Sunday, July 10, 2016

Typhoon Nepartak leaves 2 dead, 17 missing

Two people have died and 17 remain missing after Typhoon Nepartak made landfall and swept through east China’s Fujian Province, authorities said Sunday.
As of 1 p.m., 438,000 residents in nine cities had been temporarily relocated as the typhoon destroyed more than 1,000 houses, according to a written statement issued by the provincial flood control office.
Nearly 49,000 hectares of crops were damaged by the typhoon, 4,500 hectares of which were totally destroyed. Nearly 400 flights were canceled, and more than 300 bullet trains were suspended, according to the statement.
Heavy rain is forecast to continue in the province, and the above numbers may rise.
Nepartak has faded into a tropical depression, but will continue to bring wind and rain to provinces including Jiangxi and Zhejiang, bringing more risks to the already-weather battered area.
Typhoon Nepartak has left at least five people missing, damaged 1,000 houses and disrupted traffic after making landfall Saturday afternoon in east China’s Fujian Province.
According to local weather bureau, the first typhoon of the season landed at 1:45 p.m. in Shishi City, packing winds of up to 100 km per hour.
A total of 428,800 people in six cities, including the provincial capital of Fuzhou, have been relocated, said the local flood control authorities.
From 8 a.m. Friday to 5 p.m. Saturday, four counties received precipitations ranging from 282 mm to 405 mm and another 21 counties reported precipitations between 100 mm and 200 mm.
Flooding inundated farmland, villages and even urban areas and damaged roads.
Five airports have been closed, resulting in the cancellation of nearly 400 flights. A total of 341 high-speed trains and almost 5,000 buses have also been canceled.
More than 33,000 fishing boats are taking shelter in port.
Air-passenger services and passenger ships to Taiwan across strait have all been suspended.
Power supply is out in some remote areas.

Bill Shorten concedes election defeat

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Australia’s leader of the opposition Labor party, Bill Shorten, has conceded defeat in the general election congratulating the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the ruling coalition’s victory. The counting of the ballots cast last Saturday is still underway. According to the latest results, the Liberal-National Coalition is likely to win 74 seats, while Labor could garner 66. “I hope for the nation’s sake that the coalition does a good job,” the opposition leader said. Shorten previously said he would not acknowledge his defeat unless the coalition won 76 seats.

Trains collide in Czech Republic  

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A head-on collision between two passenger trains in the west of the Czech Republic, near the German border early on Sunday morning, has injured seven people, according to local media. Police say they have opened a case into alleged criminal negligence, though the exact cause of the crash has not been established.

Shinzo Abe’s coalition secures majority in upper house

>Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition has secured a majority of votes in the upper house of parliament, Japanese public broadcaster NHK , citing the election committee. The bloc consisting of the Liberal-democratic (LDP) and “New Komeito” parties have secured 62 out of 121 seats contested in this election campaign, according to the committee. Japan’s major opposition Democratic Party won only 20 seats. If he can achieve a two-thirds majority in the upper house, having already secured as much in the lower house, Abe is hoping for backing for his economic policies. The prime minister also wants a referendum on the constitutional changes he proposes, to facilitate debate on the country’s military action overseas. Twenty-six seats are still being fought over.
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NATO ‘speaks of defense, prepares offensive’: Gorbachev

