CAMPAIGN 2016 Hillary Clinton says 2016 won’t be a repeat of 2008 Dylan Stableford Senior editor January 24, 2016“We’ve got a big choice to make,” Clinton said Sunday. “It’s exciting.” (NBC’s “Meet the Press”) Hillary Clinton says despite what you may have heard, her 2016 presidential campaign won’t be a repeat of 2008.On NBC’s „Meet the Press” on Sunday, Clinton dismissed criticism that six-figure speech fees she was paid by big banks like Goldman Sachs following her tenure as secretary of state make her vulnerable to the special interests of Wall Street — a point her rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, has made repeatedly.“Look, I gave speeches to a wide array of groups, from health care groups to auto dealers and many, many more,” Clinton said. “And I think what they were interested in — because what we talked about was the world, coming off of four years as secretary of state in a complicated world, people were interested in what I saw, what I thought, they asked questions about matters that were on their minds.”Clinton suggested she was booked by those who wanted to know about her role in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.“[There was] a lot of interest in the bin Laden raid, how such a tough decision was made and what I advised the president,” she said.“Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd asked Clinton if she thought those institutions like Goldman Sachs that paid her might expect something in return.“Absolutely not,” Clinton replied. “You know, first of all, I was a senator from New York. I took them on when I was senator. I took on the carried interest loophole. I took on what was happening in the mortgage markets. I was talking about that in 2006. They know exactly where I stand.”Clinton also insisted she isn’t concerned about the ongoing FBI investigation into her use of a private email server as secretary of state.“I’m not concerned because I know what the facts are,“ she said. „I never sent or received any material marked classified.”The Democratic frontrunner doesn’t believe the FBI investigation is a cloud hanging over her candidacy.”I cannot control what the Republicans leak and what they are contending,” she said. “And I thought it was interesting, Chuck — as a political observer you’ll understand why — you know back a couple of months ago, [House Majority Leader] Kevin McCarthy spilled the beans that the Benghazi investigation was all about bringing me down, something that I suspected, but I went ahead, testified for 11 hours, answered all their questions and even they admitted there was nothing new.”Clinton also addressed the report that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg would consider launching an independent presidential bid should she lose the Democratic nomination to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is polling neck and neck with Clinton in Iowa and leading her in New Hampshire.”The way I read what he said is if I didn’t get the nomination, he might consider it,” Clinton said. “Well, I’m going to relieve him of that and get the nomination so he doesn’t have to.”And Clinton laughed off the suggestion by some political observers that her 2016 presidential campaign lacks enthusiasm just as it did in 2008, when she lost in the Democratic primary to Barack Obama.“I can only react to what I’m doing, feeling, getting responses from people,” she said. “I feel really great that we have the level of enthusiasm that we do. And we also have a really good team on the ground that’s been working for months to make sure it’s not here today, gone tomorrow.”
40,000 rally against government in ex-Soviet Moldova 14 hours ago Chisinau (AFP) – Some 40,000 opposition demonstrators on Sunday took to the streets of Moldova’s capital Chisinau calling for early elections as a political crisis continues to rock the tiny ex-Soviet state.The protest movement — which includes forces from the left and right that are considered both pro-European and pro-Russian — has stepped up demonstrations since a new government for the impoverished nation was approved on Wednesday.Demonstrators braved sub-zero temperatures to express their anger at rampant corruption among the ruling elite and the influence of oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc, who is seen as being the real power behind the new administration.”The people are with us. They do not want to support oligarchs and the criminal authorities!” opposition leader Andrei Nastase told protestors.A rival pro-government rally that had been scheduled to take place was cancelled at the last moment after organisers said they wanted to avoid any clashes.Moldova has been locked in political crisis over a $1-billion (925-million-euro) corruption scandal erupted early last year, triggering mass demonstrations and the arrest of former premier Vlad Filat in October.Wedged between Ukraine and Romania, Moldova is often seen in terms of a tug-of-war between Moscow and the West, especially after it inked an historic EU association agreement in 2014 despite bitter opposition from former master Russia.But the current protests have seen both nominally pro-Western and pro-Russian forces from the right and left temporarily put aside their differences to challenge a ruling elite they accuse of using pro-European rhetoric to cover up widespread graft.
