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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.


[READ THE FULL INTRODUCTION]

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behold a Black Horse

 Behold a Black

Horse

 

 

Price R 249.00 

 

 

 

Behold a Black Horse:

 Economic Upheaval and Famine

DVD

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

 DVD:

•2 MP3 files

•1 PDF Notes file

 

 

 
 

http://www.spacewar.com/Superpowers.xml

Trump govt faces rising risk of international conflict: study

 
‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎4:04:43 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Jan 9, 2017 - The incoming Donald Trump administration faces a world of greater risk of conflict, slower growth and more anti-democratic pressures than ever since the Cold War, a new US intelligence report released Monday said.

US leadership is ebbing amid shifts in economic, political and technological power, deep changes in the global landscape "that portend a dark and difficult near future," according to the National Intelligence Council's "Global Trends: Paradox of Progress" report.

"The next five years will see rising tensions within and between countries," said the report.

"For better or worse, the emerging global landscape is drawing to a close an era of American dominance following the Cold War."

The National Intelligence Council, a research group under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, issues its global assessment every four years, and the new one came 11 days before Trump is inaugurated as president.

It painted a gloomy picture of the challenges pulling at the post-World War II global order, including extreme income disparities, technological dislocation, demographic shifts, the impacts of global warming, and intensifying communal conflicts.

Moreover, Western democracies will find it harder and harder to stick to their principles and avoid being pulled apart from each other.

"It will be much harder to cooperate internationally and govern in ways publics expect," it said.

More countries will be able to "veto" cooperative efforts and the myriad channels of global communication will leave large numbers and groups of people misinformed and divided.

"Information 'echo chambers' will reinforce countless competing realities."

The report, whose authors comprise analysts from the intelligence and academic communities, also says that the liberalism that defined the West and allies after World War II is under threat from populism on both the right and left, as governing countries and societies gets harder.

"Publics will demand governments deliver security and prosperity, but flat revenues, distrust, polarization and a growing list of emerging issues will hamper government performance."

Those trends underscore the need for Washington to shore up traditional Western alliances and friendships as Russian and China test their resolve to preserve their influence.

Yet, the report said, US leaders not to be tempted to try to resuscitate the kind of Pax Americana that steered the global order from the 1950s.

"It will be tempting to impose order on this apparent chaos, but that ultimately would be too costly in the short run and would fail in the long run," eroding US political strength.

The report was released three days after a US intelligence community report said Moscow undertook an unprecedented effort to interfere in the US presidential election and support Trump that was directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump has criticized the intelligence community and has yet to publicly say if he accepts that conclusion.

 

 

NATO's new $1.2-bn base held up by IT glitches

 
‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎4:04:43 AMGo to full article
Brussels (AFP) Jan 9, 2017 - Completion of NATO's new $1.2-billion headquarters in Brussels, expected to open this year, has been held up by problems with its IT and communications systems, Belgium said on Monday.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has said he hopes the building will be ready for a summit in 2017, the first for incoming US president Donald Trump, who has expressed reservations over the alliance's role.

Security, especially after allegations of Russian cyber attacks and hacking during the US presidential campaign, is a top priority for the US-led NATO alliance, with its glass and steel HQ near Brussels airport meant to be state of the art.

Asked about reports of hold-ups, a Belgian defence ministry spokeswoman told AFP there "was a bit of a delay (due to problems linked) to information and communication technologies."

The spokeswoman said that while Belgium, as host country, was responsible for overall construction of the building, the information systems had been contracted out separately by NATO.

Asked how long the delay may be, she said she could not say if the work would be completed in the first half of the year, as had been expected, and added that the Belgian government would shortly contact NATO to discuss the problem.

Separately, a NATO official insisted work was in its "final phase", with the building's construction and installation of equipment expected to be largely completed during the coming weeks.

The original plan was for NATO to move into the new HQ this year, "and this plan stands," the official said.

Stoltenberg and other NATO officials have repeatedly warned of the dangers posed by cyber warfare to modern societies dependent on computer and communications networks.

 

 

NATO and Russia in game of cat and mouse in Baltic skies

 
‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎4:04:43 AMGo to full article
Siauliai, Lithuania (AFP) Jan 6, 2017 - French jets have been engaged in a game of cat and mouse with Russian fighters in the skies above the Baltic states, as NATO keeps a close eye on Russia's ambitions.

Four French Mirage jets this week completed a four-month tour of duty in Lithuania -- and their crews were busy, engaging with Russian planes on 23 occasions.

"We use the term 'intercept' but it is better to say 'identify' and 'observe'," Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Diakite told AFP at the base in the freezing surroundings of Siauliai in northern Lithuania.

"The Russians take care to remain in international airspace, flying along the Baltic area without going into it. They have a right to be there, but so do we," he said.

"So we take off to have a look, identify the plane and photograph it, to show we're there."

Russian planes have been flying close to NATO's northern border for several years now, and the number of flights increased after the Ukrainian crisis started in 2014.

"It's a little game, a demonstration of strength to show that they are back after their fleet underwent large-scale modernisation," said General Olivier Taprest, commander of France's aerial defence, who took part in a ceremony in Siauliai to mark the end of the deployment.

NATO radars regularly pick up Russian Sukhoi fighter-bombers, Antonov transport planes and strategic long-range Tupolev bombers crossing the so-called Omega Line, NATO's self-imposed line that runs from the north of Norway. Crossing it triggers alerts at NATO bases and planes are scrambled.

Tupolev bombers were spotted three times in the final months of 2016, flying over the Baltic states and to the west of the British Isles.

A year earlier, in November 2015, Tupolevs were even recorded flying around Ireland and across the Mediterranean to drop bombs in Syria before heading back to Russia through Iranian airspace.

It was done, the French officers said, merely as a show of force to the Americans.

"It was completely useless from a tactical point of view, but it sent a message: if you calculate the distance flown, it shows you could reach New York," General Taprest said.

- Guard dogs -

NATO's jets are rather like guard dogs kept behind a fence, without ever actually biting or even barking -- their presence is to show Moscow that the transatlantic alliance will defend its members' skies and approaching the limits of that will provoke a reaction.

The procedure is strictly ordered.

The two "intercept" jets first fly to within a kilometre (half a mile) behind the "bogey", as an unidentified plane is called. Then one of them moves next to the wing of the target at a distance of between 300 metres (yards) and 50 metres.

The aim, clearly, is to let the pilot know he is being watched.

"If it's night-time, we shine a light into their cockpit," one of the French pilots, who wanted to be identified only by his nickname "Rom's", told AFP.

"Sometimes they respond with their decoy flare, sometimes they don't. Then we switch to autopilot to allow us to take photographs which are then sent to the military command."

If the Russian plane does not deviate from its course and remains in international airspace, no further action is taken.

However, if the plane intrudes into NATO airspace, the response ratchets up in several steps, starting with the firing of a decoy flare until actual warning shots are fired. The final response would be launching a missile to down the plane.

"We can try to contact the Russian pilot over the radio on the aeronautical emergency frequency. Sometimes they reply," Rom's said.

When pilots fly side-by-side at a distance of 50 metres, they can see each other up close and can even signal to one another.

"But most of the time they don't look at us. They have their path to follow and they don't deviate from it," he added.

 

 

Hundreds protest as Sri Lanka launches Chinese industrial zone

 
‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎4:04:43 AMGo to full article
Colombo (AFP) Jan 7, 2017 - Sri Lanka police fired teargas to disperse hundreds of people protesting the launch Saturday of a special industrial zone in the island's south that hopes to attract billions of dollars in Chinese investment.

Protesters pelted government supporters with stones and police retaliated with teargas and water cannon at the launch, which was also attended by the prime minister and the Chinese ambassador, a police official told AFP.

Authorities said about 25 people were hurt in the skirmishes, including 12 police.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and ambassador Yi Xianliang said the zone in Hambantota, 240 kilometres (150 miles) south of Colombo, will generate thousands of jobs and bring in about $5 billion in Chinese investment.

But residents are afraid they will loose their land to the project, which is situated adjacent to a loss-making $1.4 billion harbour that Colombo hopes to turn into a joint venture with a Chinese company.

The port has already proved controversial in itself with hundreds of temporary dock workers going on strike in December demanding that they be absorbed into the main port-owning company ahead of any sale to the Chinese.

The government denies residents will lose any land to the new industrial zone, saying 95 percent of the area allocated for the project is state-owned and the remainder will be bought from private owners. They say there will be no forced acquisitions.

"In the next two to five years, if everything is OK, there will be about $5 billion of (Chinese) investments in this zone," ambassador Yi said at the launch, adding that 100,000 jobs could be created.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said creating the special area for Chinese investors was aimed at making the debt-burdened Hambantota port viable.

"The Hambantota port was going to sink us (Sri Lanka), but we are now trying to leverage it to create new economic activity and boost growth," Wickremesinghe said.

The government, which came to power in 2015, has been trying to renegotiate the terms of its $8-billion Chinese debt, which includes the construction costs of the Hambantota port as well as a nearby international airport which is used by only one airline.

