World News Headlines: 12-13-2018

GERMANY (DW)

US warns Turkey against Syria operation targeting Kurds;The Turkish president has announced a fresh offensive against Kurdish fighters in Syria is just around the corner. But the US has warned that such action would harm efforts to destroy the “Islamic State” in the region.The US on Wednesday warned Turkey against launching an operation targeting Kurdish militias in northern Syria, saying such action would be “unacceptable.” “Unilateral military action into northeast Syria by any party, particularly as US personnel may be present or in the vicinity, is of grave concern,” said Commander Sean Robertson, a spokesman for the Pentagon. Robertson said Washington was committed to Turkish border security, but noted that the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) led by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) remained a “committed partner” in the fight against the “Islamic State” (IS) militant group. “We should not and cannot allow ISIS to breathe at this critical point or we will jeopardize the significant gains we have made alongside our coalition partners and risk allowing ISIS to resurge,” Robertson said, referring to the militant group by an alternative acronym. But Turkey considers the YPG an extension of the terrorist-designated Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and views its consolidation of territory in parts of Syria as a threat.

Turkey train crash: Fatalities after high-speed train collision; A Turkish high-speed train has collided with a local train in the capital, Ankara. Numerous casualties and several fatalities were reported by local media. Turkish media reported that the accident, which happened as the train was setting off from Ankara to the central southern province of Konya, had resulted in multiple casualties and fatalities. Images showed at least two carriages had been derailed, at least one of which appeared severely mangled. The accident happened in the western city district of Yenimahalle at 6:30 a.m. local time (0330 UTC). Official sources were reported as saying that, in addition to seven fatalities, at least 46 people had been injured. Part of the train appeared to have collided with a station overpass, which collapsed onto some coaches. Ankara governor Vasip Sahin said the high-speed train crashed into a locomotive engine checking rails at the Marsandiz train station. A rescue team was looking for more survivors, he said. “Our hope is that there are no other victims,” said Sahin, who added that a technical investigation was also underway into the cause of the crash.

Brexit: Theresa May wins Conservative Party confidence vote; Theresa May has survived a leadership challenge from hard-line members of her Conservative Party. But the battle over her controversial Brexit deal continues. UK Prime Minister Theresa May has won a confidence vote in her leadership of the Conservative Party. Of the party’s 317 lawmakers, 200 voted for her to remain in office and 117 voted against her. The party cannot hold another leadership challenge for another year. “We now have to get on with the job of delivering Brexit for the British people and building a better future for this country,” May said after the result was announced. She added that she would seek legal and political assurances from EU leaders on a “backstop” arrangement contained in a draft Brexit deal. Hard-liners in her own party oppose the deal because they fear that the backstop, an insurance policy for maintaining an open border between Northern Ireland, a UK territory, and EU member Ireland, could force the country to accept EU rules indefinitely. Forty-eight of them triggered the confidence vote on Tuesday after weeks of outrage over May’s handling of Brexit talks with EU leaders.

No Brexit renegotiation, Angela Merkel tells Bundestag; The German chancellor says that her country continues to seek an “orderly” Brexit, but is preparing for harsher eventualities. The topic dominated Merkel’s second-ever parliamentary Q&A session.One day after Theresa May’s visit to Berlin and Brussels, as the British prime minister was facing a no-confidence vote within her own party, Angela Merkel submitted to a session of parliamentary questioning modelled on that in the House of Commons. Not surprisingly, topic number one was Brexit. And equally unsurprisingly the chancellor reiterated a familiar position. “We have no intention of changing the Brexit deal,” Merkel said. “That’s the common position of the 27 member states. So there’s no reason to expect any changes to come from the discussions.” Merkel rejected the accusation from the anti-EU far-right populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party that the Brexit deal finalized in November “punished” Britain for leaving the EU. She said that the coming years would be used as a transitional period for working out outstanding issues such as the “difficult constellation” of Northern Ireland.

Australia to get anti-corruption commission; The commission will have two divisions: one to investigate the public sector and one for law enforcement agencies. The announcement attempts to nullify a major issue facing Scott Morrison’s government ahead of elections. Australia is to have a national anti-corruption commission aimed at stamping out corrupt and criminal behavior in police and politicians, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Thursday. The move comes after pressure from the Labor opposition party, Greens, independent MPs and even from within the government to have a national integrity commission that can investigate corruption by federal employees and politicians. “This is a real proposal, with real resources and real teeth,” Morrison told reporters at a press conference in Sydney. Morrison said the Commonwealth Integrity Commission (CIC) will have two divisions: one will focus on the public sector, including politicians and their staff, and the other will focus on law enforcement agencies.

Germany shores up lithium supply with landmark Bolivia deal; As carmakers wrestle for the emerging electric car market, a German company sealed a key deal to mine a massive lithium deposit under a salt flat in Bolivia. The metal is crucial for making car battery cells. Lithium deposits hidden below Bolivia’s Uyuni salt flat are believed to be the largest in the world. On Wednesday, Germany’s privately owned ACI Systems agreed to a partnership with Bolivian state company YLB to exploit the element. Lithium is a key component in producing battery cells for electric cars, and a steady supply of the metal would allow German carmakers to boost their production. “Germany should become a leading location for battery cell production,” German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said. Securing access to lithium would help “avoid falling behind and slipping into dependency,” he added.

EU parliament approves ‘world’s largest’ free trade deal with Japan; The world’s largest free trade agreement — one between the EU and Japan — is expected to go into force in February. Nearly all duties will be removed. The European Parliament on Wednesday approved a free trade agreement between Japan and the EU, covering 635 million people and almost one-third of the world’s economy. Dubbed the world’s largest free trade agreement, the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement will remove duties on almost all agricultural and industrial products as well as open up the service sector and procurement. It also moves to eliminate non-tariff barriers to trade. “Almost five centuries after Europeans established the first trade ties with Japan, the entry into force of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement will bring our trade, political and strategic relationship to a whole new level,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said. “Our economic partnership with Japan — the biggest trade zone ever negotiated — is now very close to becoming a reality. This will bring clear benefits to our companies, farmers, service providers and others,” said Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Trade. European lawmakers voted 474 in favor and 152 against with 40 abstentions. Japan’s parliament have already approved the agreement.

Venezuela jails German rightwing journalist for espionage; A journalist known for his bylines in rightwing newspapers has been charged with spying and rebellion. Press freedom groups have called for his release, saying he has a right to report “regardless of his personal views.”The German Foreign Ministry on Wednesday confirmed to DW that German journalist Billy Six has been arrested in Venezuela. The ministry said it has extended consular services to the journalist, who is known for his bylines in the conservative Berlin-based Junge Freiheit newspaper. “We appreciate his journalistic work and the intrepid manner in which Bill Six reports from crisis regions across the world,” Junge Freiheit editor-in-chief Dieter Stein told DW. “With all our strength, we will support his family and the foreign ministry to secure his release.”

JAPAN (NHK)

Second Canadian missing in China; Canadian Foreign Ministry says they have lost contact with a second Canadian in China.Michael Spavor is a businessman and has been working on cultural exchanges between North Korea and foreign countries.
A photo in his Instagram account shows him meeting with the North’s leader Kim Jong Un. Chinese media report that authorities are investigating him on suspicion of harming China’s security. The disappearance comes days after former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig was detained by the Chinese spy agency.

Thai election campaign starts; Thai politicians are out in the streets rallying support with their sights set on next year’s general election. It follows this week’s lifting of a ban on political activity by the country’s military-run government. The official campaign is expected to start in early January. But on Wednesday members from an opposition party were seen meeting with shop owners in central Bangkok. Pheu Thai Party’s election strategy committee chairperson Sudarat Keyuraphan said the party will do their best to get people to vote for them. The group supports former Prime Minister Thaksin Sinawatra who is in self-imposed exile after being ousted in a 2006 coup. The former leader remains popular and is expected to be a major factor in the election that has been slated for February 24th. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has repeatedly pushed back the vote that would restore democracy in the Southeast Asian country. Reports say the military wants to keep power and is expected to form a new political party to field candidates in the election.

Mindanao martial law extended again; The Philippines Congress has approved another extension of martial law on the southern island of Mindanao until the end of next year. The Philippine military is still facing off against armed militants in the area. A joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives approved the extension on Wednesday with an overwhelming majority. It’s the 3rd time martial law has been extended. The move comes after President Rodrigo Duterte last week asked Congress to grant the extension. He imposed martial law on Mindanao last year in the wake of a fierce battle in and around Marawi City. Five months of fighting between government forces and armed supporters of the Islamic State militant group killed 12-hundred people. Duterte has had the area and its neighboring islands under military rule ever since. Some lawmakers have criticized the repeated extensions, saying they allow human rights violations to become commonplace. But the government says it wants to ensure security for next month’s scheduled referendum on creating an autonomous government.

Two Koreas verify demolition of guard posts; he process to defuse tensions on the Korean Peninsula has taken a symbolic step forward. Military officers from the 2 Koreas on Wednesday verified the destruction of 22 guard posts in the demilitarized zone that still divides the countries. Each side sent 7 officers and camera crew across new cross-border paths built for the first time since the 2 Koreas were divided. Their task was to check that the installations have been demolished as well as to verify that weapons, military equipment and soldiers have been totally withdrawn. Seoul and Pyongyang agreed in October to demolish 11 guard posts each by the end of the following month. They later decided to preserve one on each side of the border for their historical value.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said it clearly shows the willingness of both sides to implement the accord. However, there are believed to about 200 guard posts remaining in the DMZ.

Japan, S.Korea foreign ministers hold phone talks; The foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea have held phone talks amid strained ties over the South Korean Supreme Court’s rulings on wartime labor. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha spoke for about 30 minutes before noon on Wednesday. Japan’s foreign ministry says the top diplomats had a frank exchange of views on bilateral relations, and referred to the South Korean top court’s rulings ordering Japanese companies to compensate Korean men who say they were forced to work at factories in Japan during World War Two. The phone talks were the first since Kono demanded that the South Korean government take resolute action following the court’s first ruling in October. The 2 ministers are believed to have discussed the South Korean government’s response to the rulings. South Korea’s foreign ministry announced that Kang explained to Kono the South Korean government’s position on the rulings and asked Japan to respond prudently.The ministry added that the 2 sides agreed to remain in close contact.

Autonomous truck tested; A Japanese truck maker conducted a test run of its self-driving vehicle at its headquarters near Tokyo on Wednesday. The prototype of UD Trucks comes with “level-4” auto-driving technology. Company officials say the demonstration was the first in Japan using the technology. The truck can travel on its own in limited areas. UD Trucks says it’s pre-programmed with data on routes and road width. GPS pinpoints its location. Cameras and sensors on its body detect other vehicles and obstacles. The vehicle can slow itself down and park. Officials say they aim to commercialize the vehicle by 2020 for use at factories and ports.

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World Headline News: 12-09-2018

GERMANY (DW)

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer says Merkel is safe, for now; In an exclusive interview with DW, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the new leader of Germany’s Christian Democrats (CDU), has said that she wants Angela Merkel to see out her remaining three years as chancellor. The new head of Germany’s Christian Democrats (CDU) Annegret Kramp-Karrenbau spoke to DW shortly after the conclusion of the party conference. DW asked her if she still thinks that Merkel will remain in office for the remaining three years of her term. On becoming chancellor: Kramp-Karrenbauer said: “We have a federal government that has been elected for this legislative period. Angela Merkel has said she’s available to see out the legislative period. And the party conference yesterday showed very clearly that that’s what members wish — and it is also my personal wish. “And I also see it as my task as the leader of the ruling party to ensure that this government has the stability it needs to fulfil its electoral mandate.”

Nearly 1,400 arrests in French ‘yellow vest’ protests as government offers dialogue; Some 125,000 people across France donned yellow safety jackets to rally against President Emmanuel Macron and the high cost of living. In Paris, armored vehicles and thousands of police contained the demonstrators. More than a thousand people were arrested across France on Saturday as police clashed with “yellow vest” demonstrators in the fourth week of anti-government protests.
Some 125,000 people took to the streets across the country, officials said, with around 10,000 gathering in Paris. Protests in several areas of Paris saw police use tear gas and water cannons against demonstrators. Some protesters set fire to cars and smashed windows. French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said 1,385 people had been arrested.

Belgian PM reshuffles cabinet after right-wing party quits over UN migration pact; Prime Minister Charles Michel stood firm against calls from a coalition partner to quit the international migration pact. He now faces the delicate task of reshuffling his cabinet along linguistic lines.Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel has vowed to continue his administration as a minority government after the largest party in his coalition quit over his intention to sign the United Nations’ controversial migration pact. The leader of the Flemish-speaking N-VA party, Bart De Wever, announced his party’s withdrawal late on Saturday after Michel, a French-speaking liberal, said: “I stand by my word, I will leave for Marrakesh.” World leaders are to meet in the Moroccan city next week to sign the UN migration pact, which has elicited a strong backlash from right-wing parties in many countries. Conservative governments in Australia, Austria, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic have withdrawn their support for the deal, which sets out non-binding measures for regulating global migration. Michel fended off N-VA pressure last week when a majority in the Belgian parliament voted in favor of maintaining Belgium’s support for the agreement. With N-VA’s departure, Michel will need to reshuffle his cabinet to ensure it conforms with a legal statute that requires an equal number of French- and Dutch-speaking ministers. His French-speaking liberal MR and the Flemish-speaking center-right CD&V and Open VLD parties will remain in the coalition. The next federal election is scheduled for May.

