Backed by blacks
US presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday won endorsements from three Congressional Black Caucus members, a positive sign for his campaign, Reuters wrote.
EU rebukes eight countries over delays in money-laundering reforms
EU rebukes eight countries over
delays in money-laundering reforms
The European Commission sent legal warnings to Cyprus, Portugal, the Netherlands and five other EU states over their delays in applying new anti-money laundering rules adopted at European Union level two years ago.
The 27 EU states were required to enact by January tighter rules to counter dirty-money risks in a wide range of sectors, including cryptocurrency exchanges, prepaid cards and shell companies, Reuters reported.
The rules were proposed in 2016 by the EU Commission in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks which killed more than 130 people. The clampdown was meant to hamper terrorist funding and other financial crimes.
EU governments and lawmakers agreed on the new rules three years ago and then formally adopted them in 2018, but Cyprus, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain have not yet turned them into national laws, the EU Commission said on Wednesday.
It sent them a letter of “formal notice,” the first step of a lengthy legal procedure that could lead to fines if rules are not correctly applied.
The warnings show heightened attention by EU authorities for the fight against money laundering after a series of high-profile cases that hit major banks in the bloc in past years.
However, the commissioner responsible for money laundering, Valdis Dombrovskis, a former prime minister of Latvia, has been criticized by lawmakers for slowing down new reforms invoked after dirty-money scandals in Latvia, Denmark, Estonia, Malta, Cyprus, and other EU states.
Under the latest overhaul, cryptocurrency exchange platforms are required to identify their users, ending anonymity that could favor money laundering. It will also be easier to identify the ultimate owners of companies and trusts.
Mexican president to send judicial reform proposal to Congress
Mexican president to send
judicial reform proposal to Congress
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Wednesday he will send Congress a proposal crafted by the Supreme Court that aims to strengthen the judiciary to combat corruption and abuse of power within its ranks.
Speaking during his regular morning news conference, Lopez Obrador said he will send the proposal to Mexico’s Congress on Wednesday morning, according to Reuters.
“A minister of the Supreme Court presented us with a draft initiative that we support and we will sign to send to Congress,” Lopez Obrador said.
The aim of the reform is to strengthen the judiciary to combat corruption, impunity and abuse of judicial power, Supreme Court Minister Arturo Zaldivar said during the news conference.
Reuters reported on Monday that Mexico had scaled back a planned judicial reform that alarmed rights defenders and caused a backlash within Lopez Obrador’s cabinet.
Kremlin accuses Turkey of flouting agreements on Syria
Erdogan threatens to hit Syrian forces if Turkish troops hurt
The Kremlin on Wednesday accused Turkey of flouting agreements it had made with Russia to neutralize terrorists in the Syrian province of Idlib and said terrorist attacks on Syrian and Russian forces in the region were continuing.
The Kremlin made its comments after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country’s military would strike Syrian forces by air or ground anywhere in Syria if another Turkish soldier was hurt during a meeting of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party at the parliament in Ankara on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
Violence has flared in Idlib, in northwest Syria and bordering Turkey, in recent weeks as the Syrian Army and allied forces have made gains in their campaign to eliminate the last terrorist bastion in Syria’s nine-year-old war.
Turkey, which is allied with some groups opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, mounted a counterattack on Tuesday after 13 Turkish soldiers were killed by Syrian shelling in Idlib in the last 10 days.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that Moscow remained committed to a deal on Syria it had struck with Ankara, but that Russia considered militant attacks in Idlib to be unacceptable and in contravention of that same agreement.
Brokered by Iran, Russia, a close ally of the Syrian government, hashed out a deal with Turkey in 2018, known as the Sochi agreement, to create a demilitarized zone in Idlib, but those agreements and others between the two countries have come under strain amid mounting tensions in the region.
“In particular, according to this document (the agreement), the Turkish side undertook to ensure that terrorist groups in Idlib were neutralized,” said Peskov.
“We continue to note with regret that these groups are carrying out strikes from Idlib on Syrian forces and also taking aggressive action against our military facilities,” Peskov told reporters on a conference call.
“This is unacceptable and runs contrary to the Sochi agreements.”
Separately on Wednesday, the Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin and Erdogan had discussed the de-escalation of the tensions in Syria over the phone and emphasized the full implementation of Moscow-Ankara agreements, according to Press TV.
“The importance was noted of the full implementation of existing Russian-Turkish agreements, including the Sochi memorandum,” it said in a statement after the phone call.
The leaders, it added, reviewed “various aspects of the settlement of the Syrian crisis, first and foremost in the context of a flare-up in the Idlib de-escalation zone.”
Issuing a statement on Tuesday, the General Command of the Syrian Army and Armed Forces censured Turkey’s continued escalation of “aggressive acts and transgressions upon Syrian geography in violation of international law and the concept of the sovereignty of independent states in an attempt to halt the advance of the Syrian Arab Army and to prevent the fall of armed terrorist groups in Idlib and west of Aleppo.”
