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The Last Commander – POLITICO

Two years later, Miller was serving in Iraq, fighting an insurgency the Defense Ministry had yet to recognize, when his vehicle was ambushed near Baghdad, and he was shot and wounded. He then returned to Iraq as the Deputy Commander and Commander of the Delta Force on several occasions, participating in the successful hunt for arch-terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and leading special operations forces in brutal fighting in the province. west of Anbar, where terrorists were infiltrating from Syria. This operation was part of the largely successful “wave” of US troops in Iraq and the “Anbar miracle” that seemed to herald yet another victory – until the 2011 US troop withdrawal allowed al-Qaeda in Iraq to reconstitute itself as the formidable Islamic State of Iraq. and Syria (ISIS).

Miller returned to Afghanistan during the 2010-2011 “surge”, when US forces numbered over 100,000, and returned again in 2013-2014 to serve as the commanding general of Joint Task Force in Afghanistan. He would command in both theaters of war in 2016-2018 as the Army Joint Special Operations Command Chief, operational headquarters for elite US commandos such as Delta Force and Navy SEAL Team Six.

His career has been built in part on his understanding of the dynamics of conflict on the ground. But on the eve of his departure from Afghanistan earlier this week, Miller and NATO’s Resolute Support Command had withdrawn their field liaison officers, thus losing all visibility of what is happening with the Afghan security forces. who are trying to push back the Taliban. Recent reports suggest that the Taliban now control more than 160 of the country’s 407 districts – up from around 61 in 2018 – with entire garrisons of Afghan troops surrendering, in some cases without a fight. The Afghan Defense Minister has ordered a “strategic consolidation” of his troops, concentrating them in major cities while ceding much of the countryside to the Taliban. In what some experts interpret as a sign of desperation, the Afghan government is even again forming alliances with independent armed militias with a history of Taliban animosity, in an attempt to survive in the event of an all-out civil war.

In a recent discussion with Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, the veteran diplomat who has led the US peace talks with the Taliban, Miller referred to recent negative trend lines inside Afghanistan. The two Americans most personally identified with recent efforts to end the war have agreed that Afghanistan is a special country, where events can take a brutal turn very quickly. Miller acknowledged a certain pessimism in our talks: there are all possibilities, he said, that the Afghan security forces cannot meet.

“The almost one-unit Afghan security forces are less confident, and its leaders are obviously worried, as much of this affair is about trust – and in the face of the aggressive Taliban offensive and the surrender of some garrisons FAA shortage right now, ”he told me.

Strategic consolidations of Defense Ministry forces in major cities are tactically good, he said. “But the question is, will that be enough?”

Miller assumed command of Operation Resolute Support believing that commanders can learn more from aspects of operations that go badly than from those that go well. In 2018, that meant that the 14,000 US troops and 6,500 NATO troops and their leaders in Afghanistan, as the bulwark of Resolute Support, were learning a lot, and in a hurry.


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Secrets Alone Won’t Save Us: Providing a ‘Decision Advantage’ on Climate Security

When I was a CIA officer, one thing I could share with my family was a museum tour at Langley headquarters. Visitors would marvel at the cover-up devices and exclaim at stories of derring-do in the name of gathering hidden information. When we got to the Analysis Branch, however, they pretended to be interested. The printed copies of the reports weren’t as interesting as the robotic spy fish exhibit.

The theft of secrets has always captured the public imagination of the intelligence profession, for good reason. Secrets were the claim to fame of the CIA’s predecessor, the Office of Strategic Services. Prior to D-Day, it was “Wild Bill” Donovan’s placement of spies in European ports and behind enemy lines that gathered the information needed to support a successful invasion. As President Dwight Eisenhower said of the Office of Strategic Services: “If (he) had done nothing else, intelligence gathered alone before D-Day would justify its existence.

Of course, the security and intelligence landscape has changed dramatically since Eisenhower’s time. More often than not, “going behind enemy lines” means connecting to a computer, not jumping out of a plane. The risks facing the United States are more complex, involving not only a mix of state and non-state actors, but also systemic factors such as climate change, which the Chief Intelligence Officer ‘s 2021 Global Trends report identified as one of the few trends “setting the parameters” of our future world. This world is a world in which temperatures and sea levels are rising dramatically, and weather conditions are becoming more and more unpredictable and extreme. It is likely that millions of people will be displaced and forced to migrate, tensions will increase within and between states as water and food insecurity increases, and governments will find it increasingly difficult to manage aggravating risks as climatic risks intersect with other stressors. There is not a single current US national security concern that will not be affected in some way by the climate crisis.

