Ghana Eye Uruguay Revenge, Germany Digests Shock Exit

Uruguay’s forward #09 Luis Suarez gives a press conference at the Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC) in Doha on December 1, 2022, on the eve of the Qatar 2022 World Cup football match between Ghana and Uruguay. (Photo by Pablo PORCIUNCULA / AFP)

 

 

Ghana bid to avenge an infamous loss by eliminating Uruguay from the World Cup on Friday as shellshocked Germany launched an inquest into the team’s stunning early exit.

After a pulsating fortnight of first round action, the World Cup’s group stage draws to a close with the final games in Groups G and H.

Brazil have already locked up qualification from Group G while Portugal have assured themselves of a place in the last 16 in Group H.

That leaves all eyes on Ghana’s clash with Uruguay on Friday where a win for the Africans would see them into the knockout rounds.

The game is a rematch of the two sides epic 2010 World Cup quarter-final, where a deliberate handball on the goalline by Uruguay’s Luis Suarez denied Ghana an extra-time winner.

Asamoah Gyan missed the ensuing spot-kick before Uruguay went on to win the game on penalties to deny Ghana a semi-final berth.

The villain of the 2010 game, Suarez, on Thursday brushed off an invitation to apologise for his misdeeds ahead of Friday’s game.

“I don’t say I apologise about that because I take the handball but the Ghana player missed the penalty, not me. It’s not my fault because I did not miss the penalty,” he said.

The permutations are simple for Uruguay — they must win to have any chance of progressing, while Ghana know a draw could be enough, depending on the result between Portugal and South Korea.

Like Uruguay, the Koreans must win and then hope for a favour in the other match.

They will be without Portuguese coach Paulo Bento after his red card in the 3-2 defeat to Ghana when he raged at the referee.

In Group G, already-qualified Brazil play Cameroon, who must win to stand a chance of progressing.

Brazil coach Tite is set to make a raft of changes to rest his first-choice players as he eyes the next round.

“It is a risk, yes, but it is an opportunity for (other players) to show their quality,” he said.

Serbia must also beat Switzerland — who could qualify with a draw — to reach the last 16.

– German inquest –
Friday’s group games follow an epic round of fixtures on Thursday which saw Japan stun 2010 world champions Spain to seal their place in the knockout rounds at the expense of mighty Germany.

Germany, who suffered a stunning 2-1 defeat to the Japanese earlier in the tournament, were eliminated on goal difference.

It is the second straight World Cup that Germany have failed to go beyond the group stage, a startling fall from grace for the four-time champions who last won the title in 2014.

German veteran Thomas Muller described the loss on Thursday as an “absolute catastrophe” while striker Kai Havertz said simply: “I don’t think we’re a tournament team anymore.”

The German exit has understandably put the future of coach Hansi Flick under scrutiny.

Flick’s contract runs until 2024, when Germany will host the European Championship on home soil.

Flick said late Thursday there was “no reason not to continue” after being quizzed about his future.

German Football Federation (DFB) president Bernd Neuendorf said Friday there was no question of Flick being granted a “blank cheque” to continue as he announced a review of the debacle.

“As soon as the analysis is completed, we will present the conclusions to you,” Neuendorf told reporters in Qatar.

But former Germany international Dietmar Hamann said Flick should be hustled out of the door, pointing the finger of blame at the coach.

“Everyone does what they want in the team. I see no reason why Flick should remain coach,” Hamann told Sky Germany. “He has not managed to form a team, a squad that is competitive.

“In terms of players, we are better than at least two teams in our group. He didn’t get the cohesion right.”

Hashimoto Dethrones Zhang To Win World All-Around Gymnastics Title

(From L) Second-placed Japan’s Daiki Hashimoto, first-placed Britain’s Giarnni Regini-Moran and third-placed Japan’s Ryosuke Doi celebrate on the podium after competing in the Men’s Floor Exercise final at the World Gymnastics Championships in Liverpool, northern England on November 5, 2022. (Photo by Ben Stansall / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – PUBLICATION OF SEQUENCES IN EXCESS OF 5 IMAGES/SECOND IS PROHIBITED – RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – PUBLICATION OF SEQUENCES IN EXCESS OF 5 IMAGES/SECOND IS PROHIBITED

 

 

Japan’s Daiki Hashimoto dethroned reigning champion Zhang Boheng to win the men’s all-around final at the World Gymnastics Championships in Liverpool on Friday.

