World Newsletter

22 January 2020


President Donald Trump boasted Tuesday that he's led a "spectacular"
turnaround of the U.S. economy and urged the world to invest in America, but
had little to say about climate change issues that are a focus of this
year's gathering of top business and political leaders in the Swiss Alps.
Trump addressed the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, hours
before his historic impeachment trial was to reconvene in the U.S. Senate in
Washington. The two-day visit will test Trump's ability to balance his anger
over being impeached with a desire to project leadership on the world stage.
He reminded the audience that when he spoke here two years ago, early in his
presidency, "I told you that we had launched the great American comeback."
"Today I'm proud to declare the United States is in the midst of an economic
boom, the likes of which the world has never seen before," the president
Trump's speech was received in virtual silence from the audience apart from
a brief flurry of applause when Trump said the U.S. would join a World
Economic Forum initiative to plant 1 trillion trees worldwide.
Trump spent nearly all of his approximately 30-minute speech talking about
how the U.S. economy has performed under his leadership.
Trump's speech was criticized by the Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph
Stiglitz for failing to address the climate emergency beyond a commitment
that the U.S. will join the initiative to plant a trillion trees worldwide.
"He managed to say absolutely zero on climate change," Stiglitz said.
"Meanwhile we're going to roast."
Trump's appearance at the forum ends Wednesday when he travels back to a
Washington, which is consumed by the impeachment trial.


Former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton has launched a scathing
attack on presidential hopeful and 2016 Democratic rival Bernie Sanders,
telling in a documentary that "nobody likes him."
Ms. Clinton also refused to say whether she would endorse and campaign for
Mr. Sanders if he becomes the Democrats' choice to take on President Donald
Trump in November's election. "He was in Congress for years. He had one
senator support him," Ms. Clinton, 72, says in a four-part series due to air
on streaming site Hulu in March.
"Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done. He
was a career politician."
"It's all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it,"
she adds.
Mr. Sanders, a leftist Senator from Vermont, is among the leaders in the
race for the 2020 Democratic nomination.
He sits second in national polls behind Joe Biden and ahead of Massachusetts
senator Elizabeth Warren, two weeks before the first nomination vote in
Mr. Sanders, 78, pushed Ms. Clinton to the wire four years ago in an
acrimonious, months-long battle for the party's nomination. Ms. Clinton won
that race but lost to Mr. Trump in November.
Asked whether she would back Mr. Sanders if he won the nomination this time
around, Ms. Clinton said: "I'm not going to go there yet. We're still in a
very vigorous primary season."


China has warned that a SARS-like virus that has killed nine people,
infected hundreds and spread to other countries could mutate, as authorities
scrambled to contain the disease during the Lunar New Year travel season.
The new coronavirus has caused alarm for its similarity to SARS (Severe
Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland
China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.
The World Health Organization (WHO) was to hold an emergency meeting
Wednesday to determine whether to declare a rare global public health
emergency over the disease, which has also been detected in the United
States, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan and South Korea.
The Chinese government has classified the outbreak in the same category as
the SARS epidemic, meaning compulsory isolation for those diagnosed with the
illness and the potential to implement quarantine measures on travel.
But they still have not been able to confirm the exact source of the virus,
which has infected 440 people in 13 provinces and municipalities.


The Boris Johnson-led UK government has lost three votes in the House of
Lords over its Brexit legislation, its first defeats since it was re-elected
by a majority in the December 2019 general election.
The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, which paves the way for the
UK to leave the EU with a deal on January 31, was approved by MPs earlier
this month without any changes.
But despite their emphatic victory in the December 12, 2019, general
election, the Conservatives do not have a majority in the Lords and have
suffered a series of defeats during the Bill's passage through the House.
Meanwhile, on Monday, the first defeat for the Bill was over the rights of
EU citizens lawfully residing in the UK after Brexit. Peers backed a
cross-party amendment allowing EU citizens physical proof of their status.
The vote, by 270 to 229, majority 41, means the Bill will have to go back to
the Commons, where Johnson will be able to use his big majority to overturn
In the second defeat, peers voted by 241 to 205, majority 36, to remove the
power of ministers to decide which courts should have the power to depart
from judgments of the European Court of Justice and by reference to what
A third defeat followed, as peers backed a move to allow cases to be
referred to the Supreme Court to decide whether to depart from EU case law.


