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Xi Jinping meets Orban

Victor Orban and Xi Jinping
© X / PM_ViktorOrban
The Chinese leader has welcomed the Hungarian prime minister to Beijing

Chinese President Xi Jinping has held a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is in Beijing on what he has dubbed a "peacekeeping mission," Xinhua reported on Monday morning.

"China is a key power in creating the conditions for peace in the Russia-Ukraine war. This is why I came to meet with President Xi in Beijing, just two months after his official visit to Budapest," Orban wrote in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

Comment:
From the same source:
7 Jul, 2024 22:47
Orban makes surprise visit to China
The Hungarian PM has landed in Beijing following his visits to Kiev and Moscow last week

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has arrived in China as part of his "peace mission" tour, following meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow and Ukrainian leader Vladimir Zelensky in Kiev.

The Hungarian premier confirmed he is in China with a photo of Deputy Foreign Minister Hua Chunying greeting him at the airport and a brief post on X (formerly Twitter) on Monday morning, saying: "Peace mission 3.0 Beijing."

News of a possible visit to Beijing was first reported by the Hungarian news portal 444, which wrote on Sunday that Orban was "scheduled to arrive in the Asian country at dawn on Monday."

Last week, Orban traveled to Kiev, where he met with Zelensky in an effort to persuade him to consider ceasefire talks with Moscow. The Hungarian PM then embarked on a surprise visit to Moscow, which, according to his office, was part of Orban's "peacekeeping mission."

Orban and Putin engaged in several hours of discussions aimed at finding the "shortest way out" of the conflict in Ukraine. The Hungarian leader, however, admitted that Moscow and Kiev remain "very far apart," noting that Zelensky "didn't like" his proposals much.

Orban's surprise trip to Russia drew criticism in Kiev and among fellow EU leaders, but the Hungarian PM stressed that "establishing contact" is crucial to resolving the conflict, and argued that he does not require an EU mandate to promote peace. Hungary, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, is one of the few bloc members, alongside Slovakia, that maintains neutrality and refuses to send weapons to Ukraine.

The visit to Beijing comes after Hungary canceled "at short notice" a meeting between Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto and his German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock.
See also:
NATO threatening global peace and stability - China
Editorial from Hungary's Orbรกn: The point of NATO is peace, not endless war
Orban's surprise visit to Moscow sparks fury in Brussels: Key takeaways from Hungarian PM's 'peace mission'
Orban visits Moscow: I don't need a mandate to promote peace
Orban urges Russia-Ukraine ceasefire during surprise visit to Kiev, as Hungary assumes EU-presidency

Victor Orban flies directly from China to the NATO Summit in Washington that is held 9 - 11 July. Here there is likely to be a lot of consternation from some members, perhaps also serious questions and attempts to blackmail him, but a few will likely admire his courage and initiative, like the PM of Slovakia: Leader of EU state expresses 'admiration' for Orban's Moscow visit


Bad Guys

Flashback Chuck Schumer's brother Robert works for firm behind Bragg's Trump lawfare

chuck schumer democrat senate corrupt
© Senate Democrats/Flickr/Cropped/ CC By 2.0Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
Following Donald Trump's conviction in Manhattan last week, Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer proclaimed, "The undeniable fact is Donald Trump went through the same legal process that all Americans go through, he was tried according to the facts and the law, and he was found guilty by a jury of his peers."

Nothing could be further from the truth, and Schumer knows it because his brother's law firm, branded the "Biden-Era N.Y. Power Center" by Bloomberg, spurred the indictment of the former president.

Sen. Schumer's brother, Robert Schumer, is a partner in that law firm, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison. As I detailed Monday, Paul, Weiss granted three highly paid attorneys leaves of absence to join the Manhattan district attorney's office in its targeting of Donald Trump. And Alvin Bragg's prosecution of the former president came about only after the intentional leaking of a resignation letter from Mark Pomerantz, one of the Paul, Weiss attorneys on loan to the DA.

Comment: The future fallout for these shady-dealing "lawyers" may be very uncomfortable. This piece was published a month ago. Joe Biden's subsequent debate meltdown and Trump's surge in the polls (one hopes to the point where any attempt to cheat is overwhelmed) may make them sitting ducks in the next Trump administration.


Arrow Up

Iran announces presidential election winner

Masoud
© Vahid Salemi/APMasoud Pezeshkian at a campaign rally in Tehran, Iran, July 3, 2024
Heart surgeon-turned-politician Masoud Pezeshkian will succeed the late Ebrahim Raisi.

