Asia-Pacific trade deal signed by 11 nations

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Eleven Asia-Pacific countries have just signed the trade pact formerly known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Tim McDonald BBC Although the US pulled out last year, the deal was salvaged by the remaining members, who signed it at a ceremony in the Chilean city of Santiago. Chilean foreign minister Heraldo Munoz said the agreement was a strong signal “against protectionist pressures, in favour of a world open to trade”. The deal covers a market of nearly 500 million people, despite the ... Read More »

Obama in Talks to Provide Shows for Netflix

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WASHINGTON — Former President Barack Obama is in advanced negotiations with Netflix to produce a series of high-profile shows that will provide him a global platform after his departure from the White House, according to people familiar with the discussions. By MICHAEL D. SHEAR, KATIE BENNER and JOHN KOBLIN The New York Times Under terms of a proposed deal, which is not yet final, Netflix would pay Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, for exclusive content that would be available only on the streaming ... Read More »

Use of the word ‘radicalisation’ is ballooning – and it’s hiding the real causes of violence

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“Radicalisation” recently started appearing as an explanation for US high school shootings in my newsfeeds. Rob Faure Walker The Conversation In an article titled “Call the Florida shooting what it is: terrorism”, Teen Vogue explores the murderer’s connections to white supremacy and claims that “the source of their radicalisation” is the “main question currently plaguing our society”. This was the first time that I had noticed that the US media were using “radicalisation” as an explanation for this horrendous phenomenon. ... Read More »

Russia Should Go Beyond Humanitarian Corridors in Syria

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Russia’s proposal for humanitarian corridors for Eastern Ghouta and Rukban camp have little chance of mitigating suffering there. Sam Heller ICG Instead, Moscow should push for a negotiated resolution of Eastern Ghouta through UN Security Council Resolution 2401 and secure normal aid agency access to Rukban, thereby enhancing its credibility as a mediator. Syria’s civilians have suffered tremendously through the country’s seven years of conflict. Now, as the Syrian government and its allies prepare to retake Damascus’s Eastern Ghouta suburbs, ... Read More »

US Tariffs: ‘Aluminum Companies Will Benefit, Everyone Else Will Lose’ – Analyst

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Trump’s decision to introduce higher tariffs on steel and aluminum imports would be detrimental to both the US and the EU. Sputnik This is what French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has stated, noting that the US measures would have a major impact on the European economy. Sputnik discussed this with Simon Lester, Trade Policy Analyst at Cato Institute. Sputnik: What is your take on President Trump’s statement that the US has been suffering from unfair trade, is that really the case? ... Read More »

Kim’s initiative: The breakthrough the world has been waiting for?

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North Korea has offered every precondition Seoul and Washington set for talks. But while the spectrum of opportunity has dramatically expanded, so, too, have the risks Andrew Salmon Asia Times The Korean Peninsula is arguably the world’s most dangerous geopolitical flashpoint, but rarely – if ever – in inter-Korean relations has one side offered so much so swiftly. According to South Korean officials who returned from two meetings in Pyongyang on Tuesday and delivered a press briefing in the South, ... Read More »

Another oil firm seeks sweeping injunction against UK protesters

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Critics say legal move by UK Oil and Gas, that could see protesters at its sites jailed and fined, is draconian and anti-democratic Rob Evans The Guardian Another firm is seeking a sweeping injunction against environmental protesters, drawing accusations that the legal move is “draconian and chillingly anti-democratic”. UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) has applied for a broad injunction to prevent campaigners from mounting protests that it says would unlawfully interfere with its operations. The injunction, if granted by a… ... Read More »

Israel passes law to strip residency of Jerusalem’s Palestinians

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Palestinians slam new ‘breach of loyalty’ legislation as ‘extremely racist’ and a violation of international law. Al Jazeera The Israeli parliament has passed a law that allows the minister of interior to revoke the residency rights of any Palestinian in Jerusalem on grounds of a “breach of loyalty” to Israel. The bill, ratified on Wednesday, will also apply in cases where residency status was obtained on the basis of false information, and in cases where “an individual committed a… Under the new… Israel ... Read More »

