Europe Edges Toward 5G Restrictions After Blast of U.S. Lobbying

U.S. officials flooded Europe last week, and by the time they had departed, their efforts to persuade their allies to cut back in using Huawei Technologies Co. equipment appeared to finally be gaining traction.

Europe has been caught between two major world powers, China and the U.S., over the question of whether to include Huawei in the roll-out of its future 5G mobile networks. Many European countries don’t want to anger Beijing, a significant trading partner, while the U.S., an important security ally, has repeatedly said it may reassess intelligence sharing with countries that utilize Huawei in their 5G networks.

But on Tuesday the European Union agreed its member states should adopt a “comprehensive and risk-based” approach to the security of 5G, which includes using only trustworthy parties for components critical to national security, and should consider the laws of a supplier’s home country before buying their products.

A day later, following a NATO summit U.S. President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed “the need to exclude untrusted providers,” a White House spokesman said in a statement. The discussion came as the country’s largest phone carrier, Deutsche Telekom AG, announced it had stopped orders for 5G equipment due to Huawei’s uncertain status. Merkel has previously insisted that individual vendors such as Huawei should not be banned from the outset.

While American diplomats see the new EU security conclusions as a sign of progress, it’s not yet certain it will lead to a change in Huawei’s status in Europe. Under current EU law, only member states can ban vendors from their markets. The countries are expected to agree to recommendations by the end of the year. These could include flagging specific vendors as untrustworthy, or suggesting updates to EU or national legislation.

The ambiguities of European regulation haven’t stopped U.S. officials from declaring some form of victory.

“We were very pleased to see the conclusions on 5G that the EU council released,” Rob Strayer, the U.S. State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for cyber, said on a conference call with reporters Thursday.

Keith Krach, the State Department’s under secretary for economic growth, energy, and the environment also told reporters in Paris: “I would like to salute the EU leadership on the position they’ve taken on securing 5G.”

For their part, EU officials said member states agreed to the 5G conclusions to safeguard the region’s own interests, not to appease any outside powers. They added that the U.S. and China weren’t mentioned in the discussions leading up to the agreement, nor were there any real controversial issues among the member states.

Part of the U.S. optimism comes as European companies begin to turn their back on Huawei. Deutsche Telekom said it was hoping for “political clarity for the 5G build-out in Germany as soon as possible” as it announced it had stopped orders on 5G equipment due to Huawei’s uncertain status. No other major European telecommunications company has announced a full ban, although Vodafone Group Plc in January suspended purchases of Huawei gear for the core of its European networks.

A key issue for European and U.S. officials is a 2017 Chinese law that mandates any organization and citizen to support and assist national intelligence in their investigations. The U.S. has argued that allies should only purchase equipment from countries that have independent court systems. Strayer has said he isn’t trying to get allies to ban a particular company, but instead, is urging allies to adopt a common security standard — which Huawei doesn’t meet.

“We’ve said for some time that we want to maintain our very close cooperation on law enforcement and military matters with governments around the world,” said Strayer said on Tuesday in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “But when we’re not able to share information securely, as would be the case when they have untrusted vendors in their 5G networks, we’re going to have to reassess how we share that information in the future.”

A Huawei spokesman pointed Bloomberg News to a statement in which the company welcomed the EU’s “fact-based approach,” adding that the Chinese company is a trusted partner throughout Europe and that its 5G solution is “safe and innovative.”

The political agreement by the European member states aims to set one approach on 5G across capitals, preventing any one country from being singled out or becoming a potential target for retaliation by China or the U.S.

In the U.K., a key U.S. ally, Conservative party politicians are burnishing their hawkish security credentials during a general election campaign by dangling the prospect of a ban on a Chinese supplier. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, speaking at the NATO Summit in London on Wednesday, said he didn’t want Britain to be “unnecessarily hostile to investment from overseas,” but “we cannot prejudice our vital national security interests.”

U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid appeared to echo Johnson’s stance. “When it comes to our national security, no cost is too high,” he said, speaking to LBC radio. The Conservatives are capitalizing on data that shows opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn polling badly on whether he can be trusted on national security issues.

It wasn’t all a success for the U.S., however. The following day, Johnson was seen using what appeared to be a Huawei P20 smartphone to take selfies. His office said that the phone belonged to a staffer.

— With assistance by Kitty Donaldson, and Rudy Ruitenberg

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At least 14 killed in Nepal bus crash after vehicle plummets off mountain

At least 14 people have died and dozens of others are injured after a bus fell off a mountain in Nepal on Sunday morning.

According to police, the ill-fated bus, which was carrying around 32 people when the horrific accident occurred, fell "a few hundred meters".

