BREAKING NEWS: Mexico: Fire at illegal fuel pipeline tap kills 20
Second summit coming for North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, US President Donald Trump; After exchanging a number of letters and announcing they “fell in love,” US President Trump will attend a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Exactly where and when the pair will meet has not been determined. North Korean envoy Kim Yong Chol met with President Donald Trump on Friday as the two sides worked to resume stalled efforts to end the North’s nuclear weapons program by arranging a second summit with leader Kim Jong Un. “President Donald J. Trump met with Kim Yong Chol for an hour and a half to discuss denuclearization and a second summit, which will take place near the end of February. The President looks forward to meeting with Chairman Kim at a place to be announced at a later date,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
Mexico: Fire at illegal fuel pipeline tap kills 20; Some 200 people were at the scene of a pipeline blast that left at least 20 dead. Dozens of Mexican states have experienced fuel shortages since President Lopez Obrador shut down pipelines to curb fuel theft. A leaking pipeline in central Mexico sparked a large blaze that killed at least 20 people and injured dozens, authorities said on Friday. The fire ignited after an illegal tap was drilled into the Tuxpan-Tula pipeline, belonging to state oil company PEMEX. Locals were attempting to gather the fuel with buckets when the blaze occurred. “The preliminary report I’ve been passed is very serious, they’re telling me 20 people have died, charred, and that 54 are injured, burned,” Omar Fayad, governor of Hidalgo state, told Mexican television. The massive fire occurred in a small town of Tlahuelilpan in Hidalgo, some 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Mexico City. Footage from Mexican television earlier in the day showed what appeared to be gasoline spouting dozens of feet into the air and people approaching it with containers. Mayor Juan Pedro Cruz told Mexican media that the fuel spill took place around 5 p.m. local time (2300 UTC). He said members of the army arrived at the scene and cordoned the area, but were ultimately unable to stop some 200 people who broke through to reach the fuel.
Brexit: German leaders write emotional letter to Britain; Over 20 major figures from German politics, sports, business and entertainment have written a passionate appeal to the UK. Britons would “always have friends in Germany and Europe,” they wrote. Leading German politicians, celebrities, athletes and business leaders have written an emotional letter in Friday’s edition of the British Times newspaper, insisting to their “British friends” that the door to the European Union would always remain open. “Britain has become part of who we are as Europeans,” the letter read. “And therefore we would miss Britain. We would miss the legendary British black humor and going to the pub after work hours to drink an ale. We would miss tea with milk and driving on the left-hand side of the road. “The short but impassioned message was signed by the leaders of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Social Democratic Party (SPD), and the Green Party, as well as the heads of four major industry associations, the CEOs of Daimler and Airbus, the rock star Campino, classical pianist Igor Levit, and former national football goalkeeper Jens Lehmann. The letter’s signatories included Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, successor to Angela Merkel as head of the CDU and potentially Germany’s next chancellor.
Will Germany use autobahn speed limits to cut carbon emissions?; A national commission has laid out a number of steps to help Germany meet EU emissions targets. Though desperately needed, they will face resistance from citizens and the country’s influential auto industry.
Colombia seeks arrest of ELN rebel leaders after bombing; Authorities said a man linked to the National Liberation Army guerrilla was the driver of the car bomb that killed 21 people in a Bogota. President Ivan Duque accused the ELN of lacking “true desire for peace.” Colombian President Ivan Duque announced on Friday that he was reinstating the arrest warrants of 10 National Liberation Army (ELN) members after his government accused the group of being responsible for a car bombing in a Bogota police academy. The attack on Thursday, which left 21 people dead and dozens wounded, has been a major setback to two years of peace talk attempts between the Colombian government and the ELN. Former President Juan Manuel Santos had begun the talks with the group in Havana, but Duque suspended them just after taking office in August. The Colombian president has now called on Cuba to hand over 10 ELN members who were on the island for the stalled peace talks. “It’s clear to all of Colombia that the ELN has no true desire for peace,” Duque said, citing a long list of kidnappings and attacks attributed to the guerrillas since peace talks began in 2017. “We would like to thank the Cuban government for the solidarity it expressed yesterday and today, and we ask that it capture the terrorists who are inside its territory and hand them over to Colombian police,” Duque added.
German police detain patient who took hostage at hospital; Police and special forces swarmed a hospital in Bavaria after a male patient took a woman hostage. The man also threatened several other people with knives, but police did not comment on a possible motive.A 40-year-old male patient at a hospital in southern Germany was arrested on Friday after he took a female patient hostage with a knife. The incident took place at the Mainkofen district hospital in the Bavarian town of Deggendorf. Police and special forces were able to overpower the man and arrest him. Authorities later said that the man was an Austrian national. According to news agency DPA, the man suffered minor injuries in the police operation.
ICC grants prosecution request to keep Ivorian ex-leader Gbagbo in custody; Judges cleared 73-year-old Gbagbo on Tuesday on charges of crimes against humanity relating to a wave of violence after disputed elections in 2010, and ordered his immediate release. The crisis claimed some 3,000 lives. But prosecutors at the Hague-based court challenged the release of Gbagbo, who has already spent seven years in jail, saying he should be detained while they make a broader appeal over his acquittal.
DR Congo refuses African Union request to delay release of final vote results; In a surprise announcement on Thursday, the AU called for the results to be postponed because of “serious doubts” over the conduct of the election, which was supposed to mark Congo’s first democratic handover of power in 59 years of independence but which the runner-up candidate says was rigged. The final tally will be released once the Constitutional Court has ruled on challenges to the provisional results. It is expected to decide on appeals, including that of opposition leader and second-placed Martin Fayulu, on Friday or Saturday. “I do not think anyone has the right to tell the court what to do. I am not under the impression (the AU) fully understands Congo’s judicial process,” government spokesman Lambert Mende said. “No country in the world can accept that its judicial process be controlled by an (outside) organization.”