The former administration relied heavily on China to build ports, highways and railways as Western nations shunned it over its dismal human rights record.

 

 

Russian Marines in smashing Philippine charm offensive

 
‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎4:04:43 AMGo to full article
Manila (AFP) Jan 5, 2017 - Russian Marines shattered glass bottles with their heads and smashed burning wooden planks against each other Thursday as part of an eye-catching charm offensive in the Philippines, a traditional US ally.

The camouflage-clad Marines showed off their pistol-shooting, knife-fighting and martial arts skills to the Filipino public in Manila's central park as part of a "goodwill visit" spearheaded by two warships following Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's announced pivot away from the United States.

As bewildered passers-by watched, the Russians smashed boards with their fists, had cinder blocks crushed on their stomachs and endured beatings from flaming planks.

The show culminated with them smashing glass bottles on their heads without any visible effect.

After the display, eager Filipinos rushed to take "selfies" with the beret-wearing Russians.

"The performances were great, the stunts were quite impressive," gushed student Antonio Chua.

Filipinos were also allowed to attend an open house on the submarine-hunter Admiral Tributs, one of the two ships making what was only the Russian Navy's third-ever port call in the Philippines.

Duterte, who calls himself a socialist, has championed a move away from the United States and towards US rivals Russia and China following American criticism of his bloody war on crime that has claimed thousands of lives.

"America has lost," Duterte said on a visit to China in October last year.

"I've realigned myself in your (Chinese) ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to (President Vladimir) Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world: China, Philippines and Russia. It's the only way."

Russia's ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev said Thursday he expected a planned visit by Duterte to Russia in April or May to be "a milestone".

"It will be a very successful visit that will give a powerful impetus (to our) cooperation in different fields," Khovaev told reporters at the Marines' display.

 

 

Indonesia backs down in Australia military row

 
‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎4:04:43 AMGo to full article
Jakarta (AFP) Jan 5, 2017 - Indonesia appeared to back down Thursday from a decision to suspend all military cooperation with Australia in a row over teaching materials, with a senior minister saying only language training had been put on hold.

The Indonesian military said Wednesday that military cooperation with Canberra, including joint exercises and exchange programmes, had been put on ice last month after teaching materials deemed offensive to Jakarta were found at an Australian army base.

The row erupted after a visiting Indonesian officer raised concerns about the materials at a language training facility in Perth.

Indonesia's military chief General Gatot Nurmantyo told reporters it involved "unethical stuff" which "discredits Indonesia and its military, even the nation's ideology".

He said it concerned East Timor -- which seceded from Indonesia after a bloody occupation -- the Papuan region's independence movement and the nation's founding philosophy "Pancasila", all deeply sensitive topics for the Indonesian military.

But following the military's announcement, leaders of both Australia and Indonesia publicly insisted ties were strong before Indonesian Security Minister Wiranto announced Thursday he was giving a "clarification" after receiving information from Nurmantyo.

The military "has temporarily suspended cooperation in language training," said the minister in a statement, adding it was due to "a small incident that has offended our dignity as a nation".

But he said Indonesia was not "completely stopping all cooperation", contradicting the earlier military statement. Indonesian and Australian forces cooperate on a range of issues from border protection to counter-terrorism.

"The suspension is temporary and will be resumed after Australia clearly takes measures to resolve the matter," he added.

- 'Relationship strong' -

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation also broadcast footage Thursday of Nurmantyo giving a lecture in November, voicing fears Canberra was trying to recruit soldiers sent to Australia for training.

"Every time there is a training programme -- like recently -- the best five or 10 students would be sent to Australia. That happened before I was chief so I let that happen," he said in translated remarks, according to the broadcaster.

"Once I became chief commander of the national forces, it (the students being sent) did not happen again. They will certainly be recruited."

Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne denied Canberra had targeted Indonesian soldiers to be potential agents.

She added that an investigation into the teaching materials that sparked the spat was almost complete and the government took the concerns seriously.

Despite the row, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said relations with Canberra remained robust.

"I think the relationship between Indonesia and Australia is in good condition, but perhaps on the operational level it still needs to be discussed so things will not heat up," he said.

But he added the dispute about teaching materials was "a matter of principle" that needed to be cleared up.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull later said that Widodo "and I share a firm commitment to continue to build on the close relationship between our countries, based on common interests and mutual respect.

"I look forward to this matter being resolved as soon as possible."

It is the latest tiff between the key allies and neighbours, whose relationship has been beset in recent years by disputes over Jakarta's execution of Australian drug smugglers and Canberra's hardline policy of turning migrant boats back to Indonesia.

Tensions also emerged over the role of notorious Indonesian unit Kopassus' part in human rights abuses in East Timor in 1999 as the then-Indonesian territory geared up for independence.

burs-sr/amu

 

 

Obama urges military to make Trump transition smooth

 
‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎4:04:43 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Jan 4, 2017 - President Barack Obama on Wednesday huddled with top military commanders, urging a smooth transition of power and praising their respect for civilian rule.

"We have to make sure that during this transition period that there is a seamless passing of the baton," Obama said in remarks before a closed-door meeting with his Joint Chiefs of Staff and regional combatant commanders.

Obama will leave the White House on January 20, when Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.

Trump's mercurial personality and meteoric rise to become the world's most powerful man has led to a slew of questions about how he will wield that power.

Against that backdrop Obama made comments about the military's role that would be unremarkable at any other time, but today appear laden.

"My optimism about America going forward is in part because we have such an amazing military," Obama said.

The armed forces, he said, is "not only one that knows how to fight, but also knows how to uphold the values of the rule of law, professionalism, integrity and recognizes our constitutional structure and maintains strict adherence and respect for civilian authority and democratic practices in determining how we use the awesome force of the American military."

During the 2016 election campaign, the presence of several high profile retired generals at campaign events had prompted questions about the politicization of the military.

Almost 100 retired generals and other senior officers endorsed Hillary Clinton.

Retired general Mike Flynn campaigned for Trump -- and has been tapped to become his national security advisor.

Trump has also nominated retired general James Mattis to become Secretary of Defense and retired general Jon Kelly to run the Department of Homeland Security.

The election-time furor prompted Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford -- who was at the White House meeting Wednesday -- to write an open letter in October about the military's role during elections.

"While we must always safeguard our professional integrity, extra vigilance is required during any political transition," he wrote.

"Our individual and collective obligation during this election season is twofold. First, we must recognize that we have one Commander in Chief, and until authority is transferred on January 20, 2017, the Joint Force must remain clearly focused on and responsive to the existing national command authority."

"Second, the Joint Force must conduct itself in such a way that the new administration has confidence that it will be served by a professional, competent, and apolitical military. "

 

 

Russia flags war games with US ally Philippines

 
‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎4:04:43 AMGo to full article
Manila (AFP) Jan 3, 2017 - The Russian Navy said Tuesday it was planning to hold war games with the Philippines, as two of its ships made a rare stop in Manila following Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte's pivot from the United States.

Rear Admiral Eduard Mikhailov, the deputy commander of the Russian Navy's Pacific fleet, said the joint military exercises would focus on maritime piracy and terrorism, which he described as the region's two top security concerns.

"We're very sure that in the future we'll get such exercises with you, maybe just the manoeuvreing or maybe use some combat systems and so on," Mikhailov told reporters beside the docked Russian destroyer Admiral Tributs.

Mikhailov also raised the prospect of joint exercises with China and Malaysia in the South China Sea, where competing territorial claims have been a major source of tension and potential conflict for decades.

"We really hope that in a few years, the military exercises for example in your region, in the South China Sea, will (involve) for example, not only Russia-Philippines, but Russia, Philippines, China and maybe Malaysia together."

The visit was only the third ever by Russian military vessels to the Philippines, according to the Filipino Navy's Commodore Francisco Cabudao, who led the welcoming ceremony for the Russian ships.

The Philippines, a former American colony, had for decades been one of the United States' most important and loyal allies in Asia. The two are bound by a mutual defence pact.

But Duterte, a self-described socialist, has during his six months in power sought to dramatically shift his nation's foreign and military alliances towards China and Russia.

Duterte has made repeated threats to downgrade or even end military and diplomatic ties with Washington. He has put on hold the dozens of war games held annually with the United States, and said he wants all American troops to leave the Philippines.

The animosity followed US President Barack Obama's criticism of Duterte's brutal war on drug crime that has left thousands of people dead in the Philippines.

During a trip to Beijing in October last year, Duterte enthused about his plans to forge closer ties with Russia and China.

"America has lost. I've realigned myself in your (Chinese) ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to (President Vladimir) Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world: China, Philippines and Russia. It's the only way," he said.

Philippine officials have said Duterte is expected to visit Russia in April or May. Duterte has said he is open to the Philippine military holding joint exercises with Russia and China.

 

 

Indonesia suspends military cooperation with Australia

 
‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎4:04:43 AMGo to full article
Jakarta (AFP) Jan 4, 2017 - Indonesia said Wednesday it has suspended military cooperation with Australia, reportedly due to training materials deemed offensive, in a fresh flare-up of tensions between the neighbours.

