Actualités Manifestation du 1er-Mai: Syndicats et opposition dénoncent la gestion des violences du gouvernement • VIOLENCES – Ils accusent la police d’avoir « essayé de voler » le 1er mai aux organisations syndicales Les syndicats CGT et Solidaires, de même que plusieurs responsables politiques d’opposition, ont vivement critiqué le dispositif sécuritaire mis en place mercredi à Paris pour répondre aux violences des radicaux lors de la manifestation du 1er mai, mais le gouvernement s’est défendu.Pour Philippe Martinez, le secrétaire général de la CGT, « il y a un problème » avec le préfet de police Didier Lallement et le ministre de l’Intérieur Christophe Castaner. Avant même le départ de la manifestation, en début d’après-midi, le leader syndical avait été contraint de quitter le cortège de tête, après avoir été pris à partie par des radicaux.La police a « tiré des gaz lacrymogènes sur la CGT », alors que les militants syndicaux étaient « très identifiables », a dénoncé Philippe Martinez en fin de journée sur BFM-TV. Lui-même confie avoir dû « reculer », car « vous savez, les gaz lacrymogènes, malgré le 1er mai, ne sont pas parfumés au muguet ».« Des coups portés à des camarades de la CGT bien identifiés »Il est revenu dans le cortège par la suite, en s’en prenant à Christophe Castaner et aux forces de l’ordre. « Pour un ministre de l’Intérieur qui nous avait dit „je maîtrise la situation, j’ai changé le préfet, vous allez voir ce que vous allez voir”, eh bien, on a vu », a-t-il dit aux médias, une fois revenu dans le cortège de tête, visiblement très énervé. « Des coups (ont été) portés à des camarades de la CGT bien identifiés » par des forces de l’ordre, a-t-il assuré en fin de journée. Plus tôt, la CGT avait dénoncé dans un communiqué « une répression inouïe et sans discernement » de la part des forces de l’o (…)
PARIS (AP) — Recognizing the contributions and struggles of laborers on May 1 has roots in late 19th-century Chicago, but there was a timeless quality to some International Workers’ Day observances held around the world Wednesday.
The labor unions behind the first May Day considered an 8-hour work day a cause worth striking for during the second industrial revolution. In 2019, the focus in several Asian countries was fair working conditions.
Workers marched through Hong Kong to demand a maximum work week of 44 hours, in Jakarta for a higher minimum wage and in Taiwan for more time off. Marchers demanded maternity leave and protections against workplace sexual abuse in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.
Socialist parties picked May 1, 1889, as labor day to commemorate a Chicago rally three years earlier that brought a police crackdown, a mysterious bomb, at least 11 deaths and the subsequent executions of the rally’s anarchist organizers.
On Wednesday in France, clusters of people wearing the black hoods and masks of modern-day anarchists pelted riot police with rocks and set trash cans on fire while darting in and out of a May Day march in Paris. France deployed 7,400 officers to protect the capital and other protesters from the violence.
Protesters and police officers also clashed in Turin, Italy; Istanbul and St. Petersburg, Russia.
And like the trade unionists of old who championed the rights of working classes off the job, activists in Europe, Africa and Asia this year promoted political platforms, opposed construction projects and looked ahead to the next elections.
Pope Francis offered a May Day prayer for people experiencing the „global tragedy” of unemployment.
ARRESTATIONS – Plus de 15.000 contrôles préventifs ont été effectués
Trois cent quinze placements en garde à vue étaient comptabilisés à Paris mercredi à 21h45, en lien avec la manifestation du 1er-Mai dans la capitale, a indiqué le parquet de Paris. La préfecture de police de Paris a dénombré de son côté 330 interpellations et plus de 15.000 contrôles préventifs effectués par les forces de l’ordre.
Dans le détail, 303 majeurs et 12 mineurs ont été placés en garde à vue dans le capitale. Parmi eux, «plus de trente» l’ont été à la suite de l’irruption de dizaines de participants au défilé dans l’hôpital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière, a précisé le parquet.
Selon un comptage réalisé pour un collectif de médias par le cabinet Occurrence, quelque 40.000 personnes ont manifesté mercredi à Paris, un nombre évalué à 80.000 par la CGT.
