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London (CNN)This past week, on US President Donald Trump's watch Russia and China have effectively re-aligned the coming world order. They didn't do it together, but both took advantage of uncertainty and unpredictability that Trump has helped create.

It's far from clear that the next US President will be able to roll back the consequences of this week, which leave both Presidents Vladimir Putin in Moscow and Xi Jinping in Beijing more decisively in control of their own countries and more able to act assertively.
In other words, Trump has made an indelible mark on the world -- and it may not be for the good.
    It is no coincidence that Putin and Xi have cemented their grip on cherished goals, as the clock runs down on Trump's first, and possibly only, term in office.This past week, in a referendum on constitutional revisions so predictable that copies were on sale before the vote, Putin has effectively been made President for life, as Xi has moved equally ruthlessly, taking control of Hong Kong through a new national security law, while telling US allies Canada, Australia and the UK to keep out of China's internal affairs.Read MoreRiot police are seen in front of a burning road block during a protest against the new national security law on July 1, 2020, in Hong Kong. Both seem to be of the view the US has neither the will nor the consistency to put up resistance. Indeed, Trump's White House gave evidence of exactly that this week, floundering for a coherent response to allegations Russia paid the Taliban to kill US forces in Afghanistan. The Russian Embassy in Washington and the Taliban have both denied the claims.As David Ignatius wrote in The Washington Post this week, Putin "is in the payback business. He believes the United States destroyed his former country, the Soviet Union. He likes the United States to feel pain." He now has plenty of years for more payback.According to White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews: "President Trump is a world-class negotiator who has consistently furthered America's interests on the world stage."Former senior US officials provided CNN contributor Carl Bernstein with a very different take. They thought Trump "delusional" about his ability to bend other leaders to his agenda, believing he could "either charm, jawbone or bully almost any foreign leader into capitulating to his will."Ballots are counted at a polling station in Moscow on July 1, 2020, after a nationwide constitutional referendum. But Putin "just outplays him," said one of Bernstein's sources. Trump's "fawning over authoritarian strongmen, his ignorance of history and lack of preparation" jeopardized US national security, Bernstein was told.Whether it's Putin's payback or Xi's decision to violate and chip away at the Hong Kong agreement signed with the UK in 1984, both leaders appear to see opportunities.Go back three years. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dropped into the Oval Office the day after Trump fired James Comey as FBI director. Comey was overseeing the investigation into allegations of Russian election meddling. An official Russian photographer caught the bonhomie, as Trump told his visitors: "I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job."Two months later, Trump met Putin -- alone -- on the margins of the G20 summit. The White House trumpeted the encounter as a success, highlighting a new ceasefire deal in Syria. The Russians cynically used the deal to freeze the conflict, allowing the Assad regime backed by Russia to pick off rebel-held areas one-by-one.Cracks in the Trump-Europe relationship are turning into a chasmTrump could have protested, ripped up the deal, forged a new US policy on Syria that would have crimped Russia's growing influence in the Middle East. Instead he bought the lie.It would be a recurring theme. Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton recalls in his new book "The Room Where It Happened" Trump's 2018 meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Finland."Putin had to be laughing uproariously at what he had gotten away with," writes Bolton, after Trump accepted Putin's assurances there had been no Russian interference in the 2016 US campaign.So fast forward to this year as Putin, in power for 20 years, needed a constitutional fix to hold on for longer. He appears to calculate that despite tightened US sanctions over his invasion of Ukraine, and the poisoning of exiled former agent Sergei Skripal in the UK, Trump won't push back for what he does at home.He was right. He is now effectively President for life, hoping to emulate Soviet leaders by stepping down only into his grave.Xi's experience with Trump has been different. Tangled in a trade war, he has had to calculate Trump's real intent: on money, human rights issues, such as the Uyghurs or Hong Kong, and simply stopping the rise of the world's next superpower.Protesters hold five fingers up in Hong Kong to signal their five demands against the new national security law on July 1, 2020. At a large and raucous Beijing business dinner two years ago, I sat next to a former Chinese ambassador. The trade war was just beginning to ramp up, but tariffs on solar panels, washing machines, steel, soybeans and aluminum were already biting into China's bottom line.The diplomat, who had spent many years in Europe, told me in very precise terms that Trump was intentionally preventing China taking its rightful place in the world as a high-tech advanced economy.I can be sure of what he'd say now as the Trump administration tries to persuade allies not to allow Huawei's 5G technology into their digital bloodstream.But those allies are less willing to say no, partly because of China's commercial power but also because their relationships with the US have frayed.Only this week German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who Bernstein's sources say was berated by Trump in phone calls, appeared to reject Trump's China tactics, saying "only together can the 27 EU member countries have enough weight to achieve ambitious deals with China."While Trump has been applauded for confronting China on its trade policies, commercial espionage and intellectual property theft, his tactics face heavy criticism. The Russian President Vladimir Putin extends a Victory Day military parade in Moscow, Russia, on June 24, 2020. In an analysis for The Council on Foreign Relations, Robert Blackwill wrote: "Now the challenge for the president and his successors is to persuade Beijing, through enhanced US power projection, more able alliances, and adroit diplomacy, that the United States will grow ever stronger in Asia and, with its allies and friends, will robustly confront destabilizing Chinese actions."All of this will have been in Xi's calculations about Trump, whether he is an existential threat to China's rise to be the world's superpower, or a prelude to a smarter adversary with the same goal.Hong Kong protest leader Nathan Law pledges to fight for democracy in exile after fleeing cityXi appears to have hedged toward the latter, choosing to act now against Hong Kong's determined pro-democracy movement, and pushing the narrative that the West is behind it, before it became a real thorn in his side.
      Hong Kong's new National Security Law, promulgated in Beijing this week and immediately enforced on the territory's streets, is a game changer. According to the UK, it breaks the 1984 joint Sino-British declaration of one country-two systems.The question historians may well debate in the future is not whether Trump's presidency affected Putin's and Xi's decisions but by how much his delusions changed the world in their favor.

