World News Headlines: 01-08-2019

GERMANY (DW)

Attackers knock Bremen AfD leader Frank Magnitz unconscious in street; Police have launched an investigation after the Bremen state chairman of the far-right Alternative for Germany was attacked by three masked men. Frank Magnitz was knocked unconscious with a piece of wood. Police are looking for three men who attacked and injured Frank Magnitz, party leader of the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the city state of Bremen. A police report said the incident happened on Monday afternoon, near Bremen’s Goetheplatz. Magnitz, a member of Germany’s lower house of parliament, was attacked by three masked men, AfD party officials said in a statement. Magnitz had left a New Year reception hosted by local newspaper the Weser-Kurier shortly before. He was knocked unconscious with a piece of wood and kicked in the head as he lay on the ground, the party said. A construction worker was said to have intervened and stopped the attack. The 66-year-old Magnitz was reported to be in hospital, having sustained “severe” injuries.

Guatemala pulls out of UN-backed anti-corruption commission; The decision comes after more than a year of tension between the government and the UN-sponsored anti-corruption group. The independent body is investigating top officials and people close to President Jimmy Morales. Guatemala will end a UN-sponsored anti-corruption commission, which has been investigating high-ranking members of the country’s government and President Jimmy Morales’ campaign financing. For more than a decade, the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) has had the power to conduct independent investigations in cooperation with the country’s prosecutors. Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel announced Guatemala would abruptly pull out of the CICIG eight months earlier than expected after meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday. “Therefore we reported to the secretary-general that within 24 hours the agreement [establishing the CICIG] will be terminated by the Guatemalan government,” she said. Jovel accused the CICIG of overreaching its authority and interfering in Guatemala’s sovereignty.

Taiwan arrests BASF staff for selling secrets to China; Taiwan police have arrested at least six people for passing trade secrets to a Chinese company. Beijing has come under increased criticism for failing to stop intellectual property theft. Taiwanese authorities on Monday announced they had arrested six current and former employees of German chemicals giant BASF for passing trade secrets to a Chinese company. The Taiwan Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) said engineers were involved in a plot “to leak crucial technology and manufacturing processes … to make illegal profits.” The engineers had received at least $1.3 million (€1.1 million) out of nearly $6 million offered by China-based Jiangyin Jianghua Microelectronics Materials Co., said CIB director Lu Sung Hao.The engineers, including at least one senior manager, are suspected of selling the Jiangsu-based company electronic manufacturing processes to build a chemicals plant in mainland China. BASF said that only one of the engineers arrested in Taiwan was still an employee and that their contract had been suspended for now. “We have taken immediate steps to support the investigation led by local law enforcement officials and protect the relevant information,” said BASF.

Germany investigates disappeared citizens in Egypt; Two German nationals have disappeared in Egypt, one after encountering authorities at Cairo airport. The German government said it had been investigating the “separate cases” for days now. The German Foreign Ministry on Monday said two German men with dual citizenship have disappeared in Egypt. “There are two separate cases of German citizens who have been reported missing,” said a ministry spokesman. “We have been dealing with them for a few days now and we are taking both cases very seriously.” One of the men, an 18-year-old from the central city of Giessen, is believed to have disappeared before he was scheduled to take a domestic flight from Luxor to Cairo, according to his father. “It has been three weeks and there is no trace,” the man’s father told German news agency dpa. “Nobody knows if he is still alive.” The other man, a 23-year-old from Göttingen, was detained at Cairo airport while attempting to enter the country. His current location is unclear, but dpa reported that he may be held in “the headquarters of the intelligence agency,” citing contacts on the ground.

Brazil: Bolsonaro smear prompts environment agency chief resignation; Suely Araujo accused far-right President Jair Bolsonaro of making “baseless accusations” about the agency’s budget. Bolsonaro wrote in a tweet that the environmental agency “financially violated” Brazilians. The head of Brazil’s environment agency has quit following the latest attack against the agency by far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. Suely Araujo resigned from IBAMA after Bolsonaro republished a tweet from his environmental minister criticizing the agency’s decision to spend more than 28 million reais ($7.7 million, €6.7 million) on rental patrol trucks. “We’ve had a system created mainly to financially violate Brazilians without the slightest care,” Bolsonaro wrote in the tweet.