Premiers heurts en début de manifestation
Plus de 7.400 membres des forces de l’ordre devaient être déployés lors de la manifestation parisienne, avait déclaré mardi le ministre de l’Intérieur, Christophe Castaner, en promettant la « plus grande vigilance » face à la présence annoncée de « 1.000 à 2.000 activistes radicaux ».
De premiers heurts ont éclaté vers 13 heures, entre des forces de police et des « black blocs ». Dans une ambiance tendue, des grenades de désencerclement et lacrymogènes ont été lancées par les forces de l’ordre sur quelques centaines de militants anticapitalistes « black blocs », vêtus de noir et masqués, qui avaient remonté en colonne la manifestation au milieu de « gilets jaunes » sur le boulevard du Montparnasse, dans un quartier cossu de la capitale.
Trois ressortissants de nationalité étrangère font également partie des individus placés en (…)
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À lire aussi :
VIDEO. Manifestations du 1er-Mai : A Montpellier, les «gilets jaunes» ont éclipsé les syndicats, non sans tensions
VIDEO. Manifestations du 1er-mai: A Lille, gilets jaunes, syndicats et politiques ont convergé mais pas sur la même route
Plus de 300 journalistes dénoncent les violences policières dans une tribune
Caracas (AFP) – L’opposant Juan Guaido a appelé mercredi à une grève générale et à une poursuite des manifestations au Venezuela dans l’espoir de chasser du pouvoir le président Nicolas Maduro, lequel a promis de châtier les „traîtres” responsables du soulèvement militaire raté de mardi.
Une manifestante de 27 ans, Jurubith Rausseo, a été tuée d’une balle dans la tête pendant une manifestation contre M. Maduro mercredi à Caracas, a affirmé l’Observatoire vénézuélien des conflits sociaux, proche de l’opposition.
„Je m’engage à faire en sorte que ceux qui ont voulu tirer contre un peuple qui a décidé d’être libre se repentent de la mort (de Mme Rausseo). Tout cela doit s’arrêter”, a réagi M. Guaido sur Twitter.
Les services sanitaires du quartier de Chacao à Caracas, contrôlé par l’opposition, ont par ailleurs fait état de 46 blessés, dont deux par arme à feu, dans de nouvelles échauffourées entre forces de l’ordre et manifestants, en marge d’un défilé des partisans de Juan Guaido dans la capitale. La veille, des affrontements avaient déjà fait au moins un mort et des dizaines de blessés, selon le gouvernement et l’opposition.
Jets de pavés et cocktails Molotov, barricades incendiées: près de la base militaire aérienne de La Carlota, d’où Juan Guaido avait assuré mardi avoir le soutien d’un groupe de soldats, des dizaines de protestataires au visage couvert ont fait face mercredi aux forces de l’ordre, qui ont riposté par des tirs de gaz lacrymogène.
Après plusieurs heures d’affrontements, une trentaine de protestataires ont mis le feu à une camionette et l’ont lancée contre les grilles de la base, selon des journalistes de l’AFP sur place. Un manifestant a tiré en direction des militaires, et ces derniers ont riposté de plusieurs rafales.
„Nous vivons un enfer. Je fais confiance au peuple de la rue pour faire exploser la marmite”, déclarait à l’AFP Evelinda Villalobos, une manifestante de 58 ans.
Si les habitants de Caracas sont sortis en masse en soutien à M. Guaido, ce dernier ne semble pas avoir réussi son pari de faire de cette journée du 1er-Mai la „plus grande manifestation de l’histoire du Venezuela”.
„Demain, nous allons accompagner la proposition de grève tournante (faite par les travailleurs) pour arriver à la grève générale”, a déclaré devant des milliers de partisans l’opposant de 35 ans, reconnu comme président par intérim par une cinquantaine de pays dont les Etats-Unis.
– „Continuer dans la rue” –
„On va continuer dans la rue jusqu’à obtenir la liberté”, a assuré M. Guaido, chemise blanche aux manches retroussées, juché sur un véhicule équipé d’enceintes.
La veille, il avait appelé l’armée à se soulever contre le pouvoir. Mais cette tentative d’insurrection s’est dégonflée au fur et à mesure que les principaux chefs militaires réaffirmaient leur soutien au socialiste Nicolas Maduro.
Devant plusieurs milliers de ses partisans rassemblés pour la Fête du travail devant le palais présidentiel de Miraflores, M. Maduro a averti qu’il n’aurait „aucune hésitation” à „mettre derrière les barreaux les responsables de ce coup d’Etat criminel”, orchestré selon lui par John Bolton, le conseiller à la sécurité nationale du président américain Donald Trump.