      News Source: CNN

      Tags: new national security

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      Just how safe are electric bikes? Their popularity has soared during lockdown. But as Simon Cowell suffers a calamity after not reading the instructions for his new 60mph toy, HARRY WALLOP examines the potential pitfalls of the latest travel fad

      The SWIND EB-01 is one of the most powerful electric bikes on the planet, with top speeds of more than 60mph. Indeed, it’s got so much va-va-voom that it wouldn’t be allowed on British roads, where the top legal speed for e-bikes is a stately 15.5mph.

      But this does go some way towards explaining how Simon Cowell ended up with his back broken in three places at the weekend after falling off his new toy.

      It has been claimed the ‘impact missed his spinal cord by about a centimetre’, a factor that spelled the difference between life in a wheelchair and the ability to walk again.

      But this does go some way towards explaining how Simon Cowell (pictured) ended up with his back broken in three places at the weekend after falling off his new toy

      ‘Some good advice. If you buy an electric trail bike, read the manual before you ride it for the first time,’ the Britain’s Got Talent and X Factor supremo tweeted after emerging from a six-hour operation on Sunday.

      That advice would presumably have said do not twist the handlebar accelerator too sharply when you are dealing with a motor that generates as much torque in the rear wheel as the Swind’s does.

      Cowell was trying out his new £16,500 (before tax) e-bike in front of his son Eric, six, and his partner Lauren Silverman’s son Adam, 14, in the courtyard of his Malibu mansion when he came a cropper. It was an accident waiting to happen.

      In a 2017 interview with the Mail, Cowell admitted to having had a few ‘close shaves’ on his electric bikes after splashing out £60,000 on seven of the vehicles in recent years.

      In the past, he has owned an M1 Sporttechnik Spitzing and, later, switched to a Haibike Xduro — tellingly, both had a top speed of 15.5mph.

      His new baby is in a different league. As the manufacturer says: ‘This is the most technically advanced and powerful electric bicycle on the market.’

      Alongside Cowell, British celebrity fans of high-performance e-bikes include screen tough guy and his Malibu neighbour Jason Statham.

      Electric dreams singer Miley Cyrus looks on trend in LA with a Pedego in 2012 

      Biker chic actress Blake Lively on a Stromer in New York in 2011

      Nice at-tyre: Actress Kate Hudson wearing flip-flops while riding a Mate X e-bike in Malibu 

      But while Statham is never seen without a helmet when out and about, Cowell has historically taken a more devil-may-care attitude to health and safety, with fans observing that he not only often goes without a helmet but has even been seen riding in flip-flops.

      Which brings us to accident rates. It is no surprise to hear that as sales of e-bikes in the U.S. have rocketed — up 90 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2020, according to one analyst — so the number of accidents associated with them has risen, too.

      A study published in December last year revealed that there were 3,075 e-bike injuries in the U.S. between 2000 and 2017.

      It also found that people riding e-bikes were more likely to suffer internal injuries and be hospitalised compared to either e-scooter users or traditional cyclists.

      E-bike injuries were also more than three times as likely to involve a collision with a pedestrian, the researchers reported in the U.S. journal Injury Prevention. It did not mention any e-bike-related deaths, however.

      In Britain, e-bike sales are rising fast, too. Once derided as expensive, heavy and inefficient cheat-mobiles, e-bikes have become this year’s must-have gadget for those who no longer want to take public transport to work in the Covid era.

      In 2016, Halfords offered just three models. Now it has 40. It says sales are up 96 per cent on last year.

      And Brompton, Britain’s biggest manufacturer, expects at least one in ten bikes it sells in the UK to be electric — even though it only launched an e-version of its famous folding bike in 2018.

      As in the U.S., this rise in sales is likely to spark an increase in accident rates. But e-bike-associated incidents have been few and far between until recently.

