World News Headlines: 12-21-2018

GERMANY (DW)

Tightened security at French and German airports ahead of holidays; French and German authorities said they have been responding to credible threats. However, some airports maintained they were merely taking precautions. German and French airports have tightened their security measures in the run-up to Christmas, authorities confirmed Thursday. At this time of year, airports across Europe receive tips from many other countries around the world, some of them highly credible. According to German public broadcaster ARD, some of these credible tips included information from Moroccan intelligence indicating that an attack was planned at an airport either in France or Germany. Two days after an attack on the Strasbourg Christmas market, police found the very men described by their Moroccan counterparts in a German-licensed vehicle at Paris’ Charles De Gaulle Airport. Another credible tip involved a father and son from the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia that appeared to be casing some of the country’s airports. Police said they had made four arrests related to the possibility that extremists were surveilling German airports. But some airports were keen to downplay the risk of perceived threats, emphasizing that increased security around the holidays is routine.

Ex-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn rearrested for aggravated breach of trust; Japanese prosecutors have reportedly added new charges against Carlos Ghosn. The move comes after a court rejected a request to extend the former Nissan chairman’s detention over allegations he underreported his income.Japan prosecutors have rearrested former Nissan executive Carlos Ghosn over new allegations of aggravated breach of trust, according to local media. The Kyodo news agency said the new allegations were based on suspicions that Ghosn, who was the chairman of Nissan until the company ousted him in November, made the automaker cover personal investment losses of about 1.85 billion yen ($16.6 million, €14.5 million) in 2008 The new arrest means Ghosn could be detained for another 10 days in a Tokyo jail as prosecutors investigate the new charge. Ghosn’s lawyers were hoping to get him released on bail, possibly as early as Friday, after a Tokyo court rejected a bid by Japanese prosecutors to extend his detention.

German lawmakers meet Julian Assange in London; Two German parliamentarians have become Julian Assange’s first visitors in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since March. The Left party members say the WikiLeaks founder must be protected from extradition to the US.Two members of the German parliament, the Bundestag, visited Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London on Thursday to pass on their “greetings of solidarity from the [opposition] Left party and his many supporters from Germany,” and to discuss the possibility of a “humanitarian solution” to the WikiLeaks founder’s legal situation. Sevim Dagdelen and Heike Hänsel, who also sit on the Bundestag’s foreign affairs committee, traveled to London as Ecuador increases the pressure to end Assange’s six-year stay in the embassy. “He was really happy to see us, he hugged us tightly when we left,” Dagdelen told DW after the hourlong meeting, which she said was his first visit from parliamentarians in at least eight months. “It was obvious that he was happy about our visit.”

Apple Inc loses to Qualcomm in Munich and pulls older iPhones from German stores; In the latest case in a legal battle between the US chipmaker and US smartphone brand, a German court gave the nod to the chipmaker. It means older iPhones will come off the shelves of Apple stores in Germany. A judge in Munich ruled on Thursday that iPhones which have a combination of chips from Intel and Apple-supplier Qorvo violated one of Qualcomm’s patents in Europe around so-called envelope tracking. The feature helps mobile phones save battery power.
Apple is: “Banned from offering or distributing unlicensed” devices that use the disputed patent, the Munich regional court (Landgericht) ruled, as it also awarded Qualcomm unspecified damages from Apple. The ban on Apple is dependent on Qualcomm paying a security deposit of €668 million ($765 million) as Apple makes its appeal against the ruling. In a statement, the Cupertino computer giant said: “We are of course disappointed by this verdict and we plan to appeal. During the appeal process, iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models will not be available at Apple’s 15 retail stores in Germany. iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR will remain available in all our stores.”

Driver plows car into pedestrians at German bus stop, killing one; Recklinghausen police have said that several people were injured and one killed in the incident. They have, however, warned that no assumptions should be made at this point. On Thursday afternoon a 32-year-old man drove his car into a group of pedestrians waiting at a bus stop in the German city of Recklinghausen, near Dortmund. The crash injured seven people, including the driver, and killed an 88-year-old woman. The cause of the accident, which took place shortly before 3 p.m. local time (1400 GMT/UTC), is not yet known.
The driver reportedly swerved out of his lane, crossing onto the wrong side of the street before plowing into the crowded bus stop. “Police experts are working intensively on determining the cause. The area around the accident has been closed off,” local police said on Twitter.

German and US NGO workers acquitted in Egypt; The Konrad Adenauer Foundation has ended its seven-year legal battle in Cairo. While Egypt has begun rehabilitating social charities, human rights and pro-democracy groups are still under draconian restrictions. Egypt acquitted at least 40 people, including several German and US nationals. of illegally obtaining funding for their NGOs. One of the affected organizations was the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the charitable arm of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU). “This verdict ends a years-long dispute that weighed on our relations with Egypt,” said Germany’s Foreign Ministry in a statement. They added that the foundation has been completely “rehabilitated” and is once again up and running in Cairo. Reports on the case on Thursday offered contradictory information on whether all 43 of those originally convicted had been pardoned, with some news agencies saying only 40 had been acquitted. The ruling ends a seven-year-long legal battlethat began with the 2011 revolution that saw strongman Hosni Mubarak ousted from power. In the unrest that followed, Egyptian authorities had claimed that organizations like Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the US-based Freedom House were receiving illicit funds both from inside and outside Egypt.