„Hier (mardi), une poignée de traîtres happés par la droite putschiste a voulu s’imposer (…) Ils ont fui d’ambassade en ambassade, la justice les recherche et bientôt ils iront en prison pour payer leur trahison et leurs délits”, a affirmé le chef de l’Etat.
Mardi, après l’échec du soulèvement, un groupe d’insurgés avait demandé l’asile à l’ambassade du Brésil. Une des figures de l’opposition, Leopoldo Lopez, qui était assigné à résidence depuis 2017 et était apparu aux côtés de M. Guaido et des militaires insurgés, s’était pour sa part réfugié dans l’ambassade du Chili, puis dans celle d’Espagne.
BERLIN (AP) — A new survey has found that many Austrians lack basic knowledge of the Nazi genocide — even though the notorious Mauthausen concentration camp was just outside of the city of Linz, and some of the key perpetrators of the Holocaust were Austrian.
The study released Thursday by the New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which negotiates compensation for victims, showed that 56 percent of Austrian respondents did not know 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust. Some 36 percent believed 2 million or fewer were killed — a belief that rose to 42 percent among younger people aged 18-34.
Claims Conference CEO Greg Schneider said the numbers were in line with similar surveys done on knowledge in the United States and Canada, but were more surprising coming from Austria.
„The trends are the same, which indicate a really disturbing lack of knowledge about the Holocaust, but one of the things different about this survey is that it’s done in a place where the Holocaust occurred,” he said in a phone interview from New York.
The results come amid ongoing concerns over Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s junior governing coalition partner, which was led by former Nazis in the postwar period.
Though it’s officially distanced itself from that past, rhetoric from party members continues to evoke the Nazi era. Just last week, the deputy mayor of Braunau am Inn — Adolf Hitler’s hometown — left the party after writing a poem comparing migrants to rats, similar to the way the Nazis characterized Jews.
And on the weekend, party leader Heinz-Christian Strache, also the country’s vice chancellor, created an uproar saying his party was fighting against a „replacement of the native population” or Bevoelkerungsaustausch — a term used by European far-right groups that is also reminiscent of the Nazi terminology.
„The greatest fear is that something like the Holocaust could happen again, so I think it’s too narrow to limit the concerns to Austria,” Schneider said. „Yes, there are troubling signs like the mayor (of Braunau am Inn), but since just last month there’s been a shooting in a mosque in New Zealand, bombings in churches in Sri Lanka, and now shootings again at a synagogue in the United States — one of the key takeaways from the Holocaust is that it started with words, which quickly lead to deeds.”
Austrians asked about the Freedom Party in the survey were equally split, with 43 percent seeing it favorably and 43 percent unfavorably. Thirty-six percent said they considered parties like the Freedom Party patriotic, while 42 percent said such parties were nationalist and xenophobic.
Last year, a prominent Freedom Party member stepped down after it was revealed he was in an Austrian student fraternity that promoted neo-Nazi ideals, including singing songs with anti-Semitic lyrics. Asked about such fraternities, 16 percent said they should be able to keep singing their traditional songs even if they were anti-Semitic, while 70 percent said they should not be able to practice anti-Semitic traditions.
Efraim Zuroff, head of the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Jerusalem office, said a striking result in the survey was that only 13 percent said Austria was a Holocaust perpetrator, while 68 percent said it was both perpetrator and victim, and 12 percent said it was a victim.
„Given the fact that approximately a third of the most culpable Holocaust criminals were Austrians, that says a lot about the Holocaust distortion in Austria and the reluctance to take any responsibility,” said Zuroff, who was not involved in the study, in a telephone interview from Jerusalem.
Indeed, while 79 percent of respondents knew Hitler was an Austrian, only 14 percent knew Adolf Eichmann, who played a major role in the Holocaust, was German-Austrian.
Schneider noted that 42 percent also said they weren’t familiar with Mauthausen, even though the concentration camp was located in Austria.
„It’s as if you had a person in Texas who had never heard of the Alamo, it’s just shocking… it’s in their back yard,” he said.
In a positive sign, however, Schneider said 82 percent of respondents said the Holocaust should be taught in schools.
