BEIJING, November 30 -- The warning came after the US Pacific Fleet said that its guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville had sailed near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea to challenge what it described as Beijing's "excessive maritime claims."
Beijing has lodged a protest against a US navy ship sailing close to the disputed islands in the South China Sea, according to Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang.Geng added that the Chinese military "had sent its ships to watch the US vessel and to warn it to leave the area." Earlier on Friday, US Navy Commander Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for the US Pacific Fleet, told CNN that the guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville "sailed near the Paracel Islands to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways, as governed by international law.
Christensen added that the Chancellorsville conducted what is referred to as a "Freedom of Navigation Operation" in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands to challenge claims made by China. He noted that the US warship was shadowed by a Chinese vessel but that all interactions were deemed safe and professional.
Apart from China, the Spratly Islands and Paracel Islands, which are among the more frequently disputed territories, are also claimed by Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines. China has exerted de facto control over the Paracels since 1974. Over the past few years, Beijing has cultivated a slew of military assets in strategic areas of the South China Sea for what it calls national defence purposes. The resource-rich sea, which is also enormously important for trade in and out of Asia, is contested by numerous southeast Asian nations, which each claim unique and frequently overlapping rights to reefs, islets and fishing waters within the area.
US officials have long expressed alarm at Beijing's construction of industrial outposts and military facilities on artificial islands in the South China Sea but have mostly limited their reaction to verbal reproach.
US Navy ships continue to carry out "freedom of navigation" operations in these areas, with US Air Force bombers sometimes conducting flyovers of the South China Sea.
The focus is on whether the G-20 countries can agree on a joint communique, as the United States and China, the world's two largest economies, have been engaged in tit-for-tat rounds of punitive tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other's imports.At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit earlier this month, the 21-member leaders failed to finalize a joint declaration for the first time since the forum began in 1993, against a backdrop of the deepening divide between Washington and Beijing.
If the G-20 summit also fell short of adopting a joint communique for the first time since its inception in 2008, skepticism would grow about the ability of the current international framework to find common ground, blurring the outlook for the global economy. On the sidelines of the G-20 gathering, designed to concentrate on fiscal and monetary policy matters, U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are slated to hold their first face-to-face talks since November 2017.
At the outset of his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Buenos Aires on Friday, Trump voiced optimism about the prospects of the planned U.S.-China summit, saying, "We're working very hard."
"If we can make a deal, that'd be good. I think they want to, I think we'd like to," Trump told Abe, adding, "There's some good signs. We'll see what happens."
Citing U.S. and Chinese officials, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the two sides are considering launching new talks looking at "big changes" in Chinese economic policy in return for Washington holding off on further tariffs through the spring. Speculation, however, is rife that the two leaders will not easily make concessions over trade issues, as Trump has continued his threats to take additional measures against China despite Xi's eagerness to resolve the ongoing trade dispute through dialogue.
So far, the United States has imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese imports -- or about half the goods it imports from China each year -- in response to Beijing's alleged theft of intellectual property and technology, as well as other trade complaints. In retaliation, China has levied tariffs on more than 80 percent of all goods imported from the United States. Criticism, meanwhile, has been lingering among the international community about Beijing's alleged unfair business practices. China has also been lambasted by many G-20 countries for providing opaque benefits to state-owned firms.
At the G-20 summit, the leaders are expected to exchange views on other risks to the world economy, including the slowdown of the Chinese economy, and U.S. monetary policy normalization that could trigger an outflow of capital from emerging markets. Foreign exchange policy may crop up, too, as Washington has expressed discontent with the recent depreciation of the yuan giving an advantage to Chinese exports.
Some G-20 leaders may raise issues at the summit such as Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region and Britain's progress toward an agreement to leave the European Union, according to diplomatic sources.
The G-20 groups Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
MOSCOW, November 30 -- Russian tanks are massing at the Ukraine border, sparking fears of ‘full-scale war.’
