US and Russia to resume nuclear talks, but China casts cloud

first_imgRussia seeks to bring in France, BritainIn turn, Ryabkov said that US allies Britain and France, also nuclear powers with much smaller arsenals, should join the talks.”The logic is a very simple one — the more we come down in numbers, the higher is the price for every single warhead payload and we cannot simply ignore capabilities of some others.”Billingslea, in a speech last month at the Hudson Institute, said Trump was “not interested in agreements simply for agreements’ sake.”He accused China of flaunting its growing nuclear arsenal “to intimidate the United States and our friends and allies,” calling it “irresponsible, dangerous behavior.”US intelligence has forecast that China is in the midst of doubling the size of its nuclear arsenal, troubling the Trump administration, which considers Beijing a global rival and resents the constraints of New START.The United States and Russia each had more than 6,000 nuclear warheads in 2019, while China had 290, according to the Washington-based Arms Control Association.France had 300 and Britain possessed 200, with India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea maintaining smaller arsenals, according to the research group.New START expires around two weeks after Trump would leave office if he loses the election in November.Russia as well as some US Democrats have proposed simply extending New START temporarily, voicing skepticism about sealing a brand new treaty by February.Trump has sought a warmer relationship with President Vladimir Putin but professes an “America first” approach to foreign affairs.Trump last month pulled out of the Open Skies Treaty, which allowed Russia, the United States and 32 other nations to conduct surveillance flights over one another’s territory at short notice — an arrangement that reportedly piqued Trump when a Russian spy plane flew over his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club.He earlier pulled out of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a key agreement from the Cold War.Trump has also rejected a multinational denuclearization agreement with Iran and pulled the United States out of the landmark Paris climate accord. Russia called Tuesday on the United States to make a “positive” proposal as the powers open talks on a major disarmament treaty, warning that US insistence on including China could scuttle efforts.Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov will meet in Vienna on June 22 with US envoy Marshall Billingslea to start negotiations on New START, which expires in February.President Donald Trump has walked out on a number of international agreements but voiced a general interest in preserving New START, which obliged the United States and Russia to halve their inventories of strategic nuclear missile launchers. Topics : Billingslea, writing on Twitter, urged China to reconsider.”Achieving Great Power status requires behaving with Great Power responsibility. No more Great Wall of Secrecy on its nuclear build-up. Seat waiting for China in Vienna.”Ryabkov indicated that Russia did not oppose the US invitation to China — an international ally of Moscow despite a complicated historical relationship — but doubted Beijing would agree.”My answer to a direct question on whether or not we think it would be possible to bring China to the table would be a flat and straightforward no,” Ryabkov said.”Now it depends on the US — if the US believes it’s worth continuing this dialogue with Russia or, for the US point of view, the Chinese participation is an absolute imperative that precludes (the) US from continuing a meaningful and forward-looking dialogue with Russia on arms control,” he said. But the Trump administration says that a successor to New START, a Cold War legacy negotiated under Barack Obama, should bring in China — whose nuclear arsenal is growing but remains significantly smaller than those of Russia and the United States.Addressing the Council on Foreign Relations by videoconference, Ryabkov described the US willingness to start negotiations as “good news” but said: “The ball is on the American part of the court.””We need to hear loudly and clearly what this administration wants, how it believes it would be possible to do something positive and not just to dismantle one arms control treaty or arrangement after another.”In Beijing, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China had “no intention of participating” in the talks and accused the United States of trying to “deflect responsibilities to others.”last_img read more

Saudi Arabia to reopen Mecca mosques Sunday

first_imgSaudi Arabia plans to reopen from Sunday mosques in Mecca, the holiest city in Islam, after they were closed for three months due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, state television reported.The kingdom has taken restrictive measures against the virus, particularly in Mecca, but the number of new coronavirus cases has notably increased in recent days.”The mosques in the holy city will begin to reopen their doors to the faithful on Sunday after three months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic,” the state-run Al-Ekhbariya channel reported, citing a decision by the Islamic affairs ministry. Some 1,500 holy sites are preparing to welcome visitors, the channel reported, showing footage of workers disinfecting floors and carpets.The decision comes weeks before the Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. While the Hajj is set to be held in late July, authorities are yet to announce if it will go ahead or be cancelled.Outside Mecca, mosques elsewhere in the country reopened at the end of May, but with strict rules imposing social distancing and other measures.The hardest hit Gulf state, Saudi Arabia has reported over 150,000 virus cases, including nearly 1,200 deaths.Topics :last_img read more

