliance, because a strong NATO is important for Europe but it's also important for the United States."

Trump's upset election badly rattled nerves in Europe after he appeared to call into question Washington's near 70-year security guarantee by saying he would only help NATO allies if they paid their way.

He also appeared to be much more friendly towards Russia, praising President Vladimir Putin as a strong leader in marked contrast to a weak Barack Obama in Washington.

Asked about a telephone call between Trump and Putin on Monday in which the Kremlin said they agreed to improve relations, Stoltenberg denied this was cause for concern.

"First of of all, I think it is a very normal thing that president-elect Donald Trump speaks to world leaders, including of course the leader of Russia," he said.

"The message from NATO has been that we want dialogue with Russia ... Especially when tensions are high, especially when we face many different challenges, it is important."

Stoltenberg's upbeat tone came despite his stark warning in Britain's Observer newspaper on Sunday, in which he wrote that "going it alone is not an option... this is no time to question the partnership between Europe and the United States."

But the NATO chief noted Tuesday that the two sides were on the same page, saying Trump's call for the allies to increase defence spending was exactly what they were already doing.

"I absolutely agree with him; that has been the message from US leaders for many years," Stoltenberg said.

"The good thing is that we now see that Europeans are actually investing more in defence... therefore contributing to better burden sharing," he said.

Washington accounts for nearly 70 percent of NATO defence spending and has long urged its European allies to do more, stepping up the pressure after Russia's intervention in Ukraine.

The Ukraine crisis shook NATO out of years of complacency and defence cuts, with leaders agreeing to its biggest military build-up since the end of the Cold War based on a commitment to devote two percent of national output to defence.

The European Union -- of whose 28 members 22 also belong to NATO -- is also boosting military cooperation and on Monday approved a defence roadmap to boost the bloc's capabilities.

On Monday, US President Barack Obama said he was sure Trump would stand by US security commitments and that he would tell Europe there would be "no weakening" of the relationship.



US-Philippines military cooperation intact: official

‎Friday, ‎November ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎6:16:28 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Nov 15, 2016 - Military cooperation between the US and the Philippines is unchanged for now despite inflammatory statements from the Filipino president directed at US President Barack Obama, a top American commander said Tuesday.

Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte has voiced willingness to request the withdrawal of American troops from his country and has called the US president a "son of a bitch."

"Despite what he has said, there has been no change in anything with the Philippines," said Harry Harris, commander of the US Pacific Command, during an event in Washington.

Harris was slated to participate Tuesday in high-level meetings between the two countries to schedule joint military exercises for 2017 and after.

"I am optimistic," he said of the meetings, adding that thus far the exercises program has been on track.

Harris said there could be "a refocusing or a rescoping of some of the bigger exercises in 2017."

Until Duterte came to power in June, Manila was one of the United States' closest allies in Asia, and it was viewed as a vital link in the political "pivot" or "rebalancing" of US policy toward the Asia-Pacific region under Obama.

The Philippines had agreed to allow the United States to use five of its bases, and Harris said "that has not changed so far and I have no reason to believe it will change."

"We haven't been asked to remove US forces," he said, notably those operating against Muslim separatists in the southern island of Mindanao.

He also said the Philippines had not asked Washington to stop keeping surveillance planes at Clark Air Base on Luzon Island.

Late last month Duterte had announced his country's "separation" from the United States and called for an end within two years to the presence of "foreign military troops" -- a clear reference to American forces.

Duterte later struck a more conciliatory tone, saying there would be no "severance of ties" with Washington. He added that Manila would simply pursue a more independent line in foreign affairs while improving its ties with Beijing.



Chinese media praise Trump's 'experience and ideology'

‎Friday, ‎November ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎6:16:28 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Nov 15, 2016 - Chinese state-run media lauded Donald Trump Tuesday after a phone call between him and President Xi Jinping, saying that the president-elect's emergence could mark a "reshaping" of Sino-American relations.

The pair spoke Monday, when Xi said that the two powers needed to co-operate and Trump's office said the leaders "established a clear sense of mutual respect for one another".

On the campaign trail Trump frequently demonised Beijing, but questions have been asked whether his conduct in the White House will match his promises as a candidate.

Monday's conversation was "diplomatically impeccable and has bolstered optimism over bilateral relations in the next four years", China's frequently nationalistic Global Times newspaper said in an editorial.

Barack Obama, whose foreign policy pivot to Asia alarmed Beijing, was "profoundly affected" by the Cold War-shaped outlook of American elites, the paper said, but Trump's views "have not been kidnapped by Washington's political elites".

"Trump is probably the very American leader who will make strides in reshaping major-power relations in a pragmatic manner," it added, saying his ideology and experience "match well with the new era".

It was a sharp contrast to the same newspaper's editorial the day before, which baldly warned the incoming president not to follow through on campaign-trail promises to levy steep tariffs on Chinese-made goods or Beijing would take a "tit-for-tat approach" and target US autos, aircraft, soybeans, and iPhones.

But the president-elect's ambiguous and sometimes contradictory views on key questions on the relationship between the world's two largest economies, including trade, the South China Sea and North Korea, have cast a pall of uncertainty over how he will manage it.

