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France makes diplomatic push to solve Lebanon crisis – Al Jazeera

France is making a diplomatic push to solve the political crisis caused by the snap resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri earlier this month, as the country’s foreign minister is expected to meet Hariri in Riyadh on Thursday. According to at least one analyst, however, Paris may have made a “risky bet” by getting involved in the ongoing diplomatic turmoil over Hariri’s fate, which has pit Saudi Arabiaagainst its regional rival, Iran, and Tehran’s ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah. “As no compromise in Lebanon will pass without an agreement between Riyadh and Tehran, Paris is looking to deal with both,” said Stephane Malsagne, a historian and professor at Sciences-Po in Paris. The highest levels of the French government are getting involved in diplomatic efforts to resolve the political turmoil gripping Lebanon, which was under French colonial rule until 1943. France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is expected to meet with Hariri in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, an aide said, according to Agence France Presse. The meeting comes a day after Le Drian arrived in Riyadh and met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and a week after French President Emmanuel Macron also flew to Riyadh to meet the Crown Prince. Macron hastily flew to Saudi Arabia on November 9 from the nearby United Arab Emirates. Macron’s stop in Riyadh came just as tensions were mounting between Saudi Arabia and Iran over the fate of the Lebanese prime minister. Hariri, a Sunni Muslim politician and longtime ally of both Saudi Arabia and France, announced his resignation in a televised address from Riyadh on November 4. Many, including Lebanese President Michel Aoun, have accused Saudi Arabia of forcing Hariri to step down and of holding him in detention. The Saudis have denied the allegations and accused Hezbollah of creating a “state within a state” in Lebanon. This week, Hariri said he planned to return to Lebanon soon, but did not specify when. According to Malsagne, French diplomacy has so far “not succeeded in obtaining guarantees from Riyadh” on Hariri’s freedom of mvoement and speech, nor has it clarified when Hariri may be allowed to return to Lebanon or what the Saudis’ true political intentions are. “It’s therefore a risky bet for France,” he told Al Jazeera. The French president also spoke with his Lebanese counterpart, Michel Aoun, on November 10. Macron stressed “the importance of preserving the stability, independence and security of Lebanon and French support for the Lebanese people,” according to a statement put out by the Elysee. He also met with Lebanon’s Foreign Minister, Gebran Bassil, in Paris on Tuesday. During a press conference at the Lebanese embassy in Paris, Bassil thanked Macron for “the initiative he is undertaking for Lebanon in the face of an exceptional situation,” French website L’Orient Le Jour reported. Bassil said, however, that Lebanon “must decide on its internal and external politics” and “counts on making a free decision”. A day later, Macron offered Hariri and his family to come spend a few days in Paris, but specified that the invitation was not an offer of political exile. The Hariri family, which holds French citizenship, has longstanding ties to the French political class. Hariri’s father, former prime minister Rafik Hariri, who was assassinated in 2005, was a close friend of former French President Jacques Chirac. When he resigned from politics in 2007, Chirac considered moving into a Paris apartment owned by the Hariri family, Reuters reported at the time. The French government, meanwhile, has maintained close ties to Saad Hariri, explained Eric Verdeil, a professor at Sciences Po in Paris. While France has traditionally kept a balanced approach to Lebanese internal politics – often working as a facilitator between various factions – it has been closer to the Hariri-led March 14 camp, which includes Lebanese-Christian political groups. “It’s clear that the political class [in France] and successive French governments saw in Saad Hariri a politician whom they could support and that they strongly supported him for several years,” Verdeil told Al Jazeera. Nonetheless, the French “try to be in a position to talk to everyone,” Verdeil said. Hariri visited Macron at the Elysee in September and said during his visit that “relations between France and Lebanon are excellent”. Yet despite their close relationship to Hariri, his resignation came as a shock to French leaders. “They were very surprised by this resignation that was unexpected and obviously they weren’t consulted,” Verdeil said. If Hariri does not eventually return to Lebanon, France will still maintain close ties to the country in order to maintain its own interests in the region, according to Malsagne. “Franco-Lebanese relations are not confined to the men in power,” he told Al Jazeera. Since France closed its embassy in Damascus in 2012, Lebanon has served as “an observation post” for France to monitor what’s happening in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Iraq, he explained. France has a long history of mediation in Lebanese political crises, Malsagne said, and its involvement today does not come as a surprise. Joe Macaron, a resident analyst at the Arab Center Washington DC research organisation, said that Hariri is France’s major Sunni ally in Lebanon and the wider Middle East. It is in France’s interests “to make sure that Saad Hariri remains a player in Lebanon’s politics,” Macaron told Al Jazeera. “They have good relations with a lot of Lebanese leaders, but if Hariri doesn’t return to power, whoever replaces him […].....»»

