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US indicts Chinese spy for trying to steal aviation trade secrets

The US Justice Department said on Wednesday it had detained a Chinese spy on charges of state-sponsored economic espionage, after he allegedly attempted to steal trade secrets from several American aviation and aerospace companies. Yanjun Xu, an intelligence officer for China's Ministry of State Security, is accused of running a five-year operation in which he would woo employees from major US aerospace firms and persuade them to travel to China under the guise that they would give a presentation at a university. Court papers documented how Xu and other intelligence operatives would then plan to illicitly obtain "highly sensitive information" from their expert guests. In one instance, Xu recruited an employee at GE Aviation, who sent him a presentation containing the company's proprietary information. Xu then continued to follow up by asking the employee for more specific technical information and even proposed setting up a meeting in Europe. GE Aviation is a Cincinnati-based division of US industrial conglomerate General Electric, which regularly works under Defense Department contracts. The company said it had been cooperating with the FBI for several months on the matter. "The impact to GE Aviation is minimal thanks to early detection, our advanced digital systems and internal processes, and our partnership with the FBI," GE Aviation spokesman Perry Bradley said. According to court documents, Xu is also suspected of targeting another unnamed described as "one of the world's largest aerospace firms, and a leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems," and a third as a leader in unmanned aerial vehicle technology. Unprecedented extradition Xu was detained in Belgium in April on a US arrest warrant. Following several failed appeals, he was handed over to American authorities on Tuesday in what was an unprecedented extradition of a Chinese intelligence official to the US from another country. The announcement will almost certainly heighten tensions between Washington and Beijing over trade tensions, hacking and corporate espionage. Read more: China's tech firms hit by spy chips row Bill Priestap, the FBI's assistant director for counterintelligence, said that the incident "exposes the Chinese government's direct oversight of economic espionage against the United States." John Demers, the assistant US attorney general for national security, warned that the case was not an isolated incident. "It is part of an overall economic policy of developing China at American expense," he said. "We cannot tolerate a nation stealing our firepower and the fruits of our brainpower." Xu is the second Chinese national in two weeks to be charged by the US Justice Department with trying to steal aviation industry secrets. Ji Chaoqun was charged by American authorities of helping identify potential recruitment targets for China's Ministry of State Security. Officials said the two cases appeared closely linked.

The US Justice Department said on Wednesday it had detained a Chinese spy on charges of state-sponsored economic espionage, after he allegedly attempted to steal trade secrets from several American aviation and aerospace companies. Yanjun Xu, an intelligence officer for China’s Ministry of State Security, is accused of running a five-year operation in which he would woo employees from major ... Read More »

US Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley resigns

US President Donald Trump has announced the resignation of the country's envoy to the UN. Nikki Haley, who had served since January 2017, is the latest in a series of high-profile departures from the administration. US President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he had accepted the resignation of United Nations envoy Nikki Haley. Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Trump said Haley would leave the administration "at the end of the year," adding that she had done an incredible job. The president said that together, they had "solved a lot of problems." "We hate to lose (you)," Trump said. "Hopefully, you'll be coming back at some point. Maybe a different capacity. You can have your pick." No reason for the resignation has yet been provided. Haley insisted she was not planning to run for president against Trump in 2020, saying only that being ambassador had "been the honor of a lifetime," and that it was "important to understand when it's time to stand aside." Her departure is being seen as a blow for the White House just weeks before the US midterm election. Haley's is the latest resignation in a leadership team with a relatively high turnover — Trump has already lost one secretary of state and two national security advisers. Read more: Is the UN facing budget cuts under Trump? DW's Washington correspondent, Maya Shwayder, described the resignation as a big loss, saying that Haley was a well-respected diplomat within the administration. Before being chosen as Trump's ambassador in November 2016, Haley, 46, served as governor of the state of South Carolina — the first woman to hold the post. As governor she was a vocal critic of Trump's remarks on immigrants during the 2016 presidential campaign. She also gained a reputation as a racial conciliator after leading the campaign to take down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina State House in 2015. Haley's limited foreign policy experience made her a surprising pick for UN ambassador. In the role, she represented Trump's often unpopular agenda at the UN, advocating a hard-line stance on Iran, cutting the UN budget and leading the US withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council after accusing the body of being anti-Israel. Last month, she coordinated Trump's first time chairing the UN Security Council. "Look at what has happened in two years with the United States on foreign policy. Now, the United States is respected," Haley told reporters at the White House. "Countries may not like what we do, but they respect what we do." UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his "deep appreciation for the excellent cooperation and support" that Haley has shown, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon thanked Haley for being a "true friend" to the country. "Thank you for representing the values common to Israel and the United States," he said in a statement. The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations committee, Bob Menendez, said he was "deeply concerned about the leadership vacuum" created by Haley's resignation, and called it "yet another sign of the Trump administration's chaotic foreign policy." Trump said he would name her successor in the next two to three weeks.