Two-time Olympic gold medallist Hashimoto tallied 87.198 to reverse the result of last year’s final in Kitakyushu and Wednesday’s men’s team final, when Zhang’s China beat Japan to gold.

It was the latest chapter in a developing rivalry between the two star gymnasts, who were separated by just 0.017 a year ago.

Hashimoto is widely hailed as the successor to Japan great Kohei Uchimura, who won an unprecedented six successive all-around titles between 2009 and 2015.

The 21-year-old, who won the all-around title and the horizontal bar event at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, hit the front on the second rotation after scoring 14.333 on the pommel, the best of the night on the apparatus.

Zhang stayed on his coattails throughout but Hashimoto held firm and a 14.433 score on the high bar was enough to seal the crown.

Hashimoto’s compatriot Wataru Tanigawa won the battle for bronze, with America’s Brody Malone fourth and British home favourite Jake Jarman fifth.

Zhang, who scored 86.765, has been on a redemption mission since being overlooked for last year’s Tokyo Olympics.

The 22-year-old revealed he attempted a less complex routine due to ongoing physical issues.

“I did reduce some of my difficulty in my floor routine on purpose, because I am not 100 percent fit,” he said. “I am still battling with wrist and waist injuries.

“After two sections of podium training and the team final, I definitely felt a bit tired. That is why I would rather make it safer to reduce the difficulty, aiming for better execution.”

 

 

First-placed Britain’s Giarnni Regini-Moran (L) is congratulated by second-placed Japan’s Daiki Hashimoto (R) after winning the Men’s Floor Exercise final at the World Gymnastics Championships in Liverpool, northern England on November 5, 2022. (Photo by Ben Stansall / AFP) 

 

Japan’s Daiki Hashimoto reacts after compet during the Men’s Floor Exercise final at the World Gymnastics Championships in Liverpool, northern England on November 5, 2022. (Photo by Ben Stansall / AFP) 

 

Japan’s Daiki Hashimoto competes during the Men’s Floor Exercise final at the World Gymnastics Championships in Liverpool, northern England on November 5, 2022. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Binance Says Crypto Moved Through Platform From Iran

In this photo illustration a Binance logo seen displayed with crypto coins in the foreground.

 

 

Funds belonging to or intended for Iranians have flowed through the world’s largest cryptocurrency platform, Binance, the company said Friday, risking that it may run afoul of US-imposed sanctions.

“Earlier in the week, we discovered that Binance interacted” with “bad actors” using Iranian cryptocurrency exchanges, said Chagri Poyraz, head of sanctions at Binance.

Some of these users “attempted to move crypto through Binance’s exchange,” he wrote on the blog on the company’s website. “As soon as we discovered this, we moved to freeze transfers (and) block accounts.”

When asked by AFP about the number of these accounts and the amounts involved, Binance declined comment.

According to Reuters, some $7.8 billion has passed through Binance in connection with accounts domiciled on the busiest Iranian platform, Nobitex.

No Iranian cryptocurrency platforms are currently under sanctions. But US-imposed restrictions prohibit a US entity or US national from selling goods and services to Iranian residents, businesses or institutions. The ban includes financial services.

Binance was founded in 2017 by a Chinese-Canadian entrepreneur but following regulations on its activities in China, it moved its operations to Bahrain, Dubai, Paris and the Cayman Islands.

Binance’s United States subsidiary is Binance.US, an entity that has come into regulatory crosshairs.

According to Reuters, citing data from the specialized company Chainalysis, Binance.US has conducted transactions with Iranian cryptocurrency platforms.

When contacted by AFP, Chainalysis declined comment.

