No quid pro quo: Zelenskiy
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in an interview with European publications published yesterday, renewed his denial of a quid pro quo with US President Donald Trump over military aid. “I did not speak with US President Trump in those terms: You give me this, I give you that,” he said, adding that he “did not understand at all” the accusations heard at the US congressional hearings. He also played down expectations ahead of a summit on Tuesday next week in Paris in which he is set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time.
Rescuers die in crash
Three emergency workers were killed in a helicopter crash near Marseille, while on a rescue mission in the south where floods have left two dead, officials said yesterday. Their EC145 helicopter lost radio and radar contact while on a rescue and reconnaissance flight in the Var region on Sunday night. The three were found dead at 1:30am near the town of Rove, the Ministry of the Interior said in a statement.
Auschwitz ornaments decried
A museum on Sunday slammed Amazon.com for selling Christmas ornaments with images of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, calling them inappropriate. The museum at the site of the former camp tweeted screenshots of the items showing train tracks and barracks, and requested that Amazon remove them from their site. “Selling ‘Christmas ornaments’ with images of Auschwitz does not seem appropriate. Auschwitz on a bottle opener is rather disturbing and disrespectful,” it tweeted.
Rallies back suspended judge
Thousands of people joined rallies on Sunday in Warsaw and other cities nationwide to show support for Judge Pawel Juszczyszyn, who was suspended on Friday for having questioned the government’s controversial court reforms. Demonstrators in front of the Ministry of Justice in the capital carried EU flags and signs saying: “Honour and glory to unbreakable judges” and “Independent courts are every citizen’s right.” Juszczyszyn, who in the process of examining an appeal in the city of Olsztyn, has questioned the impartiality of the judge who delivered the original verdict.
Stasi Museum burgled
Burglars broke into Berlin’s Stasi Museum, which showcases items of East Germany’s hated secret police, making off with collectible medals and gold jewelery, authorities said on Sunday. The robbers broke in through a window on the first floor, “smashed several showcases, and stole medals and jewelery,” police said in a statement. “These are not huge treasures, but we are a history museum and don’t expect people to break in,” museum director Joerg Drieselmann told the Tagesspiegel daily.
Rosa Parks statue dedicated
A new statue of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks was dedicated in Alabama’s capital on Sunday, the 64th anniversary of her historic refusal to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man. Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed and Alabama Governor Kay Ivey pulled back a cloth to unveil the statue before a crowd of about 400 spectators. The ceremony coincided with the anniversary of Parks’ arrest on Dec. 1, 1955, which sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a pivotal part of the civil rights movement.
Wrangle with Switzerland
Colombo on Sunday raised doubts about claims by a Swiss embassy staffer that she was abducted on Monday last week and demanded access to the woman, who has said she was forced to hand over sensitive information. The alleged abduction came one day after a top police officer sought asylum in Switzerland. “The employee was detained against their will in the street, forced to get into a car, seriously threatened at length by unidentified men and forced to disclose embassy-related information,” the embassy said on Saturday. The staffer was reportedly forced to unlock her mobile phone and reveal the names of Sri Lankans who had sought asylum in Switzerland. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Swiss Ambassador Hanspeter Mock had been briefed about the abduction inquiry and told that the staff member’s account did not add up. It insisted that the employee be interviewed and undergo a medical examination.
Island bought for drills
The government announced yesterday that it agreed to buy the uninhabited island of Mageshima off its southwest coast for US$146 million, eyeing it for US military drills. Tokyo and Washington agreed in 2011 to relocate a training site for US fighter jets to Mageshima. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said an agreement to purchase Mageshima was reached on Friday “after discussions between the defense ministry and the developer who owns the majority of the island.” A facility would be built on the island for landing practice “at an early date,” Suga said, adding that he could not reveal further details as the acquisition was not complete.
Tattoo show prompts probe
The government yesterday ordered an investigation into what it called a half-naked tattoo show in Kuala Lumpur, after pictures of heavily inked men and women circulated on social media. The three-day Tattoo Malaysia Expo, which opened on Friday, drew participants from 35 countries, and had been supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, the organizer said. However, the ministry said this year’s event violated its standards and vowed “firm action” against the organizers if they are found to have violated “set conditions.” The annual expo has been held since 2015.
Churchgoers slain at Mass
At least 14 people, including teenagers, were shot dead in an attack on a Catholic church in during Mass on Sunday morning, a security source and a local official said. The attack took place in the village of Foutouri in the Est region, an area historically known for banditry and that has come under attack over the past year from suspected jihadist groups, but the identity of the attackers was not yet clear, the sources said.
Museum director ousted
The director of the state art museum resigned yesterday after a feminist art exhibition that included female nudity riled conservatives in the majority Muslim country. The Ministry of Culture, Information and Tourism said Mira Djangaracheva resigned over the exhibition that used the “language of provocation” and disorientated visitors. The exhibition included a nude female body presented as a punching bag and opened with a nude performance by Danish artist Julie Saver, which was intended to highlight the plight of sex workers.
French authorities yesterday said that they would close a Paris mosque as part of a clampdown on radical Islam that has yielded over a dozen arrests following the beheading of a teacher who had shown his pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed. The mosque in a densely populated suburb northeast of Paris had disseminated a video on its Facebook page days before Friday’s gruesome murder, railing against teacher Samuel Paty’s choice of material for a class discussion on freedom of expression, a source close to the investigation said. The French Ministry of the Interior said the mosque in Pantin, which has
LONGSTANDING NEUTRALITY: The US request came as it vied for influence in Southeast Asia with China, but Indonesia has never let foreign militaries operate there Indonesia this year rejected a proposal by the US to allow its P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance planes to land and refuel there, four senior Indonesian officials familiar with the matter have said. US officials made multiple “high-level” approaches in July and August to Indonesia’s defense and foreign ministers before Indonesian President Joko Widodo rebuffed the request, the officials said. Representatives for Indonesia’s president and defense minister, the US Department of State’s Office of Press Relations and the US embassy in Jakarta did not respond to requests for comment. Representatives for the US Department of Defense and Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi
COVID-19 UNDER CONTROL: The two prime ministers agreed to ease entry bans, and allow short-term business visits and reopen flights between Vietnam and Japan Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, in his first overseas summit since taking office last month, yesterday agreed with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to step up defense and security cooperation in the face of China’s expanding influence in the region. In talks in Hanoi, Suga and Phuc set up a basic agreement allowing Japan to export defense equipment and technology to Vietnam. Japan has been pursuing such agreements to bolster ties with Southeast Asian nations and sustain its own defense industry. Suga said that his four-day trip to Vietnam and Indonesia would be key to pursuing the “free and open Indo-Pacific” vision
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said that he has no problem with being held responsible for the many killings under his crackdown on drugs, and that he is ready to face charges that could land him in jail, but not charges of crimes against humanity. Duterte’s televised remarks were among his clearest acknowledgement of the prospects that he could face a deluge of criminal charges for the bloody campaign he launched after taking office in the middle of 2016. Police have reported that at least 5,856 drug suspects have been killed in raids and more than 256,000 others arrested since