Cooperation including military exercises and education and exchange programmes were put on hold last month, said Indonesian military spokesman Wuryanto.

"Military cooperation with Australian forces has been suspended temporarily due to technical matters," the spokesman, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told AFP.

Indonesian newspaper Kompas said it came after an instructor from Indonesia's special forces found training materials he thought were disrespectful towards his country and armed forces at an Australian academy during an exchange programme.

Wuryanto refused to confirm this, saying only that the suspension was due to several problems.

The neighbours are key allies but the relationship has had many ups and downs.

Ties sank to their lowest level in years under former Australian premier Tony Abbott due to rows about Jakarta's execution of Australian drug smugglers and Canberra's hardline policy of turning migrant boats back to Indonesia.

Indonesia had previously suspended military exercises with Australia, in 2013, due to allegations that Australian spies tried to tap the phone of then Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, but they resumed the following year.

Wuryanto said the Indonesian military sent a letter to the Australian Defence Force on December 9 notifying them of the suspension.

"Hopefully the problem will be resolved soon," he said, adding that the Indonesian military was still in communication with the Australian forces.

It was the first serious row between the neighbours for some time, with relations having improved since Malcolm Turnbull became Australia's leader in 2015.

 

 

Duterte seeks 'strategic shift' from US to China: envoy

 
‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎4:04:43 AMGo to full article
Manila (AFP) Jan 2, 2017 - The Philippines is tilting away from its traditional ally the United States towards China in a bid to "normalise" relations following a longstanding territorial dispute, the country's incoming ambassador to Beijing said Monday.

Manila has been one of Washington's most loyal allies in Asia, but Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to end the decades-long alliance after the US criticised his bloody war on drugs that has killed over 5,000 people since he took office in June.

His fiery rhetoric against the US has been followed by overtures to China as he has sought to assuage Beijing's concerns over Manila's competing claims to the South China Sea.

The new Philippine ambassador to China, Jose "Chito" Sta. Romana, told AFP the move represented "a strategic shift in our foreign policy".

"We were one-sidedly imbalanced in favour of the US," he said.

"We are not abandoning our alliance with the US.... We are basically trying to normalise our relations with China."

Beijing claims most of the South China Sea despite competing claims from the Philippines and other Asian countries, but a UN-backed tribunal ruled in July that China's claims had no legal basis in a resounding victory for Manila.

Duterte's decision to set aside the territorial conflict in exchange for Chinese investment and aid has given Beijing a boost in its quest for more control over the strategically vital waters.

The incoming envoy, a former Beijing-based journalist, said Manila was open to working with China to access resources in the disputed region.

"The Chinese viewed the Philippines as a geopolitical pawn or Trojan horse of the US. Now they look at us as a friendly neighbour."

He added that relations with the US plunged after Washington criticised Duterte's crackdown on crime.

"The problem came after they began lecturing him. The president considers it an internal affair," he said.

"The Chinese don't comment on your internal affairs."

 

 

China and Sao Tome restore diplomatic ties in snub to Taiwan

 
‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎27, ‎2016, ‏‎12:58:39 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Dec 26, 2016 - China signed an agreement to restore diplomatic relations with Sao Tome and Principe Monday, just days after the small African nation announced it had cut ties with Taiwan.

The move comes amid heightened tensions between Beijing and the independence-leaning government of the self-ruled island, which Chinese leaders view as a "renegade province."

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and his counterpart Urbino Botelho signed a document formalising their new relationship at the Diaoyutai State Guest House.

"We need to acknowledge that China is playing an increasingly important role internationally," Botelho said, adding "we want to make good on our past mistakes."

Speaking to reporters after the ceremony, Wang said China "highly appreciated" Sao Tome's choice.

"We are happy to see that Sao Tome and Principe has actively conformed to the tide of history, looking at the facts and long-term interests of both countries' peoples," he said.

Last Wednesday, Beijing issued a statement welcoming Sao Tome's decision to split with Taiwan, which it has recognised since 1997.

The move earned a stinging rebuke from Taiwan, which said it condemned the "reckless and unfriendly decision and action by the Sao Tome government."

Taiwanese foreign minister David Lee said Sao Tome had demanded an "astronomical" amount of financial assistance to continue its relations with Taipei, which was refused.

Sao Tome's decision leaves Taiwan with formal diplomatic ties to only 21 states, including just two in Africa, and the Vatican -- its highest profile supporter.

For years, China and Taiwan were locked in a bitter diplomatic tug-of-war, luring away each other's allies with generous financial packages in so-called "chequebook diplomacy".

Diplomatic tussles between the two had eased under Taiwan's previous Beijing-friendly government, but two months after President Tsai Ing-wen's China-sceptic Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won landslide elections in March, China recognised Taiwan's former ally Gambia.

Cross-strait tensions have been further exacerbated by a highly unusual call from President Tsai to congratulate US president-elect Donald Trump, who has questioned Washington's policy towards the island, including its decision to not formally recognise its government.

Tsai is preparing for a trip next month to meet diplomatic allies in Latin America, and she is expected to pass through the United States, which may irk China.

 

 

After Hiroshima, Abe and Obama to pay respects at Pearl Harbor

 
‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎27, ‎2016, ‏‎12:58:39 AMGo to full article
Honolulu (AFP) Dec 25, 2016 - Seven months after President Barack Obama visited Hiroshima, the city where World War II all but ended, his Japanese counterpart is paying his respects at the site where the brutal conflict began.

Prime Minster Shinzo Abe is traveling to Pearl Harbor, where he and Obama hope to underscore the alliance between their two nations -- 75 years after the Japanese surprise attack that brought America into history's bloodiest war.

The two leaders are meeting Tuesday in Hawaiian state capital Honolulu, on the archipelago's Oahu island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

The visit has particular resonance for Obama, who was born in Hawaii and spent much of his childhood and adolescence here.

Abe and Obama will visit the wreck of the USS Arizona, where 1,177 sailors and Marines died. The ship's rusting remains, still visible, are now a memorial.

On December 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy," as then president Franklin D. Roosevelt said, Japan's General Isoroku Yamamoto unleashed a devastating attack on Pearl Harbor's "Battleship Row."

The assault caught the Americans off guard, and the Japanese sunk or heavily damaged eight US battleships.

The two-hour offensive killed 2,403 Americans in all and injured more than 1,100 others.

An explosion in the Arizona's ammunition stocks sealed that ship's fate.

- 'The agony of war -

Just as when Obama visited Hiroshima, the purpose of Abe's tour is not to question decisions made three-quarters of a century ago, or to offer an apology, rather to pay homage to the victims and encourage historical reflection.

"It puts a bookend in some ways to this open US-Japan conversation about the past and the war," said Japan expert Sheila Smith from the Council on Foreign Relations.

"It puts us on a very different pedestal on the reconciliation side of things which I think is important for the region to see."

In Hiroshima in May, during a speech given to a completely silent crowd, Obama launched an impassioned plea for a world without nuclear arms and he wrote a message in the visitor book at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

"We have known the agony of war. Let us now find the courage, together, to spread peace, and pursue a world without nuclear weapons," he wrote.

More than 16 million Americans served in uniform from 1941 to 1945 -- more than 400,000 were killed.

Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima marked the beginning and end of the conflict between Japan and America, but it is impossible to compare the two. One was an attack on the heart of US naval power in the Pacific, the other an atomic bomb over a city.

But each event has cemented itself in the hearts and collective memories of the people, and both places remain hallowed sites of pilgrimage to this date.

The Arizona memorial attracts almost two million visitors annually, who file through a white building just above the enormous ship's wreck.

- Message to Trump -

The meeting takes on special significance, coming just four weeks before the swearing in of President-elect Donald Trump, who has sent mixed and sometimes contradictory messages as to the future of US-Asia ties.

For Mireya Solis, an expert at the Brookings Center for East Asia Policy Studies, Obama and Abe will be sending a "strong message about the robustness of the US-Japan alliance."

During his campaign, Trump suggested he wanted to renegotiate the terms of the US troop presence in Japan, where about 50,000 American personnel are stationed.

He also has promised to scrap the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive global trade pact that Abe firmly supports and which was designed to stop China asserting too much economic influence in the region.

Trump also blasted Obama for visiting Hiroshima.

"Does President Obama ever discuss the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor while he's in Japan? Thousands of American lives lost," the president-elect said on May 28.

But since his election on November 8, the populist businessman has reserved his sharpest barbs for China, and Abe was the first foreign leader to meet Trump after his election.

"Trump's foreign policy in general is a bit of a wildcard. We don't really know really what he is going to do but I think the US-Japan relationship will likely stay very strong," said Jon Davidann, a historian at Hawaii Pacific University.

 

 

Japan cabinet approves biggest defence budget

 
‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎27, ‎2016, ‏‎12:58:39 AMGo to full article
Tokyo (AFP) Dec 22, 2016 - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet on Thursday approved Japan's biggest annual defence budget in the face of North Korea's nuclear and missile threats and a territorial row with China.

The Cabinet approved 5.13 trillion yen ($43.6 billion) in defence spending for the fiscal year starting in April, up 1.4 percent from the initial budget for the current fiscal year.