Tokyo seeks travel curbs as new infections tops 100 for 3rd day, says NHK

first_imgRead also: Beijing lifts most travel restrictions, says city’s outbreak containedTokyo on Friday reported 124 new cases, up from 107 the day before, partly due to increased testing among night-life workers in the Shinjuku and Ikebukuro districts.Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Friday the government was not planning to reintroduce a state of emergency. Curbs on movement pushed the world’s third-biggest economy into a recession in the first quarter, with a deeper contraction expected in the April-June period.Japan’s infection rates remain far below those of many other countries, but the recent rise in cases and the possibility of renewed restrictions have put authorities and businesses on edge.Topics : Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike urged residents of the Japanese capital not to travel beyond its borders on Saturday as new coronavirus infections topped 100 for a third day, public broadcaster NHK reported.Tokyo confirmed 131 new cases of infections of the coronavirus on Saturday, NHK said.Cases in Tokyo have risen to a two-month high, driven by the spread of the virus in the capital’s night spots. Of Saturday’s tally, 100 were people in their 20s and 30s, Kyodo news agency said, citing Koike.last_img read more

EU orders 30,000 remdesivir coronavirus treatments

first_imgThe first batch of doses will cost 63 million euros ($73 million) and ought to cover needs for the next few months before a second procurement contract in October. Topics : The European Commission has ordered 30,000 treatment doses of the antiviral medication remdesivir from US drugs giant Gilead, it announced Wednesday.Sold under the brand name Veklury, remdesivir is the first medicine to be approved by the EU to treat victims of the COVID-19 pandemic in EU member states and Britain.It is hoped the drug will shorten recovery times for patients with severe infections and it will be made available early next month. last_img read more

Proportion of youth with COVID-19 triples in five months: WHO

first_imgYoung people who are hitting nightclubs and beaches are leading a rise in fresh coronavirus cases across the world, with the proportion of those aged 15 to 24 who are infected rising three-fold in about five months, the World Health Organization said.An analysis by the WHO of 6 million infections between Feb. 24 and July 12 found that the share of people aged 15-24 years rose to 15% from 4.5%.Apart from the United States which leads a global tally with 4.8 million total cases, European countries including Spain, Germany and France, and Asian countries such as Japan, have said that many of the newly infected are young people. “Younger people tend to be less vigilant about masking and social distancing,” Neysa Ernst, nurse manager at Johns Hopkins Hospital’s biocontainment unit in Baltimore, Maryland told Reuters in an email.”Travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19,” she said, adding young people are more likely to go to work in the community, to a beach or the pub, or to buy groceries.The surge in new cases, a so-called second wave of infections, has prompted some countries to impose new curbs on travel even as companies race to find a vaccine for the fast-spreading virus that has claimed more than 680,000 lives and upended economies.Even countries such as Vietnam, widely praised for its mitigation efforts since the coronavirus appeared in late January, are battling new clusters of infection. Among those aged 5-14 years, about 4.6% were infected, up from 0.8%, between Feb. 24 and July 12, the WHO said, at a time when testing has risen and public health experts are concerned that reopening of schools may lead to a surge in cases.Anthony Fauci, the leading US expert on infectious diseases, urged young people last month to continue to socially distance, wear masks and avoid crowds, and cautioned that asymptomatic people could spread the virus, too.Indeed, health experts in several countries have urged similar measures as they report that infected youth show few symptoms.”We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: young people are not invincible,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing in Geneva last week.”Young people can be infected; young people can die; and young people can transmit the virus to others.”Last month, Tokyo officials said they would conduct coronavirus testing in the city’s nightlife districts, and instructed nightclubs to provide customers with enough space with good ventilation and to ask them to avoid speaking loudly.In France last month, authorities shut down a bar where people breached hygiene rules and caused an outbreak.Topics :last_img read more

Teacher’s union calls for better safety standards as schools reopen

first_imgFSGI deputy secretary-general Fahriza Marta said teachers had minimal protection from the virus, despite recent calls to reopen schools.“Reopening schools will be risky without proper preparation,” Fahriza said in a statement on Saturday.He added that many schools had already opened and had failed to implement strict health protocols.Some schools lacked proper sanitation facilities and allowed teachers to instruct students in person without wearing masks. Some teachers did not enforce physical distancing rules during school activities. The United Federation of Indonesian Teachers (FSGI) has urged the government to do more to protect teachers, school administrators and students during the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that several teachers and school administrators have died of the illness.According to the FSGI, at least 20 teachers and two school administrators have died of COVID-19. Read also: EXCLUSIVE: Nadiem says school reopening ‘bold’ but necessary amid ‘education crisis’The FSGI found that 51 junior high schools in Toba, North Sumatra, were requiring students to attend in-person classes three days a week.“We found that only 13 of the 51 schools reported to the Education and Culture Ministry that they had reopened,” Fahriza said.Of the 13 schools, only one had proper toilet facilities. One school failed to provide handwashing facilities. Four schools were not disinfected regularly, while eight did not check the temperatures of people entering the facility.Fahriza said teachers and school staff had the right to receive proper protection under the 2005 Teachers and Lecturers Law as well as a 2017 ministerial decree on teacher protection.“We deserve not just legal and welfare protection but also protection from COVID-19 infection,” he said.FSGI secretary-general Heru Purnomo urged the central government and regional administrations to provide COVID-19 swab testing at schools and to allocate additional funds so that all schools could have proper sanitation facilities.“If the government does not have the budget for that, we urge the suspension of face-to-face learning for the time being,” said Heru. (dpk)Topics :last_img read more

