Washington, Nov 27 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump has rejected a central conclusion of a dire report on the economic costs of climate change released by his own administration, but economists said the warning of hundreds of billions of dollars a year in global warming costs is pretty much on the money.
Just look at last year with Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma, they said. Those three 2017 storms caused at least $265 billion in damage , according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The National Climate Assessment report , quietly unveiled Friday, warned that natural disasters are worsening in the United States because of global warming.
It said warming-charged extremes "have already become more frequent, intense, widespread or of long duration." The report noted the last few years have smashed U.S. records for damaging weather, costing nearly $400 billion since 2015.
"The potential for losses in some sectors could reach hundreds of billions of dollars per year by the end of this century," the report said. It added that if emissions of heat-trapping gases continue at current levels, labor costs in outdoor industries during heat waves could cost $155 billion in lost wages per year by 2090.
The president said he read some of the report "and it's fine" but not the part about the devastating economic impact.
"I don't believe it," Trump said, adding that if "every other place on Earth is dirty, that's not so good."
Nearly every country in the world in 2015 pledged to reduce or slow the growth of carbon dioxide emissions, the chief greenhouse gas.
"We're already there," said Wesleyan University economist Gary Yohe, who was a reviewer of the national report, which was produced by 13 federal agencies and outside scientists. "Climate change is making a noticeable impact on our economy right now: Harvey, Florence, Michael, Maria."
Yohe said, "It is devastating at particular locations, but for the entire country? No."
Economist Ray Kopp, a vice president at the think tank Resources For the Future and who wasn't part of the assessment, said the economics and the science in the report were absolutely credible.
"I believe this is going to be a devastating loss without any other action-taking place," Kopp said Monday. "This is certainly something you would want to avoid."
Earlier, the White House had played down the report. Spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said in an emailed statement that the report "is largely based on the most extreme scenario, which contradicts long-established trends by assuming that, despite strong economic growth that would increase greenhouse gas emissions, there would be limited technology and innovation, and a rapidly expanding population. "
Throughout the 29-chapter report, scientists provide three scenarios that the United Nations' climate assessments use. One is the business-as-usual scenario, which scientists say is closest to the current situation. That is the worst case of the three scenarios. Another would envision modest reductions in heat-trapping gases, and the third would involve severe cuts in carbon dioxide pollution.
For example, the $155 billion a year in extra labor costs at the end of the century is under the business-as-usual scenario. Modest reductions in carbon pollution would cut that to $75 billion a year, the report said.
The report talks of hundreds of billions of dollars in economic losses in several spots. In one graphic, it shows the worst-case business-as-usual scenario of economic costs reaching 10 percent of gross domestic product when Earth is about a dozen degrees warmer than now with no specific date.
Yohe said it was unfortunate that some media jumped on that 10 percent number because that was a rare case of hyperbole in the report.
"The 10 percent is not implausible as a possible future for 2100," Yohe said. "It's just not terribly likely."
Kopp, on the other hand, said the 10 percent figure seems believable.
"This is probably a best estimate," Kopp said. "It could be larger. It could be smaller."
Dubai, Nov 27 (AP/UNB ) — Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's first trip abroad since the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi will offer an early indication of the repercussions he faces from the gruesome slaying.
The prince is visiting close allies in the Middle East before attending the Group of 20 summit in Argentina on Nov. 30, where he will come face to face with President Donald Trump, who has defended U.S. ties with the kingdom, as well as European leaders and Turkey's president, who has kept pressure mounting on Riyadh since Khashoggi was killed and dismembered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
"It's really going to be about can you travel to the rest of Western capitals for the foreseeable future and expect to sort of shake people's hands, and I'm not sure that that's the case," said H.A. Hellyer, a scholar at the Royal United Services Institute and Atlantic Council.
The trip, aimed at rebuilding his image and reinforcing ties with allies, promises to offer a contrast to the prince's lengthy tour across the United States in April, where he met Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdoch, Disney chief Bob Iger, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Apple's Tim Cook and former President George H. Bush, among many others.