It marks the fifth straight annual increase and reflects the hawkish Abe's attempt to build up Japan's military, which since World War II has been constitutionally limited to self defence.

Abe, who is pushing revisions to the constitution, strongly backed new security laws that took effect this year making it possible for Japanese troops fight abroad for the first time since the end of the war.

Japan is on constant alert against neighbouring North Korea which has conducted two underground nuclear tests and more than 20 missile launches this year.

Under the new budget, the ministry aims to beef up Japan's ballistic missile defences, allocating funds for a new interceptor missile under joint development with the United States.

Also reflected in the spending is Tokyo's determination to defend uninhabited islets in the East China Sea -- administered by Japan as the Senkakus but claimed by China as the Diaoyus.

The ministry said it has allocated funds for increased monitoring operations and to maintain mastery of the air and sea to counter attacks against what it euphemistically described as "island areas" - a reference to the disputed territory.

Separately, the Japan Coast Guard will increase security around the islands by allocating a record 210 billion yen, which includes two new patrol ships and the hiring of 200 more personnel.

In August, Tokyo lodged more than two dozen protests through diplomatic channels claiming that Chinese coast guard vessels had repeatedly violated its territorial waters around the disputed islands.

Also in August, Abe appointed Tomomi Inada, a close confidante with staunchly nationalist views, as his new defence minister. She has in the past been a frequent visitor to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine in Tokyo, which South Korea and China criticise as a symbol of Japanese militarism.

Japan has been boosting defence ties with the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations, some of which have their own disputes with Beijing in the South China Sea.

The defence budget earmarks funds to dispatch extra personnel to the Philippines and Vietnam to increase gathering and sharing of information.

Beijing asserts sovereignty over almost all of the South China Sea, dismissing rival partial claims from its Southeast Asian neighbours. It also opposes any intervention by Japan.

The defence allocation is part of a record 97.5 trillion yen national budget that will be sent to parliament for debate and approval early next year.

 

 

European populists link Berlin attack to Merkel policies

 
‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎27, ‎2016, ‏‎12:58:39 AMGo to full article
London (AFP) Dec 22, 2016 - Populists across Europe have seized on the truck attack in Berlin as a way to criticise Germany's immigration policy but key players have held back on jumping to conclusions as the investigation continues.

Former UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage, a key ally of US President-elect Donald Trump in Europe, said the attack which killed 12 people was "no surprise" and would be part of Merkel's "legacy".

"Merkel has directly caused a whole number of social and terrorist problems in Germany, it's about time we confronted that truth," he told LBC radio on Tuesday.

UKIP donor Arron Banks, who was also a key funder behind the Brexit campaign, tweeted that Merkel "might as well have" been driving the truck herself.

A 23-year-old Pakistani asylum-seeker was arrested immediately after the incident on Monday after reportedly fleeing the scene but was released on Tuesday without charge.

Police said on Wednesday they were now on a manhunt for a new suspect, identified in German media as a Tunisian citizen in his early 20s who applied for asylum in April and had a temporary residence permit.

Merkel has been criticised over her decision to let in around a million migrants -- many of them fleeing war-torn Syria -- over the past two years.

- 'Last drop of patience' -

Her policy has been polarising, not just in Germany.

Just hours after Monday's attack, far-right Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders sharply blamed European leaders for admitting asylum-seekers into Europe.

"Merkel, (Dutch Prime Minister Mark) Rutte and all the other cowardly government leaders have allowed in Islamic terror and an asylum tsunami with their open borders policy," he tweeted on Tuesday.

Wilders, who heads the anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV), also tweeted a photo-shopped picture of Merkel with her hands, face and jacket spattered in blood.

The image was not accompanied by any words, but implied she had blood on her hands for the attack.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico on Tuesday said the Berlin attack had been "the last drop in the cup of patience" in Europe's migration crisis.

Matthew Goodwin, a senior fellow at the Chatham House think tank, said attacks such as the one in Berlin represented a "significant opportunity" for the "radical right" to emphasise the issue of security.

"Across much of Europe, the radical right is increasingly linking the migrant crisis to security," alongside their traditional anti-elite and anti-immigration campaign messages, he said.

- Merkel 'irresponsible' -

Other populist forces have been more cautious, however.

In Austria, the far-right Freedom Party steered clear of making the link between Merkel's policies and the attack.

France's National Front leader Marine Le Pen also made no connection.

But the National Front's deputy leader Florian Philippot told French TV that Islamic State group militants had infiltrated Europe along with migrants.

"When there are Islamist terrorists who infiltrate themselves in a massive influx, we have the duty to stop the influx," he said, calling Merkel's open-doors policy for migrants "irresponsible".

In Germany itself, the Islamophobic and anti-immigration populist party AfD wasted no time in laying the blame on Merkel.

"The milieu in which such acts can flourish has been negligently and systematically imported over the past year and a half," the group's co-leader Frauke Petry said in a statement, in a clear reference to Merkel's decision to let in refugees.

"Germany is no longer safe. It should be the responsibility of the chancellor to tell you this. But since she won't do it, then I'll say it," Petry said, demanding "control over our territory, no ifs and buts".

 

 

China returns seized US naval sea drone

 
‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎27, ‎2016, ‏‎12:58:39 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Dec 20, 2016 - China on Tuesday returned a US underwater probe it seized in the South China Sea, the Pentagon confirmed after Beijing's capture of the craft sparked a dispute between the two powers.

The Chinese navy handed over the drone near where it was seized, the Pentagon said, repeating US condemnation of Beijing's actions in what it says are international waters.

"This incident was inconsistent with both international law and standards of professionalism for conduct between navies at sea," Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said in a statement.

We have "called on Chinese authorities to comply with their obligations under international law and to refrain from further efforts to impede lawful US activities."

A US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP the probe was handed over to the guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin and will be taken to a naval base for inspection.

A Chinese naval vessel seized the probe last week around 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay in the Philippines, a move that heightened existing tensions between the world's two largest economies.

The Pentagon statement said the US Navy drone was "conducting routine operations in the international waters of the South China Sea in full compliance with international law."

- Rise in 'interactions' -

For its part, China said the handover of the drone was "completed smoothly" after "friendly consultations" between both sides, according to a short defense ministry statement on its website.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the handling of the incident showed the two countries have a "smooth channel of communication."

But she also warned the US against "conducting close reconnaissance in China's coastal waters."

"China is strongly opposed to this and has been asking the US to stop these kinds of activities," she said, adding: "I believe this was the root cause for this incident happening."

A second US defense official told AFP there had been an increase in "interactions" between US and Chinese vessels over the past year in the South China Sea and western Pacific.

Pentagon officials said last week the Chinese had "unlawfully" grabbed the marine probe, which they described as a craft that gathers unclassified data -- including water temperatures, salinity and sea clarity.

Such data can be used to help submarines navigate and determine sonar ranges in murky waters.

China said it snatched the craft because it might pose a safety hazard to other vessels. It also said it "strongly opposed" US reconnaissance activities and had asked Washington to stop.

Washington insists the small, slow-moving craft cannot be used for surveillance.

- Continuing tensions -

The incident has heightened continuing tensions in the South China Sea. Beijing has fortified its claims to almost all the waterway by expanding tiny reefs and islets into artificial islands hosting military facilities.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan have competing claims in the waterway.

While Washington takes no position on the sovereignty disputes, it has repeatedly called on China to uphold freedom of navigation.

Its military has conducted several operations in which ships and planes have passed near the sites Beijing claims.

US President-elect Donald Trump raised the rhetorical heat further after the probe was seized, by accusing Beijing of theft.

After Beijing and Washington announced on Sunday the drone would be returned, he tweeted: "We should tell China that we don't want the drone they stole back. - let them keep it!"

China's foreign ministry on Monday rejected Trump's accusations Beijing had stolen the craft as "not accurate".

The state-owned China Daily said in an editorial earlier that Trump's behavior "could easily drive China-US relations into what (US President Barack) Obama portrays as 'full-conflict mode.'"

Trump had already angered China by questioning longstanding US policy on Taiwan, calling Beijing a currency manipulator and threatening punitive tariffs on Chinese imports.

Though this is the first time the Chinese navy has seized a probe, it is not unusual for the underwater craft to go missing.

The Navy deploys about 10 ocean gliders in the western Pacific each month, and a small percentage of these are lost in fishing nets, storm damage or through equipment failures.

"In October, one of our ocean gliders was lost in the vicinity of Vietnam, but we are not sure of the final disposition of the glider," said Lieutenant Commander Matt Knight, a US Pacific Fleet spokesman.

 

 

China to hold Catholic conference after six-year hiatus

 
‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎27, ‎2016, ‏‎12:58:39 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Dec 26, 2016 - China said Monday it will restart a conference of local Catholics, ending a years-long hiatus, as it expressed goodwill towards the Vatican after six decades of estrangement.

The country's roughly 12 million Catholics are divided between a government-run association, whose clergy are chosen by the Communist Party, and an unofficial church which swears allegiance to the Vatican.

