Does Russia Have a Trojan Horse in Germany?

Insights, analysis and must reads from CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and the Global Public Square team, compiled by Global Briefing editor Jason Miks.

May 3, 2017

Trump’s New Bromance?

Donald Trump’s meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday must have been deeply uncomfortable for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to watch, argues David Horovitz in the Times of Israel. “Trump made clear that he wants a peace deal, and will do everything in his power to broker one, but won’t impose it. Abbas could not have looked more content," Horovitz writes. “…Here’s how warm and welcoming the U.S. president was: If you looked away, and didn’t know that it was the Palestinian Authority president who was standing alongside him, you might have thought Trump, talking so warmly about his guest, was hosting an Israeli leader."

Why Trump is Right About the Strongman: Heydarian

Criticism of President Donald Trump’s White House invitation to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is misplaced, writes Richard Javad Heydarian in the New York Times.
 
For a start, he says, “it was part of a package of invitations handed out to Southeast Asian leaders, including Prime Ministers Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore and Prayuth Chan-ocha of Thailand."
 
But he says that the Trump administration is also right to be concerned by Duterte’s rapprochement with Beijing. “Mr. Trump has realized that Washington’s leadership in the region can no longer be taken for granted. The reality is that Southeast Asia has become the main strategic battlefield for China and America."
 

Does Russia Have a Trojan Horse in Germany?

Forget Russian cyberattacks aimed at swinging the German federal elections later this year — Moscow may already have a Trojan Horse in the country’s politics, writes Henry Meyer for Bloomberg. “[A]n estimated 2.5 million voters who like Schmidt speak Russian and make up the country’s largest minority voting bloc.
 
“Most so-called Russian Germans have ancestors who moved to the Russian Empire to farm and began to return en masse after the Cold War. Up to three-fifths of these people consider Russian TV more trustworthy than domestic broadcasts and 40 percent say it’s their main source of news, a survey by the Bonn-based Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom shows."

Want to See the Future? Visit Estonia

Want to see what the digital future looks like? Try visiting Estonian capital Tallinn, writes Vivienne Walt in Fortune. “At birth, every person [in Estonia] is assigned a unique string of 11 digits, a digital identifier that from then on is key to operating almost every aspect of that person’s life — the 21st-century version of a Social Security number. The all-digital habits begin young: Estonian children learn computer programming at school, many beginning in kindergarten," Walt writes. “In 2000, Estonia became the first country in the world to declare Internet access a basic human right — much like food and shelter. That same year it passed a law giving digital signatures equal weight to handwritten ones."

Why Venezuela Looks Like the Soviet Union

Venezuela’s collapse is looking a lot like the Soviet Union’s, argues Ander Aslund for Foreign Policy. “The Venezuelan government…has insisted for years on maintaining drastic price controls on a wide range of basic goods, including food staples such as meat and bread, for which it pays enormous subsidies. Nonetheless the Venezuelan government, like the Soviet Union’s, has always felt it could afford these subsidies because of its oil revenues. “But as the oil price has fallen by slightly more than half since mid-2014, oil incomes have fallen accordingly. And rather than increase oil production, the Venezuelan government has been forced to watch it decline because of its mismanagement of the dominant state-owned oil company, PDVSA. “And now Venezuela seems intent on repeating the Soviet folly of the late 1980s by refusing to change course."

The Death of the Middle in the Middle East

Progress on the battlefield against ISIS could be disguising a trend that is sowing the seeds of further unrest in the Middle East, writes David Gardner for the Financial Times. “The lead actors are pursuing policies that eliminate almost all middle ground."
 
“The strongmen of Egypt and Turkey, presidents Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, are busily eliminating their political middle ground and filling the jails. Saudi Arabia, another Western ally, allows only the ideology of Wahhabi Islam and never had a middle ground," Gardner writes. “Israel, for its part, has swung to the far right and continues to colonize the ground on which a viable Palestinian state might be built.
 
“Despite all this, the seductive old model of strongmen as guarantors of stability in the Middle East is making a comeback."
 

Abe’s 2020 Vision

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he is eyeing 2020 – the year Tokyo hosts the Olympic Games – for a new constitution to take effect, write Tomohiro Osaki and Daisuke Kikuchi in the Japan Times.

The “unprecedented declaration" is “the clearest goal yet of his long-held ambition to amend the national charter, which has remained untouched since its inception seven decades ago."
 
“Abe’s statement came as the nation marked the 70th anniversary of the enforcement of its pacifist Constitution, which was drafted by the Allied forces after Japan’s defeat in World War II."
 

How Canada Keeps Cleaning Up

Two-thirds of Canada’s electricity supply comes from renewable sources, Mia Rabson reports for the Canadian Press, citing a new report from the country’s National Energy Board.
 
“Renewable energy production jumped 17 percent between 2005 and 2015. The portion of all electricity in Canada generated by renewables is now 66 percent, up from 60 percent a decade earlier," Rabson writes.
 
“In terms of all renewable energy, Canada ranks fourth in production, behind China, the United States and Brazil. Hydroelectricity accounts for the majority of renewable electricity, with 60 percent of all electricity in Canada coming from hydro."

 

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