BEIJING (AP) — Divided opinions within Vietnam’s Communist Party on how to relate to giant neighbor and one-time ally China are among key factors in play at an eight-day congress to choose new leadership. A look at the countries’ shared history and some of the most recent ups and downs in relations.Related Stories
___LONGTIME RIVALS Vietnam and China have a complex relationship going back more than 2,000 years, including several periods of Chinese imperial occupation that were ended by Vietnamese uprisings. Despite its early support for the Vietnamese Communist Party, China invaded in 1979 in retaliation for Hanoi’s overthrow of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Diplomatic ties were restored in 1991, but tensions have risen in recent years due to competing claims to islands and reefs in the South China Sea.___KEEPING WATCHChina is closely observing the party congress and has emphasized the importance of China-Vietnam relations, including $90 billion in bilateral trade last year. „As a good neighbor, friend, comrade and partner to Vietnam, we wish to advance the overall strategic relationship into a new stage on the basis of long-term stability, forward thinking and good neighborliness,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Friday. „We also wish to work with Vietnam to appropriately control maritime disputes with Vietnam so as to safeguard the maritime stability.”FILE – In this Jan. 21, 2016, file photo, Communist Pioneers’ league members play music to welco …___OIL RIG DISPUTE In May 2014, China parked a huge oil drilling platform off the Vietnamese coast in an area where the two countries’ exclusive economic zones overlap. Vietnam furiously denounced the move and sent fishing boats and coast guard vessels to harass the rig and nearby Chinese vessels. Skirmishes led to collisions and the capsizing of at least one Vietnamese boat, while in Vietnam anti-Chinese rioting and the looting of Chinese and other foreign-owned factories left at least four Chinese citizens dead.___CHINA’S OUTREACH Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi visited Vietnam in June 2014 to try to contain the oil rig dispute. Despite receiving a frosty reception from Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, escalation was avoided. More significantly, the oil rig incident nudged Vietnam closer to its old enemy the United States, which later that year partially lifted an arms embargo specifically to help improve Vietnam’s maritime security.FILE – In this Jan. 6, 2016, file photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, a China Southern …___COMPETING CLAIMS China withdrew the rig in July 2014, one month ahead of schedule, saying it had completed its mission. The confrontation is widely seen as part of a Chinese strategy to strengthen its footprint in the South China Sea, all or part of which is also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei. The incident also focuses renewed attention on a perceived split within the Vietnamese Communist Party between pro- and anti-China factions.___VIETNAM VISITS Following a prolonged chill, Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong (pronounced NEW-yen FOO CHONG) led a delegation to Beijing in April 2015 and was greeted by President Xi Jinping with full military honors at the Great Hall of the People. Though little of substance resulted from the four-day trip visit, it is seen as helping get relations back on track.___MENDING TIES China’s Xi made a state visit to Vietnam in November 2015, during which he and Trong agree to limit their differences and maintain peace and stability. Xi said China will „strive together with Vietnam to control differences at sea.” Trong proposed that neither side take actions that increase tensions. During the visit, about 30 people protested briefly in front of the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi. Xi also addressed Vietnam’s National Assembly, but avoided mentioning the South China Sea and the 1979 war.___TENSIONS RENEWED Vietnam protested to China in January over a test flight to a new airstrip on one of Beijing’s man-made island in the disputed Spratly Islands. Vietnam Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh demanded an end to such flights, saying they violate Vietnam’s sovereignty and hurt bilateral relations. China responded that the flights fall „completely within China’s sovereignty.” Days later, China conducted two more test flights. The South China Sea dispute looks only to grow more complex as China completes infrastructure on its newly created islands and boosts its maritime defense forces beyond anything its rival claimants can muster.