The survey of 1,000 adults, which was released to coincide with Israel’s observation of Holocaust Remembrance Day, was conducted between Feb. 22 and March 1 with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn has appointed his consort as the country’s queen ahead of his official coronation on Saturday.
An announcement Wednesday in the Royal Gazette said Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya is legally married to the 66-year-old king , and is now Queen Suthida.
Although she has been in the public eye for about three years, there has been little official information released about her and the news was a surprise to many Thais. She is reported to be 40 years old and to have previously worked as a flight attendant for Thai Airways International. The two reportedly met on a flight.
Suthida joined the palace guard in 2013 and became commander of the king’s security unit, currently holding a general’s rank. The new queen also has several top royal decorations.
Vajiralongkorn has had three previous marriages and divorced his previous wife, with whom he has a son, in 2014. He became king after the death in October 2016 of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Thai television, which broadcast the royal order Wednesday evening, showed a video of Suthida prostrating herself before the king. According to the announcer, she presented the king with a tray of flowers and joss sticks, and in return was bestowed traditional gifts associated with royal power.
TV showed the king in a white uniform and his bride in a pink silk traditional dress formally registering their marriage on Wednesday in his palace residence in Bangkok. The couple was seen signing a marriage certificate book, which was also signed by the king’s sister, Princess Sirindhorn, and Privy Council head Prem Tinsulanonda as witnesses. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and other senior officials were also in attendance.
FILE PHOTO: Oil tankers pass through the Strait of Hormuz
By Humeyra Pamuk and Timothy Gardner
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s unexpected decision to ban all Iranian oil purchases after May 1 – ending exemptions for eight nations – came after hawkish economic and security advisors allayed the president’s fears of an oil price hike, according to three sources familiar with the internal debate.
The unprecedented move to fully sever Tehran’s financial lifeline – finalized just days before the April 22 announcement – underscores the influence of hard-liners within Trump’s National Security Council, which two of the sources said were the biggest advocates for the decision. They had for months argued for tightening the sanctions over the objections of State Department officials who favored allowing some partners and allies to keep buying Iranian oil.
„No one’s actually tried to take this all the way to zero,” a senior administration official told Reuters, adding that forging a consensus among government agencies required „a lot of work.”
President Donald Trump has been eager to halt Iran’s oil exports since slapping sanctions on the Islamic Republic last November for the first time since 2015, a move intended as punishment for Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its support of armed militant groups in the Middle East. But he initially backed a go-slow approach, providing waivers to allies and trading partners such as China, India and Turkey.
The United States currently removes about 2 million barrels of oil per day from the world’s supply through sanctions on the Iran and Venezuela industries. But Washington hopes that soaring U.S. oil production – now at an all-time high of more than 12 million barrels per day – will keep global markets well-supplied and hold prices down.
By the weekend of April 20, with the initial 180-day waivers given to countries due to expire May 1, top economic and security advisors convinced Trump that the time had come to cut off Iranian oil exports completely, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The National Security Council played a key role in driving the argument to end the waiver program – especially Richard Goldberg, a new member of the Trump administration and a longtime advocate for confronting Iran, according to the two sources. He was „instrumental,” one of the sources said.
National Security Adviser John Bolton added Goldberg to the NSC in January.
Previously, Goldberg was an adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) think-tank headed by Mark Dubowitz, a leading advocate for tougher handling of Iran since the United States’ first round of sanctions against the country under former President Barack Obama.
In 2012, Goldberg was an aide to then-Senator Mark Kirk, a Republican, and delivered a blow to Tehran by writing legislation that closed Iran’s last legal loophole in selling oil under the Obama sanctions. That legislation targeted the Belgium-based SWIFT financial messaging system over which Iran was conducting billions of dollars in oil trade.
White House economic advisors Kevin Hassett and Larry Kudlow had also called for ending the waivers, according to a second senior administration official.
Trump discussed the matter with Bolton, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Energy Secretary Rick Perry as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
While Bolton and Perry backed ending the waivers, some in Pompeo’s State Department reiterated worries about the potential for rising oil prices, the sources said, but they ultimately dropped their objections and supported the more aggressive policy on Iran.
At the time, the State Department had been engaged in talks with at least five of the eight economies holding waivers, according to sources – China, India, South Korea, Japan and Turkey.
The decision caught several U.S. allies and Iranian oil buyers off-guard. China’s Foreign Ministry issued a formal complaint to the United States.