Category: newsSource: mindanaoexaminer mindanaoexaminerNov 16th, 2017

U.S. makes new push for UN Syria chemical weapons probe

UNITED NATIONS – The United States is asking the UN Security Council to set up a new inquiry of chemical weapons attacks in Syria following reports of suspected chlorine use in Eastern Ghouta, according to a draft resolution obtained by Agence France-Presse on Thursday, March 1. The US push to ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsMar 2nd, 2018

8 countries push UN to take up Myanmar Rohingya crisis

UNITED NATIONS – Britain, France, the United States and 5 other countries asked the UN Security Council on Wednesday, February 7, to discuss the fate of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees driven from Myanmar, diplomats said. The council will hold a meeting on Tuesday to hear UN High Commissioner ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsFeb 8th, 2018

Germany seeks way out of crisis after gov’t talks collapse

BERLIN — Germany’s president was to lead a push from Tuesday to save the European Union’s (EU) top economy from the political turmoil sparked by the collapse of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition talks. Frank-Walter Steinmeier — who takes center stage because he can call snap elections — was to use his diplomatic skills as former […] The post Germany seeks way out of crisis after gov’t talks collapse appeared first on BusinessWorld......»»

Category: newsSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsNov 21st, 2017

Busy diplomat Macron gets stuck into Lebanon crisis

PARIS: From global warming to Iran’s nuclear deal, France’s Emmanuel Macron has already intervened in a series of diplomatic quagmires—and now finds himself pursuing an active role in Lebanon’s crisis. He and his ministers have held a flurry of talks with players shaping the turmoil, with Macron jetting to Saudi Arabia last week for surprise [...] The post Busy diplomat Macron gets stuck into Lebanon crisis appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsNov 16th, 2017

Merkel, Macron to front diplomatic push at UN climate talks

BONN, Germany – The leaders of France and Germany will lead a diplomatic charge Wednesday, November 15, to reinvigorate UN climate talks clouded by Washington's rejection of a planet rescue plan backed by the rest of the world. Despite announcing it will withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the United States ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsNov 15th, 2017

