New France-Germany treaty aims to revive EU; A follow-up pact to the Elysee Treaty marks the latest gesture of friendship between France and Germany. The new bilateral pact pledges deeper cooperation between the two nations and paves the way for EU reforms. As they mark the 56th anniversary of the Elysee Treaty in the German city of Aachen on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron and Chancellor Angela Merkel will sign a new friendship treaty that is designed to deepen the Franco-German friendship, bring ties to a “new level” and improve the lives of citizens in both countries.The idea isn’t new. Paris, in particular, has regularly suggested renewing the treaty in the decades since it was first signed, despite the fact that amendments have been added over the years.
Mexico sets new murder record with more than 33,000 killed in 2018; Mexico saw more murders in 2018 than any other year since nationwide records began some two decades ago, according to the country’s Interior Ministry. Mexico might soon get a national guard tasked with combating crime. ith drug-related crimes and gang violence rife across Mexico, investigators opened 33,341 murder probes in 2018, setting a new record, according to the latest data published by the nation’s authorities. Men make up the overwhelming majority of the victims, with 861 women losing their lives last year. The number of murders logged in 2018 is also the biggest since the national records began in 1997. The data showed a total increase of some 15.5 percent compared to all murders in 2017. Mexico logged 28,866 murders in 2017, far outpacing the much larger US where the FBI noted 17,284 instances of “murder and non-negligent manslaughter” during the same time. Mexico’s population is about 130 million, compared to the US population of about 326 million.
Germany deports record number of refugees to other EU states; Most of the asylum-seekers that were deported were sent to Italy. The deportations follow the EU’s Dublin III rule, which states that applications must be processed in the first country of arrival.In 2018, more refugees were transferred from Germany to other EU member states than ever before, according to an Interior Ministry report obtained by German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung. The report was a response to a parliamentary inquiry by the Left Party. Some 8,658 asylum-seekers who were required to leave Germany did so between January and the end of November 2018. The previous year, 7,102 were deported to other states. As such, the proportion of completed transfers from Germany to other EU countries saw a rise from 15.1 percent in 2017 to 24.5 percent in 2018. The deportations follow the EU’s Dublin III rule, which states that the country where a refugee first entered Europe is responsible for handling his or her application.
France fines Google €50 million for EU privacy breaches; The biggest penalty so far under new EU rules was justified by the severity of the infringements of transparency, information and consent, France’s regulator ruled. It is a challenge to Google’s business model. The €50 million ($57 million) fine on the US company whose revenues for 2017 were $109.65 billion was due to a lack of transparency and clarity in the way it informs users about its handling of personal data. “The data-processing purposes, the data storage periods or the categories of personal data used for the ads’ personalization” were spread over a series of documents, pages and settings, the ruling’s text said. Google had also failed to properly obtain users’ consent for personalized adverts, according to the ruling.
Zimbabwe president pledges probe into protest crackdown; Unrest over a sharp increase in fuel prices had got so bad that Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa cut short an investment-seeking trip to Europe. He promised to investigate “unacceptable” violence by security forces. Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday defended the decision to raise fuel prices as the “right thing to do” to stabililze supply. A crackdown against the protests that followed, however, led to the deaths of at least 12 people. The events were “regrettable,” Mnangagwa said on Twitter and added that “violence or misconduct by security forces was unacceptable and a betrayal of the new Zimbabwe … and will be investigated.”
Venezuela captures troops rebelling in Caracas; Security forces in Venezuela have arrested 27 members of the National Guard who took part in a public mutiny against the regime of Nicolas Maduro. Previously, the guardsmen urged Venezuelans to take to the streets.Venezuela’s military put down an uprising by a group of soldiers in Caracas on Monday, after surrounding a command post claimed by the mutineers and arresting 25 soldiers. Another two were arrested at a different location, officials said. “They were neutralized, surrendered and captured in record time,” Diosdado Cabello, a close aide of President Nicolas Maduro, said of the rebelling troops. “They are already confessing details and the first thing they said is that they were offered villas and castles but were left alone, they were tricked,” he added, without providing details.
Hundreds killed in Yumbi, DR Congo: ‘People were finished off with machetes’; The massacre took place in Yumbi, a town on the banks of the Congo River, and in several surrounding villages. Most of the people in this area are from the Batende community. The largest minority group is the Banunu. According to Gentiny Ngobila, the governor of Mai-Ndombe province, an estimated 200,000 people live in and around Yumbi, with about 40,000 living in the town itself. In late December, several photos, seemingly taken in Yumbi during the massacre and in the days following, started circulating on social media. However, it was difficult to verify their origin, especially because there was an internet blackout in the country, which lasted from December 31 – the day after the presidential election – through January 19.