US President Donald Trump has announced the resignation of the country’s envoy to the UN. Nikki Haley, who had served since January 2017, is the latest in a series of high-profile departures from the administration. US President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he had accepted the resignation of United Nations envoy Nikki Haley. Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, ... Read More »

Bulgarian journalist murder suspect detained in Germany: reports

German authorities have arrested a fresh suspect tied to the murder of Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova, according to media reports. The TV reporter's body was found in a park in northern Bulgarian town of Ruse. A man has been detained in Germany in connection with the murder of Bulgarian television journalist Viktoria Marinova, according to media reports in Bulgaria. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov is scheduled to hold a press conference early on Wednesday where, DW has learned, he is expected to confirm details of the arrest News of the arrest first appeared on the website of Bulgaria's 168 Chasa newspaper late on Tuesday. The man, described as a Bulgarian national between the ages of 20 and 30, had left Bulgaria on Sunday for Germany, where his mother is believed to live. Local television station TVN, where Marinova was employed, later reported the suspect and Marinova had not known each other. bTV, another Bulgarian broadcaster, claimed that police had found the journalist's mobile phone in the suspect's apartment in the northern town of Ruse. German authorities have so far declined to confirm the arrest. Marinova's body was found in a park in Ruse on Saturday. It showed signs of strangulation and rape. It remains unclear whether Marinova was killed as a result of her work. Bulgarian authorities said they were investigating both professional and personal motifs for her murder. The 30-year-old reporter had most recently hosted investigative journalists on her television show who had reported on the misuse of European Union funds by Bulgarian authorities. On Tuesday, police in Ruse arrested a Romanian citizen in connection with the murder, but later released him without charge due to a lack of concrete evidence. Marinova's killing has sparked an international outcry, with European governments calling for a thorough investigation into her death. Read more: Slovakia: Has the EU looked the other way for too long? Although authorities in Bulgaria have played down the likelihood that Marinova's murder was a direct result of her reporting, the country still ranks 111th in the world in terms of press freedom, making it not only the worst performer in the EU but the entire Balkan region. The case has rekindled a heated debate over the safety of journalists in Europe. Over the past year, two other journalists who had been working on investigations into state corruption were killed in Slovakia and Malta.

German authorities have arrested a fresh suspect tied to the murder of Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova, according to media reports. The TV reporter’s body was found in a park in northern Bulgarian town of Ruse. A man has been detained in Germany in connection with the murder of Bulgarian television journalist Viktoria Marinova, according to media reports in Bulgaria. Bulgarian ... Read More »

IMF downgrades global growth outlook, places responsibility on US-China trade tensions

