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Foreign Policy Tag

In what amounts to a significant policy shift, Indian public sector companies are bidding for Israeli offshore oil and gas fields. A consortium led by India's state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is seeking drilling rights in 24 offshore blocks in Israel’s Mediterranean waters, Indian and Israeli newspapers reported on Wednesday. Last month, India's Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan indicated his country's intention to bid for Israeli oil-and-gas blocks. According to Israeli media reports, a high-ranking Indian delegation visited Israel in September "to discuss taking part in the tender for blocks in the Mediterranean Sea and Israeli officials said they were pleased with the visit."

Combatting Islamist terror was high on the agenda when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the White House on his first official visit since President Donald Trump took office. "We are both determined to destroy terrorist organizations and the radical ideology that drives them. We will destroy radical Islamic terrorism," President Trump said in his joint statement with the Indian Prime Minister at the Rose Garden. "We discussed the serious challenges of terrorism, extremism, and radicalisation, which are the major challenges facing the world today.  And we have agreed to enhance our cooperation in fighting against these scourges," Prime Minister Modi said.

Donald Trump and First Lady Melania are set to visit Israel with Ivanka and husband Jared Kushner later this month as part of a three stop tour of the Middle East. A massive effort for increased security is already underway in Israel. The Times of Israel reports:
Frenetic preparations underway for Trump’s Israel visit A delegation from the White House and Central Intelligence Agency is heading to Israel to plan US President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel amid reports it plans to turn Jerusalem’s iconic King David hotel into a virtual fortress.

Professor Jacobson has covered the Democrat's futile attempt to mount an electoral college insurrection in the hopes of turning over the results of the recent presidential election. Monday morning, establishment media outlets along with a bevy of Democrats decided Russia was to blame for Hillary's embarrassing electoral loss. The sudden, unified chorus was an amusing sight to behold. I blogged:
The Russian hacking/tainted election story line is a particularly fascinating coping mechanism in leftist elite circles.

Google and Cuba finalized their deal to bring servers to the Communist island to allow high speed internet for users. The Wall Street Journal reported:
Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt signed an agreement in Havana on Monday with Cuba’s state telecommunications company, La Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba SA, concluding months of talks. The Google servers in Cuba will store content such as popular YouTube videos, allowing the content to be delivered more quickly to Cuban users. The move is the latest to improve internet access for the country of 11.2 million people, which has long been one of the world’s most isolated nations.

With Israel's President Reuven Rivlin touring India on an 8-day visit, Ariel University is taking this historic opportunity to connect with Indian universities and tap into South Asian country's huge talent pool. Professor Yehuda Danon, President of Ariel University, is accompanying the presidential delegation, along with fifteen other heads of Israeli universities. Along with student and faculty exchange programmes, Ariel University hopes to set up a joint research fund aimed at promoting research projects with India counterparts. Ariel University, located in Samaria hills, is already home to many Indian research scholars, working mainly in industrial and technological fields. During my visit to Israel, earlier this year, I met few of the doctoral students from India and learned about the path-breaking work they were doing in collaboration with their Israeli teammates.

The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) continues to take advantage of the migrant issue by blending their fighters and shipping them through Europe. Smuggler Abu Walid told CNN that ISIS has contacted people in his business in Libya in the past two months, offering up to $40,000 for 25 people. Libyan officials told the new outlet they have found ISIS members attempting to sneak into Europe disguised as migrants seeking a better life:
A senior Libyan military intelligence official in Misrata, Ismail Shukri, said that ISIS militants sought to disguise themselves by traveling with "their families, without weapons, as normal illegal immigrants." "They will wear American dress and have English language papers so they cause no suspicion."

The Afghanistan government confirmed a U.S. drone killed Taliban leader Mullah Mansoor in Pakistan. The U.S. Department of Defense said the government targeted the leader "while travelling in convoy near the town of Ahmad Wal." From The Guardian:
The US secretary of state, John Kerry, speaking in Myanmar on Sunday, said Mansoor “posed a continuing imminent threat to US personnel in Afghanistan, Afghan civilians, Afghan security forces” and members of the US and Nato coalition. He said the air strike on Mansoor sent “a clear message to the world that we will continue to stand with our Afghan partners”. “Peace is what we want. Mansoor was a threat to that effort,” Kerry said. “He also was directly opposed to peace negotiations and to the reconciliation process. It is time for Afghans to stop fighting and to start building a real future together.”

