NATO in talks to put nuclear weapons on standby, Stoltenberg tells UK’s Telegraph

NATO in talks to put nuclear weapons on standby, Stoltenberg tells UK’s Telegraph
Jens Stoltenberg said last week that nuclear weapons were NATO’s ‘ultimate security guarantee’ and a means to preserve peace. (AP)
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Updated 17 June 2024
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NATO in talks to put nuclear weapons on standby, Stoltenberg tells UK’s Telegraph

NATO in talks to put nuclear weapons on standby, Stoltenberg tells UK’s Telegraph
  • Jens Stoltenberg tells paper there are live consultations between members to use transparency around its nuclear arsenal as a deterrent
  • ‘Transparency helps to communicate the direct message that we, of course, are a nuclear alliance’

LONDON: NATO is in talks to deploy more nuclear weapons, taking them out of storage and placing them on standby, in the face of a growing threat from Russia and China, the head of the alliance said on Monday.
Jens Stoltenberg told Britain’s Telegraph newspaper that there were live consultations between members to use transparency around its nuclear arsenal as a deterrent.
“I won’t go into operational details about how many nuclear warheads should be operational and which should be stored, but we need to consult on these issues. That’s exactly what we’re doing,” he told the paper.
“Transparency helps to communicate the direct message that we, of course, are a nuclear alliance.”
“NATO’s aim is, of course, a world without nuclear weapons, but as long as nuclear weapons exist, we will remain a nuclear alliance, because a world where Russia, China and North Korea have nuclear weapons, and NATO does not, is a more dangerous world.”
Stoltenberg said last week that nuclear weapons were NATO’s “ultimate security guarantee” and a means to preserve peace.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly warned that Moscow could use nuclear weapons to defend itself in extreme circumstances. It accuses the US and its European allies of pushing the world to the brink of nuclear confrontation by giving Ukraine billions of dollars worth of weapons, some of which are being used against Russian territory.
NATO, which has taken on a greater role in coordinating arms supplies to Kyiv, rarely talks about weapons publicly, although it is known that the US has deployed nuclear bombs to several locations in Europe.


Trump’s VP pick J.D. Vance signals shift away from Ukraine, Europe

Trump’s VP pick J.D. Vance signals shift away from Ukraine, Europe
Updated 13 sec ago
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Trump’s VP pick J.D. Vance signals shift away from Ukraine, Europe

Trump’s VP pick J.D. Vance signals shift away from Ukraine, Europe
  • J.D. Vance was one of the fiercest opponents of the approval of $61 billion in new military aid for Ukraine
  • Republican VP candidate: ‘NATO countries can’t be welfare clients of the US’
WASHINGTON: Donald Trump picked J.D. Vance — a staunch opponent of aid for Kyiv who wants Washington to refocus on Asia — as his running mate, signaling a potential shift away from Europe if the Republican candidate wins in November.
Vance — a 39-year-old retired US Marine and best-selling author — is ideologically close to the former president, and his views on foreign policy could help shape Trump’s second term in office if he defeats Democrat Joe Biden.
“I gotta be honest with you, I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine one way or another as a country,” the senator from Ohio said on a podcast in April.
Vance was one of the fiercest opponents of the approval of $61 billion in new military aid for Ukraine, which was stalled by Republican lawmakers for months earlier this year — a time in which Russia made battlefield gains.
The United States has provided tens of billions of dollars in military assistance for Kyiv since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
But Vance and other Trump allies in Congress argue that Washington cannot continue to fund the war indefinitely, and a Trump victory in November would throw future American assistance for Ukraine into doubt.
Trump has said he would quickly end the conflict, raising the specter that Kyiv could be pushed to negotiate with Moscow from an unfavorable position.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday that he was not concerned about the prospect of another Trump presidency, despite indications his administration could be more sympathetic to the Kremlin.
“I think that if Donald Trump becomes president, we will work together. I’m not worried about this,” Zelensky told a news conference.
Asked on Tuesday about the consequences of a Trump presidency for Ukraine, US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said both lawmakers and the American public back continued support for Kyiv.
“The American people strongly support continued assistance to Ukraine. They strongly support allowing Ukraine and helping Ukraine to defend itself against Russia’s aggression. It’s not just the American public, but it’s bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress,” Miller told journalists.
For Vance, European countries have relied on the United States for security for far too long, and he advocates a shift to increasingly concentrate on East Asia.
“NATO countries can’t be welfare clients of the US,” Vance told Fox News in June, while he said in February that “we have been subsidizing European security to the tune of trillions of dollars.”
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference earlier this year, Vance argued that “the United States has to focus more on East Asia. That is going to be the future of American foreign policy for the next 40 years, and Europe has to wake up to that fact.”
“The point is not we want to abandon Europe. The point is we need to focus as a country on East Asia, and we need our European allies to step up in Europe,” he said, urging the continent to “take a more aggressive role in its own security.”

