In Digest

New Cold Information Bulletin, Vol 2 #73, May 15, 2017

What I saw when I visited a Russian school
, by David Swanson, published on his website Let’s Try Democracy, May 15, 2017

School in Russia visited by U.S. reporting delegation in May 2017. Delegation member David Swanson is second from left

As I was heading off to visit Russia, a friend told me of a friend who knew a Russian school teacher. I asked if I could visit the school, and I brought along a couple of American friends. Here’s a video of what we saw there: [ ]

We met first with high-school-level students who gave us a tour of the school and then asked us all kinds of smart questions, all in perfect English. These kids were clearly very well educated and very eager to learn anything they could…

A Russian entrepreneur’s perspective, by David Swanson, published on his website Let’s Try Democracy, May 13, 2017

I’ve been in Moscow some days now and have yet to meet an oligarch (although perhaps they don’t identify themselves). I have met an entrepreneur named Andrei Davidovich. He’s started several companies since his first in 1998, including a software company, a marketing agency, a publishing company, etc…

[See more reports by David Swanson on his current visit to Russia at his website links above.]

What does the victory of Merkel’s CDU in a regional election spell for Germany?, Deutsche Welle, May 15, 2017

The May 14 election result in North Rhine-Westphalia has confirmed the trend on the federal level: Chancellor Angela Merkel is a big step closer to a fourth term. Her SPD opponent Martin Schulz has been considerably weakened.

Emmanuel Macron inaugurated as France’s youngest post-war president, Associated Press, May 14, 2017

… Macron’s En Marche (Republic on the Move) movement has announced an initial list of 428 candidates for the 577 seats up for grabs in France’s lower house of parliament in a vote in June. Macron is seeking to elect a majority of lawmakers so he can pass his programs.

Many of the En Marche candidates are newcomers in politics. Their average age is 46, compared to 60 for the outgoing assembly. Half of them are women. Only 24 are lawmakers running for re-election, all Socialists…

Turkey-Syria-Middle East and Caucasus:
New U.S. accusations against Syria: Mass executions and burning bodies to hide the evidence
, Associated Press, May 15, 2017

Trump and Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman are the most dangerous men in the world, and they’re meeting in Saudi Arabia, by Patrick Cockburn, The Independent, May 13, 2017

… On the question of confronting Iran, [Trump] is unlikely to be restrained by his Defence Secretary, James Mattis, or his National Security Adviser, HR McMaster, both former generals scarred by America’s war in Iraq, where they see Iran as the main enemy…

Trump Signals Shift in Middle East Strategy With Symbolic First Stop in Saudi Arabia, Voice of America, May 15, 2017

Trump eyes $270bn win with Saudi Arabia arms and finance deal, by Carol E. Lee and Margherita Stancati, The Wall Street Journal, May 15, 2017

The U.S. and Saudi Arabia are working on a package of arms deals and financial investments aimed at elevating economic and security co-operation after years of strained relations over the US diplomatic outreach to Iran.

Will arming of YPG help open Kurdish corridor in Syria?, by Mahmut Bozarslan, Al-Monitor, May 15, 2017

‘The US decision to provide heavy weapons to the YPG for the Raqqa operation provides hope to Kurds in Syria, but Turkey worries that the arms will be used to establish a Kurdish corridor’ …

Will U.S.-Kurdish deal force Turkey back to PKK negotiation table?, by Pinar Tremblay, Al-Monitor, May 12, 2017

Although the United States has signaled its increasing support for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) for the last few years, US President Donald Trump’s decision to arm the Kurdish forces in Syria for the battle against the Islamic State came as a shock to the Turkish government. Turkey considers the YPG and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to be part of one common terror group, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been throwing tantrums over symbols of US support for the YPG…

In 2012 for example, Turkey demanded that Assad grant more rights and freedoms to the Kurds, but today different sections of Kurds in compartmentalized parts of Syria receive logistics support from Iran, Russia and the United States, and the Turks are not happy…

So the more likely possibility is reopening the peace talks with the PKK…

How Turkish referendum victory could backfire for Erdogan, by Ali Bayramoglu, Al-Monitor, May 12, 2017

The close vote in the April 16 referendum has galvanized Turkey’s opposition, but the prospect of the diverse political spectrum agreeing on a joint candidate to confront President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the 2019 elections remains daunting.

