The New York Times – Anton Troianovski / Putin’s power shake-up: here are six takeaways
- During his annual state-of-the-nation speech, President Vladimir Putin shook up the country by calling for constitutional changes that would give him a new path to holding onto power after his current term ends in 2024. After his announcement, the entire cabinet, led by a long-serving Putin ally, Prime Minister Dmitri A. Medvedev, abruptly resigned. The head of the Federal Tax Service, Mikhail V. Mishustin, will become prime minister.
- The position Mr. Putin is trying to achieve is not clear yet. He could become prime minister again, taking advantage of the position’s expanded influence. Moreover, he could follow the path of Kazakhstan’s longtime president Nursultan Nazarbayev, who increased the power of Kazakhstan’s Security Council and made himself its chairman for life.
- In spite of Mr. Putin’s immense power, he’d be taking a risk if he simply declared himself president for life. Nonetheless, Mr. Putin has steadily subsumed the authority of all Russian institutions, often justifying crackdowns on political pluralism as necessary in the face of external threats.
- The Economist / How Vladimir Putin is preparing to rule for ever
- Foreign Affairs – Susan B. Glasser / Putin the Great
South China Morning Post – Orange Wang / China Vice-Premier Liu He rejects Trump’s suggestion of immediate phase two talks, calling idea ‘unwise’
- Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He has said Beijing has little interest in immediately starting negotiations on phase two of a trade deal with the United States, in a polite rejection of US President Donald Trump’s suggestion the next stage of talks would start soon. He stated that: “we might get nothing if we rush to a second job before the first one is properly done. I don’t think it is a wise choice to impatiently launch new stages of talks.”
- The two countries agreed to put the brakes on a on an 18-month trade war that has disrupted global supply chains and shaken markets after months of negotiations. Although most US tariffs on China would remain in place, the US agreed to reduce duties on some Chinese imports and suggested further tariff relief if a phase two deal can be reached.
- Protection of intellectual property was one of the pledges made in the phase one deal and Liu said that China needed better laws in the area for its own interest and protection.
- Financial Times – James Politi / What’s in the US-China ‘phase one’ trade deal?
The Washington Post – John Hudson & Souad Mekhennet / Days before Europeans warned Iran of nuclear deal violations, Trump secretly threatened to impose 25% tariff on European autos if they didn’t
- A week before Germany, France and Britain formally accused Iran of breaching the 2015 nuclear deal, the Trump administration issued a private threat to the Europeans that shocked officials in all three countries. According to several European officials, if these countries refused to call out Tehran and initiate an arcane dispute mechanism in the deal, the United States would impose a 25 percent tariff on European automobiles.
- However, it remains unclear if the threat was even necessary, as Europeans had been signaling their intention to trigger the dispute resolution for weeks. While the United States views the mechanism as critical to reimposing sanctions on Iran in as little as 65 days, the Europeans see the measure as a last chance to salvage a deal they view as vital.
- Major difficulties in the transatlantic relationship began after Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran that had been lifted in exchange for limitations on its nuclear program. The Europeans remained in the deal, noting that, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran had continued to comply with its side of the agreement.
- Al-monitor / Iran issues warnings after Europe triggers nuclear deal dispute mechanism
The Atlantic – Robinson Meyer / This is your life on Climate Change
- The 2010s were the hottest decade ever measured on Earth, and 2019 was the second-hottest year ever measured, scientists at NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced today. The finding was not a surprise to researchers, or likely anyone else. But it capped an anxious decade that saw human-caused climate change transform from a far-off threat into an everyday fact of life.
- What’s worse is that greenhouse-gas pollution from fossil fuels, which are the biggest driver of climate change, also surged to an all-time high last year, according to a preliminary estimate. Deke Arndt, a chief climate scientist at NOAA, said at the briefing that “an obvious signal” of this greenhouse-gas-powered heating had appeared in the upper layers of the ocean, which broke the all-time heat record last year.
- It’s worth going back to see just how outlandish our situation is. The median American is a little more than 38 years old. The year before she was born was 1980. It was, at the time, the hottest year ever measured. A July heat wave that year killed 1,265 Americans and caused more than $20 billion in damage nationwide.
- The years 2012 and 2013 were among the five hottest ever. Then came the three-peat: 2014 broke 2010’s all-time record, then 2015 was even hotter, then 2016 was hotter still. On land, 2016 was nearly 4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 20th-century baseline. It was three times as hot over the baseline as 1981, the year she was born.
- The New York Times – Henry Fountain & Nadja Popovich / 2019 was the second-hottest year ever, closing out the warmest decade
The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and EsadeGeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.