France plans tougher laws to counter yellow vest protests; France has said it plans to ban participation in unauthorized demonstrations in an effort to counter the ongoing yellow vest movement. The government is scrambling to put an end to the increasingly violent protests. France plans to introduce tough legislation to ban unauthorized demonstrations and sanction rioters in response to violent yellow vest protests, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has announced.
Eight weeks into demonstrations that have led to riots and clashes with police in Paris and other cities, the French government is struggling to deal with the leaderless movement that has become increasingly radicalized.

JAPAN (NHK)

Ghosn denies allegations; Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn has denied an aggravated breach of trust charge against him in his first court appearance since he was arrested almost two months ago.

Japan FM hints at countering S.Korea asset seizure; Japan’s foreign minister says the government is considering necessary measures in case a Japanese firm is impacted by a wartime labor lawsuit in South Korea. Taro Kono was speaking to reporters during a visit to India. A group of South Korean plaintiffs who won the suit against Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal applied to the court last week to seize some of the company’s assets in lieu of compensation.Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the move “extremely regrettable” when he appeared in an NHK program on Sunday. He said he has instructed relevant ministries to study specific counter-measures in accordance with international law. Kono said the Foreign Ministry is closely coordinating with other government offices to prevent the Japanese company from being treated unfairly. He urged the South Korean side to quickly handle the matter.

Harajuku attacker had 100 liters of kerosene; A man arrested in Tokyo after plowing his car into crowds in the early hours of New Year’s Day bought nearly 100 liters of kerosene before the attack. Kazuhiro Kusakabe, 21, from Neyagawa in Osaka Prefecture, rammed his rental car into pedestrians on Takeshita Street in the Harajuku district. Nine people were injured, including a 19-year-old university student who is in a critical condition. Tokyo Metropolitan Police arrested Kusakabe on suspicion of attempted murder. Officers also discovered a high-pressure water sprayer with an ignition tool attached to the nozzle inside the car. The suspect told police that he planned to set fire to nearby Meiji Shrine after dispersing kerosene with the high-pressure sprayer. The historic shrine would have been packed with New Year visitors at the time. However, he said he drove into Takeshita Street instead after failing to carry out his initial plan. The police later found the suspect had rented the car in Osaka on December 30th and bought nearly 100 liters of kerosene. Tokyo police suspect he planned an indiscriminate attack by spraying crowds with kerosene before setting fire to them using the modified device as a flame projector.

N.Korean leader visiting China; Media reports say North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is visiting China. China’s state-run news agency, Xinhua, says Kim is in China from Monday to Thursday at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
North Korea’s ruling party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, said in Tuesday’s edition that Kim left Pyongyang on Monday afternoon on a special train. It says Kim is accompanied by his wife, Ri Sol Ju. A front page photo shows the couple being seen off by officials. NHK confirmed a heavy police presence at a train station in China’s northeastern border city of Dandong in Liaoning Province on Monday evening. Security was also stepped up at a bridge between the two countries. This is Kim’s fourth visit to China — Pyongyang’s key backer. The previous trips were made last year. The North Korean leader marks his birthday on Tuesday. He is expected to hold talks with Xi on the denuclearization — an issue that has made little headway between North Korea and the United States.

Fire breaks out at Cambodia casino building; A fire has broken out at a building that houses a casino in Cambodia, reportedly leaving several people injured. The country’s state-run media said the blaze engulfed the 18-story building in the city of Poipet, near the border with Thailand, on Monday night. The injured are reported to be receiving treatment at a hospital. A woman who works in the neighborhood told NHK that a majority of visitors to the casino were from China. She said that many tried to flee the building after the fire broke out, with some climbing to the rooftop asking for help. She added the building was recently completed. Poipet boasts a number of casinos for foreigners and is a popular destination for Chinese tourists.

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