NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT
An African Yellow Fever Outbreak Poses a Threat to Asia
For much of the past year, the Zika virus has dominated the news cycle and commanded international attention. But another mosquito-borne disease, yellow fever, is working its way (albeit more quietly) through the African nations of Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Though it has attracted far less attention than the Zika virus, yellow fever nevertheless could disrupt economic activities in and beyond those countries, a key consideration in assessing the geopolitical risk of a disease outbreak. What's more, a large number of foreign workers in Angola and the Congo as well as a vaccine shortage worldwide could conspire to turn the latest outbreak of yellow fever — a disease that has been preventable for nearly 80 years — into a more global concern...
The Curious Timing of Japan's Stimulus Announcement
Now that elections in Japan's upper house are over, Tokyo has turned its attention toward getting the country's sluggish economy on track. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Wednesday a 28 trillion-yen ($265 billion) stimulus package that includes 13 trillion yen in fiscal measures. The stimulus, which has been under discussion for months, will likely be approved by the Japanese Cabinet on Aug. 2. In addition, The Wall Street Journal reported that the country is considering issuing 50-year government bonds for the first time since World War II, although a Ministry of Finance official quickly denied the report...
Indonesia Defends Its Strategic Islands
At least three times this year, Indonesian authorities have confronted Chinese fishing vessels in the waters near the remote Natuna Islands, an area whose 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) overlaps China's expansive nine-dash line. In the wake of the run-ins, Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo visited the islands and promised to boost defense, fishing and natural gas production in the area. Despite its provocative fishing activities in the South China Sea, however, China is not the sole target of Indonesia's defensive measures; Jakarta has also made a public show of destroying dozens of Malaysian and Vietnamese vessels found fishing in the area...
Indonesia Guards Its Front Door
At least three times this year, Indonesian authorities have confronted Chinese fishing vessels in the waters near the remote Natuna Islands, an area whose 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) overlaps China's expansive nine-dash line. Each time, Jakarta has made a point of widely publicizing the incursions despite Beijing's objections. In the wake of the run-ins, Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo visited the islands and promised to boost defense, fishing and natural gas production in the area. Despite its provocative fishing activities in the South China Sea, however, China is not the sole target of Indonesia's defensive measures; Jakarta has also made a public show of destroying dozens of Malaysian and Vietnamese vessels found fishing in the area. For Indonesia, protecting the Natuna Islands — however small and remote they may be — is key to exerting control of its territory and affirming its position in Asia's waterways...
Facing North Korea's Nuclear Reality
By Rodger Baker
After announcing that it would cut communications with the United States, North Korea launched three missiles (two Scuds and a No Dong) last week. In some ways, there is little unexpected in North Korea's actions. Since the early 1990s, the North Korean nuclear and missile programs have been a focus of greater and lesser international attention, and there is no reason to predict that a resolution satisfactory to the United States (or North Korea) will emerge any time soon. Similarly, the United States followed a familiar script in its reaction to the recent launches, threatening additional sanctions and further isolation...
France: National Guard To Be Established
France will establish a national guard to help in the fight against terrorism, a statement from President Francois Hollande said July 28, France 24 and AFP reported. According to the statement, parliamentary consultations on the creation of the force — which will reportedly be made up of volunteers from the police, the security forces and the military — will take place in September. Hollande said he hoped the national guard would be in place sometime in early fall. France has not had a national guard since the last iteration of the force was disbanded in 1872, but the country's government is trying to reassure a nervous public that it is acting to counter the terrorist threat.
Central Europe: Taking up Where the U.K. Left off
Four Central European countries see the United Kingdom's vote to leave the European Union as their opportunity to shape the future of the bloc. The prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary met in Warsaw on July 22 to discuss the issue for the second time in two months. Out of the first meeting on June 29, just days after the United Kingdom voted to leave the union, came a collective call for "dramatic reforms" of the bloc and its institutions. The sentiment was reiterated during the latest meeting, where the four Central European premiers once again called for major changes to the European Union...
NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT
NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT
China completes world's largest amphibious aircraft: Xinhua
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China has completed production of the world's largest amphibious aircraft after seven years of work, which it plans to use to perform marine rescue missions and fight forest fires, the Xinhua news agency reported.
The AG600, which is about the size of a Boeing 737 and was developed by state aircraft maker Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), rolled off a production line in the southern city of Zhuhai on Saturday, Xinhua said quoting the firm.
AVIC deputy general manager, Geng Rugang, said the plane was "the latest breakthrough in China's aviation industry." A plan for the development and production of the AG600 received government approval in 2009.
The aircraft has a maximum flight range of 4,500 km and can collect 12 tonnes of water in 20 seconds. It has a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tonnes, Xinhua said.
