China marks Japan’s WWII surrender

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

China marks Japan’s WWII surrender

Xinhua

A peace assembly was held in Nanjing, capital of east China’s Jiangsu Province, yesterday to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II.

Representatives from countries, including China, Japan, the United States and Thailand, attended the event held at the Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders, mourning the 300,000 people who were killed in one of the most barbaric episodes of World War II.

Japanese invaders slaughtered about 300,000 Chinese during a six-week rampage after they captured the city, which was then China’s capital, on December 13, 1937.

Members of an anti-war NGO based in Kobe, Japan, laid wreaths and paid tribute to the victims in silence. It was the 22nd time the group had attended the peace assembly in Nanjing.

“We choose to come to China to mark the event because Chinese people were the victims of the war and they deserve tribute and remembrance,” said Miyauchi Yoko, head of the group.

“Ordinary people suffer the most in times of war,” said a student from Thailand. “Everyone should make contributions to world peace.”

Ge Daorong, a survivor of the massacre, was only 10 years old when Nanjing fell to the Japanese. During the massacre, he and his close family took refuge in a safety zone and survived the onslaught, but his three uncles did not.

“We look back at sad episodes of history in order to cherish today’s peace,” Ge said at a forum held after the assembly.

In northeastern Heilongjiang Province, nearly 100 teenagers from China and Russia took part in a historical reenactment to mark the anniversary of Japan’s WWII surrender.

The activity was held at Shengshan Stronghold, a war relic that has now been turned into a base for patriotic education of young people from China and Russia.

“Both China and Russia suffered great losses during WWII,” said Yulia Ablova, an education official from the Russian city of Blagoveshchensk. “We need to remember the history and cherish the peace.”

In the southwestern city of Chengdu in Sichuan Province, 1,207 hand prints of WWII Chinese veterans were donated to the Jianchuan Museum Cluster, the largest private museum complex in China, to commemorate the anniversary.

The hand prints were from surviving soldiers in Hunan Province who fought during the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1931-1945).

During the ceremony on Tuesday, Fan Jianchuan, curator of the museum, said the veteran hand-print installation was expanding. More than 4,800 red hand prints have been imprinted on tempered glass slabs arranged in a V-shape to symbolize victory.

“Seventy-three years ago, these hands held broadswords and spears, threw hand grenades and buried landmines to safeguard our country and rescue our people,” Fan said. “They should be remembered.”

Iran’s Zarif: ‘There will be no meeting’ with US

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Iran’s Zarif: ‘There will be no meeting’ with US

Regime issues its most explicit rejection of talks, after speculation that economic pressure would force leaders back to the negotiating table

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif listens during a meeting between the  Iranian president and the North Korean foreign minister in the capital Tehran on August 8, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE)

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif listens during a meeting between the Iranian president and the North Korean foreign minister in the capital Tehran on August 8, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Saturday there would be no meeting with the United States in the near future, following Washington’s reimposition of sanctions.

Asked by the conservative Tasnim news agency if he had any plan to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Zarif said: “No, there will be no meeting.”

He said there were also no plans for a meeting with US officials on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York next month, which both Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his US counterpart Donald Trump are due to attend.

“On Trump’s recent proposal [of talks], our official stance was announced by the president and by us. Americans are not honest and their addiction to sanctions does not allow any negotiation to take place,” Zarif told Tasnim.

It was Iran’s most explicit rejection of talks to date, after much speculation that economic pressure would force its leaders back to the table with Washington.

The US reimposed sanctions on Tuesday, following its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers in May.

President Donald J. Trump signs an EO on Iran Sanctions in the Green Room at Trump National Golf Club Monday, August 6, 2018, in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Zarif met repeatedly with then US secretary of state John Kerry during the agreement’s negotiation and implementation.

Rouhani said last week that Iran “always welcomed negotiations” but that Washington would first have to demonstrate it can be trusted.

“If you’re an enemy and you stab the other person with a knife and then you say you want negotiations, then the first thing you have to do is remove the knife.”

Zarif’s words came hours after Iranians claimed that the state broadcaster had muted stadium noise during the previous evening’s soccer match in Tehran, in an apparent attempt to drown out anti-government chants.

Iran has seen nationwide strikes and protests in recent weeks, focused on high prices and unemployment but also featuring radical political slogans.

A group of protesters chant slogans at the old grand bazaar in Tehran, Iran, Monday, June 25, 2018. Protesters in the Iranian capital swarmed its historic Grand Bazaar on Monday, news agencies reported, and forced shopkeepers to close their stalls in apparent anger over the Islamic Republic’s troubled economy, months after similar demonstrations rocked the country. (Iranian Labor News Agency via AP)

The authorities have acknowledged anger over the economic situation — which has been exacerbated by the United States’ reimposition of sanctions.

On Friday US officials were quoted as saying Iran carried out a ballistic missile test last week for the first time in 2018.

The test of the Iranian Fateh-110 short-range ballistic missile was carried out at the Strait of Hormuz during a naval exercise in which at least 50 small ships took part, Fox News reported. According to the report, the missiles flew “shore to shore” for more than 160 kilometers (100 miles) over the Strait of Hormuz to a site in the desert.

The missile launch test is the first known test of the Fateh-110 in over a year. Last time such a missile was launched by Iran was in March, 2017.

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Northern Mariana Islands: The History Of This Island Nation And It’s People

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Northern Mariana Islands

Introduction Under US administration as part of the UN Trust Territory of the Pacific, the people of the Northern Mariana Islands decided in the 1970s not to seek independence but instead to forge closer links with the US. Negotiations for territorial status began in 1972. A covenant to establish a commonwealth in political union with the US was approved in 1975, and came into force on 24 March 1976. A new government and constitution went into effect in 1978.
History European Explorers

The first European exploration of the area was that led by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, who landed on nearby Guam and claimed the islands for Spain. After being met offshore and accepting the refreshments offered to them by the native Chamorros, the latter then helped themselves to a small boat belonging to Magellan’s fleet. This led to a cultural clash because in the old Chamorro culture there was little if any private property and to take something that one needed, such as a boat for fishing, was not considered thievery.

Due to that cultural misunderstanding, around half a dozen locals were killed and a village of 40 homes burned before the boat was retrieved. The archipelago thus acquired the ignominious name Islas de los Ladrones (“Islands of the Thieves”).

Three days after he had arrived, Magellan fled the archipelago under attack–a portentous beginning to its relationship with the Spanish. The islands were then considered by Spain to be annexed, and therefore under their governance, from the Philippines, as part of the Spanish East Indies. The Spanish built a Royal Palace in Guam for the Governor of the Islands. Its remains could still be seen in 2006.

