BBC 2024-02-12 00:01:53


Nato says Trump comments ‘undermine all of our security’

Donald Trump’s suggestion the US would not protect Nato allies failing to spend enough on defence “undermines all of our security”, the Western military alliance’s chief has said.

Jens Stoltenberg also suggested it put US and European troops at greater risk.

The Republican said he had told allies he would “encourage” Russia to attack any Nato member that failed to meet the alliance’s target of 2% of their GDP.

Members of Nato commit to defend any nation in the bloc that gets attacked.

President Joe Biden called Mr Trump’s comments “appalling and dangerous”, suggesting his predecessor intended to give Russian President Vladimir Putin “a green light for more war and violence”.

Addressing crowds during a rally in South Carolina on Saturday, Mr Trump said he had made his comments about Russia during a previous meeting of leaders of Nato countries.

The former president recalled that the leader of a “big country” had presented a hypothetical situation in which he was not meeting his financial obligations within Nato and had come under attack from Moscow.

He said the leader had asked if the US would come to his country’s aid in that scenario, which prompted him to issue a rebuke.

“I said: ‘You didn’t pay? You’re delinquent?’… ‘No I would not protect you, in fact I would encourage them to do whatever they want. You gotta pay.'”

  • Trump Nato comments: Dangerous talk at a dangerous time

The frontrunner for the Republican nomination for this year’s presidential election did not make clear which nation or leader he was speaking about, or even when this conversation took place.

According to Nato’s own figures for 2023 spending, 19 of its 30 member nations are spending below the target of 2% of their annual GDP on defence – among them Germany, Norway and France.

But most countries which border Ukraine, Russia, or its neighbour and ally Belarus, are exceeding this guideline.

At over 3.9% of its annual GDP, Poland spends even more than the US. Romania, Hungary, Finland and the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia range between 2.3 and 2.7% for defence expenditure.

In a statement on Sunday, Mr Stoltenberg emphasised the alliance remains “ready and able” to defend its members and any attack “will be met with a united and forceful response”.

But he said any suggestion that “allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security”, and suggested Mr Trump’s remarks “put American and European soldiers at increased risk”.

“I expect that regardless of who wins the presidential election the US will remain a strong and committed Nato ally,” he added.

  • What is Nato and which countries are members?

Following Mr Stoltenberg’s comments, US President Joe Biden said: “Donald Trump’s admission that he intends to give Putin a green light for more war and violence, to continue his brutal assault against a free Ukraine, and to expand his aggression to the people of Poland and the Baltic states, [is] appalling and dangerous.”

Nikki Haley, Mr Trump’s only remaining rival for the Republican nomination, warned against taking the side of Russia and Mr Putin – who she described as a “thug who kills his opponents” in an interview with the BBC’s US partner CBS News.

Mr Trump has long been critical of Nato and what he sees as an excessive financial burden on the United States to guarantee the defence of 30 other nations.

Dr Patrick Bury, a defence and security expert and former Nato analyst, told the BBC that Mr Trump was reflecting anger in the US that some European Nato countries were not spending 2% of their budget on the military, as Nato wants.

“Playing hardball with Nato allies is correct, but it all depends on how far you go. These comments are too far, really,” he said.

But he said such statements had an impact at a time when Russia had put its economy onto a war footing and its military spending was outstripping that of European countries.

“If Trump is in the White House and there was a split in Nato either over Ukraine… or about how it would respond to a small incursion that should in theory trigger article five. That’s where the Nato alliance is worried are these what-ifs,” he said.

Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, after Mr Trump left office. He has since bemoaned the amount of US money sent to Ukraine, which is not a Nato member.

The US has provided Ukraine with more financial support than any other country – totalling more than $44bn (£34bn) since the 2022 invasion, according to White House figures from December.

However, Republicans in Congress have since the turn of the year blocked all new funding – demanding tough measures to restrict migration into the US on its southern border, and then refusing the amended bill when it was presented earlier this week.

Mr Trump celebrated that rejection during Saturday’s rally, saying the proposals made by President Biden had been “disastrous”.

The two issues have now been successfully separated, meaning that senators are now able to debate the aid money separately.