While campaigning, Trump went as far as calling the Asian giant America's "enemy", accused it of artificially lowering its currency to boost exports, threatened to impose tariffs of 45 percent, and pledged to stand up to a country he says views the US as a pushover.

But he also indicated he is not interested in getting involved in far-off squabbles, and decried the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade deal, which encompasses several other Asian countries and has been seen as an effort to bolster US influence, for costing American jobs.

TPP has been signed by the US but not ratified by the Senate, where its chances are seen as poor.

Tuesday's editorial in the government-published China Daily newspaper called the Xi-Trump chat "propitious", noting that Beijing is "understandably relieved that the exclusive, economically inefficient, politically antagonising TPP is looking ever less likely to materialise".

Instead, Washington should consider joining the China-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade area encompassing the Southeast Asian grouping ASEAN, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Something of a mirror image to the TPP, it includes six of the putative Washington-led grouping's 12 members.



EU ministers seek 'strong partnership' with Trump

‎Monday, ‎November ‎14, ‎2016, ‏‎3:42:35 AMGo to full article
Brussels (AFP) Nov 13, 2016 - European Union foreign ministers insisted on Sunday they expected good relations with Donald Trump, after a crisis meeting that Britain, France and Hungary snubbed in a move that exposed rifts over the US president-elect.

The ministers said they wanted more details about Republican Trump's plans following his shock election win, which has sparked anxiety in Europe due to his campaign-trail rhetoric questioning US commitment to the continent.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini called the special dinner on the eve of a scheduled meeting of the ministers, but some capitals criticsed the decision to have an emergency meeting on a democratic election result in a key ally.

"We are looking forward to a very strong partnership with the next administration, we've decided together to engage with the incoming administration even from this very first week of transition," Mogherini told reporters afterwards.

"It's not up to us... it's up to the next US administration to define to define their own position," she said following the two-and-a-half hour meeting.

"For the moment it's not a wait and see attitude we can afford having, because the world goes on, Europe goes on, crisis goes on, but also opportunities we can take go on," she said.

- 'Frustrated and hysterical' -

Mogherini also hit out at British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson's decision to sit out the meeting, linking it to Britain's referendum vote in June to leave the 28-nation EU, which has left London needing US support for new trade deals.

"I guess it's only normal for a country that has decided to leave not to be so interested in our discussion on the future of our relations," she said.

Britain's Foreign Office said Saturday, explaining Johnson's absence, that "we do not see the need for an additional meeting on Sunday because the US election timetable is long established.

"An act of democracy has taken place, there is a transition period and we will work with the current and future administrations to ensure the best outcomes for Britain."

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, another no-show, said on Friday that the meeting was "completely premature" and hit out at "frustrated and hysterical statements have been made in Europe" on the theme.

"Until we don't know who will be in charge of the direction of US diplomacy, until the White House officially makes public its economic and foreign policy priorities, this is a complete waste of time, I don't know what we have to talk about."

In Paris, the French foreign ministry said Ayrault was unable to attend the dinner as he had a "very important meeting" early Monday with incoming UN chief Antonio Guterres.

The three were replaced at the dinner table by their respective EU ambassadors.

- 'Going it alone not an option' -

Meanwhile NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned bluntly of the dangers of American isolationism.

In an article in Britain's Observer newspaper on Sunday, Stoltenberg warned: "This is no time to question the partnership between Europe and the United States.

"Going it alone is not an option."

Trump's apparent coolness on Europe has caused nervousness throughout a bloc grappling with an migration crisis, a stalled economy and a resurgent Russia on its eastern border.

But his win is also being seen by some in the EU as a chance to push ahead with projects of its own in a bid to build unity after the shock of Brexit.

On Monday the foreign ministers will discuss plans to boost defence cooperation -- a move that Britain had long blocked -- including a controversial proposal for a European military headquarters.

"Let's stop talking about disarray (after the Trump victory). Isn't this a chance for Europe to pull itself together?" Ayrault told the French radio station Europe 1.

Britain has traditionally led opposition to stronger European defence initiatives, arguing that these could weaken US commitment to NATO. Washington shoulders two-thirds of the 28-nation alliance's military spending.

But commentators say Britain is now on particularly tricky ground as it plans to leave the EU yet also needs Trump's backing for special trade status after Brexit.






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The History of the House of Rothschild

by Andrew Hitchcock



  • Hitchcock also wrote a history for the bankers:



  • One of our listeners added images and photos and turned this Rothschild document

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The Rothschilds have been in control of the world for a very long time, their tentacles reaching into many aspects of our daily lives, as is documented in the following timeline.  However, before you jump to the timeline, please read this invaluable introduction which will tell you who the Rothschilds are as oppose to who they claim to be.

The Rothschilds claim that they are Jewish, when in fact they are Khazars.  They are from a country called Khazaria, which occupied the land locked between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea which is now predominantly occupied by Georgia.  The reason the Rothschilds claim to be Jewish is that the Khazars under the instruction of the King, converted to the Jewish faith in 740 A.D., but of course that did not include converting their Asiatic Mongolian genes to the genes of the Jewish people.

