2017 LEFT WORLD LEADERS STUNNED BY TRUMP'S LACK OF DIPLOMACY: “The change in Washington puts the European Union in a difficult situation; with the new administration seeming to put into question the last 70 years of American foreign policy,” Donald Tusk, president of European Union, in a Jan. 31 letter raising concerns about Trump’s “worrying declarations.” “The times in which we could completely depend on others are, to a certain extent, over. I’ve experienced that in the last few days. We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel to an election rally in Munich May 28, alluding to difficulties with Trump after meetings on NATO and the G7 summit. “Make our planet great again,” French President Emmanuel Macron statement June 1 on the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.
RUSSIA BARS PUTIN OPPONENT NAVALNY FROM ELECTION: Russian election officials on Monday formally barred Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny from running for president, prompting calls from him for a boycott of next year's vote. The Central Election Commission decided unanimously that the anti-corruption crusader isn't eligible to run. Navalny is implicitly barred from running for office because of a conviction in a fraud case which has been viewed as political retribution. He could have run if he was given a special dispensation or if his conviction was cancelled. Incumbent Vladimir Putin is set to easily win a fourth term in office in the March 18 election, with his approval ratings topping 80 percent. Navalny, 41 is the most serious challenger that Putin has faced in all his years in power, and the court cases against him have been widely seen as a tool to keep him from running for office.
SYRIAN REBEL GROUPS REJECT PUTIN'S EFFORTS TO TAKE OVER PEACE TALKS: "We reject this, and we affirm that Russia is an aggressor that has committed war crimes against Syrians," the statement signed by 40 rebel groups said. "Russia has not contributed with a single move to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people and it has not pressured the regime it claims it guarantees to move an inch toward any real path toward a resolution." The rebel groups, including Ahrar al-Sham, Army of Islam, and a number of Free Syrian Army groups, said they are committed to the U.N.-led Geneva process, and called on the international community to end the bloodshed, now in its seventh year. Political opposition groups and governing bodies in rebel-held areas have also rejected Russia's proposed talks.
US SLASHES $285 MILLION FROM UNITED NATIONS BUDGET: The U.S. government says it has negotiated a significant cut in the United Nations budget. The U.S. Mission to the United Nations said on Sunday that the U.N.'s 2018-2019 budget would be slashed by over $285 million. The mission said reductions would also be made to the U.N.'s management and support functions. The announcement didn't make clear the entire amount of the budget or specify what effect the cut would have on the U.S. contribution. U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said that the "inefficiency and overspending" of the organization is well-known, and she would not let "the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of." She also said that while the mission was pleased with the results of budget negotiations, it would continue to "look at ways to increase the U.N.'s efficiency? while protecting our interests."
LOCAL GOVERNMENTS IN THE US ARE HELPING EMPLOYEES IMPORT CANADIAN PRESCRIPTION MEDS: In the early 2000s, several states, including Maine and Illinois, briefly maintained websites to help residents buy drugs from Canada. The programs were discontinued, amid opposition from federal authorities, the pharmaceutical industry and GOP politicians. Now, cities, counties and school districts are stepping in. Consumers need a doctor’s prescription just as they would to buy medicine from their local pharmacy. Drugs ordered from overseas often come with the same packaging as in the U.S. CanaRx, based in Windsor, Ontario, and ElectRx, based in Detroit, says it vets the pharmacies (generally in Canada, England and Australia) to ensure customers get the real product. Counties, cities and schools — as well as a growing number of private companies — contract with one of these companies for online service.