Biden says Israel needs Rafah civilian safety plan

US President Joe Biden told Israel’s prime minister a military operation in Rafah should not happen without measures to ensure the safety of civilians, the White House has said.

In a call with Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr Biden said Israel needed a “credible and executable plan” to protect the more than a million people in the city.

Israel is facing growing international warnings over its planned offensive.

Mr Netanyahu has insisted it will go ahead and a plan is being prepared.

The call between the two leaders comes days after Mr Biden suggested Israel’s military operations in Gaza were “over the top”.

It also follows a raft of Israel’s allies, international organisations and regional powers expressing growing concern at suggestions Israeli troops would enter Rafah – which lies on the border with Egypt and is the only open point of entry for humanitarian aid.

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron said “over half of Gaza’s population are sheltering in the area”, while Saudi Arabia warned of “very serious repercussions” if Rafah was stormed.

The United Nations has said there is nowhere safe to go for the 1.5 million Palestinians sheltering in the city in the far south of the Strip.

Many of the people are living in tents in refugee camps, having already been forced to flee their homes elsewhere in Gaza at least once on the orders of the Israeli military.

Meanwhile, the Strip’s Hamas rulers said there could be “tens of thousands” of casualties, warning that any operation would also undermine talks about a possible release of Israeli hostages held in the strip.

The warnings about an escalation of fighting in Rafah came after Mr Netanyahu ordered his military to prepare to evacuate civilians from the city ahead of an expanded offensive against Hamas.

Israel launched its operations in the Palestinian enclave after more than 1,200 people were killed in southern Israel on 7 October by Hamas gunmen, who also took about 240 people hostage.

On Sunday, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said 112 more Palestinians had been killed by the Israeli military over the previous day, bringing the overall death toll to more than 28,100 and more than 67,500 injured.

  • Israel-Gaza war: Death and Israel’s search for ‘total victory’
  • Netanyahu insists on Rafah offensive as warnings mount

In their call on Sunday, the White House said Mr Biden “reaffirmed his view that a military operation in Rafah should not proceed without a credible and executable plan for ensuring the safety of and support for the more than one million people sheltering there”.

He repeated Israel and the US shared goal of seeing Hamas defeated and ensuring Israel’s long-term security, while he also called for “urgent and specific steps” to increase humanitarian aid to civilians trapped in Gaza.

Negotiators working on a deal to secure the release of the remaining hostages held by Hamas in Gaza have made “real progress” over the last few weeks, a senior White House official told Reuters.

The official said this deal was the main focus of the call between the Israeli and US leaders, but they also told the news agency that there were still some significant gaps to close.

Mr Netanyahu rejected Hamas’s proposed ceasefire terms last week.

In an interview with US broadcaster ABC News aired on Sunday, the Israeli PM said “victory is in reach” and the Israeli military were “going to get the remaining Hamas terrorist battalions in Rafah”.

He also said Israel would “provide safe passage” for civilians in the southern city.

When pressed about where they should go, Mr Netanyahu suggested there were “plenty” of areas “that we’ve cleared north of Rafah” and insisted officials were “working out a detailed plan”.

“Those who say that under no circumstances should we enter Rafah are basically saying, ‘Lose the war. Keep Hamas there,'” he added.

The US has already warned Israel that an invasion of Rafah as part of its assault on Gaza would be a “disaster”, while the EU and the UN both expressed their own concerns.

Aid groups say it is not possible to evacuate everyone from the city.

UN humanitarian co-ordinator Jamie McGoldrick, who has just been to Gaza to assess the situation, told the BBC’s Barbara Plett Usher that people in Rafah would have “nowhere to go” if Israeli troops launched their offensive.

“The safe areas that were declared are no longer safe. And if these people have to move – where can they move? We are really fearful of the horrific nature of where we are could only ever get worse,” he said.

In other developments over the weekend:

  • At least six Palestinians were killed in Israeli airstrikes on Rafah, according to Palestinian news agency Wafa
  • On Saturday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said its air force killed two Hamas operatives in the southern city
  • The IDF also said it discovered a tunnel shaft near a school run by the relief agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) that was leading to an “underground terrorist tunnel beneath UNRWA’s main headquarters”
  • UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini denied any knowledge of a Hamas tunnel near the agency’s office – a building which he said his staff vacated months ago
  • A six-year-old girl who went missing in Gaza City last month was found dead with several of her relatives and two paramedics – after appearing to come under fire from Israeli tanks
  • The IDF on Sunday said troops fighting in the southern city of Khan Younis had killed “approximately 100 terrorists”
  • Three patients have died as Israeli troops prevented oxygen from getting to al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis, the Palestine Red Crescent Society has said

The BBC is unable to independently verify many battlefield claims made during the course of the war.

