PARIS PULLOUT IS A STRATEGIC GIFT TO CHINA
Trump has managed to turn “America First into America Isolated”, said The New York Times. His pull out of the Paris climate accord creates a vacuum of global leadership and is “the greatest strategic gift to the Chinese”. Trump called it “a reassertion of America’s sovereignty”, but it makes the U.S. join Nicaragua and Syria who also rejected the agreement. Analysts say it is a signal to the world that it is time to rebalance their portfolios by effectively selling some of their stock in Washington. The Washington Post called it an “abdication of moral power” whose real world impact is more diplomatic than environmental. It boosts China’s desire for a partnership with Europe as a balancing strategy against the United States. But most of all it is “an important symbolic move – a middle finger to the rest of the world, and to future generations”, said a columnist in The Guardian.
PATRIOTIC RUSSIAN HACKERS
As the world continues to speculate Russian interference and hacking attacks in elections in the U.S. and France, Vladimir Putin said that patriotic Russian hackers may have staged cyber attacks against countries that had strained relations with Moscow on their own initiative. “We’re not doing this on the state level,” he said. “If they (hackers) are patriotically-minded, they start to make their own contribution to what they believe is the good fight against those who speak badly about Russia,” said Putin. The boundary between state and private action in Russia, however, is often blurry, particularly in matters relating to the projection of Russian influence abroad. “I can imagine that someone is doing this purposefully — building the chain of attacks so that the territory of the Russian Federation appears to be the source of that attack,” Putin said.
IN BRITAIN’S POLL CAMPAIGN, THE GAP NARROWS
In Britain, Theresa May’s headline achievement this past month has been to create a stage on which Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn can woo the sympathies of almost everyone who wants politics to be different. The Tories are still the favourites to win, but calling a snap election is starting to look foolish. When the campaign began, “there was an air of inevitability about her victory. Some even predicted the biggest landslide in decades. No longer,” said The Guardian. The previously yawning gap between her and Corbyn has narrowed. A more limited win could potentially undermine her authority as she negotiates Britain’s torturous departure from the European Union. “May has fashioned herself as ‘not Corbyn’ without explaining why people should vote for her, while Corbyn has not proven to be the scary monster that some had feared.”
MORE SANCTIONS ON NORTH KOREA LIKELY
The United Nations Security Council is set to vote on a U.S. and Chinese proposal to blacklist more North Korean individuals and entities after the country’s repeated ballistic missile launches in defiance of the UN ban. The resolution is likely to sanction the Koryo Bank and Strategic Rocket Force of the Korean People’s Army, and 14 people, including a spy. It is unclear how Moscow would vote, especially after the U.S. imposed its own sanctions on two Russian firms for their support of North Korea’s weapons programmes. The Trump administration has been pressing Beijing aggressively to rein in its ally North Korea, warning that all options are on the table if Pyongyang persists with its nuclear and missile development. The Security Council first imposed sanctions on Pyongyang in 2006. North Korea has threatened to conduct its sixth nuclear test.
BELATED BEATLEMANIA IN CUBA
Communist-run Cuba, which once frowned upon the Beatles as a decadent Western influence, held its first open-air concert in a Havana park to celebrate 50 years since the release of the band’s landmark album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. Many Cubans who could not enjoy the music at the time the group was famous flocked to the concert to make up for lost time. Beatlemania has flourished belatedly on the Caribbean island, where authorities in the 1960s and 1970s considered Beatles songs “ideological diversionism”. That censorship faded after the Cold War ended and late President Fidel Castro in 2000 pulled a cultural about-face, calling John Lennon a “revolutionary” hero and unveiling a bronze statue of him sitting on a bench in a park. “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one” from the song “Imagine” is engraved in Spanish at the feet of the statue.