Thai police say cyanide killed 6 foreigners in Bangkok hotel, including suspect

Thai police say cyanide killed 6 foreigners in Bangkok hotel, including suspect
Updated 18 min 12 sec ago
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Thai police say cyanide killed 6 foreigners in Bangkok hotel, including suspect

Thai police say cyanide killed 6 foreigners in Bangkok hotel, including suspect
  • The rapid-acting, deadly chemical was found on drinking glasses and a teapot in the room at the luxury Grand Hyatt Erawan hotel
  • The six were all of Vietnamese ethnicity, two of those US nationals, and were found dead late on Tuesday

BANGKOK: Cyanide poisoning was likely the cause of the deaths of six foreigners whose bodies were found in a room in a plush Bangkok hotel, with the suspected killer among the dead, Thai police said on Wednesday
The rapid-acting, deadly chemical was found on drinking glasses and a teapot in the room at the luxury Grand Hyatt Erawan hotel, and interviews with relatives of the dead revealed there had been a dispute over debt related to an investment, police said.
The six were all of Vietnamese ethnicity, two of those US nationals, and were found dead late on Tuesday. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation had assisted police with the investigation, police said.
“We found cyanide in the teacups, all six cups we found cyanide,” Trirong Phiwpan, Commander of the Thai police evidence office, told a press conference.
“After staff brought tea cups and two hot water bottles, milk and tea pots ... one of the six introduced cyanide.”
The results of an autopsy were expected within the next day, police said.
Vietnam’s government said its embassy in Bangkok was closely coordinating with Thai authorities on the case, while the US State Department said it was monitoring the situation and local authorities were responsible for the investigation.
The Grand Hyatt Erawan, operated by Erawan Group , has over 350 rooms and is located in a popular tourist district known for luxury shopping and restaurants.
News of the deaths, initially reported by some Thai media as a shooting, could be a setback for Thailand as it bets heavily on its vital tourism sector reviving an economy that has struggled since the pandemic.
Thailand is expecting 35 million foreign arrivals this year, up from 28 million last year who spent 1.2 trillion baht ($33.71 billion).
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on Tuesday urged a swift probe into the issue to limit the impact on Thailand’s travel sector.


Taiwan is willing to take on more responsibility for defending itself, says premier

Taiwan is willing to take on more responsibility for defending itself, says premier
Updated 17 July 2024
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Taiwan is willing to take on more responsibility for defending itself, says premier

Taiwan is willing to take on more responsibility for defending itself, says premier
  • Premier Cho Jung-tai was reacting to Trump, who said Taiwan should pay the US for its defense
  • Trump's remark sent shares of Taiwanese chip manufacturer TSMC down on Wednesday

TAIPEI : Taiwan Premier Cho Jung-tai said on Wednesday that Taiwan is willing to take on more responsibility for defending itself and is steadily increasing defense spending.
Cho was responding to comment from US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who said Taiwan should pay the United States for its defense as it does not give the country anything.

Trump's remarks, said in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek on June 25 but published on Tuesday, sent shares of Taiwanese chip manufacturer TSMC down.
“I know the people very well, respect them greatly. They did take about 100 percent of our chip business. I think, Taiwan should pay us for defense,” Trump told Bloomberg.

“You know, we’re no different than an insurance company. Taiwan doesn’t give us anything,” he said.
TSMC is the dominant maker of advanced chips used in everything from AI applications to smartphones and fighter jets, and analyst believe any conflict over Taiwan would decimate the world economy.

The US is Taiwan’s most important international supporter and arms supplier, but there is no formal defense agreement. The US is however bound by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself.
Taiwan, which China views as its own territory, has complained of repeated Chinese military activity over the past four years as Beijing seeks to pressure the democratically governed island which rejects China’s sovereignty claims.
US President Joe Biden has upset the Chinese government with comments that appeared to suggest the US would defend Taiwan if it were attacked, a deviation from a long-held US position of “strategic ambiguity.”
Washington and Taipei have had no official diplomatic or military relationship since 1979, when the US switched recognition to Beijing.