What does a security landscape shaped by climate change mean to the way the US intelligence community does business? For some, this suggests a return to first principles. Doubling down on what my family has always found most intriguing about the CIA museum – the collection of secrets – as a way to distinguish the intelligence community from the private sector and the open source world. As Joshua Rovner argued, “the comparative advantage of secret agencies is secret information.” Of course, collecting secrets about governments’ climate policy plans and intentions can be important. Special Climate Envoy John Kerry lamented the lack of climate fundraising at a conference earlier this year. He argued that if climate change is truly an existential threat, then the US intelligence community should do as much effort to collect information on the positions of US adversaries on climate negotiations as it does to pinpoint their positions on nuclear agreements.

Secrets, however, are not enough. To achieve the goal of consistently providing a strategic advantage to the United States, the intelligence community must have the ability to put these secrets into context – analyze and communicate how they intersect with other risk information. for the national security of the United States. The trick is not to give up secrets or try to duplicate what the private sector or academia is doing, but rather to marry clandestine collection with other information from all sources. This is of course not a new concept in intelligence studies. Academics and practitioners have spilled gallons of ink debating the best ways to integrate open source information. The founder of the analyst profession in the United States, Sherman Kent, argued that integrating data and consulting with outside experts was essential to a strong profession. Most of the analysts I have known in my career prided themselves on their in-depth contextual knowledge of the regions they covered – history, academic experts, local news sources, arts and culture.

However, bringing a climate lens to intelligence isn’t as simple as bringing in just one more unclassified source. It’s different because of the type of information to integrate, the skills needed to do it, and the systemic nature of the risk. First of all, it’s hard science in addition to social science. This requires a “climate-savvy” workforce with scientific knowledge. This does not mean creating large teams within the intelligence community that do climate science. This means that intelligence officers are able to regularly understand and integrate climate models and analyzes into their work.

What does it look like in practice? It can be as simple as using references like Climate Central’s “Surging Seas” tool or regularly consulting primary sources and scientific literature. It also means leveraging more complex tools and practices. Advances in machine learning and computing power are leading to new modeling tools that can provide a wealth of relevant information to intelligence analysts. One example is the use of “ensemble assessments”, which are repeated runs of the same climate model, adjusting the starting point conditions each time. Such sets allow scientists to more clearly show a range of potential regional climate trends – important information that analysts need to incorporate into their work when assessing possible future economic, political and conflict scenarios in different parts of the world. Another example is that of “high resolution” climate models, which, thanks to advances in the power of supercomputers, can better represent atmospheric processes on a small scale. These models allow greater precision in risk assessments.

Moving forward, building on existing climate modeling approaches and tools is probably not enough for the intelligence community to truly address climate security risks. As Alice Hill, a former climate adviser to the National Security Council, recently detailed, planners across the United States are desperate for more localized climate data so they can craft better adaptation responses. Intelligence analysts need this kind of information as well, but in regions around the world. For example, although scientists believe Africa will face some of the greatest risks from climate change, accurate climate data on the continent is lacking, inhibiting useful predictive modeling of climate impacts. Without more localized and robust predictive climate models for Africa, intelligence analysts will not have the information they need to answer the kinds of questions they are sure to receive from policymakers in the years to come: the continent’s conflict zones? In which geographic areas will climate impacts and extremist groups overlap to increase security risks? Will US competitors’ infrastructure support offers to African countries withstand extreme events caused by rising temperatures?

While there are opportunities for the intelligence community to partner with the private sector to develop such capabilities, the first stop should be with US government scientists. Congress has given the intelligence community some tools to achieve this by creating the Climate Security Advisory Council, designed to link US government science and intelligence agencies, and the National Academies Climate Security Roundtable, a mechanism that enables actors in the climate science to provide information. to the intelligence community. Both meetings provide a platform for the community to use to encourage and shape the development of new modeling approaches that meet their specific needs. Moreover, intelligence agencies should use these groupings to pursue truly interdisciplinary analytical reports that marry climate science with social sciences. An example of this type of analysis can be seen in a series of reports and story maps published in recent months by the Woodwell Climate Center and the Council on Strategic Risks, detailing how climate change will shape security risks in strategic regions. of the globe.