Guam was an important stop-over from Mexico for galleons carrying gold and other cargo between the Philippines and Spain. There are several lost sunken Spanish galleons off Guam.

In 1668 the islands were renamed by Padre Diego Luis de Sanvitores as Las Marianas after Mariana of Austria, widow of Spain’s Philip IV.

Most of the islands’ native population (90%-95%)[5] died out or intermarried with non-Chamorro settlers under Spanish rule, but new settlers, primarily from the Philippines and the Caroline Islands, were brought in to repopulate the islands. Despite this, the Chamorro population did gradually resurge, and Chamorro, Filipino and Carolinian language and ethnic differences remain basically distinct in the Marianas.

To facilitate cultural and religious assimilation, Spanish colonists forced the Chamorros to be concentrated on Guam for a period of time. By the time Chamorros were allowed to return to the present-day Northern Marianas, Carolinians (from present-day eastern Yap State and western Chuuk State) had settled in the Marianas. Hence Carolinians and Chamorros are both considered as indigenous to the Northern Marianas and both languages are official in the commonwealth (but not on Guam).

German and Japanese possession

After the Spanish-American War of 1898, Spain ceded Guam to the United States and sold the rest of the Marianas (along with the Caroline and Marshall Islands) to Germany.

Japan declared war on Germany during World War I and invaded the Northern Marianas. In 1919, the League of Nations, pre-cursor of the United Nations, awarded the islands to Japan by mandate. During Japan’s occupation, sugar cane became the main industry of the islands, and labor was imported from Japan and associated colonies (especially Okinawa and Korea).

Hours after the Pearl Harbor attack, Japanese forces from the Marianas launched an invasion of Guam on December 8, 1941. Chamorros from the Northern Marianas, then under Japanese rule for more than two decades, were brought to Guam to assist the Japanese administration. This combined with the harsh treatment of Guamanian Chamorros during the brief 31-month occupation created a rift between the two populations that would become the main reason Guamanians rejected reunification referendum approved by the Northern Marianas in the 1960s.

American acquisition

Near the end of World War II, the United States military invaded the Mariana Islands on June 15, 1944, beginning with the Battle of Saipan, which ended on July 9 with the Japanese commander committing seppuku (a traditional Japanese form of ritual suicide). U.S. forces then recaptured Guam beginning July 21 and invaded Tinian (see Battle of Tinian) on July 24, which provided the take off point for the Enola Gay, the plane dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima a year later. Rota was left untouched (and isolated) until the Japanese surrender in August 1945, due to its military insignificance.

The war did not end for everyone with the signing of the armistice. The last group of Japanese soldiers surrendered on Saipan on December 1, 1945. On Guam, Japanese soldier Shoichi Yokoi hid out in the village of Talofofo until 1972.

Between the end of the invasion and the Japanese surrender, the Saipan and Tinian populations were kept in concentration camps. Japanese nationals were eventually repatriated, and the indigenous Chamorro and Carolinians returned to the land.

The Commonwealth

After Japan’s defeat, the islands were administered by the United States as part of the United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands; thus, defense and foreign affairs are the responsibility of the United States. The people of the Northern Mariana Islands decided in the 1970s not to seek independence, but instead to forge closer links with the United States. Negotiations for territorial status began in 1972. A covenant to establish a commonwealth in political union with the U.S. was approved in 1975. A new government and constitution went into effect in 1978. The islands are not represented in the U.S. Congress.

Geography Location: Oceania, islands in the North Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines
Geographic coordinates: 15 12 N, 145 45 E
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 477 sq km
land: 477 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes 14 islands including Saipan, Rota, and Tinian
Area – comparative: 2.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 1,482 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical marine; moderated by northeast trade winds, little seasonal temperature variation; dry season December to June, rainy season July to October
Terrain: southern islands are limestone with level terraces and fringing coral reefs; northern islands are volcanic
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Agrihan 965 m
Natural resources: arable land, fish
Land use: arable land: 13.04%
permanent crops: 4.35%
other: 82.61% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: active volcanoes on Pagan and Agrihan; typhoons (especially August to November)
Environment – current issues: contamination of groundwater on Saipan may contribute to disease; clean-up of landfill; protection of endangered species conflicts with development
Geography – note: strategic location in the North Pacific Ocean
Politics The Northern Mariana Islands have a presidential representative democratic system, in which the Governor is head of government, with a multi-party system. The Northern Mariana Islands are a commonwealth in political union with the United States. Federal funds to the Commonwealth are administered by the Office of Insular Affairs of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Repeating the separation of powers in other U.S. territories and state governments, executive power is exercised by the Governor of the Northern Mariana Islands. Legislative power is vested in the bicameral Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Legislature. Senate President Joseph Mendiola is a founding member of the Outlying Areas Senate Presidents Caucus. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislative branches.

However, politics in the Northern Mariana Islands is often “more a function of family relationships and personal loyalties” where the size of one’s extended family is more important than a candidate’s personal qualifications. Some critics, including the author of Saipan Sucks, charge that this is nepotism carried out within the trappings of democracy. [2] Archive copy at the Internet Archive

The Northern Mariana Islands have also come into the news recently due to their connection to the scandals involving Jack Abramoff and allegedly former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay [3]. As a direct result of lobbying by Abramoff and associates, the Northern Mariana Islands received special federal subsidies. [4] As well, Congressman Bob Ney allegedly received free trips to the Northern Mariana Islands from Abramoff, in violation of federal law. [5]

The Northern Marianas Islands are also the site of another controversy, one involving Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA), Jack Abramoff, and Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) and the alleged links to the Saipan Garment Manufacturers Association and the Northern Mariana Islands role in stopping legislation aimed at cracking down on sweatshops and sex shops on the islands in 2001.

The Northern Marianas Islands allegedly have the most abusive labor practices of anywhere in the United States. According to the progressive think tank American Progress Action Fund, “Human ‘brokers’ bring thousands there to work as sex slaves and in cramped sweatshop garment factories where clothes (complete with ‘Made in U.S.A.’ tag) have been produced for all the major brands.”

People Population: 86,616 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 18.4% (male 8,342/female 7,594)
15-64 years: 79.9% (male 27,996/female 41,245)
65 years and over: 1.7% (male 740/female 699) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 29.9 years
male: 32 years
female: 28.9 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.377% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 19.04 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 2.31 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 7.04 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.68 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.06 male(s)/female
total population: 0.75 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 6.72 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 6.68 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.76 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 76.5 years
male: 73.89 years
female: 79.26 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.18 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: NA (US citizens)
adjective: NA
Ethnic groups: Asian 56.3%, Pacific islander 36.3%, Caucasian 1.8%, other 0.8%, mixed 4.8% (2000 census)
Religions: Christian (Roman Catholic majority, although traditional beliefs and taboos may still be found)
Languages: Philippine languages 24.4%, Chinese 23.4%, Chamorro 22.4%, English 10.8%, other Pacific island languages 9.5%, other 9.6% (2000 census)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97%
male: 97%
female: 96% (1980 est.)