Although Beijing and the Vatican have improved relations in recent years as China's Catholic population has grown, they remain at odds over which side has the authority to ordain bishops.

The ninth Chinese Catholic representative conference will begin Tuesday and run through Thursday in Beijing after a six-year hiatus, the foreign ministry said during a press briefing.

The Vatican had condemned previous conferences because members of the unofficial church loyal to Rome had reportedly been forced to participate.

But this time the Holy See has given tacit approval for members of the so-called "underground" church, including bishops, to attend the conclave, according to Catholic web sites familiar with religious affairs in China.

"We believe this conference can push the integration of Catholic activities into Chinese society and culture a step forward," spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters, adding that the country had "goodwill" towards the Vatican.

"We want to move forward down the same road with the Vatican and promote bilateral, constructive dialogue and relations," she said.

China and the Vatican severed diplomatic relations in 1951.

Since becoming head of the Holy See in 2013 Pope Francis has tried to improve relations with Beijing in the hope of reconnecting with Catholics in China.

Chinese and Vatican officials have met at least four times since January to try and resolve the delicate issue of the appointment of bishops -- the heart of the dispute.

 

 

China offers guns worth $14 mn for drug war: Philippines

 
‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎27, ‎2016, ‏‎12:58:39 AMGo to full article
Manila (AFP) Dec 20, 2016 - China has offered the Philippines guns and equipment worth $14 million to wage its war on drugs and combat terrorism, Manila's defence minister said Tuesday, as ties improve under President Rodrigo Duterte.

Beijing has publicly backed the controversial campaign, which has left 5,300 people dead in less than six months and drawn criticism from the United Nations and the United States, Manila's ally.

Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the latest offer came from Chinese ambassador Zhao Jianhua who met him and Duterte on Monday.

"(The ambassador) told the president: 'I know your problems in terrorism and in drugs so we would like to help you,'" Lorenzana told reporters.

The Chinese embassy did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Lorenzana said the Philippines might use the $14 million grant to acquire small arms, fast boats or night-vision goggles, adding the deal would be finalised before year-end.

China also offered long-term soft loans worth $500 million which the Philippines would get next year to fight illegal drugs and terrorism, Lorenzana added.

Duterte, 71, launched an unprecedented anti-crime crackdown after winning May elections on a pledge to eradicate drugs by killing tens of thousands of criminals.

Despite their conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea, Duterte has meanwhile sought warmer relations with Beijing.

He has repeatedly credited China for offering to supply the Philippines with arms and aid under generous terms.

In contrast, he has criticised a US decision to defer action on hundreds of millions of dollars in proposed development aid, as well as to block the sale of rifles to Manila over human rights concerns.

"I do not need your assistance," Duterte said in a speech Monday with the US envoy in attendance.

"China is going to release to me 50 billion. Go home, I do not need your aid," he added without specifying the currency.

Lorenzana said his aides would visit China next year to inspect the weapons on offer.

He added China was also spending on a drug rehabilitation centre in the Philippines following the inauguration of a major facility in October funded by a Chinese businessman.

 

 

Japan's top court backs Tokyo in bid to relocate Okinawa base

 
‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎27, ‎2016, ‏‎12:58:39 AMGo to full article
Tokyo (AFP) Dec 20, 2016 - Japan's Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in favour of the central government in its bid to relocate a US airbase on Okinawa, dealing a significant blow to the plan's opponents led by the island's governor.

The Japanese and US governments want the base in the middle of a crowded city moved to a sparsely populated area for safety reasons. But many Okinawans want it relocated off the island altogether.

Okinawa is strategically situated in the East China Sea from where US troops and aircraft can react to potential conflicts throughout Asia. It has been a bastion of American military power since the end of World War II.

Okinawa governor Takeshi Onaga had tried to block efforts to reclaim land for the new offshore facility and he and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe filed rival lawsuits in a bid to settle the issue.

In September a high court ruled that the central government's position should be respected because it has "fundamental responsibility" for Japan's defence and diplomacy.

The Okinawan government appealed that decision but was dismissed by the Supreme Court Tuesday.

"I am deeply disappointed and concerned," Onaga told reporters after the ruling.

"Building the new base, which cannot gain support from local residents, is unacceptable," he said.

Tokyo and Washington first proposed moving the Futenma air base, a Marine Corps facility, back in 1996 but insisted it remain on Okinawa.

Local campaigners want a replacement to be built elsewhere in Japan or overseas, saying they cannot tolerate noise, accidents and crimes committed by US service members.

The Supreme Court decision came a day after the Marines resumed flights of a controversial hybrid aircraft after one crash-landed just off Okinawa's coast last week.

No one was killed when the MV-22 Osprey went down but the accident sparked fresh local anger. In response, the Marines suspended flights of the tilt-rotor aircraft in Japan pending an investigation but resumed them on Monday.

More than half the 47,000 American troops in Japan under a decades-long security alliance are stationed on Okinawa, the site of a major World War II battle that was followed by a 27-year US occupation.

A series of crimes including rapes, assaults and hit-and-run accidents by military personnel, their dependants and civilians have long sparked protests.

 

 

China rejects Trump claim it stole US drone

 
‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎27, ‎2016, ‏‎12:58:39 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Dec 19, 2016 - China on Monday rejected US President-elect Donald Trump's claim that it had "stolen" an American research drone, as state media said his diplomatic inexperience could spark a confrontation between the two nations.

Beijing's seizure of the marine probe in international waters in the South China Sea raised already heightened tensions between the world's two largest military powers.

On Sunday, after Beijing and Washington announced the drone would be returned, Trump tweeted: "We should tell China that we don't want the drone they stole back. - let them keep it!"

Trump's accusation that China had stolen the drone was "not accurate", said foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

"Imagine that you found something on the street -- you would need to first check and verify it before handing it back to someone else," she told a regular press conference.

Hua said the two sides "are in smooth communication through military channels, and we believe the incident will be properly handled". She gave no further details.

The Chinese military is expected to return the probe to the US Navy in the South China Sea on Tuesday, a US defence official said.

"A US destroyer will be there," the official told AFP on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook declined to confirm when the return would take place.

Conversations "are ongoing at this time. We're working out the logistical details with the Chinese through appropriate channels," he said.

The Pentagon said last week a Chinese naval vessel had "unlawfully" grabbed the drone around 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay in the Philippines.

China said it had been snatched since it might pose a safety hazard to other vessels. It also said it "strongly opposed" US reconnaissance activities and had asked Washington to stop them.

The US said the device was collecting information on water temperatures, salinity and sea clarity.

Trump had also accused Beijing of theft in an earlier, misspelled tweet Saturday.

"China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters?rips it out of water and takes it to China in unpresidented act," he wrote.

The state-owned China Daily rejected the claim in an editorial.

"What is truly amazing about this tweet, was the soon-to-be US president completely misrepresented what had actually happened -- that is more dangerous than funny," it said.

Trump's behaviour "could easily drive China-US relations into what Obama portrays as 'full-conflict mode'," it added, next to a cartoon that depicted Trump riding a bull into a china shop while US businessmen looked on aghast.

A separate article quoted experts as calling Trump's conduct "diplomatically inept".

- 'Not presidential' -

Trump has already infuriated Beijing by questioning longstanding US policy on Taiwan, calling Beijing a currency manipulator and threatening punitive tariffs on Chinese imports.

"Trump is not behaving as a president who will become master of the White House in a month. He bears no sense of how to lead a superpower," the often nationalistic Global Times, which has close ties to the ruling Communist Party, said in an editorial.

There are broader tensions in the South China Sea, where China has moved to fortify its claims to the region by expanding tiny reefs and islets into artificial islands hosting military facilities.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan have competing claims in the waterway.

The Philippines described the latest incident as troubling and said it might require its US ally to inform it about what it called drone movements in Philippine waters.

While the US takes no position on sovereignty claims in South China Sea, it has repeatedly stressed freedom of navigation.

Its military has conducted several operations in which ships and planes have passed near the sites Beijing claims.

 

 

US, Baltic states eye military pacts before Trump inauguration

 
‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎27, ‎2016, ‏‎12:58:39 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Dec 16, 2016 - The United States and the three Baltic states neighboring Russia are trying to strike defense cooperation agreements before President Barack Obama leaves office, officials have told AFP.

The three nations -- Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania -- are former Soviet states now on NATO's front line with a more assertive Russia and have watched President-elect Donald Trump's pro-Moscow rhetoric with mounting unease.

Each is trying to reach a "Defense Cooperation Agreement" with Washington that will include provisions on the status of US forces deployed there.

The deals will "complement the existing bilateral and NATO agreements we have in place with each Baltic state to support our rotational military presence in each country," a senior administration official told AFP.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius told AFP that although there was no concern about Trump's stance -- despite his questioning of NATOs relevance -- "procedures may take longer when administrations change."

"It is in our interests that it happens soon," he said. "We hope that it will happen at the beginning of next year."

A similar recently signed agreement between the United States and Finland -- which also borders Russia, but is not a NATO member -- deepened cooperation on cyber security, sharing security information and expanding joint training and military exercises.