Separately, diplomats interviewed by Reuters from at least two large importers of Iranian oil said discussions about renewing their waivers continued until a few days before the announcement, suggesting the State Department had little time to brief partners on the decision.
Oil prices struck six-month highs after the announcement, but have since eased back.
Trump has long been anxious that rising oil prices could hurt the economy and raise retail gasoline prices, and in his last tweet before the waiver decision, he said global oil markets were „fragile”. He has asked members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to increase the flow of oil to compensate for losses from Iran and Venezuela.
„This was clearly what he was balancing in his own mind,” the administration official said.
One senior administration official said Trump held conversations recently with the Saudi and Emirati leaders on oil prices and received assurances that the two oil producers will ensure the market is well-supplied.
Saudi Arabia’s energy minister responded by saying he saw no need to raise oil output immediately. OPEC production declined by 1.6 million barrels per day between December and March, according to the organization’s figures.
‘THE RIGHT TIME’
The Obama administration, which had imposed sanctions on Iran in 2012 to thwart its nuclear ambitions, kept its waivers in place through the duration of its pressure campaign.
Obama’s sanctions program ended with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, an international accord with Tehran reached in 2015 aimed at preventing Iran from getting a nuclear bomb. Trump ridiculed the deal and unilaterally abandoned it last year over the objections of the other signatories. International nuclear inspectors said at the time that Iran was abiding by the deal’s terms.
State Department officials said it was the Trump administration’s intention from the start to bring Iran’s exports to zero. But the timing had not been right until now.
„We are doing this … in a favorable market condition with full commitment from producing countries,” said Frank Fannon, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources. „We think this is the right time.”
GRAPHIC: Largest importers of Iranian oil, through 2018 – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/editorcharts/IRAN-OIL-EXPORTS-SANCTIONS/0H001PBRC5Z7/eikon.png
(Additional reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Richard Valdmanis, Brian Thevenot and David Gregorio)
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that U.S. military action in Venezuela is on the table as the opposition to the socialist regime of Nicolás Maduro, led by self-declared interim president Juan Guaidó, takes to the streets this week.
“If that’s what’s required, that’s what the United States will do,” Pompeo told Fox Business. “We would prefer a peaceful transition of government there, where Maduro leaves and a new election is held. But the president has made clear, in the event there comes a moment — we’ll all have to make decisions about when that moment is — the president will have to ultimately make that decision.”
Guaidó, who is also the National Assembly president, appeared with recently released opposition activist Leopoldo López in a video message on Tuesday and announced “Operation Liberty,” the “final phase” of his effort to overthrow the regime, calling on Venezuelan armed forces to oust Maduro.
“See you in the street!” Guaidó wrote in a tweet Wednesday.
Pro-Maduro soldiers were seen ramming armored trucks into a crowd of opposition protesters in video captured of the clashes that broke out on Tuesday. There were reports of gunfire exchanges between the soldiers backing Guaidó and troops loyal to Maduro.
More protests are expected later Wednesday as protesters gather in the streets of Caracas, which remain calm for the moment.
Moscow (AFP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a new decree fast-tracking Russian citizenship for some Ukrainians despite concerns the move will exacerbate the crisis between the countries.
Under a decree published Wednesday, several categories of Ukrainian nationals will have the right to a simplified nationality process including those who already have Russian residence permits.
Other categories include Ukrainian citizens who were born in Crimea but left the peninsula before Russia annexed it in March, 2014.
The fast-track procedure is implemented to protect „rights and human and civil freedoms”, said the decree which Putin signed on Monday.
The move comes after a comedian with no political experience, Volodymyr Zelensky, won a landslide victory in presidential elections in Ukraine last month.
The Kremlin has not congratulated Zelensky while Putin said Moscow was thinking of making it easier for all Ukrainians to obtain Russian citizenship.
Putin had already signed a decree on April 24 allowing people living in breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine to receive a Russian passport within three months of applying for one.
President-elect Zelensky, in response, pledged to grant Ukrainian citizenship to Russians who „suffer” under Kremlin rule.
There were hopes bilateral ties might improve under a Zelensky presidency but that is now looking unlikely, analysts say.
Kiev and the West have condemned the Kremlin, accusing Putin of seeking to further destabilise Ukraine, while critics at home say the moves would be a major burden for the already-struggling Russian economy.