India to build satellite tracking station in Vietnam that offers eye on China By Sanjeev Miglani and Greg Torode 58 minutes agoA ship (top) of the Chinese Coast Guard is seen near a ship of the Vietnam Marine Guard in the South …By Sanjeev Miglani and Greg TorodeNEW DELHI/HONG KONG (Reuters) – India will set up a satellite tracking and imaging center in southern Vietnam that will give Hanoi access to pictures from Indian earth observation satellites that cover the region, including China and the South China Sea, Indian officials said.The move, which could irritate Beijing, deepens ties between India and Vietnam, who both have long-running territorial disputes with China.While billed as a civilian facility – earth observation satellites have agricultural, scientific and environmental applications – security experts said improved imaging technology meant the pictures could also be used for military purposes.Hanoi especially has been looking for advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technologies as tensions rise with China over the disputed South China Sea, they said.”In military terms, this move could be quite significant,” said Collin Koh, a marine security expert at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. „It looks like a win-win for both sides, filling significant holes for the Vietnamese and expanding the range for the Indians.”The state-run Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will fund and set up the satellite tracking and data reception center in Ho Chi Minh City to monitor Indian satellite launches, the Indian officials said. Indian media put the cost at around $23 million.India, whose 54-year-old space program is accelerating, with one satellite launch scheduled every month, has ground stations in the Andaman and Nicobar islands, Brunei, Biak in eastern Indonesia and Mauritius that track its satellites in the initial stages of flight.The Vietnam facility will bolster those capabilities, said Deviprasad Karnik, an ISRO spokesman.QUID PRO QUOBut unlike the other overseas stations, the facility will also be equipped to receive images from India’s earth observation satellites that Vietnam can use in return for granting India the tracking site, said an Indian government official connected with the space program.”This is a sort of quid pro quo which will enable Vietnam to receive IRS (Indian remote sensing) pictures directly, that is, without asking India,” said the official, who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.A Vietnamese naval soldier stands guard at Thuyen Chai island in the Spratly archipelago in this Jan …”Obviously it will include parts of China of interest to Vietnam.”Chinese coastal naval bases, the operations of its coastguard and navy and its new man-made islands in the disputed Spratly archipelago of the South China Sea would be targets of Vietnamese interest, security experts said.Another Indian official said New Delhi would also have access to the imagery. India has 11 earth observation satellites in orbit, offering pictures with differing resolutions and areas, the ISRO said.Indian officials had no timeframe for when the center would be operational. „This is at the beginning stages, we are still in dialogue with Vietnamese authorities,” said Karnik.Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry confirmed the project, but provided few other details.China’s Defense Ministry said the proposed tracking station wasn’t a military issue. The Chinese Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment.Vietnam launched its first earth observation satellite in 2013, but Koh said it was not thought to produce particularly high resolution images.BLURRED LINESSecurity experts said Vietnam would likely seek real-time access to images from the Indian satellites as well as training in imagery analysis, a specialized intelligence field.”The advance of technology means the lines are blurring between civilian and military satellites,” said Trevor Hollingsbee, a retired naval intelligence analyst with Britain’s Defense Ministry. „In some cases, the imagery from a modern civilian satellite is good enough for military use.”Sophisticated military reconnaissance satellites can be used to capture military signals and communications, as well as detailed photographs of objects on land, capturing detail to less than a meter, Koh and other experts said.The tracking station will be the first such foreign facility in Vietnam and follows other agreements between Hanoi and New Delhi that have cemented security ties.India has extended a $100 million credit line for Hanoi to buy patrol boats and is training Vietnamese submariners in India while Hanoi has granted oil exploration blocks to India in waters off Vietnam that are disputed with China. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has shown a greater willingness to step up security ties with countries such as Vietnam, overriding concerns this would upset China, military officials said. „You want to engage Vietnam in every sphere. The reason is obvious – China,” said retired Indian Air Force group captain Ajay Lele at the New Delhi-based Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses.Both India and Vietnam are also modernizing their militaries in the face of Beijing’s growing assertiveness, having separately fought wars with China in past decades. Australian-based scholar Carl Thayer, who has studied Vietnam’s military since the late 1960s, said the satellite tracking facility showed both nations wanted to enhance security ties.”Their interests are converging over China and the South China Sea,” he said.(Additional reporting by Megha Rajagopalan in Beijing and Ho Binh Minh in Hanoi; Editing by Dean Yates)
