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Friday, May 17, 2024

World News Brief |


Russian President Putin makes surprise trip to occupied Mariupol

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the occupied port city of Mariupol, his first visit to the Ukrainian territory Moscow illegally annexed in September and charged with war crimes at the International Criminal Court Showed contempt after a warrant was issued against him.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Sunday that Putin arrived in Mariupol on Saturday night after visiting Crimea, southwest of Mariupol, to commemorate the annexation of the Black Sea peninsula by Ukraine. anniversary. He was photographed chatting with residents of Mariupol and visiting an art school and a children’s center in Sevastopol, Crimea.

A steel mill in Mariupol, which became a symbol of resistance around the world as Ukrainian troops were outnumbered both in weapons and men, held on for nearly three months until Moscow finally took control of it in May. Russian shelling leveled much of the city.

Putin did not comment on the arrest warrant, which has deepened his international isolation, although he is unlikely to face trial anytime soon. The Kremlin, which does not recognize the ICC’s authority, rejected its move as “legally invalid”.

The surprise visit also comes ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s planned visit to Moscow this week, which is expected to provide a major diplomatic boost to Putin’s confrontation with the West.

In an article published Monday in the People’s Daily, the newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Putin said: “We thank (China) for taking a balanced line in the events in Ukraine, understanding their background and real reasons. We welcome China Willing to play a constructive role in resolving the crisis.”

China released a position paper in February calling for an end to the fighting in Ukraine and to uphold the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries. It did not address how to address Russia’s claims of illegal annexation of four regions of Ukraine.

Macron’s leadership at risk amid tensions over pension plans

A parody photo that has surfaced on French protest signs and online shows President Emmanuel Macron sitting on a rubbish heap. This refers both to the garbage left uncollected by a strike by sanitation workers in Paris — and to how many French feel about their leader.

Macron had hoped his push to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 would cement his legacy as a president who transformed France’s economy in the 21st century. Instead, he found his leadership contested both in parliament and on the streets of major cities.

His brazen move to force through a pension reform bill without a vote has angered political opposition and could hamper his government’s ability to pass legislation in the remaining four years of his term.

Demonstrators held up parody photos at protests Thursday after Macron opted at the last minute to invoke the government’s constitutional power to pass the bill without a vote in the National Assembly.

In his first public comments on the issue since then, the 45-year-old leader said he hoped the bill would “take the path of democracy in an atmosphere of respect for all”. Office provided to The Associated Press.

Since becoming president in 2017, Macron has often been accused of being arrogant and out of touch with reality. Seen as the “president of the rich”, he stirred up resentment by telling an unemployed man that he could find a job simply by “crossing the street” and suggesting that some French workers were “lazy”.

Now, Macron’s government has used its special powers under Article 49.3 of the French constitution to implement a welcome change that would “long-term “Alienated citizens.

The only winners in this situation, he said, are far-right leader Marine Le Pen and her Rally National party, “which continues its ‘gaining respect’ and anti-Macron strategy”, and France’s trade unions. Le Pen has been runner-up to Macron in the country’s last two presidential elections.

As the rubbish pile grew and the smell got worse, many in Paris blamed Macron, not the striking workers.

UBS buys Credit Suisse for nearly $3.25B to calm turmoil

Banking giant UBS is buying struggling rival Credit Suisse for nearly $3.25 billion, in a deal orchestrated by regulators to avoid further market turmoil in the global banking system.

Swiss authorities urged UBS to take over its smaller rival after Credit Suisse’s plan to borrow up to 50 billion Swiss francs ($54 billion) failed to reassure investors and the bank’s clients. Shares in Credit Suisse and other lenders sold off this week after the collapse of two U.S. banks raised concerns that other institutions in the global financial system may be faltering.

Authorities fear the fallout from Credit Suisse’s failure, one of 30 financial institutions dubbed global systemically important banks.

Announcing the deal late Sunday, Swiss President Alain Berset said the deal was “significant for international financial stability”. “An uncontrolled collapse of Credit Suisse would have incalculable consequences for the national and international financial system.”

The Swiss Federal Council, a seven-member governing body that includes Berset, passed an emergency decree allowing the merger to proceed without shareholder approval.

Credit Suisse chairman Axel Lehmann called the deal “a clear turning point.”

“This is a historic, sad and challenging day for Credit Suisse, Switzerland and the global financial markets,” Lehmann said, adding that the focus now was on the future, especially for Credit Suisse’s 50,000 employees, 17,000 of whom name in Switzerland.

UBS chairman Colm Kelleher hailed the “tremendous opportunity” presented by the acquisition and highlighted his bank’s “conservative risk culture” – a subtle jab at Credit Suisse’s culture , a culture known for more bluffing, aggressive gambling and bigger payoffs. The combined group would create a wealth manager with more than $5 trillion in total invested assets, he said.

Swiss Finance Minister Karin Keller-Sutter said the committee “regrets that the bank, once a model Swiss institution and part of our strong geographical position, has completely fallen into this situation.” situation.”

Sources: Lawyer invited to testify before Trump grand jury

A lawyer who has advised Michael Cohen, a key government witness in the Donald Trump hush money probe, has been invited to appear Monday at a Manhattan grand jury that is considering possible charges against the former president, according to a person familiar with the matter. matter.

Robert Costello, who advised Cohen before the two fell out, is preparing to testify to a grand jury attacking the credibility of Cohen’s statements, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the secretive legal process.

Costello contacted Trump’s lawyer and said he had information that contradicted Cohen’s current statement and could exonerate Trump, the person said. The attorney brought the matter to the attention of the district attorney’s office, which subpoenaed Costello’s law firm for the record last week and invited him to testify Monday afternoon.

On Sunday, the Manhattan district attorney’s office declined to comment. Prosecutors did not say when they expected to end their work, or when or if Trump might be indicted. The former president claimed in a post on Saturday that he would be arrested on Tuesday, though people close to him later said prosecutors had given him no updates.

The New York Times first reported that Costolo was expected to appear before the grand jury.

Cohen, a former Trump lawyer and go-between, has been a key witness in District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigation, meeting regularly with prosecutors and appearing before a grand jury earlier this month.

Cohen served time in 2018 after pleading guilty to federal charges, including campaign finance violations, for arranging payments to porn actor Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougall to keep them from going public. Trump has denied the incident.

Costello is a veteran New York lawyer who has represented Trump allies, including his adviser Steve Bannon and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. Costello’s ties to Cohen were highlighted in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report investigating Russian ties to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and efforts to obstruct the investigation.

Countries ratify key UN scientific report on climate change

Governments on Sunday backed a major new UN report on climate change after it failed to win approval amid a battle between rich and developing nations over emissions targets and financial aid for vulnerable nations.

The report, written by hundreds of the world’s top scientists, was supposed to be approved by a government delegation on Friday at the end of a week-long meeting in the Swiss town of Interlaken.

The closing gavel was repeatedly pushed back as officials from major powers including China, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, the United States and the European Union spent the weekend wrangling over the wording of key phrases in the text.

The report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change summarizes the results of a large body of global warming research collected since the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

The summary of the report was approved early Sunday, but agreement on the main text dragged on for hours, with some observers concerned that a delay may be needed.

The United Nations plans to release the report at a news conference early Monday afternoon.

The unusual process of getting countries to sign off on the scientific report is designed to ensure that governments accept its findings as authoritative advice on which to base their actions.

— Associated Press


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