Reformist candidate Masoud Pezeshkian has won Iran's presidential election, securing 53.3% of the vote and defeating his conservative rival Saeed Jalili, the national election authority announced on Saturday.

With all ballots counted, Pezeshkian secured 16.4 million votes, while Jalili received 13.5 million votes, Press TV reports. Turnout was 30.5 million, or 49.8% of the 61 million eligible voters, according to a final update at 6:45 am local time (3:15 GMT).

The snap election was called after the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash in Iran's East Azerbaijan Province on May 19. According to Iranian law, a candidate needs to garner at least 50% plus one vote; thus, after no candidate achieved this in the first round on June 28, the election headed into a runoff between the top two candidates.

Pezeshkian, 69, is a heart surgeon-turned-politician who served as health minister in the 2000s and as first deputy speaker of parliament from 2016 to 2020. Jalili, 58, was Tehran's negotiator during nuclear talks with world powers.

Stop

Le Pen pledges to block troop deployment to Ukraine

LePen
© Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket/Getty ImagesFrance's RN party leader Marine Le Pen
The right-wing party National Rally will also prohibit Kiev from using French weaponry on Russian soil.

France's right-wing National Rally (RN) party will block potential troop deployments to Ukraine and bar Kiev from using French-supplied weaponry to strike Russian soil should it emerge victorious in the parliamentary elections and secure the office of prime minister of the country, Marine Le Pen, the former long-time leader of the party, has said.

She made the remarks on Thursday in an interview with CNN ahead of the second round of voting scheduled for Sunday. The final say on the potential deployment of French troops to Ukraine belongs to the prime minister, and the stance of President Emmanuel Macron does not actually matter in such cases, she suggested. Over the past few months, Macron has repeatedly mulled the idea, using increasingly belligerent rhetoric on the Ukrainian conflict.

Le Pen stated:
"If Emmanuel Macron wants to send troops to Ukraine and the prime minister is against it, then there are no troops sent to Ukraine. The prime minister has the final say."
Her party in power would also bar Kiev from using French-supplied weapons to conduct strikes on Russian soil, Le Pen said, arguing that the permission to do so makes Paris "co-belligerent" in the conflict.

Arrow Up

Iran to continue to 'Look East' under new presidency: expert

Pezeshkian
© VCGNewly elected Iranian President Masoud Pezeshkian visits the shrine of the Islamic Republic's founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini Tehran, Iran โ€ข July 6, 2024
Tehran's road to improve ties with West 'not easy'

Iran will continue its "Look East" policy and consolidate its collaboration with both China and Russia, even though the newly elected President Masoud Pezeshkian may put more effort into repairing ties with the West, said a Chinese expert after Iran's "reformist candidate" won the election on Saturday.

"You created an opportunity for Iran and brought back hope and joy to the atmosphere of dissatisfaction, distress, and melancholy in society. I am grateful to all of you," Pezeshkian said during a speech Saturday at the Mausoleum of the late Imam Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, where he pledged allegiance to the ideals of the Islamic Revolution, according to Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

Pezeshkian also thanked Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei for opening up the stage for a more competitive and healthier presidential election, according to IRNA.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday sent a message to Pezeshkian, congratulating him on his election as president of Iran.

Arrow Up

French elections: Former president Franรงois Hollande elected to Parliament

Hollande
© Stephanie Lecocq/ReutersFormer Socialist president Francฬงois Hollande, candidate for the left-wing Nouveau Front Populaire alliance in Correฬ€ze, arrives to vote in the first round of the parliamentary elections, in Tulle โ€ข June 30, 2024
Hollande, who had been president when Macron emerged onto France's political scene, won a majority of votes cast in his constituency, running against both the far-right Rassemblement National candidate and incumbent right-wing MP Francis Dubois.

France's former Socialist president Franรงois Hollande, running under the colors of the left-wing New Front Populaire (NFP) alliance in his old constituency, was elected to the Assemblรฉe Nationale in the second round of parliamentary elections, on Sunday, July 7. With 43.29% of the vote, Hollande beat the far-right Rassemblement National (RN) candidate Maรฏtey Pouget (31.43%) and the incumbent Les Rรฉpublicains (LR, right) MP, backed by President Emmanuel Macron's coalition, Franรงois Dubois (25.28%),who had refused to withdraw his candidacy despite coming third in the first round.

