Global News May 22, 2017

  1. El Economista
  2. Global News May 22, 2017

The Economist
“New tricks: Donald Trump’s reset on Islam”

Forgotten, it seems, are his tweets calling them “cowards” and his Facebook post likening them to slaveholders. The people of Saudi Arabia, not least the royal family, seem to care only about what Donald Trump is saying now. And while Candidate Trump taunted the Saudis, President Trump has embraced them, making the kingdom his first foreign destination. In Riyadh, the capital, on May 20th-21st, he sought to reassure Muslim leaders and draw a sharp contrast with Barack Obama’s foreign policy. The centerpiece of the trip was a speech by Mr. Trump to dozens of Sunni Muslim leaders, which his staff billed as an answer to Mr. Obama’s address in Cairo in 2009. In their own way, both presidents sought to reset America’s relations with the Muslim world. But whereas Mr. Obama attempted to mend the damage wrought by the war in Iraq, Mr. Trump was burdened by his own Islamophobic rhetoric. “I think Islam hates us,” said Mr. Trump last year, after calling for a blanket ban on Muslims entering America. His first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, considered Islam a “malignant cancer”. The president then told his audience what to do. “The nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them,” said Mr. Trump. “A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists.” “Drive them out,” he repeated, five times. To that end, Mr. Trump announced the sale of “beautiful” weapons worth $110bn to Saudi Arabia, the opening of the Global Centre for Combating Extremist Ideology in Riyadh and the creation of a Terrorist Financing Targeting Centre. Next, Mr. Trump heads to Israel, where the dynamics at times will be similar those of his Saudi trip. Mr. Trump will visit Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial centre, perhaps to counter accusations of anti-Semitism against some in his administration, after a failure to mention Jews in a statement commemorating the Holocaust earlier this year. The president also plans to propose a path to the “ultimate” peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians.


The Guardian
“Two Turkish teachers on 75-day hunger strike detained by police”

Nuriye Gülmen, a professor of literature, and Semih Özakça, a primary school teacher, have been on strike for more than 10 weeks after losing their jobs following the failed coup against the president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, last July.
Surviving on a liquid diet of lemon and saltwater and sugar solutions, the pair have lost significant amounts of weight and doctors said this month that their health was deteriorating. A source close to the strikers said their muscles had atrophied. Police are concerned the strike will become a “death fast” rather than a hunger strike. The detention appears to have been motivated by fears that the strike could be taken up as a cause celebre and evolve into a larger movement like the Gezi park protests in 2013, when hundreds of thousands of people protested against plans to build a replica Ottoman barracks in central Istanbul.
The Turkish government has grown increasingly intolerant of dissent, and the purges and arrests in the wake of the coup attempt have gone beyond the movement that orchestrated it to encompass dissidents of all stripes.


The Guardian
“Ford to sack CEO and senior bosses in new push to build self-driving cars”

Ford is to install the head of its driverless cars division as chief executive, as the company that pioneered the assembly line looks to the next stage of the industry’s evolution.
The Detroit-based carmaker is expected to sack the chief executive, Mark Fields, and overhaul its senior management team, according to a report from Forbes. The reported changes come amid growing misgivings among investors about the company’s recent financial performance and its future prospects. Fields will be replaced by Jim Hackett, who runs the “smart mobility” unit that houses Ford’s autonomous vehicle projects and is said to be highly rated by executive chairman Bill Ford Jr. Ford’s shares have fallen by 37% during Fields’ tenure, and has now been overtaken in stock market value by newcomer Tesla, which specializes in electric cars and is testing driverless vehicles.
The 114-year-old company has also been outpaced by traditional rivals such as General Motors, which posted rising first-quarter profit earlier this year, even as Ford’s own earnings slumped.


The Washington Post
“In Japan, prime minister pushes ahead with controversial ‘anti-conspiracy’ bill”

The Japanese parliament appeared ready Monday to move toward approval of a sweeping new “anti-conspiracy” measure that the government says is needed to stop terrorist attacks but that critics worry will be used to create a surveillance state.
The bill is part of a broader push by prime minister Shinzo Abe — who faces only weak political opposition — to advance a broad legislative agenda that includes tougher law enforcement powers. A vote in favor of the bill by lawmakers was expected Tuesday. Abe also wants his Liberal Democratic Party to come up with a concrete plan to amend the pacifist constitution, written by Japan’s American occupiers after its defeat in World War II. “These moves show both Abe’s arrogance and his weakness,” said Koichi Nakano, a professor of political science at Sophia University and an outspoken critic of the Abe government. “He has no rivals and is at the height of his power so it feels like he can do anything. We’re seeing the personalization of power, and it’s not all that different from what we see in the Trump administration,” Nakano said. But the moves are also an attempt to divert attention from simmering rumors of corruption, he said. The prime minister has been implicated in two shady deals, but strongly denies any wrongdoing.


Zero Hedge
“Greek Authorities to Launch Mass Confiscation of Safe Deposit Boxes, Securities, Homes in Tax-Evasion Crackdown”

Last week, the Greek parliament once again approved more austerity to unlock withheld Greek bailout funds in Brussels: a symbolic move, which has little impact without any actual follow through, like for example, actually imposing austerity. And while Greeks have been very good in the former (i.e. promises), they have been severely lacking in the latter (i.e. delivery).
That may be changing. According to Kathimerini, Greek Finance Ministry inspectors are about to start seeking out the owners of all local undeclared properties, while the law will be amended to allow for financial products and the content of safe deposit boxes to be confiscated electronically. What follows then will be a wholesale confiscation by the government of any asset whose source, origins and funding cannot be explained.