Ukraine’s President said tanks with ammunition are just 10 miles away and have tripled in number in recent months. Petro Poroshenko appealed for help from the west and this morning banned Russian men aged between 16 and 60 from travelling into the Ukraine. Long-simmering tensions between the two escalated in the Black Sea at the weekend. Kiev said the travel ban was to stop Russians from forming ‘private armies’ who would go on to fight on Ukrainian soil. Exceptions will be made for ‘humanitarian cases’ such as funerals, the government said. Martial law has been imposed in 10 Ukrainian regions until December 26. The move came days after Russian border guards opened fire and captured three Ukrainian vessels and their 24-member crew at the weekend.
Ukraine has said the incident was a flagrant violation of international law, while Russia say the vessels violated its territorial waters. Sunday’s clash was the most dangerous escalation of tension at sea off Crimea since Russia annexed the peninsula from Ukraine in March 2014. President Poroshenko imposed 30 days of martial law, warning there was a threat of ‘full-scale war’ with Russia. He also said the number of Russian tanks along the border had recently tripled. Pointing to an aerial photograph, he told Sky News: ‘This is 18km from my border, this is the same warehouse where they have their ammunition, the same where they have multi-rocket launch systems, we should be prepared to protect my country. ‘If the whole world has no reason to trust Putin, Ukraine definitely doesn’t have a reason to go with him.’
The travel ban is aimed to stop ‘private armies’ or Russian-backed separatists who in the past have formed units in disputed areas in Ukraine’s east. Moscow had been arming and sending troops and fighting in the east has now killed at least 10,000 people. Five of the 10 regions in the country border Russia, totalling some 1,243 miles. The travel ban could cause havoc over Christmas as many Russians have relatives living in Ukraine. Moscow said they have no plans to follow suit and ban Ukrainians travelling.
Last year, some 1,500,000 Russian nationals visited Ukraine according to official statistics from Kiev. Stricter checks at border crossings are expected while flights between the two capitals have been cancelled. In the wake of the 2014 annexation of Crimea, Ukraine started to build a wall along some of its borders but the project has stalled because of a lack of funds. Earlier today Donald Trump said he wouldn’t meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin because the Ukrainian seamen were still being held. However, the US President said there now will me an impromptu meeting as both leaders attend the G20 summit in Argentina.
LONDON, November 30 -- Donald Tusk has warned British MPs that if they reject Theresa May's withdrawal agreement, they face a choice of either no deal or no Brexit.
The European Council president sought to make clear that the deal is the “only possible one”, amid speculation that Ms May could try to either renegotiate the package or that parliament might seek a Norway-style status instead. It comes after the Bank of England and the Treasury released data suggesting a no deal exit could lead to a savage recession in the UK , with a devastating impact on household incomes.
Speaking from the G20 summit in Argentina, Mr Tusk pointed out that the deal struck between the European Union and the UK represented an “orderly divorce”. He went on: “A few days before the vote in the House of Commons it is becoming more and more clear that this deal is the best possible – in fact the only possible one. “If this deal is rejected in the Commons we are left with, as was already stressed a few weeks ago by Prime Minister May, an alternative – no deal or no Brexit at all. “I want to reassure you that the EU is prepared for every scenario.”
Speculation over how many Tory MPs could oppose Ms May’ deal has been rife in recent days, with some suggesting it could be as high as 100. But a Press Association analysis indicated that only 18 Tory MPs have publicly said they will specifically vote against the deal, including ex-cabinet ministers Owen Paterson, Theresa Villiers and Priti Patel. A further 42 Tory MPs have said they will not vote in favour of the deal – but this does not mean they will necessarily vote against, or that they intend to vote at all. This category includes the likes of Esther McVey, who resigned from the Cabinet on November 15 saying “I cannot vote for this deal”, and Suella Braverman, who resigned from the Government on the same day saying she was “unable to sincerely support the deal”. Another 23 Tory MPs have said publicly they are unhappy with the deal or they may have difficulty supporting it.
If every opposition MP voted against her deal, and they were joined by the 18 Tory MPs who have said they will also oppose it, this alone would be enough to defeat the deal. The Bank of England has warned the UK economy could go into meltdown with a collapse in house values, a slide in the strength of the pound, surging inflation and soaring interest rates if Britain leaves the EU without a Brexit deal.
In a bleak forecast, it said a chaotic Brexit would trigger the worst economic turmoil since the Second World War, dwarfing the financial crisis of 2007-08.