TSMC shares down
Shares in Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC) , the world’s largest contract chipmaker and a major Apple and Nvidia supplier, fell more than 2 percent on Wednesday morning. The broader market was down around 0.4 percent.
TSMC is spending billions building new factories overseas, including $65 billion on three plants in the US state of Arizona, though it says most manufacturing will remain in Taiwan.
Taiwan also has a backlog worth some $19 billion of arms deliveries from the United States, which US officials and politicians have repeatedly pledged to speed up.
Since 2022, Taiwan has complained of delays in deliveries of US weapons such as Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, as manufacturers focused on supplying Ukraine to help it battle invading Russian forces.
In April, the US Congress had passed a sweeping foreign aid package which includes arms support for the island, after House Republican leaders abruptly switched course and allowed a vote on the $95 billion in mostly military aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan and US partners in the Indo-Pacific.
China held two days of war games around the island shortly after President Lai Ching-te took office in May, saying it was “punishment” for his inauguration speech, which Beijing denounced as being full of separatist content.
But China has also been using grey zone warfare against Taiwan, wielding irregular tactics to exhaust a foe by keeping them continually on alert without resorting to open combat. This includes sending balloons over the island and almost daily air force missions into the skies near Taiwan.
China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control. Lai, who says only the Taiwanese people can decide their future, has repeatedly offered talks but been rebuffed.
 


Former Trump rivals Haley, DeSantis endorse him in show of unity at Republican convention

Former Trump rivals Haley, DeSantis endorse him in show of unity at Republican convention
Updated 17 July 2024
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Former Trump rivals Haley, DeSantis endorse him in show of unity at Republican convention

Former Trump rivals Haley, DeSantis endorse him in show of unity at Republican convention
  • Former Ambassador Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis headline second night
  • Show of harmony in contrast with the Democratic Party, divided over Biden as candidate

MILWAUKEE: Donald Trump’s former leading rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis, offered full-throated endorsements of his candidacy at the party’s convention on Tuesday, a display of unity three days after Trump survived an assassination attempt.
Haley, who had described Trump as unelectable and unfit for office during her campaign, nevertheless urged her supporters to vote for him over Democratic President Joe Biden “for the sake of our nation.”
“You don’t have to agree with Trump 100 percent of the time to vote for him,” the former UN ambassador and South Carolina governor said, after taking the stage to a mixture of cheers and boos. “Take it from me.”
DeSantis, the conservative Florida governor whose campaign sputtered early in the year, received a warm welcome from the crowd as he attacked Biden as too old for the job.
Trump smiled and applauded from his box in the arena, where he sat alongside the running mate whose selection he unveiled on Monday, Senator J.D. Vance, himself a former fierce Trump critic who has become a staunch supporter.
The show of harmony was intended to contrast with the Democratic Party, which has spent weeks mired in intraparty tensions over whether Biden, 81, should abandon his reelection bid after his halting June 27 debate performance against Trump, 78, raised fresh questions about his age and mental acuity.
The tenor of the evening’s speeches in Milwaukee — centered on the theme of safety — was more aggressive than the first night, with speakers angrily denouncing Biden’s southern border policies as putting the country’s security at risk. Kari Lake and Bernie Moreno, who are running in high-profile US Senate races in Arizona and Ohio, respectively, and US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas all called the flow of migrants an “invasion.”
Cruz delivered remarks suffused with Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, blaming Democrats for what he said was a wave of violent crimes committed by migrants.
While border crossings reached record highs during Biden’s tenure, arrests dropped sharply in June after the president implemented a broad asylum ban. Studies show immigrants do not commit crime at a higher rate than native-born Americans.
Trump has vowed to crack down on illegal immigration and pledged to launch the largest deportation effort in US history, including the use of federal troops if necessary.
The divisive tone contradicted the message of national unity Trump had promised to deliver this week after the shooting.
Trump entered the arena around 8 p.m. local time (0100 GMT on Wednesday) to a raucous ovation, just as he did on Monday in his first public appearance since a gunman tried to assassinate him on Saturday at a Pennsylvania campaign rally. He was more ebullient than the night before, when he seemed emotional and more subdued than usual. A heavily bandaged ear served as a reminder of how narrowly he survived the attempt.