By validating transactions with Iranian sites, Binance also runs the risk that they have allowed individuals or entities targeted by US sanctions to move funds.

Judge In Moscow-Occupied Ukraine Shot And Wounded

This photograph taken on November 4, 2022, shows empty graves after the exhumation of bodies in the mass graves dug during the Russian’s occupation in the town of Izyum, Kharkiv region, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. – A DNA laboratory was deployed this week in the town of Izyum to help relatives of the 450 bodies found in mass burial sites to formally identify the remains of their loved ones without going through the gruelling visual examination. (Photo by Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP)

 

 

A judge in a Ukrainian town controlled by Moscow was in a “serious” condition after surviving an assassination attempt, a separatist leader in Donetsk said Saturday.

“There was attempt with the use of firearms on a judge of the Supreme Court of the Donetsk Republic Alexander Nikulin,” the rebel leader of the self-proclaimed republic, Denis Pushilin, said on Telegram.

He blamed Kyiv, saying the attack took place on Friday evening in the town of Vuhlehirsk, in the eastern Donetsk region.

“The Ukrainian regime continues to show its vile terrorist methods,” Pushilin added, saying the judge had been “giving sentences to Nazi war criminals.”

“His condition is assessed by doctors to be stable but serious,” he added.

Russia regularly calls Ukrainian armed forces “Nazis” and President Vladimir Putin has said he sent troops to Ukraine last February to “de-Nazify” the country.

Firebomb Attack On UK Immigration Centre ‘motivated By Terrorist Ideology’

British immigration minister Robert Jenrick on Tuesday vowed “more radical” policies to counter illegal migration as record numbers make the treacherous crossing of the Channel in small boats. Jenrick accepted that conditions at the Manston migrant processing centre in Kent, southeast England, were “poor”, and that people had been sleeping on the floor on mats. “The problem is that thousands of people are crossing the Channel illegally every day,” he added. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)

 

 

The firebombing of a UK migrant processing centre last week was “motivated by a terrorist ideology”, counter-terrorism police said on Saturday.

“Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTPSE)… have recovered evidence that indicates the attack at an immigration centre in Dover on Sunday, 30 October 2022, was motivated by a terrorist ideology,” the body said in a statement.

The evidence recovered — including from devices — suggested “there was an extreme right-wing motivation behind the attack,” it added.

Tim Jacques, senior national coordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing, added that while there were “strong indications that mental health was likely a factor”, he had concluded that the “suspect’s actions were primarily driven by an extremist ideology”.

These met the “threshold for a terrorist incident”, he said.

Homemade incendiary devices were thrown at the Western Jet Foil Border Force centre in Dover on Sunday, leaving two staff with minor injuries.

The facility in the busy port town in southeast England processes migrants who have crossed the Channel from northern Europe in small boats.

The attack was carried was out by a 66-year-old man who was later found dead.

“There is currently nothing to suggest the offender was working alongside anyone else and there is not believed to be any wider threat to the public,” the statement said.

The British government is currently grappling with how to deal with a record number of migrants crossing the Channel from northern Europe in small boats.

Since the beginning of the year, an unprecedented 38,000 people have made the perilous journey, the government’s home affairs select committee was told on October 26.

Britain’s Home Secretary Suella Braverman earlier this week caused outrage — and earned a rebuke from the new UN rights chief — for describing the arrivals as an “invasion”.

Candlelight Vigils Mourn South Korea Halloween Disaster Victims

People take part in a candlelight vigil to commemorate the 156 people killed in the October 29 Halloween crowd crush, in Seoul on November 5, 2022. – Candlelight vigils and rallies were expected in South Korea on November 5 to commemorate the 156 people killed in a Halloween crowd crush, with public anger growing over one of the country’s deadliest peacetime disasters. (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP)

 

 

Candlelight vigils and rallies were held in South Korea on Saturday to commemorate the 156 people killed in a Halloween crowd crush, with public anger growing over one of the country’s deadliest peacetime disasters.

The victims, mostly young people, were among the estimated 100,000 that had flocked to the capital Seoul’s popular Itaewon nightlife district to celebrate the first post-pandemic Halloween.