MOSCOW, November 30 -- Russia said it believes President Donald Trump cancelled his meeting with Vladimir Putin due to domestic issues and not the situation in Ukraine.
"Is the provocation started by Kiev in this area [Azov Sea] a real reason for the cancellation," spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.
"We heard that as an official version and we accepted that. Is it a real one? I believe we should look for answers in the US domestic political situation."
MAINZ, November 30 -- German leader Angela Merkel will miss the opening of the G-20 summit in Argentina — including a scheduled meeting with President Donald Trump — after her government plane suffered what she called a "serious malfunction.”
The chancellor, along with her delegation of officials and journalists, made an unscheduled landing at Cologne-Bonn airport after the Airbus A340 lost communications about 60 minutes into its 15-hour flight from Berlin.
Merkel and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz resumed their travel to Buenos Aires on Friday aboard a commercial flight but the delay means they are due to arrive after world leaders begin discussions.
She had been scheduled to hold bilateral talks with Trump, President Xi Jinping of China and the Argentinian president. “We do not know yet whether these meetings can possibly be rescheduled for a later time,” a German government spokesman said.
A spokesman for the country's Defense Ministry said the aircraft, named after former chancellor Konrad Adenauer, experienced a "complete loss of its communication system.”
There is “no evidence of a criminal background in this incident" but a thorough investigation is underway, the spokesman said.
In Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law, James Q. Whitman compares the two nations’ jurisprudence and politics in the birth of the infamous anti-Jewish Nuremberg Laws (Princeton University Press, 2017). In sum, German fascism took inspiration from stateside policies and practices.
In it, the author unpacks similar features of German laws to identify and exclude Jews in the first half of the 1930s with Jim Crow laws restricting African Americans from white society in the US. Ruling class divide and rule is not the half of this “unpleasant truth.”
The American example of maltreating nonwhites, from blacks to Natives, immigrant Chinese, Filipinos and Puerto Ricans, played a central role in the Germany of the mid-1930s, not part of the US narrative in and of the school system. Whitman aims to change that oversight, a slow slog, to be sure.
“My purpose is to chronicle this neglected history of Nazi efforts to mine American race law for inspiration during the making of the Nuremberg Laws,” he writes “and to ask what it tells us about Nazi Germany, about the modern history of racism, and especially about America.” The racialized presidency of Donald Trump, who claims America’s brown people such as Mexicans and Muslims are those whom whites must fear and fight is proof of that.
His subtext is that the capitalist system is fine. What is un-fine are the dangerous folks with darker skin.
That resonates in the deafening silence of anti-capitalist critiques on the public’s radar screen.
In two chapters, Whitman sheds light on the connective tissue between the two nations and what that all means for the current moment. A comparative law professor at Yale, he makes clear that the operative concept is the US influence, not perfect congruence, with the Nazi drafting of the Nuremberg Laws that codified racist prosecution of Jews in the 1930s. The binational concept of race as a comparative concept in law and social policy is complex.
In American history, skin color was a visual marker undergirding a social order based on a system of chattel and free labor. Thus, blacks could not assimilate into the US mainstream as Jews did in Germany.
Under the Nazis, persecuting Jews via skin color was not an option. Still, as Whitman shows, German lawyers studied American race law for insights despite the fact that it did not marginalize Jews.
In some cases, in fact, German lawyers found the American example of race law too extreme. Think about that! For example, the Nazis steered clear of classifying who was Jewish via a “one-drop” rule whereby a single drop of African blood made a person black in the US.
Jews, as Roland Freisler, a German jurist wrote in 1935, “are not reckoned among the coloreds” as they were under US law. Yet America in the late 1920s and 1930s offered a striking example of “race consciousness” that influenced Nazi lawyers and Hitler, who in Mein Kampf wrote admiringly of America’s second-class treatment of blacks, Chinese and Filipinos as a model to emulate in shifting Jews to the status of outsider.
Whitman further clarifies two strands in German jurisprudence. One is conservative and the other radical. The latter were the Nazi ideologues who triumphed over conservatives who believed in the law retaining its juristic traditions. How each strand accepted and rejected American race law around immigration, miscegenation, naturalization and segregation makes for a sobering read.
