Wednesday 25 April 2018

There's a new oil king, and the Left reshuffle and split

The Red Cross 'lost its moral compass' during World War Two, turning a blind eye to atrocities committed by the Nazis

HORRIBLE HISTORIES: SS officers Dr. Josef Mengele, Rudolf Hoess, (former Commandant of Auschwitz), Josef Kramer (Commandant of Birkenau), and unidentified, at the SS retreat, Solahutte outside of Auschwitz, Poland in 1944. Last week Red Cross president Peter Maurer said the organisation ‘lost its moral compass’ during World War II
HORRIBLE HISTORIES: SS officers Dr. Josef Mengele, Rudolf Hoess, (former Commandant of Auschwitz), Josef Kramer (Commandant of Birkenau), and unidentified, at the SS retreat, Solahutte outside of Auschwitz, Poland in 1944. Last week Red Cross president Peter Maurer said the organisation ‘lost its moral compass’ during World War II

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday reshuffled his team, handling talks with European and IMF lenders, a move widely seen as an effort to relegate embattled Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis to a less active role in negotiations.

An anti-austerity economist who has angered peers with his brash style, Varoufakis is facing calls to quit after returning from a meeting of euro zone finance ministers in Riga, isolated and empty-handed while Athens scrambles to avoid bankruptcy.

Tsipras and senior aides publicly voiced support for Varoufakis at a meeting on Sunday and agreed the finance minister would supervise a new team negotiating a reforms deal with lenders, a government official said.

But deputy foreign minister Euclid Tsakalotos - a close Tsipras ally and soft-spoken economist liked by officials representing creditors - was appointed coordinator of the group, the official said. This would elevate him from his current position and give him a more active role in the negotiations, pushing Varoufakis to the sidelines.

The news spurred a rally in Greek stocks and bonds. Greek two-year bond yields fell 250 basis points to a two-week low of 23.55pc, reversing an earlier rise. Athens stocks rose 4pc while Greek bank shares jumped 9pc.

A leftist moderate promising to press for a peace deal in ethnically split Cyprus swept to victory in a Turkish Cypriot presidential election run-off on Sunday. Mustafa Akinci, standing as an independent, won 60.3pc of the votes. Akinci (67) has said he would work with fresh urgency to find a peace deal on Cyprus, split in a 1974 Turkish invasion that was triggered by a short-lived Greek-inspired coup aimed at union with Greece.

One of the founding members of Podemos, the one-year-old leftist party that has up-ended Spanish politics, resigned on Thursday in a surprise move that questions its strategy just as opinion polls show it may have peaked.

Podemos members have recently discussed, at times in public, whether the party should tone down proposals to capture more centrist voters and show it is a potential force for government ahead of a parliamentary election this year.

An Indonesian firing squad executed eight convicted drug traffickers from several countries on Wednesday, prompting Australia to recall its envoy to Jakarta and bringing an angry reaction from Brazil.

The leaders of Australia and Brazil had made personal appeals for clemency for their citizens among the group, raising the stakes for Indonesia's new president, Joko Widodo, who has stepped up the pace of executions since coming to office.

Australia has deep commercial and political ties with its big neighbour, while Brazil has a $5 billion trade surplus with Southeast Asia's biggest economy. Brazil is at risk of losing a major military export deal to Indonesia over the executions row.

The Red Cross "lost its moral compass" during World War II, turning a blind eye to atrocities committed by the Nazis, but is speaking out more now about conflicts including Syria, its president said on Tuesday.

Peter Maurer said the International Committee of the Red Cross had not recognised Nazi Germany for what it was and failed to protect civilians and especially Jews from persecution and murder.

"It failed as a humanitarian organisation because it had lost its moral compass," Maurer said in a speech. "It failed... by responding to the outrageous with standard procedures, it looked on helplessly and silently..."

A Portuguese court ruled on Tuesday that a former investigator of the 2007 disappearance of Madeleine McCann pay €500,000 damages to her parents for alleging in a book that the girl had died in an accident and the McCanns had covered it up.

The Civil Court of Lisbon also banned all sales and reprints of the 2008 book by ex-police inspector Goncalo Amaral, Maddie - The Truth About Lies, and a video based on it, a court official said. It had earlier ruled that Amaral had caused damage to the McCanns with his book.

Saudi Arabia's Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a close friend of the United States and a scourge of Islamist militants, will be the country's first king from the third generation of its ruling dynasty.

King Salman on Wednesday appointed the US favourite and veteran security chief as crown prince, making him next in line to rule the world's top oil exporter in a sudden reshuffle of top posts in the Al Saud dynasty.

By sending an assassin to try to kill Prince Mohammed when he was Saudi security chief in 2009, al Qaeda paid him the compliment of treating him as one of its most dangerous enemies.

The prince narrowly survived that attack, in which a militant approached him claiming he wanted to defect before detonating a bomb concealed under his clothes, and was named interior minister in November 2012.

The 55-year-old is now firmly established as the most powerful member of his generation in the ruling Al Saud family, and even before he becomes king will be one of the most important figures in the world's top oil exporter.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi won the last of three confidence votes on a fiercely contested new electoral law on Thursday, defying opposition parties and dissidents within his own Democratic Party (PD).

The bill, which has been under discussion in parliament for more than a year, is a central part of Renzi's agenda of political and economic reforms.

Italy opened the Milan Expo on Friday, torn between hopes that the showcase of global food, culture and technology will lift a gloomy national mood and fears it will be overshadowed by scandal, delays and protests.

Prime minister Renzi, counting on the Expo to reinforce fragile signs of economic recovery, says the event will be a test for the future of Italy after years of stagnation.

"Today it is as though Italy is embracing the world," he said at the opening ceremony. "All you experts who kept saying 'we'll never do it', this is your answer," he said.

But the event, on the theme of sustainable food production, has already faced a corruption investigation that saw several top officials in the organising body arrested.

Sunday Independent

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