Buddhist Militancy Rises Again in Sri Lanka

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An upsurge of attacks against Muslims by Sinhala Buddhist militants in Sri Lanka has raised fears of a new round of communal violence. Alan Keenan ICG In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s Sri Lanka Senior Analyst Alan Keenan says the government needs to act urgently to prevent the violence from spinning out of control, by enforcing laws against hate speech and arresting and prosecuting those involved in organising the violence. Sri Lanka has declared a state of emergency for ten days ... Read More »

Peacekeeping in Ukraine’s Donbas: Opportunities and Risks

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The prospect of a UN peacekeeping force in Ukraine’s Donbas offers a rare opening to discuss how to resolve the conflict. ICG But Moscow’s diplomatic overtures also risk fueling political infighting in Kyiv in the run-up to next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections. The war in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region will soon enter its fifth year. In September 2017, talk of a settlement picked up after Russia circulated a draft UN Security Council resolution proposing the deployment of UN forces ... Read More »

Turkey key to Russia NATO strategy – U.S. intelligence

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Russia’s ambitious foreign policy in the Mediterranean region revolves around engagement with Turkey, U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley reported to the U.S. Senate in a worldwide threat assessment on Tuesday. Ahval According to Ashley, Russia’s foreign policy is driven by the wish to increase its defensive capacity against the United States, which it views as its primary threat, and by a desire to expand its military capabilities and influence to gain recognition as a great power. Its ... Read More »

‘This could be the end’ Italy set to fundamentally change its relation with the EU

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With anti-EU sentiment growing across the continent, is Italy the next nation to leave? EUwatch The rise of anti-establishment, populist, parties after the weekends election in Italy will have ‘signifiant meaning for the EU,’ one minister has warned. Both the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and right-wing Lega party seeing strong gains in the vote Sunday. Meanwhile, parties like Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the… ‘This could be… Read More »

Why the Dutch plan to scrap advisory referendums is a step back for democracy

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Dutch voters will go to the polls on March 21 for a referendum on the Security Act 2017, a law which grants the authorities extended surveillance rights. Matt Qvortrup The Conversation As in many other states, such legislation has raised concern in the Netherlands that the government is snooping on emails and other personal communication. Unlike most countries, however, Dutch voters can currently do something about it thanks to a 2015 law that means the government must hold an advisory ... Read More »

How to Construct a New Invisible Hand: A Conversation with Peter Barnes

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A middle path between laissez faire and centralized planning. By David Sloan Wilson and Peter Barnes Evonomics In a previous essay, I announced a new concept of the invisible hand to replace the old and erroneous idea that the pursuit of self-interest robustly benefits the common good. The new version is based on examples of the invisible hand that exist in nature, such as cells that benefit multi-cellular organisms and social insects that benefit their colonies. These lower-level units don’t have the… How ... Read More »

N. Korea says it has no need for nuclear weapons if it has security guarantee

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North Korea said it has no reason to possess nuclear weapons if it has a security guarantee, Seoul has confirmed, according to AP and Yonhap news agencies. RT North Korea also pledged to freeze its nuclear-missile activities if it holds talks with the US. Pyongyang and Seoul agreed to bilateral negotiations scheduled for next month, South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s top security adviser said, as quoted by Yonhap news agency. The leaders of both countries are expected to attend. The ... Read More »

Lessons From Cuba

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Cuba’s own experience when Soviet aid was suddenly lost shows that a country that relies on its people has nothing to fear from self-reliance – and everything to gain… Will Podmore CounterPunch The withdrawal of Soviet aid in 1990 left Cuba’s economy on a knife-edge. Cubans lost all their markets in sugar. They ceased to receive foodstuffs, fuel, wood, soap, raw materials. Calories and protein intake were reduced by half. Plans for nuclear energy had to be abandoned. The US ... Read More »