The IMF has cut its global economic forecast for 2018 and 2019, citing above all rising import tariffs between the US and China. A fall in trade volumes and manufacturing orders could hit Germany particularly hard. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday downgraded its outlook for the world economy, warning that the imposition of import tariffs between the US and China were taking its toll on global trade. The IMF's World Economic Outlook report, unveiled on the eve of its upcoming summit in Bali, Indonesia, estimated that global growth in 2018 would reach 3.7 percent, the same as the previous year but lower than the 3.9 percent it had forecast earlier this year. It also slashed its outlook this year for 19 countries, including several eurozone member states and emerging markets. Growth in both the United States and China were expected to slow next year as a result of the trade dispute triggered by US President Donald Trump. China was set to grow by 6.2 in 2019, down from the 6.4 percent projected last July. Both figures would mark the slowest rate of Chinese expansion since 1990, when its growth rate was slashed in the aftermath of the violent suppression of pro-democracy protests. The IMF warned that China's growth even risked declining by a full percentage point by next year in the event of a "worse-case" scenario, involving further tariffs coupled with a collapse in confidence by businesses and markets. Beijing policymakers were navigating a "difficult trade-off between growth and stability," the IMF said in a statement. US growth this year remained steady at 2.9 percent but is set to slow in 2019 as the effect of Trump's sweeping tax cuts wear off and the trade dispute with China begins to set in. "The forecast does not incorporate the impact of further tariffs on Chinese and other imports threatened by the United States, but not yet implemented, due to uncertainty about their exact magnitude, timing, and potential retaliatory response," according to the IMF. Trade tariffs and Brexit put eurozone at risk Global trade tensions would also have a bearing on the eurozone's 2018 growth forecast, which was cut to 2 percent from 2.2 percent previously. A drop in manufacturing orders and trade volumes would hit Germany particularly hard, the IMF report warned. German growth was revised down to 1.9 percent in both 2018 and 2019 due to a slowdown in exports and industrial production. The possible failure of Brexit negotiations also dampened the eurozone's growth outlook. The UK economy, meanwhile, is expected to grow 1.4 percent this year and 1.5 percent in 2019 — falling behind almost all of Europe, with the exception of heavily-indebted Italy. UK growth has been drastically cut in the aftermath of the Brexit vote; uncertainties surrounding the country's divorce from the EU have stymied investment and seen part of its key financial sector relocate to the continent. Fed policy dampening developing markets' growth While tax cuts and increased spending have seen an immediate upswing in US growth, the IMF warned that the country could face an unwelcome "inflation surprise," which would prompt the Federal Reserve, America's central bank, to hike rates at a faster-than-expected pace. Read more: Federal Reserve issues trade conflict warning The Fed's rate hikes have already piled pressure on emerging market economies, increasing the risk of capital outflows as investors seek higher returns. IMF chief economist Maurice Obstfeld said in a statement that, although emerging markets had not yet seen a generalized pullback of capital, "there is no denying that the susceptibility to large global shocks has risen." Any major economic shock in developing nations would also come to bear on leading economies, including the US. "Any sharp reversal for emerging markets would pose a significant threat to advanced economies," said Obstfeld.

The IMF has cut its global economic forecast for 2018 and 2019, citing above all rising import tariffs between the US and China. A fall in trade volumes and manufacturing orders could hit Germany particularly hard. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday downgraded its outlook for the world economy, warning that the imposition of import tariffs between the US ... Read More »

