World News Headlines: 11-30-2018

Germany (DW)Angela Merkel to miss start of G20 summit after plane’s technical difficulties; A plane carrying the German chancellor had to turn around and land in Cologne after only an hour in the air due to a technical difficulty. The plane has experienced several issues in the past few months.

(DW)Angela Merkel sidesteps military aid to Ukraine; German Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned Russia for seizing three Ukrainian ships in the Sea of Azov. But she failed to offer any military support to Ukraine or further economic sanctions against Russia. Angela Merkel has reiterated Germany’s support for Ukraine in the ongoing standoff between Russia and Ukraine over three ships seized on Sunday, though she did not threaten any further action against Russia, either in terms of military aid or sanctions. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko took to Germany’s Bild newspaper to ask Merkel to send navy ships to the Sea of Azov “to provide security,” and accused Russia of wanting “nothing less than to occupy the sea.” Speaking at the third German-Ukrainian Economic Forum on Thursday, the German chancellor did not offer any direct answer to Poroshenko’s request. Instead, the chancellor reaffirmed Germany’s commitment to Ukraine, and put the blame for the current crisis squarely on Russian President Vladimir Putin. She pointed out that Russia and Ukraine agreed a shipping treaty in 2003 that grants both countries full use of the Kerch Strait leading into the Sea of Azov, although both sides also have rights of inspection in the waters. A bridge that Russia built to the annexed Crimean Peninsula has impeded the free movement of ships, Merkel said.
“Since this bridge was opened in May this year, shipping conditions have worsened,” the chancellor complained. “Of course I want the facts of what happened to be put on the table, that the soldiers are set free, and that their confessions aren’t forced out of them, as we saw on TV now.”

(DW) Germany detects new cyberattack targeting politicians, military; The Russian hacker group “Snake” has reportedly hacked email accounts of several German officials. The cyberattack was detected nearly a year after the group allegedly accessed Germany’s government network.German security officials discovered fresh cyberattacks on the email inboxes belonging to several members of German parliament, the German military and several embassies, news magazine Der Spiegel reported on Thursday. The report said Germany’s domestic security service, BfV, discovered the attacks on November 14.

(DW) German police raid Deutsche Bank over suspected money laundering; A money laundering probe stemming from the “Panama Papers” has led police to Deutsche Bank, according to authorities. Prosecutors believe the bank helped clients “transfer money from criminal activities” to tax havens. Federal police on Thursday raided the Frankfurt offices of Deutsche Bank. The Frankfurt prosecutor’s office said the raids stemmed from an investigation into suspected money laundering at the German bank. About 170 law enforcement agents took part in the operation. The investigation revolves around multiple Deutsche Bank employees, including two believed to still be working at the financial institution. Deutsche Bank said it was “fully cooperating” with authorities. “The case is related to the Panama Papers,” a spokesperson said.According to prosecutors, Deutsche Bank is suspected of helping some 900 customers set up offshore shell companies in tax havens to “transfer money from criminal activities.” They said some €311 million ($354 million) are believed to have been laundered, citing information gleaned from the so-called Panama Papers. Markus Meinzer, financial secrecy director at the Tax Justice Network, told DW he was “surprised that German officials would finally take action” on information garnered from the Panama Papers. “It has been two years that they’ve been analyzing these files,” Meinzer said. “We have seen in other situations that German prosecutors took very long to take action” against tax avoidance schemes and financial crimes. The Panama Papers data leak comprised some 11.5 million documents, which were leaked anonymously to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung in 2015. At least 28 German entities were identified in the leak, according to reports at the time, including Deutsche Bank.

(DW) Amazon investigated for ‘abuse’ by German antitrust authorities; After logging “numerous” complaints from sellers on Amazon’s marketplace, Germany’s competition watchdog is now taking aim at the e-commerce giant. It’s the latest blow to Amazon, which already faces a similar EU probe.Germany’s competition watchdog, the Bundeskartellamt, launched an investigation on Thursday into alleged “abuse” by e-commerce giant Amazon. Citing “numerous complaints” from third-party sellers on Amazon’s German website, amazon.de, the Bundeskartellamt said it would be looking into whether the company was exploiting its market dominance to obstruct competition. “Its double role as the largest retailer and largest marketplace has the potential to hinder other sellers on its platform,” the authority’s president, Andreas Mundt, said in a statement. The list of complaints against the US giant is long — with the German watchdog saying it would look into complaints of delayed or withheld payments and blocked accounts. The probe will also look into the site’s product rating system as well as the company’s shipping conditions.

(DW) France rejects German wish for EU seat at UN Security Council; The French Foreign Ministry has said “non merci” to a suggestion by Germany’s finance minister to turn France’s UN Security Council seat into a joint EU one. An attempt to sweeten the deal didn’t work.France pushed backed Thursday against a proposal by German Olaf Scholz, also the vice chancellor, to turn the French seat at the UN Security Council into a join EU seat. “When defending our national positions, we take all European positions into consideration,” the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We actively participate, together with Germany and all other member states, in the coordination of the EU’s position.” France said it was open to reforming and expanding the Council, however, “in order to allow Germany, as well as Japan, Brazil, India and two African countries, to become permanent members.” France currently holds one of the Security Council’s five permanent seats, alongside the US, Russia, China and the UK. Germany was elected this year as a non-permanent member for 2019-2021. Permanent members have veto power while non-members do not. As a bloc, the EU currently has permanent observer status without voting rights at the UN.

