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Showing posts from January, 2017

NATO general agrees in part with Trump criticism of NATO

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While North Atlantic Treaty (NATO) supporters predictably panned Trump's recent criticism of NATO as obsolete, some agreed with Trump including a top NATO general and the leader of the German opposition,
 1 of 2 Trump's criticism of NATO is not new nor is the support for his position. Criticism he madeearlier last yeargot positive reviews from some experts who agreed with some of the points he made. This time around NATO General Denis Mercier said that some structures of the military alliance are obsolete and need to be brought up to date and there was also a need for adaptation. Mercier felt that NATO was too much focused on sending troops abroad or expeditionary warfare. He singled out in particular the operation in Afghanistan. Mercier says that NATO's approach to fighting terrorism should be changed. In part, he said, the change should involve aiding countries under threat to develop their own long-term plans to fight terrorism. Gen. Mercier is France’s Air Force Chief…

Just a few days before Trump was inaugurated GM sends some sunshine

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(January 17) General Motors announced Tuesday just a few days before Trump's inauguration that it would invest an additional $1 billion in U.S. factories and would move some production from Mexico to the U.S.
 1 of 2 GM pointed out that the new investment is in addition to the $2.9 billion the company had announced it would invest last year. The timing and optics make it appear that GM is acting in response to president-elect Donald Trump's criticism of GM and other car makers for producing cars in Mexico and then importing them into the U.S. He threatened to impose alarge border tax on GM cars such as the Cruze imported from Mexico. Howeve, the appended video mentions that the increased investment had actually been in the works for some time. However, it might have been in anticipation of what Trump might do. Whatever the reason for the action it provided an opportunity for a triumphant tweet by Trump: Follow Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump With all of the jobs I am bringin…

Kosovo police prevent provocative Serb propaganda train from entering Kosovo

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Police in Kosovo prevented a train from Serbia painted with the colours of the Serbian flag and "Kosovo is Serbia" printed down the side from entering the country.

President of Kosovo Hashin Thaci said he had ordered police special units to the border to stop the "provocative train' which he claimed had not been cleared for entry by the authorities in the capital Prystina. The train was described in detail in arecent Digital Journalarticle before it was stopped from entering Kosovo.Thaci toldthe Gazeta Express: "I have asked them (police and interior minister) to stop imminently the train entering Kosovo at any price, Enough is enough,” Thaci said, adding that he was forced to take action after he saw the government was neglecting the issue. Serbia does not recognize the self-declared independence of Kosovo which was a former province of Serbia. Many countries recognize the independence of Kosovo:As of 1 December 2016, 110 UN states recognise the independence o…

Obama creates difficulties for Trump as he leaves office

As Obama ends his term he has been busy trying to make relations with Russia worse and create other problems for Trump. His most recent move is to try to impose UN sanctions on Syria through the UN Security Council. Earlier,Obama expelled five diplomatsand before that expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two compounds in response to alleged hacking by the Russians. The Russians have not responded with similar actions, perhaps to set the stage for better relations with Trump. Trump praised Putin for not responding. Obama has also sentU.S. troops and tanks to eastern Europe including Poland. The U.S. wants to impose sanctions on Syria due to alleged chemical weapons use by the regime early in the civil war. Both Britain and France have been working to delay the vote until Obama is out of office. As a result, the issue is almost dead for now. Nevertheless, Obama has carried on with unilateral sanctions in effect a recognition that no UN sanctions are going to be voted at this time. T…

World Economic Forum sees five main risks for global economy in 2017

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The World Economic Forum (WEF) claims that rising inequality and polarisation within societies could result in the reversal of globalization without urgent action taken to address problems.
The WEFsaid before its meeting in Davos that the gap between rich and poor had been a priime causeof the recent U.K. Brexit vote and Donald Trump's election victory in the U.S. The group warned that there would be new threats to social cohesion from a revolution in robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). The group, with reports from 700 experts, even suggests that a fundamental reform of capitalism may be needed to address the problems that are arising. There is a definite irony in the topics discussed at Davos in that the gathering is in a luxurious resort and comprises important people from many countries who in fact support the very policies that have brought about the global situation that they now decry and want to reform. A Guardian article notes:It’s that time of the year when the wor…

Eric Prince founder of Blackwater probably behind mysterious Libya bombings

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An article by Arnaud Delalande in War Is Boring reports that Intelligence Online (IOL), which covers most world intelligence services, claims that pilots flying from Al-Khadim air base in Libya work for Erik Prince former head of Blackwater.
Blackwater provided security services for US troops in Iraq and was founded by Prince.He was CEOuntil 2009 and later chairman until the firm was sold in 2010. He now heads the private equity firm Frontier Resource Group but is also chair of the Hong Kong-listed Frontier Resource Group. He lives both in Abu Dhabi, UAE and In Middleburg Virginia. In Iraq Blackwater became embroiled in controversy after what is called the Nissour Square Massacre:On September 16, 2007, employees of Blackwater Security Consulting, a private military company, shot at Iraqi civilians killing 17 and injuring 20 in Nisour Square, Baghdad while escorting a US embassy convoy.[1][2][3] The killings outraged Iraqis and strained relations between Iraq and the United States.[4] …