US indicates readiness to work with Hamas if it ends terror; Hamas says no

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

US indicates readiness to work with Hamas if it ends terror; Hamas says no

Gaza terror group rejects demands from American envoys to recognize Israel, calls Kushner, Greenblatt and Friedman ‘spokesmen of the Israeli occupation’

Jared Kushner, son-in-law and senior adviser to US President Donald Trump, speaks at the inauguration ceremony of the US Embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Jared Kushner, son-in-law and senior adviser to US President Donald Trump, speaks at the inauguration ceremony of the US Embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Trump administration indicated it was prepared to work with the Hamas terror group which controls the Gaza Strip if it first recognizes Israel’s right to exist and renounces violence.

US Middle East envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, together with US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, wrote in an op-ed published in the Washington Post late Thursday that the US and other countries were prepared to offer humanitarian aid to the beleaguered Strip, but were stymied by Hamas’s commitment to fighting Israel.

On Friday Hamas rejected the offer, dismissing the US envoys as “spokesmen of the Israeli occupation.”

“International donors are conflicted: Should they try to help the people directly, at the certain risk of enriching terrorists, or withhold funding to Hamas and watch the people it is supposed to govern suffer?” the Americans wrote.

“There are engaged, interested parties with resources who are ready to get to work. Yet without real change accompanied by reliable security, progress is impossible,” they said in the opinion piece. “If Hamas demonstrates clear, peaceful intentions — not just by word but, more importantly, by deed — then all manner of new opportunities becomes possible.”

The offer apparently backtracks from previous US demands that the terror group allow the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank from Ramallah, to retake power in the Gaza Strip. Hamas captured the coastal enclave from the PA in a bloody coup in 2007.

US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, left, meets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on the sidelines of the Arab League Summit in Amman, March 28, 2017 (Wafa/Thair Ghnaim)

The three gave clear guidelines of what Hamas must do in order to gain US support.

“Until governance changes or Hamas recognizes the state of Israel, abides by previous diplomatic agreements and renounces violence, there is no good option,” they wrote.

Israel has long set these three demands as conditions for openly dealing with Hamas.

Hamas quickly rejected the demands.

“Greenblatt and Kushner have adopted the Israeli position,” a spokesman for the terror group said. “Its ongoing attack against Hamas reflects the arrogance of the US administration which has turned the senior officials of the administration into no more than spokesmen for the Israeli occupation.”

Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade on the Strip which they say is designed to prevent Hamas from importing weapons and other goods that could be used to build military equipment or cross-border tunnels. Gaza also faces shortages of electricity and drinkable water.

This photo taken on July 12, 2017 shows a Palestinian man preparing bread as his wife washes clothes during the few hours of mains electricity they receive every day, at the al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

This photo taken on July 12, 2017 shows a Palestinian man preparing bread as his wife washes clothes during the few hours of mains electricity they receive every day, at the al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

The US envoys laid down other demands to Hamas.

“Hamas must immediately cease provoking or coordinating attacks on Israelis and Egyptians, and on infrastructure projects sponsored by donor nations and organizations,” they wrote. “Hamas should focus its ingenuity on improving the Gazan economy.”

They also demanded that Hamas return the Israeli soldiers and citizens it holds to their families, and said that the group must hand over the control of border crossings to the Palestinian Authority.

These demands echoed those of Israel which has said the humanitarian situation will not improve until Hamas returns the bodies of two IDF soldiers and the two civilian captives it holds. It blames Hamas for the dire reality, charging the terror group with diverting millions in aid to purchase weapons, dig tunnels, manufacture rockets and train its military wing, instead of using it for the welfare of the people.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman attends the 6th Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem on March 19, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Kushner, Greenblatt and Friedman argued that Hamas had destroyed the Gazan economy and misused donor funds to target Israel instead of improving the lives of the people who live in the Strip.

“Despite the billions of dollars invested for the benefit of Palestinians in Gaza over the past 70 years, 53 percent of the people there live below the poverty level , and the unemployment rate is a crippling 49%. The Palestinians of Gaza are stuck in a vicious cycle where corrupt and hateful leadership has provoked conflicts leading to reduced opportunities and the poverty and hopelessness that follow.”

In veiled criticism of the United Nations and the international community, Kushner, Greenblatt and Friedman wrote: “The international community also bears some blame. More countries want to simply talk and condemn than are willing to confront reality, propose realistic solutions and write meaningful checks.”

The US has significantly cut its aid to the Palestinians in recent months.

The Trump administration has been working on a peace plan it says it hopes to present to the sides at a future date. The Palestinians have rejected the plan, and ceased cooperating with the US administration after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last December and moved the American embassy there in May.

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Is President Guilty Of Treason?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LOS ANGLES TIMES)

 

Putin weaves KGB trade craft and attention to detail in a remarkable meeting with Trump

Putin weaves KGB tradecraft and attention to detail in a remarkable meeting with Trump
Russian President Vladimir Putin shown at a news conference in the presidential palace in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16, 2018. (Anatoly Maltsev/EPA/Shutterstock)

 

At a rally before cheering supporters this month in Montana, President Trump declared nonchalantly of his then-upcoming summit with Russia’s leader: “I have been preparing for this stuff my whole life.”

But on Monday, with a world audience looking on, the summit looked far more like a culminating moment in the political life of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

The 65-year-old Russian president was by turns commanding and confident as he stood side-by-side with Trump at a news conference, artfully mixing in occasional expressions of boredom or bemusement as he spoke. Virtually unchallenged by Trump, he asserted that Moscow has “never interfered” in an American political contest, and would not do so in the future.

That, of course, flies in the face of U.S. intelligence assessments that Moscow mounted a comprehensive campaign against the U.S. electoral system in 2016, and is pressing ahead with that effort, with midterm elections just four months away.

For Putin, a former spymaster who once lamented the breakup of the Soviet Union as the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century and has long sought at least symbolically equal footing with the world’s only other nuclear superpower, Helsinki was a moment of triumph.