Kurdish government in northern Iraq trying to leverage the unknown in Trump policy, report by Chris Johannes, Rudaw, May 15, 2017

A high-level Kurdish delegation is visiting top US security officials in Washington this week. While there has been Kurdish political representation in the US capital for decades, the Kurdistan Regional Government really only has foreign relations experience dealing with former President Barack Obama during his eight-year administration.

If Obama had a strategic long-term plan for the Kurdistan Region, his replacement Donald Trump’s remains tightly guarded or still being formulated. “How much military assistance to the Kurds complicates the U.S. relationship with Baghdad — which is likely to be the priority of those of his advisors who actually care about the Middle East,” Kenneth Pollack said. “For them, Baghdad is the big prize and they don’t want to “lose” it to the Iranians.”…

Germany likely to pull troops out of Incirlik air base, Deutsche Welle, May 15, 2017

The Berlin government is mulling moving its troops out of Turkey’s Incirlik air base after a second snub by Ankara. A German political delegation was denied approval to visit Bundeswehr soldiers at the military facility.

United States:
Obama’s deportation policy was even worse than we thought
, by Leighton Akio Woodhouse, The Intercept, May 15, 2017

… In 2014, Obama announced a new immigration enforcement policy known informally as “felons, not families,” which purported to prioritize the deportation of undocumented immigrants with serious criminal histories and avoid separating families. But as the Marshall Project has shown, less than a fifth of the immigrants deported nationwide under the policy had been convicted of violent or potentially violent crimes. More than 40 per cent had no criminal convictions whatsoever. An even higher proportion — 47 per cent — of immigrants detained by ICE in California from October 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015 had no criminal history, according to Human Rights Watch’s review…

“Instead of focusing on violent criminals, U.S. immigration policy has ripped apart American families and communities through the deportation of large numbers of lawful residents and undocumented immigrants with less serious criminal histories,” the report argues.

Trump news coverage is detracting from Africa and Middle East famines, UN agency warns
,, May 15, 2017

… According to UN figures, some 20 million people in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen are facing possible famine. The organization stated in March that the suffering represents the “world’s largest” humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II…

China’s new Silk Road promises trade and riches, with President Xi at helm, by Ben Blanchard and Sue-Lin Wong, Reuters, May 15, 2017

Chinese President Xi Jinping and 29 other heads of state on Monday reaffirmed their commitment to build an open economy and ensure free and inclusive trade, under the ambitious Belt and Road initiative led by Beijing.

As a two-day summit on the project in Beijing wound up, the 30 nations also agreed to promote a rules-based, non-discriminatory trading system with the World Trade Organization at its core and to oppose protectionism, according to a joint communique signed by their leaders.

Venezuela welcomes China’s Silk Road initiative, Telesur, May 14, 2017

Could China’s ‘One Belt, One Road Initiative’ land in Latin America?, Telesur, May 14, 2017

Chile and Bolivia were among the seven new members approved to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) on May 13, one day before China’s biggest diplomatic event of the year kicks off.

The bank’s president Jin Liqun announced the new members in a joint press conference with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. “Better infrastructure across Asia will allow Chilean goods to access new markets, more investment in Chilean infrastructure in turn will further bind together the two great continents of Asia and Latin America,” said Jin.

The other five new members are Bahrain, Cyprus, Greece, Romania and Samoa, bringing the bank’s total membership to 77 countries…

Leaked NSA malware is helping hijack computers around the world, by Sam Biddle, The Intercept, May 12, 2017

In mid-April, an arsenal of powerful software tools apparently designed by the NSA to infect and control Windows computers was leaked by an entity known only as the ‘Shadow Brokers’. Not even a whole month later, the hypothetical threat that criminals would use the tools against the general public has become real, and tens of thousands of computers worldwide are now crippled by an unknown party demanding ransom…

Asia hit by WannaCry virus at week’s start, disrupting govt services & business,, May 15, 2017

Mayday at Canada’s Home Capital, Globe and Mail, May 15, 2017

[Canada’s speculation-driven housing bubble has sparked the first run on a Canadian bank in decades. Home Capital is the country’s largest sub-prime mortgage lender. A multi-billion dollar rescue has staved off an imminent collapse.]