New Canadian International Trade Minister banned from Russia

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In a surprise move, Justin Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister, replaced prominent Liberal Stephan Dion by Chrystia Freeland who had been serving as international trade minister.
Freeland is banned from Russia as part of Russian counter-sanctions. In 2014 after the referendum and Crimea's joining Russia, the Harper Conservative Government imposed sanctions on some Russian officials. Russia responded by sanctioning 13 Canadians. Freeland responded in a tweet in March 2014: "Love Russ lang/culture, loved my yrs in Moscow; but it's an honour to be on Putin's sanction list, esp in company of friends Cotler & Grod." Freeland is a proponent of personal asset seizures and travel bans a part of an economic sanctions program against Russia. She visited Ukraine on behalf of the Liberal Party. She met with MP Petro Poroshenko who was subsequently elected president of the Ukraine. She owns an apartment with her sister in Kiev overlooking Maidan square. Freeland is known for…

Marijuana report shows some positive effects of marijuana use but more research needed

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A United States report on marijuana, by the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, concludes marijuana use can ease chronic pain and help some sleep but it also could raise the risk of becoming schizophrenic.
 1 of 2 However,the report warnsthat the current lack of information about marijuana "poses a public health risk". The experts who wrote the report said that there needed to be a national effort to learn more about marijuana and cannabinoids, similarly acting drugs. The report recommends that legal marijuana sales require that users be 18 or over. The U.S. federal government still classifies marijuana use as illegal and this imposes restrictions on research into its health benefits. The government also restricted the range of products that could be studied. While more study may be needed, this may be as much due to the differing and contradictory conclusions of studies rather than the lack of studies. The group did a review of all the scientific re…

Obama repeals policy favoring Cuban refugees

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(January 13) Obama repealed a long-standing U.S. policy that allows any Cuban who makes it to U.S. soil to be able to stay in the U.S. and become a legal resident, according to a senior U.S. administration official.

 1 of 2 The "wet foot, dry foot policy" has long been in force. It isdescribed by Wikipedia as follows: The wet foot, dry foot policy is the name given to a consequence of the 1995 revision of the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 that essentially says that anyone who fled Cuba and entered the United States would be allowed to pursue residency a year later. After talks with the Cuban government, the Clinton administration came to an agreement with Cuba that it would stop admitting people intercepted in U.S. waters. Since then, in what has become known as the "Wet foot, Dry foot" policy, a Cuban caught on the waters between the two nations (with "wet feet") would summarily be sent home or to a third country. One who makes it to shore ("dry feet&…

ILO sees problems ahead in 2017

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The International Labour Organization(ILO) warns that as inequality widens in many countries more social unrest is likely. The number of protest activities had increased last year.
For 2017there is a backgroundof economic and political uncertainty. The ILO report is downbeat about the prospects for the labour market. The report also predicted that migration could increase over the next decade as job-seekers left their home countries seeking better jobs. According to the report in the World Employment and Social Outlook, the social unrest index jumped from 2015 to 2016. The index was above its long-term average for the past four decades. The ILO report comes on the heels of a World Economic Forum Report which claimed that inequality and polarization within societies was creating a risk for the global economy in 2017. The WEF report said that growing inequality was behind the recent Brexit vote in the U.K. and the election of Donald Trump in the United States. The ILO notes that there w…

"Branch" of eastern House of Representatives set up in western Libya Tripoli

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(January 12) Another weird development is taking place on the Libyan political scene. Members of the House of Representatives (HoR) who support the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA) and Libya Political Agreement (LPA) set up a branch in Tripoli.
The GNA is situated in Tripoli in western Libya whereas the HoR government is situated in Tobruk in the east. Apparently the group has been trying to organize a meeting with a quorum to vote approval of the GNA for a year now. The HoR met in Tobruk, its headquarters on August 22, and voted not to approve the GNA. News of the new branch first broke this morning when employees of the Minister of Tourism noticed a long banner in Arabic and English announcing that it was a branch of the HoR. The building is near the main entrance to Tripoli port. Whoever put up the banner did not bother to notify the Tourism Ministry and put it up during the night. In the morning a small protest opposing the banner took place in front of the banner. a…

Eastern commander Haftar welcomed aboard Russian aircraft carrier

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(January 12) As pro-Putin President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take over as president of the United States, Russia has shown clear signs of support for Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar in eastern Libya.
Haftar is commander of the Libyan National Army, the armed forces of the House of Representatives (HoR), a rival to the UN-back Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA). Neither Haftar nor the HoR recognize the GNA although the GNA is backed and recognized by the U.S. and many European countries as the sole legitimate government. Supporters of the HoR and Haftar such as Russia, UAE, Egypt and Jordan also give lip service to supporting the GNA. The HoR has yet to vote confidence in the GNA and critics argue that the GNA is illegal until supported by the HoR and the constitutional declaration amended. On August 22 last year, the HoR voted against approving the GNA. The Russians flew Haftar by helicopter to Russia's only aircraft carrier, the Kuznetzov, for a meeting. There was cons…