      The UK did not record its first e-bike death until September 2018 when a female pedestrian died, the victim of an e-bike hit-and-run.

      Britain’s better safety record can no doubt be attributed to the fact that our most popular models bear little resemblance to the fearsome Swind EB-01. In most cases, a British e-bike looks like a normal bicycle with a large battery, the size of a shoe box, placed either on the back or integrated into the frame.

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      Although most models have a low-powered motor, you still need to pedal — otherwise it is classified as a moped and will be taxed as such. But, depending on how well the bike is designed, you don’t need to pedal as hard as you would a mechanical bike.

      The rule is that the motor can assist you up to 15.5mph. You can, of course, go much faster — but only under your own steam.

      A commute becomes a zip across town, while an arduous slog up a hill becomes enjoyably light exercise. Some of the biggest fans are older consumers who fell out of love with cycling — as well as those who can’t face a steep incline.

      Which is why we chose elevated Hampstead Heath, North London, to put five e-bikes to the test for Mail readers who are considering making a purchase (and who haven’t been put off by Simon Cowell’s experience).

      The 4.75-mile route involved main roads, a couple of roundabouts and a rugged, bumpy track through woodland to recreate a rural commute. The bikes also had to climb a steep 382 ft before hurtling back to the start.

      I recorded the time to complete the circuit — but since this may have been affected by traffic, I also measured the average speed, stripping out periods when the bike had to stop behind a bus. Though some bikes fared better than others, I soon realised that Simon Cowell is on to something with his passion for e-bikes. I had a blast!

      You still feel like you are cycling — but with a very stiff breeze pushing you along. And managing to ride to the top of Hampstead Heath without breaking a sweat? That’s a miracle.

       

      VanMoof Electrified S3 

       

      Price: £1,798

      Weight: 19kg

      Stated range: 37 to 93 miles

      Charging time: Four hours

      Battery at start: 96 per cent At end: 83 per cent

      Average speed: 12.99mph 

      Time to complete course: 21 min 35 sec

      Wow. A beautiful, relatively light contraption that doesn’t look like an e-bike. The battery is hidden in the frame, and the machine just eases down the road. It has four different speeds. Plus, there’s a booster button on the handle for an extra spurt of power when you are really struggling.

      HARRY’S VERDICT: 5/5

       

      Assist Hybrid Electric Bike

      Price: £599

      Weight: 18kg

      Stated range: Up to 20 miles

      Charging time: Three hours

      Battery at start: 100 per cent At end: 100 per cent

      Average speed: 12.03mph

      Time to complete course: 23 min 21 sec

      I was wary about the cheap price. Not the sleekest of models and it was also the noisiest. But the motor was powerful and the battery remained on full charge until the end. It isn’t the best on hills. I could feel my leg muscles burning. The design, which looks like a folding bike, means you end up uncomfortably scrunched up over the handlebars.

      3/5

       

       Elops 920

      Price: £1,399.99 Weight: 25.2kg

      Range: 31 to 56 miles

      Charging time: Six hours

      Battery at start: 98 per cent

      At end: 84 per cent

      Average speed: 13.94 mph

      Time to complete course: 20 min 39 sec

      A very comfortable and elegant bike — and its motor is almost entirely silent. It is also very well designed, with seven gears and an easy-to-read screen displaying speed and battery life. This Elops, an in-house brand of Decathlon, recorded the highest average speed of the bikes tested. One flaw, however: it’s extremely heavy. At more than 25kg, many people would struggle to lift it up steps.

      4/5

       

      Carrera Vengeance E Men’s Electric Mountain Bike

      Price: £1,099

      Weight: 23.3kg

      Range: up to 40miles

      Charging time: Six hours

      Battery at start: 5 bars (out of 5) At end: 4 bars

      Average speed: 12.96 mph

      Time to complete course: 22 min

      The only mountain bike I tested, it coped extremely well on rough terrain. Its big, wide wheels also made it a comfortable ride. In sum, a powerful bike for not too much money. When I had to do a hill-start on a steep incline, I hardly had to use any muscle power. It is very heavy and not pretty, with the battery on the frame. But with eight gears and a smooth ride, a decent e-mountain bike.

      3.5/5

       

      Brompton E-bike H2L

      Price: £2,595

      Weight: 16.6kg

      Range: 20 to 45 miles

      Charging time: Four hours

      Battery at start: 5 bars (out of 5)

      At end: 4 bars

      Average speed: 13.71mph

      Time to complete course: 20 min 49 sec

      This may be a folding bike but it contains an unbelievably strapping motor. On full power you only have to touch the pedals gently and the bike flies. It completed the course the quickest — and coped with rough gravel paths surprisingly well. Due to its small wheels, you have to give it some welly to get up hills. It also has a small saddle and narrow handlebars — and it’s very expensive. But a great e-Brompton all the same.

      4/5

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