TRUMP ADMINISTRATION SEEKS INPUTS FROM BUSINESSMEN ON AFGHANISTAN
In recent weeks, top advisers to U.S. President Donald Trump sought alternatives to the Defense Department plans in Afghanistan from private security contractors, the New York Times reported. Stephen Bannon and Jared Kushner, two top White House advisers, allegedly sought alternative strategies on reshaping the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan from Stephen Feinberg, the billionaire owner of military contractor DynCorp, and Erik Prince, a founder of security contractor Blackwater and brother of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos.
On Saturday Bannon met with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to present their ideas, though Mattis reportedly declined to include the proposals in the strategic review he is conducting with other U.S. officials. By seeking the input of companies that could potentially reap tremendous profits from changes in U.S. policy, Dr. Sean McFate, an expert on private military contractors, says the “conflict of interest in this [strategy] is transparent.”
He also pointed out that, “most of these contractors are not even American, so there is a lot of moral hazard.”
G20 VIOLENCE LEADS TO CALLS FOR CURBS ON LEFT-LEANING PROTESTERS
After days of protests in Hamburg during the G20 summit, top supporters of German Chancellor Angela Merkel have called for policies that would clamp down on violent left-wing extremists. After hundreds of protesters looted local businesses and even threw Molotov cocktails, Germany’s justice minister proposed investing more in measures to counter left-wing extremism and even said no German city would ever have to host an international summit again. Likewise, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said the riots must constitute “a turning point in our view of the left-wing scene’s readiness to use violence.”
The protests have become a political flashpoint in light of parliamentary elections in Germany this September. Martin Schulz, the leader of Merkel’s left-leaning rival party the Social Democrats, likened the protests to “terrorism,” adding that they had “taken a city hostage for their folly.” Right-leaning allies of Merkel have used the events as an opportunity to blame the Social Democrats for lax attitudes towards left-wing extremism, while those on the left have blamed Merkel for lapses in security.
U.K. GOVERNMENT RELEASES TERRORISM SURVIVAL TIPS VIDEO FOR TRAVELERS
The U.K. government has issued a new video on how vacationers should respond to an armed terrorist attack. Employing the “run, hide, tell” message introduced after a gunman killed 30 British citizens in an attack in Tunisia, the video advises that individuals unable to escape safely should barricade themselves indoors and silence their phones as they await help.
Though government officials insist that the video was not released in response to specific intelligence on an upcoming attack, national counter-terrorism official Scott Wilson said, “As we saw in Tunisia in 2015, any westerner is likely to be a target anywhere in the world.”
In recent months, the U.K. has seen a spate of local attacks, including a bomb detonated at a concert in Manchester and stabbings in London.
CHINESE TODDLERS SENT ABROAD FOR STUDY TOURS
As Chinese students compete more and more for competitive places in top schools both at home and abroad, a growing number preschoolers have begun study tours in the U.S. and other Western nations. According to a recent report, parents regularly spend approximately $3,000-$4,000 USD to join summer camps or kindergartens in nations like the U.S. and U.K., where they can practice English, experience a foreign culture, and gain a competitive advantage over their peers as they begin schooling.
Zhang Jie, director of study tour business at leading Chinese tour agency Ctrip, said that the number of parents electing to send children between the ages of three and six has risen dramatically in recent months. Whereas a year ago a similar tour group said these children made up only 6 per cent of their business, Zhang reported that this summer 10 per cent of his company’s tours have been booked by parents of children still in pre-school.
SWEDEN RANKED TOP COUNTRY FOR MIGRANTS IN NEW STUDY
A new ranking from U.S. News and World Report has deemed Sweden the top country for international migrants, followed by Canada, Switzerland, Australia and Germany. The United States came in seventh overall, while the United Kingdom ranked 17th.
The magazine compiled the ranking by considering opinion surveys of over 21,000 business leaders and other elites, integration analysis conducted by the United Nations, and economic indicators like income inequality and unemployment. Generally, European and North American nations ranked highly, while wealthy small nations like the UAE, Singapore and Qatar (15th, 18th and 23rd respectively) led the way for the rest of the world. India placed 72nd of the 80 countries surveyed, while Pakistan placed 75th. Kenya was last overall.