Hollande had come out on top in the first round in the 1st constituency of the central French department of Corrรจze, with 37.63% of votes cast, against the far-right party's candidate (30.89%), and the incumbent right-wing MP (28.64%). His candidacy to become an MP had surprised many, including among the Socialists' leadership.

Comment: Hollande: A standout mentor for 'contemporary' presidents.


Gavel

New law 'pushing Georgia away from EU' - Borrell

Borrell
© Francฬงois Walschaerts/AFPEU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell talks to reporters in Brussels.
Tbilisi adopted legislation earlier this month which tightens the rules on 'foreign agent' transparency.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has warned Georgia that its potential accession to the bloc is in jeopardy after Tbilisi adopted a controversial 'foreign agent' law earlier this month. The US has also indicated it will not hesitate to penalize the former Soviet republic unless it walks back the legislation.

Known officially as the Transparency of Foreign Influence Act and spearheaded by the ruling Georgian Dream party, the law came into force earlier this month despite opposition protests and a veto by President Salome Zourabichvili.

The legislation requires NGOs, media outlets, and individuals who receive more than 20% of their funding from abroad to register as entities "promoting the interests of a foreign power" and to disclose their donors. Those who fail to comply will face fines of up to $9,500.

While opponents of the bill have described it as "Russian" and an attack on democracy, supporters have insisted it is similar to what numerous Western nations, including the US, have in place.

Comment: 'Wrong Think' comes with penalties.


X

US scraps military drills with NATO hopeful

troops
© Vano Shlamov/AFPGeorgian military โ€ข โ€˜Noble Partner 2018โ€™ exercise โ€ข Vaziani training center outside Tbilisi โ€ข August 1, 2018
The indefinite postponement of 'Noble Partner' wargames comes a month after Georgia adopted a controversial 'foreign agent' law.

The US has suspended this year's 'Noble Partner' military exercise with Georgia due to a "comprehensive review" of bilateral relations by Washington. The maneuvers, which have previously involved troops from multiple NATO member states, had been held annually since 2015.

In early June, the legislation - officially known as the Transparency of Foreign Influence Act - came into force, after the ruling Georgian Dream party overrode a veto by President Salome Zourabichvili. The law requires NGOs, media outlets and individuals which receive more than 20% of their funding from abroad to register as entities "promoting the interests of a foreign power" and disclose their donors. Failure to comply will result in a fine of up to $9,500.

Opponents of the bill, who denounce it as an attack on democracy, have held multiple protests. Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze insists the legislation is similar to laws in several Western nations, and is meant to improve transparency.

The adoption of the law drew condemnation from the US and European Union. Washington has announced plans to restrict visas for Georgian politicians who supported the legislation.

Comment: See also:
US postpones military exercise with Georgia, citing 'false' accusations of coup efforts and attempt to open '2nd front against Russia'


Bad Guys

NATO threatening global peace and stability - China

china
© Getty Images / Johannes Neudecker; picture allianceLin Jian, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry
NATO is a threat to global peace and stability because of its "deep-rooted Cold War mentality and ideological bias," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian said on Monday.

Lin was asked by Bloomberg at a daily briefing to comment on recent reports that the US-led military bloc is planning to sign a cooperation agreement with Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand at the upcoming NATO summit in Washington.

The spokesperson responded by stating that NATO is a "product of the Cold War and the world's largest military alliance." Despite claiming to be a regional and defensive organization, the bloc has continued to "expand its power across borders, break through defense zones, and provoke confrontation," Lin added.

Mr. Potato

Staff provides Biden with instructions 'on how to enter and exit a room' with large print and pics ahead of events: report

biden instructions
© Twitter/@_Aaron_NewbornCaption
Staffers for President Biden provide him instructions with large print and photos of venue interiors and his planned path of entry ahead of events the 81-year-old commander-in-chief attends, according to a report.

Documents obtained by Axios on Sunday show how staff help guide Biden โ€” including his specific path to a podium โ€” when he appears at functions. The report comes as the Democrat faces relentless questions about whether he is fit for the Oval Office after an awful debate performance last month against presumptive GOP opponent former President Donald Trump.

"It surprised me that a seasoned political pro like the president would need detailed verbal and visual instructions on how to enter and exit a room," a person who staffed a Biden event in the past 18 months told the outlet.

"I staffed a simple fundraiser at a private residence, but they treated it like it was a NATO summit with his movements," the unidentified staffer also said.