Fully realizing this type of approach within the intelligence community – a large government bureaucracy – is not easy. I have already described the ways in which new resources, new leadership and new institutional structures can help. To his credit, the Biden administration has taken many steps to make it happen, as evidenced by the Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. Equally important, however, are the less immediately tangible changes in organizational culture and mindset. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines acknowledged these challenges in a recent interview,

Climate is an urgent crisis, but it is very difficult for various institutional reasons to integrate it into your daily work in a fully successful way i.e. it is much easier to focus on climate negotiations or on what states do in their policies.

She went on to say however that she was starting to see changes, noting that she had been amazed by,

to what extent, in addition to focusing on China and all of our top threats that we talk about in our annual threat hearings, we [in the intelligence community] came to the conclusion that … investing in science and technology and the tools that allow us to be better at what we do, our institutions, our partnerships, our resilience, our ability to integrate that expertise, is what is really important at this critical moment in our history.

Time will tell if this recognition from the leaders of the intelligence community results in long-term change. If so, maybe one day a future president will sing the praises of the director the same way Ike did of “Wild Bill” Donovan and the Office of Strategic Services. As article after article on this month’s record temperatures around the world points out, the climate will only get worse. And the United States can only navigate this hotter world with an intelligence community that collects foreign secrets, but also has the full range of information, tools, and talent it needs to analyze. these challenges.

Erin Sikorsky is Deputy Director of the Center for Climate and Security and Director of the International Military Council on Climate and Security. Previously, she was Deputy Director of the National Intelligence Council’s Strategic Futures Group in the United States, where she co-authored the quadrennial Global Trends report and led the US intelligence community’s environmental and climate security analysis.

Image: US Air Force (Photo by Master Sgt Elijaih Tiggs)


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Bach meets Suga as Tokyo virus cases near 6-month high

TOKYO – Tokyo on Wednesday reported its highest number of new COVID-19 cases in nearly six months, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said with the Tokyo Olympics opening in just over a week.

The growing numbers came out on the same day that the President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, paid a courtesy visit to Tokyo to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

Suga and Bach both pledged that the Tokyo Olympics would be “safe and secure” despite the games opening with Tokyo and neighboring prefectures under a state of emergency imposed by the national government.

Tokyo reported 1,149 new cases on Wednesday. It was the highest since 1,184 were reported almost six months ago on January 22. It was also the 25th day in a row that cases were higher than they were a week earlier.

Suga asked Bach to make sure the Olympics are safe, especially for the Japanese public, less than 20% of whom are fully vaccinated.

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“To gain the understanding of our people, and also for the success of the Tokyo 2020 Games, it is absolutely necessary that all participants take appropriate measures and measures, including countermeasures against the pandemic,” Suga said. to Bach. “As the host of the games, I hope that the IOC will make efforts to ensure that all athletes and stakeholders fully comply with these measures.”

Bach replied, “We would like to reaffirm our full commitment from the Olympic community to do everything, that we are not putting the Japanese people at risk.”

Bach told Suga that 85% of athletes and officials living in the Tokyo Bay Olympic Village will be fully vaccinated. He said nearly 100% of IOC members and IOC staff were “vaccinated or immunized”. The IOC also indicates that between 70 and 80% of international medical representatives have been vaccinated.

The IOC and Tokyo organizers last week banned fans from all venues in Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures. A few peripheral venues will allow a few spectators, and overseas fans were banned a month ago.

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About 11,000 athletes and tens of thousands more will enter Japan for the Olympics. The Paralympic Games will add approximately 4,400 additional athletes.

Japan has attributed around 15,000 deaths to COVID-19, a low number by many criteria but not as good as most of its Asian neighbors.

The Olympic torch relay has also been taken off the streets of Tokyo, with the Tokyo government fearing the relay will draw crowds and spread the virus. The opening ceremony will take place on July 23 at the new $ 1.4 billion national stadium in Tokyo.