North Korea preparing more missile launches, says South – BBC News

South Korea says it has seen indications that the North is preparing more missile launches, possibly an intercontinental ballistic missile. Defence officials have been briefing parliament in Seoul after the North's test of a nuclear bomb at the weekend. The South has responded to the test with live-fire exercises, with both ground- and air-launched rockets. The US has warned that any threat to itself or its allies would be met with a &'8220;massive military response&'8221;. The North says it tested a hydrogen bomb that can fit on to a long-range missile. Pyongyang has repeatedly defied UN sanctions and international pressure by developing nuclear weapons and testing missiles, and the provocations have only intensified. launches, possibly an intercontinental ballistic missile. Defence officials have been briefing parliament in Seoul after the North's test of a nuclear bomb at the weekend. The South has responded to the test with live-fire exercises, with both ground- and air-launched rockets. The US has warned that any threat to itself or its allies would be met with a &'8220;massive military response&'8221;. The North says it tested a hydrogen bomb that can fit on to a long-range missile. Pyongyang has repeatedly defied UN sanctions and international pressure by developing nuclear weapons and testing missiles, and the provocations have only intensified. In the past two months it has conducted intercontinental ballistic missile tests, sending one over mainland Japan into the Pacific Ocean. It has also threatened to fire missiles towards the US Pacific territory of Guam. The United Nations Security Council is to hold an emergency meeting later on Monday to discuss its response. Ahead of that meeting, South Korea and Japan's leaders had agreed to push for a stronger UN resolution on North Korea, said a South Korean presidential palace spokesman. The Security Council last imposed sanctions in August, targeting North Korean exports. Chang Kyung-soo, a defence ministry official, told parliament: &'8220;We have continued to see signs of possibly more ballistic missile launches. We also forecast North Korea could fire an intercontinental ballistic missile.&'8221; The ministry also told parliament the US would seek to deploy a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to seas off the peninsula. It also said there would be more live-fire drills this month, involving Taurus air-to-surface missiles mounted on F-15 jets. Monday's drills by the South simulated the targeting of the Punggye-ri nuclear site in Kilju County, where North Korea carried out its bomb test. &'8220;The training demonstrates the South Korean military's resolve to destroy not only the origin of provocation but also the enemy's leadership and supporting forces if they threaten the security of our people,&'8221; army spokesman Col Roh Jae-cheon is quoted as saying by South Korea's Yonhap news agency. South Korea and the US had also agreed &'8220;in principle&'8221; to revise current guidelines so that the South could double the maximum payload of its ballistic missiles, Yonhap also reported. On Sunday, seismologists started picking up readings of an earth tremor in the area where North Korea had conducted nuclear tests before The US Geological Survey put the tremor at 6.3 magnitude. North Korean state media later confirmed it was no earthquake, claiming it was in fact its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, detonating what it said was a hydrogen bomb that could be loaded on to a long-range missile. Pyongyang then released pictures of leader Kim Jong-un with what state media said was a new type of hydrogen bomb. Officials in China, where the blast was felt as a tremor, said they were carrying out emergency radiation testing along the border with North Korea. &'160; Although experts have urged caution, Sunday's event appears to be the biggest and most successful nuclear test by North Korea to date &'' and the messaging is clear: North Korea wants to demonstrate it knows what makes a credible nuclear warhead. It's become a war of photographs, for a few hours at least. After Sunday's underground nuclear test in the North, the government in the South released images of its own missiles launched at dawn. It's the second time in a week that Seoul has responded with a test bombing run. That's in addition to the show of military might that was on display in its annual exercise with US forces at the end of last month. That enraged Pyongyang, as it does every year, and there are more missiles on the way. South Korea is expected to approve the deployment of the US missile defence system known as Thaad (Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense) &'' an environmental impact report is the final hurdle. But that involves a fourth party. China has criticised the system, claiming it threatens its security. The nuclear test prompted an angry response from US President Donald Trump who denounced the test as &'8220;hostile&'8221; and &'8220;dangerous&'8221;, and called the North a &'8220;rogue nation&'8221;. He added that the US was considering stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea, which relies on China for about 90% of its foreign trade. US Defence Secretary James Mattis later told reporters that while the US would respond to any threat &'8220;with a massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming&'8221;, although they were &'8220;not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea&'8221;. A White House statement also said that Washington would defend itself and its allies &'8220;using the full range of diplomatic, conventional, and nuclear capabilities at our disposal&'8221;. South Korean President Moon Jae-in called the test an &'8220;absurd strategic mistake&'8221; [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsSep 4th, 2017