South Korean law enforcement officials have conceded that there was insufficient safety planning for a crowd that large, and opposition politicians have accused President Yoon Suk-yeol’s government of not taking responsibility for the disaster.

Thousands gathered in central Seoul at a candlelight vigil organised by a civic group linked to South Korea’s main opposition party, with many holding signs that said: “Step down, Yoon Suk-yeol.”

“I think I will live with the anxiety that one day I may suffer such an accident as well,” said participant Yoo Da-eun, 23.

“In fact, even when I was coming here, I was worried that something would happen because of the large crowds.”

The organisers — who had also held anti-government rallies prior to the disaster — said they were conducting similar vigils in other cities including Busan and Gwangju.

In Itaewon, at a subway exit near the alley at the centre of the Halloween crush, there was a sea of white floral tributes and notes.

One read: “I will remember you forever.”

Mourners also left chocolates, beer, soju — a Korean alcoholic beverage — and strawberry milk.

At a candlelight vigil in Jeju, around 100 mourners gathered outside city hall. Some lay flowers to pay tribute to the victims.

 

People take part in a candlelight vigil to commemorate the 156 people killed in the October 29 Halloween crowd crush, in Seoul on November 5, 2022. – Candlelight vigils and rallies were expected in South Korea on November 5 to commemorate the 156 people killed in a Halloween crowd crush, with public anger growing over one of the country’s deadliest peacetime disasters. (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP)

 

– ‘Deeply saddened and sorry’ –
Reflecting public anger over the tragedy, a woman identified by local media as the mother of one of the victims was seen ripping apart floral wreaths left by the president and Seoul’s mayor at a memorial on Friday.

“What’s the point of (these flowers) when they couldn’t protect (our children)? Think about it,” she was seen saying in footage broadcast by local TV stations.

“What’s the point of standing next to these (wreaths) when you let our babies die?”

Police officers were then seen escorting the woman away from the memorial.

On Friday, President Yoon offered an apology for the disaster, joining other top officials — including the national police chief and the interior minister — in doing so.

“As a president who is responsible for the lives and safety of the people, I am deeply saddened and sorry,” he said.

“I know that our government and I… have a huge responsibility to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again.”

 

Mourners take part in a candlelight vigil to commemorate the 156 people killed in the October 29 Halloween crowd crush, on the resort island of Jeju on November 5, 2022. – Candlelight vigils and rallies were held in South Korea on November 5 to commemorate the 156 people killed in a Halloween crowd crush, with public anger growing over one of the country’s deadliest peacetime disasters. (Photo by Suhyuk CHAI / AFP)

 

– Scrutiny of crowd management –
Yoon — who is with the conservative People Power Party — has been battling record-low approval ratings since taking office in May, and his political opponents are now taking aim at his government over the Halloween crush.

A group of young Koreans held a separate commemoration in central Seoul that organisers said was attended by 500 people.

“I can’t believe people of my age died just because they wanted to have some fun on Halloween,” said Park Tae-hoon, 29, one of the organisers and a member of the progressive Jinbo political party.

South Korea is in a period of national mourning that ends Saturday, with flags flying at half-mast and entertainment events cancelled.

 

People take part in a candlelight vigil to commemorate the 156 people killed in the October 29 Halloween crowd crush, in Seoul on November 5, 2022. – Candlelight vigils and rallies were expected in South Korea on November 5 to commemorate the 156 people killed in a Halloween crowd crush, with public anger growing over one of the country’s deadliest peacetime disasters. (Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP)

 

Public scrutiny of how the Halloween crowd was managed is mounting, and a wide-ranging probe is underway to determine the exact cause of the crush.

With no single organiser for the Halloween celebrations, the government did not require any of the bars, clubs and restaurants — some located on Itaewon’s narrow alleys and side streets — to submit a safety management plan.

And even though police had estimated beforehand that a crowd of 100,000 would participate, they only deployed 137 officers — compared with the 6,500 sent to another part of Seoul that night for an anti-government protest that was a fraction of the size.

