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Desperate and alone, Saudi sisters risk everything

  It was September 6, 2018. The two Saudi sisters were on a family vacation in Colombo, Sri Lanka. For weeks, they had helped their mother organize the trip, feigning

excitement at the possibility of two weeks away from Riyadh, but knowing that if all went to plan, they’d never go back.

  Failure was not an option. Every step of their escape from Saudi Arabia carried the threat of severe punishment or death.

  ”We knew the first time, if it’s not perfect, it will be the last time,” Reem says.

  CNN has changed the sisters’ names and is not showing their faces, at their request for their safety.

  The sisters say years of strict Islamic teaching and physical abuse at home had convinced them that they had no future in a socie

ty that places women under the enforced guardianship of men, and limits their aspirations.

  ”It’s slavery, because whatever the woman will do it’s the business of the male,” Rawan says.

  That’s why they say they renounced Islam.

  And that’s why aged 18 and 20, they stole back their own passports, hid their abayas under the b

edcovers, snuck out of their holiday home and boarded a flight from Colombo to Melbourne, via Hong Kong.

  The Hong Kong stopover was supposed to take less than two hours.

  Two hours has turned into five months.

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The first led to Schalke being awarded a penalty after Ota

  was adjudged to have handled the ball, reversing the referee’s initial decision.

  The near three minute wait for a verdict from VAR caused frustration not only for the players but also supporters inside the stadium.

  A second penalty was then awarded when VAR confirmed the refe

ree’s call to award another penalty, this time for a foul on Salif Sane by Fernandinho.

  ”It’s a penalty. The second one is a penalty too,” Guardiola told BT Sport. “…And the red card can be a red card.

  ”I trust VAR. I have arguments sometimes but not this time. They are both penalties.”

  Senate investigators want to question a Moscow-based American businessman with longsta

nding ties to President Donald Trump after witnesses told them he could shed light on the President’s commercia

l and personal activities in Russia dating back to the 1990s, multiple sources have told CNN.

  The Senate Intelligence Committee, which is probing allegations of Russian interference in

the 2016 elections, has been keen to speak with David Geovanis for several months, the sources say.

  Geovanis helped organize a 1996 trip to Moscow by Trump, who was in the early stages of pursuing what would become a lo

ng-held goal of building a Trump Tower in the Russian capital, according to multiple media reports at the time.

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On one hand, the EU and the US diverge over a number of

For instance, Trump urged NATO members to increase defense expenditures, while the EU is seeking more strategic independence by devel

oping a European army. But with a slowly recovering economy, Central and Eastern European countries are unable to

cover defense expenses and are not as supportive of the EU’s common defense plan as previously expected.

Meanwhile, with France and Germany signing the Aachen Treaty, the two will engage in more in-d

epth cooperation. Considering the continuous threat allegedly posed by Russia and di

vergences within the EU over defense cooperation, the US can provide a security shield for the Central and Ea

stern European region, such as deploying more troops and upgrading equipment which would gain support fro

m regional countries. Currently, these countries are more prone to NATO as the supplier of public security goods.

Besides public security goods, the US also provides the region with institutions and regu

lations facilitating Western democratic freedom. Actually, the US has never stopped its democratic pervasion and assistance. For example, projects fu

nded by the National Endowment for Democracy have spread across Central and Eastern Europe.

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One of the goals of Pompeo’s visit is to rebuild the political

relationship between the US and Central and Eastern Europe. The US will also launch a Future Leaders Ex

change Program, providing one-year academic scholarships for Hungarian high school students to study in the US.

There are many aspects to US strategic return to Central and Eastern Europe. First, the US can

enhance energy cooperation with the region. The regional countries would prefer not to become overly dependent on Russia.

The US has already voiced strong opposition to the energy cooperation between Germany and Russia via the Nord Stream 2 project.

Given that the US is set to become a net energy exporting country in 2020, it could become a major source of energy for Central and Eastern European countries.

Second, the US will strengthen political cooperation with Central and Eastern European countries.

The region has undertaken multifaceted diplomacy, hoping to win more policy initiatives in tod

ay’s volatile geopolitical dynamic. As they receive less political and economic promises from the EU, they are turning to e

xternal powers such as China and Russia. The US wants to get back in as quickly as possible to make up for its absence.

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The UK National Cyber Security Centre has concluded tha

ways to limit the risks from using Huawei in future 5G ultra-fast networks,” according to tw

o people familiar with the matter which has not been made public, The Financial Times reported.

The article comments that the conclusion is “a serious blow to US efforts to persuade

allies to ban the Chinese supplier from high-speed telecommunications systems.”

As a member of the Five Eyes (the anglophone intelligence alliance comprising Austral

ia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US), London may indeed have given a reason for other E

uropean countries to continue using Huawei based on the above conclusion.

Not a single country or organization has found any evidence so far demonstrating that Huawei has illegally collected its device users’ i

nformation. All accusations against Huawei of gathering intelligence for the Chinese government are only ba

sed on imagination. London’s conclusion provides a reliable basis for third parties to dispel such fears.

