Diplomacy

Governments that pay people smugglers should face legal action, Indonesia’s UNHCR rep says

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The UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) representative in Indonesia, Thomas Vargas, has warned people smugglers remain active in the region and said legal action should be taken against governments that make payments to smugglers. By Indonesia correspondent Samantha Hawley ABC An Australian official is alleged to have given six crew members $US30,000 ($37,000) to turn a boat carrying 65 asylum seekers back to Indonesia in May 2015. In an interview with the ABC, Mr Vargas said any nation that ... Read More »

Final Curtain for Venezuela’s Democracy as Parliament is Dissolved

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The Venezuelan government has dissolved the elected, opposition-led parliament and initiated de facto rule. Foreign governments and multilateral organisations should regard all government actions carried out in contravention of the 1999 constitution as invalid and press the government to take urgent steps toward the restoration of democracy. ICG On 19 August, Venezuela’s self-styled Constituent Assembly, installed two weeks earlier by the government of President Nicolás Maduro, announced that it was taking over the functions of the country’s opposition-led parliament, elected ... Read More »

China now patrolling Philippines sea, air space

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China now patrols Philippine seas and air space. Its coast guard controls entry into and the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal, 120 miles off Luzon. Jarius Bondoc The Philippine Star Paramilitary fleets increasingly are fishing in the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone. Warships venture close to Zambales and Mindoro in the West Philippine Sea. Chinese aircraft regularly confront Philippine flights to Pag-asa Island in Palawan’s Kalayaan Island Group. Maritime research vessels are exploring the Philippine western seabed as well as Benham ... Read More »

Decoding the Korean Peninsula Missile Rhetoric

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Fiery rhetoric between North Korea and the U.S. adds risks to Korean peninsula tensions, but should not cause panic. Outside players should maximise the potential benefit of an established pattern of de-escalation in the fall. Christopher Green ICG They – and Pyongyang – should also back South Korea’s offers of dialogue. North Korea once again captured the world’s attention when it boldly warned that it is ready to fire missiles over Japan toward the U.S. territory of Guam. The unusually specific ... Read More »

5 important facts about China’s alleged incursion in Pag-Asa Island

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Not long after the Philippines hosted the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ministerial meetings, reports emerged that Chinese vessels have been gathering near Pag-Asa (Thitu) island in the West Philippine… RICHARD JAVAD HEYDARIAN GMA News The source of the information is reportedly the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which has been monitoring Chinese activities close to our land features in the area. Magdalo Party-List Rep. Gary Alejano, a former decorated soldier with extensive contacts to former AFP colleagues, ... Read More »

North Korea, US playing dangerous game of chicken

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So far the war of words between Kim and Trump is just that – an exchange of fiery rhetoric. But the risk of ‘jaw-jaw’ turning into ‘war-war’ is deepening. Yoon Young-kwan Asia Times So far, the war between US President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un over the latter’s nuclear program has been fought only in words. But each turn of the rhetorical screw deepens the risk that, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, “jaw-jaw” could turn into “war… Last ... Read More »

Why Britain’s voters must have a second referendum on Brexit

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Leavers’ dreams of a country cast free of Brussels are unravelling as reality and the risks of going it alone set in Vernon Bogdanor The Guardian Last week, the government set out key elements of its strategy for achieving Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. It seeks a soft landing to a hard Brexit. It wants a time-limited transition period after March 2019, when Britain is due to leave the bloc. During that period, the government hopes for a ”close ... Read More »

Elon Musk leads 116 experts calling for outright ban of killer robots

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Open letter signed by Tesla chief and Alphabet’s Mustafa Suleyman urges UN to block use of lethal autonomous weapons to prevent third age of war Samuel Gibbs The Guardian Some of the world’s leading robotics and artificial intelligence pioneers are calling on the United Nations to ban the development and use of killer robots. Tesla’s Elon Musk and Alphabet’s Mustafa Suleyman are leading a group of 116 specialists from across 26 countries who are calling for the ban on autonomous ... Read More »