Longest-Serving African Leaders: Biya, Obiang And Others

(FILES)  Paul Biya, who at the age of 89 will notch up 40 years in power this weekend, became one of the world’s longest-serving leaders thanks to iron-fisted rule and the support of loyalists he appointed to key positions.
After seven years as the central African country’s prime minister, he entered the presidential palace on November 6 1982, becoming only the second head of state since independence from France in 1960. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

 

 

Cameroon President Paul Biya, who on Sunday marks 40 years in power, is Africa’s second longest-serving leader after Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

But they are far from alone among leaders on the continent who have clocked up decades in office.

Here’s a snapshot of Africa’s ageing rulers:

Biya: Four decades

Cameroon has lived through 40 years of largely unchallenged and hardline rule under Biya.

The 89-year-old runs the country through a very small circle of aides, whom he appoints and banishes as he sees fit.

Openly talking about succession is taboo even for his closest supporters, and Biya has overseen a ruthless crackdown on dissent since his highly contested re-election in 2018.

Obiang: Longest-serving

Obiang, who came to power in an August 3, 1979 coup, is Africa’s longest-serving leader, with 43 years at the helm. Next month, at the age of 80, he will run for a sixth term lasting seven years.

Nguesso: 38 years

In Congo-Brazzaville, Denis Sassou Nguesso, 78, has been in power for 38 years, albeit not uninterruptedly.

He was president from 1979 to 1992, then returned to office in 1997 after a civil war. He was re-elected in 2016 after the passing of a new constitution, then won a fourth mandate on March 21 this year.

Museveni: A sixth term

In Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, 78, has led his country for 36 years, since January 1986. He was re-elected in January 2021 for a sixth term after a contested campaign.

A Supreme Court ruling to abolish an age ceiling of 75 allowed him to stand once again and continue serving.

King Mswati III: In power at 18

Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Africa’s last remaining absolute monarchy, has been ruled by King Mswati III for 36 years.

He ascended to the throne in April 1986 aged just 18.

Eritrea: 30th anniversary looms

Isaias Afwerki, 76, has ruled the Horn of Africa nation with an iron fist since independence in May 1993.

African longevity

Other African leaders in recent history also notched up huge spells in office.

The record-breaker is Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, who ruled for 44 years before being overthrown in 1974.

Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi held sway for almost 42 years. He was killed in 2011 as protests against his rule mushroomed into armed conflict.

Gabon’s Omar Bongo Ondimba had been at the helm for 41 years when he died in June 2009.

Angolan leader Jose Eduardo dos Santos stepped down in September 2017 after 38 years in charge. Never democratically elected, the former Marxist rebel died in July 2022 aged 79.

Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, who died in September 2019 almost two years after being forced to step down, held office for more than 37 years.

In Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, who came to power in a coup in June 1989, remained in charge for 30 years until the military overthrew him in 2019.

In Chad, Idriss Deby Itno ruled for 30 years from December 1990 until his death in April 2021. He was succeeded by his son, General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno.

NBA’s Nets Suspend Irving At Least Five Games In Anti-Semitism Furore

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 1, 2022 Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets brings the ball up the court during the fourth quarter of the game against the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center in New York City. – The Brooklyn Nets suspended Kyrie Irving for at least five games on Thursday, saying they were “dismayed” by the NBA star’s response after he was criticized for posting a link to anti-semitic material. (Photo by Dustin Satloff / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

 

 

The Brooklyn Nets suspended Kyrie Irving for at least five games on Thursday, saying they were “dismayed” by the NBA star’s response after he was criticized for posting a link to anti-semitic material.

The Nets said in a statement they had made repeated efforts over the past several to work with Irving on the issue to “help him understand the harm and danger of his words and actions, which began with him publicizing a film containing deeply disturbing anti-semitic hate.

“We were dismayed today, when given an opportunity in a media session, that Kyrie refused to unequivocally say he has no anti-semitic beliefs, nor acknowledge specific hateful material in the film,” the team said. “This was not the first time he had the opportunity – but failed – to clarify.