Bach is expected to travel to Hiroshima on Friday and his vice president John Coates to Nagasaki to use the two bombed cities as a backdrop to promote the Tokyo Olympics and the first day of the so-called Olympic truce.

The Olympic truce, a tradition of ancient Greece, was restored by a United Nations resolution in 1993.

Bach arrived in Tokyo last week and spent the first three days secluding himself in the five-star hotel the IOC uses for its headquarters in Tokyo.

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The IOC is pushing the Olympics forward, despite opposition from much of the Japanese medical community, in part because it relies nearly 75% of its income on the sale of broadcast rights.

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Journalist AP Kantaro Komiya and video journalist AP Kwiyeon Ha contributed to this report.

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More AP: https://apnews.com/hub/olympic-games and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.



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International investors are key to delivering housing today and into the future

The Irish home buying and letting market needs more supply. This offer must meet the multiple demands that Irish society needs in the decades to come. Homeownership should be accessible to those who aspire to it, so it is right that the first-time home market is supported as part of government policy. The provision of adequate social housing is essential to underpin any claim of an equality-minded society. In addition, a deep and diverse private rental market is needed to meet the needs of a mobile workforce.

Regardless of your perspective on the problem, delivering a larger supply faster is the way to alleviate the current pressures. Supply requires investment and the good news is that there is enough capital available in Ireland and abroad to finance the 35,000 to 40,000 housing units we need each year to meet the shortage. current. To denigrate the investors behind this capital is to divert attention from the fight against more fundamental blockers that inhibit supply.

The international investment community is very keen to support the building of a vibrant and affordable housing sector in Ireland. Before the 2008 real estate crash, the market was financed almost exclusively by national banks, and then almost exclusively by debt. It is a welcome development in the market that we now have access to a more diverse pool of capital from investors such as foreign pension funds who are well positioned to finance this phase of the construction of Ireland.

Long term goal

With long investment horizons often extending beyond 20 years, pension funds focus more on return on capital than on return on capital. They may already be buying Irish sovereign bonds with an annual interest return or ‘coupon’ close to 0%, which means they are happy to get into less liquid real estate investments at just 3-4%. annual return. Attractive low-rate capital costs are available to the industry and with the right safeguards in place we can ensure that the capital serves the broadest purposes for the country’s needs.

Likewise, these investors understand that investing in real estate is a societal issue, not just a financial one, and they respond positively to sound policy on taxation, tenant rights and transparent governance. This investor profile is very different from the caricature of the “cuckoo” fund often accused of evicting first-time buyers or trapping tenants.

To date, these investors have been mainly active in the “multi-family” sector, which means that they buy blocks of apartments built exclusively to be rented out indefinitely and not for sale.

There is a significant and growing need for pure rental stock in Ireland, where we are lagging behind our European peers. Ireland has been very successful in attracting European headquarters of global companies and with them thousands of jobs with local talent and employees from abroad. For foreign employees who can reside in Dublin for periods of six months to three years without wanting to buy a house for the long term, high quality, professionally maintained rental apartments are essential. The supply of rental apartments to this cohort does not necessarily have to come at the cost of crowding out first-time buyers, but again, the answer to this problem is more supply, not less efficient capital.

Financing the future

Another development of relevance to the debate when considering the role of international investors in the Irish market is the worrying contraction of the Irish banking market. With the exit of Ulster Bank and KBC from the Irish banking sector, this will further exhaust the nationally available financing options for the wider economy, including property developers. International capital can step in to fill the void left behind to manage the pipeline of real estate developments until completion.

Bottlenecks to accelerating supply include the slowness with which planning is assigned to developers and low thresholds for forensic review, even when that planning is successful. Delays in confirming connection certificates for site services such as water and electricity are blocking the start of construction on the house. There are other bottlenecks to the development of the Irish residential pipeline, such as the shortage of construction workers and supply chain shortages linked to Brexit and Covid-19, but they will not be resolved until ‘There will not be a clear horizon for faster housing development which is currently paralyzed by an interrupted planning process.