Bolton says he’s no longer allowed to see Trump – CNN News

A hawkish ally of Donald Trump claims he cannot see the President due to &'8220;staff changes&'8221; at the White House. John Bolton, a former US ambassador to the UN who at one point was a candidate to lead the State Department, claimed in a National Review op-ed published Monday that his plan for the US to exit the Iran nuclear deal had to be presented publicly, because staff changes at the White House have made &'8220;presenting it to President Trump impossible.&'8221; CNN has reached out to the White House for comment. His alleged snubbing is the latest development in the tug-of-war for influence over Trump's White House between firebrands such as Bolton and those who have taken a more moderate approach to foreign policy, such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis. Bolton's op-ed comes days after Sebastian Gorka, who advocated a hawkish stance against terrorism, left his position as a White House adviser. Chief of staff John Kelly, who assumed the role in late July, has been conducting a review of the West Wing that includes assessing individual staffers' portfolios. In a memo drawn up after a July directive from Steve Bannon, the recently ousted White House chief strategist, Bolton pushes for selling the idea of leaving the Iran deal to the public in a &'8220;white paper&'8221; and lays out a strategy for the &'8220;campaign&'8221; and its &'8220;execution.&'8221; Bolton has been frustrated at the rise of more traditional foreign policy thinkers within the White House, such as Mattis and Tillerson, who have favored remaining in the deal. The agreement curbs Iran's nuclear weapons program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. Iran remains under multiple sanctions for terrorism-related activities. &'8220;Trump can and should free America from this execrable deal at the earliest opportunity,&'8221; Bolton writes. Where proponents of the deal, including lawmakers and former Obama administration officials, see the pact as a way to get visibility on Iran's nuclear activities, and, at least for the time being, stop it's nuclear program, Bolton sees only danger. &'8220;The JCPOA is a threat to US national-security interests, growing more serious by the day,&'8221; Bolton writes, though he doesn't offer evidence. &'8220;If the President decides to abrogate the JCPOA, a comprehensive plan must be developed and executed to build domestic and international support for the new policy.&'8221; His memo, he says, fills that function. &'8220;It is only five pages long, but like instant coffee, it can be readily expanded to a comprehensive, 100-page playbook if the administration were to decide to leave the Iran agreement,&'8221; Bolton writes. He adds that there is no need to wait for the next deadline in October, when the US must next certify that Iran is sticking to the deal. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as the JCPOA, was an international agreement hammered out over 20 arduous months of negotiations. China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK, the US, the EU and Iran reached a deal in July 2015 and it was implemented in January 2016. The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency has regular access to nuclear sites inside Iran and verifies that it is implementing its side of the deal; in exchange, the US, UN and EU lifted nuclear related sanctions. Every 90 days, the US president must certify that Iran is keeping up its end of the deal. Trump campaigned against the deal and continues to criticize it, but because Iran is complying, he has certified it twice on the advice of his national security staff. But officials in his administration have clearly been looking for ways to find wiggle room to get out of the deal. Some, like US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, have used the line that Iran is not complying with the &'8220;spirit&'8221; of the deal, pointing to Tehran's activities in the region, including its support for Houthi rebels in Yemen and its backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Bolton says that Trump can bolster his case for abrogating the deal &'8220;by providing new, declassified information on Iran's unacceptable behavior around the world.&'8221; These activities, though, are not part of the JCPOA, deliberately left as a separate issue by the Obama administration and the other international negotiators, who said that to include every single gripe with Iran would make negotiations too unwieldy to resolve. Some proponents of the deal, watching the Trump administration's moves, are already campaigning to keep it. They point to the security consequences of an Iran without constraints on its nuclear weapons program and to the economic fallout as European and Asian firms would likely continue to do business with Tehran while US firms are shut out. &'8220;Accordingly,&'8221; Bolton writes, &'8220;we must explain the grave threat to the US and our allies, particularly Israel.&'8221; But many in Israel's security establishment argue for keeping the deal in place, and making sure its implementation is as rigorous as possible. Bolton makes the case for a four-step campaign that begins with &'8220;early, quiet consultations with key players such as the UK, France, Germany, Israel and Saudi Arabia, to tell them we are going to abrogate the deal based on outright violations and other unacceptable Iranian behavior, and seek their input.&'8221; That would be followed by a detailed white paper that includes declassified intelligence explaining why the deal hurts US security interests; a diplomatic campaign against the deal, especially in Europe and the Middle East; and efforts to sway lawmakers and the [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsAug 30th, 2017