The Russian military launched an incursion into Finnish airspace on the eve of the pact's signing in Helsinki.

Researchers for the London-based European Leadership Network have documented six similar violations of Estonian airspace by Russian aircraft this year alone.

Officials on both sides of the Atlantic admit the complex deals may not be concluded before Trump takes office on January 20.

But having them in place quickly would provide extra reassurance to the three US allies, who have long expressed concerns about Russia's covert intelligence and overt military actions.

"The desire to have these agreements illustrates our commitment to a robust, bilateral military relationship with these three NATO allies, and we hope to finalize them soon," Pentagon spokeswoman Commander Sarah Higgins said.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in March unveiled the Pentagon's proposed budget for next year, which includes $3.4 billion -- quadruple last year's amount -- for operations in Europe.

The cash will fund the so-called European Reassurance Initiative, which aims to deter Russia from carrying out additional land grabs following its 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.

At a summit in Warsaw earlier this year, NATO agreed to deploy multi-national battalions to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

"The Baltic States are all eager to find ways to continue to work with the US, even as the multi-national battalions begin to take shape. These additional (pacts) are a step in that direction," said Magnus Nordenman, an expert in trans-Atlantic security at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think-tank.

"I think they could conclude this before the end of the administration. It's a quick march, but similar agreements have recently been concluded with both Sweden and Finland on relatively short timelines."

burs-arb/grf

 

 

Satellite images appear to show Vietnam dredging on disputed reef

 
‎Wednesday, ‎December ‎14, ‎2016, ‏‎6:03:01 AMGo to full article
Hanoi (AFP) Dec 9, 2016 - Vietnam has started dredging work on a reef in the South China Sea, fresh satellite images appear to show, a move that could provoke Beijing which claims most of the disputed waterway.

An image of Ladd Reef in the Spratly Islands, where Vietnam has a lighthouse, shows several vessels in a carved out embankment.

Sediment can be seen leaking out into the ocean, according to the November 30 image provided to AFP on Friday by US-based Planet Labs, a satellite imaging company.

A July picture from Planet Labs shows no breach of the reef's embankment, suggesting the work began in recent months on the small piece of land that is also claimed by Taiwan.

Vietnamese officials did not respond to a request for comment.

The images follow photos published last month from US-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative that showed Vietnam had extended a runway and was building hangars capable of hosting military equipment on a different island in the Spratlys also claimed by Beijing.

But Vietnam's latest moves remain small-scale compared to China's build-up in the waterway, where it has constructed several islands capable of supporting military facilities.

Though the nature of the work in the photos cannot be confirmed, Vietnam expert Carl Thayer told AFP that Hanoi might be trying to "stock up" ahead of a code of conduct agreement between various claimants in the South China Sea expected next year.

"If we are moving toward some diplomatic end game at some point in the next year or two, then Vietnam looks like it's trying to get as much as it can before it's prohibited," said Thayer, a professor at the University of New South Wales.

Beijing on Friday delivered a customary rebuke to Vietnam over the apparent dredging, saying it had "indisputable sovereignty" over all Spratly Islands, including Ladd Reef, and surrounding waters.

It urged Hanoi to "refrain from complicating the situation and work with China to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea," foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a regular briefing.

The two countries have long traded barbs over disputed territory in the sea. In 2014 China moved a controversial oil rig into contested waters, prompting riots in Vietnam.

Tensions have eased slightly in recent months but the issue remains incendiary on both sides.

The sea is also claimed by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan and is rich in energy reserves, fishery resources and is a busy shipping route.

 

 

China warns Trump of 'crushing his own toes' on Taiwan

 
‎Wednesday, ‎December ‎14, ‎2016, ‏‎6:03:01 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Dec 13, 2016 - China offered its sternest rebuke yet to Donald Trump, saying anyone who challenges Beijing's interests in Taiwan will "lift a rock only to crush his own toes".

"If he tries to sabotage the One China policy or harm China's core interests, ultimately he will lift a rock only to crush his own toes," Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said Monday in Switzerland according to comments posted on the ministry's web site.

China is closely monitoring developments, he said, issuing a warning against "any person or force in the world" looking to play tough with Beijing on Taiwan.

The comments come after Trump said he could jettison Washington's decades-old "One China policy" -- a diplomatic dodge allowing the US to simultaneously do business with Beijing and Taipei.

On Tuesday Chinese media sent another fusillade toward the "presumptuous and ill-guided" president-elect, slamming his approach to Taiwan as a recipe for disaster.

"Beijing should be prepared for the worst-case scenarios, particularly regarding Taiwan, as a presumptuous and ill-guided Trump looks set to usher in an era of turmoil," the state-run China Daily said in an editorial accompanied by a cartoon of the billionaire politician sitting on a powder keg.

"Trump's bloated and bloating ego may prevent him from seeing that is the likely outcome that lies ahead if he persists with this gamble."

China regards self-ruling Taiwan as part of its own territory awaiting reunification under Beijing's rule.

The nationalistic Global Times newspaper warned Trump in its editorial Tuesday that "pride goes before a fall", and said he had lost the "strategic initiative" by revealing his strategy of "blackmailing" China.

"Especially in the Taiwan Strait, China is now confident enough to arm-wrestle with Trump," it said.

Trump shocked the diplomatic establishment and angered Beijing by speaking directly with Taiwan's leader Tsai Ing-wen after his election victory.

After fierce criticism of the move, he upped the ante, taking to Twitter to ask why he should not be allowed to speak to Tsai, then attacking Chinese foreign and economic policy.

On Sunday, he went a step further, saying he did not see why Washington must "be bound by a One China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade."

The remarks were a step too far for Beijing, which had initially seemed resigned to taking a wait-and-see approach to the president-elect.

Trump's comments also earned a rare rebuke from the White House, with spokesman Josh Earnest warning the president-elect that Taiwan is not a "bargaining chip".

 

 

Rex Tillerson, oilman with Putin ties, to lead State Dept

 
‎Wednesday, ‎December ‎14, ‎2016, ‏‎6:03:01 AMGo to full article
New York (AFP) Dec 13, 2016 - Rex Tillerson, the ExxonMobil chief picked to head the US State Department, has built close ties with leaders around the globe, but most notably -- and controversially -- with Russia's Vladimir Putin.

Trained as an engineer, the silver-haired oilman is 64 and has never worked in government, but his global deal-making experience could be an asset in defending US interests.

His close relationship with Putin likely was key to President-elect Donald Trump's choice. Trump is keen to improve ties with Russia which soured greatly when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.

But it also will be a key point of contention when Tillerson comes up for confirmation by the Senate, against the backdrop of US intelligence indicating that Russia interfered to try to sway the US election for Trump.

In a statement announcing the nomination, Trump said of Tillerson: "his relationships with leaders all over the world are second to none."

The ExxonMobil chief "has had more interactive time with Vladimir Putin than probably any other American with the exception of Henry Kissinger," said John Hamre of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Tillerson is a CSIS trustee.

And if Trump sees Tillerson as dynamic and able to get results, critics from Republican John McCain to environmentalists have a long list of concerns and doubts, including putting an oilman in charge of the US role in global climate change accords.

McCain has said that Tillerson's close ties to Putin were "a matter of concern."

"I'd have to examine it," he said, adding: "Vladimir Putin is a thug, bully and a murderer, and anybody else who describes him as anything else is lying."

- Russia's Order of Friendship -

Tillerson and Putin met in the 1990s when the oilman supervised an Exxon project on Sakhalin Island and strengthened their ties when Putin took power after Boris Yeltsin resigned in December 1999.

Their "friendship" was crowned by a historic agreement Exxon signed in 2011 with Russian public energy giant Rosneft to explore and drill in the Arctic and Siberia.

The deal, at first valued at $3.2 billion, could potentially generate a hefty $500 billion depending on oil discoveries -- but has been put on hold by Western sanctions against Russia.

Tillerson, who was awarded the Order of Friendship by Putin in 2013, lashed out against the sanctions at a shareholders meeting in 2014.

"We always encourage the people who are making those decisions to consider the very broad collateral damage of who are they really harming with sanctions," he said.

- Foreign policy goals? -

Born in Wichita Falls, Texas, Rex Tillerson has spent his entire career at Exxon, which he joined in 1975. Appointed CEO in 2006, he was due to retire in March.

His views on foreign policy are little known, aside from the fact he is a proponent of free trade.

Among the key issues awaiting him as secretary of state, he would oversee the Iranian nuclear deal. Trump has said he wants to review the 2015 accord struck between Iran and the United States, China, Russia, Germany, France and Britain.

He also will handle sanctions against Russia, rows with China and the protracted Syrian conflict.

His action on climate change will be closely scrutinized, after he resisted cutting investment in the search for new oil wells.

Several US states including New York, supported by environmental activists, are suing the oil giant for allegedly deceiving the public about the role of fossil fuels in global warming.

His nomination is "unfathomable," says environmental group 350.org.

"We can not let Mr. Trump name the world's largest oil company in charge of our international climate policy. Mr. Tillerson may be a friend of Mr. Putin, but he is not a friend of the planet," the NGO argued, offering an online a petition against his confirmation.