France (France24) Macron to meet Saudi crown prince despite Khashoggi uproar; French President Emmanuel Macron will meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of a G20 meeting in Argentina in what would be a first meeting with a Western leader since the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. “I’ve always been very clear about the issue of Saudi Arabia and I will inevitably have the opportunity to discuss it with the Saudi crown prince on the sidelines of the G20,” Macron told a news conference with his Argentine counterpart.

(France24) Trump cancels Putin meeting over Ukraine crisis; U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday abruptly canceled a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Argentina, registering his disapproval of Russia’s treatment of Ukraine and casting new uncertainty over U.S.-Russian ties. Trump said he pulled out due to tensions over Russian forces opening fire on Ukrainian navy boats and then seizing them and their crew on Sunday near Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

(France24) Security headache as Yellow Vest protesters vow to march on Champs-Élysées; Yellow Vest protesters are calling for a large rally on the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris on December 1, despite the government’s attempt to defuse their anger by offering to meet some of the movement’s self-declared representatives. French police is considering the possibility of completely shutting down the famous Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris on Saturday December 1 as Yellow Vest protesters called for another rally in this iconic district, Le Parisien newspaper reported on Thursday. This plan would mobilise a large number of police forces because there are several side streets leading to the 1.91 kilometres avenue. It would also deal a hard blow to some 110 shops that would lose a key pre-Christmas weekend of shopping.

Japan (NHK) Macron planning talks with Abe; French President Emmanuel Macron is coordinating to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss the Nissan-Renault business alliance during the upcoming G20 summit in Argentina. Macron’s office told NHK on Thursday that he aims to schedule his meeting with Abe during the G20 meetings on Friday and Saturday. French newspaper Les Echos says Macron wants to discuss the alliance following the arrest of former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn in Japan. Ghosn is the chairman and CEO of Renault. The French government is Renault’s top shareholder and wants Renault’s tie-up with Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors to continue and strengthen. But Renault and Nissan reportedly have different views on how to continue the relationship. Les Echos says Macron and Abe will likely try to calm the situation regarding the alliance.

(NHK) China manufacturing data unexpectedly drops; In China, manufacturing growth fell for the fourth straight month in November. The Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 50, just on the mark that separates growth from contraction. That’s down two-tenths of a point from October, and the lowest level in more than 2 years. The figure was also below market expectations. Some analysts say US tariffs on Chinese goods are weighing on the economy. Growth in the services industry also weakened. The non-manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 53.4, down half a point from October. The services sector accounts for more than half of China’s economy.

(NHK) Deutsche Bank money laundering raid; German prosecutors have raided the headquarters of Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt. They suspect it was involved in money laundering through so-called overseas tax havens. The prosecutors say the raid is based on their analysis of a massive leak of documents known as the Panama Papers. The documents released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, or ICIJ, shed light on offshore financial transactions by the world’s rich and famous. Deutsche Bank allegedly helped clients set up offshore companies in tax havens to covertly handle the proceeds of illegal activity. Prosecutors say that in 2016 alone, over 900 customers used a Deutsche Bank subsidiary registered in the British Virgin Islands. It processed a volume of 311 million euros, or about 354 million dollars. Joerg Eigendorf, Global Head of Communications, Deutsche Bank said: “We thought that we had provided to the authorities all the relevant information regarding Panama Papers. Of course, we will now cooperate closely with the prosecutors here in Frankfurt am Main in Germany.” Deutsche Bank shares were down more than 3 percent on Thursday. They have lost half their value since the start of this year.

(NHK) IOC to hold talks with 2 Koreas early next year; The president of the International Olympic Committee says he will hold talks with the National Olympic Committees and the governments of North and South Korea early next year. Thomas Bach disclosed this in Tokyo at the general assembly of the 206-member Association of National Olympic Committees. The 2-day meeting ended on Thursday. Bach indicated that he will accelerate talks with the 2 Koreas on the formation of joint teams for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Bach referred to the first-ever joint women’s ice hockey team formed by the 2 Koreas for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in February. Bach quoted South Korean President Moon Jae-in as saying that the IOC had opened the door to peace talks on the Korean Peninsula. He also quoted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as saying that the Olympic Games shifted the momentum of inter-Korean relations and this can be attributed to the IOC’s efforts. Officials from the National Olympic Committees of the 2 Koreas also attended the meeting in Tokyo. A South Korean official told NHK that they held talks with North Korea’s sports minister Kim Il Guk multiple times on the sidelines of the meeting and proposed fielding more unified teams for the Tokyo Games. The minister is also the chairman of North Korea’s National Olympic Committee.

(NHK) India’s new eye in the sky; India on Thursday launched a surveillance satellite loaded with high-definition cameras. The Indian Space Research Organization, or ISRO, launched the rocket from its space center in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. The satellite, along with 30 smaller “co-passenger” satellites, successfully entered orbit at an altitude of 636 kilometers. Organization chairman K Sivan praised his team for the project, saying they are giving “an excellent space asset to India.” Observers say the satellite may be used to keep an eye on the Indian Ocean, where China is increasing its activity, and areas along the country’s border with China. Last year, when the Indian and Chinese militaries were in a standoff for more than 2 months in a mountainous region near their border, China deployed 14 ships to the Indian Ocean to demonstrate its military presence.

(NHK) Fed: Rate hike ‘warranted soon’; The minutes of a meeting of the US Federal Reserve earlier this month show that almost all officials expect an additional interest rate hike next month. But some expressed caution about the pace of future hikes.

THE COMMENTARY GAZETTE®

CONTRIBUTOR: Staff

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