Biden is ‘all in’
The shooting intensified fears among Americans about the deeply divided state of the nation ahead of the Nov. 5 election.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday found that 80 percent of voters — including similar shares of Republicans and Democrats — agreed “the country is spiraling out of control” in the wake of the shooting.
Authorities were still trying to identify a motive for the shooting. The 20-year-old gunman was killed at the scene by the US Secret Service.
Vance, 39, the author of the bestselling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” will deliver the headlining speech on Wednesday. His presence on the ticket is likely to energize core Republican voters, but it is less clear whether he can appeal to more moderate voters, including independents.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll found 29 percent of US voters, including 52 percent of Republicans, had a favorable opinion of Vance. By comparison, 42 percent of registered voters and 81 percent of Democrats had a favorable view of Biden’s running mate, Vice President Kamala Harris.
The survey of 992 registered voters, conducted on Monday and Tuesday, found Trump leading Biden by 43 percent to 41 percent, within the margin of error.
In his first campaign speech since the assassination attempt, Biden told Black voters in Las Vegas that he was “all in” for his reelection campaign, again dismissing calls from some Democrats to step aside.
The president said he was glad Trump had not been seriously injured but assailed his record in office. Biden has denounced the attack and called for less heated rhetoric.
The four-day convention will culminate with Trump’s prime-time address on Thursday, when he formally accepts the party’s nomination to face Biden in a rematch of their 2020 race.


Philippine officials say suspect in the killings of 2 Australians and a Filipino has surrendered

Philippine officials say suspect in the killings of 2 Australians and a Filipino has surrendered
Updated 17 July 2024
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Philippine officials say suspect in the killings of 2 Australians and a Filipino has surrendered

Philippine officials say suspect in the killings of 2 Australians and a Filipino has surrendered
  • The man acknowledged taking the watch and shoes of the Australian male victim after attacking him with a knife and suffocating his partner, a Filipino woman who had acquired Australian citizenship, and her Filipino daughter-in-law, Capagcuan said

TAGAYTAY, Philippines: The suspect in the killings of two Australians and their Filipino companion at a hotel in a popular resort city south of Manila surrendered and claimed he wanted to retaliate against the hotel for firing him, Philippine officials said Wednesday.
The suspect further said that he randomly barged into the victims’ room last week because its window was open, authorities added.
The victims, whose hands and feet were tied, were found sprawled on the floor in a street-level room at the Lake Hotel in Tagaytay city on July 10 in a heinous crime that shattered the tranquility the tourism destination known for a picturesque volcano nestled in a lake, Tagaytay Mayor Abraham Tolentino said.
In a pre-dawn news conference at the city hall, Tolentino and police officials presented the handcuffed suspect, who was wearing a hoodie, dark eyeglasses and a face mask. The man, whose identity was not released, will face criminal complaints for the killings and robbery, Tagaytay police chief Charles Daven Capagcuan said.
The mayor repeated an apology to the victims’ families and to Australia for what he called the senseless killings.
“We are pleased to present to you the main suspect in this brutal crime and as promised that within a week, we will resolve and give justice,” Tolentino said, without identifying the victims as requested by their families.
In a Southeast Asian country where many criminal suspects have managed to evade arrest for months or years before getting captured, Tolentino commended the police for rapidly identifying and locating the suspect, who was then apparently pressured to give up.
Capagcuan told The Associated Press ahead of the news conference that the breakthrough in the case came when the suspect was identified by at least three hotel employees based on his image, which was captured by security cameras showing a part of his face when his mask slid down.
The identification and information from witnesses eventually led authorities to the suspect’s Batangas home province near Tagaytay, where he decided to surrender on Tuesday, the police chief said.
“He wanted to get back at the hotel management for his dismissal,” Capagcuan told reporters, adding that the suspect used to work as a swimming pool cleaner but was fired by the hotel in March after he was linked to a robbery in one of the rooms.
Police officials planned to file criminal complaints of robbery in addition to the killings against the suspect.
The man acknowledged taking the watch and shoes of the Australian male victim after attacking him with a knife and suffocating his partner, a Filipino woman who had acquired Australian citizenship, and her Filipino daughter-in-law, Capagcuan said.
“He barged randomly with a knife into the room because its window was open,” Capagcuan said.
The Australian woman and her daughter-in-law are to be buried in their family’s home province in the Philippines while the remains of the Australian man would be flown Tuesday to Sydney, Tolentino said.
The Australian couple had planned to fly back to Australia on July 10, the day they were killed, but decided to briefly take a vacation in Tagaytay, the Filipino son of the slain Australian-Filipino woman told AP. He spoke on condition of anonymity last week because he was fearful after what happened to his mother and his wife and given the suspect remained at large at that time.
During the news conference, the son, who still concealed his identity with a white facial mask and a sport cap, thanked the police and the mayor for quickly locating the suspect. He asked the suspect, who was standing near him, what made him commit the gruesome crime but the man did not respond.
Tagaytay, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of Manila, is popular among local and foreign tourists who flock there for its cool weather and to view one of the world’s smallest active volcanos in a lake from elevated ridges teeming with restaurants, viewing decks and hotels, including the one where last week’s killings took place.