- A video featuring multiple world leaders appearing to make fun of Donald Trump was recorded at a NATO summit reception on Tuesday.
- The clip, which has now gone viral, features Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, among other prominent figures, chatting in a circle at Buckingham Palace.
- Trump responded to the video by calling Trudeau “two-faced” and accusing the Prime Minister of being upset that Trump was pushing him to up Canada’s military spending.
- Trudeau later admitted he was talking about Trump while the others in the video have either flatly denied it or declined to comment.
A video of several world leaders appearing to bash U.S. President Donald Trump at a NATO summit reception went viral on Tuesday.
The 25-second clip shows Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands huddled together, chatting.
There is a fifth in the circle whose face is never fully seen, but many believe that it is British royal Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth II’s daughter.
In the video, first shared online by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp, only snippets of the conversation were picked up.
“Is that why you were late?” Johnson asks Macron in the clip, smiling at him.
“He was late because he takes a forty-minute press conference off the top,” Trudeau says, fiddling his drink.
Trump is never mentioned by name in the video, but many viewers speculate that the group seems to be referencing the U.S. President’s actions earlier that day.
“You just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor,” Trudeau adds later in the video, after more inaudible discussion.
Rutte stands by, listening. Macron chimes into the conversation, but his words are inaudible in the recording.
The video was released just hours after a tense meeting between Trump and Macron, in which the French President pressed the American leader about his involvement with the military conflict in Turkey.
When asked about the video by reporters on Wednesday, prior to his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump responded with an insult—and then a compliment-—aimed at Trudeau.
“Well he’s two-faced,” Trump said of the Canadian Prime Minister. “And honestly, with Trudeau, he’s a nice guy, I find him to be a very nice guy.”
Trump went on to blame Trudeau’s frustration on the dispute over how much Canada is doling out on military spending. All NATO members are required to spend at least 2% of their GDP on national defense, a number that Canada is not currently meeting.
“I called him out on the fact that he’s not paying two percent, and I guess he’s not very happy about it,” Trump said.
“Look, I’m representing the U.S. and he should be paying more than he’s paying and he understands that,” Trump added. “So I can imagine he’s not that happy, but that’s the way it is.”
Trudeau Admits to Talking About Trump
While Trudeau initially ignored reporters’ questions about the video on Wednesday, he later publicly admitted that it was indeed Trump that he was referring to in his comments about a 40-minute press conference.
“Last night I made reference to the fact that there was an unscheduled press conference before my meeting with President Trump,” Trudeau said. “I was happy to be part of it but it was certainly notable.”
Trudeau confessed this in a press conference on Wednesday evening, according to CNN. He also addressed his “jaw drop” remarks, saying that they were referencing Trump’s announcement that the upcoming G7 summit will be hosted at Camp David.
“Every different leader has teams who now and then [had] jaws drop at unscheduled surprises, like that video for itself, for example,” Trudeau said.
Other Leaders Distancing Themselves From Video
Although Trudeau came clean, the others featured in the video did not want to be associated with the recorded criticism of President Trump. Johnson flatly denied that he was apart of any such conversation.
“That’s complete nonsense, and I don’t know where that has come from,” he said at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon. “I really don’t know what is being referred to there.”
A spokesperson for Macron told CNN that they had “no comment,” and that the recorded conversation “does not say anything special,” while a spokesperson for Rutte told them they do not comment on closed-door sessions.
See what others are saying: (New York Times) (CNN) (Washington Post)
Death Toll in Myanmar Surpasses 50 People as Police Continue To Use Live Ammunition
- At least 50 people have died across Myanmar since the start of the coup on Feb. 1, with Wednesday being the single largest loss of life to date after 38 were shot by security forces.
- Despite the danger, tens of thousands of citizens continue to take to the streets to protest the coup and demand the restoration of democracy in Myanmar.
- The U.N. Security Council is due to meet Friday to discuss how to deal with the situation in Myanmar in response to calls for a solution from nations and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Growing Violence Across Myanmar
Over the weekend, security forces in Myanmar killed 18 anti-coup protesters and wounded at least 30 more. Across the subsequent three days, that number rose considerably.
According to the U.N., at least 38 people were killed on Wednesday alone.; making it the bloodiest day of the coup so far and raising the overall death toll to over 50. Exact number are difficult to find, as the chaos on the ground precludes outlets from confirming accounts of possibly more deaths.
The violence has occurred across the country, with the deaths largely being tied to the use of live ammunition by security forces. The demonstrations, and the response to them, have been widely captured on camera. Some of the most shocking scenes are of police passing a BA-53 (a Burmese Army variant of the HK G3 military rifle) to fire into protesters.
Despite the death, tens of thousands of citizens continue to take to the streets to protest the coup and demand the restoration of democracy in Myanmar. Thursday morning saw thousands in the streets who attended vigils for those slain on Wednesday, an increasingly common ritual for the prior day’s deaths.
Sanctions May Not Work
The United States has tried to get neighboring countries to join it and the European Union in sanctioning the Burmese military, but few Southeast Asian countries wanted to sign on, which gives the Burmese military breathing room as most of its diplomatic and trade relations are with neighboring countries.
At the U.N., Security Council members are due to meet on Friday to discuss calls from countries and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to stop the coup and the escalating crackdowns against protesters. However, it’s unclear what more they can do. Sanctions against specific military leaders are often ineffective, yet sanctions on the country as a whole would affect the everyday people they’re trying to support.