“The Turkish regime has deployed new military forces and escalated its aggression intensively, targeting areas populated by civilians and positions of the army units with rocket shells to help the terrorists maintain control over territory, keep using civilians as human shields, and carry out systematic crimes and vandalism,” added the statement.
The Syrian government has retook control of all but one area in Syria since militancy began in the country back in 2011, namely Idlib.
On Tuesday, there were reports that Syrian Army forces had managed to wrest control of the M5 highway connecting the capital Damascus to the second largest city Aleppo.
In addition, Syrian and Turkish media said on Wednesday that US warplanes carried out at least one airstrike in Syria’s northeast Hasakah region after an incident at a checkpoint where US soldiers killed one person.
Syria’s state news agency SANA said one civilian was killed and another wounded when US forces opened fire on people after their vehicles were stopped at a checkpoint, east of Qamishli.
It said the shooting was followed by an airstrike on a village in rural Qamishli, near the border with Turkey. Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu Agency said two airstrikes took place.
Dutch police: Two suspected letter bomb blasts; no injuries
Dutch police: Two suspected
letter bomb blasts; no injuries
Two suspected letter bombs exploded early Wednesday in the Netherlands, police said. Nobody was injured in the blasts.
One of the explosions happened at a business in Amsterdam and the other at a mail sorting office in the southern city of Kerkrade, police said in tweets, nytimes.com reported.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the two explosions were linked.
Last month, letter bombs were sent to several businesses in the Netherlands, followed by a warning letter, police said. They didn’t reveal details about the warning letters.
There have been no arrests announced in the investigation into those explosive devices, none of which went off, and police haven’t given details about a possible motive.
It wasn’t clear Wednesday if the two explosions were linked to the letter bombs mailed in January.
SPD: No coalition without Merkel
Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) signaled on Wednesday its could quit their coalition with Angela Merkel’s conservatives if she is forced out as chancellor, piling pressure on their partners to avoid a snap election as they pick a new leader.
After Merkel’s protégé, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, gave up her ambitions for the top job on Monday, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is embarking on choosing a new leader and chancellor candidate for the next federal election due by October 2021, Reuters wrote.
The possibility of having a rival as party leader while she remains chancellor may be unworkable and force Merkel, who will not seek reelection after leading Europe’s biggest economy for around 15 years, to stand down early.
This could trigger an early election, not least because the SPD has made clear its coalition deal is only with Merkel.
SPD Secretary-General Lars Klingbeil said the party entered the coalition with Merkel. “And we will leave the coalition with her – as planned at the next regular federal election,” he said in some of the clearest comments yet from a senior SPD figure.
“I am aware of no other election date,” he added.
The fragile coalition has already come close to collapse several times and the selection last year of two leftists as possible new SPD leaders has left the alliance even more shaky.
Many lawmakers want to avoid the upheaval of an election during Germany’s tenure of the rotating presidency of the EU in the second half of this year.
Klingbeil said he expected the conservatives were aware of their responsibilities and was “not running away from the EU presidency.”
The SPD may find it impossible to work with at least two of the potential conservative candidates, Friedrich Merz and Jens Spahn, who are further to the right of the CDU than Merkel, although others may be more palatable.
While the SPD wants to stay in government with the conservatives for the full legislative term, it is ready to fight an election at any time, said Klingbeil.
Kramp-Karrenbauer threw the CDU, and Merkel’s plan for a smooth transition of power, into turmoil on Monday with her announcement which followed months of mounting doubts about her suitability for the top job.
The last straw came last week when a local CDU branch defied her and voted with the far-right to install a local leader.
Sanders wins in New Hampshire as Biden crashes
From Page 1
The performance will be a body blow to the 77-year-old Biden, who has failed to generate the fundraising numbers or the enthusiasm levels of his rivals for the top spot on the Democratic ticket.
White House hopefuls had been seeking clarity in the Granite State after the first-in-the-nation Iowa count devolved into chaos, with Sanders and Buttigieg eventually emerging neck-and-neck.
For tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang and Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, that meant facing reality and bowing out after they failed to make an impact on Tuesday.
“You know I am the math guy, and it is clear tonight from the numbers that we are not going to win this race,” Yang said.
The 78-year-old Sanders went into the race as the newly anointed national frontrunner and was expected to win New Hampshire.
Buttigieg’s camp will be happy with a solid result that could provide voters on the fence with much-needed reassurance after he won narrowly in Iowa.
The Afghanistan veteran is languishing at 10 percent in the latest national polls and has negligible support among African-Americans in upcoming states with more diverse populations.
Joe Biden left New Hampshire before his lackluster showing was confirmed, preferring to address a rally in South Carolina, where he hopes to fare better
Pundits believe this vital constituency will start to take a serious look at Buttigieg, a virtual unknown a year ago, after his impressive top-two finishes in the opening races.
Klobuchar’s popularity in New Hampshire surged after a strong debate on Friday, moving her ahead of Warren, whose performance will do nothing to revitalize a wounded campaign.