You will find that approximately 90% of people in the world today who call themselves Jews are actually Khazars, or as they like to be known, Ashkenazi Jews.  These people knowingly lie to the world with their claims that the land of Israel is theirs by birthright, when in actual fact their real homeland is over 800 miles away in Georgia.

So, next time you hear an Israeli Prime Minister bleating about the so-called persecution of the Jews, consider this, every Prime Minister of Israel has been an Ashkenazi Jew.  Therefore when all these Prime Ministers have curried favour with the West for their re-establishment of a Jewish homeland, they have knowingly and deliberately lied to you, as they were never from that region, and they well know it, because it is they who call themselves Ashkenazi Jews.

The Book of Revelation, Chapter 2, Verse 9, states the following which would appear to be about these Ashkenazi Jews:

"I know thy works, and tribulation and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan."
The most wealthy bloodline in the world bar none and the leader of the Ashkenazi Jews in the world today is the Rothschild family.  As you will see in the timeline, the Rothschilds have obtained this position through lies, manipulation and murder.  Their bloodline also extends into the Royal Families of Europe, and the following family names:  Astor; Bundy; Collins; duPont; Freeman; Kennedy; Morgan; Oppenheimer; Rockefeller; Sassoon; Schiff; Taft; and Van Duyn.

However, these are not the only bloodlines to worry about.  You are probably aware of the centuries old pratice undertaken by many Ashkenazi Jews whereby they would change their name, in order for them to appear part of the dominant race of the country in which they lived, so as they could obtain influential positions in that country, which they would then exploit to serve their real masters elsewhere.  There is plenty of evidence to prove the Rothschilds continue that deceptive tradition.

Furthermore the Rothschilds are known to sire many children secretly that they can put into positions of power when required.  This started with the very first man who took the name Rothschild, who had a secret sixth son.  Finally, remember the world is a diverse place, I could if I wanted change my name to Rothschild, or any of the names listed above, and that would not make me part of this family anymore than converting to Judaism in 740 A.D. will make these Ashkenazis Jewish.

Please, therefore, do not automatically assume someone you see with the name Rothschild or any of the names listed above are part of the Rothschild criminal network.  Furthermore and most importantly, the majority of Ashkenazi Jews are innocent and not part of this network.  Check the facts out for yourself first, this article is designed to inform people who the enemy is, not single out people of a particular race or people with a particular surname, who may have nothing to do with this Rothschild criminal network.

1743: Mayer Amschel Bauer, an Ashkenazi Jew, is born in Frankfurt, Germany, the son of Moses Amschel Bauer, a money lender and the proprietor of a counting house.


Moses Amschel Bauer places a red sign above the entrance door to his counting house. This sign is a red hexagram (which geometrically and numerically translates into the number 666) which under Rothschild instruction will end up on the Israeli flag some two centuries later.


1753: Gutle Schnaper, an Ashkenazi Jew (future wife of Mayer Amschel Bauer), born to respected merchant, Wolf Salomon Schnaper.

1760: During this decade Mayer Amschel Bauer works for a bank owned by the Oppenheimers' in Hanover, Germany.  He is highly successful and becomes a junior partner. Whilst working at the bank he becomes acquainted with General von Estorff.

Following his father's death, Bauer returns to Frankfurt to take over his father's business. Bauer recognises the significance of the red hexagram and changes his name from Bauer to Rothschild, after the red hexagram or sign signifying 666 hanging over the entrance door ("Rot," is German for, "Red," "Schild," is German for, "Sign").


Now Mayer Amschel Rothschild, he discovers that General von Estorff is now attached to the court of Prince William IX of Hesse-Hanau, one of the richest royal houses in Europe, which gained its' wealth by the hiring out of Hessian soldiers to foreign countries for vast profits (a practice that continues today in the form of exporting, "peacekeeping," troops throughout the world).
















See Europe

 The State Of Dis-Union Pics




The European Union (flag pictured) is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for "the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe".

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South Sudan must sustain efforts to protect human rights, says UN official

Conflict in Darfur
Date 2003–2009 /2010


Location Darfur, Sudan
Sudan JEM factions
Bandera Darfur.svg SLM (Minnawi faction)
Sudan LJM
Allegedly supported by:
Sudan Janjaweed
Sudan Sudanese Armed Forces
Sudan Sudanese Police
Foreign Mercenaries
African Union
United Nations
Commanders and leaders
Sudan Khalil Ibrahim
Sudan Ahmed Diraige
Bandera Darfur.svg Minni Minnawi
Sudan Abdul Wahid al Nur
Sudan Omar al-Bashir
Sudan Musa Hilal
Sudan Hamid Dawai
Sudan Ali Kushayb
Sudan Ahmed Haroun
Rodolphe Adada
United Nations
Martin Luther Agwai
NRF/JEM: Unknown N/A 9,065
Casualties and losses
  • 178,258-461,520 excess deaths
  • 2,850,000 Displaced (UN estimate)
  • 450,000 Displaced (Sudanese estimate)
unknown 51 peacekeepers killed

















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