“Such failure to disavow anti-semitism when given a clear opportunity to do so is deeply disturbing, is against the values of our organization, and constitutes conduct detrimental to the team. Accordingly, we are of the view that he is currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets.”

The Nets’ announcement came hours after NBA commissioner Adam Silver expressed his disappointment that Irving failed to apologize for his social media posting link to the film “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” — a 2018 film widely lambasted for containing a range of anti-semitic tropes that was criticized by, among others, Nets owner Joe Tsai.

Silver was pleased that Irving and the Nets had since announced he and the team would make $500,000 donations to groups working to eradicate hate, Irving admitting the film had a “negative impact” on the Jewish community.

But the commissioner pushed for an apology that was not forthcoming when Irving appeared at a later press conference and said only that he took responsibility for the post.

“We have decided that Kyrie will serve a suspension without pay until he satisfies a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct,” the Nets said. “And the suspension period served is no less than five games.”

Twitter Says Layoffs To Begin Friday Via Email

Elon Musk and a Twitter illustration

 

Twitter said it will start laying off employees on Friday, as the new billionaire owner Elon Musk moves quickly after his big takeover to make the messaging platform financially sound.

A company-wide email seen by AFP says Twitter employees will receive word via email at the start of business Friday, California time, as to what their fate is.

It does not give a number but the Washington Post and New York Times reported that about half of Twitter’s 7,500 employees will be let go.

READ ALSO: Banned Twitter Accounts To Be Restored – Musk

“In an effort to place Twitter on a healthy path, we will go through the difficult process of reducing our global work force,” the email said.

Twitter employees have been bracing for this kind of bad news since Musk completed his mammoth $44 billion acquisition late last week and quickly set about dissolving its board and firing its chief executive and top managers.

A workplace and employee review and other projects ordered by Musk were reportedly so exhaustive and grueling that some engineers slept at Twitter headquarters over the weekend.

The email sent Thursday told workers to go home and not report for work on Friday.

“Our offices will be temporarily closed and all badge access will be suspended,” the email said. Those on the way to the office should turn around and return home.”

The email acknowledged that Twitter is going through “an incredibly challenging experience.”

“We recognize that this will impact a number of individuals who have made valuable contributions to Twitter, but this action is unfortunately necessary to ensure the company’s success moving forward,” it added.

Saddled with the purchase of Twitter, for which Musk has said he overpaid, the tycoon is looking for ways for Twitter to make money – and fast.

His most recent idea was to charge $8 a month to anyone on Twitter who would receive a blue “verified” badge assuring the public that the account is authentic.

A news report this week said Musk wanted to charge $20 a month but faced a backlash, including from bestselling novelist Stephen King, who tweeted: “$20 a month to keep my blue check?” It was followed by an expletive.

Musk responded on Twitter, seemingly bargaining with King: “we need to pay the bills somehow! Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers. How about $8?”

Musk has said he wants to increase Twitter’s revenue from $5 billion last year to more than $26 billion in 2028.

Top global companies, including General Mills and Volkswagen, suspended their advertising on Twitter on Thursday as pressure builds on Musk to turn his platform into a successful business.

US auto giant General Motors last week was the first major advertiser to suspend advertising following the takeover.

Officials and civil rights groups have expressed worry that Musk will open the site to uncontrolled hate speech and misinformation as well as reinstate banned accounts, including that of former US president Donald Trump.

Advertisers are Twitter’s main source of revenue and Musk has tried to calm the nerves by reassuring that the site would not become a “free-for-all hellscape”.

China’s Xi, Scholz Seek closer Ties In Controversial Summit

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) welcomes German Chancelor Olaf Scholz at the Grand Hall in Beijing on November 4, 2022. (Photo by Kay Nietfeld / POOL / AFP)

 

Xi Jinping welcomed German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to Beijing Friday, with both sides seeking to deepen economic cooperation on a trip that has prompted criticism over Berlin’s growing reliance on an increasingly authoritarian China.