The Aurus Senat presidential state car of Russian President Vladimir Putin idles during a welcome ceremony at Helsinki Airport in Finland on Monday.
The Aurus Senat presidential state car of Russian President Vladimir Putin idles during a welcome ceremony at Helsinki Airport in Finland on Monday. (Mikhail Metzel / Kremlin/Sputnik)

 

But while the joint news conference was perhaps the apex of Putin’s nearly two decades on the global stage, it was also in some ways a return to his roots. The Russian leader made explicit reference to his long career as a KGB operative, alluding almost teasingly to his intimate knowledge of tradecraft even as he listened to the U.S. president cast doubt on the conclusions of his own intelligence agencies.

“I was an intelligence officer myself,” he said dryly at one point. Asked directly by a U.S. reporter whether he had compromising material on Trump, Putin dodged the query by pointing out that hundreds of American business figures had visited Moscow, as the U.S. president did years before his candidacy.

“Do you think we try to collect compromising material on each and every single one of them?” the Russian leader asked scornfully.

Later, in an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News, Putin categorically denied that Russia had anything compromising on Trump. “Unlike you, unlike the United States, we don’t do this. We don’t have enough resources,” he said.

It was in 1999, in a chaotic and floundering post-Soviet Russia, that Putin was plucked from relative obscurity as a KGB functionary to assume first the post of prime minister and then the presidency. He has never since been out of power.

To survive in the cutthroat world of Russian politics, Putin drew upon the ruthless persona he cultivated during his intelligence career. Few serious challenges to his power have emerged, but when they have, critics and human rights groups say he has repeatedly shown himself willing to sideline foes by deadly means if necessary.

Over the years, Putin learned ways large and small to keep adversaries off balance, once bringing a dog to a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was known to fear them. In Helsinki, he employed a longtime strategem, keeping Trump waiting for nearly an hour as he arrived late for the summit’s start.

And he carried over a long-held habit from his intelligence days: strict attention to detail, with the ability to regurgitate arcane information at will.

Putin crisply demonstrated his comprehensive grasp of policy questions, including provisions contained in decades-old arms treaties; Trump, by contrast, seemed confused during a pre-summit meeting with Finland’s president as to whether the host country is a member of NATO. (It is not.)

At the news conference, Putin was studiedly bland in characterizing the closed-door talks with the U.S. side, discussions that included more than two hours spent one-on-one with Trump. “Businesslike” was his description of the summit talks.

President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a joint news conference after their summit on July 16, 2018, in Helsinki, Finland.
President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a joint news conference after their summit on July 16, 2018, in Helsinki, Finland. (Chris McGrath / Getty Images)

 

But his veteran foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, was freer to telegraph the Kremlin’s sentiments, wearing a broad smile as he entered the room where the news conference was held. Russian media afterward quoted him as summing up the summit as “fabulous … better than super.”

In Helsinki, Putin reverted to a classic Kremlin playbook when U.S. reporters asked him about election interference, protesting that he had not been provided with the details of accusations against his government, and offering Russian investigative assistance to get to the bottom of the affair.

That echoed Moscow’s response to the poisoning with a military-grade nerve agent this year of Russian turncoat spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter on British soil. A British woman died and her companion was seriously sickened after apparently coming in accidental contact with a remnant.

Like any good KGB case officer, Putin managed Monday to weave subtle and not-so-subtle threats into seemingly conciliatory statements.One was directed at the American-born British financier Bill Browder, who made billions in Russia before running afoul of the Kremlin.

Browder has lobbied governments around the world to adopt a sanctions-imposing mechanism named for his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, who died under suspicious circumstances in Russian custody. In offering to “assist” in the U.S. probe of Russians accused of meddling in the U.S. presidential election, Putin suggested that Russian authorities should be allowed to question U.S. intelligence officers who, he suggested, were complicit in supposed tax violations by Browder.

At the news conference, Putin did not even have to offer up defenses for Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula or the downing that year of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet over eastern Ukraine that killed some 300 people. Trump in essence did that for him, saying he held “both countries responsible” for the fraught state of U.S.-Russia relations.

In Putin’s early years in power, his heavy hand with the country’s oligarchs and mafia impressed the West, and domestically, Russians embraced his policies even as he stifled independent media and muzzled critics.

There was no indication that Trump brought up Putin’s pitiless style in confronting perceived enemies, but in the Fox interview, aired hours after the summit, Wallace pressed the Russian leader on opponents who “wound up dead.” Putin retorted: “Haven’t presidents been killed in the United States?”

Putin’s course toward a more authoritarian government became most apparent four years into his presidency, when two former Soviet republics, Georgia and Ukraine, sought to turn toward the West. The Kremlin perceived this as a threat, and Putin tightened his grip on dissent at home.

Then came massive street protests in Ukraine over the decision by Ukraine’s then-president, a Putin ally, to not sign an association agreement with the European Union. Putin sent in troops to Ukrainian Crimea, organized what was derided as a sham referendum and annexed the peninsula.

The United States and the European Union placed harsh economic sanctions on Russia for the Crimean annexation, and Putin’s position on the world stage deteriorated. Meanwhile, he was praised at home for defying the West, but economic malaise and dissatisfaction over corruption have dragged down his approval ratings.

Heading into the summit, Trump insisted that personal chemistry with Putin would be key to resolving U.S.-Russia tensions. At the news conference, the U.S. leader suggested that the initial one-on-one meeting, with only interpreters present, had eased prior antagonisms.

“That changed as of about four hours ago,” Trump said, referring to the time frame of the start of the private session. “I really believe that.”

Putin, though, swiftly pivoted to a far more realpolitik-style description of the relationship between the two, declaring that both leaders pursued the interests of their own countries.

“Where did you get the idea that the president trusts me?” he asked. “Or I trust him?”

Special correspondent Ayres reported from Helsinki and Times staff writer King from Washington.

5:05 p.m.: This article has been updated with reaction, background, Fox interview.

Panama: The Truth, Knowledge And The History Of The Nation/People

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Panama

Introduction Explored and settled by the Spanish in the 16th century, Panama broke with Spain in 1821 and joined a union of Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela – named the Republic of Gran Colombia. When the latter dissolved in 1830, Panama remained part of Colombia. With US backing, Panama seceded from Colombia in 1903 and promptly signed a treaty with the US allowing for the construction of a canal and US sovereignty over a strip of land on either side of the structure (the Panama Canal Zone). The Panama Canal was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914. In 1977, an agreement was signed for the complete transfer of the Canal from the US to Panama by the end of the century. Certain portions of the Zone and increasing responsibility over the Canal were turned over in the subsequent decades. With US help, dictator Manuel NORIEGA was deposed in 1989. The entire Panama Canal, the area supporting the Canal, and remaining US military bases were transferred to Panama by the end of 1999. In October 2006, Panamanians approved an ambitious plan to expand the Canal. The project, which began in 2007 and could double the Canal’s capacity, is expected to be completed in 2014-15.
History Christopher Columbus arrives in Panama on his fourth travel, which started in Nicaragua and ended in Panama. It is in this trip he discovers the Chagres river, which in the XX Century it would be the main resource to build the Panama Canal. He arrived to the Caribbean coast where he baptized the area with the name of Portobelo (in English, Beautiful Port). Columbus then explored Veraguas and founded Santa Maria de Belen, which would be the first Spanish settlement on the continent, leaving Bartolome, his brother, in charge.