"There's no way he could do that sort of trip right now," Hellyer said. The crown prince's plan to attend the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires "tells me that he feels that he's ridden out the storm, or that in order for him to ride out the storm this is exactly what he needs to do."
After denying any knowledge of Khashoggi's death for weeks, Saudi authorities eventually settled on the explanation that he was killed in an operation aimed at forcibly bringing the writer back to the kingdom. Saudi prosecutors say the plan was masterminded by two former advisers to the crown prince and are now seeking the death penalty for five people allegedly involved in the killing.
That seems to have settled the matter for Trump, who issued an extraordinary statement last week saying the U.S. would not take further action after sanctioning 17 individuals linked to the killing. Trump has brushed aside assessments by U.S. intelligence and other experts that the crown prince must have been involved in the high-level operation, and said he would maintain close relations with Saudi Arabia in part because of its oil wealth and its multi-billion-dollar purchases of U.S. arms.
Trump's contention that "maybe he did, maybe he didn't" order the killing appears to have helped pave the way for the crown prince's return to international forums.
But even if Trump shakes his hand at the G-20 summit, the crown prince could still remain persona non grata within Washington's beltway, where members of Congress from both parties have demanded stronger action, as well as Wall Street and Silicon Valley.
He could also get an icy reception from other leaders at the G-20. In Europe there have been calls to end arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and Canada could still be smarting from a diplomatic row sparked by Saudi anger at its criticism over human rights in the kingdom. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is expected to attend the summit, was instrumental to the global backlash the prince now faces.
Despite the international outrage, the crown prince's decision to travel to Argentina signals that he still has the strong support of his 82-year-old father, King Salman, and faces no major threat at home.
On his first stop on the tour, in the United Arab Emirates, the crown prince was embraced on the tarmac by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, a close ally who has reportedly served as a mentor to the 33-year-old royal. The crown prince attended the Formula One Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi, where he was filmed in a VIP box chatting with the former King of Spain Juan Carlos and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
In possible a sign of changes underway, Prince Mohammed embarked on his foreign tour with figures who may take on greater prominence as he redraws his circle of advisers. Those include Minister of State Mohammad Al Shaikh, Chief of General Intelligence Khalid al-Humaidan and royal court adviser Prince Turki bin Mohammed bin Fahd, among others.
The two close advisers implicated in the Khashoggi killing — Saud al-Qahtani, a royal court adviser who was a friend of the crown prince, and Ahmed al-Assiri, a general whom the crown prince had promoted to a top intelligence post — were fired last month. The crown prince himself oversees all major levers of power in the kingdom, including the military and security forces.
Saudi analyst Mohammed Alyahya said that over the past two years many state institutions in the kingdom were marginalized in favor of a quicker, ad hoc decision-making process led by people with newfound power.
"There's a real understanding, I think, in the kingdom, that there needs to be serious structural change to ensure that something like this can never happen again," Alyahya said. "I think we're going to see definitely some return to institutionalism, some return to a consensus-based decision-making process and commitment to defined procedures."
Still, it remains to be seen whether a wider circle of advisers will be consulted, whether they will challenge the crown prince and whether he will listen to them.
"I'm unaware that he employs anybody deliberately who will tell him 'that's a really bad idea,'" said Simon Henderson, a scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who has written extensively about the crown prince.
"He is not getting that challenging advice, nor is he seeking it from within his inner circle and from outsiders. He may listen, but he doesn't absorb," Henderson said.
Jakarta, Nov 27 (UNB/Antara-AsiaNet)- Delegations from Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) visited Bio Farma in Bandung, accompanied by Indonesia's National Agency of Drug and Food Control (BPOM) representatives.
President Director of Bio Farma M. Rahman Roestan said, "This is a strategic visit. We are honored by their visit to Bio Farma and they have expressed keen interest in our vaccines.
The delegation represents pharmaceutical industries and drug regulatory authorities from the respective OIC member countries. The drug regulatory authority has a vital role in ensuring that drugs including vaccines meet standard quality."
Mr. Abdunur Sekindi, representing the OIC member countries delegation, said in his address that the Vaccine Manufacturing Group (VMG), a group within the OIC, has high regard for Bio Farma’s vaccines.