China has been ramping up research into advanced new military equipment, including submarines, aircraft carriers and anti-satellite missiles, which has rattled nerves regionally and in Washington as China takes a more muscular approach to territorial disputes in places like the South China Sea.
In June, it put into service a new domestically-developed large transport aircraft.
Chinese Farmers' Calls for Change Go Unanswered
Of the many divides partitioning Chinese society, perhaps none is as stark or systemic as the rift between urban and rural residents. Last year, the 760 million citizens living in Chinese cities earned nearly three times as much disposable income as their 590 million peers in the countryside. In many cases, that number was much higher. Beyond money, however, registered urban homeowners have access to social services and benefits — including health care and public education — that all but a few rural residents do not. Perhaps the most important advantage, though, is the effective right to own and sell real estate..
A Dawn for the Dead Companies of China
China is battling a ghastly economic problem. For months, the country's so-called zombie corporations — failing, mostly state-controlled companies — have been teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, caught among high and rising levels of debt, ballooning debt-servicing costs and slim or nonexistent profits. In response, China's State Council released a statement July 18 describing a possible pilot program to enable indebted corporations to convert some of their outstanding debts to equities held by Chinese banks. On its own, a corporate debt-to-equity swap would do little to reform these companies into productive and profitable businesses, a key requirement if China is to "rebalance" to a more sustainable growth model. Even so, it would help lower the businesses' debt burden in the short term. For Beijing, bound as it is by the need to maintain employment and, in turn, social stability, that may be enough to stave off a crisis for the time being...
Iranian Kurds Return to Arms
Though the Islamic State's core territory is now shrinking, its rapid rise as a global enemy and its quick territorial expansion in 2013 and 2014 shook the Middle East, instigating a series of realignments of military power. As the militant group claimed Mosul, Tikrit, Sinjar, Zumar and Kobani, Kurdish peshmerga units of Iraqi, Iranian, Turkish and Syrian nationality deployed to try to stop it. Today, the multi-country front against the Islamic State is more secure and stable in those areas where territory held by the group abuts traditionally Kurdish territory....
Why the Iranian President's Policies May Outlast Him
Over the past three months, a series of leaks and corruption allegations has rocked Iran's banking and financial sectors. The scandal has revealed, among other things, that civil servants and business executives are being paid as much as $230,000 a month. The revelation has provided President Hassan Rouhani's political rivals with new ammunition ahead of next year's election, planting yet another obstacle in Rouhani's path to re-election. Attempting to head off any further damage, Rouhani adviser Vice President Mohammad Bagher Nobakht announced July 26 that Tehran plans to cap government and private officials' monthly salaries at $3,200 and $6,200, respectively, a move that should put to rest the most controversial aspect of the entire affair...
NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT
NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT
Waning Support Weakens the Syrian Rebellion
Shifts in momentum have marked the Syrian civil war since it began in 2011. At different times, the rebels and the loyalists have each held the upper hand on the battlefield. But lately, the most decisive element determining who maintains the advantage has been the degree of outside assistance each side receives...
Syria's Rebels Lose Support When They Need It Most
Shifts in momentum have marked the Syrian civil war since it began in 2011. At different times, the rebels and the loyalists have each held the upper hand on the battlefield. But lately, the most decisive element determining who maintains the advantage has been the degree of outside assistance each side receives. Consequently, flagging support for the rebellion at a time of unwavering aid for the Syrian government bodes ill for the rebels' prospects in the months ahead...
MIDDLE EAST GENERAL
Looking for a Silver Bullet Against the Islamic State
As the Islamic State claims responsibility for inspiring more and more attacks throughout the world, finding a way to defeat the group is as pressing a concern as ever. At the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, which ended Thursday, speakers raised the subject, some questioning the slow and steady strategy of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State. But the coalition's tactics have started to work. During the coalition's fourth meeting, held Wednesday and Thursday in Washington, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter spoke of the strides they had made against the Islamic State and the momentum they will have going forward. Despite the coalition's progress, however, the fight against the Islamic State has revealed that there is no silver bullet to defeat it or any other extremist group...
Stray Mutts Can Still Bite
By Scott Stewart
On July 24 in Ansbach, Germany, a 27-year-old refugee from Syria detonated a bomb concealed in his backpack, injuring several bystanders and killing himself. His intended target appears to have been a nearby music festival, but he didn't have a ticket and was denied entry. Instead he detonated his device outside a bar near the festival. The attack was the first suicide bombing in Germany, albeit a poorly executed one...
Monday, August 1, 2016
What's going on in the World Today 160801
HYPERLINKS MAY REQUIRE AN EMAIL: