Getty/AFP/File | The Department of Energy's weekly petroleum numbers dented hopes for another drop in US output that could spell a general tightening of global supplies
Getty/AFP/File | The Department of Energy's weekly petroleum numbers dented hopes for another drop in US output that could spell a general tightening of global supplies
PARIS, DECEMBER 8, 2015: All is now set for Germany to deploy 40 troops and two Tornado reconnaissance to join the anti-IS military campaign in Syria, DailyGlobeWatch has been reliably told.
Under this arrangement, some military equipment comprising personnel will leave Jagel military base on Thursday. Among the equipment due to leave are six Tornadoes, an aerial refuelling jet which is to depart from Cologne-Wahn base to Incirlik airbase in Turkey.
It would be recalled that the Bundestag has okayed the deployment of no fewer than 1,200 personnel to join the multi-national forces fighting IS militants in Syria in the wake of November 13 Paris attacks.
Germany, our source disclosed, would not take part in the bombing campaign but would instead send a frigate to help guard the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle now in the eastern Mediterranean.
AFP/File | Crimea is almost entirely depends on Ukraine for its power and water supplies
Tony Blair pleaded with his critics to stop questioning his intentions over Britain’s disastrous war in Iraq, after a blistering verdict by the Chilcot inquiry — but commentators Thursday showed scant sympathy.
“For his own sanity he still has to tell himself the world is ‘better and safer’ for him joining George Bush’s assault on Iraq. It is a monumental delusion,” said an editorial in The Sun, Britain’s top-selling paper.
It added: “Blair does admit the post-war planning was a calamity. That is his only concession. He sees no reason to apologise for his decision to go to war and insists he’d do the same again.
“He still believes he had no choice. You could have said no, Tony.”
After the publication of the long-awaited inquiry report on Wednesday, Blair gave an emotional two-hour press conference in which he acknowledged mistakes but defended his intentions — and said he would do it again.
Newspaper coverage on Thursday was scathing of the former Labour prime minister, who won three elections but stepped down in 2007, as Iraq collapsed into sectarian violence, with his reputation in tatters.
Appearing close to tears, Blair had said he felt more sorrow than anyone could imagine for the conflict.
In the left-learning Guardian, commentator Anne Perkins admitted that “it feels cheap at such a time to doubt someone’s sincerity”.
“But I have seen him look stricken before -– and like millions of other voters, I don’t trust him any more,” she wrote, adding that he was guilty of “unbowed arrogance”.
Michael Deacon, the sketch writer for the conservative Daily Telegraph, noted that Blair refused to apologise for the invasion.
“What to make of it all? An honest plea for understanding from a broken man? Or a performance, an immaculately executed impersonation of one?” he wrote.
John Crace, the sketch writer for the Guardian, said his performance showed sorrow mainly for himself.
“Me, me me. The war hadn’t been about the 179 British soldiers and several hundred thousand Iraqis who died. It had been about him all along,” he wrote.
Drawing on Monty Python’s comic film “Life of Brian”, he added: “Tony’s eyes burned with the conviction of martyrdom. He wasn’t a naughty boy, he was the Messiah.
“And he was heaven-bent on carrying on fighting a war he lost long ago.”
Trevor Kavanagh, associate editor of The Sun, said Blair “was always obsessed with legacy as prime minister”.
“He may have hoped it would be as a US war hero with all the lucrative benefits associated with it,” he wrote.
“Instead he will be remembered for inflicting a terrorist firestorm on a fragile and unstable world.”
ZAGREB (AFP) -
Croatians began voting in a general election Sunday with conservatives aspiring to return to power, as the EU nation faces a wave of migrants and slowly emerges from six years of recession.
Opinion polls predict a tight race between the ruling centre-left alliance, led by Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic's Social Democrats (SDP), and the rival conservative 'Patriotic Coalition', in Croatia's first parliamentary election since it joined the European Union in 2013.
Neither camp is expected to win an outright majority in the 151-seat parliament, making it likely that the government's make-up will be decided in post-election talks with smaller parties.
The polls opened at 7:00 am (0600 GMT) and are set to close 12 hours later, with 3.8 million Croatians eligible to vote.
The ruling coalition, in power since 2011, has been blamed for failing to reform the country's inefficient public sector or improve the business climate in Croatia, one of the EU's weakest economies.
The conservative HDZ, the leading opposition party, was boosted in January by the victory of its candidate Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic in the presidential election.
But the ruling 'Croatia is Growing' coalition has since closed the gap in the opinion polls, amid weak economic growth and the introduction of populist measures, such as a law converting Swiss franc loans into euros to help struggling borrowers.
Milanovic also seems to have earned support over his policy towards refugees transiting through Croatia to Slovenia, by both showing compassion and pledging to defend national interests.
Nearly 350,000 migrants have passed through Croatia since mid-September on their way to northern Europe, after Hungary closed its border with Serbia.
The opposition has accused the government of lacking control since the start of the influx, but does not appear to have capitalised on the crisis.
- 'Battle for Croatia!' -
The HDZ was ousted in 2011 amid a series of unprecedented scandals involving its former leader and ex-prime minister Ivo Sanader.
The party has dominated Croatian politics since the former Yugoslav republic proclaimed independence in 1991, a move that sparked a four-year war with rebel Serbs.
HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko has run an electoral campaign heavy in patriotic rhetoric, glorifying his party's late founder and 'Father of the Nation', Franjo Tudjman.
"This is a battle for Croatia!" he declared at a 15,000-strong rally on Thursday, intimating that his SDP rivals, with communist roots in the former Yugoslavia, were anti-independence.
The government has meanwhile consistently accused the opposition of corruption.
"People are above all concerned with the economy... but neither of the two parties was giving real answers to those key issues," independent political consultant Davor Gjenero told AFP.
Although a return to growth of nearly one percent is expected this year, public debt stands at nearly 90 percent of gross domestic product and unemployment at 16.2 percent in September -- 43.1 percent among youths.
Some fed-up voters are opting for smaller parties such as newcomer Most (meaning 'Bridge' in Croatian), which could end up playing a key role in post-election negotiations.
"Both the HDZ and SDP have failed. The key is to reform bureaucracy and open jobs," said political sciences student Fabijan, 21, at a Most party rally this week.
After months without a breakthrough, David Cameron will finally give more details on Tuesday of what reforms he wants for Britain to stay in the European Union before a looming referendum.
Nearly three years after promising a vote before the end of 2017, the British prime minister will deliver his shopping list in a letter to EU president Donald Tusk, which is expected to be made public.
The letter comes ahead of a crunch European summit in Brussels next month and amid hopes that the British referendum on whether to remain an EU member state can be held next year.
Cameron will warn in a speech Tuesday that if Britain's concerns are met with a "deaf ear", he will have to "think again about whether this European Union is right for us." "I rule nothing out," he will add, according to pre-released extracts.
His Europe Minister David Lidington told journalists last week not to expect too much new detail in the letter, adding it would be "ambitious" to hope for a deal at December's summit.
"My advice to the prime minister has always been don't publish a detailed negotiating position," he said.
He also highlighted that there would have to be four months between any deal being agreed and the vote being held, for legislative reasons.
- 'Wants to appease eurosceptics' -
Gabriel Siles-Brügge, a politics lecturer at Manchester University, said Cameron had always been "a bit vague" in his demands because he is carrying out "a difficult balancing act".
"He wants to appease eurosceptics in his own party while avoiding Brexit (British exit from EU). But he is of course now being pushed by EU leaders to concretise his proposals," he told AFP.
"That may lead to the former being disappointed because the proposals aren't intended to push Britain towards Brexit but rather to allow him to proclaim a symbolic victory over Brussels and campaign for continued membership."
John Springford of the Centre For European Reform highlighted that Cameron first promised a referendum in 2013, when the anti-EU UK Independence Party was surging and his position looked shaky.
His Conservatives subsequently won a House of Commons majority in elections this year while UKIP managed to win just one seat.
"The strategy was a political one, designed for domestic political reasons," he added. "I really don't think Cameron went into that speech with a clear view of what reform he even wanted from the EU."
- Four key areas -
In recent weeks, European partners have put increasing pressure on Cameron to lay out in more detail what kind of reforms he wants.
He has long identified four broad areas where he wants to see reforms -- improving competitiveness, greater "fairness" between eurozone and non-eurozone nations, sovereignty issues including an exemption from the aspiration of ever-closer union and making it harder for migrants to claim benefits.
When Cameron's de facto deputy and possible successor, finance minister George Osborne, gave a speech in Berlin last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel conceded that Britain had "justified concerns" on competitiveness and streamlining and stressed she wanted to help prevent a Brexit.
Experts say there is room for compromise in all areas except migration, where Cameron wants to stop EU migrants, including those in work, from claiming certain state benefits for four years after arriving in Britain.
"In the UK, this is one of the key issues if not the key issue as far as the public is concerned," said Stephen Booth, co-director of think-tank Open Europe.
"Other EU member states have to be aware that if they are unable to accommodate UK concerns, it could certainly have an effect on the campaign here."
This will be particularly tough to achieve agreement on because of non-discrimination principles in EU legislation.
A failure by Cameron, who has said he will step down as prime minister by 2020, to achieve what he wants over benefits would be particularly damaging to him and his centre-right Conservative party.
"The public doesn't care about ever-closer union," said Springford. "The EU is still quite low down on the list of priorities. Immigration is much higher."
Russia will send a fleet of 44 planes to Egypt on Saturday to help repatriate some 80,000 tourists left stranded after Moscow cancelled all flights to the country in the wake of last weekend’s jet crash in the Sinai peninsula, officials said.
Thirty empty planes would be sent to Hurghada, and 14 would be sent to Sharm El-Sheikh, the two Red Sea resorts where most Russian holidaymakers are staying, the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency said in a statement.
Russia halted flights to Egypt on Friday amid growing fears that the Russian jet that crashed on October 31 over the Sinai peninsula with 224 people on board was bombed.
Officials said earlier Saturday that Russian tourists will still be able to finish their holidays in Egypt and return at their own pace.
“Tourists will be returning from Egypt to Russia when they planned to,” said Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, who is in charge of a task force set up to oversee the return of tourists.
“Most people left for two weeks – our usual holiday tour lasts two weeks – therefore they will return in about two weeks,” he said in televised comments late Friday.
In a statement, the labour ministry warned companies against taking any disciplinary action against employees who are now in Egypt and may be unable to show up for work on time.
As part of the crisis response, the Federal Tourism Agency said its representatives would be dispatched to Cairo, Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada to help tourists.
Following Britain’s example, Russia said that holidaymakers would be returning home without their hold luggage, which will be brought back to the country separately.
The emergencies ministry Saturday was set to send two planes, one to Hurghada and another one to Sharm el-Sheikh, to pick up tourists’ luggage.
Cockpit recorder reveals noise heard just before crash
Russia halted flights to Egypt after initially dismissing growing evidence that the plane might have been bombed by jihadists in an apparent act of revenge for Moscow’s bombing campaign in Syria.
FEARS FOR EGYPT TOURISM AFTER PLANE CRASH
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman insisted the decision to suspend flights did not mean that Moscow believed the crash was caused by a deliberate attack.
However, a number of Western officials and governments have said in recent days that the crash could have been caused by a bomb, possibly smuggled on board in hold luggage.
Prime Minister David Cameron has said it was "more than likely" that the crash was caused by a bomb, while Sinai Peninsula, an affiliate of the Islamic State group, has claimed responsibility for bringing down the plane.
However, Egypt has sought to downplay the possibility of a terrorist attack and rebuked those who have speculated on the cause of the crash while an investigation is still ongoing.
The head of an investigation committee into the crash said at a press conference Saturday that a cockpit recording from the plane registered a noise in the last second of the recording.
But the committee head, Ayman al-Muqaddam, said experts were still gathering information and it was too soon to announce conclusions from their work.
France 24’s correspondent in Cairo, Amira Ashraf, said the timing of Saturday’s press conference was ‘strange’, particularly as it revealed little in the way of new information.
“They [Egypt] were under pressure to issue a statement and not sharing anything is, I think, a sign of worry by the Egyptian authorities,” Ashraf said.
British tourists stranded
Britain was the first country to announce it was suspending flights to and from Sharm al-Sheikh, the airport from which the doomed Russian jet took off before crashing shortly after.
The move led to chaotic scenes at Sharm al-Sheikh airport as British tourists waited to board flights home.
Plans to return some of the around 20,000 British tourists in Sharm al-Sheikh on Friday were thrown into confusion when Egypt said only eight of the planned 29 flights to take the Britons home would be able to operate, citing capacity limits at Sharm al-Sheikh airport and British airliners’ refusal to take passenger luggage in the hold.
A British official at the Egyptian Red Sea resort told Reuters on Saturday that the country hopes to return all of its stranded tourists within 10 days.
The British government is increasing the number of flights and will return about 2,000 nationals on Saturday on nine planes, the official added.
The official said British passengers would check in their luggage as usual but it would be transported separately on a different plane. Holidaymakers should have their luggage back within five to seven days.
“We’ve got good cooperation now which will allow us to get people home as soon as possible,” John Casson, Britain’s ambassador to Egypt, told BBC television.
“We have measures in place now which allow us to say it’s safe to fly home ... We’ll do it in a way that’s convenient and as quick as possible,” he said.
Source: AFP; Reuters
Russia’s Vladimir Putin will attend an upcoming UN summit in Paris tasked with inking a global pact to rein in global warming, France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Sunday, while warning that the planet faces a looming climate “catastrophe”.
Russia, a major oil producer, is seen as a deal-maker or breaker in the years-long attempt to negotiate the world’s first truly universal pact to rein in global warming by curbing climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions.
“It is life on our planet itself which is at stake,” Fabius told journalists as ministers and climate envoys from 70 countries met in the French capital for pre-summit talks to iron out tough political questions.
“There is absolute urgency,” he added, in chasing the UN goal of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.
The UN’s climate science panel has warned of an average temperature rise of “four, five, six degrees, if we do not act extremely quickly”, said Fabius.
“This would have catastrophic consequences because there would be drought... and colossal migration problems, including problems of war and peace.”
ON THE ROAD TO COP 21 WITH FRANCE’S CLIMATE AMBASSADOR
The three-day ministerial gathering, from Sunday to Tuesday, seeks a much-needed political convergence on key political issues still dividing nations negotiating for a climate pact.
The final pact is set to be signed by ministers at the end of the November 30 to December 11 UN summit in Paris, known as COP 21, crowning years of tough bartering.
That meeting will be opened by UN chief Ban Ki-moon and some 100 heads of state and government including US President Barack Obama, China’s Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi of India and now Putin.
The Paris agreement will be the first uniting all the world’s nations in curbing climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal, oil and gas.
But the UN this week issued a fresh warning that country pledges submitted to date set the stage for warming of closer to three degrees Celsius, or more.
Ministers will base their discussions in the coming days on a rough draft of a deal compiled by rank-and-file diplomats over years of tough negotiations in the UN climate forum.
The blueprint remains little more than a laundry list of often directly-opposing national options for dealing with the challenge at hand.
The last round of technical negotiations in Bonn in October saw squabbles along well-rehearsed fault lines of developed vs developing nations.
Developing countries insist rich ones should lead the way in slashing emissions because historically they have emitted more pollution.
Developing nations also want assurances of financing to make the shift from cheap and abundant fossil fuel to more sustainable energy sources, and to shore up defences against climate change-induced superstorms, drought, flood and sea-level rises.
But industrialised countries point the finger at emerging giants such as China and India spewing carbon dioxide as they burn coal to power expanding populations and economies.
These crux issues must ultimately be settled at the political level by ministers and heads of state and government.
The preparatory talks bring together ministers of all the negotiating blocs, and include top envoys from major carbon emitters China, the United States, the European Union, India, and Brazil.
It is the third such ministerial round in Paris this year.
Much work lies ahead outside the 195-nation UN climate forum, including a G20 summit in Turkey this month where the thorny issue of climate finance will be discussed.
Last month, scientists said the first nine months of 2015 had been the hottest on record worldwide.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
DAVID CAMERON deserved his ovations during his speech to the Conservative Party conference on October 7th. This was the first conference since he unexpectedly won an outright majority in May’s election. The economy is growing at the fastest rate in the G7 group of rich countries. And the Labour opposition has lurched to the extremes by choosing as its leader the far-left Jeremy Corbyn, whom many in his own party see as unelectable, while the Liberal Democrats have sunk into insignificance.
No wonder Mr Cameron looked happy as he delivered a speech that was, for a Tory conference, remarkably centrist, full of concern to reduce inequality and remedy social disadvantage. Yet beyond the hall, Mr Cameron has party-management problems, aggravated because he faces a weak opposition with a parliamentary majority of just 12 seats, a situation that will embolden Tory rebels.
Among the tasks for him and his chancellor, George Osborne, will be deciding how far to ease unpopular plans to reduce tax credits for the working poor. In his speech on October 5th, Mr Osborne also set out ambitious plans to devolve power to local councils and upgrade the country’s infrastructure. Mr Cameron reaffirmed the Tory commitment to homeownership, promising to scrap planning restrictions to build more affordable houses. Yet opposition persists in Tory heartlands to housebuilding on greenfield sites, as well as to such projects as the HS2 high-speed rail line and a new airport runway.
The most serious troubles for Mr Cameron will come over Europe, one of the two big subtexts to the conference. The EU referendum will be the biggest single event of this parliament. Mr Cameron remained coy about what he wanted from his renegotiation of the terms of Britain’s EU membership, and insisted all options were open, including the possibility of campaigning to leave. In his speech he passed briskly over the topic, making no reference to the referendum, but declaring that he had “no romantic attachment to the European Union and its institutions”.
Shake it all about
In reality the Out and the In campaigns are preparing for blast-off. Two heavyweight Tory former chancellors, Nigel Lawson and Norman Lamont, are joining Conservatives for Britain, a parliamentary group all but committed to campaigning for withdrawal. The In campaign will soon trumpet its own launch. The battle could quickly become bloody. The Tories have repeatedly split over Europe during the past three decades. Steve Baker, the Eurosceptic co-chairman of Conservatives for Britain, claims that his group includes 115 MPs, over one-third of the parliamentary party. He insists that “there is a good chance that a majority of Tory MPs will campaign to leave.” Open Europe, a Eurosceptic think-tank, concludes that 69 Conservative MPs are clearly for Out and 58 for In, leaving 203 swing voters.
Yet there was no missing the Eurosceptic mood among the grassroots. Many delegates pointed to Britain’s better economic performance than the euro zone, and to the drawbacks of being “shackled to a corpse”, as one put it. And plenty drew a link between the EU and excessive immigration. In her belligerently right-wing speech, Theresa May, the home secretary, argued that “the rules have to change” on migration from the rest of the EU. Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, trumped Ms May in a more amusing address, but he too insisted that it was for Britain and its parliament, not Jean-Claude Juncker (president of the European Commission), to decide if too many people were coming in.
As immigration fears rise up the agenda, the polls have shifted from a large to a narrow In majority, or even to a majority for Out. The expectation before the party conference was that the referendum would be held before the next conference in October 2016. But the date could slip if the polls are unfavourable, the negotiations prove trickier than expected or Europe’s migration crisis continues.