"Bio Farma, a pioneer in vaccine manufacture, has collaborated with Arabio, a vaccine manufacturer based in Saudi Arabia. Bio Farma has also interacted with other manufacturers like in Morocco and Tunisia in sharing experience and knowledge in the field of vaccines."
"Particularly with Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Bangladesh, Egypt, Morocco and Turkey with the aim to strengthen one another in achieving vaccines self-reliance among OIC member countries," said Sekindi.
M. Rahman Roestan added "We praise Allah that Bio Farma is one of a few vaccine manufacturers that has acquired WHO prequalification for its products. Among 100 vaccine industries globally, only less than 30 are WHO prequalified; one of them being Bio Farma, Indonesia. From 57 OIC member countries, only two countries are WHO prequalified. Apart from Bio Farma, the other is in Senegal where its Yellow fever vaccine is WHO prequalified and procured particularly throughout Central Africa and West Africa."
"Till this day, there are 12 vaccines produced by Bio Farma that support national immunization programs globally. We have distributed our vaccines to more than 140 countries. The delegation wants to be assured that the production and control process meet WHO standards. To ensure self-reliance in vaccines, we are open to share our experience and knowledge to our friends that have visited us."
In previous meeting, in Jakarta, harmonization of halal medicines among OIC member countries has been discussed among others.
Bio Farma fully supports cooperation among OIC member countries to achieve self-reliance in medicines and vaccines production.
Kiev, Nov 27 (AP/UNB) — Ukraine's parliament voted Monday to impose martial law in parts of the country to fight what its president called "growing aggression" from Moscow after a weekend naval confrontation off the disputed Crimean Peninsula in which Russia fired on and seized three Ukrainian vessels amid renewed tensions between the neighbors.
Western leaders and diplomats urged both sides to de-escalate the conflict, and the U.S. blamed Russia for what it called "unlawful conduct" over Sunday's incident in the Black Sea.
Russia and Ukraine blamed each other in the dispute that further ratcheted up tensions ever since Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014 and threw its weight behind separatists in eastern Ukraine with clandestine support, including troops and weapons.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko asked lawmakers in Kiev to institute martial law, something the country did not do even during the worst of the fighting in the east that killed about 10,000 people.
After a five-hour debate, parliament overwhelmingly approved his proposal, voting to impose martial law for 30 days starting Wednesday morning in 10 of Ukraine's 27 regions — those bordering Russia, Belarus and Moldova's pro-Moscow breakaway republic of Trans-Dniester. The locations chosen were ones that Poroshenko identified as potentially in the front line of any Russian attack. The capital of Kiev is not under martial law.
Poroshenko said it was necessary because of intelligence about "a highly serious threat of a ground operation against Ukraine." He did not elaborate.
"Martial law doesn't mean declaring a war," he said. "It is introduced with the sole purpose of boosting Ukraine's defense in the light of a growing aggression from Russia."
Ukraine's Defense Ministry already announced earlier in the day that its troops were on full combat alert in the country.
The approved measures included a partial mobilization and strengthening of air defenses. It also contained vaguely worded steps such as "strengthening" anti-terrorism measures and "information security" that could curtail certain rights and freedoms.
But Poroshenko also pledged to respect the rights of Ukrainian citizens.
His critics reacted to his call for martial law with suspicion, wondering why Sunday's incident merited such a response. Poroshenko's approval ratings have been plunging, and there were concerns that he would postpone a presidential election scheduled for March.
Just before the parliament met to vote, Poroshenko sought to allay those fears by releasing a statement revising his original martial law proposal from 60 days to just 30 days, in order to "do away with the pretexts for political speculation."
Oksana Syroid, a deputy speaker of parliament, noted that martial law was not introduced in 2014 or 2015 despite large-scale fighting in the east. A state of emergency "would present a wonderful chance to manipulate the presidential elections," she said.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Poroshenko assured him that martial law would not have a negative impact on the election.
Despite Poroshenko's vow to respect individual rights, opposition lawmaker and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko warned before the vote that his proposal would lead to the possible illegal searches, invasion of privacy and curtailing of free speech.
