It’s the perfect non-committal response for deeply uncertain times.
Read any news report about the not-too-distant future and you’ll likely read two words over and over again. Not “Donald Trump”; not “single market”; not even the legendary “fake news”. No, wherever you look, everyone is “cautiously optimistic”.
You see, “cautious optimism” is all anybody is capable of feeling at the moment. It’s how the US markets are reacting to Donald Trump’s presidency; it’s how Germany’s foreign minister is approaching diplomatic relations with Turkey; it’s a measure of Putin’s faith in a Syrian peace deal; it was even the mood at the midnight launch of Nintendo’s new Switch console, apparently. Brexit Britain is also fertile soil for cautious optimism: the suited boys in the city have been feeling it, as have leaders in the manufacturing industry. Even the Demon Headmaster himself, Chancellor Philip Hammond, exuded it with his latest budget.
Heavy clashes rocked eastern districts of the Syrian capital on Sunday after rebel fighters launched a surprise assault on government forces there, a monitor and state television said.
Steady shelling and sniper fire could be heard across Damascus on Sunday as rebel factions allied with former Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front launched an attack on government positions in the city’s east.
The attack began early on Sunday “with two car bombs and several suicide attackers” on the Jobar district, said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.
CAN WE BREATHE a sigh of relief after federal judges blocked President Donald Trump’s discriminatory executive orders? For a moment we can, but we are just a terrorism attack away from the White House gaining a new pretext for its wrathful crackdown against Muslims and immigrants.
Among the alterations in American politics since Trump’s inauguration, this may be the most frightening one: a terror attack on U.S. soil will be used by the White House as an excuse for implementing an extra-legal agenda that could only be pushed through in a time of crisis. What the courts will not allow today, what protesters will hit the streets to defend tomorrow, what even the pliant Congress would have a hard time backing — the White House is almost certainly counting on all of this changing in the wake of a domestic terrorist attack.
This macabre turn, in which terrorism becomes an opportunity rather than a curse, has ample precedents that tell us one thing: be prepared.
A US diplomat has been forced to leave New Zealand over allegations he was involved in a serious criminal incident in which he had his nose broken and sustained a black eye.
New Zealand police said they were called in the early hours of last Sunday in the community of Lower Hutt, just outside Wellington, where the US embassy is based.
Police said the US diplomat left the scene before officers arrived, and no arrests were made, nor “any person held in police custody”.
The man was protected by diplomatic immunity, which the New Zealand police asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) to waive on 13 March so they could proceed with an investigation.
The ministry agreed to the request because the alleged crime was serious, meaning one which carries a penalty of imprisonment of one year of more.
The ministry appealed to the US embassy to waive the man’s immunity on the same day, but the US government refused, and on Friday MFAT officials requested the diplomat leave New Zealand immediately. It is understood the diplomat has since left the country, although New Zealand police said the investigation was “active”.
According to MFAT, foreign diplomats in New Zealand have immunity from any criminal processes, including investigations and prosecutions. However, the New Zealand government makes it clear foreign diplomatic staff must abide by the law and “waive immunity should MFAT request it if there are allegations of serious crimes”.
TVNZ reported the US diplomat at the centre of the incident was Colin White, a technical attache who works at the US embassy in Wellington alongside his wife. TVNZ reported White had received a broken nose and a black eye during the mysterious incident.
It is believed White was involved in working alongside New Zealand’s spy agency the GCSB, TVNZ reported, although this could not be confirmed.
The former energy secretary Ernest Moniz said on Sunday that he finds “anti-scientific statements” coming from the Trump administration “disturbing”, warning that they disregard dangers to the US and undermine its democracy.
In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, Moniz discussed statements made by Donald Trump and his cabinet appointees dismissing the evidence and dangers of climate change.
“Some of the statements being made about the science, I might say by non-scientists, are really disturbing,” he said, “because, as I said, the evidence is clearly there for taking prudent steps.”
The nuclear physicist, who was appointed energy secretary by Barack Obama in 2013, noted that this was “not just me” but rather 97% of climate scientists around the world who agree that humans have driven global warming since the industrial revolution.