Brazil’s Odebrecht cuts deal with Peru to name bribed officials; Four former presidents and the opposition leader are currently under investigation in the Odebrecht graft scandal. The deal commits the construction giant to provide information about bribes it paid to officials. Peruvian authorities have reached a deal with Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht’s Peruvian unit that will allow the scandal-tainted firm to operate in Peru in exchange for fines and divulging information about officials it bribed, local media and Reuters reported on Saturday. Odebrecht has been at the center of a major graft scandal after it admitted to US, Brazilian and Swiss prosecutors in 2016 of paying nearly $800 million (€ 703 million) in bribes to politicians in a dozen Latin American countries, including Peru. Peruvian anti-graft prosecutors are currently investigating former presidents Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006), Alan García (1985-1990, 2006-2011), Ollanta Humala (2011-2016) and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (2016-2018), in addition to the former presidential candidate and opposition leader Keiko Fujimori, who is in prison. The internet portal El Comercio reported that the agreement between prosecutors and Odebrecht includes a commitment for the firm to provide information on bribes it paid to Peruvian officials.

Frans Timmermans elected European socialists’ lead candidate for 2019 vote; The European Commission vice president and former Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans will lead the Party of European Socialists (PES) in the 2019 European elections. He was the only candidate on the ballot. European socialist parties have approved Frans Timmermans of the Netherlands to lead them in May elections and to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as head of the European Commission. Juncker is due to step down in mid-2019. Timmermans, who currently serves as Juncker’s deputy, won the election at the 11th congress for Europe’s alliance of socialist parties in Lisbon on Saturday after his only rival, Slovakia’s Maros Sefcoviv, dropped her candidacy in November. The 57-year-old has been at the forefront of the EU’s standoff with Poland’s right-wing government over its attempts to undermine the rule of law. “I am aware of the burden on my shoulders,” Timmermans said in a speech to delegates in Lisbon. “But how can I fail with a family like this behind me.” Socialist parties have suffered major electoral defeats across the continent in recent years amid a surge in support for anti-establishment and nationalist parties.

Armenian PM seeks to bolster authority in early parliamentary election; Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian wants to weaken his predecessor’s party in the parliament and cement his leadership. He took over as prime minister in May after weeks of leading anti-corruption protests. Armenians are voting in an early parliamentary election on Sunday after acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian dissolved parliament in October to shore up his authority. Pashinian, a former journalist, is hoping the My Step Alliance, which includes his Civil Contract Party, will achieve a parliamentary majority ahead of the former ruling Republican Party. Polls show that the alliance is on course to easily win a majority. “We set big and difficult goals and we will achieve them, because we are a powerful, victorious free and happy nation,” he said at a recent campaign rally.

Hungarian workers protest ‘slave law’ overtime rules; Hungarians have taken to the streets to protest against labor law changes that would allow employers to demand up to 400 hours overtime per year. The government says it needs greater worker flexibility.Thousands of workers demonstrated in Budapest on Saturday, objecting to a change in the labor code proposed by Prime Minister Victor Orban’s right-wing Fidesz party. A draft bill proposed by Fidesz would see a rise in the amount of overtime that employers can demand from workers, along with an extended time period for settling compensation. Union leaders claim that the so-called “slave law” proposals underline the intention of Orban’s government to increase corporate profits at the expense of workers. Several thousand people protested in front of the Hungarian parliament building to show their opposition. “In Hungary, we carry the largest burden on our back and, in return, we get the lowest wage in Europe,” Laszlo Kordas, president of the Hungarian Trade Union Confederation, told protesters.

FRANCE (France24)

‘Yellow Vest’ protests: Nearly 1,400 detained in new day of unrest in France; Businesses, museums and other attractions in the French capital had shuttered on Saturday in anticipation of the violent new clashes during the critical Christmas shopping season. French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said 125,000 demonstrators had taken to the streets across the country, including 10,000 in Paris. Paris and other French cities including Bordeaux, Lyon and Toulouse saw significant clashes between protesters and police. About 120 protesters and 20 law enforcement officials were injured nationwide, the interior minister said. Nearly 1,400 people were arrested. French PM Edouard Philippe called for dialogue and said President Emmanuel Macron would soon be proposing measures to “nourish” that dialogue and rebuild national unity.

‘Green vests’: Paris climate marchers spot overlap with ‘yellow’ comrades; An effort to raise the alarm about “the social and climatic emergency”, the march coincided with the United Nations’ COP24 climate conference taking place in the Polish city of Katowice. It was organised by environmental activist groups including Alternatiba and Les Amis de la Terre (Friends of the Earth). Similar marches were slated for more than 120 cities in France including Marseille, Lyon and Bordeaux on Saturday, alongside others around the world. The Paris edition of the march saw its route modified at the last minute in order to avoid potential spillover from the Yellow Vest protests that have had the city on tenterhooks for a fourth consecutive Saturday, but organisers rejected authorities’ entreaties to postpone to event. Demonstrators were initially meant to set off from Trocadéro to the Champ-de-Mars, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower in the west of the city, but the procession was shifted eastward instead. The climate protesters marched from the Place de la Nation to the Place de la République, where speeches and a concert were slated to conclude the proceedings. Organisers said 25,000 people had arrived on the Place de la République by 4pm.

Yemen’s Houthis say port city of Hodeida should be neutral; The Houthi group control major population centres in Yemen, including the capital Sana’a and the port of Hodeida on the Red Sea. The Houthi negotiator, Mohammed Abdusalam, also told Reuters his group was open to the possibiliy of giving the United Nations a role at Sana’a airport as part of an effort to get it reopened.

JAPAN (NHK)

Protestors call for more effort at COP24; Thousands of protestors have marched through the Polish city of Katowice, where the UN climate conference is taking place, to demand countries do more to fight global warming. People came from as far afield as India and the United States to protest. Some held signs with a picture of a clock and shouted “time is short” and “save the Earth.” Delegates at the COP24 conference are wrangling over rules to ensure the 2015 Paris climate accord is implemented. They are struggling to agree on how to finance efforts by developing countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Paris agreement is a framework to address global warming beyond 2020. It calls for all countries to strive to limit the rise in average global temperature to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level. But a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said the targets countries have set are not enough to meet that goal. An Austrian woman in her 20s said she came to protest to tell the delegates how urgent the situation is, and to urge them to speed up the negotiations. Some protestors carried a large effigy of Brazil’s President-elect, Jair Bolsonaro, who has threatened to roll back conservation efforts. The American woman who made the effigy said Bolsonaro is a threat to efforts against global warming.

Yemen port, airport on peace talks agenda; Peace talks aimed at ending the civil war in Yemen continue in Sweden. One of the main focuses is the reopening of an airport in the capital, Sanaa. Delegates from the Yemeni government and rebel forces are sitting down for UN-mediated talks that began on Thursday. On Saturday, the two sides were unable to bridge their differences over the airport. Houthi rebels supported by Iran are demanding it be fully reopened. But government delegates say it should reopen only to domestic flights, citing concerns about the possibility of weapons flooding into the country. The government, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, controls the air space and closed the airport to passenger planes. Another focus of the talks is a proposal to put the port city of Hodeidah under the temporary supervision of the United Nations. Government forces and rebels are engaged in fierce fighting at the port, which is the country’s main entry point for food aid. The civil war has been raging for more than 3-and-a-half years. It has been called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The lack of access to food and other relief supplies has been blamed for the deaths of tens of thousands of children.

China lodges protest over arrest of Huawei CFO; China’s Foreign Ministry says it has lodged a protest with the Canadian embassy over the detention of a senior executive of Huawei Technologies. The ministry says Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned the Canadian Ambassador to China, John McCallum, on Saturday over the arrest of Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer, Meng Wanzhou. On December 1st, Meng was arrested at an airport in Canada, at the request of the United States. Le said the arrest violates the Chinese national’s rights and is “extremely nasty.” He urged the Canadian side to release Meng immediately, and to protect her lawful and legitimate rights. Le warned that Canada will have to accept responsibility for any consequences that result, if Meng is not released. The US alleges that Huawei used a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment to Iran, in violation of the US’s sanctions against Tehran. At Friday’s court hearing, a Canadian prosecutor said Meng should be held until she is extradited to the US because she poses a flight risk. Meng’s lawyer sought bail. The lawyer told the court that she will not flee overseas. The hearing will resume on Monday.

UNSC gives up on N.Korea human rights meeting; The UN Security Council is giving up on holding an annual meeting on human rights in North Korea by the end of the year, as it failed to get enough support. Support from at least 9 Security Council member countries is needed for such a meeting. Diplomatic sources say the US got support from only 8 countries, including Britain, France and Peru. China and Russia oppose discussing human rights in North Korea at the Security Council. Bolivia and Kazakhstan also opposed the meeting. Three African countries appeared set to oppose or abstain. The meeting has been held every December since 2014 in response to a proposal by the United States. This year’s meeting was scheduled for Monday next week. Past meetings have taken up the issue of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese citizens. Observers say the US and Japan are likely to have trouble getting support to deal with human rights in North Korea.

Malaysian Muslims rally to defend privileges; Tens of thousands of Malaysian Muslims have taken to the streets in Kuala Lumpur to defend privileges that have long been enjoyed by ethnic Malays. The protest took place on Saturday amid speculation that Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad might review a preferential program that gives Malays privileges in jobs, education, and other areas. At the UN General Assembly in September, Mahathir expressed his intention to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, or ICERD. But this spurred a backlash from opposition parties that have many Malay supporters. They say the ratification of ICERD will lead to a review of the preferential program. Local police say more than 50,000 people took part in the Saturday rally. It was organized by opposition parties including the United Malays National Organization. Demonstrators marched through the city center while shouting their opposition. Some held placards saying Malaysian Muslims will unite to fight. Mahathir returned to power this year with strong support from voters of Chinese and Indian descent. Observers say Mahathir apparently meant to quell complaints of the non-Malays by ratifying ICERD. But they say it may be difficult to abandon the preferential treatment as opposition remains strong.

World News Headlines: 12-07-2018

GERMANY (DW) Conservatives to pick Angela Merkel’s successor as CDU head; Riding high in opinion polls, Christian Democrats are meeting this weekend to choose Angela Merkel’s successor. Party leadership is often a springboard to the chancellorship, and whom to choose will be a tricky decision. The 1,001 delegates at the conference held by the Christian Democrats (CDU) in Hamburg on have been tasked with electing a new party chair and other internal leaders during a two-day conference starting Friday. De facto, they will also be seeking their front-runner to take over power, sooner or later, from Angela Merkel when her long tenure as the head of the German government ends. “I’m very grateful that I could be party chairwoman for 18 years — it is a very, very long time and the CDU of course had its ups and downs,” Merkel said as she arrived at the conference venue in Hamburg. “But we won four national elections together… and I am happy I can remain chancellor.” The question of who would succeed Merkel became urgent in late October when she announced that she would not seek to extend her 18 years as CDU party chairwoman this year or run again for re-election as chancellor when the current Bundestag expires in 2021.

(DW) France boosts security amid fear of new ‘yellow vest’ protest riots; Officials warned that “major violence” could hit Paris as “yellow vest” protesters plan to gather again this weekend. Teens have also blocked hundreds of schools, while several unions called for solidarity strikes. The political crisis engulfing French President Emmanuel Macron’s government showed no signs of abating on Thursday, as public anger continues to grow despite the scrapping of a controversial fuel tax hike. Authorities across France are bracing for another weekend of “yellow vest” protests. The movement’s members are known for wearing yellow safety vests carried by French motorists. The protests began as demonstrations against the fuel tax, which started in November but turned violent in Paris last Saturday, with some of the worst rioting in France in decades. Three weeks of protests have led to four deaths and left hundreds injured. Some 89,000 security personnel will be deployed across the country on Saturday ahead of the fourth weekend of planned rallies, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Thursday. About 8,000 officers will be in Paris where armored vehicles will be on the streets for the first time since 2005 when riots broke out in the capital’s suburbs. “We are facing people who are not here to protest, but to smash and we want to have the means to not give them a free rein,” Philippe said during an interview on TF1 national evening news.

(DW) Migrant rescue ship Aquarius to end operations; The NGOs that chartered the Aquarius cited a “smear campaign” by European governments as the reason for its ceasing operations. The ship has been stranded in Marseille since losing its registration.

(DW) Pressure on Germany as UK telecoms company shuns Huawei; German officials were reportedly pushing earlier this year for their government to follow other countries’ lead and slap a ban on Chinese IT firm Huawei. But Berlin doesn’t seem inclined to bow to US pressure. Chinese multinational tech giant Huawei Technologies opened a new information security lab in the German city of Bonn last month. Some observers see the move as designed to butter up German regulators ahead of the country’s 5G mobile spectrum auction. The German network regulator (BNetzA) is finalizing the terms for the 5G licensing round it plans to hold in the first quarter of 2019. The total cost of building Germany’s 5G networks could be €80 billion ($91 billion) and this means high stakes for Huawei and its rivals Ericsson, Nokia, ZTE and Samsung.

(DW) Ecuador: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can leave London embassy; Conditions have been met for Julian Assange to leave Ecuador’s embassy in London. Britain has guaranteed that the WikiLeaks founder would not be extradited to any country where his life would be in danger.