Tillerson did come out in favor of a carbon tax in 2009, which his predecessor Lee Raymond fought.

His position as a shareholder of Exxon, in which he holds $150 million in shares according to stock exchange documents, could pose a conflict of interest since his decisions as top US diplomat could influence the share price. And if sanctions on Russia were dropped, the ExxonMobil share value likely would soar.

lo/mdl/hs/ec

EXXONMOBIL

ROSNEFT

 

 

Putin calls for peace treaty with Japan ahead of visit

 
‎Wednesday, ‎December ‎14, ‎2016, ‏‎6:03:01 AMGo to full article
Moscow (AFP) Dec 13, 2016 - President Vladimir Putin said Russia would strive to reach an elusive deal on a territorial dispute and normalise relations with Japan ahead of his visit to the country later this week.

Putin will arrive in Japan on Thursday for talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the hope of breaking the ice on an agreement over the Kuril Islands, seized by Soviet troops in 1945 and demanded back by Tokyo ever since.

The dispute has prevented the countries from signing a formal treaty to end World War II and has hampered their bilateral ties.

"The absence of a peace treaty between Russia and Japan is an anachronism inherited from the past and this anachronism should be eliminated," Putin said in an interview with Japan's Nippon TV and Yomiuri newspaper, according to a transcript released by the Kremlin.

"But how to do this is a difficult question."

Putin said the absence of a peace treaty was impacting bilateral relations.

"We, of course, will strive to conclude this treaty. We want full normalisation of our relations."

Abe will host Putin at the hot springs of his ancestral city of Nagato, a location the Kremlin strongman said he hoped would be conducive to "a frank, very substantive and, I hope, fruitful conversation."

Meeting the Japanese journalists in the Kremlin, Putin showed off a female Akita dog called Yume, which he was given as a puppy by Tokyo in 2012 in return for Russia's help after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Japan had offered to give Putin a "bridegroom" for the dog on his upcoming visit but he turned this down, an aide to Abe said Sunday.

The Russian president had earlier introduced Yume to Abe when he visited the Black Sea city of Sochi in 2014.

Putin said Yume is "in great form," and is a "strict" guard dog.

His two-day visit to Japan, which includes a stop in Tokyo, has long been in the works and comes on the heels of two visits by Abe to Russia this year.

Experts view recent rapprochement efforts as a positive development for Moscow's trade ties with Japan but doubt that either side will budge on the territorial issue.

The two leaders are expected to sign a series of agreements to bolster business ties battered by sanctions slapped on Moscow by staunch US ally Tokyo over the Ukraine crisis.

 

 

China offers Philippines weapons for drug war

 
‎Wednesday, ‎December ‎14, ‎2016, ‏‎6:03:01 AMGo to full article
Manila (AFP) Dec 13, 2016 - China is ready to give the Philippines weapons to help President Rodrigo Duterte wage his controversial war on drugs which has claimed over 5,000 lives, the Chinese ambassador to Manila said.

Beijing has previously said it supports Duterte's bloody crime war, which has been slammed by the United Nations and human rights watchdogs over alleged extrajudicial killings.

Beijing and Manila have experienced a rapprochement since Duterte's election in May, despite their conflicting territorial claims to the South China Sea.

Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, in remarks late Monday, confirmed China was ready to supply the Philippines with weapons.

"We're exploring the possibilities of providing arms, light arms," Zhao told reporters.

"Arms for fighting against terrorism, (for the) anti-drug campaign."

The ambassador said talks were still in the initial stages, adding there was no agreement on price or the specific type of weapons, though they would most likely be rifles.

Duterte, 71, won elections in a landslide on a pledge to kill tens of thousands of criminals to fight narco-politics in the Philippines. Since he took office the crackdown has claimed over 5,000 lives.

The firebrand leader has also distanced the Philippines from longtime ally Washington, announcing his country's "separation" from the United States on a visit to the Chinese capital in October.

The Chinese ambassador noted bilateral relations were "good" and were "going to be better" still, "because your president paid a very fruitful and historic state visit to China".

Duterte has also hit out at US President Barack Obama and the State Department for criticism of his drug war.

However, according to Manila, incoming US leader Donald Trump has taken a different tact from Obama, apparently praising the crackdown when he spoke to Duterte by phone this month.

On Sunday, Duterte said China was ready to supply the Philippines with arms under generous terms.

"It is a grant payable in 25 years so it is practically giving," Duterte said in a speech.

He recently cancelled an order of about 27,000 assault rifles from the US after media reports that human rights concerns over his crime war would affect the delivery of the weapons.

strs-mm/ajm/kb

 

 

Beijing warns Trump over One China policy

 
‎Wednesday, ‎December ‎14, ‎2016, ‏‎6:03:01 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Dec 12, 2016 - Beijing issued its first clear warning Monday over Donald Trump's fiery rhetoric, as state media said the Asian giant could back "forces hostile to the US" if the president-elect follows through with threats to drop Washington's One China policy.

It was the strongest signal yet from Chinese authorities that abandoning the One China policy, which guides relations with self-ruling Taiwan, would upset decades of carefully managed Sino-US relations and end cooperation between the world's top two economies.

Beijing has not controlled Taiwan for more than 60 years but foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said it considered the island a "core interest" that affected China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The One China policy was the "political bedrock" for relations with the US, he added, and if it was "compromised or disrupted", sound and steady growth in China-US relations and cooperation in major fields would be "out of the question", he told reporters.

The comments came in response to Trump's remarks in an interview Sunday that he did not see why Washington must "be bound by a One China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade".

He vehemently defended taking a call earlier this month from Tsai Ing-wen, the democratically elected president of Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a rogue province awaiting unification.

Although the United States is Taiwan's main ally and arms supplier, Washington has not had official diplomatic relations with Taipei since 1979, when it switched recognition to Beijing.

Trump's decision to take the call broke with protocol, and seemed to catch China's Communist Party leadership by surprise.

The official response was initially muted, and state media largely blamed Taiwan for the phone call and advocated a wait-and-see response.

But the remarks on Monday were more pointed, and a commentary in the nationalistic Global Times offered a more menacing warning to Trump, calling him "as ignorant of diplomacy as a child", in its Chinese-language version.

If the US openly supports Taiwan's independence and ramps up arms sales to the island, it threatened, China could aid "forces hostile to the US".

"In response to Trump's provocations, Beijing could offer support, even military assistance to US foes," it said.

"China would introduce a series of new Taiwan polices, and may not prioritise peaceful reunification over a military takeover."

- 'Novice' -

Despite the escalation in official rhetoric, many Chinese analysts still offer a note of restraint, emphasising Trump's background in business, not politics, and the possibility his actions in office will take a softer line.

"I think this could be his negotiating technique because he knows the Taiwan issue is an extremely sensitive issue, an issue China is very concerned about," Wu Xinbo, director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, told AFP.

Trump was playing the card in hopes of winning concessions on trade, he said, adding that China should not be "too nervous" nor should it react "too fiercely".

"We have to wait until after he takes office, then look again at his concrete actions."

Trump last week appointed Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who is personally acquainted with Chinese President Xi Jinping, as ambassador to Beijing, which hailed the nominee as a "friend of China".

A commentary on the official Xinhua news service on Monday compared the two countries' relations to people who "want to be close friends".

The US must know "where to draw the line", it said, noting that previous presidents have set good examples and "now the ball is in President-elect Donald Trump's court".

 

 

China slams Japan after jets targeted with 'decoy flares'

 
‎Wednesday, ‎December ‎14, ‎2016, ‏‎6:03:01 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Dec 11, 2016 - China has slammed Tokyo for targeting its military aircraft with "decoy flares" over a waterway near Japan, calling the actions "dangerous and unprofessional".

Two Japanese F-15s fired the projectiles as the Chinese planes passed through the Miyako Strait between Japan's Miyako and Okinawa Islands, the defence ministry said in a statement on its website Saturday.

The incident took place Saturday morning as the Chinese planes carried out "routine far seas training", the statement said, adding the aircraft were in international airspace when the encounter occurred.

"The actions of the Japanese fighters was dangerous and unprofessional and smashed the freedoms of navigation and overflight provided by international law," it said.

The statement gave no details about the Chinese aircraft.

Contacted by AFP, neither the Japanese defence ministry nor the prime minister's office could confirm the incident.

In September, China sent more than 40 military planes -- including fighters and bombers -- through the air space.

At the time, Japan's defence ministry said it was the first time Chinese fighters had passed over the waterway.

It followed China's first military flight, carried out by spy planes, over the Miyako Strait last year.

Japan and China are at loggerheads over a longstanding territorial row in the East China Sea.

That dispute relates to uninhabited islets controlled by Japan known as the Senkakus in Japanese and the Diaoyus in Chinese.

 

 

Trump puts Chinese ties at risk while wooing Russia

 
‎Wednesday, ‎December ‎14, ‎2016, ‏‎6:03:01 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Dec 12, 2016 - With a few apparently off-the-cuff comments, US President-elect Donald Trump has threatened Washington's cautious understanding with China while touting an unlikely new detente with Russia.

