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Why Russia wants to send the U.S ‘uncomfortable signals’

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Russia is sending strong signals it won’t be a push over, in the lead up to an historic meeting between Russia President Vladimir Putin and the new US President Joe Biden.

Russia’s foreign minister says the country wants to send the US uncomfortable signals ahead of the meeting in Geneva next month.

Russia has announced plans to enhance its military presence at its western border and is prepared to respond to Biden’s remarks on Sunday in which he said he would call on Putin to respect human rights during their meeting.

Russia claims it has been more flexible than the US over the agenda for the Geneva summit.

U.S President promotes rights of Americans in the lead up to Putin meeting

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden has promoted the rights of Americans to vote freely, fairly and conveniently during his Memorial Day address in Arlington.

It follows Texas Democrats staging a walkout to block a sweeping election overhaul bill.

Republicans are moving, to create new voter restrictions, that many say will negatively impact people of colour, low-income earners and people with disabilities.

Changes include limits to early voting, bans on temporary outdoor polling venues and 24-hour early voting.

This form of voting was used back in the 2020 general election in Texas’s Harris County, which Biden won.

Biden has called the proposed reform “un-American”

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Global Politics

China challenges Australia anti-dumping measures at WTO

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China has filed a lawsuit at the World Trade Organisation over Australian anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures

The anti-dumping measures affect Chinese exports of train components, wind turbines, and stainless steel sinks.

China hopes Australia can adopt concrete measures so that bilateral trade can return to normal.

Relations between the two sides have steadily worsened since 2018, when Australia barred Huawei from building its 5G network.

Relations also went into freefall last year as Prime Minister Scott Morrison led calls for an independent probe into the origins of the coronavirus.

China opposes nations abusing trade remedy measures which damage the legitimate rights of Chinese companies and undermine the authority of WTO rules, Ministry of Commerce Spokesman Gao Feng told reporters in Beijing Thursday. 

Beijing has responded with tariffs and restrictions on imports of coal, barley, lobsters and wine.

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Global Politics

Why Singaporeans may have to learn to live with COVID-19

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Singapore is drawing up a road map to transit to a “new normal”, where COVID-19 is likely endemic.

Singapore’s government believes COVID-19 may never go away.

But ministers leading the city-state’s pandemic response say the good news is that it is possible to live normally with the virus in our midst.

Three key ministers have written an opinion piece in The Straits Times, outlining what they believe life will look like in a “new-normal” where COVID-19 is still around but can be controlled through mass vaccination.

The ministers, who lead the city-state’s pandemic task force, say they hope COVID-19 will become like influenza.

They haver pointed out that people carry on with their daily activities during the flu season, take simple precautions or get an annual flu jab.

The ministers want to work towards a similar outcome for Covid-19.

“We can’t eradicate it, but we can turn the pandemic into something much less threatening, like influenza, hand, foot and mouth disease, or chickenpox, and get on with our lives.”

Rapid mass vaccination will be key

The ministers say “we are on track” to have two-thirds of the population vaccinated with at least their first dose by early July.

The next vaccine milestone will be to have at least two-thirds of the population fully vaccinated by National Day on August 9, supply permitting.

The ministers say they are working to bring forward the delivery of vaccines and to speed up the process.

The new-normal

It’s hoped that in the future, when someone gets COVID in Singapore, the response can be very different from now.

And instead of monitoring Covid-19 infection numbers every day, the focus will be on the outcomes, such as how many people are getting sick.

The government says in this new-normal, large gatherings can resume, businesses will have certainty that their operations will not be disrupted, and vaccinated travellers can be exempted from quarantine

But the ministers added a note of caution:

“The battle against Covid-19 will continue to be fraught with uncertainty.”

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Global Politics

Europe’s big plan to tackle “nightmare” cyber-attacks

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The EU will soon build a Joint Cyber Unit to tackle large scale cyber-attacks

Recent ransomware attacks on critical services in Ireland and on the Colonial pipeline in the US have promoted the move to take cybercrime more seriously.

The EU says cyber-attacks are a national security threat, with reported incidents in Europe rising to almost 1,000 last year.

A dedicated team of multi-national cyber-experts will be deployed to European countries during serious attacks.

A Commission spokesman said that “advanced and coordinated responses in the field of cybersecurity have become increasingly necessary, as cyberattacks grow in number, scale, and consequences, impacting heavily our security”.

Under the Commission’s proposals, it would “tackle the rising number of serious cyber incidents impacting public services, as well as the life of businesses and citizens across the European Union”.

EU vice-president said last month’s hack on US fuel supplies was ‘the “nightmare scenario that we have to prepare against”.

The attack sent major disruptions to the United States fuel supply, with gas stations running out of supply and being forced to shut down.

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