What the Qatar crisis means for Hamas – CNN News

When Palestinian militant group Hamas announced its new charter to the world, it wasn't from Ramallah or Gaza City, but from the Sheraton hotel's gilded Salwa Ballroom in Doha. It was no surprise that Hamas chose Qatar. It's the home of outgoing Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, and much of his senior leadership. &'8220;Qatar is quite important for Hamas,&'8221; said H.A. Hellyer, a senior non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council. &'8220;Qatar provides strong financial aid to the occupied Palestinian territories and is a safe haven for a number of Hamas leaders.&'8221; The recent crisis in the Persian Gulf region is putting that relationship in jeopardy. Earlier this month, nine countries including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed financial embargoes of varying severity. The announcement was the culmination of a feud that had been simmering for years. The nine countries accused Doha of assisting terrorist organizations, providing support for the Muslim Brotherhood and of being far too cozy with Iran. Ironically perhaps, Qatar's relationship with Hamas had not been among the biggest issues dividing the region. Unlike the US, Britain, and Europe, all of which designate Hamas as a terrorist organization, Arab states &'8212; including Qatar &'8212; do not. This was something Qatar's Foreign Minister sought to remind people in an interview with Russia's RT, in response to a call from his Saudi counterpart that Qatar stop supporting Hamas. &'8220;The US views Hamas as a terror organization. But to the rest of the Arab nations, it is a legitimate resistance movement. We do not support Hamas, we support the Palestinian people,&'8221; Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said. &'8220;Hamas' presence [in Doha] is coordinated with the US and the countries in the region, and it's part of our effort to mediate between the Palestinian factions to reach reconciliation.&'8221; For its part, Hamas says it is being squeezed unreasonably. &'8220;The Gulf Countries are pressuring Qatar to cut relations with resistance organizations. This is unacceptable and we refuse this pressure,&'8221; Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoom said in a statement to CNN. &'8220;We are a resistance movement and the whole world is a witness to this.&'8221; Hamas is seen as having been under a series of pressures for the last few years, reflected in some significant internal changes. Last month, a new leader was announced &'8212; Ismail Haniya taking over from long-time leader Meshaal &'8212; at the same time as the militant group issued its new charter. While Israel pointed to the fact the new document continued to espouse violent resistance, and a commitment to the &'8220;rejection of the Zionist entity,&'8221; others observers said the document's description of a Palestinian state with the borders existing on the eve of the Six Day War in 1967 provided evidence of a new moderation. As Hamas rank and file were digesting those changes, so the leadership was suddenly forced to pay careful attention to diplomatic developments. Hellyer sees two main reasons the nine regional allies are turning their attention towards Hamas. &'8220;First, Hamas has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood organization, which puts it in the firing line of Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia,&'8221; Hellyer says. &'8220;But I think this has more to do with a western audience. The Saudi rulers took advantage of Trump's recognition of them as a powerful actor in the region and that might have encouraged them.&'8221; Al Jazeera, based in Qatar, has been a thorn in the side of regional autocrats for years. Qatar's regional influence also comes from support for Islamists, whether it is the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas at one end of the spectrum, or Al Qaeda at the other. Doha has used this sway to negotiate with various groups including the Taliban, as well as to help negotiate ceasefires between Israel and Hamas. In late 2010 and into 2011, Qatar saw its influence throughout the Middle East rise sharply. Al Jazeera, already a thorn in the side of Arab autocrats, reported extensively on the Arab Spring. The Al Jazeera Arabic channel grew additional roots in Egypt after the uprising and election of Mohamed Morsy who hailed from the Muslim Brotherhood. The international community praised the new Egyptian president for bringing a swift end to a war between Gaza militants and Israel that same year. In the long run, though, as it unraveled across the region, the Arab Spring proved to be disastrous for Hamas, which saw the number of countries it could call a friend whittled away. &'8220;Hamas had very strong relations with Syria, Egypt, Qatar, Turkey and Iran,&'8221; says Mustafa Barghouti, an independent Palestinian politician. &'8220;Things have changed over time so they had to diversify relations.&'8221; Before 2012, the Hamas leadership was based out of Damascus. Tensions grew between the militants and the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad as revolution gripped the country. Eventually, Hamas sided with the rebels and cut ties to some extent with Syria, Hezbollah, and Iran. &'8220;Hamas lost a lot in the uprisings,&'8221; says Hellyer. &'8220;This is one of the reasons why Qatar stepped in.&'8221; Qatar, a strong supporter of both the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas, took advantage of the situation. In the fall of 2012, the head of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, visited the Gaza Strip becoming the first world leader to do so under Hamas control. The emir inaugurated projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars. In the vacuum left [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsJun 13th, 2017

West Africa bloc to apply diplomatic solutions to Gambia

ACCRA — The West African regional bloc stands with the people of Gambia and will apply diplomatic solutions to solve the country's political crisis, the body.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJan 8th, 2017