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The actual reason for flaws in practice is that globalism needs

 unified global political will, which is difficult to find amid large sovereign nations. Hence, there is a huge gap between ideal globalism and its practice. Sovereign states should try to spare room for g

lobalism. Globalization is required by people and cannot be reversed at will. On the other hand, globalization has to take i

nto account the political reality of mass sovereign countries. The goals and agenda need to be limited within the flexible boundary of sovereign nations. Ot

herwise, it would disrupt some countries’ political and economic setup, breeding social antagonism.

In the era of exacerbating confusion, globalization may be not as appealing as before, but it is u

ndesirable to discard globalism, which has boosted the development of global economy and fought

common problems. In a highly connected and almost irreversible world, simply retreating to nationalism will generate nothing but disaster. We can

hold a selective attitude toward globalization. The part of judging from the perspective of strong nations’ i

nterests and submitting to capital is not advisable. The globalization we desire is to serve the interest of all people and

match the political system of sovereign countries. On the whole, what we need is a revised globalization.

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Let’s reap potential of China-Myanmar cooperation

Since Myanmar embarked on its political transition, political elites in the country have championed that peace is the premise for economic and social developme

nt. In the first two years of the government led by National League for Democracy (NLD), Nay Pyi Taw devoted a lot of efforts to promoting national recon

ciliation with the hope of making a major breakthrough and consolidating public support. Regrettably, results are no

t satisfactory. The NLD government is currently locked in a stalemate over national reconciliation.

It has also performed poorly in boosting the economy and improving people’s lives. Main economic indicators suggest that since the N

LD government assumed power, Living standards haven’t substantially improved, and more economic problems have surfaced to plague the c

ountry. One of the main reasons why the NLD lost seats in the 2018 elections is the government’s lackluster economic performance. If the e

conomy doesn’t improve, it will inevitably affect the NLD’s potential for victory in the 2020 election.

Therefore, the NLD government is now attaching increasing importance to economic and live

lihood issues. It has issued a string of policies to attract foreign investment. Take the new Myanmar

Companies Act. Under the law, foreigners are permitted to take up to a 35 percent stake in local companies and bus

inesses with foreign stakes of more than 35 percent will be classified as a foreign company, which facilitates co

operation between foreign investors and local businessmen and will help attract more foreign investment.

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ooperation will bring benefits to the two countries while

conflicts will injure both sides, he added.Xi called China-US ties one of the world’s most important

bilateral relationships, and the two countries have wide common interests a

nd shoulder important responsibilities in safeguarding world peace and promoting global prosperity.

Maintaining the healthy and stable development of the China-US relationship is in line with the fundamen

tal interests of the people of both countries, and it is also the common wish of the international community, Xi said.

Xi mentioned his latest meeting with US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders

Summit in Argentina in December, saying that the two leaders reached important consensuses.

The two countries should promote building stable, cooperative and coordinative Chi

na-US relations, Xi said. The two sides should enhance communication, focus on cooperation a

nd handle disputes to promote economic and trade cooperation, Xi added.

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Five more lunar locations get Chinese nameon Jan

ive more geographical entities on the moon have been given Chinese names, based on discoveri

es from China’s latest Chang’e 4 mission, according to a news conference on Friday.

The China National Space Administration, Chinese Academy of Sciences and International Astronomical Union held a j

oint news conference Friday to announce the five names approved by the IAU on Feb 4.

The landing site of the Chang’e 4 probe is named Statio Tianhe, and three annular pits around the landing site are called Zhin

yu, Hegu and Tianjin. The central peak in the Von Karman Crater is referred to as Mons Tai.

The five places are clearly shown on high-resolution images based on data from the Chang’e 2 and Chang’e 4 missions.

China’s Chang’e 4 probe, launched on Dec 8, landed on the Von Kar

man Crater in the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the far side of the moon on Jan 3.

Tianhe, another name for the galaxy in ancient China, implies that th

e Chang’e 4 probe served as a pioneer in the history of human lunar exploration.

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Japan aims to expand political clout by creating global milit

In April and July, Japan signed the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA), a military logistics pac

t, with Canada and France respectively. The Japanese government will try to get it approved by the National D

iet this year. Canada and France are also advancing domestic procedures for its approval.

The agreement will enable the provision of food, fuel and military supplie

s between Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and French and Canadian armies. Jap

an has also inked ACSAs with the US, the UK, Australia and India. Why did Japan sign such an agreement?

After WWII, especially in the late 1960s when Japan became an economic powerhouse, it was no longer satisfied with its status as a military microstate.

In the mid-1980s, Japan accelerated the pace to push its SDF onto the w

orld stage with the aim of becoming a major political power.

In 1996, Japan signed the ACSA with the US, followed by one with Austr

alia in 2010. After the new security law took effect on March 29, 2016, Japan amended t

he two ACSAs, which enabled more flexible provision of ammunition in wartime between the signatories.

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