Turkey and Russia’s tomato crisis explained

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Nearly two years after Turkey downed a Russian fighter jet, relations between Ankara and Moscow are largely restored. The two countries last month signed an arms deal, but tomatoes are still a thorny issue. Zeynep Şahin TRTworld Turkish and Russian delegations will meet in Turkey’s coastal city of Izmir on Friday to discuss trade and economic relations. The humble tomato is also expected to be on the table — and it’s playing an outsized role in the talks. The two ... Read More »

Californians once again want out of US

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A group of Californians has submitted yet another initiative to secede from the United States as the country is gripped by one of its worst political crisis in recent history. LOS ANGELES – Agence France-Presse Hurriyet The new “Calexit” ballot proposal put forward on Aug. 17 by a fringe political group calls for a constitutional convention to overhaul one of the country’s founding documents on grounds it is incompatible with what the Golden State stands for. “The current relationship between ... Read More »

Did Russia supply Ukrainian rocket engine to North Korea?

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Ukraine space agency says engine identical to their own, points finger at Russia Asia Unhedged Asia Times The mystery over how North Korea obtained powerful rocket engines for its last ICBM test deepened Wednesday after Ukraine’s state space agency said the rocket engine used is the same as the type of engine used by Ukraine-made space vehicles, according to UPI. UPI was picking up on a report from US government-funded Radio Free Asia which said Ukraine denied supplying the engines ... Read More »

A Turkish-EU Opera Buffa

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When Turkey officially applied to become a full member of the European Union (EU), cell phones looked like bricks, Red Bull and The Simpsons had just made their debuts, President Ronald Reagan made his famous “Tear down this wall!” speech in West Berlin, the world population was five billion, Colonel Qaddafi in Libya was playing godfather to terrorists, Margaret Thatcher was the prime minister of Britain, Gestapo boss Klaus Barbie was sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity, ... Read More »

1974: The second Turkish invasion and the betrayal of Cyprus

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14 August marked the passage of 43 years since Turkey launched the second of its two invasions of the Republic of Cyprus. In contrast to the position when Turkey launched its first invasion on 20 July 1974, five days after an unlawful coup in Nicosia, Turkey had no pretext to justify its second invasion and the forcible transfers, deportations and other acts of ethnic cleansing which followed; both the junta in Athens and its short-lived puppet regime in Nicosia had ... Read More »

Turks celebrate 1964 napalm bombing of Cyprus

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Cyprus is Turkish, after all. Turks can do whatever they want there. They can even celebrate dropping napalm on Greeks and slaughtering them. Uzay Bulut Arutz Sheva On August 8, Muslim Turkish Cypriots and illegal settlers from Turkey celebrated the 53rd anniversary of Turkey’s napalm bombing of Greek Cypriot civilians in the Turkish-occupied enclave of Kokkina in Cyprus. Mustafa Akıncı, the president of the..In August 1964, Turkish warplanes dropped napalm bombs on Kokkina in the Tillyria peninsula, hitting residential areas ... Read More »

Sterling Tumbles as UK Inflation Stagnates

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The Pound dropped to a one month-low against the US Dollar and dipped below the €1.10 mark, when the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published data regarding UK inflation, the UK retail price index and the producer prices index. Miltiadis Skemperis Currency Solutions According to the ONS report, inflation in July remained stable at 2.6%, missing the market’s expectations for a rise at 2.7%. The retail price index edged up higher than expected at 3.6%, raising prospects for steep rail ... Read More »

Warming Turkish-Russian ties, growing rift with West creates troubling scenario for NATO

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The U.S. and NATO alliance are getting mixed signals from Turkey at a time when Russia is increasingly warming to Ankara. Jeff Daniels CNBC Turkey’s relationship with the U.S. is considered the worst it’s been in more than a decade. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin both share a general suspicion and mistrust of the U.S., and the two leaders have discussed Moscow selling its S-400 air defense system to… Yet another concern is whether Turkey ... Read More »