Scholz is the first G7 leader to visit China since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen the world’s number two economy close its borders and Xi largely eschew in-person diplomacy.

The German leader’s trip has sparked controversy at home, coming so soon after Xi strengthened his hold on power and as tensions run high between the West and Beijing on issues ranging from Taiwan to alleged human rights abuses.

READ ALSO: CBC Shuts Down China Bureau Citing Lack Of Visa

Received by a smiling Xi at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People shortly after arriving, Scholz said he hoped to “further develop” economic cooperation — while alluding to areas of disagreement.

“It is good that we are able to have an exchange here about all questions, including those questions where we have different perspectives — that’s what an exchange is for,” Scholz said.

“We also want to talk about how we can further develop our economic cooperation on other topics: climate change, food security, indebted countries.”

“Noting the complex and fluid international landscape, Xi underscored the need for China and Germany, two major countries with great influence, to work together in times of change and instability and contribute more to global peace and development,” according to Beijing’s Xinhua News Agency.

Scholz will also meet Premier Li Keqiang on the one-day trip, on which he is being accompanied by top business executives.

The delegation of more than 60 people was met on the tarmac at Beijing airport by a military guard — as well as health workers in white hazmat suits who conducted mandatory PCR tests in buses converted into mobile laboratories.

Scholz’s PCR test was taken in his plane by a German doctor he brought with him and supervised by Chinese health officials, according to the German government.

‘Keep doing business’

China’s economic importance is seen by some in Berlin as more crucial than ever, as Germany hurtles towards a recession battling an energy crisis triggered by the Ukraine war.

China is a major market for German goods, from machinery to vehicles made by the likes of Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

But German industry’s heavy dependence on China is facing fresh scrutiny after the over-reliance on Russian energy imports left it exposed when Moscow turned off the taps.

Scholz’s approach is still underpinned by the idea that “we want to keep doing business with China, no matter what that means for the dependence of our economy, and for our ability to act”, opposition lawmaker Norbert Roettgen told the Rheinische Post newspaper.

Concern about China has also come from within Germany’s ruling coalition, with Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock saying mistakes made in the past with Russia must not be repeated.

Last month a row erupted about whether to allow Chinese shipping giant Cosco to buy a stake in a Hamburg port terminal.

Scholz ultimately defied calls from six ministries to veto the sale over security concerns, instead permitting the company to acquire a reduced stake.

‘All the more important’

There are also concerns that the trip — coming on the heels of Xi securing a historic third term at a Communist Party Congress last month — may have unsettled the United States and the European Union.

Berlin, however, says there have been consultations with key partners, while Scholz has insisted he is visiting China as a “European” as well as the leader of Germany.

He said direct talks with Chinese leaders were “all the more important” after the long hiatus caused by the pandemic.

In a newspaper article, he promised to raise thorny topics like respect for civil liberties and the rights of minorities in Xinjiang.

But Beijing has already warned that “the Chinese side is opposed to interference in our internal affairs, and smearing us under the guise of discussing human rights issues”, said foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.

Seoul Scrambles Jets After Detecting 180 N. Korea Warplanes

A US Air Force EA-18 Growler fighter jet flies on final to land at the Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek on November 4, 2022, as South Korea and US agreed to extend a joint aerial drill called “Vigilant Storm”. (Photo by YONHAP / AFP)

 

South Korea’s military scrambled stealth jets on Friday after detecting the mobilisation of 180 North Korean warplanes, Seoul said as it conducted large-scale joint air drills with the United States which have infuriated Pyongyang.

North Korea has launched a record-breaking blitz of missile launches this week, including a failed intercontinental ballistic missile test on Thursday.

Seoul and Washington extended their largest-ever joint air drills through Saturday in response to the North’s flurry of projectiles.

READ ALSO: Former Pakistan PM Imran Khan Stable After ‘Assassination Attempt’

“Our military detected around 180 North Korean warplanes” mobilised in Pyongyang’s airspace, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, adding that Seoul “scrambled 80 fighter jets including F-35As” while jets involved in the joint drills were also “maintaining readiness”.