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Super Bowl 58: San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs – live text

A second and 27 becomes a third and 20 and San Francisco almost get it with a short pass to Deebo Samuel who muscles his way to just seven yards short.

They have to punt, but it’s a huge high, hanging one – the chase is good and they pin the Chiefs back on their own 11 yard line.

This will not be a comfortable start for Patrick Mahomes.

Marathon world record holder dies in road accident

The men’s marathon world record holder, Kenya’s Kelvin Kiptum, 24, has died in a road accident in his home country, a Kenyan athletics official has confirmed to the BBC.

He was killed alongside his coach, Rwanda’s Gervais Hakizimana in a car on a road near the town of Eldoret.

Kiptum emerged in 2023 as a rival to his compatriot Eliud Kipchoge.

He broke Kipchoge’s world record in Chicago last October, running the 26.1 miles in two hours and 35 seconds.

Just last week, his team announced that he would attempt to run the distance in under two hours at the Rotterdam marathon – a feat that has never been achieved in open competition.

Kenya’s opposition leader and former prime minister, Raila Odinga, said on X that the country had lost “a true hero” and was mourning “a remarkable individual… and Kenyan athletics icon”.

Paying tribute to the young man, Sebastian Coe, the president of World Athletics, described Kiptum as “an incredible athlete leaving an incredible legacy, we will miss him dearly”.

The rise to fame for the father-of-two had been rapid – he only ran his first full marathon in 2022.

He competed in his first major competition four years earlier running in borrowed shoes as he could not afford a pair of his own.

He was among a new crop of Kenyan athletes who began their careers on the road, breaking away from the past tradition of athletes starting on the track before switching to longer distances.

Kiptum told the BBC last year that his unusual choice was simply determined by a lack of resources.

“I had no money to travel to track sessions,” he explained.

Six expert food picks in San Francisco’s Chinatown

San Francisco Chronicle food critic MacKenzie Chung Fegan heads on a food tour of Chinatown, from splurging at Mister Jiu’s to mooncakes at Garden Bakery for Lunar New Year or anytime.
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San Francisco can’t help but charm visitors and locals alike with its rolling hills, candy-coloured Victorian homes and diverse neighbourhoods. Its Chinatown is the US’ oldest, dating to 1848. Today, its iconic jade green tiled Dragon Gate signals both a classic San Francisco photo op and the gateway to some of the best food in the city.

We spoke to MacKenzie Chung Fegan – the lead food critic for the San Francisco Chronicle – to get her insider take on where to eat – and drink – in San Francisco’s Chinatown. “One of the things I like about Chinatown is that it is, of course, very touristy, but it’s also where Chinese people go to shop,” said Fegan. “Stockton Street is kind of a main thoroughfare; there’s a lot of vegetable markets or fish markets, and you’ll see both aunties doing their shopping for the week but also people from restaurants going early in the morning and to make sure that they’re getting the best produce. It’s a living, breathing Chinatown.”

Opened in 2022, the Chinatown-Rose Pak MUNI station at the corner of Stockton Street makes it easier than ever to explore this bustling neighbourhood. “I think wandering is the best way to explore Chinatown,” said Fegan. “Because you literally will round a corner and be, like, wow, I’m hit with the smell of garlic, or the smell of fresh baked pineapple buns. Just go into any place that looks good, that smells good, that has a line of people outside. That’s generally how I do it.”

To narrow it down, here are six of Mackenzie Chung Fegan’s tasty picks for your next visit to San Francisco’s Chinatown.