US official seeks support for European trade deal in Poland By VANESSA GERA 6 hours ago WARSAW, Poland (AP) — U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman was welcomed Sunday by Polish entrepreneurs as he worked to finalize a free trade pact between the United States and the European Union.Froman said the two sides are trying to conclude the deal, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, this year after nearly three years of negotiations.There is resistance from some Europeans to the planned agreement, which aims to eliminate tariffs and create common regulatory standards between the world’s two biggest economies. Opponents fear a lowering in food safety standards and the undermining of local regulations by giving international arbitration panels the power to rule over disputes.In Warsaw, Froman told a group of young Poles with startups, among them software developers, that the deal would be especially helpful to small and medium-sized businesses like theirs. He said they would benefit from a harmonizing of regulatory standards and intellectual property protection.”It’s small and medium-sized businesses that are driving the economy. And if we can make life easier for them, it’s good for all of our economies,” Froman said.Those invited to meet with Froman seemed convinced that they could benefit from it.U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman ,center, speaks to a group of start-up entrepreneurs in War …”Good competition will be beneficial to both sides,” said Krzysztof Gogol, president of the management board of WealthArc, a financial technology startup.Froman met with the entrepreneurs at the Google Campus in Warsaw, one of several hubs Google has established worldwide to help startups launch.He met with representatives from five companies, taking time to learn about their operations while also talking to them about how the deal, often referred to as TTIP, might help them.The most visible opposition to the deal was seen in Berlin last October, when 150,000 people demonstrated against it.Froman said Friday at the World Economic Forum in Davos that neither side has any interest in lowering standards, whether that be regulatory protections, safety standards or environmental requirements.During his visit Froman is also meeting with Polish leaders. A new round of negotiations on the deal is to take place next month._This version corrects the spelling of the first name of Krzysztof Gogol.
BERLIN (Reuters) – A senior figure in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party has proposed setting up „border centres” along the frontier with Austria to speed up the repatriation of those asylum seekers deemed unqualified to stay.Julia Kloeckner, leader of Merkel’s Christian Democrats in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate, said she thought the chancellor’s push for a European solution to a large influx of asylum seekers into Europe was still the right decision, adding that her proposal was meant to „complement it”.”On the German-Austrian border, border centres will be set up,” Kloeckner wrote in the paper, a copy of which Reuters obtained. It has been endorsed by the Christian Democrats’ (CDU) secretary-general.The proposal highlights the frustration in Merkel’s party with the slow progress in achieving a European Union-wide solution to the refugee crisis, which is straining the infrastructure of many German municipalities.Germany attracted 1.1 million asylum seekers last year, leading to calls from across the political spectrum for a change in its handling of the number of refugees coming to Europe to escape war and poverty in Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere.German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a session of the German lower house of parliament, the Bunde …Growing concern about Germany’s ability to cope with the influx and worries about crime and security after assaults on women at New Year in Cologne are weighing on support for the CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU).An Emnid poll for the newspaper Bild am Sonntag showed support for the CDU/CSU bloc down 2 percentage points at 36 percent from last week. The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) gained 1 point to 10 percent. Merkel’s coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD), gained a point to 25 percent.RESISTING PRESSUREMerkel, despite appearing increasingly isolated over her open-door policy on refugees, has resisted pressure from some conservatives to cap the influx, or to close Germany’s borders.Instead, she has tried to convince other European countries to take in quotas of refugees, pushed for reception centres to be built on Europe’s external borders, and led an EU campaign to convince Turkey to keep refugees from entering the bloc. But progress has been slow.Neighboring Austria said last week it would cap the number of refugees it allows in this year at 37,500 and risks bumping up against that limit in just months.”That will probably be the case before the summer,” Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner told Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper.Kloeckner, who has quietly positioned herself as a leading candidate to replace Merkel when she finally leaves office, also called for Germany to support Italy, Greece and Turkey in processing asylum applications at registration centres there.These beefed-up registration centres and the border centres along the frontier with Austria would deal with the repatriation of unsuccessful asylum applicants, easing pressure on German municipalities, she said in her position paper.Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, a CDU member, said each day German police were turning away 100 to 200 people at the border deemed not to qualify for asylum.(Additional reporting by Andreas Rinke; Editing by Gareth Jones)