Iran's civil aviation authority confirmed two missiles were fired at a
Ukrainian airliner that was brought down earlier this month, in a
preliminary report posted on its website.
"Investigators... discovered that two Tor-M1 missiles... were fired at the
aircraft," it said late on Monday, adding an investigation was ongoing to
assess the bearing their impact had on the accident.
The statement confirms a report in The New York Times, which included video
footage appearing to show two projectiles being fired at the airliner.
The Tor-M1 is a short-range surface-to-air missile developed by the former
Soviet Union that are designed to target aircraft or cruise missiles.
Iran had for days denied Western claims based on US intelligence reports
that the Boeing 737 operating Flight PS752 had been shot down, before
eventually coming clean.
The Revolutionary Guards' aerospace commander Brigadier General Amirali
Hajizadeh accepted full responsibility, but said the missile operator who
opened fire had been acting independently.
The country's civil aviation authority said it has yet to receive a positive
response after requesting technical assistance from France and the United
States to decode black boxes from the downed airliner.


Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg Tuesday said a lot has happened since
her campaign caught the eyes of the world but "nothing has been done"
actually to save the planet. Speaking at the World Economic Forum annual
meeting in Davos, Thunberg said mass mobilisation of young people around the
world has put climate at the top of the agenda.
"In one aspect, lots has happened since last year. The mass mobilisation of
young people around the world has put climate at the top of the agenda".
"People are more generally aware now. The climate and the environment is a
hot topic. But - and it's a big but: From another perspective, pretty much
nothing has been done," she said.
Stressing that every fraction of degree matters, Thunberg said, ". why is it
so important to stay below 1.5 degrees celsius? Because even at 1 degree
people are dying from climate change because that is what the united science
calls for, to avoid destabilising the climate so that we have the best
possible chance to avoid setting off irreversible chain reactions."


Lebanon formed a new government on January 21 under Prime Minister Hassan
Diab after the Shi'ite group Hezbollah and its allies agreed on a cabinet
that must urgently address an economic crisis.
The heavily indebted state has been without effective government since Saad
al-Hariri quit as premier in October, prompted by protests against
politicians who have collectively led Lebanon into the worst crisis since
the 1975-90 war.
New Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni said Lebanon needed foreign aid to save it
from an unprecedented situation that had forced people to "beg for dollars"
at the banks and fear for their deposits. He also described forthcoming
foreign currency sovereign debt maturities as "a fireball".
The Iranian-backed Hezbollah and allies including President Michel Aoun
nominated Diab as premier last month after efforts failed to strike a deal
with Hariri, Lebanon's main Sunni leader and a traditional ally of the West
and Gulf Arab states.
Weeks of wrangling over portfolios among Hezbollah's allies held up an
agreement until Tuesday, when the heavily armed group delivered an ultimatum
to its allies to make a deal or suffer the consequences, sources familiar
with the talks said.
The cabinet is made up of 20 specialist ministers backed by parties. Wazni,
an economist who had served as an adviser to parliament's finance and budget
committee, was nominated with the backing of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.
Nassif Hitti, a former ambassador to the Arab League, was named foreign
minister with the backing of Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement.
But analysts said Hezbollah's role meant Diab might have trouble winning
foreign support.

IN 1988

A Bangladesh court sentenced to death five former police officials on Monday
for shooting dead 24 people in an anti-government protest, led by
then-opposition leader and current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, 31 years
A special court in Bangladesh's southeastern city of Chattogram sentenced
the punishment to the officers for their involvement in the 1988 Chattogram
massacre, officials confirmed Monday.
Bangladesh's Criminal Investigations Department had charged eight policemen
with murder but three of the defendants died during the trial.
Judge Mohammed Ismail Hossain announced the verdict with four of the
defendants present, prosecution lawyer Shibu Prakash Biswas said. One
defendant was on the run, he added. The court cross-examined a total of 56
1988 massacre
Hasina's Awami League party organized a rally on January 24, 1988, against
then-military dictator Hussain Muhammad Ershad. She had been touring
Chattogram to mobilize support against Ershad.
From her truck, Hasina led a procession surrounded by her supporters.
According to the prosecution, the target was to assassinate Hasina, but she
was saved by her supporters' "human shield" when the shooting began.
At least 24 people were killed and more than 200 others injured as police
opened fired at the rally.
After the shootings, the bodies were cremated at a local crematorium
regardless of their religious identities. The families of the dead were not
permitted to see them.
Hasina survived the attack unharmed.

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