Denmark to house foreign criminals on tiny island; Denmark has approved funding to transform a remote island from a contagious diseases laboratory into a detention center that would house migrant criminals who cannot be deported. The move was criticized by the UN.The Danish government will begin holding foreign criminals on a remote island, located approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Copenhagen. The controversial plan was included in the 2019 budget proposal, which the legislature approved on Thursday. Under the measure, some 100 migrant criminals would be sent to Lindholm Island. People with criminal records and those who were denied asylum but cannot be deported due to risk of torture or execution in their home countries would be included. Denmark has taken a tough stance on immigration in recent years. The center-right government, which governs with the anti-immigration People’s Party, has made notable changes to reduce the flow of migrants. These include the reduction of benefits for asylum-seekers, shortening temporary residence permits, stepping up deportations of rejected asylum-seekers and granting power to authorities to seize valuables from migrants to help finance the costs of their stay.

Airbus shares fall on reports of US corruption investigation; Shares in the European aerospace corporation fell after news of a US probe into corruption which could result in fines of several billlion euros. Similar investigations in the UK and France are already underway. Shares in Airbus fell 9 percent on Thursday on the news published in Le Monde newspaper, before recovering to €83.37 ($95.18) in late-afternoon trading, a fall of 4 per cent on the day.
The French daily newspaper reported that the US Department of Justice had opened an official inquiry into Airbus. “Airbus is cooperating with the US authorities in close coordination” with investigators in the UK and France, the company said in a statement. The UK’s Serious Fraud Office and France’s Parquet National Financier have been probing possible bribery in Airbus’s passenger jet business for some time.

FRANCE (France24)

UN Security Council to vote on sending observers to Yemen; The 15-member council has spent several days wrangling over a British-drafted text and the United States, unhappy with Britain’s efforts, came up with its own version on Thursday. The council will vote on Britain’s draft and Washington is not expected to put its text to a vote, diplomats said. The U.S. mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

DR Congo presidential election delayed until December 30; Already delayed repeatedly since 2016, the poll is meant to choose a successor to President Joseph Kabila, who is to step down after 18 years in what would be Congo’s first democratic transition. After a meeting with candidates in the capital, the electoral commission (CENI) said it had not been able to provide sufficient ballot papers for Kinshasa after a warehouse blaze last week destroyed much of the capital’s election material. “We cannot organise general elections without the province of Kinshasa, and without the Kinois voters – who represent 10 percent of the electoral body,” CENI president Corneille Nangaa told journalists.

Suspects behind Morocco murders of Scandinavians ‘pledged allegiance’ to IS group; The bodies of Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, from Denmark and Maren Ueland, 28, from Norway, were found on Monday in an isolated area near Imlil, on the way to Toubkal, North Africa’s highest peak and a popular hiking destination. Police arrested a suspect on Tuesday in the tourist hub of Marrakech who they said belonged to a militant group. Three more were picked up later in the city, the Central Bureau for Judicial Investigations said.
Morocco’s general prosecutor on Thursday confirmed the authenticity of a video in which he said the four pledged allegiance to Islamic State and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

JAPAN (NHK)

Ghosn re-arrested on breach of trust; Prosecutors have slapped a fresh arrest warrant on Nissan Motor’s former Chairman. Carlos Ghosn was re-arrested on allegations of breach of trust. The shocking development comes as many were expecting he would post bail. He’s now expected to remain in detention. On Friday, prosecutors alleged Ghosn shifted a private investment loss of over 16 million dollars onto Nissan in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The Japanese securities watchdog apparently knew about the transaction at the time and questioned its legality. Sources say Ghosn has denied carrying it out. Prosecutors also suspect he had Nissan’s subsidiary transfer nearly 15 million dollars into the account of a person who helped out in the scheme. Ghosn has been locked up in a Tokyo detention center along with his close aid Greg Kelly for nearly a month after the two were arrested. They have since been indicted for allegedly conspiring to underreport Ghosn’s income by tens of millions of dollars over a 5-year period starting in 2010. Both have reportedly denied any wrongdoing. Lawyers for the men were getting ready to file a request for their bail after the court made a rare rejection of a prosecutors’ bid to hold them for 10 more days.

Ghosn aide may be freed on bail on Friday; The lawyer for a close aide of former Nissan Motor chairman Carlos Ghosn has asked the Tokyo District Court to release his client on bail. If approved, Greg Kelly, a former representative director with the firm could be released on bail as early as Friday, after about a month in detention. On Thursday, the court rejected a prosecution request to extend the two men’s detention over charges of underreporting Ghosn’s remuneration.

Putin criticizes US over its nuclear arms policy; Russian President Vladimir Putin has criticized the administration of US President Donald Trump for its negative attitude toward bilateral treaties on nuclear arms control. Putin was speaking at a news conference with reporters from Russia and other countries on Thursday. He was asked about Washington’s intention to walk away from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and its reluctance to negotiate the extension of the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty, which expires in 2021. Putin said the United States appears to show little interest in arms control treaties and it doesn’t need them. The president said Russia will ensure its own security, expressing his intention to take countermeasures. Putin pointed out the US administration’s dismissal of efforts for nuclear disarmament has led to a trend to lower the hurdle of using nuclear weapons. He added lowering the threshold could lead to a global nuclear catastrophe and called it a threat facing human beings.

China admits detention of 3rd Canadian; China says it has detained a third Canadian citizen for working in the country illegally. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters on Thursday that a Canadian woman is undergoing administrative punishment by a police organization. Two Canadian men had been taken into custody this month. Hua said the men are suspected of endangering China’s national security. The moves are seen as retaliation for the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei. Canadian authorities arrested Meng on December 1st at the request of the US, drawing a strong protest from China.

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