After a pro-Western uprising in Kiev ousted a Kremlin- backed regime in 2014 Moscow annexed Crimea and extended support to Russian-speaking separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Some in Kiev and the West worry that Moscow’s offer of citizenship to Ukrainians would give the Kremlin a justification to move troops across the border under the pretext of protecting the interests of Russian nationals.
Kenya Fujisaki and his wife Saya pose for a photograph in front of a panel set up for a commemorative photos, after registering marriage in Tokyo
By Linda Sieg and Kiyoshi Takenaka
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan welcomed the start of a new Reiwa imperial era and a new emperor on Wednesday in a festive New Year mood, with hopes for peace and prosperity.
Emperor Naruhito, 59, was formally invested on Wednesday after his father, Akihito, 85, stepped down the day before.
Akihito, the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in two centuries, became an active symbol of peace, reconciliation and democracy during his three-decade Heisei era. Many expect Naruhito to follow that model, but with his own style.
„The curtain has gone up on a new era that will be filled with hope,” said Hiroshi Takahashi, 78, outside his ‘wagashi’ traditional Japanese sweets shop in Tokyo.
Heisei saw economic stagnation after a frothy asset bubble burst in the early 1990s, but unlike the previous Showa era, during which Japan fought, lost and recovered from World War Two, Japan did not participate in military conflicts.
„The Heisei era was an era in which we did not take part in war and I’d like Reiwa to be the same – a world without war,” said Kazue Miaji, 67, outside a shop in downtown Tokyo.
Japan’s U.S.-drafted, post-war constitution prohibits the maintenance of a military, although successive governments have stretched it to allow armed forces exclusively for self-defense. The charter also defines the emperor as a „symbol” of the state and the unity of the people, without political power.
Japanese traditionally refer to the date by the era name, or „gengo”, a system originally imported from China, on documents although many people also use the Western calendar.
Japan is marking the imperial transition with an unprecedented 10-day holiday that some analysts say will give the economy at least a short-term boost.
At electronics retailer Bic Camera in downtown Tokyo, employees wearing red shirts emblazoned with “Reiwa” and “Happy New Era” held a one-day sale of “good luck boxes” with discounted laptops, cameras and other items that customers buy without knowing the exact contents.
Salaryman Shigeru Yoshizawa said he hoped the economy – which experts fear is slowing down – would get better.
„I want it (Reiwa) to be a world that is peaceful and I’d like the economy to improve,” he said.
Unlike when Akihito took the throne as the nation mourned the death of his father Hirohito in January 1989, the abdication means that the transition is taking place in a celebratory mood.
„A change in era may happen only once in our life time, so it’s a happy day, and I wanted my child also to be present at that moment,” said Ayako Nakayama, 33, outside the palace with her husband Masahiro and their 10-month-old son. „I hope this is a peaceful era where everyone can live with smiling faces.’
Elsewhere, couples wanting to register their marriages as soon as the Reiwa era began at midnight had lined up at government offices, which set special desks for the paperwork.
For 29-year-old Kenya Fujisaki, the move was mostly practical. „This way, it’s easy to remember my wedding anniversary, which guys tend to forget,” said Fujisaki, who with his wife Saya was the first to register at Tokyo’s Edogawa ward.
(Additional reporting by Malcolm Foster and Kwiyeon Ha; Editing by Michael Perry)
FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Erdogan and MHP leader Bahceli throw talk on the stage during a rally for the upcoming local elections in Ankara
By Orhan Coskun
ANKARA (Reuters) – A month after local elections which saw it lose control of Turkey’s two largest cities, officials in President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party are questioning an alliance with nationalists which some blame for one of its biggest electoral setbacks.
Under a deal between Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted party and the smaller Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the nationalists fielded no mayoral candidate in the capital Ankara or Istanbul in the March 31 vote, and the AKP stood aside in other regions.
But the deal failed to prevent the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP), which had a similar pact with other smaller opposition parties, winning the mayoralty in both cities, ending a quarter century of control by the AKP and its Islamist predecessors.
The AKP is still challenging its narrow loss in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city and business hub where Erdogan himself served as mayor before the party swept to power nationally in 2002. It has dominated Turkish politics ever since.
While the Istanbul appeal drags on, the rare defeat has prompted questions within the party over campaign strategy. Although the alliance helped them win a majority of votes nationwide, AKP officials say it has delivered limited benefits.