Eventually, this settlement was destroyed by the local native population and the few surviving members returned to Spain.

Founding of Panama La Vieja

It wasn´t until 1519 when the Spanish decided to settle the new city. This time they chose a site in the Pacific ocean, which was discovered six years before by Vasco Nuñez de Balboa. The new city, today known as Panama La Vieja, was founded in August 15th, 1519 by orders of governor Pedrarias Davila and became an important port during the Spanish gold trade from Peru to the Caribbean islands and finally to Europe. The merchandise from all over South America would come into Panama and travel to Portobelo using the Camino de Cruces (old stone road) crossing the jungle and navigating the Chagres river. From Portobelo it would distribute to the islands and then to Spain.

Because of its importance and its location the city was an easy target for pirates. However, protection from pirates was only one of its many problems, as it was settled in a site composed mainly by mangrove land, diseases and fires weakened their position, until it was finally destroyed by pirate Henry Morgan in 1671.

Founding of Casco Antiguo

In 1673 a new city of Panama was founded. This time, a rocky peninsula was chosen, still on the Pacific side. A healthier site with crossed winds and easier to defend from both land and ocean attacks. Called interchangeably Casco Viejo, San Felipe, Catedral or Casco Antiguo, it is from here where Panama would declare independece from Spain and later join and separate from Colombia. It will see the boom and bust of the Gold Rush, the French attempt to build a Canal and later its completion by the United States.

Independence

After about 320 years under the rule of the Spanish Empire, on 10 November 1821, independence from Spain was declared in the small town of La Villa, today known as La Heroica. On 28 November, presided by Colonel Jose de Fabrega, a National Assembly was convened and it officially declared the independence of the isthmus of Panama from Spain and its decision to join New Granada, Ecuador and Venezuela in Bolivar’s recently founded Republic of Colombia.

In 1830, Venezuela, Ecuador and other territories left the Gran Colombia, but Panama remained as a province of this country, until July 1831 when the isthmus reiterated its independence, now under General Juan Eligio Alzuru as supreme military commander. In August, military forces under the command of Colonel Tomás Herrera defeated and executed Alzuru and reestablished ties with New Granada.

Ten years later, on November 1840, during a civil war that had begun as a religious conflict, the isthmus declared its independence under the leadership of the now General Tomás Herrera and became the ‘Estado Libre del Istmo’, or the Free State of the Isthmus. The new state established external political and economic ties and drew up a constitution which included the possibility for Panama to rejoin New Granada, but only as a federal district. On June 1841 Tomás Herrera became the President of the Estado Libre del Istmo. But the civil conflict ended and the government of New Granada and the government of the Isthmus negotiated the reincorporation of Panamá to Colombia on December 31, 1841.

In the end, the union between Panama and the Republic of Colombia was made possible by the active participation of the US under the 1846 Bidlack Mallarino Treaty, which lasted until 1903. The treaty granted the US rights to build railroads through Panama and to intervene militarily against revolt to guarantee New Granadine control of Panama. There were at least three attempts by Panamanian Liberals to seize control of Panama and potentially achieve full autonomy, including one led by Liberal guerrillas like Belisario Porras and Victoriano Lorenzo, each of which was suppressed by a collaboration of Conservative Colombian and US forces under the Bidlack Mallarino Treaty.

In 1902 US President Theodore Roosevelt decided to take on the abandoned works of the Panama Canal by the French but the Colombian government in Bogotá balked at the prospect of a US controlled canal under the terms that Roosevelt’s administration was offering. Roosevelt was unwilling to alter its terms and quickly changed tactics, encouraging a minority of Conservative Panamanian landholding families to demand independence, offering military support. On November 3, 1903 Panama finally separated and Dr. Manuel Amador Guerrero, a prominent member of the Conservative political party, became the first constitutional President of the Republic of Panama.

In November 1903, Phillipe Bunau-Varilla—a French citizen who was not authorized to sign any treaties on behalf of Panama without the review of the Panamanians—unilaterally signed the Hay-Bunau Varilla Treaty which granted rights to the US to build and administer indefinitely the Panama Canal, which was opened in 1914. This treaty became a contentious diplomatic issue between the two countries, reaching a boiling point on Martyr’s Day (9 January 1964). The issues were resolved with the signing of the Torrijos-Carter Treaties in 1977 returning the former Canal Zone territories to Panama.

Military dictators

The second intent of the founding fathers was to bring peace and harmony between the two major political parties (Conservatives and Liberals). The Panamanian government went through periods of political instability and corruption, however, and at various times in its history, the mandate of an elected president terminated prematurely. In 1968, a coup toppled the government of the recently elected President Arnulfo Arias Madrid.

While never holding the position of President himself, General Omar Torrijos eventually became the de facto leader of Panama. As a military dictator, he was the leading power in the governing military junta and later became an autocratic strong man. Torrijos maintained his position of power until his death in an airplane accident in 1981.

After Torrijos’s death, several military strong men followed him as Panama’s leader. Commander Florencio Flores Aguilar followed Torrijos. Colonel Rubén Darío Paredes followed Aguilar. Eventually, by 1983, power was concentrated in the hands of General Manuel Antonio Noriega.

Manuel Noriega came up through the ranks after serving in the Chiriquí province and in the city of Puerto Armuelles for a time. He was a former head of Panama’s secret police and was an ex-informant of the CIA. But Noriega’s implication in drug trafficking by the United States resulted in difficult relations by the end of the 1980s.

United States invasion of Panama

On 20 December 1989, 27,000 U.S. personnel invaded Panama in order to remove Manuel Noriega.[2] A few hours before the invasion, in a ceremony that took place inside a U.S. military base in the former Panama Canal Zone, Guillermo Endara was sworn in as the new President of Panama. The invasion occurred ten years before the Panama Canal administration was to be turned over to Panamanian authorities, according to the timetable set up by the Torrijos-Carter Treaties. During the fighting, between two hundred [3] [4] and four thousand Panamanians,[5][6] mostly civilians, were killed.