Japan’s ruling party to hold Sept. 14 leadership vote; four possible candidates for PM

first_imgA Nikkei/TV Tokyo poll showed Ishiba with 28% support, followed by current Defense Minister Taro Kono with 15%. Suga came in fourth place with 11%, the poll showed.The surveys highlight a split between public opinion and internal LDP politics.Suga – a longtime lieutenant of Abe’s in a key supporting role – will join the race to replace his boss with support expected from the faction led by LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai and other major factions, putting him in a favorable position.Suga declined to comment on Monday when asked about the LDP leadership race at his regular news conference as the government’s top spokesman.Ishiba – who unsuccessfully challenged the out-going premier in the last LDP leadership race in 2018 and is considered less popular within the party – has yet to declare whether he will run.LDP policy chief Fumio Kishida, who has announced his intention to stand, came in last place in both of the public opinion surveys.Kishida voiced caution on Monday over the idea of cutting the sales tax rate to help the economy weather the hit from the coronavirus pandemic.Brad Glosserman, deputy director of the Center for Rule-Making Strategies at Tama University, said Suga was the safe bet in terms of internal LDP dynamics, but might not be ideal come election time. A general election must be held by late October 2021.”He doesn’t seem to have either the charisma or the vision to push Japan in a new direction. He seems to be the eternal Number Two – he delivers on promises made by his boss,” said Glosserman.Abe announced on Friday he was resigning because of poor health, his long-running battle with ulcerative colitis ending his tenure as Japan’s longest-serving prime minister.Japan does not elect its leader by direct popular vote. Under the country’s parliamentary political system, lawmakers elect a prime minister.That means the LDP president is virtually guaranteed of being prime minister because of the party’s majority in the lower house of parliament.The LDP is set to hold on Tuesday a party meeting where it can formally adopt the Sept. 14 date for the leadership election, broadcaster FNN said, adding that the vote would be held at a Tokyo hotel instead of its party headquarters to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection. But Abe’s successor will face a daunting list of economic, diplomatic and security issues, ranging from a stagnant economy hit by the coronavirus pandemic to China-US tensions.In the race to succeed Abe as the next prime minister, former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba is the most popular choice among the public, media opinion polls showed.But Ishiba, a vocal Abe critic, could face an uphill battle if he does declare his candidacy, with local media reporting Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga was set to receive the backing of several major factions within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.Ishiba has about 34% of the public’s support, more than double the 14% for Suga, the second-most popular choice, a weekend Kyodo News survey showed. Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party plans to hold a leadership vote on Sept. 14 to replace Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is stepping down due to ill health, local media reported on Monday.The new party leader will become the country’s next prime minister, due to the party’s parliamentary majority, with four possible candidates vying for the position.Abe, Japan’s longest-serving premier, told US President Donald Trump earlier on Monday that the strengthening of their two nations’ alliance would be maintained even after he leaves office, a Japanese government spokesman said.center_img Topics :last_img read more

South Sulawesi village inundated, isolated for two months following flash flood

first_imgWara village in North Luwu regency, South Sulawesi has reportedly been inundated for two months as a reservoir in the neighborhood was damaged by a flash flood on July 13. “An embankment located in neighboring Lembang-Lembang village was broken, causing an inundation up to 1 meter high in our village,” Wara village head Basruddin said on Monday.The situation has further isolated the village from the rest of North Luwu regency.Read also: Floods in North Sumatra force hundreds from their homesResidents of Wara can only reach other areas by riding a motorboat to get staple food and clean water, among other essentials. They have to pay Rp 10,000 (67 US cents) for a motorboat ticket. The residents hope the authorities will soon help them with the flooding, as well as distribute food and medicines to the village.“Some volunteers sent us aid, but we are running out of it. We cannot carry out any activities in the village [to fulfill our daily needs] due to the prolonged inundation,” Basruddin added, as reported by kompas.com. (vny)Topics :last_img read more