When nature calls, there’s a problem in parts of Ghana

Majestic cloth, gold, welcoming people, rainforests and a cool Atlantic breeze. Ghana is steeped in culture and natural beauty. A flush toilet is hard to find, and the media are helping to potty train the government. Ghanaians are known to squat on the beach, in the bush, or wide open spaces of any city or town. Government billboards explicitly warn: "Beaches are not toilets – Don't do it here." Ghana is one of the worst countries when it comes to access to basic sanitation such as toilets. Some 5.7 million people are forced to relieve themselves in the open, according to the World Health Organization. The West African country is ranked seventh worst when it comes to improving basic sanitation. Open defecation is hardly a problem confined to Ghana - it is common in other parts of Africa and Asia too. But in Ghana the media has now stepped in to press authorities to provide the facilities needed to alleviate the problem. "For a country that has attained 61 years of independence, is it not shameful, embarrassing, disgraceful, distasteful and unthinkable that the greatest danger to human health and general well-being of the citizenry of our dear nation is self-inflicted," The Finder newspaper wrote. In Accra New Town in the heart of Ghana's capital, most houses are build without toilet facilities. "In reality, every house is supposed to have a toilet. But you know our people and how they build their houses – they don't locate any toilets. When nature calls, there is no place,” Bernice Ofei, a resident, told DW. "The only option for many is to go to the bush to defecate. Some had to use the neighbors' toilets," said Nana Abena. The plastic bags of human excrement that communities bother Abena. Heath risks Children and old people often can't hold on until they reach the communal public toilet or beat the queue, says Simon Keelson. "Some of the children defecate in polythene bags and throw it wherever they like, he said. "It is a worry because at times we know that the toilet is not good. At times they can attract flies and we can easily get diseases like cholera.” Sanitation experts and environmentalists have long worried raised concerns over the toilet habits of some people in Ghana. "Open defecation is a very serious threat to child-wellbeing and to maternal health. In fact, 19 percent of Ghanaians defecate in the open on a daily basis. And this is very serious,” said Attah Arhin, the vice chair of a non-governmental water and sanitation coalition . Toilets are expensive Some district assemblies in the country have pushed for households to build toilets or face prosecution. The government has run several campaigns, with a grant from the World Bank, to eliminate the problem. But they have been largely ineffective and political will is seen as lacking, with bylaws hardly enforced. To add a toilet to a home costs on average $230 (€197), more than most people can afford. The government admits that the unsightly problem is bad fortourism. Westerners especially avoid those beaches that have become public toilets. "We came on a tour, to ascertain for ourselves the state of the open defecation issue. We have to re-enforce the committment to fight this menace,” said Tourism Minister Catherine Afeku. "It can't be something that we leave it and say that is just the attitude. Nobody was born with this upbringing." In 2012, the World Bank estimated that Ghana's open defecation problem costs the country more than $79 million dollars a year. Media steps in The media is now working with sanitation experts to raise awarness and press authorities to invest more in sanitation. This week saw the launch of the Media Coalition against Open defecation (M-CODe) by media professionals across platforms countrywide. Its first call was directly to President Nana Akufo-Addo to declare a target date to end open defecation in Ghana. Cecil Nii Obodai Wentum of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation said the coalition wanted to see the government budget to ensure toilet facilities for all schools and homes. "We realized that over the years that there have been laws passed by our Assamblies and by national government to ensure that people have descent places of convenience. But these laws are not implemented," Justice Adoboe, the M-CODe coordinator told DW. "So we are joining this campaign to let government know that we know the laws exist so they should just enforce them, provide finances where finances are needed and do the right thing so that open defecation is eradicated." Linda Asante-Adjei, the vice president of the Ghana Journalists Association (GLA), also spoke out against the situation. "“We cannot continue spending money branding Ghana while we undermine those efforts with insanitary practices,” she told coalition members. Arhin said he hopes the upswing in advocacy for improved sanitation will bring about change. "As a country, we invest very little in sanitation. Our budget for sanitation is just about 0.5 percent, very little of our annual budget. We believe that with advocacy, if we keep hammering on the point of the importance of sanitation, government may listen." Benita van Eyssen contributed to this report.

Majestic cloth, gold, welcoming people, rainforests and a cool Atlantic breeze. Ghana is steeped in culture and natural beauty. A flush toilet is hard to find, and the media are helping to potty train the government. Ghanaians are known to squat on the beach, in the bush, or wide open spaces of any city or town. Government billboards explicitly warn: ... Read More »

Greek ministerial couple step down after housing subsidy scandal

Two government ministers have resigned in quick succession after public outcry over a Cabinet housing allowance. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is set to find replacements for the affluent married couple. Greece's economy and development minister has resigned hours after his wife quit as deputy labor minister in response to a housing stipend row. Dimitri Papadimitriou handed in his resignation to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday night "for reasons of political sensitivity," an Economy Ministry official told Reuters news agency. Papdimitriou's wife, Rania Antonopoulou, stepped down after Greek media reported she had accepted a €1,000 ($1,200) monthly housing allowance for an apartment she shared with Papdimitriou in an expensive Athens neighborhood. Read more: Greece secures billions as bailout enters final stages Antonopoulou was eligible to apply for the allowance as a cabinet member whose primary residence was outside of Athens. The couple's main home is in the US, where they had been working as scholars before joining the Greek government in 2015 and 2016. Despite the absence of any wrongdoing, the disclosure sparked national criticism. Greece is recovering from a severe financial crisis and a third of the population lives in poverty. US tax filings from 2015 showed that Antonopoulou owned $340,000 and Papadimitriou around $2.7 million worth of stocks. Read more: Greeks stuck in lousy, part-time jobs as government claims success "It was never my intention to insult the Greek people," Antonopoulou said, adding that she would return around €23,000 drawn from the housing allowance over two years. The government said it would end the housing allowance. Tsipras is also reportedly set to reshuffle his Cabinet on Thursday to fill the two vacant posts. Papadimitriou was responsible for attracting foreign investment to Greece and Antonopoulou worked on reducing unemployment. Read more: Greek firms paying employees with coupons

Two government ministers have resigned in quick succession after public outcry over a Cabinet housing allowance. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is set to find replacements for the affluent married couple. Greece’s economy and development minister has resigned hours after his wife quit as deputy labor minister in response to a housing stipend row. Dimitri Papadimitriou handed in his resignation ... Read More »