Egypt abuses put French military deals in spotlight as Macron heads to Cairo; In May 2016, hundreds of workers at the Alexandria Shipyard Company in northern Egypt staged a two-day, peaceful sit-in over fairly routine labour rights issues. The employees were demanding improvements in their work conditions – including safety equipment – and wage increases commensurate with the national monthly minimum wage. The nature of the sit-in did not appear to be particularly crippling or adversarial: workers demonstrated in shifts while production continued at Alexandria Shipyard, which is owned and operated by the Egyptian military. The response to the sit-in though has shocked international labour rights defenders. In a systematic crackdown, the Egyptian military suspended hundreds of Alexandria Shipyard employees and arrested over two dozen workers. The latter were only released months later after they were forced to resign from their jobs.
Russia says it will allow German, French experts to monitor Kerch Strait; Russian ships fired on and seized three Ukrainian navy vessels in the narrow strait — shared between Russia and Ukraine–as the boats tried to pass from the Black Sea to the Azov Sea on November 25.President Vladimir Putin had “immediately agreed” to Berlin’s request to send observers to the area, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference with his German counterpart Heiko Maas. Lavrov said German Chancellor Angela Merkel had asked Putin for permission to send German specialists to the strait “over a month ago” and later requested for French observers to join the mission. “This can be done today, tomorrow, at any moment,” Lavrov said, adding that the foreign observers had still not arrived. Lavrov said he received concrete proposals for the mission from Maas on Friday and confirmed Moscow also agreed for the French observers to take part. Maas, who was due to travel to Ukraine later on Friday, said that the two countries had not yet agreed on a start date to the mission but that he expected it to be a “topic in the coming weeks”. The German diplomat added that the passage of ships in the Kerch Strait is “currently open” and that “this has been confirmed by all sides”.
US media: China offers to eliminate trade gap; A US media outlet is reporting that China has offered to reduce its trade surplus with the United States to zero by 2024. Bloomberg said China presented the offer when trade negotiators from the two sides met in Beijing for three days through January 9th. The report says Chinese negotiators told their US counterparts that it will increase goods imports from the US by a combined value of more than one trillion dollars by 2024. Some trade policy experts note that it would be unrealistic to eliminate China’s huge trade surplus with the US. But Bloomberg says the US side asked China “to do even better, demanding that the imbalance be cleared in the next two years.” At a summit last month, the two countries agreed that the US would postpone imposing higher tariffs on Chinese imports until March 1st while they continue negotiations to try to settle their dispute. Observers say it may be relatively easy for Washington and Beijing to narrow their differences over China’s imports, compared to addressing its alleged intellectual property rights violations. But they say it remains unclear if the two sides can reach a deal by the March 1st deadline.
Huawei CEO interview; Huawei’s founder and CEO strongly denies that his company’s products are a security risk. Speaking to Japanese media on Friday, Ren Zhengfei dismissed allegations that Huawei is engaged in espionage on Beijing’s orders. Huawei’s CEO, Ren Zhengfei said “Our company has never received nor will receive orders from the government. We will refuse any order from the government.” Asked about the US and other countries banning Huawei products, Ren said it’s only a few countries doing that. He said “Huawei is a global leader in information system products. Several countries that have decided to boycott our products are already lagging behind in construction of the equipment. They will soon realize they made a wrong choice in not using Huawei’s excellent products.” Ren is the father of Meng Wanzhou, now under arrest in Canada. He said he felt sorry for his daughter, but said he believed the issue would be solved in the courts.
Japan eyes applying domestic law to GAFA; apan’s communications ministry is expected to start preparing to apply domestic privacy regulations to US IT giants. Japanese telecoms and IT firms want Japan’s telecommunications business law to cover US-based Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, known collectively as GAFA. They argue that not doing so gives their foreign competitors an unfair advantage. Carriers are prohibited by law from looking at the content of mails without users’ consent. In principle, the law doesn’t cover the four US firms, which don’t have data centers or communications bases in Japan. The communications ministry plans to apply what is known as the extraterritorial application provision to regulate firms based abroad. This means the four IT giants will have to get users’ consent before displaying selective ads based on e-mails and other telecommunications logs, just like Japanese firms. The government plans to consider reviewing the anti-monopoly law and other legal provisions to level the playing field between GAFA and Japanese telecom and IT firms.
Arrest warrant sought for ex-chief justice; South Korean prosecutors are seeking an arrest warrant for a former Supreme Court Chief Justice. Yang Sung-tae is currently mired in dozens of allegations of wrongdoing including that he abused his power to help the country’s now-disgraced former president. He’s the first Supreme Court Justice to be questioned as a criminal suspect. Prosecutors have interrogated him 3 times in the past week. It’s alleged he delayed a key ruling as a favor to former President Park Geun-hye before her impeachment. The case was a lawsuit against a Japanese firm brought forward by people who said they were forced to work at the company’s plants during World War Two. Park was trying to boost relations with Tokyo at the time. It’s believed she was worried the ruling would worsen them. The court handed down its ruling last October siding with the workers and souring relations between Tokyo and Seoul. Japan’s government says any right to claims was settled in 1965 when the 2 countries normalized ties. Yang is also accused of putting pressure on judges to rule in ways he wanted… and blacklisting those who disagreed with his ideas. He has denied any wrongdoing. Judges he used to supervise could decide if there are grounds for an arrest as early as Tuesday.