As far-right law and politics loom large in the US, Whitman’s book elucidates the antecedents for today’s resurgent white nationalism and its handmaiden of fear and hate. His comparative narrative of Jim Crow law and the Nazi Nuremberg Laws is thus an antidote to the fact and fiction of race as a socially constructed reality.
BERLIN, November 30 -- German investigators are checking whether there was any criminal cause behind the malfunction of a plane carrying Chancellor Angela Merkel to the G20 summit in Argentina.
Merkel was on her way from Germany to the summit when the government's Airbus A340 made an unscheduled but safe landing at Cologne-Bonn airport late on Thursday. Merkel called the incident a "serious malfunction". She and German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz were due to resume their travel to Buenos Aires early on Friday, but they will arrive after G20 leaders start their discussions.
Rheinische Post, citing security sources, said the government was checking whether the incident had a "criminal background", though the sources added that investigators would typically look "in all directions" after such an incident.
Der Spiegel magazine said the government plane's entire communication system malfunctioned, constituting a serious emergency, with the crew forced to plan the landing using an on-board satellite phone. Last night, a plane carrying the German Chancellor to the Group of 20 meeting in Argentina has been forced to make an unscheduled landing after developing technical problems.
The German news agency dpa reported that the government Airbus, which was en route to Buenos Aires, turned around over the Netherlands about an hour into the flight. It says the aircraft landed safely in Cologne in western Germany. It is understood that German government aircraft will carry the two officials to Madrid today, where they will switch to a commercial flight for the final leg, sources said.
ROTTERDAM, November 30 -- Scientists have been stumped by the 20-minute rumble of a mysterious seismic wave which was detected earlier this month.
The tremor occurred on the morning of 11 November near the archipelago of Mayotte, a collection of French islands in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Mozambique. It is unclear whether it was caused by volcanic activity or a meteor strike, but it was felt by seismometers across the world, from New Zealand to Canada - and even in Hawaii. Goran Ekstrom, a seismologist at Columbia University, told National Geographic: "I don't think I've seen anything like it." "It doesn't mean that, in the end, the cause of them is that exotic," Mr Ekstrom admitted, while acknowledging that the seismic waves were quite unusual.
Geologists shared their discovery of the surprisingly low frequency activity on Twitter, with Jamie Gurney, the founder of the UK Earthquake Bulletin, among the first to note the event.
Mr Gurney was soon joined by Anthony Lomax, who suggested the epicentres for the rumbles were just east of the Mayotte archipelago - but even with the location identified, the cause has remained a mystery.
A number of possibilities have been suggested, inspired by the fact that - despite the monitoring stations detecting seismic waves - there was no corresponding earthquake felt that morning. The low frequency of the waves has been particularly interesting to seismologists. Normally earthquakes result in powerful compressed waves known as Primary or P-waves. These are followed by Secondary or S-waves which are not so compressed and move from side to side. Both of these types of waves have higher frequencies.
The low-frequency surface waves, similar to those detected from Mayotte, follow last. Because of their low frequency they are able to travel around the planet multiple times, ringing a bit like a bell.
But the mysterious low-frequency rumble on 11 November was not preceded by P-waves or S-waves, according to the seismologists. The most prominent suggestion in the seismology community has related to what they've called a "seismic swarm" - essentially an event including many earthquakes rolling together.
But the earthquakes that have shaken Mayotte over the past 18 months have been very small, and getting smaller in recent months. There was also no earthquake detected on 11 November when the mysterious rumble rang out.
Scientists are continuing their investigation.
LOS ANGELES, November 29 -- She's become known for her love of ink, after famously covering her bottom in a giant tattoo of roses.
And now Cheryl has put another of her rarely-seen etchings on display – a Buddhist symbol in between her breasts. All eyes were on Cheryl's Unalome tattoo, which is thought to represent the path to enlightenment, as she launched her new Cheryl x Easilocks hair extension range at London's Langham Hotel. The tattoo, which Cheryl reportedly had inked in 2016, was highlighted by the plunging neckline in the star's golden two-piece suit.
The glamorous star put her flowing brunette locks to good use at the launch, as she posed for photographers.