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20/07/2019
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Increasing Chinese expansionism throughout the South China Sea

China defies the Permanent Court of Arbitration, in The Hague  The 9-dash line claimed for ChinaThe 9-dash line claimed for China

The international tribunal delivers a blow to China’s claims in the South China Sea

Manila, Jul 16.─ By ejecting its neighbours’ forces, building up its navy and constructing artificial islands, China has for years sought to assert vast and ambiguous territorial claims in the South China Sea. These alarm its neighbours and have led to military confrontations. They also challenge America’s influence in Asia. Now the Permanent Court of Arbitration, an international tribunal in The Hague, has declared China’s “historic claims” in the South China Sea invalid. It was an unexpectedly wide-ranging and clear-cut ruling, and it has enraged China. The judgment could change the politics of the South China Sea and, in the long run, force China to choose what sort of country it wants to be—one that supports rules-based global regimes, or one that challenges them in pursuit of great-power status.

The case was brought by the Philippines in 2013, after China grabbed control of a reef, called Scarborough Shoal, about 220 miles (350km) north-west of Manila. The case had wider significance, though, because of the South China Sea itself. About a third of world trade passes through its sea lanes, including most of China’s oil imports. It contains large reserves of oil and gas. But it matters above all because it is a place of multiple overlapping maritime claims and a growing military presence (Chinese troops are pictured above on one of the sea’s islands). 

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Islam’s Jihad Against Homosexuals

The rise of modern Islamic extremism has worsened an institutionalized Muslim homophobia

Orlando mosque speaker says Islam mandates gays be put to deathclick here "Gay" club in Orlando, FL"Gay" club in Orlando, FL

Under Shariah—Islamic law—those engaging in same-sex sexual acts can be sentenced to death in nearly a dozen countries or in large areas of them: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan, the northern states of Nigeria, southern parts of Somalia, two provinces in Indonesia, Mauritania, Afghanistan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates

Orlando, June 12.─ The Orlando massacre is a hideous reminder to Americans that homophobia is an integral part of Islamic extremism.

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The hard choice for Pakistan

The country is threatened not just by terrorism, but by widespread religious extremism
Pakistan being a nuclear power increase the danger of catastrophic events if this technology gets into the hands of terrorists

Terrorist bomb in LahoreTerrorist bomb in LahoreLahore, Apr.1.─ The suicide-bombing of a busy park in Lahore on Easter Sunday, which killed more than 70 people, most of them women and children, was not only more lethal than the terrorist attack in Brussels a few days earlier. It also represented a different order of threat to the country in which it happened. Pakistan is engaged in a belated struggle against religious extremism that will determine what sort of country it becomes.

That threat is plain in the bomber’s choice of location and timing (see article). Lahore is the capital of Punjab, the provincial power base of the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif. Although most of the victims in Gulshan-e-Iqbal park were Muslim, one aim was to kill Christians. The attack happened to come just a few weeks after the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, a police bodyguard who in 2011 murdered Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, for his criticism of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Over 100,000 people attended Qadri’s funeral in Rawalpindi on March 1st. On the same day that the Lahore bomber struck, riot police in the capital, Islamabad, were trying to control a 10,000-strong demonstration against Qadri’s execution.

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The South China Sea conflict - China vs the rest

  • As China further militarise the sea, the risks of conflict grow
  • China is pressing its claims over islands claimed by Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan and Brunei. Some of them are being occupied by force

Manila, March 26.─ For years China has sought to divide and rule in the South China Sea. It worked hard to prevent the countries challenging it over some or all of its absurdly aggrandising territorial claims in the sea from ganging up against it. So when tensions with one rival claimant were high, it tended not to provoke others.

Not any more. In a kind of united-front policy in reverse, it now seems content to antagonise them all at the same time. This is both encouraging closer co-operation among neighbours and driving them closer to external powers including India, Australia, Japan and, above all, America.

The latest fight China has picked is with a country with which—unlike Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam—it has no territorial dispute: Indonesia. 

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Obama's speech in Cuba challenges the Castro's government to promote democracy and human rights

  • The president stressed that his goal was to end the decades-long US embargo on Cuban trade
  • He also took the opportunity to call out the Cuban government for human rights abuses, specifically the government’s forceful efforts to silence dissent; he stressed the idea that a country is stronger when it’s people are free to express themselves freely
  • “I can’t force you to agree. But I believe that every person should be equal under the law,” Obama said. “Citizens should be free to speak their mind without fear.” And he ended with the motto “si se puede”—yes, we can

Pres. Obama talking to the Cuban peoplePres. Obama talking to the Cuban people<Texto en españolAQUÍ>

Havana, March 22 (DP.net).─ President Obama spoke directly to the Cuban people and received repeated ovations from the audience in his speech in Havana, outlining a path forward for the U.S. and the island nation.

Here is a full transcript of his remarks:

«OBAMA: Thank you. Muchas gracias. Thank you very much. Please. Thank you very much.

To President Castro, the people of Cuba, thank you so much for the warm welcome that I have received, that my family have received and that our delegation has received. It is an extraordinary honor to be here today.

Before I begin, please indulge me. 

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