Other options include direct intervention, but Justine Chambers, Associate Director of the Myanmar Research Center at the Australian National University, pushed back against this, telling The New York Times, “Unfortunately I don’t think the brutality caught on camera is going to change much.”
“I think domestic audiences around the world don’t have much of an appetite for stronger action, i.e. intervention, given the current state of the pandemic and associated economic issues.”
While it’s unclear what more the international community can do, it’s quite likely that violence will continue in Myanmar as citizens try to peacefully restore democracy.
See what others are saying: (AP) (Reuters) (New York Times)
Saudi Arabia To Require Vaccine for Hajj Pilgrims
- Saudi Arabia will require all pilgrims participating in the Hajj this year to be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to local media.
- The Hajj is a pilgrimage to Mecca that all Muslims are required to take at least once in their lifetime if they are physically or financially able to.
- Many believe the inoculation requirement may help allay suspicions over vaccines within certain Muslim communities.
- Those suspicions have persisted despite Muslim leaders clarifying that there are no theological problems with taking any of the COVID-19 vaccines available.
COVID-19 Vaccines for Pilgrims
Saudi Arabia’s health ministry will only allow people vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend the Hajj this year, according to local outlet Okaz.
The Hajj is a mandatory pilgrimage to Mecca for all Muslims at least once in their lifetime – assuming they are physically and financially able to. However, requiring a vaccine before taking part in the Hajj isn’t a new thing. In fact, Saudi Arabia already has a list of necessary vaccinations for pilgrims.
For a virus that is among the most virulent in recent history and requiring a COVID-19 vaccine makes sense, especially since the Hajj is among the most densely populated events in the world.
In an effort to combat COVID-19, Saudi Arabia has also introduced restrictions over how many pilgrims can come to Mecca for the first time in modern history.
Requiring the COVID-19 vaccine to partake in the Hajj will likely have the added benefit of allaying fears about COVID-19 vaccines in Muslim communities, which account for nearly 2 billion people in the world. While Muslims overall support vaccinations and their religious leaders openly support vaccination efforts, some do doubt vaccines for either political reasons or religious ones.
Changes in Vaccine Hesitancy
Suspicions have arisen due to recent history, notably after Osama bin Laden was located through a vaccine program that acted as a front for the C.I.A. That incident led to a wider-anti vaccine movement in parts of Pakistan that have seen vaccine clinics burned to the ground.
Others are worried over more religious concerns, such as whether the vaccines are Halal, which is roughly the Muslim version of Kosher. To that, most major vaccines say that they are Halal and contain no animal products, such as Pfizer’s, Moderna’s, and AstraZeneca’s,
While other possibly non-Halal vaccines, such as Sinovac’s, have been given the okay from major Islamic authorities, such as Indonesia’ Ulema Council.
The concerns over whether a vaccine is Halal or not may be mute as most imams and Islamic councils have clarified that such dietary restrictions are trumped by the need to save human lives.
While the Health Ministry’s statement is for 2021, it’s possible that the decision will last beyond that based on the pandemic’s progress.
See what other are saying: (Al Jazeera) (The Hill) (Middle East Eye)
E.U. and U.S. Sanction Russian Officials Over Navalny Detention
- The E.U. and U.S. coordinated new sanctions against seven Russian officials tied to the current fate of activist and Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.
- More efforts are expected to follow, with officials claiming that 14 Russian entities tied to the manufacturing of Novichok – the rare nerve agents that supposedly poisoned Navalny – are the next to be sanctioned.
- Despite the sanctions, Biden’s administration hopes to be able to work with Russia on other world issues, such as nuclear arms in Iran and North Korea.
- Navalny himself isn’t likely to benefit from the sanctions as he’s serving a 2.5-year prison sentence in one of Russia’s most notorious penal colonies.
Coordinated Efforts by E.U. and U.S.
The U.S. and E.U. both announced coordinated sanctions against Russia Tuesday morning over the poisoning, arrest, and detention of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.
In particular, seven senior officials are targeted by the sanctions.
- Federal Security Service Director Aleksandr Bortnikov
- Chief of the Presidential Policy Directorate Andrei Yarin
- First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Kiriyenko
- Deputy Minister of Defense Aleksey Krivoruchko
- Deputy Minister of Defense Pavel Popov
- Federal Penitentiary Service director Alexander Kalashnikov
- Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov.
Both the E.U. and U.S. also plan to add fourteen entities that are involved in making the extremely deadly Russian nerve agent Novichok.
First Step For Biden
These sanctions are the first such action by the Biden administration against Russia and seem to be a tone shift from the previous administration. The Trump administration was considered relatively soft on Russia and only enacted a few sanctions over election interference, which were only softly enforced.
One U.S. official, according to NBC News reportedly said, that “today is the first such response, and there will be more to come.”
“The United States is neither seeking to reset our relations with Russia nor are we seeking to escalate,” the official went on to add.
The man at the center of all this, Alexei Navalny, has been an outspoken critic of Putin who was arrested when he returned to Russia from Germany after being treated for Novichok poisoning.
He was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison over alleged fraud crimes and is reported to have been sent to one of Russia’s worst penal colonies outside of the city of Pokrov to serve out his term.