These issues need to be addressed through the government’s fledgling policy initiative on Housing for All due to be released later this month and the terms of reference of the soon-to-be-launched Housing Commission. With sensible policy safeguards in place to protect tenants and first-time buyers, international investors can provide an attractive source of capital to help tackle Ireland’s chronic housing shortage for decades to come.

Myles Clarke is Managing Director of CBRE Ireland


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QBIC organizes a virtual “demonstration day” for the 14th batch of startups

The Qatar Business Incubator Center (QBIC), founded by the Qatar Development Bank (QDB), yesterday organized its second virtual “Demo Day” with 12 startups graduated from the Lean Entrepreneurship Program and Lean Accelerator Program, presenting their innovative ideas during the event.
The following startups, Caffeine, Cybergy, iFor Build, Smart Shuttle, Souqti, StopOver, StoryDeck, The Real State CRM, Vastry, VOP, Faserly and Sparets, presented their projects to a panel of experts, angel investors, d ‘aspiring entrepreneurs and stakeholders.
They also had three minutes for a question-and-answer session with the panel of experts at the event, which focused on the theme “Qatar’s Fastest Growing Startups, Your Next Smart Investment”.
This cohort, the 14th batch of graduates from the aforementioned programs, had received weeks of training, orientation and counseling from the various incubator teams.
The Demo Day, which was hosted by entrepreneurship advisor Mahmoud al-Mahmoud, was held at the Bedaya Center and was sponsored by incubator partner, Ooredoo Network, and entrepreneurship ecosystem partners, Qatar Financial Center, Doha Tech Angels, Mansour Bin Khalifa Holding Group, and Snoonu.
Commenting on the event, Hamad bin Dashin al-Qahtani, Managing Director of QBIC, said: “QBIC, and QDB of course as the founding organization, was and still is the first and biggest supporter of entrepreneurship in the world. Qatar. Year after year, we strive to develop our programs and incubators to welcome as many startups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as possible in the service of our vision and that of our beloved country, Qatar.
“We strive to achieve excellence in this area in line with our goal of diversifying the local economy and helping Qatari businesses access local, regional and international markets. “
This year, QBIC has prepared a dedicated Demo Day website where investors, budding entrepreneurs and experts can view the list of participating startups and organize virtual meetings with startup owners. The site is accessible via demoday.qbic.qa.
It should be noted that despite the graduation of these startups, QBIC will remain in contact with them to continue to provide them with advice and guidance in order to ensure the existence of a robust business ecosystem and to provide an environment of sustainable business to entrepreneurs in the State of Qatar.
QBIC is the largest and largest mixed-use business incubator in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, founded by the Qatar Development Bank. To learn more about the event, visit demoday.qbic.qa.


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Global tax review gathers momentum as G20 backs new levies

“For the United States, this will be a fundamental shift in how we choose to compete in the global economy,” Ms. Yellen said. “Not a competition based on the lowest tax rates, but rather on the skills of our workforce, our ability to innovate and our core talents.”

Policymakers continue to question what the world’s minimum tax rate will be and what exactly will be subject to tax.

A separate proposal calls for an additional tax on the largest and most profitable multinational companies, those with profit margins of at least 10%. Officials want to apply this tax to at least 20 percent of profits exceeding that 10 percent margin for these companies, but continue to debate how the proceeds would be distributed among countries around the world. Developing economies are pushing to make sure they get their fair share.

Mr Bradley, of the House, said the details of a final deal would determine how punitive it would be for business. Representatives from Google and Facebook have been in contact with senior Treasury officials as the process unfolds.

U.S. companies are also concerned that they will be at a disadvantage by a 21% tax President Biden has proposed on their overseas profits, if their overseas competitors pay just 15%. The Biden administration also wants to increase the domestic corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%. Democrats in Congress are moving forward with legislation to make these tax code changes this year.

“If an American company is trying to compete globally with a significantly higher tax burden because of this significantly higher minimum tax on its operations, it’s a competitiveness issue to be successful,” said Barbara Angus, manager of global tax policy at Ernst. & Young.

Washington and Europe also remain at odds over how to tax digital giants like Google and Amazon.

At the G20 summit, finance ministers expressed optimism that such obstacles could be overcome. In his closing press conference after the deal was concluded, Daniele Franco, Italy’s finance minister, hailed the deal as historic and called on countries that had not yet joined to reconsider their decision.