France summons Italian envoy after Di Maio’s ‘unacceptable’ Africa comments; he ambassador was summoned on Monday after the “unacceptable and groundless” comments by Di Maio on Sunday, a source in the cabinet of France’s Europe Minister Natalie Loiseau told AFP on condition of anonymity. Di Maio made a series of incendiary remarks while visiting the Abruzzo region in central Italy, the latest sign of serious tensions between the populist government in Rome and France’s centrist leader Emmanuel Macron. “The EU should sanction France and all countries like France that impoverish Africa and make these people leave, because Africans should be in Africa, not at the bottom of the Mediterranean,” Di Maio said.“If people are leaving today it’s because European countries, France above all, have never stopped colonising dozens of African countries,” added the leader of the Five Star Movement (M5S), which governs alongside the far-right League party. The International Organization for Migration said at the weekend that more than 100 people were feared missing after a boat carrying migrants capsized off the coast of Libya.
African Union delays DR Congo mission over disputed presidential vote; “All I can confirm at this time is that the trip has been postponed. We will release a statement shortly,” said Ebba Kalondo, spokeswoman for the head of the AU Commission, Chadian Moussa Faki.This comment comes after an AU source earlier had said the pan-African organisation was cancelling its trip to Democratic Republic of Congo. At a summit on Thursday, AU leaders had cited “serious doubts” about the election figures and called for the announcement of the final results to be delayed.The European Union concurred with the AU assessment, a spokeswoman had said. But the 16-nation Southern African Development Community congratulated Felix Tshisekedi, a longtime opposition leader, on Sunday for being declared president-elect and called for a peaceful handover of power. The AU mission to Kinshasa, to be led by Faki and AU chairman Paul Kagame, the Rwandan president, had originally been set for Monday.
Carlos Ghosn denied bail again; A Tokyo court has shot down another bail request by Nissan Motor’s former Chairman. Carlos Ghosn has been in custody for over 2 months. That period is likely to stretch even longer with little prospects he will be released any time soon. His lawyers are expected to appeal the decision. This is the second time his defense team had applied for bail, after Ghosn’s most recent indictment earlier this month. He was charged with aggravated breach of trust and for underreporting his compensation. In his first appeal, he asked to stay in France and travel to Tokyo for court appearances. It’s believed the request was denied to protect the ongoing investigation and reduce the risk of evidence tampering. This time, he promised to stay in Japan, wear a monitoring device and respect any other bail conditions. But the court once again rejected the request. In Japan, defendants under investigation by special prosecutors tend to be detained a long time when they deny the charges as Ghosn does.
Labor ministry probe focuses on possible cover-up; A committee investigating the faulty statistics survey of Japan’s labor ministry is focused on whether there was systematic involvement in misconduct or cover-ups.The labor ministry was supposed to cover all large businesses in Tokyo for its monthly statistics report on wages and hours, but was found to have been surveying only a fraction of them. A special panel of outside lawyers and statistics experts met behind closed doors on Tuesday and made adjustments to finalize a report. They examined a manual used at the section in charge of the survey in 2004. It said accuracy can be ensured even if the survey does not cover all businesses. Panel members say this phrase was deleted from the manual in 2015, but the substandard practice continued, indicating that officials recognized the wrongdoing and were trying to conceal their actions. The panel has already finished questioning relevant officials. The ministry plans to impose punishments based on the results of the panel’s probe.
Japan to resume Iranian oil imports; Japan is reportedly preparing to receive its first shipments of oil from Iran since an embargo was announced. Iran’s central bank governor, Abdolnaser Hemati, said on Monday that Japan has begun conducting operations so that the imports can resume, following similar moves by China and South Korea. The administration of Donald Trump rolled out the economic sanctions on Iran in November last year, covering crude oil. But Washington granted Japan and seven other countries an exemption. They can keep buying Iranian oil for 180 days, to May this year. Major Japanese oil wholesaler Showa Shell Sekiyu is already preparing to transport the crude. Japan’s largest oil wholesaler, JXTG Holdings, is expected soon to follow suit.
Japan plans to negotiate with the US over extending the temporary exemption, so that its Iranian oil imports can continue flowing.
US-N.Korea talks in Sweden likely ended; US and North Korean officials appear to have met in Sweden, following the announcement by the US of a second summit next month. The US special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, and North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui spent three days at a facility near the capital Stockholm. The two left for their respective embassies in the country on Monday. It was the first time top working-level negotiators from the two countries were in contact since the White House announced plans for a second US-North Korea summit in late February. Neither of the officials took questions from reporters, but they are believed to have discussed the denuclearization process. The Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau chief, Kenji Kanasugi, later visited the US Embassy in Stockholm, apparently to get a briefing from Biegun on the US-North Korean negotiations. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held separate conference calls with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha. They are reported to have discussed how to proceed with negotiations with Pyongyang.