Shortly after South Korea announced the decision to extend the joint drills on Thursday, Pyongyang launched three more short-range ballistic missiles, calling the move “a very dangerous and wrong choice”.

Hours later, the North fired 80 artillery rounds that landed in a maritime “buffer zone”, Seoul’s military said.

The barrage was a “clear violation” of the 2018 agreement that established the buffer zone in a bid to reduce tensions between the two sides, Seoul’s Joints Chiefs of Staff said.

The artillery fire came after Pyongyang fired about 30 missiles Wednesday and Thursday, including an intercontinental ballistic missile and one that landed near South Korea’s territorial waters for the first time since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin described Pyongyang’s ICBM launch as “illegal and destabilising”, and Seoul and Washington vowed to pursue new measures to demonstrate their “determination and capabilities” against the North’s growing threats.

Experts and officials have said Pyongyang is ramping up its tests in protest over the US-South Korean drills. Washington and Seoul have repeatedly warned that Pyongyang’s recent launches could be a precursor to a nuclear test, which would be its seventh.

Pyongyang has called the joint air drills, dubbed Vigilant Storm, “an aggressive and provocative military drill targeting” North Korea, and threatened that Washington and Seoul would “pay the most horrible price in history” if it continued.

‘Against humanity’

The North’s latest launches come as South Korea is in a period of national mourning after more than 150 people — mostly young women in their 20s — were killed in a crowd crush in Seoul on Saturday.

Pyongyang’s provocations, “especially during our national mourning period, are against humanity and humanitarianism”, Lee Hyo-jung, a vice spokesperson at Seoul’s unification ministry, said Friday.

“The government strongly condemns North Korea for continuing threats and provocations, citing our annual and defensive drills, raising tensions on the Korean peninsula,” she said, blaming the current tension on Pyongyang’s “reckless nuclear and missile development”.

In addition to extending Vigilant Storm through Saturday, Seoul’s military announced that the annual Taegeuk exercise — which focuses on “improving wartime transition performance” and crisis management — would be held next week.

The computer-simulated exercise will be carried out to strengthen “the ability to carry out practical mission capability in preparation for various threats such as North Korea’s nuclear weapons, missiles, and recent provocations”, it said.

Kenya Airways Pilots To Strike From Saturday

Kenya Airways

 

Pilots at troubled national flag carrier, Kenya Airways plan to go on strike from Saturday to seek better working conditions despite a court order suspending the industrial action, their union said Friday.

The airline, partly owned by the government as well as Dutch carrier KLM, is one of the continent’s biggest, connecting multiple nations within Africa to Europe and Asia, but it is facing turbulent times.

The Kenya Airlines Pilots Association (KALPA) said a series of meetings with the airline management had failed to resolve the pilots’ grievances.

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No Kenya Airways flight will depart Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport from 6:00 am (0300 GMT) on Saturday, said the union’s secretary general, Captain Murithi Nyaga.

“Kenya Airways management’s actions have left us with no other option,” Nyaga said, adding that a 14-day notice on the action had ended without a solution.

“We had hoped that the management of the airline would soften its stance and engage in negotiation on the issues raised.”

The pilots, who have had a particularly fraught relationship with management, are pressing for the reinstatement of contributions to a provident fund.

They also want back payment of all salaries stopped during the Covid pandemic.

Kenya Airways on Wednesday warned the strike would jeopardise its recovery and said none of the grievances by the pilots merited a strike.

“Industrial action is unnecessary at this point, as it will delay and disrupt the financial and operational recovery and cause reputational damage to Kenya Airways,” board chairman Michael Joseph said in a statement.

On Monday, the airline won a court injunction stopping the strike but the pilots’ union have nevertheless vowed to down tools.

An official at KALPA told AFP the pilots “were acting within the provisions of the law”, referring to the expiry of the strike notice.

Kenya Airways was founded in 1977 following the demise of East African Airways and flies over four million passengers to 42 destinations annually.

But its “Pride of Africa” slogan rings hollow as it is operating thanks to state bailouts following years of losses.