“Accepting global rules is difficult for every country. Every country must be ready to make compromises, ”said Mr. Franco. “Having global rules to tax multinationals, to tax big business profits is a major change, is a major achievement.”

Liz Alderman contributed to the Paris report, and Eshe nelson from London.


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A global tax deal will be finalized very soon, according to the German finmin

LONDON – A deal on global tax reform will be finalized “very soon,” German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told CNBC on Friday, adding that he hoped the changes could take effect by 2023.

“We are now really on the road [to a deal]”Scholz told CNBC’s Annette Weisbach.” We will come to an agreement here at the G-20 when all 20 nations agree on the same idea of ​​having international global minimum taxation. “

“It will be a process that will end very soon,” he added.

Taxation is in the spotlight this weekend as finance ministers and central bankers from the world’s 20 most advanced economies meet in Venice, Italy. Their goal is to strike a deal that will force the world’s largest multinationals to pay more taxes.

It comes after 130 countries and jurisdictions agreed last week to sign a global proposal for a minimum corporate tax rate that the G-7 introduced in June.

Under the deal, multinationals could be forced to pay a minimum tax rate of 15% wherever they operate, rather than paying the majority of duties only in the countries where they are headquartered. This has allowed giant companies to shift their profits to countries with very low tax rates or with other accounting incentives.

The change in the US administration was a major step forward in this area and I am really convinced that we will have the agreement that we need to reach at this stage here in Venice “, said Nadia Calvino, Spanish Minister of the Economy on Friday.

President Joe Biden’s administration has been pushing for a global tax deal since taking office. Taxation is seen as a way to find new financing to cope with the economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic, while also fighting against inequalities.

Wopke Hoekstra, the Dutch finance minister, also told CNBC he was “optimistic” about a deal this weekend.

“What I’m hearing from my colleagues is that everyone is actually pretty positive about this, so in all likelihood we can make some further progress,” he said.

Opposition to the agreement

However, a handful of countries are still skeptical of the deal, including Ireland and Hungary, and it’s also unclear whether Biden will be able to persuade a divided Congress on the deal’s merits.

When asked what would be offered to Ireland and Hungary to convince them to sign a deal, Germany’s Scholz said he was confident the talks would be successful. However, he did not provide any specific details.

Ireland is known to offer a low corporate tax rate of 12.5% ​​and the recent global tax deal potentially calls that into question. Hungary is in a similar situation with a corporate tax rate of 9%.

Speaking to CNBC in June, Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said he wanted to find a “compromise” with international partners.

Another open issue is the European Commission’s plan to introduce a digital tax in the near future.

When the G-7 agreed on a global corporate tax rate last month, it was also decided that taxes on digital services would end to avoid double taxation. The EU’s executive branch – which has vowed to find new sources of revenue to pay off debt incurred during the Covid crisis – is due to present a proposal for a new EU-wide digital tax.

The commission said it would be complementary to a global corporate tax rate, but the US fears the EU plans will derail progress.

Speaking to CNBC earlier this week, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said: “I think there is a need to explain [to] the US administration which is behind a digital tax “, adding that it” has nothing to do with the taxation of digital giants “.

– CNBC Sam meredith contributed to this report.


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Bach from the IOC arrives in Tokyo; greeted by state of emergency

TOKYO (AP) – IOC President Thomas Bach arrived in Tokyo on Thursday to find Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihde Suga on the verge of declaring a state of emergency, which is expected to result in a ban on fans at the Olympic Games from Tokyo as coronavirus infections spread in the capital.

Bach largely avoided the cameras at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and, on a rainy afternoon, made his way to the Games headquarters of the International Olympic Committee in Tokyo, a five-star hotel in the center of the city. He would need to self-isolate for three days.

Bach’s arrival comes just two weeks before the opening of the postponed Tokyo Olympics. The IOC and local organizers are trying to hold the games during a pandemic despite opposition from the public and the Japanese medical community.

In a meeting with medical experts Thursday, government officials proposed a plan to declare a state of emergency in Tokyo from next Monday to August 22. The Olympics are scheduled to start on July 23 and end on August 8.

