‘Good for all’ that Trump, Putin plan to meet again: Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 July 2018

‘Good for all’ that Trump, Putin plan to meet again: Merkel

  • The European Union was “ready” to respond if Trump makes good on his threat to slap steep tariffs on foreign cars, a move that would hit Germany’s auto industry particularly hard
  • Putin was last invited to the White House in 2005 by then-president George W. Bush, while former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev visited in 2010

BERLIN: Meetings between the US and Russian presidents should become the “normality,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday, adding that it is “good for all” that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin plan new talks.
“That talks are held is basically good for all, in particular between these two countries,” Merkel said at her regular summer press conference.
“I find that meetings between the US and Russian presidents must return to normality,” she said.
Trump is planning to host Putin for talks in Washington later this year, after a first bilateral meeting in Helsinki on Monday.
Trump has come under fire following the Helsinki talks for what many saw as his unsettling embrace of the Russian strongman — and his seeming disavowal of his own intelligence agencies and their assessment that Moscow meddled in the 2016 election.
The talks in the Finnish capital were closed-door and with no one else present but interpreters.
The US president on Thursday listed the topics discussed as “stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyberattacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more.”
Putin was last invited to the White House in 2005 by then-president George W. Bush, while former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev visited in 2010.
Pressed by reporters on how she viewed her relationship with Trump in light of his repeated criticism of Germany’s asylum policies, defense spending and trade surpluses, a diplomatic Merkel stressed the importance of transatlantic cooperation.
Ties at the moment are “under strong pressure,” she acknowledged.
“Nevertheless the transatlantic working relationship, also with the US president, is central to us and I will continue to maintain it.”
She also expressed hope that a trade war with the US could be staved off, ahead of European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker’s visit to Washington next week to try and negotiate a solution.
Merkel said the European Union was “ready” to respond if Trump makes good on his threat to slap steep tariffs on foreign cars, a move that would hit Germany’s auto industry particularly hard.
But tit-for-tat retaliation would be “by far the worst-possible solution,” Merkel warned, describing the current trade tensions as “very serious.”
The potential car tariffs would not just violate the rules of the World Trade Organization, she added, but could also “endanger the prosperity of many people around the world.”


Plastic particles in drinking water present ‘low’ risk — World Health Organization

Updated 22 August 2019

Plastic particles in drinking water present ‘low’ risk — World Health Organization

  • WHO issues first report on microplastics in drinking water
  • Reassures consumers that risk is low, but says more study needed
GENEVA: Microplastics contained in drinking water pose a “low” risk to human health at current levels, but more research is needed to reassure consumers, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.
Studies over the past year on plastic particles detected in tap and bottled water have sparked public concerns but the limited data appears reassuring, the UN agency said its first report on potential health risks associated with ingestion.
Microplastics enter drinking water sources mainly through run-off and wastewater effluent, the WHO said. Evidence shows that microplastics found in some bottled water seem to be at least partly due to the bottling process and/or packaging such as plastic caps, it said.
“The headline message is to reassure drinking water consumers around the world, that based on this assessment, our assessment of the risk is that it is low,” Bruce Gordon of the WHO’s department of public health, environmental and social determinants of health, told a briefing.
The WHO did not recommended routine monitoring for microplastics in drinking water. But research should focus on issues including what happens to chemical additives in the particles once they enter the gastrointestinal tract, it said.
The majority of plastic particles in water are larger than 150 micrometers in diameter and are excreted from the body, while “smaller particles are more likely to cross the gut wall and reach other tissues,” it said.
Health concerns have centered around smaller particles, said Jennifer De France, a WHO technical expert and one of the report’s authors.
“For these smallest size particles, where there is really limited evidence, we need know more about what is being absorbed, the distribution and their impacts,” she said.
More research is needed into risks from microplastics exposure throughout the environment — “in our drinking water, air and food,” she added.
Alice Horton, a microplastics researcher at Britain’s National Oceanography Center, said in a statement on the WHO’s findings: “There are no data available to show that microplastics pose a hazard to human health, however this does not necessarily mean that they are harmless.”
“It is important to put concerns about exposure to microplastics from drinking water into context: we are widely exposed to microplastics in our daily lives via a wide number of sources, of which drinking water is just one.”
Plastic pollution is so widespread in the environment that you may be ingesting five grams a week, the equivalent of eating a credit card, a study commissioned by the environmental charity WWF International said in June. That study said the largest source of plastic ingestion was drinking water, but another major source was shellfish.
The biggest overall health threat in water is from microbial pathogens — including from human and livestock waste entering water sources — that cause deadly diarrheal disease, especially in poor countries lacking water treatment systems, the WHO said.
Some 2 billion people drink water contaminated with faeces, causing nearly 1 million deaths annually, Gordon said, adding: “That has got to be the focus of regulators around the world.”