At San Francisco’s Garden Bakery, you’ll find a classic Chinatown bakery atmosphere where delicious mooncakes are on offer year-round (Credit: hana/Alamy)

1. Best mooncakes: Garden Bakery

Start your Chinatown visit with a stop at a bakery, to choose from rows of beautifully moulded sweets and breads, like Fegan’s pick, neighbourhood stalwart Garden Bakery

“It’s a hole in the wall bakery,” she said. “You’re gonna find old timers with paper coffee cups sitting at no frills tables…. everything’s very reasonably priced.”

While Garden Bakery rolls out an array of Chinese sweets, Fegan likes it for its mooncakes. The intricately designed filled cakes are most often consumed for the Mid- Autumn festival – the second largest holiday in China after Lunar New Year – but customers will find them year-round here.

“Mooncakes are very traditional, but they can be dry,” observed Fegan. “They can be not that delicious, but I think Garden Bakery’s are very good. Their red bean mooncake in particular is a favourite. They’re pressed, they don’t use moulds. They use a pneumatic press now but they’re very intricate, beautiful to behold and quite tasty as well.”

Fegan also enjoys the bakery’s pineapple buns – fluffy large buns with a characteristic cracked custard top. “You can get pineapple buns for $1 [.80p] – a great deal,” said Fegan. “… and they do they do mini mooncakes as well for, like, $3.50 [£2.75]. So those are a lower commitment way to sample a traditional mooncake.”

Website: https://www.gardenbakerysf.com/Address: 765 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133
Phone: +1 (415) 397-5838
Instagram: @gardenbakerysf

When you want delicious wonton soup and have time to spare, head to the iconic Hon’s Wun-Tun House, now with two locations (Credit: Picturamic/Alamy Stock Photo)

2. Best quick lunch worth standing in line for: Hon’s Wun-Tun House

Few things comfort the soul like a steaming bowl of Hong Kong-style wonton soup, and the line outside the legendary Hon’s Wun-Tun House proves it.

“Hon’s Wun-Tun House is a favourite,” said Fegan of the vintage eatery, which opened on Kearny Street in 1972. “You’ll see people line up there around lunchtime. The vibe is very serviceable. You’re going in for a fast lunch, you’re probably taking things to go. It’s pretty bare bones. It’s nothing fancy on the inside.”

And yet, Hon’s Wun-Tun House is so popular that it opened a second location in 2023 – and this one has a line snaking outside, too. The menu offers a large variety of noodle and dumpling soups, but the wonton soup with its freshly made wontons and delicate noodles remains the star. “Yeah, the wonton soup is the is the thing to get here for sure,” said Fegan.

Website: http://www.honswuntunhouse.com/Address: 648 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94108
Phone: +1 (415) 433-3966
Facebook: HON’S WUN-TUN HOUSE

Come to Chinatown for the food, stay for the view when you dine at Empress by Boon, which boasts an incredible panorama of the city (Credit: Jean Bai)

3. Best view: Empress by Boon

San Francisco’s Chinatown is full of interesting nooks and details at street level, but to take it all in at once, Fegan likes Empress by Boon, Michelin-starred Chef Ho Chee Boon‘s namesake restaurant on the sixth floor of the historical Empress of China banquet hall.

“It’s fine dining. It’s a five-course set menu,” said Fegan. “It’s kind of over the top because the music’s clubby, but the food is good. The view is really what sets it apart. You can look out over Chinatown, and you can see the streets all lit up with the red lanterns… And then you have a view of Coit Tower into the distance, so you can see Chinatown all the way up into North Beach and then Coit Tower lit up on the hill.”

Empress by Boon’s set menu features elegant yet approachable modern Cantonese dishes, like crispy pumpkin puffs and braised squab breast. “They do a dish that I thought was excellent,” said Fegan. “It’s one shrimp dumpling and one squid dumpling and it comes in a hot sour broth… the shrimp [dumpling] looks like a koi fish and the squid looks like a tiny squid. [It’s] artful the way that they have shaped these dumplings to look like a squid and koi fish swimming in the broth.”

Website: http://www.theempresssf.com/Address: 838 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94108
Phone: +1 (415) 757-0728
Instagram: @empressbyboon

When you’re eating with a crowd, head to a dim sum restaurant like City View Restaurant on Walter U. Lum Place (Credit: Giuseppe Lombardo/Alamy Stock Photo)

4. Best for groups: City View Restaurant

When visiting Chinatown with a hungry group, Fegan recommends stopping for dim sum – its endless bevvy of small plates made for sharing. “You want to be able to try a bunch of things, and so if you go with a group, you can try most of the menu and not feel like you’re missing out,” she explained. One of her San Francisco Chinatown group-friendly dim sum picks is City View Restaurant.

