Merkel’s Party Picks Successor in Her Image: Wry, Moderate and a Woman
She is a moderate centrist with a humble leadership style and wry sense of humor. She does not boast. But she has a track record of forging unlikely consensus — and winning elections. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the new leader of Germany’s most powerful political party and likely future chancellor, sounds a lot like the current one. That is her greatest strength and her greatest weakness as she prepares to take over from Chancellor Angela Merkel, a towering figure both loved and loathed inside her party and her country. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union chose its new leader Friday in a closely watched vote by party delegates.
Ducking and Weaving: Corbyn’s Vanishing Act on Brexit
Prime Minister Theresa May had just suffered three humiliating defeats in Parliament over plans to leave the European Union and, with a critical vote less than a week away, Britain seemed to be facing its biggest political crisis in decades. So the stage was set for the opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to deliver a knockout blow. But when he addressed a Parliament chamber Wednesday, Corbyn, the left-wing leader of the Labour Party, used his allotted questions to focus on poverty and welfare changes. Throughout the interminable debates over Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, Corbyn has been conspicuously noncommittal about what he would do instead.
U.S.-China Friction Threatens to Undercut the Fight Against Climate Change
As diplomats meet in Poland for climate negotiations, a standoff between the United States and China threatens to slow global action on climate change precisely at a time when the risks of catastrophe are accelerating. The tensions between Washington and Beijing range from trade to cybersecurity to military rivalry in the Pacific. But cooperation in the fight against climate change had once been a bright spot, so much so that it propelled the creation of the global agreement in Paris in 2015 to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Taken together, the emissions produced by the United States and China account for more than 40 percent of the global total.
Bucking a Global Trend, Japan Seeks More Immigrants. Ambivalently.
Vexed by labor shortages in their rapidly aging country, lawmakers relaxed Japan’s long-standing insularity early Saturday by authorizing a sharp increase in the number of foreign workers. Under a bill approved by parliament’s upper house in the early-morning hours, more than a quarter-million visas of five-year duration will be granted to unskilled guest laborers for the first time, starting in 2019. The change in Japan is driven largely by economics and demographics. Japan has no other choice for filling jobs in a shrinking workforce that is simply getting too old. But not everybody is happy about it.
U.N. AIDS Agency Is in ‘State of Crisis’ and Needs New Leader, Report Says
Independent experts investigating allegations of sexual abuse at the United Nations agency fighting AIDS have called for the appointment of new leadership, saying in a damning report that its executive director tolerated harassment and bullying in a toxic organizational culture. The agency, UNAIDS, was “in a state of crisis,” the expert panel said. The panel’s four members pinned responsibility for the crisis on the program’s executive director, Michel Sidibé, saying that under his autocratic leadership the agency had become a cult of personality that failed to prevent harassment and abuse or respond swiftly to accusations of ill treatment.
Rome Gets a New Christmas Tree, Sponsored by Netflix. Will it Weather Social Media?
For weeks, Romans have been breathlessly awaiting the presentation of the Italian capital’s official Christmas tree, a year after the resounding social media debacle that felled last year’s fir. That tree, a Norway spruce that immediately lost its needles, had been nicknamed Spelacchio, or Mangy, for its threadbare appearance. The official presentation is scheduled for Saturday, but its journey, to glory or infamy, has been tracked for weeks. Netflix contributed more than 376,000 euros ($428,376) as the tree’s sponsor, which includes trimming it with 60,000 lights and 500 silver and red spherical ornaments, and building a platform for selfies.
Paris Braces for New Yellow Vest Protests
Paris braced for a fourth weekend of protests as the government warned of the potential for new violence and officials prepared to deploy tens of thousands of police officers throughout France and even armored vehicles in the capital. The original “Yellow Vest” protests were dominated by working-class people from the provinces upset over a gasoline tax increase and their declining living standards. They adopted fluorescent roadside safety vests as their signature, symbolizing their economic distress. But officials fear the protests have been co-opted by far more violent elements taking advantage of the insurrectional climate and that Saturday’s demonstrations could be more violent.
National Guard Investigating if Soldier Killed in Afghanistan Was Properly Trained and Equipped
The Army National Guard has opened an investigation into the training and equipment made available to one of its explosive ordnance disposal units before its deployment to Afghanistan this year, officials said. The action follows the death of Spc. James A. Slape, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Helmand province on Oct. 4. Slape was assigned to the 430th Ordnance Company of the North Carolina National Guard. According to Defense Department officials, the 430th repeatedly asked for, but did not receive, certain training and equipment, including a hand-held device that its manufacturer says can detect any buried weapon the Taliban are known to use. It reportedly costs under $15,000.
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