(DW) Nicolas Maduro and Vladimir Putin: United by oil, isolation; Venezuela’s economy is in a downward spiral, and the country owes Russia billions. Caracas may seem like an unequal partner for Moscow at first glance, but an increasingly isolated Russia is keeping its friends close. It seems that Putin is happy to continue to lend a helping hand to Venezuela. Maduro’s visit comes as the country’s economy is spiraling and it is increasing isolated on the world stage. The president has been condemned for ordering violent measures against the opposition and protesters. Putin acknowledged Maduro’s challenges: “We know and understand that the situation in Venezuela is still difficult.” And the Russian president praised his counterpart’s efforts to reach a “mutual understanding in society” and even warned that he condemns any attempt to “change the situation [in Venezuela] with force.” Putin is known to have a natural distrust for coups and popular uprisings.

(DW) Bolivians protest after Supreme Court allows President Evo Morales to run for fourth term; Thousands of angry Bolivians have taken to the streets across the country two days after the decision. The court’s ruling overturned a 2016 referendum spurred by Morales’ attempts to amend the constitution. Thousands of angry Bolivians took to the streets Thursday to protest a decision by the country’s Supreme Electoral Court allowing long-serving President Evo Morales to stand for a fourth term in office. Although Bolivia’s constitution bars him from running in next October’s election and a 2016 national referendum determined he should not be allowed to change the constitution to do so, the court, nevertheless, ruled in his favor on Tuesday.

(DW) France to tax tech giants from 2019 if EU fails to act; Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said France would give the EU until March to come up with a deal on taxing US internet giants. If it fails, France will go ahead and impose its own taxes in 2019. France has said it will start taxing Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, the big US technology companies known as GAFA, if European Union finance ministers fail to agree on a bloc-wide digital tax next year. “I am giving myself until March to reach a deal on a European tax on the digital giants,” Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire told France 2 television on Thursday. “If the European states do not take their responsibilities on taxing the GAFA, we will do it at a national level in 2019,” he added. France, backed by Germany, had proposed a comprehensive digital services tax (DST) to cover all 28 EU member states. But Ireland vetoed the move, arguing that it would exacerbate US-EU trade tensions. Dublin also said the bloc should wait until the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) had presented its tax proposals in 2019.

(DW) Cuban citizens can now access the Internet on smartphones; Cubans became eligible to sign up for data plans on their smartphones. It is a long-awaited, and expensive, development on an island that limited mobile access to the Internet for most people. People began receiving text messages in the morning from the state telephone monopoly informing them that they could buy internet access packages. Previously, nearly all Cubans could use their mobiles only to access their state-run email accounts unless they connected to the internet at a limited number of government-sponsored Wi-Fi spots.

(DW) Germany: Third of small and mid-sized companies have been hacked; A new study has found that a third of small and medium-sized companies have been the victim of industrial espionage. Experts say they should work more closely with authorities to prevent future attacks.

(DW) EU, France step up security, development aid for Africa’s G5 Sahel; The EU and France have increased their financial support for projects in the five Sahel states which sit on the southern rim of Africa’s Sahara desert. Terrorism and lawlessness have blighted the region for years. A two-day donor conference in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott ended on Thursday with pledges from the European Union and France to increase their financial contributions to development and security projects in Africa’s volatile Sahal region:

(DW) Rwandan court acquits government critic Diane Rwigara; A Rwandan court has dismissed all charges against opposition figure Diane Rwigara. This shows an independence of the judiciary, says political scientist Phil Clark. In a surprise move, a Rwandan court dismissed all charges against Diane Rwigara and her 59-year-old mother Adeline. They had faced charges of fraud and incitement to insurrection over criticism of the government. In 2017, Rwigara attempted to run for the presidency against President Kagame but was barred from doing so on the grounds of allegedly having forged supporter signatures. The two spent a year in jail before being released on bail in October 2018. Rights groups Human Rights Watch had previously criticized the Rwandan government, saying that the crackdown showed its unwillingness “to tolerate criticism or accept a role for opposition parties.” US lawmakers also weighed in on the international debate surrounding the case, voicing their support for Rwigara. Phil Clark, a political scientist at SOAS in London, spoke to DW about the case.

FRANCE (France24) Eiffel Tower, museums to close during new ‘Yellow Vest’ protests; Around a dozen museums across the capital have also said they will remain closed on Saturday after vandalism and clashes between protesters and police last week rocked France. The announcements came as around 200 high schools across the country remained blocked or disrupted by students protesting a raft of education overhauls, on a fourth day of action called to coincide with the anti-government demonstrations. An interior ministry official told AFP earlier that authorities were bracing for “significant violence” on Saturday, based on indications that protesters on both the far right and far left are planning to converge on the capital.

(France24) China relaxes smog restrictions as economy slows; Blue skies in Beijing are rare these days. Smog has returned to the Chinese capital, despite a concerted government crackdown that had seen air quality improve earlier this year. As China faces a slowing economy, experts say the environment is taking a backseat to economic growth. Our correspondents report.

(France24) South Sudan: NGO files landmark suit against government for sexual violence; in South Sudan where over the past two weeks, more than 125 women and girls have sought medical treatment for assaults in the Upper Nile region. They say some of the perpetrators wore military uniforms. After 52 years in the making, Senegal has opened it’s Museum of Black Civilizations. And Seyi Shay is in Paris to promote her new single “Gimme Love”

(France24) Canada’s Trudeau insists arrest of Huawei CFO not ‘political’; With China demanding the release of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said officers who arrested her Saturday as she was changing planes in Vancouver had acted on their own. “I can assure everyone that we are a country (with) an independent judiciary,” Trudeau told a tech conference in Montreal. “And they took this decision without any political involvement or interference.” Citing a court-ordered publication ban sought by Meng, Trudeau declined to comment further on the case, which according to a US senator was brought over Huawei’s activities in Iran.

JAPAN (NHK) Final showdown over foreign workers; Japan’s ruling coalition is pushing to get a controversial bill passed before the end of the day. It would pave the way for hundreds of thousands of foreign workers to enter the country amid a severe labor shortage. The immigration law revision has been a key issue during this Diet session. It would expand work permits for a wide range of blue-collar and healthcare jobs. But there are still a lot of questions about how exactly the bill would work. Japan’s prime minister has promised to make that clearer before next April when it is set to come into effect. The opposition says the government should tackle problems with existing programs before passing the bill. It’s determined to put up as much resistance as possible to block the legislation in the Upper House. The opposition camp tried to put forward a motion to dismiss a committee chair, but the governing coalition has a majority and voted down the motion. The current Diet session is set to close on Monday.

(NHK) Bolton knew about Huawei arrest in advance; US National Security Advisor John Bolton says he knew in advance about the arrest of a top executive from Chinese telecom device maker Huawei Technologies. Canadian authorities arrested Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on December 1st at the request of the United States. Local media outlets are reporting that she is suspected of violating US sanctions against Iran. Bolton said on Thursday that the US has been concerned for years about the practice of Chinese firms to use stolen American intellectual property to engage in forced technology transfers. He spoke in an interview with National Public Radio. He said Huawei is one company the US has been concerned about. But he said this was not respecting Meng’s arrest. Bolton also said he doesn’t know whether President Donald Trump knew in advance about the arrest. But Bolton admitted having prior knowledge based on information provided by the Justice Department. Bolton did not say whether he knew during the US-China summit in Argentina on December 1st that the arrest would take place.

(NHK) Trudeau denies govt. role in Huawei arrest; Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government was not involved in the arrest of a top executive of Chinese IT giant Huawei Technologies. Officials at Canada’s Justice Department said earlier they arrested Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on December 1st at the request of the United States. Trudeau said on Thursday that Canada’s judiciary is independent and the appropriate authorities took the decision without any political involvement. He said his government was given a few days’ notice. Trudeau denied having contact with leaders of the countries concerned, such as Chinese President Xi Jinping, over the matter. Meng is expected to appear at a court hearing on Friday to hear a decision on her continued detention. A separate hearing will reportedly consider her extradition to the US. The charges against Meng have not been disclosed. Reuters says US authorities suspect Huawei used a British financial institution to make illegal transactions involving Iran and that they have been conducting an investigation since 2016.

(NHK) Govt. plans revising telecom equipment rules; The Japanese government plans to revise the rules for its procurement of telecommunications equipment to take into consideration the risks related to national security. The only current rules are on the cost of procurement. The government will begin studying revisions of the internal rules of the relevant ministries and agencies as early as next week, with an eye toward preventing information leaks from cyber-attacks. The US administration of President Donald Trump has banned the government from using products made by Huawei and other Chinese telecommunications companies due to national security concerns. The US has also asked countries that host US military bases not to use Chinese telecommunications equipment. The Japanese government plans to avoid naming specific Chinese companies in the revised rules. The minister in charge of cyber security, Yoshitaka Sakurada, says the government will take various steps by studying cyber security technologies and measures taken by other countries.

(NHK) Japan reconsidering Turkey nuclear project; The Japanese government and a consortium of private firms are reconsidering involvement in a nuclear power plant project in Turkey. They say the cost of the planned venture has skyrocketed. The government has been supporting the consortium consisting of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and other private Japanese firms. The export of infrastructure is a pillar of the Abe administration’s growth strategy. After conducting research into the project, the consortium decided that the cost of building a nuclear power plant on the Black Sea coast would be over 35 billion dollars, more than double the initial estimate. The increase is due to higher safety requirements implemented after the 2011 disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The Japanese side had asked Turkey to increase the purchasing price of power generated at the nuclear plant. But Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were unable to reach consensus in talks in Argentina earlier this month. Japan’s trade and industry minister Hiroshige Seko is expected to discuss the matter with Turkish government officials as early as January.

(NHK) Media: Russia sets up radar sites on islands; Russian media report that the country’s military has set up radar sites on several islands, including 4 Russian-held islands claimed by Japan. Interfax news agency reported this on Thursday based on sources, but did not give details on the islands involved. Russia deployed its latest anti-ship missile systems on 2 of the 4 Russian-held islands, Etorofu and Kunashiri, in 2016. Interfax reported that the new radar sites will help to increase the potential to monitor other countries’ military activities. On Wednesday, the US Pacific Fleet said the guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell conducted an operation in the vicinity of Peter the Great Bay, near Vladivostok. The purpose was “to challenge Russia’s excessive maritime claims” in the Sea of Japan. Russia is apparently making clear its intention to boost its defense capability in the area by setting up new radar sites. The islands are mentioned in the 1956 joint declaration governing a peace treaty between Japan and the then-Soviet Union. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed to accelerate negotiations on a peace treaty based on that declaration.

(NHK) UN seeking access to Uighur camps in China; The United Nations human rights chief is seeking access to China’s Xinjiang province, where Uighur Muslims are believed to be held in camps. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet told reporters on Wednesday that her office is receiving worrying reports about the human rights situation in Xinjiang. Bachelet said her office is asking for direct access to the region to verify the reports. International human rights groups say many Uighur Muslims in the autonomous region have been unfairly detained in the name of counterterrorism and forced to go through “reeducation” under terrible conditions. Experts say as many as one million Uighurs have been held in camps. China’s government says the camps only provide vocational training for Uighurs who have been influenced by extremism, so that they can return to society.

(NHK) Indonesian rebels claim soldiers killed; Indonesian military has retrieved the bodies of 16 people killed in an armed attack in the eastern province of Papua. The authorities are reportedly saying that separatist rebels killed dozens of construction workers, but the rebel group insists they killed Indonesian soldiers. Local media say the West Papua Liberation Army has claimed responsibility for the attack. The group’s spokesperson said it is sure that those killed were soldiers of an Indonesian army unit specializing in battle infrastructure engineering. He added that, after 3 months’ observation, they can distinguish workers from soldiers. He argues that people in Papua do not want the trans-Papua highway currently under construction. Police say the armed group stormed a bridge construction site in Papua on Sunday. They say the group sees Indonesia as a colonial occupier and is seeking the region’s independence.

(NHK) South Korea mulls arrests of former top judges; A court in South Korea is deciding whether two former Supreme Court justices should be arrested for abuse of power. It is the country’s first such situation. The two retired Justices were summoned to the Seoul Central District Court on Thursday morning. Both are facing a slew of possible charges including abuse of power and dereliction of duty. Prosecutors allege they pressured other judges to make rulings that favored former President Park Geun-hye, who is currently serving a prison term for corruption. Prosecutors say Park Byong-dae deliberately put off a wartime labor case filed by former Korean workers who say they were forced to work in Japanese factories. It’s believed he did so after a request from the South Korean foreign ministry. At the time the ministry was trying to mend ties with Japan. Former justice Ko Young-han is accused of covering up an appellate court judge’s leaking of secret information because the judge had close ties with an important staff member in the presidential office. Prosecutors also suspect the two justices were involved in improper lobbying of the presidential office on behalf of the Supreme Court Chief Justice at the time. The court is expected to give its decision by Friday morning at the latest.

World News Headlines: 12-06-2018

Germany (DW) China’s Huawei Technologies CFO arrested in Canada, faces extradition to US; Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, was arrested in Vancouver for possible extradition to the United States. The Chinese tech firm is being investigated for suspected violations of US sanctions on Iran. The chief financial officer of China’s Huawei Technologies, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Vancouver on December 1 and faces extradition to the United States, Canada’s Department of Justice said on Wednesday. Meng’s arrest is related to alleged violations of US sanctions, according to Reuters news agency. A bail hearing for her extradition is set for Friday.

(DW) French government scraps fuel tax hike after yellow-vest protests; The French government announced the fuel tax rise had been scrapped from the 2019 budget after weeks of protests and the worst rioting in Paris in decades. Despite the decision, protests may continue.

