The World Today for March 16, 2016

March 16, 2016


World To Trump: Go Away

“Madness” – that was the verdict of Der Spiegel magazine's Donald Trump cover issue, his face surrounded by flames.

“Rabble-rouser,” the German weekly called him. “The world's most dangerous man”

Since 2015, people around the globe have joked about The Donald: His Hair. His reality show.  His outrageous antics. But as the Republican front-runner continues racks up primary wins – the latest Tuesday in three states including Florida – initial local bemusement over the candidate and his follies has turned into outright fear and horror.

That's because there is a growing realization that Trump could win the presidency – and become leader of the free world. But the world isn't buying.

Consider this: The Mexicans liken him to Hitler, call him a “racist” and want him barred from the country. He has few friends in the Arab world after he called for a ban on Muslim immigrants from the US. The Israelis – usually a fan of Republican candidates – are not impressed: Only 14 percent support him, polls show. The Japanese are fretting over his attacks on their “unfair” trade practices and their “freeloading” on the US military. They wonder if the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is still a go.

And the Europeans, they are beside themselves.

Around the continent, editorials liken a Trump presidency to Armageddon: “It would be a global disaster,” wrote the UK's Financial Times. “It would threaten the stability of the world order” said Austria's Salzburger Nachrichten. His stunning successes have “left the planet incredulous,” said Spain's El Pais.

“Trump's candidacy has opened the door to madness, for the unthinkable to happen, a bad joke that might become reality,” German business daily Handelsblatt wrote.

Usually, it's diplomatic protocol – and just plain smart – for foreign leaders to refrain from commenting on American presidential candidates. They need to keep future relations smooth.

Yet this time around, there is no such reticence.

Trump is a “threat to peace,” German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel told Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

Even “Special Relationship” partner, British Prime Minister David Cameron has chimed in. “If he came to visit our country, he would unite us all against him,” Cameron told British lawmakers.

Still, Trump does have his fans: Russian President Vladimir Putin, called the candidate a “talented” individual. Dutch far-right leader, Geert Wilders, says he is “brave.” And Jean-Marie Le Pen, the former French National Front leader, a politician so outrageous that his daughter — current party head Marine Le Pen — has distanced herself from him, endorsed Trump on Twitter:

“May God protect him.” 


Cigar, Anyone?

President Obama announced the lifting of some trade restrictions on Cuba including a ban that long kept Americans from its white-sand beaches, jazz clubs and its revered cigars.

After decades of isolation, the measures to take effect Wednesday mean greater access for American companies to Cuba as well as the island nation's access to the global economy and the US dollar. The US is also moving to create regular flights and allow ships to dock at Cuban ports – even as the embargo remains in place.

Analysts say the move is intended to promote social change and a market-based economy.

On Sunday, President Obama will be the first US president to visit Cuba in almost nine decades in a major legacy-making move for his presidency.

It's Official Saint 'Mother' Teresa

The Vatican announced Tuesday that Mother Teresa will become a saint Sept. 4, a measure reaffirming her iconic status while underscoring Pope Francis' attempt to refocus the Catholic Church toward charity and the poor.

Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in 1910 in Macedonia, Mother Teresa joined the Loreto order of nuns and in the 1940s, traveled to India where she founded the Missionaries of Charity order – it currently runs 130 houses worldwide for the needy. She won the Nobel Prize for her work in 1979. She died in 1997.

“The news of Mother's sainthood is a matter for joy,” an early student of hers in India told the Associated Press. “But Mother Teresa is already like God to us.”

North Korea: Upping the Ante

North Korea sentenced American college student Otto Frederick Warmbier to 15 years hard labor for hostile acts against the country Wednesday, upping the ante in its war of words with the US just as President Obama seeks to increase pressure on the country over its nuclear arms program.

The US is currently conducting annual military exercises with South Korea – the largest in the decades of cooperation between the two allies, which has infuriated North Korea: In response, it has threatened more nuclear tests.

The United Nations Security Council tightened sanctions on the country this month over its nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch weeks later. North Korea is expected to take center stage at a global nuclear security summit in Washington later this month.

US Companies Under Fire Again

European lawmakers grilled Apple, Google and other US company executives over their tax practices Tuesday, accusing the firms of avoiding paying their fair share of taxes.

At the parliament, lawmakers accused these companies of using complex tax structures to move billions in profits offshore for years. Officials from Google and other companies retorted they adhere to national laws where they are based and take advantage of tax incentives offered to attract companies – as all multinationals do.

US companies have come under fire for years in Europe for tax, data privacy and anti-trust issues. Apple is currently being investigated by the EU for its tax scheme at its base in Ireland. Google is being examined for anti-trust issues, while Facebook and Google have come under scrutiny for alleged privacy violations, especially in Germany. All deny wrongdoing.

Paris Attack: Frustrating Manhunt

Belgian police killed a gunman in a raid on a Brussels apartment linked to Islamist militants involved in November's Paris attacks Tuesday but failed to capture two others.

The raid is part of an almost five-month long manhunt for accomplices of the attackers including French citizen Salah Abdeslam, 26, who is on the run. Eight attackers were killed in the attacks, and another died in a raid in November in Paris.

French officials have maintained that the planning of the Nov. 13 attacks that killed 130 occurred in Belgium, by French and Belgium nationals, who have fought with Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

An estimated 5 percent of Belgium's 11 million people are Muslim. The country has the highest rate of citizens joining IS in Syria and Iraq.


London's Air Pigeon Patrol

The poor unloved pigeon. Such a bad reputation – a nuisance at Trafalgar, a health risk, a rat with wings.

But these days, London officials worried over air pollution that tops China's and is responsible for thousands of deaths annually is deploying these ubiquitous birds to come to the rescue.

Deployed to patrol the air, they are strapped with a pollution sensor and a GPS tracker, which detects the levels of nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere. Then they tweet the readings to anyone who wants to know. 

Considering the millions of deaths worldwide, these tweeting pigeons could be lifesavers. 

Wed, 03/16/2016 – 05:55

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