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Showing posts from May, 2017

EU to block any U.S. attempts for bi-lateral trade deals with members: Juncker

The head of the European Commission accused the U.S. administration on Wednesday of seeking bi-lateral trade deals with individual EU states, and said he would block any such attempt to break the bloc's unified position on trade.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the Americans were adopting a "cold shoulder" towards the Commission, the EU executive body which negotiates trade on behalf of the whole bloc.
"They say: 'We do not want to negotiate with you as a European Union, but with each member state separately,'" Juncker said.
"We cannot allow individual (trade) agreements between the Americans and individual European countries to take place."
Juncker said he had told U.S. President Trump of his concerns about Washington's protectionist stance on trade.
"I don't think it's good that there is a picture evolving where, in the future, we would do more with China than with the United States," Juncker said.

Bahrain outlaws main secular opposition group

A Bahraini court on Wednesday ordered the dissolution of the main secular opposition group which the government accuses of supporting terrorism, a ruling that human rights campaigners said was aimed at silencing peaceful dissent.
The National Democratic Action Society (Waad), a social and political association in a country where parties are not allowed, campaigns for democracy, human rights and social freedoms. 
It tweeted that the court had ordered it dissolved and its assets seized. The ruling is subject to appeal.
The Justice Ministry, which filed a case against Waad in March accusing it of "serious violations targeting the principle of respecting the rule of law, supporting terrorism and sanctioning violence," welcomed the court ruling.
The court said the group had glorified as "martyrs of the homeland" men convicted of killing three police officers in a bomb attack in 2014, the ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency BNA. 
The men were executed th…

U.S. bank shares decline on trading revenue concerns

Shares in U.S. banks fell on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 bank index .SPXBK hitting its lowest level since late 2016, after JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N) and Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) warned of revenue weakness in the current quarter.
The bank index fell as much as 2.34 percent.
Bank of America and JPMorgan each fell more than 2 percent and were the biggest drags on the S&P 500 .SPX. Goldman Sachs (GS.N), which is in the S&P financial sector index .SPSY, fell 3.7 percent after it gave a trading update.
JPMorgan's trading revenue has fallen 15 percent so far in the second quarter, its chief financial officer, Marianne Lake, told investors at a conference. She would not provide a prediction for June.
Bank of America Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan, meanwhile, told investors the bank's second-quarter trading revenue would be lower than a year ago.
"It's especially difficult because of the year-over-year comparison. 
The first and second quarter in 2016 were fairl…

Trump administration approves tougher visa vetting, including social media checks

The Trump administration has rolled out a new questionnaire for U.S. visa applicants worldwide that asks for social media handles for the last five years and biographical information going back 15 years.
The new questions, part of an effort to tighten vetting of would-be visitors to the United States, was approved on May 23 by the Office of Management and Budget despite criticism from a range of education officials and academic groups during a public comment period.
Critics argued that the new questions would be overly burdensome, lead to long delays in processing and discourage international students and scientists from coming to the United States.
Under the new procedures, consular officials can request all prior passport numbers, five years' worth of social media handles, email addresses and phone numbers and 15 years of biographical information including addresses, employment and travel history. 
Officials will request the additional information when they determine "that such…

Trump under fire over expected global climate deal withdrawal

President Donald Trump came under pressure on Wednesday from corporate CEOs, U.S. allies, Democrats and some fellow Republicans to keep the United States in a global pact to fight climate change, while a source close to the matter said Trump was preparing to pull out of the Paris accord.
A U.S. withdrawal could deepen a rift with U.S. allies. 
The United States would join Syria and Nicaragua as the world's only non-participants in the landmark 195-nation accord agreed upon in Paris in 2015.
Responding to shouted questions from reporters in the White House Oval Office, Trump declined to say whether he had made up his mind, saying, "You'll find out very soon."
"I'm hearing from a lot of people, both ways," Trump said as he met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. 
During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump blasted the accord, and called global warming a hoax aimed at weakening U.S. industry.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Tru…

Migrants find poverty, exclusion in South America's copper capital

Immigrants from around South America hoping to seek their fortunes in the continent's copper mining capital of Antofagasta, Chile, are instead finding poverty, exclusion and a precarious home in the city's growing temporary slums.
Chile, one of Latin America's most developed countries, has become a magnet in recent years for immigrants from poorer and less stable parts of the region, especially Haiti, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador.
Many are attracted to this northern Chile city, close to where the majority of mines are located in the world's biggest copper exporter. Not all seek work in the mines themselves, but rather in providing the ancillary services that mushroomed during the previous decade's commodity boom.
But the end of that boom and a sharply lower copper price have hit investment and jobs, felt particularly sharply in Chile's northern provinces. 
While most of the country has maintained weak economic growth thanks to other industries lik…

Canada's Green Party looks to build political sway beyond British Columbia

The surprise role of power-broker played by British Columbia's Green Party in the provincial election, which has pushed the party up in national polls, has seen an increase in people looking to run as candidates against Justin Trudeau's Liberals, the federal Green leader said.
Greens in the Pacific Coast province, with just three seats in the knife-edge May 9 election, joined forces with the New Democrat Party (NDP) on May 29 to unseat the incumbent Liberals who had been in power for 16 years.
The Greens were wooed by both sides for two heady weeks before pitching their lot with the NDP, which agreed to take up issues they have in common in return for the support.
The Greens' ability to govern alongside the left-leaning New Democrats will serve as a litmus test for other provincial and federal parties ahead of next year's election in Ontario, Canada's most populous province, and a national election in 2019.
The party says it has long suffered from would-be supporters v…