Noriega surrendered to the American military shortly after, and was taken to Florida to be formally extradited and charged by U.S. federal authorities on drug and racketeering charges. He became eligible for parole on September 9, 2007, but remained in custody while his lawyers fought an extradition request from France. Critics have pointed out that many of Noriega’s former allies remain in power in Panama.

Post-invasion

Under the Torrijos-Carter Treaties, the United States turned over all canal-related lands to Panama on 31 December 1999. Panama also gained control of canal-related buildings and infrastructure as well as full administration of the canal.

The people of Panama have already approved the widening of the canal which, after completion, will allow for post-Panamax vessels to travel through it, increasing the number of ships that currently use the canal.

Geography Location: Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica
Geographic coordinates: 9 00 N, 80 00 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 78,200 sq km
land: 75,990 sq km
water: 2,210 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than South Carolina
Land boundaries: total: 555 km
border countries: Colombia 225 km, Costa Rica 330 km
Coastline: 2,490 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm or edge of continental margin
Climate: tropical maritime; hot, humid, cloudy; prolonged rainy season (May to January), short dry season (January to May)
Terrain: interior mostly steep, rugged mountains and dissected, upland plains; coastal areas largely plains and rolling hills
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Volcan Baru 3,475 m
Natural resources: copper, mahogany forests, shrimp, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 7.26%
permanent crops: 1.95%
other: 90.79% (2005)
Irrigated land: 430 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 148 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.82 cu km/yr (67%/5%/28%)
per capita: 254 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: occasional severe storms and forest fires in the Darien area
Environment – current issues: water pollution from agricultural runoff threatens fishery resources; deforestation of tropical rain forest; land degradation and soil erosion threatens siltation of Panama Canal; air pollution in urban areas; mining threatens natural resources
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
Geography – note: strategic location on eastern end of isthmus forming land bridge connecting North and South America; controls Panama Canal that links North Atlantic Ocean via Caribbean Sea with North Pacific Ocean
Politics Politics of Panama takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Panama is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The branches are according to Panama’s Political Constitution of 1972, reformed by the Actos Reformatorios of 1978, and by the Acto Constitucional in 1983, united in cooperation and limited through the classic system of checks and balances. Three independent organizations with clearly defined responsibilities are found in the Political Constitution. Thus, the Comptroller General of the Republic has the responsibility to manage public funds. There also exists the Electoral Tribunal, which has the responsibility to guarantee liberty, transparency, and the efficacy of the popular vote; and, finally, the Ministry of the Public exists to oversee interests of State and of the municipalities.
People Population: 3,309,679 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 29.6% (male 499,254/female 479,242)
15-64 years: 63.8% (male 1,066,915/female 1,043,499)
65 years and over: 6.7% (male 102,937/female 117,832) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 26.7 years
male: 26.3 years
female: 27.1 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.544% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 20.68 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 4.71 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.53 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 13.4 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 14.35 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 12.42 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 76.88 years
male: 74.08 years
female: 79.81 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.57 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.9% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 16,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: fewer than 500 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A
vectorborne disease: dengue fever and malaria
water contact disease: leptospirosis (2008)
Nationality: noun: Panamanian(s)
adjective: Panamanian
Ethnic groups: mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 70%, Amerindian and mixed (West Indian) 14%, white 10%, Amerindian 6%
Religions: Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant 15%
Languages: Spanish (official), English 14%; note – many Panamanians bilingual
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91.9%
male: 92.5%
female: 91.2% (2000 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 3.8% of GDP (2004)

Philippines: The Truth Knowledge And The History Of This Great People

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Philippines

Introduction The Philippine Islands became a Spanish colony during the 16th century; they were ceded to the US in 1898 following the Spanish-American War. In 1935 the Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth. Manuel QUEZON was elected president and was tasked with preparing the country for independence after a 10-year transition. In 1942 the islands fell under Japanese occupation during World War II, and US forces and Filipinos fought together during 1944-45 to regain control. On 4 July 1946 the Republic of the Philippines attained its independence. The 20-year rule of Ferdinand MARCOS ended in 1986, when a “people power” movement in Manila (“EDSA 1”) forced him into exile and installed Corazon AQUINO as president. Her presidency was hampered by several coup attempts, which prevented a return to full political stability and economic development. Fidel RAMOS was elected president in 1992 and his administration was marked by greater stability and progress on economic reforms. In 1992, the US closed its last military bases on the islands. Joseph ESTRADA was elected president in 1998, but was succeeded by his vice-president, Gloria MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, in January 2001 after ESTRADA’s stormy impeachment trial on corruption charges broke down and another “people power” movement (“EDSA 2”) demanded his resignation. MACAPAGAL-ARROYO was elected to a six-year term as president in May 2004. The Philippine Government faces threats from three terrorist groups on the US Government’s Foreign Terrorist Organization list, but in 2006 and 2007 scored some major successes in capturing or killing key wanted terrorists. Decades of Muslim insurgency in the southern Philippines have led to a peace accord with one group and an ongoing cease-fire and peace talks with another.
History Archaeological and paleontological discoveries show that Homo sapiens existed in Palawan circa 50,000 BC. The aboriginal people of the Philippines, the Negritos, are an Australo-Melanesian people, which arrived in the Philippines at least 30,000 years ago. The Austronesian’s, who originated from populations of Taiwanese aboriginals that migrated from mainland Asia approximately 6000 years ago, colonized the Philippine islands and eventually migrated to Indonesia, Malaysia and, soon after, to the Polynesian islands and Madagascar.

The Philippines had cultural ties with Malaysia, Indonesia, India in ancient times, and trade relations with China and Japan as early as the 9th century.

Islam was brought to the Philippines by traders and proselytizers from Malaysia and Indonesia. The Islamization of the Philippines is due to the strength of then-Muslim India.[13] By the 13th century, Islam was established in the Sulu Archipelago and spread from there to Mindanao; it had reached the Manila area by 1565. Muslim converts established Islamic communities and states ruled by rajas or sultans. However, no Islamic state exercised sovereignty over much of the archipelago, and the indigenous maritime and agricultural societies ruled by datus or apos remained autonomous. When the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, the majority of the estimated 500,000 people in the islands lived in independent settlements called ‘barangay’ or networks of settlements.

In the service of Spain, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his crew started their voyage on September 20, 1519. Magellan sighted Samar on March 17, 1521, on the next day, they reached Homonhon. They reached the island of Mazaua on March 28, 1521 where the first mass in the Philippines was celebrated on March 31, 1521.[11] Magellan arrived at Cebu on April 7, 1521, befriending Rajah Humabon and converting his family and 700 other Cebuanos to Christianity.[11] However, Magellan would later be killed in the Battle of Mactan by indigenous warriors led by Lapu-Lapu, a fierce rival of Humabon.

