Trump lauds US economy in Davos, says little on climate woes

President Donald Trump delivers the opening remarks at the World Economic Forum, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in Davos, Switzerland. (AP)
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Updated 21 January 2020

Trump lauds US economy in Davos, says little on climate woes

  • Trump addressed the annual WEF in Davos, hours before his impeachment trial was to reconvene in the US Senate

DAVOS: President Donald Trump boasted Tuesday that he’s led a “spectacular” turnaround of the US economy and urged the world to invest in America, but had little to say about climate change issues that are a focus of this year’s gathering of top business and political leaders in the Swiss Alps.
Trump addressed the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, hours before his historic impeachment trial was to reconvene in the US Senate in Washington. The two-day visit will test Trump’s ability to balance his anger over being impeached with a desire to project leadership on the world stage.
He reminded the audience that when he spoke here two years ago, early in his presidency, “I told you that we had launched the great American comeback.”
“Today I’m proud to declare the United States is in the midst of an economic boom, the likes of which the world has never seen before,” the president said.
American economist Kenneth Rogoff said some, but not all of Trump’s claims regarding the strength of the US economy are true. But he noted that the economy wasn’t doing badly when he took office. “It’s been a good 10 years and his three years probably better than expected,” Rogoff said, adding that he thought Trump was careful to keep his comments about climate change to a minimum to avoid getting booed.
Climate issues are a main theme at the forum and the phrase “Act on Climate” was written in the snow at the landing zone where Trump’s Marine One helicopter set down in Davos.
Late last year, the Trump administration began pulling the US out of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement signed by nearly 200 nations. Under the deal, each country sets goals to curb emissions of heat-trapping gasses that lead to climate change. Trump has called the Paris accord an unfair economic burden to the US economy.
Trump’s speech was received in virtual silence from the audience apart from a brief flurry of applause when Trump said the US would join a World Economic Forum initiative to plant 1 trillion trees worldwide.
Climate activists Greta Thunberg doubled down on her criticism that world and business leaders aren’t taking the threat of global warming seriously, dismissing some of the measures bandied about by governments and companies, such as setting long-term targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and planting billions of new trees to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
“Planting trees is good of course but it’s nowhere near enough,” Thunberg said.
Trump’s participation at the forum provided another conspicuous split-screen moment in his presidency. Before entering the hall to deliver his speech, Trump called the trial “disgraceful” and part of “the witch hunt that’s been going on for years.”
Asked whether Trump would watch the impeachment trial from Davos, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said, “He has a full day here in Davos, but will be briefed by staff periodically.”
Trump spent nearly all of his approximately 30-minute speech talking about how the US economy has performed under his leadership.
“America is thriving. America is flourishing and yes, America is winning again like never before,” Trump said before talking about a newly signed trade deal with China and a pending trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. He also spoke of record low unemployment, stock market gains and millions of people removed from the welfare rolls.
Trump’s speech was criticized by the Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz for failing to address the climate emergency beyond a commitment that the US will join the initiative to plant a trillion trees worldwide.
“He managed to say absolutely zero on climate change,” Stiglitz said. “Meanwhile we’re going to roast.”
Trump’s appearance at the forum ends Wednesday when he travels back to a Washington, which is consumed by the impeachment trial.
The Democratic-controlled House impeached the Republican president last month for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress after it was revealed that he had pressed Ukraine’s president to announce investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat and a Trump political rival. Trump withheld foreign aid that Congress had approved for the Eastern European nation and dangled the prospect of an Oval Office meeting as leverage.
Trump denies any wrongdoing and argues that Democrats want to remove him from office because they know they can’t deny him reelection in November. Trump would be forced to leave office if convicted, but the Republican-controlled Senate is expected to acquit him.
The White House has not named any of the business leaders Trump is set to meet with. But he is scheduled to hold talks Tuesday and Wednesday with the leaders of Iraq, Pakistan, Switzerland and Iraq’s self-governing Kurdish region, as well as the forum’s founder, the White House said. Trump also will have his first meeting with the new European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, the first woman to hold the position.


Seoul endorses aid to North Korea for coronavirus

A nurse takes the temperature of a woman at an entrance of a Pyongyang hospital. (AFP)
Updated 04 April 2020

Seoul endorses aid to North Korea for coronavirus

  • According to the Unification Ministry, South Korea is committed to spending about $5.7 million on aid to North Korea this year

SEOUL: South Korea has approved assistance to provide anti-viral supplies to its northern neighbor for combating COVID-19, although the regime claims that there is no single confirmed case of the virus overwhelming societies around the globe.
The approval was granted on Tuesday to a nonprofit organization, which will send hand sanitizers worth about $81,000 to the North, the Unification Ministry on North Korean affairs confirmed on Thursday.
“The civic organization met the requirements for North Korean aid,” a ministry spokesman told reporters, declining to share details on the identity of the private organization. “The supplies were funded by the group.”
This marked the first time this year that the South Korean government has allowed a civilian aid group to provide assistance to the poverty-stricken North, while inter-Korean relations reached a low-ebb with the prolonged stalemate over Pyongyang’s nuclear disarmament effort.
International non-governmental organizations, including Doctors Without Borders, reportedly donated medical equipment to the communist regime, using a checkpoint in the border city of Dandong in China.
In March, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that $840,000 was needed to help North Korea during the coronavirus pandemic. UNICEF said that it donated glasses, masks, gloves and thermometers that could be used in North Korea to fight the spread of the virus.
The latest approval of the disinfectant shipment could set the stage for expanding assistance to the North at government level, said Cho Han-bum, a senior researcher at the state-funded Korea Institute for National Unification.
“I see the possibility that the level of assistance to the North would be expanded further,” the researcher said. “As Pyongyang appears to do its utmost to combat the spread of COVID-19, both Koreas would possibly be able to work together on health issues.”

HIGHLIGHT

The approval was granted to a nonprofit organization, which will send hand sanitizers worth about $81,000 to the North.

According to the Unification Ministry, South Korea is committed to spending about $5.7 million on aid to North Korea this year. The funds represent more than 60 percent of total global funding for aid to North Korea this year, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) website.
On March 1, President Moon Jae-in proposed cross-border cooperation in medicine and public health during his address marking the country’s Independence Day from Japanese colonial rule. In return, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un responded on March 4 by stating that he “wholeheartedly wished that the health of our brothers and sisters in the South are protected.”
But the North has conducted tests of short-range rockets and missiles three times since then, pouring cold water on relations with the South.
Experts have warned North Korea is vulnerable to the pandemic due to its weak health care system amid speculation that Pyongyang has covered up an outbreak.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s coronavirus cases topped 10,000 on Friday amid a slowdown in new infections. The country reported 86 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of infections to 10,062 and marked the 22nd consecutive day that new infections have hovered around 100 or fewer additional cases, according to health authorities.
The death toll rose by five to 174, with more than half of fatalities being patients aged 80 or over.