Majority of South Koreans favor North Korea ‘friendship’

More than 60 percent of South Koreans believe President Moon should sit down with Kim Jong Un at a summit designed to improve bilateral relations and ease the military tensions that have dogged the region for many years. A poll conducted on February 15 showed that 61.5 percent of South Korean adults nationwide were in favor of Moon travelling to Pyongyang for face-to-face talks with Kim, while 31.2 percent disagreed and expressed the belief that additional pressure – such as international sanctions - is the best way to force North Korea to moderate its behavior. The poll was conducted half-way through the Winter Olympic Games, which are being held in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang, and the results underline the surge in friendly feelings that ordinary South Koreans have felt towards their neighbors on the other side of the Demilitarized Zone. Read more: Olympics chief Thomas Bach set to visit North Korea And that is a direct result of a combination of sense of fear and feeling of hope among many in the South. 'Bloody nose' attack The fear for them is that US President Donald Trump intends to carry out a "bloody nose" military strike against targets in the North in an attempt to demonstrate Washington's capabilities and its willingness to use force. And the other element of the equation is hope that North Korea is genuinely interested in building a more collaborative relationship with the South and that peace is finally possible, 65 years after the end of the Korean War. "Those numbers in this poll, and others, come as no surprise to me at all," said Ahn Yin-hay, a professor of international relations at Korea University in Seoul. "There have been lots of reports of Washington planning a 'bloody nose' attack on a missile site or a nuclear facility in the North, and that makes people very worried because Pyongyang can be expected to retaliate and it is likely to target South Korea," she told DW. "South Koreans believe that a strategy of talking to the North is better than a violent approach that threatens our safety," she said. "Talking has a far better likelihood of achieving peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula." Moon is widely seen as having worked extremely hard since he took over the government in Seoul in May last year to build bridges with the North. Those approaches – including offers of talks to reduce the military threat levels, a front-line military hotline and reunions for families separated since the end of the Korean War in 1953 - were initially ignored or rebuffed by Pyongyang. The gradual ratcheting up of international sanctions in the closing months of 2017, however, appear to have convinced Kim Jong Un to be more amenable to discussions, while the timing and location of the Winter Olympic Games have provided the perfect opportunity for détente to flourish. Yet Moon is clearly in a difficult position. He may want to push ahead with a summit that may turn out to be a turning point in the bilateral relationship. It may, however, equally be a ploy by the North Korean regime to drive a wedge between Seoul and its most important security partner, Washington, as part of Pyongyang's broader long-term aim of a united Korean Peninsula controlled by the government that presently occupies the North. Read more: North Korea leader Kim Jong Un invites South Korean president to summit Historic handshake marks Korean unity at Olympic Opening Ceremony Alienating the US Moon must be careful not to alienate the US – and its present unpredictable leader – as he still needs Washington's security guarantees. Underlining the tightrope that he is walking, Moon said on Saturday that a decision on a summit with Kim is too early. "There are many expectations, but I believe they might be a little too anxious," Moon told reporters when asked about the possibility of a summit. He reiterated that there needs to be progress on the question of North Korea getting rid of its nuclear weapons before real progress can be made. There are, however, a number of areas in which progress can take place and would arguably serve as confidence-building measures for the two sides, believes Ahn. These include discussions between military leaders at the border on easing tensions and reunions of families divided by the DMZ. "If progress can be made in these areas, then I am optimistic that we could see a summit in the late summer months," she said, suggesting a meeting that would coincide with the anniversary of the June 2000 summit between Kim Jong Il and Kim Dae-jung, the then South Korean leader. Another symbolic date that could appeal to both sides might be August 15, the Liberation Day national holiday marking the end of Imperial Japan's colonial rule over the peninsula. Yet others are less positive about the outlook on the peninsula. "Of course South Koreans are saying they want the summit to happen; they do not want a war and the North Korean 'charm offensive' during the Olympics has been a huge success," said Jun Okumura, a political analyst at the Meiji Institute for Global Affairs. Read more: US wants North Korea to give up nuclear weapons as pre-condition of talks Kim Jong Un: North Korea has completed nuclear program, US will never attack Difficult situation "But Moon is in a very difficult position, stuck between the US, North Korea and even China as a major player in this situation," he said. "I do not see how Moon can square the South's relationship with the US with this meeting," he said. "And I believe that the issue of the joint US-South Korean military exercises could be the flash point." At the request of Pyongyang, the US and South Korea agreed to postpone military annual exercises that were due to be held during the Winter Olympics. North Korea is now demanding that the manoeuvers be cancelled entirely, warning that failure to do so would reverse all the positive developments in the bilateral relationship of recent weeks. Moon has a choice; one option is to bow to the North Korean demand and risk alienating the US entirely – and possibly encouraging Washington to take a unilateral approach to dealing with North Korea, which could involve the much-feared "bloody nose" approach. Alternatively, he can reschedule the exercises and face the wrath of Pyongyang. "I would say that everything hinges on these exercises and the situation is extremely dangerous at the moment," Okumura said. "A decision must be made in the next few weeks and, whatever that decision is, the ramifications will be felt this spring." Read more: Dialogue with North Korea must continue, says German President Steinmeier

