17 Jul

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


Vietnam welcomes East Sea ruling

Tu Hoang

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Le Hai Binh – PHOTO: TTXVN

HANOI – Vietnam welcomes the ruling on Tuesday of an international arbitration court concerning the East Sea and will issue a statement in detail on the content of the ruling, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Le Hai Binh said on Tuesday.

Binh was replying to reporters’ questions about Vietnam’s response to the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling on the Philippines’s case against China’s claims in the East Sea. The tribunal was set up pursuant to Annex VII of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) at the request of the Philippines.

The PCA in The Hague ruled on Tuesday that China has no historic title over the waters of the East Sea and that it has breached the sovereign rights of the Philippines with its actions there.

“Vietnam once again reiterates its consistent stance on this case as it was fully shown in the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry’s Declaration on December 5, 2014, sent to the arbitration tribunal,” Binh was quoted by the Vietnam News Agency as saying.

Therefore, Vietnam strongly supports the settlement of disputes in the East Sea by peaceful means, including diplomatic and legal processes, Binh stressed.

According to Binh, Vietnam protests the threat or use of force, and backs measures for maintaining peace and stability in the region, security, safety and freedom of navigation in and overflight over the East Sea, and respecting the principle of abiding international law on seas and oceans.

Binh reiterated Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes, and its sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf as defined by the UNCLOS.

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State Department responds to Ankara’s claim that coup was planned by followers of US-based scholar Fethullah Gülen


The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, who has called on the US to extradite Fethullah Gülen, a US-based Islamist scholar.

The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, who has called on Washington to extradite Fethullah Gülen, a US-based Islamist scholar. Photograph: Depo Photos/REX/Shutterstock

Turkey’s attempted coup has increased friction between the Turkish and US governments, with Washington rejecting claims that it was somehow involved in the failed putsch.

The US State Department released a statement denying any link to the events, after the Turkish government, a nominal US ally, blamed the coup on an exiled Turkish dissident who has been given sanctuary in the American state of Pennsylvania.

“Public insinuations or claims about any role by the United States in the failed coup attempt are utterly false and harmful to our bilateral relations,” the State Department said, summarising a message given by the secretary of state, John Kerry, to his Turkish counterpart.

The spat was sparked after the Turkish government claimed the coup was planned by followers of Fethullah Gülen, the US-based Islamist scholar and dissident. Gülen denies the charge, but the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, has called on the US to extradite him – arguing that Turkey has extradited plenty of terrorism suspects in the opposite direction. “I say if we are strategic partners then you should bring about our request,” Erdo?an said in a speech on Saturday.

In response, Kerry pointedly said that Turkey should produce evidence of Gülen’s guilt, amid concerns that Erdo?an was using the aftermath of the coup to settle scores with enemies both at home and abroad. “We would invite the government of Turkey, as we always do, to present us with any legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny,” Kerry was quoted as saying at a press conference.

Meanwhile, bombing raids on Syrian outposts of Islamic State were put on hold after it was claimed that a group of Turkish soldiers at the US’s airbase in Turkey were involved in the botched coup……………………..

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About two dozen people are bused away even before they begin their protest against Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea

Anti-China protest Hanoi

Vietnam’s communist authorities have clamped down on such protests before, fearing they could stir dissent. Photograph: Luong Thai Linh/EPA

Dozens of Vietnamese who gathered for an anti-China protest in central Hanoi were taken away by authorities on Sunday as they tried to rally support for an international tribunal’s ruling rejecting Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea.

About two dozen people were bused away from around the landmark Hoan Kiem Lake in the capital even before they began their protest. There was heavy police presence around the lake with cars briefly banned from around it.

The rally was organised by No-U group in Hanoi, which opposes China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea. It came after the Hague-based permanent court of arbitration last week issued the ruling in a case initiated by the Philippines, which together with Vietnam is one of the claimants in the disputed waters.

Vietnam’s communist authorities have clamped down on such protests before, fearing they could stir dissent……………

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The ‘28 pages’ suggest larger connection between al-Qaida and Saudi royal family than previously reported as $89,000 was deposited to family of suspected spy

9/11 firefighters Ground Zero

The report is almost certain to feed to public suspicions that the Saudi government gave extensive support to Osama bin Laden before 9/11. Photograph: Mark Lennihan/AP

The release Friday of a long-classified congressional report on possible ties between Saudi Arabia and the 9/11 terrorist plot has the potential to do lasting damage to the US relationship with the oil-rich Arab kingdom.