The beginnings of colonization started to take form when Philip II of Spain ordered successive expeditions. Miguel López de Legazpi arrived from Mexico in 1565 and formed the first Spanish settlements in Cebu. In 1571 he established Manila as the capital of the new Spanish colony.

Spanish rule brought political unification to the archipelago of previously independent islands and communities, and introduced elements of western civilization such as the code of law, printing and the Gregorian calendar[15]. The Philippines was ruled as a territory of New Spain from 1565 to 1821, but after Mexican independence it was administered directly from Madrid. During that time numerous towns were founded, infrastructures built, new crops and livestock introduced, and trade flourished. The Manila Galleon which linked Manila to Acapulco once or twice a year beginning in the late 16th century, carried silk, spices, ivory and porcelain to America and silver on the return trip to the Philippines. The Spanish military fought off various indigenous revolts and several external threats, especially from the British, Chinese pirates, Dutch, and Portuguese. Roman Catholic missionaries converted most of the inhabitants to Christianity, and founded numerous schools, universities and hospitals. In 1863 a Spanish decree introduced public education, creating free public schooling in Spanish .

The Propaganda Movement, which included Philippine nationalist José Rizal, then a student studying in Spain, soon developed on the Spanish mainland. This was done in order to inform the government of the injustices of the administration in the Philippines as well as the abuses of the friars. In the 1880s and the 1890s, the propagandists clamored for political and social reforms, which included demands for greater representation in Spain. Unable to gain the reforms, Rizal returned to the country, and pushed for the reforms locally. Rizal was subsequently arrested, tried, and executed for treason on December 30, 1896. Earlier that year, the Katipunan, led by Andrés Bonifacio, had already started a revolution, which was eventually continued by Emilio Aguinaldo, who established a revolutionary government, although the Spanish governor general Fernando Primo de Rivera proclaimed the revolution over in May 17, 1897.

The Spanish-American War began in Cuba in 1898 and soon reached the Philippines when Commodore George Dewey defeated the Spanish squadron at the Manila Bay. Aguinaldo declared the independence of the Philippines on June 12, 1898, and was proclaimed head of state. As a result of its defeat, Spain was forced to officially cede the Philippines, together with Cuba (which was made an independent country, albeit with the US in charge of foreign affairs), Guam and Puerto Rico to the United States. In 1899 the First Philippine Republic was proclaimed in Malolos, Bulacan but was later dissolved by the US forces, leading to the Philippine-American War between the United States and the Philippine revolutionaries, which continued the violence of the previous years. The US proclaimed the war ended when Aguinaldo was captured by American troops on March 23, 1901, but the struggle continued until 1913 claiming the lives of over a million Filipinos[19] [20]. The country’s status as a territory changed when it became the Commonwealth of the Philippines in 1935, which provided for more self-governance. Plans for increasing independence over the next decade were interrupted during World War II when Japan invaded and occupied the islands. After the Japanese were defeated in 1945 and control returned to the Filipino and American forces in the Liberation of the Philippines from 1944 to 1945, the Philippines was granted independence from the United States on July 4, 1946.

Since 1946, the newly independent Philippine state has faced political instability. The late 1960s and early 1970s saw economic development that was second in Asia, next to Japan. Ferdinand Marcos was, then, the elected president. Barred from seeking a third term, Marcos declared martial law on September 21, 1972, under the guise of increased political instability and resurgent Communist and Muslim insurgencies, and ruled the country by decree.

Upon returning from exile in the United States, opposition leader Benigno Aquino, Jr. or “Ninoy”, was assassinated on August 21, 1983. In January 1986, Marcos allowed for a snap election, after large protests. The election was believed to be fraudulent, and resulted in a standoff between military mutineers and the military loyalists. Protesters supported the mutineers, and were accompanied by resignations of prominent cabinet officials. Corazon Aquino, the widow of Ninoy, was the recognized winner of the snap election. She took over the government, and called for a constitutional convention to draft a new constitution, after the People Power Revolution. Marcos, his family and some of his allies fled to Hawaii.

The return of democracy and government reforms after the events of 1986 were hampered by massive national debt, government corruption, coup attempts, a communist insurgency, and a Muslim separatist movement. The economy improved during the administration of Fidel V. Ramos, who was elected in 1992.[22] However, the economic improvements were negated at the onset of the East Asian financial crisis in 1997. The 2001 EDSA Revolution led to the downfall of the following president, Joseph Estrada. The current administration of president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been hounded by allegations of corruption and election rigging.

Geography Location: Southeastern Asia, archipelago between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, east of Vietnam
Geographic coordinates: 13 00 N, 122 00 E
Map references: Southeast Asia
Area: total: 300,000 sq km
land: 298,170 sq km
water: 1,830 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than Arizona
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 36,289 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: irregular polygon extending up to 100 nm from coastline as defined by 1898 treaty; since late 1970s has also claimed polygonal-shaped area in South China Sea up to 285 nm in breadth
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: to depth of exploitation
Climate: tropical marine; northeast monsoon (November to April); southwest monsoon (May to October)
Terrain: mostly mountains with narrow to extensive coastal lowlands
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Philippine Sea 0 m
highest point: Mount Apo 2,954 m
Natural resources: timber, petroleum, nickel, cobalt, silver, gold, salt, copper
Land use: arable land: 19%
permanent crops: 16.67%
other: 64.33% (2005)
Irrigated land: 15,500 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 479 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 28.52 cu km/yr (17%/9%/74%)
per capita: 343 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: astride typhoon belt, usually affected by 15 and struck by five to six cyclonic storms per year; landslides; active volcanoes; destructive earthquakes; tsunamis
Environment – current issues: uncontrolled deforestation especially in watershed areas; soil erosion; air and water pollution in major urban centers; coral reef degradation; increasing pollution of coastal mangrove swamps that are important fish breeding grounds
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants
Geography – note: the Philippine archipelago is made up of 7,107 islands; favorably located in relation to many of Southeast Asia’s main water bodies: the South China Sea, Philippine Sea, Sulu Sea, Celebes Sea, and Luzon Strait
Politics The Philippines has a presidential, unitary form of government (with some modification; there is one autonomous region largely free from the national government), where the President functions as both head of state and head of government, and is commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The president is elected by popular vote to a single six-year term, during which time she or he appoints and presides over the cabinet.[2]

The bicameral Congress is composed of a Senate, serving as the upper house whose members are elected nationally to a six-year term, and a House of Representatives serving as the lower house whose members are elected to a three-year term and are elected from both legislative districts and through sectoral representation.

The judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court, composed of a Chief Justice as its presiding officer and fourteen associate justices, all appointed by the President from nominations submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council.

Attempts to amend the constitution to either a federal, unicameral or parliamentary form of government have repeatedly failed since the Ramos administration.

The Philippines is a founding and active member of the United Nations since its inception on October 24, 1945 and is a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The Philippines is also a member of the East Asia Summit (EAS), an active player in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Latin Union, and a member of the Group of 24. The country is a major non-NATO ally of the U.S. but also a member of the Non-Aligned Movement.

People Population: 96,061,680 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 35.5% (male 17,392,780/female 16,708,255)
15-64 years: 60.4% (male 28,986,232/female 29,076,329)
65 years and over: 4.1% (male 1,682,485/female 2,215,602) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 22.3 years
male: 21.8 years
female: 22.8 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.991% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 26.42 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 5.15 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -1.36 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 21.2 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 23.86 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 18.42 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 70.8 years
male: 67.89 years
female: 73.85 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 3.32 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 9,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: fewer than 500 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria (2008)
Nationality: noun: Filipino(s)
adjective: Philippine
Ethnic groups: Tagalog 28.1%, Cebuano 13.1%, Ilocano 9%, Bisaya/Binisaya 7.6%, Hiligaynon Ilonggo 7.5%, Bikol 6%, Waray 3.4%, other 25.3% (2000 census)
Religions: Roman Catholic 80.9%, Muslim 5%, Evangelical 2.8%, Iglesia ni Kristo 2.3%, Aglipayan 2%, other Christian 4.5%, other 1.8%, unspecified 0.6%, none 0.1% (2000 census)
Languages: Filipino (official; based on Tagalog) and English (official); eight major dialects – Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinan
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 92.6%
male: 92.5%
female: 92.7% (2000 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 12 years
male: 11 years
female: 12 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 2.5% of GDP (2005)

CHINA ACCUSES US OF TRIGGERING MAJOR TRADE WAR IN HISTORY

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF 247 NEWS)

 

U.S. Has Postponed The ‘2 + 2’ (Security And Defense) Talks With India

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWSPAPER OF INDIA)

 

Why US postponed the 2+2 talks with India

The 2+2 dialogue scheduled for July 6 – the first simultaneous meeting of the Indian defence and external affairs ministers and their US counterparts – was postponed by the US on Wednesday citing “unavoidable reasons”.

INDIA Updated: Jun 29, 2018 07:21 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
US president Donald Trump with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Philippines in November 2017.
US president Donald Trump with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Philippines in November 2017.

It was the sudden “classified travel” of US secretary of state Mike Pompeo that resulted in the last-minute deferral of the so-called 2-plus-2 dialogue between India and the US originally scheduled for July 6, senior Indian officials involved in talks with the US said.

Indeed, the US is keen on the talks and could even be open to shifting the venue for the discussion between the foreign and defence ministers of the two countries to India, they added.

The officials, none of whom wished to be identified, said the dialogue had been postponed because Pompeo has to travel either to North Korea or Russia.

They dismissed theories that it was US concern over Iran (and India’s oil purchases from that country), the purchase of S-400 missiles from Moscow, or bilateral trade issues that resulted in the deferment. A report in the Financial Times said Pompeo was likely to travel to North Korea to discuss the country’s denuclearisation plans.

The Indian embassy in Washington was informed about the postponement of the dialogue by the state department on Wednesday morning with an assurance that secretary Pompeo would himself conveys his regrets to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj later over phone. Before the state department communication, both countries were preparing for the meeting, with US ambassador to India Kenneth Juster meeting foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale on Tuesday afternoon.

Indian diplomats in the US echoed these views. They, and the Indian officials, pointed to US ambassador Nikki Haley’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during which she said the US would not tolerate Pakistan becoming a safe haven for terrorists. They also pointed to the fact that a US trade delegation led by assistant US trade representative Mark Linscott is currently in Delhi negotiating the way to address bilateral trade concerns. India,for its part, the officials said, has decided to address the Trump administration’s concerns by buying oil and gas worth $4 billion a year from the US and also facilitating the purchase of 300 civilian jets worth $40 billion.

During his meetings with US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross in Washington this month, commerce minister Suresh Prabhu agreed with his hosts that the only way to address trade concerns was through a comprehensive dialogue.

On US concerns over India buying the S-400 missile systems from Russia, South Block officials agreed that “this was not an ideal situation” but said that both sides were open to having a candid discussion given India’s legacy issues.

Although US sanctions against Iran will kick in on November 4, senior Indian diplomats said the US is not threatening India over purchase of crude oil from Tehran; Washington is aware that New Delhi had already cut down its oil intake from the Islamic Republic to 6% of the total oil it imports before the sanctions were lifted when Iran signed its deal with the US when Barack Obama was in power.

Even now, India imports only 18% of its crude oil from Iran. Before the dialogue was postponed, the talks on Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) had recorded forward momentum towards closure by the end of this year and hardware acquisition through the foreign military sales route had been finalized with the two countries involved in advanced Malabar and RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific) naval exercises.

It has also been decided that both India and the US will closely collaborate on a maritime security architecture through the Indo-PAC Command of the US Navy.

“ India-US relations are multi-faceted and on a vast canvass. It is normal to have differences over some issues. But saying US is threatening India (and that the postponement of the talks is one embodiment of this) is an overexaggeration of the facts on ground,” said a top Indian diplomat dealing with US.

North Korea Is Quickly Upgrading Nuclear Research Facility: report

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘HILL’ NEWSPAPER)

 

Satellite images show North Korea upgrading nuclear research facility: report

Satellite images from last week show that North Korea is making numerous improvements to the infrastructure at a nuclear research facility, according to a new study.

The images, obtained by North Korea analysis outlet 38 North, come just weeks after President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed an agreement that called for a denuclearized Korean peninsula.

The satellite photos indicate that North Korea is quickly progressing on several adjustments to the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center.

The improvements include a new cooling water pump house, multiple new buildings, completed construction on a cooling water reservoir and an apparently active Radio chemical Laboratory. It is unclear whether the reactor is still in operation, the report said.

38 North notes that North Korean nuclear officials are expected to proceed with “business as usual” until Kim orders official changes to procedure.

The agreement between Trump and Kim, signed at the historic summit in Singapore earlier this month, commits the U.S. to “security guarantees” in exchange for a denuclearized Korean peninsula. Critics said that the deal was unspecific and gave too much to North Korea without securing anything for the U.S. in return.

Ahead of the meeting between the two leaders, North Korea claimed to have destroyed its Punggye-ri nuclear testing site.