(DW) Russia’s controversial 9M729 missile system: A not-so-secret secret; NATO and the United States have increased their pressure on Russia over its alleged violation of the INF treaty. What is known about the Russian missile at the center of the allegations? In October, US President Donald Trump threatened to withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty banning all land-based missiles with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers (310 miles to 3,400 miles). After the NATO foreign minister summit in Brussels on Tuesday, the military alliance came out on Washington’s side and also accused Russia of breaching the INF treaty. The US has given Russia a 60-day ultimatum to comply with the treaty. Otherwise, the US will abandon the INF agreement for good. The dispute centers around the Novator 9M729 missile system, which carries the NATO designation SSC-8. The US has recently shared its intelligence on the weapons system with NATO. Several media reports have also shed light on the Russian rocket.How it all began: In late July 2014, The New York Times first broke the news that Washington had a suspicion Russia might be violating the INF treaty. It said that the then president, Barack Obama, had sent a letter to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on the matter. The paper claims Russia began testing the new missile system as early as 2008. The New York Times also reported the Obama administration had hoped to reach a compromise with the Russians by not publicity accusing them of violating the INF agreement. On Tuesday, the US State Department said five confidential talks between arms experts had been held since 2014 over the missile system. Yet it claims Russia had denied, concealed and spread lies about the new rocket.

(DW) Turkey issues arrest warrant for exiled journalist Can Dundar over 2013 protests; Turkish authorities have accused the Cumhuriyet editor, who has been living in Germany for the past two years, of working to “incite chaos.” The warrant was tied to an investigation of protests against President Erdogan. An Istanbul court on Wednesday issued an arrest warrant for Turkish journalist Can Dundar for his alleged involvement in the 2013 Gezi protests against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to state-run Anadolu Agency. The Istanbul chief prosecutor’s office said he played an active role in the protests and worked to “incite chaos” and encourage “terrorists” through social media. Prosecutors also allege that Dundar was linked to Osman Kavala, a businessman and rights activist who has been in pre-trial detention for more than a year despite not being charged with a crime.

(DW) Venezuelan President Maduro visits Moscow to ask Russia for more money; Russian President Putin has voiced strong support for his Venezuelan counterpart but made no mention of new loans. Beleaguered South American leader Nicolas Maduro is dependent upon Russia for his survival. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro traveled to Russia in hopes of securing political and financial assistance from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Although Venezuela is currently in arrears to the tune of billions of dollars to Russia, Putin voiced strong support for his South American counterpart when the two met on Wednesday. Acknowledging that Moscow realizes “the situation in Venezuela remains dire,” Putin told Maduro: “We support your efforts to achieve mutual understanding in society and all your actions aimed at normalizing relations with the opposition.” Putin also said, “We condemn any terrorist action; any attempts to change the situation by force.”

(DW) Brexit: UK could be trapped in EU negotiations, attorney general warns; The UK’s attorney general has warned that the country could be stuck in indefinite negotiations with the European Union if a draft Brexit deal takes effect. Ministers were forced to publish the previously secret opinion.

(DW) EU presents plan to tackle fake news ahead of May elections; The EU Commission wants Facebook, Twitter and Google to report regularly on fake news and disinformation campaigns ahead of the European elections in May. Russia has been singled out as a suspect source. Five months ahead of the European elections in May, the EU’s executive has proposed more than doubling the Commission’s budget to tackle disinformation from €1.9 million ($2.1 million) to €5 million. “Disinformation is part of Russia’s military doctrine and its strategy to divide and weaken the West,” Andrus Ansip, the EU’s vice president for the digital single market, said on Wednesday. Russia spent €1.1 billion each year on pro-Kremlin media, said Ansip, a former prime minister of Estonia. “We have seen attempts to interfere in elections and referenda, with evidence pointing to Russia as a primary source of these campaigns,” he added. The extra EU funds will mean more staff and equipment in Brussels and among EU delegations to third countries, so that data and analysis on propaganda campaigns can be shared among EU member states. A “rapid alert” mechanism would warn governments to fend off developing disinformation campaigns.

(DW) Serbia to consider military intervention ‘option’ if Kosovo forms standing army; The creation of a standing army in Kosovo could provoke military intervention by Belgrade, Serbia’s prime minister said. Kosovo’s parliament is due to vote next week on transforming its defense force into a regular army. Tensions between Serbia and Kosovo ramped up on Wednesday ahead of Kosovo’s planned vote on the formation of a standing army. Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic told reporters that Belgrade is concerned that a regular army in Kosovo, which has a predominantly ethnic Albanian population, could be used to drive out the remaining Serbs from the country’s north. That could, he added, provoke a Serb military intervention. “I am hoping we would never have to use it [the army], but this is currently one of options on the table as we do not want to watch this … ethnic cleansing,” Brnabic said. Kosovo’s parliament is due to vote on transforming its 4,000-strong defense force into a regular army on December 14. NATO also weighed in on the issue, with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warning Kosovo that the move was “ill-timed” and could carry “serious repercussions.” Kosovo has relied heavily on NATO-led forces to ensure security since the end of a 1998-1999 war that saw the former Serbian province attempt to break away from Belgrade. Kosovo eventually declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move Belgrade refuses to recognize.

(DW) Spain: Court rejects gang rape sentence in ‘Wolf Pack’ case appeal; The Spanish court upheld a ruling that found five men guilty of assaulting a woman in 2016, but cleared them of gang rape charges. Fresh protests have been called, with the government vowing a change to Spain’s rape law.

FRANCE (France24) Macron abandons fuel-tax hike amid fears of new ‘yellow vest’ protests; French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday announced that he was abandoning a proposed fuel-tax hike amid fears of more unrest after weeks of nationwide protests that have already cost several lives and millions of euros in damage. The Élysée presidential palace confirmed the president’s decision in an emailed document sent to FRANCE 24. While some protesters celebrated the move as a victory, others said Macron’s surrender came too late and is no longer enough to quell the mounting anger at their president, whom they consider out-of-touch with the problems of ordinary people. The government had previously announced it would suspend the tax increase for a period of six months, but was forced to backpedal further as the country faced a new round of “yellow vest” protests this weekend.

(France24) Yemen peace talks set to get underway in Sweden; The UN-brokered talks in Rimbo between Yemen’s Saudi-backed government and the Huthi rebels, linked to Riyadh’s arch-rival Iran, will be the first since 2016 when more than 100 days of negotiations failed to end a war that has now claimed at least 10,000 lives. Analysts and diplomats said they did not expect a breakthrough at the summit. UN sources say the organization aims for “confidence-building” between the two parties, at war since the rebels staged a takeover of Yemeni territory in 2014.

(France24) Asian markets tumble, China tech hit after Huawei arrest; Shares across Asia plunged Thursday, with technology firms in Hong Kong and Shanghai battered after the arrest of a top executive at Chinese telecoms giant Huawei that has also fuelled fears about the recent China-US trade deal. As Donald Trump and Xi Jinping’s tariffs ceasefire last weekend — which sparked a one-day rally — fades to a distant memory, investors are back in selling mood as they fret over a range of issues including the state of the world economy, oil prices and Brexit. The chances of trade peace between the US and China took a blow Thursday as it emerged Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou had been held in Canada and faces extradition to the United States over alleged Iran sanctions breaches by the firm. Meng is also the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, a former Chinese People’s Liberation Army engineer. The company had been investigated by US intelligence, who deemed it a national security threat. However, the arrest drew a swift response from China, which said it “firmly opposes and strongly protests” the move, adding it had urged Canada and the US to “immediately correct the wrongdoing”. The news sent shudders through Hong Kong and Shanghai markets, where tech firms were hammered.

(France24) France rules to extradite brother of Burkinabe ex-leader Blaise Compaore; Francois Compaore, who was arrested in Paris in October last year over the 1998 killing of investigative journalist Norbert Zongo in Burkina Faso, could still challenge the decision by the Court of Appeal in a higher court. He was one of the most disliked figures in the regime of Blaise Compaore, who was ousted in a popular revolt in October 2014 after trying to change the constitution to extend his 27-year grip on power. Francois Compaore is wanted on charges of “inciting the death” of Zongo and three companions, whose charred bodies were found in a burnt-out car in the south of the country in December 1998.

JAPAN (NHK) Search continues in US Marine aircraft crash; Japan’s Self Defense Forces are searching for 6 American military members off the coast of western Japan. They were on board two military planes that collided mid-air Thursday morning. The SDF say they have rescued one crewmember who is being treated at US Iwakuni air station in western Japan. The government says he is in stable condition. The FA-18 fighter jet and KC-130 refueling aircraft crashed more than 100 kilometers off Japan in the early hours of Thursday. They were conducting a training mission. A Marine spokesperson says they will provide more information when they get it. Japan Coast Guard officials say there are no reports that the crash has affected any ships navigating in the area.

(NHK) OPEC to discuss production cuts; Member countries of OPEC are set to discuss whether to cut crude oil output next year from this year’s level to keep prices at high levels. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is to hold its key meeting at its headquarters in Vienna on Thursday. Oil producing countries have been increasing output following the latest US economic sanctions against Iran. Global concern focused on the possibility of oil shortfalls. Crude prices plunged by about 30 percent from the peak in October due to worries about oversupply. One factor behind the fear over excess supply is continuing Iranian oil exports even in a limited amount. Another is the possibility that demand will fall in reaction to an uncertain economic outlook. Ahead of the meeting, negotiations are taking place among delegates. Iraq’s oil minister Thamir Abbas Ghadhban was asked by reporters about production cuts. He told them it’s too early to speak about details, but he hopes they will happen. The country is OPEC’s second-biggest producer. But US President Donald Trump has been calling on Saudi Arabia — the biggest oil producer in OPEC — and others to keep prices low. He tweeted on Wednesday, “Hopefully OPEC will be keeping oil flows as is, not restricted. The World does not want to see, or need, higher oil prices!”

(NHK) Putin: Russia will follow if US exits INF treaty; Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that his country will develop intermediate-range nuclear missiles if the United States withdraws from a bilateral arms control treaty with Russia. Putin was responding to Tuesday’s announcement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Washington will start a process to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty unless Russia moves to comply with the terms of the pact within 60 days. Putin told Russian media on Wednesday that there is no evidence to back up the US claim that Russia violated the nuclear arms control treaty. He went on to say that Russia opposes the scrapping of the treaty, but if the US takes that course, Russia will respond accordingly, indicating his country will possess intermediate nuclear missiles. Putin had planned to meet US President Donald Trump at the G20 summit meeting last week to discuss the treaty. But the United States cancelled the meeting, citing the situation in Ukraine.

World News Headlines: 12-05-2018

GERMANY (DW) NATO, US put pressure on Russia over INF treaty: The Trump administration has accused Russia of “cheating” on the terms of a treaty on nuclear missiles. Europe could face security concerns if Washington carries through on a threat to withdraw from the pact. NATO foreign ministers backed the Trump administration’s stance over a landmark missile treaty with Russia when they met in Brussels Tuesday. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told NATO ministers that Washington would begin the process of withdrawing from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) within 60 days if Moscow did not start complying with the terms of the pact. “It makes no sense for the United States to remain in a treaty that constrains our ability to respond to Russia’s violation,” Pompeo said, adding that: “The United States today declares Russia in material breach of the treaty and we will suspend our obligations unless Russia returns to full and verifiable compliance.”

(DW) German car bosses optimistic after meeting Trump; Top executives from Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW met with US President Donald Trump seeking to stave off pending tariffs on automobile imports. The German bosses promised to invest more in the US. The heads of Germany’s three largest carmakers met with US President Donald Trump on Tuesday, in an effort to resolve the impasse that has led to looming 25 percent auto tariffs. The White House has claimed that American manufacturers are treated unfairly by the Europeans and Trump said he seeks “reciprocal” trade deals to help protect and grow US manufacturing jobs. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the aim of the talks was to pare down the $30 billion (€26.5 billion) trade deficit the US has with Germany in cars and auto parts, which comprises of half the $66 billion total US deficit with the EU. “We made a big step forward to avoid the tariffs,” Volkswagen chief Herbert Diess said after the meeting. Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche echoed the sentiment, saying that the “implicit potential threat” of new tariffs had been reduced after the talks. White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said after the meeting that Trump “shared his vision of all automakers producing in the United States and creating a more friendly business environment.”

(DW) China vows quick trade deal as Trump sends mixed signals; Beijing said bilateral talks were “very successful” and that it was “confident” a trade pact with the US would be reached in 90 days. President Trump welcomed a deal, but reiterated that he was “a Tariff Man.” US President Donald Trump sowed confusion on Tuesday over the trade-truce with China, as he said negotiations could extend beyond an agreed 90-day timeframe. The three-month period halted the addition of new tariffs by both countries and was aimed at resolving the ongoing trade dispute. Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jingping agreed to the truce on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina. Trump took to Twitter to discuss the talks, first expressing positive feelings and later leveling threats. “President Xi and I want this deal to happen, and it probably will,” Trump tweeted. “But if not remember, I am a Tariff Man. When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so,” he added.

(DW) Panama Papers: Two Germans charged in US with tax fraud; Federal authorities have charged four men with tax evasion in the first US prosecution over the Panama Papers scandal. Among them are two German investment managers. The US Justice Department on Tuesday charged four suspects with tax evasion and fraud as part of a “decades-long criminal scheme perpetrated by [Panama-based law firm] Mossack Fonseca.” The 11-count indictment was unsealed in New York and is the first prosecution in the US related to the so-called Panama Papers investigation.