More than 60 percent of South Koreans believe President Moon should sit down with Kim Jong Un at a summit designed to improve bilateral relations and ease the military tensions that have dogged the region for many years. A poll conducted on February 15 showed that 61.5 percent of South Korean adults nationwide were in favor of Moon travelling to ... Read More »

Do Korea talks put initiative back with Seoul and Pyongyang?

North and South Korea have held talks for the first time in over two years. DW spoke with Patrick Köllner from the GIGA Institute for Asia Studies about the outcome of the discussions and if any changes can be expected. DW: The fact that representatives from North and South Korea have sat together at a table and held talks could already be considered a successful step in relations. Now that the meeting is over, what outcomes did it bring? Patrick Köllner: First off, it was agreed at Tuesday's talks that North Korea will participate in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. This also guarantees that the games will be peaceful and quiet. This is of the utmost importance for the South Korean government. It is also expected that family reunions between the North and South will resume after being suspended for several years. Trust-building measures could also emerge in the form of talks between the two countries' militaries. Read more: North, South Korea agree to discuss military following Olympics talks Those are the tangible results - but what in your opinion is the most important message that can be read between the lines after the meeting in Panmunjom? One important message is that North and South Korea, the most important actors in the middle of this conflict, have actually managed to begin talking again. The initiative is once again with Seoul and Pyongyang. The last year was characterized overall by North Korea's armament efforts and the resulting reaction from the United States and the international community. It is crucial that the two Korean governments communicate because this conflict primarily affects 50 million Koreans. Do you think anything surprising happened during the meeting, or did the talks go as expected? The talks went positively in the sense that North Korea, after everything that we know, did not insist that planned military exercises between the US and South Korea be called off. The exercises, which were planned directly after the games, were postponed, but not cancelled. Requiring they be called off would most likely have led to the talks collapsing. Read more: What to expect from North and South Korea meeting ahead of Winter Olympics US wants North Korea to give up nuclear weapons as pre-condition of talks What were the goals and background agenda for each side during the talks? North Korea, of course, continues to follow the strategic aim of putting a wedge in the alliance between Washington and Seoul. But South Korea certainly knows this, and this alone doesn't exclude the possibility of reintroducing increased economic cooperation between the two Koreas. The drive to increase economic cooperation has been put on ice for the past few years because of North Korea's nuclear weapons testing. Even deliveries of humanitarian aid from South Korea were reduced. North Korea has an interest in once again promoting economic cooperation. South Korea has an interest in not letting important discussions about developments on the Korean Peninsula bypass Seoul. The positions of both sides seem incompatible. The North wants to keep its nuclear program and the South wants a nuclear weapon-free peninsula. How much maneuvering room do negotiators on each side have? Negotiations are complicated by the fact that possibilities for compromise are limited by the international sanctions regime hung on North Korea. Of course, South Korea cannot come out with its own measures that violate these sanctions. US interests in the background also complicate matters, and there is always the need to coordinate with Washington in addition to Seoul and Pyongyang. But trust-building measures could be possible, especially with the military. South Korean humanitarian aid could also be increased. These small steps could be the basis of talks on larger issues, which could also include the US and the question of nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula. Read more: North Korea reopens hotline to South to talk Olympics Interceptions cut off another source of North Korean fuel After today's talks, is it too early to hope for an overall relaxation of tensions? We need to keep in mind that the discussions did not change the fundamental constellation of issues. North Korea's weapons program continues and Kim Jong Un promised in his New Year's address to increase weapons production. Big challenges remain. But there are also positive takeaways – especially the fact that diplomacy is once again playing a role. We have spent the past year considering the possibility of military action. It is really a positive development to see examples of diplomacy. Professor Patrick Köllner is director of the GIGA Institute of Asian Studies in Hamburg. The interview was conducted by Esther Felden.