BLOGTABLE: 2018 pre-playoffs predictions

NBA.ph blogtable 1) Which first-round series in the West is most likely to see an upset result (lower seed beating higher seed)? Enzo Flojo: For sure it’s Portland-New Orleans. I love Damian Lillard’s game, but the Pels are a really tough bunch with a lot of weapons, even sans Boogie Cousins. Jusuf Nurkic will have a really tough time containing AD; that’s one reason this has a high potential for an upset! Migs Bustos: The Jazz and Thunder matchup. It's a tale of upward momentum versus inconsistency. The Jazz have won seven out of their last 10 games, and OKC are 5-5 in their last 10. With how the Jazz are playing great team basketball, led by super rookie, Donovan Mitchell, they have a great chance of upsetting the erratic OKC Thunder. If maganda ang gising ng Utah for four games, may tulog ang OKC sa kanila. Marco Benitez: I think the Thunder-Jazz series is the one where most likely we will see an upset. The Thunder experiment of Westbrook-George-Anthony has been up and down all season, while the Jazz are a well-coached team anchored on a great defensive presence in Gobert. The Thunder win if Westbrook dominates the game and Adams is able to neutralize Gobert. But if OKC becomes stagnant on offense and their usual selves defensively, then the Jazz can wreck havoc on this matchup. Favian Pua: Portland Trail Blazers vs. New Orleans Pelicans: In order for the Pelicans to stun the Blazers, Anthony Davis must cement his status as the best player on both ends of the floor throughout the series. A Playoff Rondo sighting paired with the feisty defense of Jrue Holiday should stymie the backcourt attack of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Adrian Dy: If it turns out Kawhi Leonard was just saving himself for a postseason run, then the Spurs would absolutely wreck the Stephen Curry-less Golden State Warriors. Barring such a comeback though, I'm riding high on the Pelicans. The Blazers don't have the bigs to even slow down Davis, and the Jrue Holiday + Playoffs Rajon Rondo combo could make things really tough for Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum 2) Which first-round series in the East is most likely to see an upset result (lower seed beating higher seed)? Enzo Flojo: Don’t look past the veteran-laden Miami Heat. Philadelphia is by far the deeper team, sure, but if Embiid is hampered by his injury and both D-Wade and Goran Dragic have their way, Miami can push the Sixers to the distance and an upset may not be that surprising. Also, coach Spo shines in 7-game series! Migs Bustos: In the East, it's a bit more challenging. We all know about the success of the Sixers this season; no matter what seed Lebron's team is, it will be hard to upset them; the Raptors have been long consistent at the number 1 spot all season. So, the best bet would be the Bucks overthrowing home court advantage. And this is because Kyrie is out of the season. It's just up to Giannis and Co. to take advantage of that disadvantage by the Celtics to pull through. Marco Benitez: The plague of injuries to the Boston Celtics really hurt their chances of contending in the East, much less win a championship this season. Without Kyrie, Marcus Smart, and Gordon Hayward, the Celtics are vulnerable against the Greek Freak-led Bucks, who are long and talented. With that being said, Boston is still an extremely well-coached, albeit young team, and Giannis will have to be the best player on the floor for most of the series for the inconsistent Bucks to pull off the upset. Favian Pua: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat: Though the Sixers are rolling into the playoffs, only J.J. Redick and Marco Belinelli can boast of a legitimate postseason resume. Led by All-Star Goran Dragic, the Heat are an unrelenting unit of two-way veterans who can both muck it up inside and bait opponents into a long-range shootout. Joel Embiid’s uncertain status will force Sixers head coach Brett Brown to find a counter for Hassan Whiteside. Adrian Dy: Though I have the 76ers advancing, it wouldn't surprise me if the Heat shut down Ben Simmons and shut up Joel Embiid. Erik Spoelstra has a knack for getting the best out of his squads, Dwyane Wade could have some clutch moments, and if the aforementioned Embiid doesn't return as soon as expected, South Beach could be singing after round one. 3) Which team that missed the playoffs has the best shot at making it next season? Enzo Flojo: I’d love to say Denver, but their being in the West really makes their window tight. That’s why I’m picking the Detroit Pistons, who have enough talent to make quite a big impact in the East, especially if their big names (e.g. Drummond, Griffin, Jackson) all stay put and stay healthy! Migs Bustos: To be honest, there are not much compelling story lines on teams that barely missed the playoffs this year. There's nothing like one of the most recent examples -- the Heat's 2016-2017 season where they made a late season run but just missed it at .500 (41-41), or how about Phoenix having a winning record at 48-34 in the 2013-2014 season missing out? The 16 teams were more or less 'predicted' to make the postseason this year so there wasn't a big surprise. Marco Benitez: I think a healthy Memphis Grizzlies team, with Conley, Gasol, Parsons