Most Canadians oppose giving police greater powers to obtain breath samples, The Globe and Mail, May 11, 2017

[As part of its plan to ‘legalize’ marijuana, the Canadian government wants to give police more powers to randomly stop citizens and obtain bodily tests.]

… Ottawa-based criminal lawyer Michael Spratt said the government’s Charter [of Rights and Freedoms] analysis lacked depth and any reference to case law, stating it failed to mount a serious defence of the proposed changes. “If a first-year student wrote this, they would fail,” he said in an interview…

Global warming and climate change:
Industry meltdown: Is the era of nuclear power coming to an end?
, by Fred Pearce, Yale Environment 360, May 15, 2017

Is the nuclear power industry in its death throes?  Even some nuclear enthusiasts believe so. With the exception of China, most nations are moving away from nuclear — existing power plants across the United States are being shut early; new reactor designs are falling foul of regulators, and public support remains in free fall. Now come the bankruptcies.

In an astonishing hammer blow to a global industry in late March, Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse — the original developer of the workhorse of the global nuclear industry, the pressurized-water reactor (PWR), and for many decades the world’s largest provider of nuclear technology — filed for bankruptcy after hitting big problems with its latest reactor design, the AP1000.

Largely as a result, its parent company, the Japanese nuclear engineering giant Toshiba, is also in dire financial straits and admits there is “substantial doubt” about its ability to continue as a going concern…

Uninhabited Henderson Island in the South Pacific is covered in plastic trash (Dr. Jennifer Lavers)

Remote South Pacific island has highest levels of plastic rubbish in the world, by Dani Cooper,, May 15, 2017

The beaches of World Heritage-listed Henderson Island, in the Pitcairn Group off South America, contain an estimated 37.7 million items of debris together weighing 17.6 tonnes, a new study has revealed. Australian researcher Dr Jennifer Lavers said it meant the island had the highest density of plastic rubbish anywhere in the world…

From the south, keen interest in the Arctic and the Arctic Council, by Yareth Rosen, Alasaka Dispatch News, May 14, 2017

Hot, humid India may lie well south of the Arctic Circle, but it has plenty of connections to the Arctic, its leaders say.

The earth’s high latitudes have similarities to high altitudes of India’s Himalayan region, including rapid warming and glacial retreat, Indians say. “We consider the globe is consisted of three poles — Antarctic, Arctic and Himalaya,” said Raj Kumar Srivastava, an Indian diplomat who traveled to Fairbanks to attend last week’s ministerial meeting of the eight-nation Arctic Council…

The Arctic Council last week expanded its observer list by seven, accepting a third of the governments and organizations that applied for membership. That brings the total of observers to 39 — a group that encompasses non-Arctic nations, intergovernmental and regional organizations and nongovernmental organizations…

* Climate change still at center of Arctic Council priorities despite U.S. uncertainty [sic], by Hannah Hoag, News Deeply, May 15, 2017

In April 2015, when the U.S. took the chair of the Arctic Council, climate change was at the heart of its agenda. Now, two years later, U.S. climate change policy remains up in the air, as President Donald Trump deliberates whether or not to stick with the Paris climate agreement…

How big money in politics blocked U.S. action on climate change, by Diane Toomey, Yale Environment 360, May 10, 2017

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse believes the 2010 Supreme Court decision unleashing corporate money into politics derailed any chance of U.S. climate legislation. In a Yale Environment 360 interview, he talks about how fossil-fuel interests have intimidated Republicans from tackling the issue.

New Cold Information Bulletin is posted daily (or every several days) to the New Cold website as a supplement to the feature articles published or re-produced in full. Text in [square brackets] is that of New Cold editors. The bulletin is included in the daily, Monday-Friday newsletter emailed to website subscribers. Subscribe at website home page. Comments and suggestions welcome, email to [email protected].


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