(DW) France’s Emmanuel Macron finds respite amid mass protests; After intense street protests, French President Emmanuel Macron has said he will postpone a proposed fuel tax increase. He is hopeful the move will appeal to moderates and weaken the resistance movement. Just a few weeks ago, French President Emmanuel Macron invited some 70 heads of state and government to central Paris to commemorate the centenary of Armistice Day, which ended World War I. International leaders attended a magnificent ceremony, replete with musical performances and a speech by Macron at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

(DW) UK government loses key votes as parliament gains powers in next Brexit steps; Ahead of five days of Brexit debate, the UK government lost key votes, including being found in contempt. Theresa May’s own party members won a challenge to give lawmakers more power if her deal is voted down next week. Already under pressure, Prime Minister Theresa May’s government lost three votes in the House of Commons on Tuesday, even before the main debate got underway. May is seeking approval from the house for the exit deal from the EU which her negotiators signed off last week. That vote will be taken next Tuesday. But this Tuesday began with a setback for her as a European Court of Justice advocate general gave formal advice that revoking the “Article 50” divorce notice was an option for the House without the other EU 27 member states having a say. The UK does not need approval of other EU countries to withdraw from Brexit, the advocate ruled. Then, MPs voted 311 to 293 in favor of holding the UK government “in contempt of parliament” for refusing to release key legal advice on the Withdrawal Agreement and the backstop legal guarantee for avoiding a hard border with Ireland. House Leader Andrea Leadsom said the government would publish “the final and full advice provided by the attorney general to Cabinet.” A government attempt for a committee to consider the legal question, effectively delaying any decision until after next week’s key vote was also defeated.

(DW) First baby born via uterus transplanted from dead donor; Eleven babies have been born through uterine transplants of live donors, but no births had ocurred from a uterus of a deceased donor. The mother became pregnant seven months after the transplant surgery. A 32-year-old woman in Brazil who received a uterus transplant from a deceased donor successfully carried out a pregnancy and gave birth to a healthy baby, researchers reported on Wednesday. The case was announced in a published research paper by The Lancet medical journal. Performed in 2016 in Brazil, the transplant could provide new hope to thousands of women who are unable to have children due to uterine problems. Currently, only 10 known cases of uterus transplants from deceased donors exist, but all had failed to produce a live birth. The recipient was born without a uterus, due to a condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome. The donor was 45-years-old and had borne three children in her lifetime before dying of a stroke.

(DW) Germany: Hundreds of neo-Nazis free despite arrest warrants; German police have a problem finding and arresting violent neo-Nazis. The government admitted as much in a response to a parliamentary request from an opposition party. Recent history shows how dangerous this problem is. The German government has admitted that 467 neo-Nazis are at large throughout the country despite active warrants for their arrest. The government acknowledged the figures in a response to a parliamentary request for information by the opposition Left Party. Of the 467 neo-Nazis, 32 are thought to have fled Germany to hide out abroad. An additional seven perpetrators of right-wing crimes in Germany are wanted by security authorities from other countries According to the response, the number of neo-Nazis wanted by German police has nearly doubled in the past four years. The government cited the massive influx of refugees as one reason for the spike. Right-wing attacks against asylum centers, it said, have increased significantly since 2015. Criminologist Christian Pfeiffer confirmed that trend. “For a long time we saw an increase in right-wing crime, so it’s normal that there are still many outstanding arrest warrants from back then,” he told DW. “I do believe that number will go down again, because the right-wing extremist scene has quieted down some for now.”

(DW) Germany can keep sex offender in preventative custody: ECHR; Germany is well within its legal rights to hold a convicted sexual killer in preventative custody says the European Court of Human Rights. The man had completed his initial jail term ten years ago. The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday that Germany acted legally by keeping a murderer locked up for a decade after his sentence expired to prevent him reoffending. The man was sentenced to ten years in jail in 1999 for murdering a woman while she was out jogging. The then-19-year-old strangled the victim on a forest path with a cable, a tree branch and his hands. He then partly undressed the dead or dying victim and masturbated over her. Once he had served out his sentence in 2008, a German court ordered he stay in preventative custody as he continued to harbor sadistic sexual tendencies. Psychiatric assessments found there was a high risk that he could commit another murder for sexual gratification if released.
Since 2013 he has been kept in a newly-built preventative detention center at Straubing Prison in southeast Germany. Prior to this he was kept in unconstitutional conditions for a number of years, for which he was paid €12,500 in compensation.

(DW) EU pushes for greater respect for human rights in Uganda; Depending on one’s viewpoint, the EU is either interfering or doing the right thing by drawing attention to the state of human rights in Africa. DW turns the spotlight on Uganda. Edrine Wanyama does not mince his words. “The situation of human rights in Uganda is deplorable,” the lawyer and analyst told DW, an assessment that is confirmed by human rights organizations. From repression of freedom of speech and assembly, to police brutality, including torture and arbitrary arrests, the catalogue of documented violations makes for dire reading. This is why many Ugandans welcome the help of the European Union (EU) in promoting fundamental rights in their country. “There are some good efforts [by the EU] to push the government to comply with key human rights obligations,” Wanyama said. Human rights are of the “highest possible importance” to the EU, the union’s ambassador to Uganda, Attilio Pacifici, told DW. In the case of Uganda, the EU discerns some progress, “but not the kind of progress we feel comfortable with,” Pacifici said. In 2012, the EU suspended aid to Uganda following the embezzlement of donor funds by high-ranking government officials. The EU is now back in Uganda trying to rebuild trust in a crucial partner, as the ambassador put it.

(DW) Philippine President Duterte mulls martial law extension in Mindanao; Locals and rights activists are opposing a possible extension of martial law in Mindanao island. They say that emergency measures are no longer required after security forces freed the region from “IS”-linked insurgents.

(DW) Row over ‘traitor’ German philosopher Kant riles Russian hometown; Locals in Kaliningrad have handed out flyers and created social media videos decrying Immanuel Kant as a “Russophobe.” But Kant’s supporters say it’s just anti-German sentiment from those who don’t understand philosophy. German philosopher Immanuel Kant is stirring up controversy in his now-Russian hometown of Kaliningrad, more than 200 years after his death. After his name spiked in popularity as a possible new moniker for the city’s airport, his statue in the town was vandalized by nationalists and the philosopher was branded a “traitor” and a “Russophobe” by a local lawmaker. “The name of the German Kant will not tarnish our airport,” declared flyers that were passed out around Kaliningrad. Kant, a foundational thinker of modern Western philosophy, was born in 1724 in what was then called Königsberg. The city was a part of eastern Prussia, and included Polish and Lithuanian communities as well as the German-speaking majority. Königsberg was the subject of a massive siege by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II, and after the war became the Soviet exclave Kaliningrad, completely surrounded by Poland and Lithuania.

(DW) Brexit poses existential questions for Scottish nationalists; Once Britain decided to leave the EU, it seemed obvious that a renewed push for independence was in the cards. However, even though Scottish voters rejected Brexit, they aren’t quite ready to cut ties to the UK. n June 24, 2016, just hours after Britain voted to leave the European Union, Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, appeared before the media in Edinburgh. Flanked by the Scottish Saltire and the starry European Union flag, the Scottish National Party (SNP) leader declared that a second referendum on Scottish independence was “highly likely” to protect her country’s interests in Europe. Almost two-thirds of Scots voted to remain in the EU. But more than two years later — as the UK, haltingly, moves towards the exit doors — the anticipated upswing in Scottish support for Scottish independence has yet to materialize.

FRANCE (France24) French government suspends fuel tax hikes after ‘Yellow Vest’ protests; Prime Minister Philippe announced a suspension of planned increases in three taxes on fuel for a six-month period in response to nationwide protests against high pump prices and rising living costs. “This anger, you’d have to be deaf or blind not to see it or hear it,” Philippe said in his address. “The French who have donned these yellow vests want taxes to fall and work to pay. That’s also what we want. If I didn’t manage to explain this well, if the ruling majority didn’t manage to convince the French, then something must change.”

(France24) Ban on Nairobi minibuses kicks in, creating chaos for commuters;

(France24) Burundi’s former president Pierre Buyoya says he’s the victim of a smear campaign by the current government after an arrest warrant is issued against him. He is accused of playing a role in the assassination of Melchior Ndadaye, who was president in 1993.

JAPAN (NHK) Takeda’s buyout of Shire gets shareholder approval; Shareholders of Japanese drug maker Takeda Pharmaceutical have approved the buyout of Irish rival Shire for about 60 billion dollars. It’s one of the largest-ever acquisitions by a Japanese company of a foreign firm.

(NHK) N.Korea foreign minister to visit China; North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho will visit China starting on Thursday for talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang told reporters on Tuesday that Ri’s 3-day visit will play a positive role in further implementing the consensus reached by the leaders of the 2 countries. He added that the trip will promote the growth of bilateral ties and enhance communication and cooperation on the Korean Peninsula issue and other matters. Ri and Wang are expected to exchange opinions on a planned second US-North Korea summit that potentially could take place in January or February. US President Donald Trump’s administration says it will continue enforcing sanctions on North Korea until the North achieves denuclearization.

(NHK) Separatists allegedly kill 31 workers in Indonesia; Indonesian police say 31 construction workers have been killed in the eastern province of Papua. Police suspect separatist rebels carried out the attack. An armed group stormed a road construction site on Sunday. The police say the victims are workers of a state-run company. Authorities believe there is a high possibility that an armed group seeking Papua’s independence from Indonesia was involved in the attack. Police and military forces are searching for the group. The separatist group has repeatedly clashed with the Indonesian government. It accuses the government of not sharing profits from the rich resources in the province with local communities. The construction work is part of a government infrastructure development project aimed at redressing economic disparities. The work was suspended following the Sunday attack. President Joko Widodo hopes to restart the construction soon.

(NHK) Cambodia’s parliament reviewing opposition ban; Cambodia’s parliament says it’s reviewing a ban on political activities by members of the main opposition, the Cambodia National Rescue Party. More than 100 members were banned from politics for 5 years. The Supreme Court dissolved the party last year after it was accused of planning to overthrow the government with the help of the United States. The parliament says an amendment to the political parties law has been proposed. It says the amendment aims to strengthen multi-party democracy and to promote national reconciliation. The move comes months after members of the ruling party won all the parliamentary seats in the general election in July. The US and European countries have raised concerns about the credibility of the election. Last month, the European Union began a process of removing Cambodia’s duty free access. Western countries also criticized the arrest of the head of the CNRP last year. He was released on bail in September after being detained for one year. But his aide says he effectively remains under house arrest.

World News Headlines: 12-04-2018

GERMANY (DW) France revolts against Emmanuel Macron and the ‘elite’; Representatives of the “yellow vest” demonstrators have called off talks with the French government, though it was doubtful they would’ve ended the protests. The gap between the people and their government is deepening.Still under the impression of Saturday’s dramatic events, the prefect chose his words to the public with care. “There was the will of the protesters to kill people,” said Yves Rousset, who represents the French state in the department of Haute-Loire. This past weekend, angry “yellow vest” protesters burned down his workplace, the prefecture in the tranquil town of Le Puy-en-Velay. Demonstrators hurled bricks through the windows and lobbed Molotov cocktails into the building. People were shocked at the unbridled protests in a pilgrimage town that is seen as the heart of Catholic France. Usually, political shockwaves from the capital are not noticeable that far away, more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of Paris.Things are different these days. A largely uncoordinated wave of protest has spread across the country, and quickly. From Brest to Strasbourg, from Lille to Marseille, demonstrators have blocked tollbooths, roads and fuel depots and gathered for protest marches, clad in yellow safety vests. The movement could continue to pick up speed. On Monday morning, protesters supported by demonstrators wearing yellow vests blocked about 100 schools nationwide in protest to the government’s education policy.

DW) France, Germany fight to save EU tech tax; The two countries want tech giants such as Google and Facebook to pay tax on digital revenue. But the idea faces opposition from a large contingent of the EU. France and Germany are fighting to save a proposal for an EU-wide tax on big digital firms ahead of a meeting of European finance ministers on Tuesday. The two countries have encountered significant opposition to their plan for the bloc and need to scale it back to have any chance of passing it into law. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Monday: “What matters for France is that there is a legally-binding instrument that can be adopted as soon as possible.” “This makes a lot of sense as it will cover some of the most profitable activities,” a source told Agence France-Presse news agency. According to EU sources, the two countries are declaring in a joint statement their “determination to introduce a fair and effective tax on large digital companies.”

(DW) Brexit: UK parliament launches debate on Theresa May deal; Britain is entering the endgame over its planned departure from the European Union. Prime Minister Theresa May faces an uphill task as she tries to convince enough lawmakers to back her draft Brexit deal. British lawmakers kick off five days of debate on Tuesday on a draft UK-EU agreement on Britain’s exit from the European Union ahead of a crucial final vote on the deal on December 11. “The British people want us to get on with a deal that honors the referendum and allows us to come together again as a country, whichever way we voted,” British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to tell the Parliament. “This is the deal that delivers for the British people.”

(DW) China and Panama sign partnerships in Latin American first; Panama has become the first Latin American country to sign on to Beijing’s vast “Belt and Road” investment initiative. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Panama on Monday to sign a range of cooperation agreements and extend China’s influence in Central America. China only opened diplomatic ties with the nation last year, and with the new deals, Panama became the first Latin American country to sign on to Beijing’s vast “Belt and Road” investment initiative.

(DW) Venezuela: Erdogan and Maduro slam US sanctions; Venezuela has suffered from a severe political and economic crisis since a collapse in oil prices several years ago. It has sought to bolster its ties with Turkey as it faces down a range of US sanctions. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced US sanctions against Venezuela at a joint press conference with his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on Monday. Ties between the two countries have grown closer in recent months as Venezuela struggles to overcome a severe economic and political crisis.