The so-called “28 pages” suggest a much larger web of connections between al-Qaida and the Saudi royal family than had previously been known.

Even as the White House – and the Saudi ambassador to the US – insisted that the 13-year-old report did not implicate senior Saudi officials in supporting al-Qaida, family members of the 9/11 victims who have long demanded the report’s release, as well as some of their congressional allies, said they believed the report demonstrated the need for a new investigation of a possible Saudi government role in the 2001 terror attacks.

The report – classified in December 2002 on orders of then president George W Bush – is almost certain to feed public suspicions that the Saudi government gave extensive support to Osama bin Laden before 9/11, and perhaps even directly to the 9/11 plotters themselves, as the US government looked the other way.

Perhaps the most explosive passages in the 28 pages, part of a larger, otherwise unclassified congressional report on American intelligence blunders before 9/11, offer previously unknown information about the actions of a powerful figure in the Saudi royal family. Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who was his country’s ambassador to Washington for several years before and after 9/11 and was a close friend of Bush.

According to the report, at least $15,000 went directly from Prince Bandar’s bank account in Washington to the family of a Saudi expatriate, suspected of being a Saudi government spy, who organized a support network in California for two of the 9/11 hijackers while they were living in San Diego in the year before the attacks……………

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Lawmakers have tried to allocate funding against the disease – but attached ‘poison pill’ measures and a seven-week recess haven’t helped matters

Tim Kaine

Tim Kaine: ‘This is why people hate Congress.’ Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP

Halfway through a hearing on Capitol Hill, as public health officials warned of dire consequences should Congress fail to pass funding to help combat the Zika virus, Tim Kaine uttered the words everyone in the room was probably thinking.

“This is why people hate Congress,” said the senator from Virginia, who is thought to be a potential vice-presidential pick for Hillary Clinton. “This is why people hate Washington.”

A handful of his colleagues from both parties acknowledged one simple truth: lawmakers should appropriate funds to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and they should do so urgently.

Marco Rubio, chair of the subcommittee in question and a former Republican presidential candidate, discussed the situation in his home state of Florida, where more than 300 Zika cases have been reported.

“The growing threat of the Zika virus as a full-blown public health crisis in the United States is a clear call to action,” Rubio said. “It’s taken far too long already.”…………

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It endorses ‘conversion therapy’. It rejects marriage equality. Incredibly, it’s to the right of Donald Trump. This is a party that has abandoned the mainstream

Workers prepare the main stage at the Quicken Loans Arena for the upcoming Republican National Convention.

‘The platform represents a stunning defeat for Republican moderates in the battle for the soul of their party.’ Workers prepare the main stage at the Quicken Loans Arena for the upcoming Republican national convention. Photograph: Gene J Puskar/AP

“While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two,” Tony Perkins wrote on the Family Research Council website in 2010. “It is a homosexual problem.”

Such views are perhaps to be expected from the president of the FRC, a fiercely anti-LGBTQ organization that, using faith as a justification, has propagated the insidious view that gay people are sexual predators.

Mainstream Republicans might deem Perkins a fringe character. At the very least, they would probably want to distance themselves from a man who once purchased Klansman David Duke’s email list for use in a political campaign in Louisiana (Perkins now claims he wasn’t aware of the mailing list’s connection to Duke).

And yet, it’s Perkins and his ilk who have emerged as the GOP’s moral compass in crafting the party platform ahead of the national convention in Cleveland. Perkins, an RNC delegate from Louisiana, succeeded in his push to add language to the platform supporting “conversion therapy”, a practice banned in several states that “re-educates” children to become cisgender and heterosexual.

In addition, the platform, which was approved in committee on Tuesday, supports state laws that bar transgender people from public bathrooms and includes language that says “natural marriage”, marriage between a man and a woman, is more likely to produce offspring who do not become addicted to drugs. It also declares pornography a “public health crisis”.

Republican moderates failed in their bid to include language acknowledging anti-gay discrimination in the wake of the Pulse massacre in Orlando, and so the platform heads to a formal vote next week bereft of any positive language on LGBTQ people whatsoever. It is unclear if the party will ratify it.

What is clear, however, is the influence of anti-LGBTQ fanatics and radical social conservatives in drawing up the platform, one that, incredibly, veers right of the party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, who desperately needs the support of the religious conservatives.

Perkins is far from the only anti-LGBTQ activist who had a hand in creating the platform. The committee also includes David Barton from Texas, who has claimed that HIV/Aids is God’s punishment for homosexuality, and Cynthia Dunbar from Virginia, who compares gay rights to Nazism…………..

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