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EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 10/02/2021

EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 10/02/2021

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The Washington Post – Nicholas Fandos / Senate votes to pursue Trump impeachment trial after declaring the proceedings constitutional

  • Aided by the graphic 13-minute video that spliced violent images of the Capitol siege with Trump’s rhetoric, Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) and other impeachment managers delivered an impassioned account of the physical and emotional trauma to lawmakers, police, staffers and local residents. They said there was no “January exception” in the Constitution — meaning that a president couldn’t escape accountability through impeachment just because he had left office before the trial.
  • Trump’s lawyers countered that the trial — the first proceeding of its kind for an ex-president — would be unconstitutional because Trump was no longer in office, even if he was impeached by the House before leaving. One of the attorneys acknowledged that the former president lost the election, undercutting one baseless claim that Trump has spread since Nov. 3.
  • In a distinct appeal to a Republican Party that has long prided itself on its support of law enforcement, Raskin detailed the injuries suffered by 140 Capitol Police officers that day, such as brain damage, gouged eyes, heart attacks and mental trauma. At least two have died by suicide (…) In an extraordinarily raw accounting of what he experienced, Raskin also shared that his daughter and son-in-law had come with him to Capitol Hill that day, wanting to remain close in their grief following the death by suicide of Raskin’s son, Tommy, days earlier. The lawmaker’s voice broke after he relayed to senators that his daughter, Tabitha, told him following the insurrection that she never wanted to come to the Capitol again.
  • Raskin, as he left the Senate on Tuesday evening, said he was heartened to win over even one more Republican. “We were told that it would be completely partisan and locked from the last vote, and it wasn’t, so people’s minds are open,” he said.
  • The New York Times – Thomas KaplanHere are the Republicans that voted to proceed with Trump’s trial

Bloomberg WHO rejects Virus Lab Theory, saying animals likely source

  • A World Health Organization-led investigation in China found that the coronavirus most likely jumped to humans through an animal host or frozen wildlife products, finding that it’s “extremely unlikely” it came from a laboratory leak (…) The virus could have been introduced to the Huanan wet market in Wuhan, which many of the first Covid patients were linked to, by a person who was infected or by a product that was sold there, Ben Embarek said.
  • The highly anticipated mission followed months of negotiation with a defensive China to facilitate and cooperate with the probe. Stung by criticism that it initially covered up the extent of the crisis, Chinese state media and officials have promoted the theory that the virus didn’t start in China, but was brought in. The WHO’s validation of a potential cold-chain transmission route is likely to bolster those efforts.
  • U.S. Department of State spokesman Ned Price said the U.S. has expressed concerns regarding the need for full transparency and access from China and the WHO to all information regarding the earliest days of the pandemic, and cast doubt about Liang’s argument (…) “We clearly support this investigation. We recognize there is an urgent need for an investigation. But I wouldn’t want to be conclusive yet about any sort of cooperation that the WHO may or may not have received from China.”
  • The panel, comprising 17 Chinese and 17 international experts, looked for clues to understand how SARS-CoV-2 — whose closest known relative came from bats 1,000 miles away — spread explosively in Wuhan before causing the worst contagion in more than a century. Finding the source will inform efforts to stop the virus, and other pathogens with pandemic potential, spilling over into human populations.
  • The Guardian – Peter Beaumont WHO investigation into Covid-19 origins offers no quick answers
  • The New York Times – Javier Hernández China scores a public relations win after WHO mission to Wuhan

South China Morning Post – Eduardo Batista / Coronavirus vaccine: China’s strong ties with Serbia create a stepping stone into European market

  • As European nations struggle with shortages of Covid-19 vaccines, China has stepped in with supplies to Serbia and Hungary, reaping the political benefits of its soft diplomacy strategy on the continent.Serbia’s vaccination programme for a population of 6.95 million people was turbocharged by a shipment of 1 million doses from Chinese maker Sinopharm (China National Pharmaceutical Group Corp) on January 17. Serbia has the second-fastest roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines in Europe, behind Britain, according to Oxford University’s Our World in Data, which tracks global inoculations.
  • China’s success in these countries contrasts with the EU’s stumbles in vaccine distribution among its 27 member states. The bloc’s purchase of 300 million doses faces delays after British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca said production problems would cut deliveries in February and March to 31 million from the planned 80 million.
  • “We can be impressed by the Chinese efficiency … This is a little bit humiliating for us as leaders,” said Macron, while at the same time raising questions over a lack of data about the effectiveness of the Chinese-made vaccines (…) The French president said the efficacy of a jab from a Sinopharm or Sinovac vaccine was unknown because “absolutely no information” had been shared about trials.“What it means is that in the medium to long run it is almost sure that if this vaccine is not appropriate it will facilitate the emergence of new variants, it will absolutely not fix the situation of these countries,” he said.
  • Stefan Vladisavljev, programme coordinator of the Belgrade Security Forum, said that years of Serbia cultivating close ties with China had paid off in this case, while neighbours in the western Balkans – such as Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia – had received little to nothing of the EU’s vaccines.“Out of all the Western Balkan nations, Serbia has the most developed relationship with China for the past decade,” said the Belgrade-based analyst, adding that the ties had been particularly beneficial for Serbia over the past 12 months.
  • Politico – Stuart Lau China’s Eastern Europe strategy gets the cold shoulder

Financial Times – Laura Pitel Turkey gripped by student protests over university freedoms

  • “This university taught me how to be a good person, to respect other people no matter what,” said the 23-year-old. “This is why I’m protesting now. This university should stay like this. Turkey needs people like us.” Protests have simmered at Bogazici’s central Istanbul campus since early January when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the appointment of Melih Bulu, a failed ruling party candidate, as the new head of the university.
  • Atilla Yesilada, an Istanbul-based political analyst at the GlobalSource Partners consultancy, is watching to see if they gain momentum. “The length of these protests — and the government’s attitude — dispels one of the biggest fears of secular, urban, well-heeled opposition voters,” he explained. “This perception that if we go out on to the streets we’re going to be decimated is disappearing each day. “This raises the odds of other groups, either in sympathy to Bogazici or for their own reasons, will stage demos.”
  • Tensions escalated sharply over the past week as the government seized upon a contentious artwork, displayed at a student exhibition, that showed Islam’s most holy site — the Kaaba — juxtaposed with LGBT flags.  Students accused of organising the exhibit were detained, the university’s LGBT association was raided and senior government officials launched a torrent of homophobic abuse.  Suleyman Soylu, interior minister, attacked “LGBT perverts who insulted the Great Kaaba”. Erdogan said there was “no such thing” as LGBT in a “moral” country such as Turkey and described the protesters as “terrorists”.
  • Those taking part in the demonstrations are conscious that the government is seeking to use them in a culture war that asks the nation’s religious conservatives to pick sides in a battle against godless pro-western liberals. They stress that Erdogan’s government is not their target. Several groups of religiously devout students have pushed back against efforts by the government and its supporters in the media to use them in its campaign against the university.
  • Foreign Policy – Clare Busch and Merve Pehlivan / The high stakes of Turkey’s university protests

Today’s long reads:

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.

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