(DW) Kinshasa is drowning in waste; Every day almost 9,000 tons of garbage accumulate in Kinshasa. The Congolese capital does not have a functioning garbage collection system. Consequences for the health of the “Kinois” are catastrophic. The area in front of Kinshasa’s main station is bustling with activity. And everybody has to make their way through piles of garbage. Passing vehicles whirl up plastic and paper bags. The scenario repeats itself all around town. It is an everyday torture for the “Kinois”, as the inhabitants of Kinshasa are known. Many people say that they are disgusted: “It gets worse every year. Our once so beautiful Kinshasa has degenerated into a big dump,” a woman told DW. Another one added: “We Congolese obviously despise our country. Otherwise we would not allow our cities to sink into such filth.” Jules Mulimbi, in charge of environment and sustainable development at Kinshasa City Council, is worried about the quality of life in the capital too. “For me, a healthy environment is a fundamental human right,” he told DW. The problem is not just the completely inefficient disposal of waste. The behavior of the inhabitants also contributes to the problem. “The solution begins with every single citizen, every single family. If everyone disposed of the garbage on their own doorstep, we would already have solved part of the problem,” said Mulimbi.

(DW) Angela Merkel needs cheat sheet to recognize Australian PM; Angela Merkel resorted to a cheat sheet at the G20 as she faced the fifth Australian prime minister in as many years. Australia’s two main political parties are notorious for stabbing their leaders in the back. German Chancellor Angela Merkel needed illustrated assistance to identify Australia’s prime minister at the Argentina G20 meeting. Australia has burned through so many prime ministers in recent years that Merkel openly resorted to a page of notes with a headshot as she sat next to Scott Morrison for a short bilateral meeting. After studying her notes for some time she started the conversation, during which she frequently checked her watch. Morrison became the 30th prime minister of Australia in August after a botched attempt by Peter Dutton to replace Malcolm Turnbull. In the ensuing leadership battle, Turnbull resigned and low-profile Morrison scooted ahead to take power while Dutton failed.

(DW) Qatar’s OPEC exit rooted in Gulf region’s diplomatic unrest; Qatar is leaving OPEC. The Gulf country’s government has said the move is mainly for economic reasons, but dramatically worsened ties with some of its neighbors also played a significant role.

(DW) German cities get more funding for air quality, but retro-fitting plan still to come; With EU diesel bans looming over cities and municipalities, Angela Merkel approved new funds to help improve air quality standards. But on hardware retro-fitting, Merkel’s government said it could not yet provide a plan. The German government agreed on Monday to provide additional funding to cities, in an effort to tackle air pollution linked to diesel vehicle emissions. The decision came after a meeting dubbed the “diesel summit” between Chancellor Angela Merkel and representatives from cities and municipalities. German cities are currently facing court-imposed bans on older diesel-powered vehicles. This stemmed from legal action taken by environmentalists to enforce EU regulations on air quality. To address the issue, the German government established the “Cleaner Air” program, in place from 2017 to 2020, to cut emissions from municipal vehicles. The German automotive sector is also making a financial contribution.

FRANCE (France24) Fuel supplies, schools hit on third week of France’s ‘Yellow Vest’ protests; Dozens of French “Yellow Vest” demonstrators blocked access to a major fuel depot and several highways on Monday on the third week of anti-government protests which led to major riots in Paris at the weekend. Around 50 people blocked the fuel depot in the port of Fos-sur-Mer, near Marseille, where police have repeatedly intervened to dislodge demonstrators since small-town and rural France erupted in protests over rising living costs on November 17. Traffic was also backed up on highways leading to the southern cities of Aix-en-Provence, Orange, Montpellier, Nimes and Sete as the movement, which began over fuel tax increases but has morphed into a broader wave of resistance to Macron’s pro-business policies, rumbled on.

(France24) UK parliament starts five days of crucial debate on Brexit deal; Prime Minister Theresa May will urge parliament to back her Brexit deal on Tuesday at the start of a high-stakes five-day debate that could determine her fate and whether Britain leaves the European Union without a deal. May’s plan to keep close ties with the EU after leaving has been criticised by Brexit supporters and opponents alike, leaving her struggling to secure parliament’s approval in a vote that will follow the debate on Dec. 11. If, against the odds, she wins the vote, Britain will leave the EU on March 29 under terms negotiated with Brussels — the country’s biggest shift in trade and foreign policy for more than 40 years. If she loses, May could call for a second vote on the deal. But defeat would increase the chances of Britain leaving without a deal — a prospect that could mean chaos for Britain’s economy and businesses — and put May under fierce pressure to resign. Defeat could also make it more likely that Britain holds a second referendum, three years after voting narrowly to leave the EU, or lead to Brexit not happening. May, 62, has toured Britain and television studios, spent hours being grilled in parliament and invited lawmakers to her Downing Street residence to try to win over her many critics. But the deal, sealed in Brussels last month, has united critics at both ends of the political spectrum: eurosceptics say it will make Britain a vassal state while EU supporters – expressing the same idea though with different language – say the country will become a rule taker. Her allies in parliament, the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party which props up her government, have also rejected the deal and opposition parties say they cannot back it. May is pressing on nonetheless. “The British people want us to get on with a deal that honours the referendum and allows us to come together again as a country, whichever way we voted,” she will tell lawmakers on Tuesday, according to excerpts of her speech. “This is the deal that delivers for the British people.” Few in the House of Commons, the lower house of parliament, seemed convinced so far. On Monday, her government’s bid to calm another row over the legal advice received on the deal did little more than inflame tensions in parliament. Her former Brexit minister David Davis said flatly: “This is not Brexit.”

(France24) It’s real me’: Nigerian president denies being replaced by lookalike; Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday quashed a rumour stemming from his ill health that he had died and been replaced by a lookalike impostor from Sudan, his spokesman said. “It’s real me, I assure you. I will soon celebrate my 76th birthday and I will still go strong,” Buhari said as he met with the Nigerian diaspora in Poland, where he is attending the UN COP24 climate summit in Katowice. He was answering a question from the audience about repeated claims — spread via tweets, Facebook posts and YouTube videos — that the leader of Africa’s most populous nation was an imposter called “Jubril”. “A lot of people hoped that I died during my ill health. Some even reached out to the Vice President to consider them to be his deputy because they assumed I was dead,” Buhari said, according to a statement signed by his spokesman Garba Shehu. He referred to those who started the rumour as “ignorant” d “irreligious”. Buhari, who is seeking re-election next year, spent a large part of 2017 in London for treatment for a serious illness, which has never been revealed to the public.

JAPAN (NHK) Okinawa defense bureau suspends landfill work; Japan’s defense chief says the Okinawa bureau of the defense ministry has temporarily suspended work related to a US base relocation plan after the local government pointed out the necessary steps hadn’t been taken. The Okinawa defense bureau ordered soil and sand to be loaded onto a vessel at a pier of a private company in Nago City on Monday. This is in preparation for reclamation work to construct a replacement facility for the US Marines’ Futenma Air Station in the city’s Henoko coastal district. The central government plans to start full-fledged reclamation work on Friday of next week despite local opposition. Okinawa Prefecture called for a stop to the loading, calling it “illegal work,” because the defense bureau failed to submit the necessary documents to local authorities. Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters on Tuesday that the loading work has been suspended following the request. He said he hopes the situation will be reviewed as quickly as possible, and if shortcomings are found, the bureau will correct them and proceed with the plan. Asked whether the suspension could affect the planned start of the landfill work, Iwaya said he hopes there will be no impact.

(NHK) 40% of world’s patent filings from China; A UN agency has reported that China accounted for more than 40 percent of world patent filings last year. The country has been at the head of the world rankings for 7 straight years. The World Intellectual Property Organization, or WIPO, released on Monday its latest report on patent applications in 2017. WIPO says China’s intellectual property office received a total of 1.38 million applications. The United States was second at slightly more than 600,000 and Japan third at nearly 320,000. Innovators around the globe filed 3.17 million patent applications last year — the highest total on record. The report comes as US criticism of China’s alleged violations of intellectual property rights is playing a key role in the ongoing trade row. WIPO Director General Francis Gurry says that in just a few decades China has constructed an intellectual property system and encouraged homegrown innovation. He says the country is driving worldwide growth in intellectual property applications.

(NHK) Trump asks for Pakistan’s help; The American president seems to be softening his harsh attitude towards Pakistan. Government officials there say Donald Trump is asking for cooperation to end the long-running conflict in neighboring Afghanistan. The officials say Trump made the request in a letter to Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan. He asked for his “support” in negotiating with the Afghan Taliban… and he called the relationship with Pakistan very important to end the 17-year-long war. It’s a significant change in tone for Trump. He’s repeatedly accused Pakistan of harboring the insurgents and failing to crack down on their activities, despite billions of dollars in US aid. Trump wants to end the war and bring thousands of American troops deployed there back home. The Pakistani Information ministry welcomed his letter saying the country “has always advocated a political settlement.”

(NHK) Sri Lankan court bars PM from office; In Sri Lanka, the courts are weighing in on an ongoing political battle. A new ruling is barring Mahinda Rajapaksa from holding the post of prime minister and it’s blocking his cabinet. It comes after a brawl in parliament last month, when lawmakers passed a non-confidence vote against him. The turmoil started in October, when the president abruptly fired his prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, accusing him of being corrupt. He then replaced him with Rajapaksa. But that caused backlash. Rajapaksa led the country through the end of its bloody civil war, and has been accused of human rights abuses. This court decision is another setback for him. He’s managed to hold onto his seat, but lawmakers have passed multiple non-confidence measures against him, and the Supreme Court stopped the president from dissolving parliament to call a new election. Wickremesinghe still claims to be the rightful prime minister and has refused to back down. The political drama stems partly from a rivalry between Rajapaksa’s pro-China bloc and a pro-India faction. Rajapaksa says he doesn’t accept the latest order and will file an appeal with the Supreme Court.

(NHK) Philippine news site chief bailed; A Philippine court has granted bail to the top executive of a news website known for its critical reporting of the president’s policies. The Philippine Justice Department indicted Rappler and its CEO, Maria Ressa, on tax evasion charges in October. Ressa spoke to reporters after posting bail of about 1,100 dollars. She said: “Before the government files these, they should have gone through their own due process, and just in this court alone, we feel that we did not get due process. So I’ll let our lawyers argue it in court, but no, I’m not afraid.” Ressa added she will continue fighting the charges to show they are “politically motivated” and “manufactured.” The Justice Department says Rappler and Ressa tried to evade taxes by not reporting gains of almost 3 million dollars in 2015. The site gained a reputation for its exposure of President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs. The court set her arraignment for Friday.

World News Headlines: 12-03-2018

GERMANY (DW) Crunch time for the climate at the COP24 global warming conference; There’s a lot at stake at the UN climate conference in Poland. Delegates will be scrambling to save the Paris Agreement — and the multilateralism of the United Nations. It was just three years ago. But the euphoric celebrations in Paris now seem a distant memory.; The United Nations’ 190-plus states had finally wrestled together an agreement that the Earth’s temperature shouldn’t rise by more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels. Better still, that it should go up by considerably less.; “This is a historic moment for climate protection,” then-German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks told DW at the time. “Most children alive today will still be here towards the end of this century. And that’s why it’s important that it doesn’t heat up more than 2 degrees.”

(DW) Spain’s Socialists secure win in Andalusia regional election; For the first time in decades, a far-right party has won enough votes to enter a Spanish regional parliament. The result is a blow to Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who was facing his first major electoral test. Spain’s Socialist Workers’ Party secured the most votes in Sunday’s regional election in Andalusia, but fell well short of a majority.

(DW) Saudi-led coalition in Yemen says it will allow evacuation of wounded Houthi rebels; The United Nations is pressing the coalition and Houthi rebels to take confidence building measures ahead of planned peace talks. It is still unclear when, or whether, they will take place despite recent positive signs. Fifty wounded Houthi rebels will be evacuated on a plane from Yemen’s capital on Monday as a confidence building measure ahead of planned peace talks in Sweden, the Saudi-led military coalition said. The UN chartered plane will take the rebels, three Yemeni doctors and a UN doctor from Sanaa to Muscat, Oman, for “humanitarian” reasons ahead of the talks sponsored by UN envoy Martin Griffiths, Saudi state media said.

(DW) Thousands march in Brussels ahead of COP24 climate conference; Tens of thousands of people have marched through Brussels to call on governments to stick to their climate change commitments. The protest came as a major United Nations climate summit kicked off in Poland.

(DW) Macron holds crisis talks after worst urban riot in 50 years; French President Emmanuel Macron is keen to prevent a recurrence of the angry fuel protests in Paris that turned into the most serious unrest in decades. Police arrested 412 people, while 133 were injured. The French government did not discuss the possibility of declaring a state of emergency to prevent future riots at “yellow-vest” protests across the country, an Elysee Palace spokesman said on Sunday. French President Emmanuel Macron held talks with several ministers after angry demonstrations a day earlier turned into the worst unrest in the capital, Paris, since 1968. Interior Minister Christophe Castaner has been asked to prepare security forces for future protests and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe to hold talks with political party leaders and protest representatives. Officials said 133 people were injured, including 23 police officers, and 412 people were arrested in the third weekend of clashes in the capital.