and Tyreke Evans (assuming all are still with the Grizzlies next season) will be a lock to make the playoffs after a disappointing 22-60 win-loss record this season that saw a season-ending surgery for Conley happen in late January. Favian Pua: The Denver Nuggets. Nikola Jokic and his ragtag bunch of scorers were an overtime loss away against the Minnesota Timberwolves from getting their first taste of the postseason. To do so, the Nuggets will need to handle their business and take care of bottom-feeders, as it was backbreaking losses to the Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks in March that prevented them from securing an outright playoff berth. Adrian Dy: The Dallas Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki will likely want to go out with a bang, Rick Carlisle is still a really good coach, Dennis Smith Jr. is a fantastic attacking guard, and if the lotto balls bounce the right way, they could return to the upper echelon of the West. 4) Which team that made these playoffs has the biggest chance of missing it next season? Enzo Flojo: It may sound crazy, but the Spurs are at great risk for next season. Kawhi continues to be a huge question mark and their veterans will get even older in 2018-2019. They nearly didn’t make it this year, and next year could be the tipping point! Migs Bustos: I'd have to go with the San Antonio Spurs. No doubt all of the other teams are on the up-swing, and they all boast of youth. If Kahwi does not play for the Spurs next season, expect younger teams with great potential like the Nuggets and Lakers to overtake SAS. Marco Benitez: Depending on what happens in terms of offseason trades, and assuming that the rest of the Western Conference regains full strength next season, the two teams I feel have the biggest chance of missing the playoffs next season are Miami and New Orleans. For Miami, DWade is not getting any younger, and Hassan Whiteside has not been at a consistent All-Star level all season. With Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond getting a full year under their belt in Detroit and Kristaps Porzingis back at full strength in New York, I see Miami as the most likely team to get bumped off in the East next season. For New Orleans, the Davis-Cousins experiment did not necessarily turn them into a legitimate playoff contender in the West, and when Cousins fell to injury, they've had to rely on AD to carry them almost entirely on his shoulders. With the ultra competitive West getting healthier next season, unless the Pels are able to get better on the wings -- assuming of course Cousins doesn't bolt in the offseason -- they may find themselves out of the playoffs. Favian Pua: Cleveland Cavaliers. Hinging on the premise that LeBron James bolts for the Sixers or Los Angeles Lakers in free agency this offseason, the Cavaliers are headed for a massive nosedive towards the number one pick in the 2019 draft. No other team has more to lose than the Cavaliers this postseason, and it is highly probable that winning the title is the only way The King stays in The Land. Adrian Dy: If we get another round of LeBron James free agency sweepstakes, and he winds up getting the Banana Boat Gang together in Houston, it's hard to see the Cleveland Cavaliers being competitive, let alone back in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Should that happen, I'd expect them to trade guys like Kevin Love, and hope that lotto luck favors them anew. 5) Which team is your early favorite to win it all? Enzo Flojo: Despite all the injuries and all their inconsistencies, the Warriors are still my odds-on fave to win it all. They have four big time playoff performers, and they know this is where their real season begins. Migs Bustos: Don't count out the Warriors. Even though they have been plagued with injuries towards the end of the season, the Dubs will hope that they will be healthy in time and turn 'on' the button with their championship experience Marco Benitez: Still the Warriors. Although they'll be without Steph in the first round, I foresee the same dominant Dubs starting the second round all the way to the Finals. The regular season has been a bit of a drag for them this season, and I believe that's why we haven't seen the same Warriors squad as that of past years. But come playoffs, there's no reason why the defending champs don't get locked in; and when they do, frankly, there's still no better team in the league than Golden State. Favian Pua: The Houston Rockets. The playoffs is all about trimming the fat in the roster and letting star power take over in the biggest moments. In James Harden and Chris Paul, the Rockets will always have at least one elite shot creator and facilitator on the court for all 48 minutes. Flanked by capable three-point shooters and wing defenders acquired specifically to neutralize the Golden State Warriors’ juggernaut, Clutch City is on track for its first Larry O’Brien trophy since 1995. Adrian Dy: Yes the defending champions are banged-up and looked uninterested as the regular season wound down, but now that it's winning time, I expect the Warriors to do their thing, although there's no way it'll be as smooth as their 16-1 romp last season......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 14th, 2018