NATO assurances that it seeks deterrence and dialogue with Russia, the alliance seems to be preparing to escalate conflict, says Mikhail Gorbachev, the man praised for ending the Cold War after the alliance convened at a summit in Warsaw.
“The rhetoric in Warsaw screams of an intention to practically declare war on Russia. They only talk about defense, but in fact they are preparing an offensive,” the former Soviet leader told Interfax. Gorbachev, who played a key part in deescalating tensions between the Soviet Union and the West in the 1980s and eventually withdrew soviet troops from eastern Europe, was commenting on the two-day NATO summit in the Polish capital. Ironically, the city once lent its name to NATO’s communist counterpart, the Warsaw Pact, but has now seen leaders of the US-led alliance negotiating increased pressure on Russia.
NATO accused Russia of “provocative military activities in the periphery of NATO territory”and“willingness to attain political goals by the threat and use of force”. The alliance said Moscow’s actions “are a source of regional instability, fundamentally challenge the alliance, have damaged Euro-Atlantic security, and threaten our long-standing goal of a Europe whole, free, and at peace.”
The key result of the Warsaw summit was the long-promised deployment of additional NATO troops at Russia’s border, namely in host nation Poland and the Baltic States. NATO claims that the deployment is necessary to prevent a possible attack from Russia and reassure the eastern European nations that other members are committed to defend them.
The anticipated decision and the entire event is perceived by many people as anti-Russian, Brian Becker from the anti-war ‘Answer Coalition’ told RT.
“It is a big show: you have 2,500 officials; you have 2,000 media, and you have the 28 members of NATO plus 26 partnering countries […] almost a quarter of the countries in the world under a US-led military alliance threatening Russia,” he said. “It is perceived as such in Russia, and it should be perceived as such.”
Russia believes that NATO’s new troop deployments as well as an increased number of military trainings near Russia’s territory, the creation of anti-ballistic missile sites in Europe and other moves are a threat to Russia’s national security. Its response was to increase its own troops in the west, saying it’s necessary to counter NATO’s new capabilities.
The alliance, Moscow says, plays the card of perceived Russian aggression to justify its overdue existence and push European nations into increasing defense spending. Improving budget discipline was praised by the alliance at the summit, even though the majority of members are still below NATO’s 2 percent GDP benchmark for military spending.
Critics of NATO like Gorbachev say it is taking risks by alienating Russia to secure its own goals.
“The world should realize that it can’t pretend that nothing concerning is happening. Russia cannot but keep its defense line, and this horrifying process must be stopped,” he said. “World peoples should stop this slide towards war so that nobody dared gamble with escalating the global tension and push the world to a new shooting war.”
The concern seems to be shared by some NATO members, which amid the summit reiterated on numerous occasions that the alliance is not seeking confrontation with Russia.
“We must ask if the world would be a better place when both sides conduct military exercises on the borders and arm themselves,” German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel told Passauer Neue Presse on Thursday.
French President Francois Hollande said that the defensive block “has no role at all to be saying what Europe’s relations with Russia should be,” adding that France doesn’t see Russia as a threat.
NATO’s official stance on Russia is that it wants to deter it while keeping channels open“when Russia’s actions make that possible”. But it also condemned Russia’s military presence in Syria and its support of the Syrian government, even though in Syria, Russia and NATO members have a rare moment of limited cooperation in fighting against terrorist groups.
Practically all ties with Russia were suspended by NATO after the Ukrainian political crisis escalated tension between the two. The NATO-Russia Council, a body that is supposed to tackle the differences, was reconvened after a two-year break and is to hold a meeting next week in Brussels.
Other decisions taken by NATO members at the Warsaw summit included the continued training of Iraqi troops, which will be moved from Jordan to Iraq proper, closer cooperation with the European Union on issues like opposing Russia and tackling the refugee crisis and deploying AWACS aircraft to monitor airspace over Syria and Iraq, “raising situational awareness” for the anti-IS operation led by the US.RT news
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Netanyahu remarks before the weekly Cabinet meeting

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting this morning:
“I am pleased to announce that Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry will arrive today in Israel. I will meet with him this afternoon and again this evening. The previous visit by an Egyptian Foreign Minister to Israel was in 2007, almost a decade ago. Today’s visit is important from many points-of-view. It teaches about the change that has come over Israel-Egypt relations, including President El-Sisi’s important call to advance the peace process with both the Palestinians and Arab countries. The Egyptian Foreign Minister is coming on behalf of the President of Egypt; we welcome him. I would like to thank attorney Yitzhak Molcho who has greatly contributed to realizing this visit.
Last Friday I returned from an important visit to four African countries. The trip began with an historic summit, not just with the four leaders of these countries, but with another three leaders; all-in-all seven leaders from seven African countries, the populations of which number approximately 260 million people. The seven leaders agreed to act to strengthen our links with additional African countries. They declared that they would work to restore Israel as an observer to the African Union, which is composed of 54 countries. Even though this is a process that will take time, there is no doubt that this is the start of a long journey toward dealing with the automatic majority against Israel in international forums, an automatic majority that rests, first and foremost, on a bloc of African countries. This will not be achieved immediately. It will take a lot of time, but we have begun the process.
During the visit we signed a series of agreements with Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia. No less important, approximately 70 Israeli businesspeople came on the visit. They met with their African counterparts and government representatives. Many of them told me that the visit opened doors and advanced their economic interests, as well as those of the State of Israel, on the continent, in those countries. I add that this will contribute not only to economic relations, but also to diplomatic and security relations.
Here I need to point out: All of these countries, without exception, and many others, are interested in enhancing relations with Israel because they see Israel and its technological capabilities as a major force, first of all, that could assist them in the war against radical Islam that is inundating all of Africa. They want to be close to us; they want our help. This is the first thing. The second thing is that they see Israel’s technological and entrepreneurial ability as a very major tool in developing their countries in all areas; we will discuss this later. A third point: Both during this visit and afterwards, we are receiving calls from other countries, some of which we do not have relations with, that they want to enhance relations. That is to say, there is a certain process here that is advancing toward the enhancement and normalization of our ties with African countries. Today, the Cabinet will discuss ways to advance these ties and these opportunities, which are very important to the State of Israel.
I wish to thank to all those who took part in this great effort: To the staffs from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Security Council, my office and those of other ministries, to the security and administrative personnel who worked hard to make possible a very complex four-day four-nation visit. I would like to especially thank Minister Miri Regev and the staff of the Information Center who labored very hard to prepare the emotional ceremony marking the 40 anniversary of the Entebbe rescue mission.
Today, the Cabinet will approve a NIS 50 million plan to strengthen Kiryat Arba and the Jewish community in Hebron. Government offices, I must note, have all been recruited to assist the residents who stand heroically in the face of vicious terrorism, including yesterday’s terrorist attack in which, happily, no lives were lost.”

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