(DW) Germany: Blood sausage at Islam conference stirs controversy; Germany’s Interior Ministry has apologized for serving the pork sausage at an Islam conference in Berlin last week. The “#BloodSausageGate” scandal has sparked a debate over integration and tolerance. Germany’s Interior Ministry has come under fire for serving blood sausage at a national Islam conference last week, despite pork being forbidden for practicing Muslims. The issue has stirred a heated debate — one that touches on the fault line issues of integration and respect for different religions — between critics of the ministry and right-wing groups who justified the decision to serve the dish. The ministry has defended its decision to serve the sausage consisting of pig’s blood, pork and bacon at the evening buffet on Wednesday. It said the serving reflected the “religious-pluralistic composition” of the event, which brought together Muslim associations and leaders with officials from the federal and local governments. The ministry added that there was a wide range of food at the “clearly excellent” buffet, with vegetarian, meat, fish and halal dishes available. “If individuals were still offended for religious reasons, we regret this,” it said.

(DW) Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 concert held in Johannesburg for African development; Beyonce, Ed Sheeran and Pharrell were among the stars who took to the stage in South Africa to raise awareness for global poverty. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s message offering good prospects for the future was beamed. In a message beamed on screen during the event, Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Germany wanted to work with Africa to offer its young people good prospects for the future. “With this in mind, we have just launched the Development Investment Fund here in Berlin,” Merkel said. “We hope to raise up to a billion euros through this fund.”

(DW) Georgia protests decry presidential ‘election fraud’; Thousands of protesters have denounced Georgia’s “rigged” presidential election. While monitors said the vote was largely fair, the OSCE raised concerns that state money was used to fund the winner’s campaign. More than 20,000 protesters on Sunday gathered in the Georgian capital Tbilisi to protest the run-off presidential election, saying the vote had been rigged. Earlier this week, Georgia elected its first female president, Salome Zurabishvili, who beat out opposition candidate Grigol Vashadze, who in turn enjoyed the backing of former president and fugitive Mikheil Saakashvili. “People took to the streets today because the elections were rigged,” said one protester identified as Gia.
Some protesters accused Georgian billionaire and founder of the ruling Georgian Dream party Bidzina Ivanishvili of stealing votes. “I am here to protest against election fraud,” said a 63-year-old demonstrator. Vashadze addressed the protesters in the capital, saying the election was a “criminal farce.” The opposition “demands an early parliamentary election to be held in Georgia,” Vashadze said, referring to the legislature.

(DW) Afghanistan’s women’s team accuse FA of sexual abuse; Two players from the national team have made a string of allegations against the head of the Afghani Football Federation and several coaches. The women say they were sexually abused and assaulted, but the FA denies this.

FRANCE (France24) Macron surveys damage after worst riots in Paris for decades, calls for talks; French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday surveyed the damage from a day of riots across Paris and led crisis talks that ended with a call for further talks with anti-government activists who have staged two weeks of protests. Macron held crisis talks with the prime minister, interior minister and top security service officials to forge a response to the violence that left hundreds injured nationwide. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has been asked to meet protest organisers and party leaders as part of a “constant wish for dialogue,” the Elysee Palace said. Environment Minister Francois de Rugy met representatives of the “yellow vests” last week but failed to convince them to end the protests. The government has not ruled out imposing a state of emergency to combat the protests, which began over fuel taxes but have grown into wider anger over Macron’s agenda. The president earlier assessed the damage at the Arc de Triomphe, the massive monument to France’s war dead at the top of the famous Champs Elysees avenue, where rioters scrawled graffiti and ransacked the ticketing and reception areas. Inside, rioters smashed in the iconic face of a sculpture, a partial reproduction of the victory allegory “La Marseillaise” by Francois Rude. Macron also saw the wreckage of burnt-out cars and damaged buildings from rioting at other sites, where he praised the police but was also booed by sections of the crowd.

(France24) Shock at attack on Paris’ Arc de Triomphe during ‘Yellow Vest’ protest; One of France’s most revered monuments, the Arc de Triomphe, was stormed and vandalised on Saturday during the ‘Yellow Vest’ demonstrations, in one of the worst instances of unrest Paris has seen since the protests and riots of 1968. The interior of the Arc de Triomphe, the 19th-century arch that towers over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the western end of Champs Elysées, was ransacked. The statue of the Marianne, the symbol of the French republic, in display at the entrance of the Arc de Triomphe museum was smashed. A video shared on Facebook shows most of the front of the statue hacked off, while several other men, dressed with yellow vests, are being filmed repeatedly hitting other artefacts with hammers. While protests degenerated in some places into scenes of destruction and fires, graffiti was scrawled over the Arc, reading “Macron resign” and “the yellow vests will triumph.” Such was the shock over the desecration of this monument that, on his return from the G20 summit in Argentina, French President Emmanuel Macron went immediately to visit the Arc on Sunday. The Arc de Triomphe is so revered because it stands over the tomb of the unknown soldier, which commemorates the 1.4 million French soldiers who died during the First World War, covered by a granite slab bearing the statement: “Here rests a French soldier who died for his country, 1914-1918”. The granite slab bearing this epitaph is installed under the monument. A flame burns in front of the tomb to symbolise France’s commemoration of the fallen soldiers. It was lit for the first time on Armistice Day 1923 by the then minister of war André Maginot. It has burned ever since, relit in a ceremony every evening. The French army announced that – after the violence prevented the fire from being relit on Saturday night – the ceremony will resume on Sunday evening.

JAPAN (NHK) Moon hopes issues won’t harm Japan-S.Korea ties; South Korean President Moon Jae-in has expressed hope that historical issues won’t sour relations between his country and Japan. Moon spoke to reporters Saturday on his flight to New Zealand following the Group of 20 summit in Argentina. He said historical disputes shouldn’t undermine cooperative ties between Japan and South Korea. He said the 2 countries should focus on the future in their relations. It’s the first time Moon has publicly referred to bilateral relations since the South Korean Supreme Court ordered a Japanese company in October to pay compensation to wartime laborers. The Japanese government has strongly protested the decision. Moon also talked about his meeting with US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G20 summit. He said Trump asked him to deliver a message to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump’s message, Moon said, conveys his liking for Kim and expresses hope that the North Korean leader will implement the rest of their agreement. Moon said Trump told Kim he would like to help him realize his goals.

(NHK) Japan, Paraguay to make investment pact; The leaders of Japan and Paraguay have confirmed that the 2 countries will seek an early conclusion to talks on an investment pact that will further expand trade and investment ties. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with President Mario Abdo Benitez in Paraguay on Sunday, on the last leg of Abe’s tour of South American countries. He was previously in Argentina for the G20 summit. The 2 leaders agreed on the need to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. Abe called for Paraguay’s understanding and cooperation in resolving the issue of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals at an early date. Abdo Benitez said he supports Japan’s stance on the issue.

(NHK) Japan, Uruguay reach agreement on beef trade; The leaders of Japan and Uruguay have agreed that their nations will start importing each other’s beef. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met Uruguay’s President Tabare Vazquez in the South American country on Sunday. Abe had earlier attended the Group of 20 summit in neighboring Argentina. At a joint news conference, Abe said the 2 leaders agreed Japan will lift its embargo on imports of Uruguayan beef, and the South American country will allow imports of Japanese wagyu beef. The Japanese government started enforcing the ban in October 2000 after an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Uruguay. Abe said the 2 leaders agreed on the need to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. Abe said Japan and Uruguay are important partners sharing universal values such as freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

(NHK) New measures against gold smuggling; The Japanese government is stepping up its efforts to fight gold smuggling. Officials are bracing for an expected rise in the number of cases ahead of a hike in the country’s consumption tax, set to go from 8 percent to 10 percent. People who bring gold into Japan are required by law to pay the tax to customs officials when they arrive. The amount is based on the value of the gold they’re carrying. Smugglers don’t report their gold. But when they sell it in Japan, they charge the buyer the consumption tax, so that the full amount of the levy ends up in their pockets. Japanese officials are worried next year’s tax hike will make smuggling more lucrative and prompt an increase in the number of attempts. The government says it will ask jewelry dealers to check the identification of sellers and keep copies of their driver’s licenses, passports and other ID. The officials plan to incorporate the new rule in its tax revisions for fiscal 2019, to be compiled this month.

(NHK) Bitcoin price plunges on Japanese exchanges; The price of Bitcoin has dropped to a fifth of its peak on Japan’s major crypto exchanges. The exchanges say the price briefly fell to around 390,000 yen, or about 3,400 dollars, late last month. That compares to around 700,000 yen at the start of November, and a peak of over 2 million yen last year. Investors have apparently soured on the currency after several billion dollars’ worth of customer assets were lost in a series of hacks. And on top of this, a separate crypto-currency split into two in November, which raised worries of possible market confusion, and contributed to the price plunge. Daisuke Yasaku of the Daiwa Institute of Research says demand for virtual currencies is unlikely to see a sharp recovery, due to tighter regulations worldwide and security concerns. A panel of experts set up by the Financial Services Agency is proposing that Japan refers to the currencies as “crypto-assets.” They say this will help consumers from confusing the assets with legal tender.

World News Headlines: 12-02-2018

GERMANY (DW) Catalan separatists launch hunger strike in Spanish jail; Two jailed Catalan leaders have accused Spanish authorities of failing to provide legal guarantees for a fair trial. Spanish prosecutors are seeking long prison terms for the duo’s involvement in an independence bid. Catalan separatist leaders on Saturday began an indefinite hunger strike in a Spanish jail as they await trial for their involvement in an outlawed independence referendum, according to their lawyer Jordi Pina. “I did not recommend this action,” said Pina. “It is a decision of my clients and they have my full support.” The two men are Jordi Sanchez, who once led the grassroots Catalan National Assembly (ANC) separatist movement, and Jordi Turull, an ex-minister in the Catalan government and failed regional presidential candidate.

(DW) Germany protests call for leadership on climate action; From Berlin to Cologne, protesters have gathered to demand more from the government in the fight against climate change. Greenpeace said Germany must lead, and that means phasing out coal by 2030. Organizers said the protest aimed to pressure the government into ending Germany’s reliance on coal for its energy needs and instead looking to renewable energies, such as solar energy and wind power.
“The point is that Germany must phase out coal by 2030,” Jennifer Morgan, who leads Greenpeace International, told the Agence France-Presse news agency.
“What happens in high-tech Germany, how quickly the climate-damaging combustion of coal is replaced by solar energy and wind power, is very important, also for other countries.”

(DW) China issues air pollution warnings, 79 cities blanketed in heavy smog; Authorities have warned residents to stay inside as thick smog shrouds dozens of Chinese cities. Officials are considering temporary driving bans and an extension to the shutdown of heavily polluting factories. Along with 78 other cities, China’s capital, Beijing, was again blanketed in thick winter smog on Saturday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Air pollution warnings were issued across the north, northwest and east of the country, forcing residents in many cities to curb outdoor activities due to the potential health risks.
Several Chinese cities struggled with high pollution levels throughout November, which in some instances forced the cancellation of flights and the closure of major highways.

(DW) Russia’s HIV capital relies on tradition against epidemic; For years, Russia’s Urals have been beset by a severe HIV epidemic, with thousands of people of all backgrounds affected. How does the state plan to tackle it? Juri Rescheto traveled to Severouralsk to find out. Severouralsk is a sleepy town in Russia’s Northern Urals, located several hundred kilometers from the cities of Yekaterinburg and Perm. The only way to reach it is via taxi or minibus. Home to some 26,000 people, it has always been a mining town, which is how most residents earn a living. And although the town has an unemployment rate of 3.28 percent, slightly higher than the Russian average, many still find work in the region’s bauxite mines. The town’s tranquility, however, belies a grim reality: Severouralsk is the country’s HIV capital. Severouralsk is grappling with a veritable epidemic. Here, every 25th resident is infected with HIV. The town was one of the first in Russia to properly record all known HIV cases, subsequently earning Severouralsk an infamous reputation. Here the virus is not only found among groups at higher risk of contracting HIV, but throughout society.

(DW) G20: Merkel calls on Putin to free Ukrainian sailors; On the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, the German chancellor called for the release of Ukrainian sailors seized by Russia last weekend. Putin called Kyiv’s ruling party a “party of war.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel had an “in-depth” conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the worsening tensions between Moscow and Kyiv, her spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Saturday. Merkel joined French President Emmanuel Macron, who also met Putin separately on the sidelines of the G20 summit of the world’s biggest economies in Argentina, in demanding the release of the Ukrainian sailors captured by Russia’s navy last weekend. Putin insisted their cases would be dealt with by the courts. Russia captured several Ukrainian navy vessels on Sunday in the Kerch Strait, which links the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. The area is located off the Crimean Peninsula, a territory Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014. At a press conference later on Saturday, Putin said Ukraine was not interested in a peaceful resolution to the conflict and called the governing party in Kyiv a “party of war.” “As long as it’s in power, tragedies of this type and the war will continue,” Putin added.

FRANCE (France24) ‘Putin refuses to talk to me’, Ukraine’s Poroshenko; Ukraine’s president urged Russia to return the boats and sailors seized a few days ago in the Sea of Azov, which he described as a deliberate act of aggression. He wanted to deescalate the situation but lamented that Russian president Vladimir Putin has refused to talk to him since the beginning of the crisis. Poroshenko urged Moscow to return the boats and the sailors, whom he described as prisoners of war. He refused to say he was disappointed by the reaction from western countries.