‘Dream come true’: Alaphilippe in rainbow jersey after world title win

first_img“I’ve been so close so many times, but I had never even been on the podium.” Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar vainly launched an attack on the penultimate climb at Cima Gallisterna, 42km from the finish line. The 22-year-old was reeled in by Van Aert’s teammates, with the Slovenian finishing down the field in 33rd position. Alaphilippe then attacked on the final climb less than 12km from the finish line, holding on to finish 24 seconds ahead of his rivals with Van Aert settling for his second silver after Friday’s time-trial. Topics : For Alaphilippe this season had so far reaped modest success compared to 2019 when he won the Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo and the Fleche Wallonne, before wearing the Tour de France yellow jersey for 14 days.This year, he won the second stage of the Tour in Nice on August 30 and wore the yellow jersey for three days, but in Imola he captured the rainbow jersey for a year. Pogacar muzzled “It’s a new chance,” Alaphilippe had warned as national coach Thomas Voeckler built the French team around the rider from the Loire, who had missed out in three previous editions.This time, the Frenchman who rides for the Deceuninck Quick-Step team, was not picked off by his rivals despite Van Aert’s imposing presence in the chasing pack. “I came here with a lot of ambition, and today the France team was very strong,” said an emotional Alaphilippe. The race got underway under overcast skies in Emilia-Romagna and only took shape 70km from the finish with the French team of Quentin Pacher, Nans Peters and Kenny Elissonde putting pressure on their rivals.After Pogacar was muzzled by van Aert’s teammates Tiesj Benoot and Tim Wellens, heading into the final 20km, Alaphilippe patiently waited for his moment.That came on the approach of the top of the final ascent of Gallisterna, over 2.7km and with a 6.4 percent gradient.The French rider then put his foot on the pedal charging down the narrow road, in descending false flats, to the Enzo and Dino Ferrari Racetrack in Imola.At the entrance to the racing circuit, 3.4km from the finish, the job was done with 14 seconds on his rivals and the rainbow jersey waiting for him at the finish line. France’s Julian Alaphilippe claimed his first world title in the men’s road race on Sunday to fulfil his “career dream” of wearing the rainbow jersey.Alaphilippe crossed the line alone in Imola ahead of Belgian Wout van Aert and Swiss Marc Hirschi after more than six and a half hours in the saddle over 258km through the hills of Romagna.”It was the dream of my career,” said the 28-year-old, who became the first French rider to claim the world title since Laurent Brochard in 1997. last_img read more

Indonesian Military imprisons, dismisses soldier for having same-sex intercourse

first_imgRead also: Of coming out and acceptance: LGBT youth seek peace in conservative IndonesiaThe head of the information division of the TNI Information Center Col. Sus Aidil defended the verdict, saying that it complied with the telegram issued by the TNI commander in 2009. It was later reiterated by a recent telegram issued by the Army chief in September last year stressing that LGBT-related actions were among heavy violations against the military principles and the 2004 TNI Law. Article 62 in the law stipulates that the force will discharge personnel without honor for committing indecent acts that can harm the discipline of TNI soldiers.“TNI imposes firm sanctions against military personnel proven to have violated decency, including LGBT,” Aidil told tribunnews.com on Thursday.The head of the Military Chamber at the Supreme Court, retired Maj. Gen Burhan Dahlan, also said the court could dismiss a TNI member who was proven to have committed “sexual perversion” using the aforementioned article.Burhan added that leaders of the Indonesian Army were infuriated after recently discovering that around 20 officers involved in cases of homosexuality were acquitted by judges of the military court.The concerns, he said, were related to the personnel’s ability to uphold the country’s defense.”If in carrying out their tasks the soldiers have deviant habits, how can they carry out their duties properly?,” he said.Read also: Puspen TNI under fire for homophobic comic stripLini Zurlia, an advocacy officer of the cross-border organization for LGBT rights ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, criticized the punishment against P, arguing that it was an individual’s private matter.She raised concerns that the punishment would have a further impact on members of the Indonesian LGBT community that had already faced systematic discrimination in society. The Semarang Military Court has sentenced a chief private, identified only as P, to one year’s imprisonment, in addition to dismissing him from the Indonesian Military (TNI) for having same-sex intercourse with another member of the military.“[The court] declares the defendant guilty of willful disobedience [and sentences him] to a primary punishment of one year’s imprisonment,” presiding judge Lt. Col. Eddy Susanto said in the verdict as reported by tribunnews.com on Thursday.“[He is also given] the additional punishment of dismissal from military duty.” Topics :center_img The court found P guilty of violating Article 103 of the Military Criminal Code on disobedience to service orders, after being found having sex with a subordinate.In the verdict, the panel of judges referred to a telegram issued by the TNI chief in October 2019, which prohibited all military personnel from being involved in LGBT relationships.According to the verdict, uploaded to the Supreme Court’s website on Wednesday, the panel said that homosexual intercourse was against the “established law and existing religious norms”, adding that the defendant should set an example to the public as a military officer.There was no information on when the verdict hearing was held.last_img read more