North and South Korea have held talks for the first time in over two years. DW spoke with Patrick Köllner from the GIGA Institute for Asia Studies about the outcome of the discussions and if any changes can be expected. DW: The fact that representatives from North and South Korea have sat together at a table and held talks could ... Read More »

Fired Google employee James Damore files reverse discrimination lawsuit

The ex-employee, who notoriously posited that "biological causes" explained why many of Google's senior staff were male, now argues that he was unfairly dismissed. He's the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit. A former Google engineer who was fired over a memo he wrote about the company's hiring quotas, filed a lawsuit against the US tech giant on Monday, alleging it discriminates against men, conservatives and Caucasians. James Damore was dismissed in August for violating Google's code of conduct, after he posted an internal memo saying that fewer women than men worked in the tech industry because of biological differences. Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai told employees in a note that portions of the anti-diversity memo "violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace." Read more: Google fires employee behind 'gender stereotypes' memo The 161-page class action lawsuit claims Google "ostracized, belittled and punished" him and others "for their heterodox political views, and for the added sin of their birth circumstances of being Caucasians and/or males." Google "employs illegal hiring quotas to fill its desired percentages of women and favored minority candidates, and openly shames managers of business units who fail to meet their quotas — in the process, openly denigrating male and Caucasian employees as less favoured than others," the lawsuit said. Read more: Google faces class action gender pay discrimination lawsuit The lawsuit was filed in a court in Santa Clara, in California's Silicon Valley. Damore is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, which has also been filed on behalf of other people who could be categorized into three "subclasses of individuals" that Google discriminated against, Damore's attorney, former Republican Party official Harmeet Dhillon, said in a Monday press conference posted on Facebook. The three subclasses are conservatives, Caucasians and men. Read more: Women getting ripped off: In Germany, pink razors cost more "All three subclasses happened to James because he is all of those three, but I want to be very clear that the lawsuit classes include women, they include people of colour who happen to fall into one of those three classes," Dhillon said. She added that Google had retaliated against Damore for "raising workplace issues" and in doing so violated provisions of California and federal law relating to discrimination. Women have 'more neuroticism' In Damore's memo, he wrote that "the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes … These differences may explain why we don't see equal representation of women in tech and leadership." Damore said women displayed "extraversion expressed as gregariousness rather than assertiveness" and "higher agreeableness … This leads to women generally having a harder time negotiating salary, asking for raises, speaking up, and leading." He also said women exhibited "more neuroticism," with higher anxiety levels and lower stress tolerance. "This may contribute to the higher levels of anxiety women report on Googlegeist and to the lower number of women in high stress jobs," Dalmore wrote. At the press conference, Damore defended the comments made in the memo. "There is definitely a lot of discrimination in that certain programs are not open to certain people," he said. "I believe the document I wrote and the comments that were shared showed that this was a common experience," he added. Read more: Asia-Pacific women 'under-represented' in leadership roles Google's new Vice President of Diversity, Integrity and Governance, Danielle Brown, responded to Damore's document in a memo to Google employees, saying, "Like many of you, I found that it advanced incorrect assumptions about gender." "Diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture we continue to cultivate. We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and we'll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul," she said.

The ex-employee, who notoriously posited that “biological causes” explained why many of Google’s senior staff were male, now argues that he was unfairly dismissed. He’s the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit. A former Google engineer who was fired over a memo he wrote about the company’s hiring quotas, filed a lawsuit against the US tech giant on Monday, alleging ... Read More »