(France24) Hundreds arrested as police clash with ‘Yellow Vest’ protesters in Paris; Protesters angry about rising taxes clashed with French police for a third straight weekend and scores were arrested after demonstrators built barricades in central Paris, lit fires and threw rocks at officers Saturday. According to figures released by French interior ministry, around 75,000 demonstrators took to the streets today in the anti-Macron protests. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said earlier on Saturday that “1,500 troublemakers” were around the Champs-Elysées avenue, outside a perimeter secured by police, who said that 270 people were arrested.

(Francw24) World AIDS Day: How a hidden epidemic threatens Madagascar; On paper, Madagascar is largely unaffected by AIDS and HIV: according to UNAIDS, the prevalence of HIV is 0.3 percent. But experts agree that there is likely a hidden epidemic. Only eight percent of the population has been tested for HIV or AIDS. “We see that if people do not want to be screened, it is for many–almost half–out of denial. They think that HIV doesn’t exist or that it doesn’t concern them. Or they are afraid of being stigmatized as a person with HIV if they are found to be positive,” said Yoann Maldonado, general coordinator for Doctors of the World. The group and other NGOs send volunteers into the field to survey people and convince them to get tested.

JAPAN (NHK) Abe, Putin agree on framework for talks; The leaders of Japan and Russia are following up on their agreement to speed up negotiations on a peace treaty. They have agreed to arrange a meeting between foreign ministers to discuss the issue before the next bilateral summit early next year. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Vladimir Putin met in Argentina after the G20 summit. They agreed that Foreign Minister Taro Kono would negotiate a peace treaty with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, before Prime Minister Abe visits Russia. Abe and Putin also designated chief negotiators under the foreign ministers. Senior Deputy Foreign Minister Takeo Mori and Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov will represent the leaders as special envoys. It was the leaders’ 24th meeting following their previous summit in November in Singapore. In Singapore, Abe and Putin agreed to accelerate negotiations on a peace treaty based on the 1956 joint declaration. It says Moscow will hand over to Japan 2 of 4 Russian-held islands after the conclusion of a peace treaty. A treaty was never signed after World War Two.

(NHK) Ghosn’s aide signed deferred pay documents; Sources say a close aide to Carlos Ghosn, the ousted chairman of Nissan Motor, has admitted that he signed documents outlining plans to pay part of Ghosn’s earnings after his retirement. Nissan’s former representative director Greg Kelly was arrested in November on suspicion of conspiring with Ghosn to underreport Ghosn’s income by tens of millions of dollars. Sources say every year Kelly created a document, which stipulated that Ghosn would receive a deferred payment after his retirement. Kelly told prosecutors that he signed the documents every year. But he insists that they were not official documents, and that the amount of Ghosn’s deferred remuneration had not been determined. He also says the documents were created to try to keep Ghosn at Nissan.

(NHK) US halts China tariffs increase; he US is not going ahead with a plan to raise tariffs on Chinese imports. Washington had planned to increase them from 10 percent to 25 percent on 200 billion dollars’ worth of goods from January 1. The agreement was reached at a summit between US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, following the G20 conference. The White House says Beijing will buy more farm products and energy to reduce its trade deficit with Washington. It says the 2 countries will immediately begin negotiations on intellectual property protection and cyber theft. The White House says the US will raise tariffs if the 2 sides can’t reach an agreement within 90 days. Trump said previously his administration would increase them from January 1 if trade talks with China fail.

(NHK) Topics of finance ministers’ meeting announced; How to fix current account imbalances will be one of the topics at the Finance Ministers’ and Central Bank Governors’ meeting next June. Japan will host the meeting in the southwestern city of Fukuoka on June 8th and 9th. Finance Minister Taro Aso announced the major topics for discussion on Saturday in Argentina as the G20 summit closed. Aso told a news conference that he hopes the finance ministers will discuss the issue of current account imbalances. He said that Japan wants the discussion to focus on redressing such imbalances through multilateral measures, not bilateral trade negotiations. Japan also wants to discuss rules on country-to-country loans to improve transparency. An increasing number of emerging countries are burdened with loans from China that they cannot pay back. The ministers are also expected to discuss the impact of aging populations on the global economy and taxation of global IT giants. Aso said that he hopes the finance ministers and the governors of central banks will discuss laying the foundation for sustainable economic growth, as they are responsible for the future of the world economy.

World News Headlines: 12-01-2018

Germany (DW) G20 summit opens as leaders give Saudi prince mixed reception; World leaders have opened talks at the G20 summit in Argentina. A weekend of meetings is expected to be overshadowed by the contentious presence of the Saudi crown prince and tensions between Russia and Ukraine. The G20 summit kicked off in Buenos Aires on Friday, with a plea from the host, Argentine President Mauricio Macri, for world leaders to have a “sense of urgency” and take actions “based on shared interests.” A number of high-stakes bilateral meetings over the next two days are likely to be dominated by the trade war between the United States and China, Russian aggression in Ukraine, and the suspected involvement of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in the slaying of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Russian President Vladimir Putin and the crown prince raised eyebrows when they exchanged a high-five and shook hands, laughing together as they took their seats alongside each other at a plenary session. Other leaders avoided the prince, who appeared towards the edge of the official “family photo” of leaders.

(DW) Protests hit G20 in Argentina; As the leaders of Russia, China, the US and other industrialized nations kicked off their annual summit, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Buenos Aires to express opposition — in a very colorful manner.

(DW) Germany announces new global arms control project; Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has announced a German-led initiative on global disarmament. He warned that technologically advanced weaponry will soon transform from science fiction into “deadly reality.” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called Saturday for “new thinking” on disarmament policy and announced a German initiative aimed at improving control over increasingly technologically sophisticated weaponry. In an interview with the daily Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, Maas said, “Our rules need to keep pace with the technological developments of new types of arms. “I am also thinking of fully automated weapons systems that can kill entirely independent of human control,” he said. Space-based weapons and missiles that can travel many times faster than the speed of sound may sound like science fiction today, but will soon become “deadly reality,” he added. Concrete details about the German initiative remain unknown.

(DW) North Korean soldier defects to South; The defection comes as North and South Korea have reduced military tensions along the border. Defections across the border separating the two sides are rare and have raised tensions in the past. A North Korean soldier defected to South Korea early on Saturday, the South Korean military said. The defector crossed the military demarcation line separating the two countries and was spotted by surveillance equipment, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. “Related agencies plan to investigate him regarding the details of how he came to the South,” it said. The escape across the heavily fortified border separating the two Koreas comes as both sides have made moves to reduce tensions despite slow progress on denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

(DW) A transit city in Niger extends HIV/AIDS care to migrants; The movement of people in Africa is driving the HIV/AIDS rate up. In one city Nigerien authorities have included migrants in their program to curb and treat the disease. Agadez is the largest city in central Niger, with over 100,000 people, and a key West African transit hub. The prevalence rate of the sexually transmitted virus is not as high as in other African cities. Hoping to keep it that way, the health ministry has extended its HIV/AIDS awareness and treatment programs to people who may just be passing through the city. The government has teamed up with non-governmental organizations based in Agadez. “We give proper counseling and medication to those living with HIV and this applies to all, not just the residents of Agadez,” Mahmoud Aboubakar, the initiative’s coordinator, told DW. HIV/AIDS tests are also provided for foreigners on a voluntary basis when they enter or leave Agadez. Health experts say the program is proving helpful in curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS.

(DW) Canada’s top court rules reporter must hand over notes on alleged terrorist; The court ruled that there was a public interest in obtaining evidence for a terrorism case. The decision may impact the willingness of sources to speak to journalists.Canada’s Supreme Court on Friday ruled that a reporter must hand over correspondence with a suspected jihadi to police for use in a prosecution. In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled that “the media’s interest was outweighed by the public interest in obtaining reliable evidence of very serious terrorism offenses.”

(DW) Turkish court rejects European rights court ruling to release top Kurdish politician; A Turkish court has defied a European Court of Human Rights ruling demanding the release of Selahattin Demirtas. The decision comes after Turkey’s president said the European court’s decisions were non-binding. A Turkish court on Friday rejected an appeal to free a top Kurdish politician from prison despite a European human rights court ruling demanding his release. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on November 20 that the pretrial detention of Selahattin Demirtas, the former co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), served the “ulterior purpose of stifling pluralism and limiting the freedom of political debate” and demanded his immediate release. Demirtas’ lawyers then filed an appeal to an Ankara court calling for his release. In its ruling, the court said the ECHR decision had not been finalized. The ECHR enforces the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Turkey is a signatory. The court’s rulings are binding for member states.

(DW) Anti-Semitism: ‘Climate has got worse for Jews in Europe,’ says Moscow rabbi; Anti-Semitism is spreading across Europe once again. Moscow’s chief rabbi, Pinchas Goldschmidt told DW about the fears and hopes of Europe’s Jewish communities and warned against radicalization in society.

FRANCE (France24) ‘Yellow Vest’ delegates refuse meeting with French PM because not filmed; Delegates from France’s ‘Yellow Vest’ protesters turned down a planned meeting with Prime Minister Édouard Philippe on Friday, on the grounds that it would not be filmed. “I have repeatedly asked that this interview be filmed and broadcast live on television. This was refused,” said Jason Herbert, one of eight members of the delegation that emerged from the group in the beginning of the week.

(France24) Fighting Ebola in a DR Congo warzone; The Democratic Republic of Congo is currently fighting its worst ever Ebola epidemic, concentrated to its restive North Kivu region. But armed militia groups are making access for WHO specialists and local health workers difficult. The crisis could therefore deteriorate quickly. FRANCE 24’s Bastien Renouil reports from a country that is fighting a war on several fronts. By the end of November, DR Congo had recorded more than 400 cases of Ebola, including over 240 deaths. It’s the highest number of victims to have been reported since the virus was first discovered in the north of the country in 1976. Ever since the latest epidemic was confirmed on August 1, the WHO, the Congolese health ministry and international NGOs have set up special teams to respond to the crisis, and many of them have been deployed to the North Kivu city of Béni, which is at the epicentre of the epidemic. But the response has proved particularly difficult in this region, where armed militias sow terror on a daily basis, preventing medical teams from reaching some affected areas.

JAPAN (NHK) 4K, 8K broadcasting begins in Japan; Japanese TV networks have launched ultra-high definition 4K and 8K broadcasting. The formats feature images and audio far exceeding the levels used in conventional high definition broadcasting. At a ceremony in Tokyo on Saturday, Communications Minister Masatoshi Ishida said he hopes Japan will play a leading role in 4K and 8K broadcasting. NHK President Ryoichi Ueda said the broadcaster will aim to spread the service by delivering exciting experiences for viewers. After a countdown, at exactly 10 AM, broadcasters started showing programs in 8K and 4K on specially arranged monitors. NHK is broadcasting the new services domestically on the satellite channels BS4K and BS8K. The formats can only be enjoyed on certain TV monitors or with external tuners.

(NHK) Kono: S.Korea court rulings affecting exchanges; Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono says the South Korean Supreme Court’s rulings on wartime labor are affecting exchanges between municipalities in the 2 countries. According to Japan’s Foreign Ministry, Chichibu City north of Tokyo has cancelled mutual dispatches of officials with its sister city Gangneung. A visit by a delegation from South Korea’s Daegu to Gifu City in central Japan has also been postponed. South Korea’s Supreme Court recently ordered Japanese companies to compensate some Koreans for wartime labor. The Japanese government says the rulings violate international laws. It says any right to claims was settled completely and finally in 1965, when Japan and South Korea normalized ties. Kono told reporters on Friday that interaction between Japanese and South Korean people should not stop because of the problems between their governments. He said he wants municipalities to continue with their sister-city, sports and cultural exchanges. He called on the South Korean government to swiftly address the issue.

(NHK) Trump, Moon agree to maintain N.Korea sanctions; US President Donald Trump and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in have agreed to continue enforcing sanctions on North Korea until the North achieves denuclearization. Trump and Moon met on Friday on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina. During their meeting, they affirmed their commitment to achieving a final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea. Trump expressed his willingness to have a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump and Moon agreed that their countries will work closely together. The meeting comes amid an apparent stall in US-North Korean denuclearization talks, and as Washington grows concerned over increased efforts by South Korea toward reconciliation with Pyongyang. South Korea’s presidential office said Moon and Trump also agreed that the proposed visit by Kim Jong Un to Seoul would help establish peace on the Korean Peninsula. It appears the South Korean government wishes to stress the visit to Seoul by the North’s leader, which they hope to realize by the year-end, has the support of the US president.

(NHK) Abe, Trump meet at G20; The 2 leaders met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina on Friday. Trump said, “Japan is buying large amounts of our fighter jets, F-35s and others, and we appreciate it very much. But they are really working with me on trying to balance our deficit, because we do have a deficit that’s pretty substantial with Japan. We hope that we are going to be balancing it very quickly.” Trump also said he was honored to be invited to Japan for the Imperial succession next year. Abe said, “The alliance between Japan and the United States has become more robust than ever.” The 2 leaders agreed on the importance of fully implementing UN Security Council resolutions to achieve the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. They also reaffirmed that they will cooperate to deal with North Korea’s offshore ship-to-ship transfers of goods, which violate UN sanctions. They confirmed that they will further expand trade and investment between Japan and the US, as stated in their joint statement in September. They also reaffirmed that they will work toward realizing economic development in “a free and open Indo-Pacific” region. Abe and Trump later had their first trilateral summit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They reaffirmed close cooperation to strengthen the free and open Indo-Pacific initiative to guarantee the rule of law and freedom of navigation.

THE COMMENTARY GAZETTE®

 

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.

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CONTRIBUTOR: Staff