The World Today for July 05, 2017

NEED TO KNOW

POLAND

The Grander Plans

US President Donald Trump might bypass Britain in his trip to Europe this week due to concerns over protests.

Polish leaders, meanwhile, are busing in thousands of people to greet Trump when his trip to their country begins Wednesday night.

NBC said they were tapping the communist party playbook, recalling how “Potemkin Poles” lined the streets when Soviet dignitaries visited.

But others said Poles were simply pro-American.

“For a US leader, visiting Poland is almost always an easy win,” wrote Deutsche Welle.

Poland’s ruling rightwing Law and Justice Party shares many of Trump’s values.

Polish President Andrzej Duda and party boss and ex-prime minister Jarosław Kaczyński clash frequently with European Union officials, saying the bloc wields too much power according to “German diktat,” the Guardian reported.

In turn, the EU accuses Duda and Kaczyński of flouting the rule of law, undercutting media freedom and intimidating the judiciary to retain their grip on power.

Law and Justice parliamentarians have also sought vigorous government intervention to save elements of the Polish economy and promoted Catholicism and traditional, social conservative values. Lastly, they’ve blocked Muslim immigrants from entering the country.

Still, Poles aren’t entirely enamored with the American president.

Skeptical of pro-Russian leanings in the White House, they want Trump to unequivocally reaffirm the US commitment to NATO, for example, the BBC said. At the same time, unlike some other NATO members, Poland spends 2 percent of GDP on its military, a likely reason for Trump to praise Warsaw.

Some complained that Trump’s visit might lend support to the Poles in their dispute with the EU.

“After a few months of his presidency, Trump has already jeopardized the Paris agreement on climate change, endangered the EU-US and NATO relationships, and now he risks blowing up the already very delicate situation in Poland and eastern Europe,” said Gianni Pittella, an Italian Socialist leader in the European Parliament, in an interview with the Guardian.

But Poland appears to have already moved on to grander plans.

Trump will attend a meeting of the ‘Three Seas’ initiative, which aims to improve infrastructure and stitch more closely together the eastern European Union countries bordering the Baltic, the Adriatic and Black Seas, Reuters reported.

Those countries – and presumably Trump, as well – hope to expand their trade links with America.

Coincidentally, the first shipment of US liquefied natural gas arrived last month in the Polish port of Swinoujscie on the Baltic, a boon for workers from Texas to Warsaw.

[siteshare]The Grander Plans[/siteshare]

WANT TO KNOW

NORTH KOREA

A Jittery Region

The White House confirmed that North Korea successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile and responded with a joint military exercise with South Korea Wednesday morning.

The joint force fired ballistic missiles in the waters along the Korean Peninsula’s east coast, the New York Times reported. But the demonstration did not faze Pyongyang, which reiterated afterward that it would not give up its efforts to bolster its nuclear and missile abilities.

The North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said its ICBM could hit the “heart of the United States” with “large heavy nuclear warheads.” But the newspaper quoted David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, as saying that Alaska is probably the limit of its strike range. Others said the North may not yet have the technology needed for guidance systems and other elements of a nuclear-armed ICBM.

The launch comes ahead of meetings between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping this week – where Trump will likely urge them both to support bolder steps to rein in Pyongyang.

[siteshare]A Jittery Region[/siteshare]

INDIA

A Reversal

Narendra Modi became the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel, marking another step in an ongoing-but-unstated reversal of India’s longstanding support for the Palestinians.

“Prime Minister, we’ve been waiting for you a long time,” the Jerusalem Post quoted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as telling his Indian counterpart.

“My visit marks a path-breaking journey of engagement,” Modi said.

Even before his election in 2014, India had been deepening ties with Israel, which many Indians perceive as a no-nonsense ally in the fight against Islamist extremism. Modi, however, has accelerated the push, which marks a significant departure from India’s historical foreign policy. From 1947 to 1992, when the two countries established full diplomatic relations, India formally adhered to a policy of support for the “inalienable rights” of Palestinians as a sovereign people. For many years, Indian passports were stamped “valid for travel to all countries except Israel and South Africa.”

Most Indians hailed Modi’s visit as a symbol of the country’s growing status. But critics see the new solidarity as a signal India wants to emulate what one writer called “Israel’s apartheid model.”

[siteshare]A Reversal [/siteshare]

ITALY

No Refuge Here

Italy’s struggle with the flow of refugees across the Mediterranean continues, even as other European nations fight to avoid sharing the burden.

The European Commission announced $40 million in added funding to help deal with the crisis on Tuesday and set out a list of other measures for European Union ministers to discuss on Thursday, Reuters reported.

However, in an interview with a local newspaper, Austria’s defense minister said Vienna plans to impose border controls and possibly deploy troops to cut the number of migrants crossing from Italy, the agency said separately.

Human rights organizations have criticized the EU for a spike in the death rate from the dangerous sea route to Italy from Libya, off the coast of which more than 2,000 people have drowned this year. But critics say making the crossing safer, or offering safe passage for refugees, would create a pull effect, drawing even more migrants. And politicians fear such a policy change could boost support for rightwing, anti-immigration parties.

[siteshare]No Refuge Here[/siteshare]

DISCOVERIES

Odd Couple

As far as weddings go, Victor Aguilar’s was as traditional as it gets – despite the fact that his bride was a crocodile.

Aguilar is mayor of the town of San Pedro Huamelula in Mexico.

Since 1789, the Chontal Indians in this southern Mexican fishing town have wed local leaders to crocodiles, a ritual believed to ring in prosperity for the upcoming harvest of fish, shrimp and other seafood, Euronews reported.

“They, local residents, call her the ‘The Princess,'” Aguilar told reporters on June 30 after the odd couple tied the knot. “So the role that I play is to be the husband of the princess.”

Adorned in traditional garments and led by a marching band, locals paraded the crocodile bride through the town before delivering her to her blushing groom, who waited patiently at city hall.

Amid cheers from guests, the two newlyweds then sealed their nuptials with a kiss and a dance, like so many of their predecessors, in hopes of peace and lasting prosperity for the community.

[siteshare]Odd Couple[/siteshare]

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