Africa’s football marred by politics

Africa has many good footballers, but because of the key role played by politics, national teams are performing way below their potential. Lack of trust among stakeholders has hampered progress, said coach Volker Finke DW: Mr. Finke, for several years you worked as a trainer in Africa. How do you assess the situation and development of football on the continent? Volker Finke: For more than 20 years it has been repeatedly said that "It will not be long before Africa catches up in terms of infrastructure, there are better training opportunities and African teams can achieve success in major tournaments." But so far this has not happened. When you look behind the scenes, the reasons are always the same: organization and infrastructure. Can you explain that in more detail? Football is a reflection of social and political conditions. There is usually no transparency. Many of the financial resources that are initially made available disappear. As a result, for example, the training pitches are in such poor condition that you would rather not let the players train on them so they don't hurt themselves. Bonuses are not paid, and there's no trust between the government, the association and the players. These are the reasons why I do not believe that an African team will get very far at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Read more: What are Africa's chances for the 2018 World Cup? So that means the problems in football are not very different from those in politics. What would have to happen so that African teams can celebrate success at an international level? In my experience, the biggest difficulties come in the final stages of preparations, even though there are smaller problems during qualification stages as well. When you qualify, the fight for big budgets begins. As a rule, in African countries, everything that has to do with the national football team is paid for by the government. The federations do not have enough sponsors and other sources of income to pay the coaches and players' bonuses. As soon as the government provides the money for a big tournament, everybody wants to have a big slice of it. Then a large part of the funds simply disappears. Once the government disburses the money to those responsible for the team, the many people who deal with the cash all feel they have the right to siphon off something before it is sent on. There are things I have experienced over and over again. For example, after three to four days in training camp, suddenly the hotel closes its doors because the bill has not been paid. Or the bus will not come to the training camp because there is no money to buy fuel. And these are not isolated cases. I flew to Brazil with Cameroon two-and-a-half days later than planned because the payment arrangements were not yet sorted out and the team did not want to set out before things were negotiated. Every country that qualified for Brazil received $8 million (€6.7 million). The government should set up a new transparency program so that this money is used for good preparation comparable to the kind the competition from Europe enjoys. Trust between players, federations and the government needs to be built up. But I find it hard to believe that this is possible. There has been much talk in recent years of corruption in the football world. Several officials from the World Football Federation FIFA were arrested. The longtime association president, Sepp Blatter, had to resign. The lack of transparency at the international level is hardly helpful for the development in Africa ... Civil society in Asia and Africa has not developed in the same way as in Europe. In many countries, there are no functioning democratic structures and no separation of powers. Blatter and company built up their power using these countries. Anyone who sends payments to the right functionaries can be sure that the 54 African countries are on their side. In FIFA, each of the more than 200 members has one vote — but very few national associations come from democratic countries. Football officials there are often expected to use their positions to raise money. We in Europe call that corruption. If you know Africa well, you might say: Everyone takes their share. What does the lack of transparency in the associations mean when working as a trainer? One works largely next to the sports field. You have to find out quickly how certain hierarchies function: Who is being sponsored by whom? To whom do you have to talk before dropping a player from the list? But at the same time, you have to be careful that you do not get caught up in dependencies. When you give priority to one player, others come who are being backed by someone else. I myself was 50 percent diplomat, 50 percent football coach. It is crucial whether you get a team together that actually acts as a team. This cannot be done overnight. And you also have to have the backing of the association when certain players are sometimes not invited. How is African football doing from a sporting perspective? In the five big leagues of Europe — England, Spain, France, Germany and Italy — players of African descent regularly make a decisive impact on the games. Ivory Coast, for example, has produced some of the best players in the world in recent years. But it's always about things other than team performance. It's about things like the fight between the players Yaya Toure and Didier Drogba with their respective followers. One striking thing is that among the five African teams that have qualified for the World Cup in Russia, three are from North Africa. There are never as many football talents in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco as in West Africa. Ghana, Cameroon and Ivory Coast have the better player material without any ifs and buts. But the North Africans are more organized and structured, for example, in associations' work or training camps. In my opinion, these are the reasons why they have prevailed over the more talented teams from West Africa. Volker Finke trained for almost 16 years SC Freiburg in the 1st and 2nd Bundesliga. From 2013 to 2015 he was the national coach of Cameroon and led the team to the World Cup tournament in Brazil. Today he works in coach education in Japan, Europe and Africa.

Africa has many good footballers, but because of the key role played by politics, national teams are performing way below their potential. Lack of trust among stakeholders has hampered progress, said coach Volker Finke DW: Mr. Finke, for several years you worked as a trainer in Africa. How do you assess the situation and development of football on the continent? ... Read More »

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