The main focus of the emergency is a request to close bars, restaurants and karaoke lounges serving alcohol. Banning the serving of alcohol is a key step in easing the Olympic festivities and preventing people from drinking and partying. Tokyo residents are expected to face stay-at-home requests and watch the Games on TV from their homes.

“How to prevent people enjoying the Olympics from going out for drinks is a major problem,” said Health Minister Norihisa Tamura.

The current state of emergency ends on Sunday. Tokyo reported 920 new cases on Wednesday, up from 714 a week earlier. It was the 18th consecutive day of week-over-week increase and the highest total since 1,010 reported on May 13.

Fans from overseas were banned from attending the Olympics months ago. But just two weeks ago, the organizers and the IOC decided to allow the venues to be filled to 50% of their capacity but that the crowds not exceed 10,000 people. The state of emergency will force them to change their plans again, a decision likely to come later Thursday.

The surge in cases likely means the sites will be fanless, although sponsors and others can access them. The fanless atmosphere could include the opening ceremony at the $ 1.4 billion National Stadium.

The rise in infections has also forced the Tokyo city government to remove the Olympic Torch Relay from the streets of the capital, allowing it to operate only on remote islands off the Tokyo coast. It is not known how the torch will enter the stadium for the opening ceremony.

“The infections are in their phase of expansion and everyone in this country needs to firmly understand the severity,” Dr Shigeru Omi, one of the government’s top medical advisers, told reporters.

He urged authorities to take strict action quickly ahead of the Olympics, as the summer vacation approaches.

Omi has repeatedly called for a fan ban and said it was “abnormal” to hold the Olympics during a pandemic.

Separately, a government advisory group on COVID-19 met on Wednesday and expressed concerns about the continued resurgence of infections.

“Two-thirds of infections in the capital region come from Tokyo, and our concern is the spread of infections to neighboring areas,” said Ryuji Wakita, director general of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases.

The Olympics are pushing forward against most medical advice, in part because the postponement has blocked IOC revenue streams. It derives nearly 75% of its revenue from the sale of broadcast rights, and estimates suggest it would lose between $ 3 billion and $ 4 billion if the Olympics were canceled.

About 11,000 Olympians and 4,400 Paralympians are expected to enter Japan, along with tens of thousands of officials, judges, administrators, sponsors, broadcasters and media. The IOC says more than 80% of residents of the Olympic Village will be vaccinated.

Nationally, Japan has recorded about 810,000 cases and nearly 14,900 deaths. Only 15% of Japanese are fully vaccinated, which remains low compared to 47.4% in the United States and nearly 50% in Britain.

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More AP: https://apnews.com/hub/olympic-games and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports



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In recognition of his remarkable efforts to promote friendship between peoples and his influential fight against hatred

Muslim World League leader Dr Mohammad Al-Issa receives honorary doctorate from UN – SPA

From the United Nations Headquarters based in Geneva and in the presence of its Deputy Secretary General, Academic Honor for Dr. Al-Issa of UPEACE

UN Under-Secretary-General: Dr Al-Issa is widely regarded as a leading international figure representing religious and intellectual moderation

President of UPEACE: Dr. Al-Issa is globally respected for his commitment to educate the whole world on true religious values

Dr Al-Issa:

This UN honor means a lot and stimulates more work in the service of peace

UPEACE has made remarkable global contributions to world peace … and bases its programs on shared human values

Geneva – MWL

The United Nations, through its University for Peace, awarded an honorary degree to His Excellency the Secretary General of the World Muslim League, Sheikh Dr. Muhammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, at a major celebration held at its headquarters in Geneva, in the presence of the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations and President of the International Civil Service Commission, Mr. Larbi Djacta, and several European religious, intellectual, political and parliamentary leaders . The justifications were that this international academic honor for Dr Al-Issa through UPEACE came in recognition of his remarkable efforts to support international diplomacy, promote friendship and cooperation among peoples, and his influential struggle against hatred.

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His Excellency Sheikh Al-Issa delivered a speech in which he expressed his thanks and appreciation for this honor which stimulates more work in the service of peace, as it comes from a prestigious university which has made remarkable global contributions to the service of world peace, in addition to this, it was established in accordance with an international treaty specifically for this noble purpose.

Dr Al-Issa praised the university’s great role in the service of peace, benefiting from its international weight.