"This means they will be breaking into the houses of Ukrainians and not those of the aggressor nation," noted Tymoshenko, who is leading in various opinion polls. "They will be prying into personal mail, family affairs ... In fact, everything that is written here is a destruction of the lives of Ukrainians."
Poroshenko's call also outraged far-right groups in Ukraine that have advocated severing diplomatic ties with Russia. Hundreds of protesters from the National Corps party waved flares in the snowy streets of Kiev outside parliament and accused the president of using martial law to his own ends.
But Poroshenko insisted it was necessary because what happened in the Kerch Strait between Crimea and the Russian mainland "was no accident," adding that "this was not the culmination of it yet."
Russian coast guard ships fired on the Ukrainian navy vessels near the strait, which separates the Black Sea from the Sea of Azov, injuring six Ukrainian seamen and eventually seizing the vessels and their crews. It was the first open military confrontation between the two neighbors since the annexation of Crimea.
Ukraine said its vessels were heading to the Sea of Azov in line with international maritime rules, while Russia charged that they had failed to obtain permission to pass through the narrow strait that is spanned by a 19-kilometer (11.8-mile) bridge that Russia completed this year.
While a 2003 treaty designates the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov as shared territorial waters, Russia has sought to assert greater control over the passage since the annexation.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin tweeted that the dispute was not an accident and that Russia had engaged in "deliberately planned hostilities," while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov blamed Kiev for what he described as a "provocation," adding that "Ukraine had undoubtedly hoped to get additional benefits from the situation, expecting the U.S. and Europe to blindly take the provocateurs' side."
Klimkin told reporters in Kiev that the government is in talks with the Red Cross to make sure the captive seamen are treated as prisoners of war. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not say whether the Kremlin considers them prisoners of war.
At a U.N. Security Council meeting, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley urged Russia to "immediately cease its unlawful conduct" in the Black Sea.
In his first public remarks since the confrontation, President Donald Trump did not specifically call out Russia's behavior.
"We do not like what's happening, either way, we don't like what's happening and hopefully it will get straightened out," Trump said.
Anne Gueguen, the French deputy permanent representative at the U.N., urged the release of the sailors and the vessels.
But Russia called Ukraine's actions "dangerous." Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia's first deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, told the Security Council the incident was another example of Ukrainian leaders trying to provoke Russia for political purposes.
The European Union and NATO called for restraint from both sides. NATO said Stoltenberg expressed the U.S.-led military alliance's "full support for Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty, including its full navigational rights in its territorial waters under international law."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also spoke by telephone with Poroshenko to express her concerns and emphasize the need for de-escalation and dialogue, her office said.
British Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman, James Slack, said the incident was "further evidence of Russia's destabilizing behavior in the region and its ongoing violation of Ukrainian territorial integrity."
San Diego, Nov 27 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump is strongly defending the U.S. use of tear gas at the Mexican border to repel a crowd of migrants that included angry rock-throwers but also barefoot, crying children.
Critics denounced the border agents' action as overkill, but Trump kept to a hard line.
"They were being rushed by some very tough people and they used tear gas," Trump said Monday of the previous day's encounter. "Here's the bottom line: Nobody is coming into our country unless they come in legally."
At a roundtable in Mississippi later Monday, Trump seemed to acknowledge that children were affected, asking, "Why is a parent running up into an area where they know the tear gas is forming and it's going to be formed and they were running up with a child?"
Without offering evidence, he claimed that some of the women are not really parents but are instead "grabbers" who steal children so they have a better chance of being granted asylum in the U.S.
The showdown at the San Diego-Tijuana border crossing has thrown into sharp relief two competing narratives about the caravan of migrants hoping to apply for asylum but stuck on the Mexican sider. Trump portrays them as a threat to U.S. national security, intent on exploiting America's asylum law, but others insist he is exaggerating to stoke fears and achieve his political goals.
The sheer size of the caravan makes it unusual.
"I think it's so unprecedented that everyone is hanging their own fears and political agendas on the caravan," said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank that studies immigration. "You can call it scary, you can call it hopeful, you can call it a sign of human misery. You can hang whatever angle you want to on it."
