Europe, bid au revoir to American tourists

This decision will highlight the failed American effort to suppress the coronavirus pandemic: the graphs of new confirmed cases of coronavirus on each side of the Atlantic are moving exactly in the opposite direction. European openings could still have the same painful effect they did in states like Florida, Texas and Arizona. But European states have generally imposed blockages earlier and tighter than in the United States, and wearing a mask is not the polarized problem here.

If it comes, the EU decision will be another personal embarrassment for President Donald Trump for his sloppy management of the pandemic. The president often explodes at the sight of slight perceptions. But since he pretty much ignores the Covid-19 crisis in the United States, he could let it slip. In addition, as the White House has already pointed out, European entry into the United States is already suspended.

Failure to showcase American tourists will hurt the closed European tourism industry. Millions of dollars bring their money across the Atlantic every year, drawn to the continent’s history, cuisine and atmosphere. Italy, France, Germany and Spain welcome the most Americans, according to EU data. But until the two-way flow between the Old and the New World is restored, the murmur of admiring visitors to European cathedrals and museums will lack the je ne sais quoi of the American twang heard.

See you next year, I hope.

‘Oh my god, don’t make that phone call’

What has Trump learned from the state of the art after hundreds of “highly classified” phone calls and negotiations with foreign leaders? Not much, according to months of CNN reporting by veteran Washington reporter Carl Bernstein, whose government sources say there is little evidence that Trump has become more proficient with the practice. On the contrary, staff members say the president still refuses to read briefings before calls, strengthens himself personally with strong men like Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and insults women leaders like the German Chancellor Angela Merkel as “stupid” and weak.

Among the revelations: Erdogan’s calendar of calls was so perfect that some staff wondered if he had access to Trump’s personal calendar. And Trump’s haranguage of Merkel was “so unusual” that special measures had to be taken in Berlin to ensure that the specific content of the calls remained secret, according to a German official. No wonder employees clench their teeth when the president’s fingers point to the phone.

Spies who love the spotlight

For an intelligence service supposed to operate in the shadows, the Russian GRU seems to attract a lot of headlines. The GRU – officially known as the Main Directorate of the General Staff – has long been accused by the West of orchestrating cheeky and high-profile attacks, including hacking Democratic Party email accounts during of the 2016 US Presidential Election and the 2018 Nerve Agent attack in Salisbury, England.
Now the spy agency is again in the center of international attention, after reports that the U.S. intelligence services concluded that GRU agents offered cash incentives to the Taliban to kill U.S. troops and British in Afghanistan. But strangely, the alleged operation could potentially conflict with Russia’s stated goal of bringing the warring parties to the table in Afghanistan.
Russia has maintained contact with the Taliban and other warring parties in Afghanistan to influence results in a region it considers its strategic backyard. “We have known for a long time that there has been Russian contact with the Taliban and at least some improvement in the relationship with benefits as a covering technique,” said Laurel Miller, program director for Asia at International. Crisis Group.

However, she added, an operation to pay bonuses to US troops would be far more provocative and “different” from her usual behavior. “This is against official Russian policy,” she said. In other words, the so-called GRU operation targeting US and coalition troops could have a flip side: potentially undermining US support for the withdrawal, or perhaps triggering new sanctions against Russia.

Yet the agency has a reputation for bravery – and has operated opportunistically or independently of official policy before. Andrew Weiss, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that the GRU is actively pursuing operations that have diplomatic spinoffs.

Intelligence experts say the Salisbury poisoning – which led the Bellingcat investigation center to unearth alleged GRU operatives through open source research – has shown overt carelessness and brutality, rather than an approach secret of spycraft. And that sent a message to the enemies of the GRU.

“It is a model that we have seen repeatedly in Ukraine,” said Weiss, referring to Russian intelligence activities there. “The Kremlin is hardly a well-oiled machine, but time and time again, Putin – either by denying Russia’s blatant misdeeds or by throwing a security blanket over his security establishment – does little to improve the international image of Russia. ” – CNN’s Nathan Hodge writes to Meanwhile from London

Trump says he was never told about the so-called GRU bonus system. Asked about it by Jake Tapper of CNN, Speaker of the House of Democrats Nancy Pelosi replied: “If they had this information, they should have informed the president. In Putin” – an expression she already has used in connection with Trump’s electoral interference scandals in Ukraine and Russia.

In fact, information about the apparent plot appeared in one of Trump’s daily briefings earlier this year, a directly informed U.S. official – and considered serious enough for Security Council staff – to tell CNN on Monday National meets to discuss “possible response options,” including sanctions, if information develops.

“If I could build a wall around us … I would do it”

Trump is not the only American leader who wants to build a wall. In light of a massive resurgence of coronavirus cases in the United States, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said on Monday that he would not care about a wall just for his region. “We went through hell in this state to get to where we are,” he said, referring to the Battle of New Jersey with Covid-19. “Frankly, I never would have thought to say these words, but if I could build a wall around us or around our area, I would. But we can’t, so we have to rely on personal responsibility and good behavior, common sense for the common good. “Foreign visitors must now be quarantined for 14 days after arriving in New Jersey.

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