The White House said people should not view President Barack Obama's visit to Hiroshima, Japan, as an apology after they announced he will become the first sitting president to visit the city since the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on it in 1945. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that if anyone does "interpret it that way, they'll be interpreting it wrongly." Wrongly? So Obama won't say the word "apologize," but is it effectively an apology?

The Zika virus has forced the Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) to move the Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins series from Puerto Rico to Miami. Several players voiced their concerns over the virus, which led the union to ask Commissioner Rob Manfred to move the series. MLB scheduled the games on May 30 and 31. "The Pirates are disappointed that we will not be playing in San Juan this season," stated the team. "We very much looked forward to this opportunity. However, the health and safety of our traveling party must be and is our first priority. As a result, the Pirates fully support the decision by the Commissioner and the Players Association to postpone the trip to San Juan."

Cuba has received their first U.S. cruise ship in the last 38 years as the two countries relax their tense relationship. Carnival's Adonia landed at Havana Bay with 700 passengers at 9:30AM Eastern time. It will also make stops at Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. The ship included Cuban passengers who escaped the Communist regime under Fidel Castro. "I'm just thinking of that day when we left (Cuba) and shaking like a leaf," said passenger Ana Garcia. She left the island 48 years ago. "I'm blessed to be here today and hoping for a better tomorrow for Cuba and my Cuban brothers and sisters," she continued.

Theodor Herzl, founder of modern Zionism, the movement that led to the creation of Israel, wrote in 1902, “Once I have witnessed the redemption of the Jews, my people, I wish also to assist in the redemption of the Africans.” Today, the State of Israel is fulfilling Herzl's dream in the continent of Africa. The chief architect of Israel’s Africa Policy, Prime Minister Golda Meir regarded Israel's support for Africa as a “Jewish imperative”. Since 1950s, Israel has been involved in areas like agriculture, water management, higher education, vocational training, healthcare and industrial development in several African countries such as Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Nigeria. Now the Jewish State is seeking to renew its historic bond with the African continent.

Flanked by members of the national security team Wednesday, President Obama briefly addressed the current state of homeland security. The President assured the American people that, "no specific and credible," intelligence indicated a looming, "attack on the homeland” for the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend. For the first time in weeks, Republicans and their alleged terrorist abetting were not central to the President's public comments.

Earlier today, Turkey shot down a Russian fighter plane after repeated warnings.
According to the Turkish military, officials warned “an unidentified aircraft” ten times over the course of five minutes that its path would violate Turkish airspace over the border town of Yayladagi, in Hatay province. A spokesman for U.S. officials leading the coalition from Baghdad confirmed that his team heard Turkish officials give those warnings over “open channels.” NATO called an emergency meeting today to address rapidly escalating tensions between Turkey and Russia, where Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stood in solidarity with Turkey.
According to The Telegraph, Obama spoke with the Turkish president who's said they're working to avoid any repeats of todays events:
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, has spoken to Barack Obama by telephone. The Turkish presidency said: "They were in accord on the importance of de-escalating tensions and making arrangements to prevent a repeat of such incidents." They also expressed their commitment to a bringing about a transitional political process for peace in Syria and joint determination to continue the fight against Isil, the statement added.
Shortly after news of the skirmish broke, Senator Rubio joined Fox News and was asked how the U.S. should respond. Rubio explained that if Turkey finds itself threatened by Russia, the U.S. must respond and defend the Turks.

President Obama's approval ratings may be circling the drain, but a new Gallup poll released today shows that they're slightly less terrible than usual. Small miracles? American approval of Obama's handling of health care and the economy just clocked in at 44%, which represents a three-year high in both categories. The last time Obama did this well in the polls, he had just been elected to his second term; back then, an anemic 44% still represented a significant boost over the President's first term numbers. Gallup explains the trend:
Americans have not been as approving of Obama's performance on the economy since November 2012, just after the president was re-elected to a second term. The 44% he received then was similar to the 45% right before Election Day. Both scores were major improvements from the sub-40% ratings he'd received during much of his first term -- including a record low of 26% in August 2011 after contentious negotiations with Congress to raise the debt limit. Obama's best marks on the economy -- between 55% and 59% -- came during his first few months in office. Over the past three years, Obama's economic approval rating has fluctuated, reaching a low of 33% in 2014.