Trump rails against migrant caravans as dangerous groups of mostly single men. That view featured heavily in his speeches during the midterm election campaign when several were hundreds of miles away, traveling on foot. Officials have said some 500 members are criminals, but haven't backed that up with details on why they think so. On Monday, Trump tweeted the caravan at the border included "stone cold criminals."
Mario Figueroa — Tijuana's social services department director who is overseeing operations at the sports complex where most of the migrants in the caravan are staying — said as of Friday that of the 4,938 staying there, 933 were women, 889 were children and 3,105 were men, which includes fathers traveling with families along with single men.
The U.S. military said Monday that about 300 troops who had been deployed in south Texas and Arizona as part of a border security mission have been moved to California for similar work. The military's role is limited largely to erecting barriers along the border and providing transportation and logistical support to Customs and Border Protection.
Democratic lawmakers and immigrant rights groups blasted the border agents' Sunday tactics.
"These children are barefoot. In diapers. Choking on tear gas," California Governor-elect Gavin Newsom tweeted. "Women and children who left their lives behind — seeking peace and asylum — were met with violence and fear. That's not my America."
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said the administration's concerns about the caravan "were borne out and on fully display" Sunday.
McAleenan said hundreds — perhaps more than 1,000 — people attempted to rush vehicle lanes at the San Ysidro crossing. Mexican authorities estimated the crowd at 500. The chaos followed what began as a peaceful march to appeal for the U.S. to speed processing of asylum claims.
After being stopped by Mexican authorities, the migrants split into groups. On the west side of the crossing, some tried to get through razor-wire fencing in a concrete levee that separates the two countries. On the east side, some pulled back a panel of fencing made of Army surplus steel landing mats to create an opening of about 4 feet, through which a group of more than 30 people crossed, according to a U.S. official who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Others made it over a steel fence farther east.
McAleenan said four agents were struck with rocks but were not injured because they were wearing protective gear.
Border Protection agents launched pepper spray balls in addition to tear gas in what officials said were on-the-spot decisions made by agents. U.S. troops deployed to the border on Trump's orders were not involved in the operation.
"The agents on scene, in their professional judgment, made the decision to address those assaults using less lethal devices," McAleenan told reporters.
The scene was reminiscent of the 1980s and early 1990s when large groups of migrants rushed vehicle lanes at San Ysidro and overwhelmed Border Patrol agents in nearby streets and fields.
U.S. authorities made 69 arrests on Sunday. Mexican authorities said 39 people were arrested in Mexico.
The incident left many migrants feeling they had lost whatever possibility they might have had for making asylum cases.
Isauro Mejia, 46, of Cortes, Honduras, looked for a cup of coffee Monday morning after spending Sunday caught up in the clash.
"The way things went yesterday ... I think there is no chance," he said.
Mexico's Interior Ministry said in a statement it would immediately deport those people arrested on its side and would reinforce security.
Border Patrol agents have discretion on how to deploy less-than-lethal force. It must be both "objectively reasonable and necessary in order to carry out law enforcement duties" — and used when other techniques are not sufficient to control disorderly or violent subjects.
Last week Trump gave Defense Secretary Jim Mattis explicit authority to use military troops to protect Customs and Border Protection agents on the border, with lethal force if necessary. Mattis also was empowered to temporarily detain illegal migrants in the event of violence against the border patrol. Mattis told reporters this did not change the military's mission in any way, and that he would use the new authorities only in response to a request by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. He said there had been no such request yet.
With the caravan as a backdrop, Trump has used national security powers to circumvent longstanding immigration law to deny asylum to anyone caught crossing the border illegally. However, a court has put those regulations on hold after civil liberties groups sued. On Thanksgiving Day, the president warned of "bedlam, chaos, injury and death" if the courts block his efforts to harden immigration rules.
But it's also possible that Sunday's clash was borne of increasing desperation caused by the hardening of the policies, said Rachel Schmidtke, program associate for migration at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Mexico Institute.
"This situation is now escalating to the point of a self-fulfilling prophesy," she said. "The more you squeeze the more it artificially creates something that didn't exist, but now is starting to become a crisis."