The United States and China, the world's two greatest economies and rivals for the leadership role in the Pacific, are often at loggerheads over trade, human rights and regional disputes.

But President Barack Obama has extended a hand to China's Xi Jinping and worked with Beijing on the global climate change accord and on measures against North Korea's rogue regime.

On Monday, businesswoman turned defeated presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina left Trump's New York office and said they had discussed Trump's opportunity to "reset" US foreign relations.

As part of this, Fiorina told reporters, she and Trump "spent a fair amount of time talking about China as probably our most important adversary and a rising adversary."

Never has current US leader Obama called into question the "One China" doctrine, which accepts that currently self-administered Taiwan is part of one state one day to be united under Beijing.

Trump may have recently taken advice from Henry Kissinger, architect of late president Richard Nixon's US-China breakthrough, but he has broken with this four-decade consensus.

Over the weekend, in a series of Tweets and an interview with Fox News, the incoming president suggested Beijing may have to make concessions on trade if US policy is not to change.

The tactic drew scorn from the outgoing US administration. Obama's spokesman Josh Earnest said Taiwan's future should not become a "bargaining chip" in US relations with Beijing.

In directly challenging China over trade and its takeover of disputed islets in the South China Sea, Trump risks provoking Beijing into a response with global economic implications.

"I don't know why we have to be bound by a One China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade," Trump told Fox News.

In this, he was doubling down on an earlier provocation when he took a call from Tsai Ing-wen, the elected president of Taiwan, in a break with established US protocol of non-recognition.

The response from China -- America's biggest single goods trading partner and the holder of almost a trillion dollars in US government debt -- was ominous.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing considers the island a "core interest" in China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The One China policy is the "political bedrock" of relations with the US, he added and if it is "compromised or disrupted" cooperation in major fields would be "out of the question."

- 'Childish ignorance' -

This firm warning was echoed in Chinese state media, including in an editorial in the Global Times that dubbed the famously thin-skinned Trump "as ignorant of diplomacy as a child."

Trump has also said he will declare China, which he accuses of keeping the Renminbi artificially low to favor its exports, a currency manipulator, forcing a renegotiation of trade ties.

If he makes good on his campaign promises to tax US companies that move plants offshore and to impose tariffs on cheap imported goods, Trump could provoke a trade war.

In the meantime, Trump has pledged to walk away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, disappointing allies like Japan and ceding ground to China in the Pacific leadership stakes.

When Kissinger and Nixon launched their detente with China 45 years ago it was in part to ensure Washington was not fighting the Cold War on two fronts against both Beijing and Moscow.

Now, Trump appears to be trying to flip this paradigm on its head by needling China while showing all signs of wanting to thaw relations with Vladimir Putin's aggressive Russia.

He has pushed back furiously at the suggestion in leaks from the CIA that Putin's intelligence services hacked US political parties and planted false news to further Trump's campaign.

After her chat with Trump, Fiorina even tried to flip the focus of the scandal by saying they discussed "hacking, whether it's Chinese hacking or purported Russian hacking."

- Order of friendship -

Trump has defended his desire to have better relations with Russia, arguing it would be a good partner in the fight against the Islamic State group, despite Putin's annexation of Crimea.

Last week, Putin reciprocated Trump's evident enthusiasm for closer ties, dubbing him a "clever person" who will "fully and quite quickly grasp a different level of responsibility."

And, while clues to the detail of Trump's future foreign policy are lacking, his choice of personnel speaks volumes.

Trump's national security adviser will be former US defense intelligence chief Mike Flynn, reportedly forced into retirement by Obama's administration for his erratic style.

Flynn was a guest at a 2015 Moscow dinner held by Russia's state television network RT to honor Putin, and has defended Moscow from criticism of its campaign in Syria.

Meanwhile, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, favorite to be named Trump's secretary of state, opposed sanctions on Russia and in 2013 was awarded the Order of Friendship by Putin.

 

 

John Kelly, the Marine General to head Homeland Security

 
‎Wednesday, ‎December ‎14, ‎2016, ‏‎6:03:01 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Dec 12, 2016 - John Kelly, the retired Marine Corps general picked Monday by Donald Trump to be Homeland Security secretary, will take the lead in the new administration's promised fight against Islamic extremists and illegal immigration.

The third former general chosen for President-elect Trump's cabinet, Kelly capped a 45-year military career as head of the US Southern Command, an assignment that immersed him in border security issues, migrant flows and counter-drug operations in the Caribbean and Central and South America.

That experience -- and his record running large organizations -- will be useful if he is confirmed by Congress to take charge of the Department of Homeland Security, a sprawling bureaucracy responsible for border protection and internal security.

With 240,000 civil servants, Homeland Security includes the Secret Service, the Coast Guard, immigration and customs enforcement, and the agency that protects airports.

It also has an intelligence arm and an office dedicated to preventing nuclear terrorism.

Those functions would make Kelly a pivotal figure in carrying out Trump's election promises to build a wall on the Mexican border, deport undocumented immigrants and tighten legal immigration processes to screen out potential extremists.

The blunt-talking Kelly is close to retired general James Mattis, Trump's nominee for Secretary of Defense. Kelly served as Mattis's top aide in the 2003 assault on Baghdad that crushed Saddam Hussein's army.

He is also shaped by the experience of having his own son, also a Marine, die in battle. First Lieutenant Robert Michael Kelly was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2010.

A native of Boston, Kelly, 66, enlisted in the Marines when he was 20, spent two years in an infantry company, and then left to go to university.

After graduating he rejoined the Corps as a second lieutenant and rose steadily through a number of positions, including company and battalion commands.

In the late 1990s, he was the Marine Corps commandant's liaison to Congress, the first of two such stints that exposed him to the political give-and-take between the military and legislators.

In 1999, he began a two-year stint as special assistant to the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, in Mons, Belgium.

In 2002-3, as a colonel and then brigadier general, Kelly returned to the 1st Marine Division, serving under then major general Mattis in the successful assault on Baghdad.

Five years later he was back in Iraq for the US occupation, holding two posts over the 2008-2011 period. He earned his fourth star when he was named to head the US Southern Command in 2012, a position he held until retiring in January 2016.

Besides contending with violent drug gangs operating across the region and deep inside the United States, Kelly also was responsible for the prison for war on terror detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The facility still houses 59 men, including the alleged masterminds of the September 11, 2001 attacks, despite President Barack Obama unfulfilled pledge to shut it down.

- Massive security bureaucracy -

Managing the Department of Homeland Security, which was established after the 9/11 attacks, will be a massive task in itself.

Representative Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, recently said it needs a sweeping overhaul.

"It's time to undertake wholesale reform at DHS, including eliminating bureaucratic bloat, scrapping failing offices, and cutting through the red tape," he said in a speech at the Heritage Foundation conservative think tank.

"We must make sure DHS stays ahead of our enemies and that it leverages private sector innovation to deal with emerging threats from drones, IEDs, and beyond."

 

 

Indonesia, India pledge closer maritime ties

 
‎Wednesday, ‎December ‎14, ‎2016, ‏‎6:03:01 AMGo to full article
New Delhi (AFP) Dec 12, 2016 - The leaders of Indonesia and India pledged greater maritime cooperation Monday, as Asia's two largest democracies sought to counter China's rising influence in the region.

On his first ever visit to India, Indonesian President Joko Widodo met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi where both stressed the need for freedom of navigation rights and urged peaceful resolution in the disputed South China Sea.

"As strategic partners and maritime neighbours, the two leaders emphasised the importance of further consolidating the security and defence cooperation," a joint statement said.

"Regarding the South China Sea, the two sides stressed the importance of resolving disputes by peaceful means, in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law."

China is at loggerheads with some Southeast Asian nations over its claim to large swathes of the South China Sea.

Unlike some, Jakarta has long maintained it has no maritime disputes with China in the South China Sea and does not contest ownership of reefs or islets there.

But Beijing's expansive claims overlap Indonesia's exclusive economic zone -- waters where a state has the right to exploit resources -- around the Natunas, a remote scattering of islands that are rich fishing grounds.

In June, Widodo toured the islands on a warship, in a move seen as sending a strong message to China to respect Indonesian sovereignty.

India, which holds maritime drills with several countries including the United States, has no claims in the South China Sea, but both Delhi and Jakarta back freedom of navigation in the waterway.

Widodo and Modi also agreed to step up security dialogue and increase joint exercises.

Separately, Widodo called on local firms to set up shop in Indonesia to increase investment in its pharmaceutical, IT and auto industries.

Indonesia is India's biggest trading partner in southeast Asia, with two-way commerce at $16 billion in 2015-16 and Indian investments totalling about $15 billion.

 

 

 

 

 

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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

into a PowerPoint presentation. It is very large; 67 megabytes:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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
Belligerents
Sudan JEM factions
Bandera Darfur.svg SLM (Minnawi faction)
Sudan LJM
Allegedly supported by:
 Chad
 Eritrea
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
Strength
NRF/JEM: Unknown N/A 9,065
Casualties and losses
unknown
  • 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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