“Everything’s delicious,” she said. “They have char sieu bao (barbecue pork steamed buns). Often it’s served as steamed buns, but these are big with a little crackly topping and they’re really good.”

City View Restaurant is a long-time San Francisco Chinatown favourite, and in April of 2023, moved from its historical 662 Commercial Street address to a new spot on the ground floor of 33 Walter U. Lum Place. It’s still serving a robust menu of Cantonese dim sum favourites, from savoury chicken feet to delicate shrimp-filled har gow dumplings to fluffy stuffed bao steamed buns.

“This is a place that’s painful to go to with only one other person or solo,” said Fegan.

Website: https://cityviewdimsum.com/Address: 33 Walter U. Lum Pl, San Francisco, CA 94108
Phone: +1 (415) 398-2838
Instagram: @cityviewdimsum

Chef Brandon Jew’s Waverly Place restaurant has a Michelin star and some of the most elegant fare in the neighbourhood (Credit: Pete Lee)

5. Best splurge: Mister Jiu’s

Chinatowns serve some of the most delicious food at low prices, but if you’re in the mood to splurge, head to Fegan’s pick: Mister Jiu’s, Chef Brandon Jew‘s elegant Michelin-starred Waverly Place eatery. “It’s expensive. It’s fancy,” said Fegan, of the restaurant’s seasonal Cantonese-inspired fare. “But the food is delicious. It’s creative. It is modern and tradition fused together.”

Fegan, who is a staunch advocate of supporting local businesses and Chinatown’s new wave, noted that Chef Jew is part of San Francisco Chinatown’s latest generation of chefs.

“His family’s from Chinatown, but he himself is a trained chef,” said Fegan. “He’s cooked at some fancy places, and he wanted to come back home and open up a restaurant in his community, [and] people who have cooked at his restaurant have gone on to open their own things. One example is his former pastry chef Melissa Chow, who has a bakery down downstairs on the weekend. It’s called Grand Opening. You can pre-order [online], and on Saturdays and Sundays she sells her pastries downstairs for Mister Jiu’s.”

Mister Jiu’s currently offers a modern banquet-style tasting menu, with a mix of seasonally inspired communal and individual dishes, frequently featuring an elegant spin on whole Peking duck.

“People are coming to celebrate,” said Fegan. “A lot of people have waited a long time for this reservation.”

Website: https://www.misterjius.com/Address: 28 Waverly Pl, San Francisco, CA 94108
Phone: +1 (415) 857-9688
Instagram: @misterjius

Head to the iconic Li Po Cocktail Lounge on Grant Avenue and try one of their signature Chinese Mai Tais (Credit: AGF Srl/Alamy Stock Photo)

6. Best dive bar: Li Po Cocktail Lounge 

Cap off the evening by visiting another old school Chinatown establishment: the Li Po Cocktail Lounge. “It’s been open since 1937,” said Fegan of the historic dive bar on Grant Avenue. “The outside has a neon sign. It’s very atmospheric.”

She noted that the regulars haunting the cave-like red-lit bar aren’t locals – “You’ll see a lot of tourists and people coming from other neighbourhoods. The clientele is not Chinese by and large. But the servers are, the bartenders are, and you can get a shot of baijiu (Chinese liquor) and a beer, and they also are famous for their Chinese Mai Tai.”

The numbingly sweet “Chinese” Mai Tai at Li Po Cocktail Lounge – made with Chinese wine as its special ingredient as well as rum and pineapple juice – was invented by the bar’s current owner Kenneth Lee and is notoriously powerful. “[Li Po is] such a vibe,” said Fegan. “It’s such a great atmosphere. It’s just a very old school dive bar and worth a stop. Or at least worth poking your head in. “

Address: 916 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94108
Phone: +1 (415) 982-0072
Instagram: @lipo_lounge

BBC Travel’s The SpeciaList is a series of guides to popular and emerging destinations around the world, as seen through the eyes of local experts and tastemakers.

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