Manchester attacker bought most bomb parts himself: UK police

Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi likely purchased most of the key bomb components himself and many of his actions were carried out alone, British police investigating the attack said.
Officers in the northern English city have arrested 16 people since the attack in a packed concert hall killed 22 children and adults and injured 116 others last week.
"Our enquiries show Abedi himself made most of the purchases of the core components and what is becoming apparent is that many of his movements and actions have been carried out alone during the four days from him landing in the country and committing this awful attack," said Russ Jackson, head of the North West Counter Terrorism Unit.
Police have been probing Abedi's last movements by delving into his phone calls and watching his movements on closed-circuit television.
"We have also have a good understanding of the likely component parts of the bomb and where these came from," said Jackson.
Officers were still try…

Death penalty in Turkey would mean end to EU accession talks: Juncker

The European Union should continue accession negotiations with Turkey but a reintroduction of the death penalty would clearly put an end to the process, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Wednesday.
Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004 as part of a campaign for EU membership. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said he will approve its reinstatement if parliament submits such a proposal or if the measure is backed in a referendum.
"I am not of the opinion that the accession negotiations with Turkey should be stopped now," Juncker said in Berlin during a debate with students about the future of Europe.
European officials should still try to convince Turkey that it was in its own interest to adopt reforms and move towards Europe instead of turning away from the continent and its values, Juncker said.
"If Turkey will ever become a member state, I do not know," Juncker said.
He said he recently made clear in a long conversation with Erdogan tha…

The arrest of the mastermind of the economic empire Sepah by “Security and Intelligence of Sepah”

General Masoud Mehrdadi
According to news reports from Iran, General Masoud Mehrdadi ”Bonyade Ta’avone Sepah” board member, “Ansar Bank”, “Company Communication Mobile” , “Company TelecommunicationIran” as well as dozens of companies and other institutions belonging to the Sepah in “Yas Holding” belongs to the ”Bonyade Ta’avone Sepah”, the managing director engaged in economic activities in Iran was due to participate in large-scale embezzlement of 3.2 billion dollarwith General Sajjadinia his deputy has been arrested by the “Sepah Security and Intelligence”.
One of the main activities of the “Yas Holding” identify valuable property and was troubled.
The “Yas Holding” property value and troubled many Iranians inside and especially outside the country at a low price bought and then solve the problems of the “municipalities”, “Urbanland organization” and relevant departments with the actual price to sell.
General Masoud Mehrdadi in the collection of works and memoirs by some of the Sepah ar…

Majority of Likely US Voters Consider Leaks to Media 'Act of Treason' - Poll

A slight majority of US voters consider classified data leaks to the news media to be a state treason.
A slight majority of likely US voters believe leakers of classified information to the news media have committed treason, with viewpoints varying widely depending on opinions of President Donald Trump’s performance in office.
"Eighty-five percent (85%) of voters who strongly approve of the job President Trump is doing see leaks of classified information as treasonous," a press release accompanying poll stated. 
"Among voters who strongly disapprove of Trump’s job performance, just 28 percent see treason in the leaks."
Overall, 53 percent of those surveyed considered leaks treasonous, 30 percent disagreed and another 18 percent were undecided, the poll revealed.
The percentages were about the same as six years ago, when former President Barack Obama was in office and WikiLeaks began publishing thousands of classified US documents, the release explained.
But since Trump’s…

Trump Says Decision on Paris Agreement Coming 'Very Soon'

Donald Trump said that administration's decision on US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement would be made very soon.

US President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the administration's decision on US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement would be made very soon.

When asked whether Trump has already made his decision to pull out of the Paris accord, Trump said, "Very soon," according to the White House press pool.

UN Slams Israeli Settlements as Main Cause of Palestinian Suffering

Here’s a shocker for you: a new United Nations report has taken a dim view of Israeli settlements. 
The report from the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) claims that the biggest obstacle to meeting the “humanitarian needs” of the Palestinians is Israel’s presence in the West Bank and Gaza.
The OCHA report, titled "Fragmented Lives," presents a "comprehensive overview of the underlying causes or drivers of the humanitarian vulnerabilities in the oPt [occupied Palestinian territory]."
Israeli settlements in the West Bank (condemned as illegal by the UN), and the Israeli-Egyptian blockade in Gaza (deemed legal by the UN) are the primary contributors to Palestinian suffering, according to the report.
"At its heart, the crisis in the oPt is one of a lack of protection for Palestinian civilians," said report lead David Carden. 
"From violence, from displacement, from restrictions on access to services and livelihoods, and from othe…

Washington, South Korean Defense Ministry Hide THAAD Expansion from President

New South Korean President Moon Jae-in has ordered a probe into the US’ unauthorized expansion of the controversial Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD), accusing Seoul’s Defense Ministry, a holdover from the previous conservative administration, of “intentionally dropping” any mention of four additional launchers to the system.
On Tuesday, Blue House spokesman Yoon Young-chan confirmed that the South Korean Defense Ministry had deliberately misled the new president about the missile defense system.
"The Blue House has confirmed that the Defence Ministry has intentionally dropped the introduction of four more launchers in its report," Yoon said.
Radio Sputnik’s Loud and Clear spoke with China and Korea expert Keith Bennett about the expansion and how it may impact the US’ relationship with South Korea.
Bennett said that there’s "no love lost between this set of political figures in South Korea and the right wing in the US,” as Moon once served under another p…