Trump: US, allied strikes in Syria bring heated response

WASHINGTON --- The United States, France and Britain launched military strikes in Syria to punish President Bashar Assad for an apparent chemical attack against civilians and to deter him from doing it again, but also stirred up angry responses from Syria's allies and ignited a debate over whether the attacks were justified. Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced the Friday night raids as aggression that will make the humanitarian crisis in Syria worse and called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations' Security Council. Putin added that the strike had a "destructive influence on the entire system of international relations." Pentagon officials said the attacks targe...Keep on reading: Trump: US, allied strikes in Syria bring heated response.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsApr 14th, 2018

Syria: from chemical attack to retaliatory strikes

LEBANON – The United States, France and Britain launched retaliatory strikes on the Syrian regime a week after an alleged chemical attack on an ex-rebel town, despite warnings from Russia. Here is a recap of a week of high-stakes international drama: 'Toxic gas' On April 7, the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) and Syria's White ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsApr 14th, 2018

Myanmar minister makes landmark visit to Rohingya camp

KUTUPALONG, Bangladesh – A Myanmar minister on Wednesday, April 11, toured one of the Bangladesh camps struggling to provide for some one million Rohingya Muslims, the first such visit since a Myanmar army crackdown sparked a massive refugee crisis. Social welfare minister Win Myat Aye visited the giant Kutupalong refugee camp ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsApr 11th, 2018

Japan FM to voice NKorea concerns in rare Seoul visit

SEOUL: Japan’s foreign minister was in South Korea for a rare visit on Wednesday, armed with a list of issues Tokyo wants to push onto the agenda of a looming summit between North and South Korea. The first such visit in more than two years comes at a time of frenetic diplomatic activity in Northeast [...] The post Japan FM to voice NKorea concerns in rare Seoul visit appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimesRelated NewsApr 11th, 2018

ABS CBN show makes it to International Emmy Kids Awards

ABS-CBN’s Wansapanataym’s “Candy Crush” episode will be competing in the 6th International Emmy Kids Awards, which is slated to happen on April 10 at Cannes, France. The episode features LoisaThe post ABS CBN show makes it to International Emmy Kids Awards appeared first on DZRH News......»»

Category: newsSource:  dzrhnewsRelated NewsApr 10th, 2018

Apple co-founder protests Facebook by shutting down account

  SAN FRANCISCO --- Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is shutting down his Facebook account as the social media giant struggles to cope with the worst privacy crisis in its history. In an email to USA Today, Wozniak says Facebook makes a lot of advertising money from personal details provided by users. He says the "profits are all based on the user's info, but the users get none of the profits back." Wozniak says he'd rather pay for Facebook. He says "Apple makes money off of good products, not off of you." Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify on Capitol Hill on Tuesday and Wednesday about the company's ongoing data-privacy scandal and how it failed to guard agains...Keep on reading: Apple co-founder protests Facebook by shutting down account.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsApr 9th, 2018

Russia promises tough response to U.S. sanctions

MOSCOW, Russia – Moscow on Friday, April 6, promised a "tough response" to new US sanctions imposed on 7 of Russia's most influential oligarchs following the diplomatic crisis sparked by the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal. (READ:  U.S. imposes sanctions on Putin's oligarch allies ) "We will not let the current attack, or any new anti-Russian ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsApr 7th, 2018

U.S. imposes sanctions on Putin s oligarch allies

WASHINGTON, USA – The United States struck President Vladimir Putin's inner circle Friday, April 6, imposing sanctions on 7 of Russia's most influential oligarchs and stoking a diplomatic crisis some have dubbed a new Cold War. Those hit include metals magnate Oleg Deripaska, described as operating for the Russian government, as ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsApr 7th, 2018

Duterte ready to open PH doors to Rohingya refugees

President Duterte's heart goes out to the Rohingya whom he describes as victims of "genocide" in Myanmar and is willing to accept as refugees in the Philippines.   In a speech in Malacaang, Mr. Duterte chided the United Nations for failing to solve the Rohingya crisis.   "That is really genocide, if I may [say] so," he said, adding he would welcome the Rohingya to the country. "Me? We? I'm willing to accept refugees. Rohingyas, yes, I will," he said.   But Europe should accept them as well, he added. Members of the mostly Muslim Rohingya minority are facing persecution and violence from the Myanmar military, and they have been escaping in droves to nearby...Keep on reading: Duterte ready to open PH doors to Rohingya refugees.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsApr 7th, 2018

Russian ex-spy s poisoned daughter says growing stronger

LONDON, United Kingdom – The Russian woman who was poisoned in Britain last month with her former spy father said Thursday, April 5, she was recovering, in her first public statement in a case that has sparked a major diplomatic crisis between Moscow and the West. "I woke up over a ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsApr 6th, 2018