„The MHP gained a lot from this alliance, more than us,” a senior official at the AKP headquarters in Ankara told Reuters.
Another AKP official said the MHP’s 71-year-old leader Devlet Bahceli, once a staunch critic of Erdogan, was an unpredictable ally.
The AKP relies on the MHP for its parliamentary majority, meaning any break in the pact would leave it looking for new partners – a significant challenge after Erdogan’s blistering criticism of his opponents during the campaign.
But that has not stopped talk of a split. The senior official said that if Turkey’s electoral board rules against a re-run of the Istanbul vote requested by the AKP, there was little incentive to maintain the alliance.
„Depending on the decision, the fate of the alliance will be determined. It is not possible to say where the alliance will go in the short-term, but the fracture has become noticeable now,” he said.
An MHP official said that while differences with the AKP were emerging in public, the nationalists would not be the side to end what the parties have called their „People’s Alliance”.
Bahceli said he remained committed to the pact. „This is our basic choice, our national and strategic goal,” he said in a statement on Wednesday. „There is undoubtedly no need to search for other alliances.”
The stunning setbacks for the AKP in Ankara and Istanbul prompted sharp public criticism last week from a politician once at the heart of Erdogan’s administration.
Former AKP prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu condemned his party’s alliance with the nationalists, saying it was damaging „both in terms of voter levels and the party’s identity”.
Davutoglu, who served as premier between 2014 and 2016, also slammed the AKP’s economic policies, media restrictions and the damage he said it had done to the separation of powers and Turkey’s institutions.
Since the election, Erdogan has appeared to downplay the significance of the MHP, pointing to its 7 percent share of the vote. Bahceli said the remarks were „unfair and unjust”, given that his party had chosen not to stand in Turkey’s three largest cities.
After CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu was physically attacked at a soldier’s funeral last month, Erdogan struck a more conciliatory tone with a call for unity.
„On matters that concern the survival of our country, we must move all together with 82 million as the TURKEY ALLIANCE, putting aside our political differences,” he tweeted.
Analysts say his reference to national unity may be largely rhetorical, and the opposition says it rings hollow after he repeatedly accused the CHP and its Iyi (Good) Party allies during the election campaign of supporting terrorism.
„Some people within the AKP are doing self-critism. This bothers Erdogan. How could a person who can’t even tolerate self-criticism within his own party preach democracy?” CHP Deputy Chairman Muharrem Erkek said. „His own words show he is not sincere in the ‘Turkey Alliance’ rhetoric.”
(Writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Ece Toksabay; Additional reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Dominic Evans and Gareth
(Bloomberg) — A coalition of lawmakers, including Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker, is working to blunt the Army’s plan to stop buying a model of Boeing Co.’s Chinook helicopter for at least five years.
Booker was one of nine senators with home-state interests who signed an April 1 letter urging their chamber’s defense policy and appropriations committees to block the proposal. A similar March 28 letter from House lawmakers from affected locales went to leaders of that chamber’s defense panels.
The Army’s proposed budget calls for saving $962 million through 2024 by cutting 28 of 68 previously planned Chinook heavy lift helicopters — all 22 of an upgraded standard model plus six of a version for special operations.
The Chinook proposal is the most controversial part of the Army’s plan to shift through 2024 as much as $31 billion saved from trimming 186 existing programs and lowering troop levels into new projects intended to position the service for a potential conventional conflict with Russia or China.
It’s also a test for the lobbying clout of Chicago-based Boeing, its congressional allies and its workers. Boeing spent $15 million last year on lobbying, the third-most among corporate spenders behind Alphabet Inc.’s Google and AT&T Inc., according to disclosures filed with the Senate.
The Senate letter said that halting Chinook purchases could cost 1,000 jobs across the nation, illustrating the geographical reach of Boeing’s influence.
All of the members who signed it have parochial interests in the issue: They’re from Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, where the Chinook is built or where most of its workers live; from states like Montana, where the Army National Guard flies the helicopter; or from Arizona, where Boeing wields influence because it makes its Apache copters there.
“Boeing leadership expressed support for our modernization strategy, and said they would support our budget,” Army Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement. “So it’s not entirely clear now why they are taking this position.”
But Boeing signaled it’s not ready to give in on the Chinook.
“Chinook symbolizes our country’s commitment to help soldiers complete their missions and return to their families,” company spokesman Jerry Drelling said in a statement. “We look forward to providing future capabilities through our continued partnership with the Army.”