For his part, the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Larbi Djacta, delivered a speech in which he welcomed the wide recognition of His Excellency Dr. Al-Issa as a leading international figure representing religious moderation and intellectual, continuing to work hard to get the message of moderate Islam and peaceful coexistence all over the world, and to make efforts to educate Muslim minorities.

Mr. Djacta added: “Dr. Al-Issa is a unique figure who led the largest Muslim delegation to visit the Nazi concentration camp in Germany.

In turn, Dr. Francisco Rojas, Rector of UPEACE, stressed that the awarding of an honorary degree to Dr. Mohammad Al-Issa comes in recognition of his individual contributions and his humanitarian efforts in the field of peace. , conflict resolution and the promotion of harmony.

He pointed out that UPEACE, since its inception, has awarded this honorary degree to a group of eminent personalities, including five former heads of state and others of different nationalities and faiths.

He added: “UPEACE is honored to bestow an honorary degree on Dr Mohammad Al-Issa, who is widely recognized as the global voice of religious moderation, and for his commitment to educate the entire world on the religious values ​​represented in compassion, understanding and cooperation among humanity. Dr Mohammad Al-Issa has played a pioneering role in creating partnerships between societies, religions and nations.

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It should be noted that UPEACE enjoys international prestige. It was established by treaty to the United Nations General Assembly in 1980, with a main campus in Costa Rica and offices in Rome, Addis Ababa, New York, Geneva, The Hague, Manila, Beijing and other. Its main mission is to serve humanity with a prestigious international higher education institution, with the aim of promoting the spirit of understanding, tolerance and peaceful coexistence among humanity, and working to remove obstacles on the way. path to world peace in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. It provides unique international contributions to studies on peace and conflict, dispute resolution, international law, human rights, environmental protection and security. Masters and doctorates in these programs are awarded to practitioners and policy makers who constitute the target group. In addition, it has a worldwide mandate to issue scientific degrees recognized by all member countries of the General Assembly, and is chaired in an honorary capacity by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.


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Turkish strongman’s western charm offensive was born out of desperation

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, Turkey’s economy was in a crisis marked by high inflation, rising unemployment and a relentless decline in the value of the lira.

Since the failed coup in mid-2016, the national currency has lost more than 220% of its value against the euro. According to official figures, annual inflation hovers around 17% and the unemployment rate was recorded at almost 14% in May, which is 1% more than the previous month.

However, experts believe the real data on Turkey’s economy is much worse and the government is manipulating the numbers to create a better picture.

The severe effects of the pandemic and the loss of significant tourism revenues for the second year in a row have exacerbated a poor economic situation.

Karol Wasilewski, senior Turkey analyst at the Polish Institute of International Affairs, PISM, in Warsaw, says the economy is behind Ordogan’s “charm offensive” against the West.

“I see this offensive as a tool to help the heavily damaged Turkish economy by calming the waters of Turkish foreign policy and showing investors that Turkey has decided to be a predictable international player again, which can be trusted. “Wasilewski told BIRN.

As part of this charm offensive, Turkey began to support NATO interests with new military deals directed against Russia, despite the controversial purchase of Russia’s high-tech S-400 missiles.

In recent months, Turkey has sold armed drones to Ukraine and Poland to counter Russia’s military presence in Eastern Europe, and Erdogan recently offered to protect Kabul airport and all Western diplomatic missions after the total withdrawal of NATO allies from Afghanistan.

Following an initial meeting with its US counterpart Joe Biden, the White House announced that the two sides had agreed to work together to ensure that the Turkish mission is established before the 9/11 deadline for the withdrawal of states- States of Afghanistan.

Turkey is also now trying to ease tensions with NATO ally Greece after years of military escalation in the eastern Mediterranean over maritime areas and sharing of energy wealth.

“These are tools to support Turkey’s narrative … about the country’s contribution to the Alliance’s deterrence policy towards Russia, and that it is the only ally that effectively balances Russia in the neighborhood of the Europe.

“This narrative is an instrument designed to convince the United States that Turkey, despite many misunderstandings, is still a reliable ally and that it is in the best interest of the United States to mend the relationship,” observed Wasilewski.

A marriage of necessity


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