Another Boeing official, who’s familiar with the discussions with Esper, said the company didn’t tell him it accepted the Chinook cuts.
In an interview, Esper said that “we’ve got to free up the money” for the Army’s future helicopter needs. The service’s five-year request for a program to develop new vertical-lift aircraft is now $5.38 billion, up from $690 million.
Esper said in the interview that although he was aware of the congressional opposition he’s yet to see push-back from defense committee leaders.
“The proof will be in the mark-ups,” he said, referring to the crafting of the defense policy bill that’s due to begin in May with the Senate Armed Services Committee, followed by its House counterpart.
House Armed Service member Mary Gay Scanlon is likely to be among those fighting the proposed halt in procurement. Scanlon, a Democrat who represents the district of Boeing’s Chinook plant, has said the cut will jeopardize some of its 4,580 workers. Forty percent of them live in her district.
Army Under Secretary Ryan McCarthy said in an interview that “I understand industrial base concerns,” but he said that contractors seeing programs cut should focus on the “tremendous opportunities” for aviation programs from future projects.
An example is Boeing’s unit in Mesa, Arizona, one of five winners of awards announced April 23 to produce prototype designs for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft. The work could be valued at as much as $772 million.
McCarthy also noted that the Chinook could continue to be produced for potential foreign military sales, including to the U.K. and Saudi Arabia.
“We’re going to reach out” and talk with the senators who wrote to champion the Chinook because they’re not on the defense committees and might not be familiar with the Army’s thinking, McCarthy said. “We’ve got to work a little harder to make sure they have a full appreciation of the decisions.”
–With assistance from Bill Allison.
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Joergen Ree Wiig tries to reach the harness attached to a beluga whale before the Norwegian fishermen were able to removed the tight harness, off the northern Norwegian coast Friday, April 26, 2019. The harness strap which features a mount for an action camera, says „Equipment St. Petersburg” which has prompted speculation that the animal may have escaped from a Russian military facility. (Joergen Ree Wiig/Norwegian Direcorate of Fisheries Sea Surveillance Unit via AP)
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A beluga whale found in Arctic Norway wearing a harness that suggests links to a military facility in Russia is so tame that residents can pet the mammal on its nose.
The white whale found frolicking in the frigid harbor of Tufjord, a hamlet near Norway’s northernmost point, has become „a huge attraction” for locals, one resident said Tuesday. The whale is so comfortable with people that it swims to the dock and retrieves plastic rings thrown into the sea.
„The whale is so tame that when you call it, it comes to you,” said Linn Saether, adding the whale also reacts to yells and when humans splash their hands in the water.
She said when she throws out a plastic ring, the Beluga whale brings it back to her as she sits on the dock.
„It is a fantastic experience, but we also see it as a tragedy. We can see that it has been trained to bring back stuff that is thrown at sea,” Saether, 37, told The Associated Press.
The whale was found with a tight harness reading „Equipment St. Petersburg” in English. The hamlet has a dozen permanent residents and less than 100 people in the warmer season.
„The talk in this hamlet is that it could have escaped from a Russian military facility or even have swam from St. Petersburg, Florida, because of the English-language text,” Saether said.
It was not immediately known whether any of the dolphin and whale facilities in St. Petersburg, Florida, were missing a Beluga whale.
On Friday, a fisherman jumped into the frigid Arctic water to remove the harness, which has a mount for a camera, from the whale. It wasn’t clear why the strap was attached to the mammal.
Audun Rikardsen, a professor at the Department of Arctic and Marine Biology at the Arctic University of Norway in Tromsoe, northern Norway, said he believes „it is most likely that Russian Navy in Murmansk” was involved.
Murmansk is the headquarters for Russia’s Northern Fleet, the single most powerful fleet in the Russian navy. The city is located on the Kola Peninsula, in far northwestern Russia close to the Norwegian border.
Russian authorities did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the whale.
But Mikhail Barabanov, a Russian naval analyst at the Moscow-based Center for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies think tank, downplayed any links to the Russian military.
„Even if there are military programs for using marine animals for navy purposes, they are unlikely to belugas, and such animals are unlikely to be released into the open ocean,” he told AP in an email.
„I think that these Norwegian idiots simply robbed certain Petersburg zoologists” who were trying to track whales, Barabanov said.
Matthew Bodner in Moscow contributed.