The vehicle was en route to the Nepal capital city of Kathmandu from Dolakha's Kalinchowk, a popular religious and tourism destination.

According to local reports the bus was taking pilgrims back from the Hindu shrine of Kalinchowk Temple.

Reports also say passengers were taken to nearby hospitals to be treated.

Ganesh Khanal, spokesperson at district police office Sindhupalchowk, told Xinhua news: "12 passengers died on the spot while two breathed their last in the hospital. The injured have already been sent to the hospitals.

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"We have estimated that at least 32 people were travelling in the bus. The driver flew from the scene after the accident, while the assistant is seriously injured."

It has been reported the roads were slippery because of rain and visibility was poor because of morning fog.

Authorities said the identities of the deceased are yet to be confirmed and that they are investigating the cause of the accident.

According to Nepalese authorities, more than 22,000 lost their lives in the past 10 years.

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Shouting match: Indonesians given stage to dish out advice to community

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Dozens of Indonesians have taken part in a shouting competition in the capital Jakarta, given five minutes on stage to belt out advice on issues such as health, education and child protection to a crowd below.

The contestants, mainly housewives, come from the city’s native Betawi inhabitants, who have a reputation in Indonesia for being spontaneous and outspoken.

As well as being restricted to certain topics, contestants were barred from using swear words or pointing their finger when addressing the crowd, said organizer Muhammad Rifki.

The competition aimed to capture typical Betawi traditions, with winners competing for 1.5 million rupiah ($107) in prize money, he said. 

“Those are actually words or proverbs which are being used in the daily life,” said Rifki.The competition, which is part of a festival hosted by the Kampung Melayu district, is being held in the densely populated neighborhood in the city of 10 million for the first time.

Housewife Sulistywati, who uses one name and was one of the 32 contestants, said before going on stage she had been practicing her performance at home in front of the mirror.

“I think it’s important how we can send a message through this festival, as there are many kids out there who don’t go to school and their parents also don’t encourage them to go to school,” said the 43-year-old Sulistywati.

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McEvaddy group offers to pay for €50m airport link

The promoters of a proposed new third terminal on the western campus of Dublin Airport have told planners that they will pay between €50m and €70m to build a motorway link to facilitate the project, the Sunday Independent has learned.

Dubai investment fund TriCap and the McEvaddy brothers expect to apply for planning permission in early 2020 for the phased development of a terminal that could ultimately handle up to 30 million passengers, according to sources.

The €1.8bn plan puts Ulick McEvaddy – who owns 130 acres adjoining the western side of the airport campus – on a collision course with DAA, which is planning its own expansion.

McEvaddy has previously told the Sunday Independent that the TriCap consortium is willing to take legal action to secure access to the airport’s existing ramp and runway infrastructure, and the group is now consulting with senior counsel on the issue, this newspaper has learned.

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A brochure distributed to councillors said that the new terminal development would provide “a long-term solution capable of further expansion in co-operation with the DAA”.

The plans to build an alternative independent terminal on the western campus received a boost last week when Fingal County Council passed a local area plan for the airport that earmarks the lands owned by McEvaddy as one of the potential sites for a third terminal, should one be required.

The new 4km motorway link to the proposed terminal across open countryside to the M2 would create alternative access to the airport, avoiding congestion on the M1 and other nearby roads.

In its response to the draft local area plan, DAA had requested the removal of references to a western access route. But the local authority’s chief executive said that its inclusion was “considered reasonable”.

Councillors were said to be enthusiastic about the prospect of private investment paying for the new roadway and for the potential for retail and other commercial development along it, according to well-informed sources.

The brochure distributed to councillors said that the new terminal scheme would also allow for the development of a 500-acre Aviation Business Park on greenfield land in the area.

“To unlock the potential of Dublin Airport, we need to deliver world-class passenger facilities that can actually cope with future growth,” said the brochure.

“The only way to deliver this is to unlock the western campus.”

The brochure cited a 2018 Oxford Economics report that said building a new terminal to the west of the airport would “be easier, cheaper and less complicated to develop the core terminal and stands”, and allow for “more choice for customers, airlines and businesses”.

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Irish oil ban slows site progress for Europa

Europa Oil and Gas, an exploration and production company, has said the Government’s decision to phase out oil exploration appears to be slowing down its attempts to secure site investors on existing valid licences.

The UK and Ireland-focused company, which is listed on the Aim exchange in London, included the comments in its annual general meeting statement. Europa also said the Government decision had slowed down the completion of site surveys.

Simon Oddie, interim chief executive of Europa, said the company had been focusing on securing site partners and on completing surveys to ensure it could “drill wells at the earliest opportunity”, but progress had been slow.

“This outcome ought perhaps, with hindsight, be set against the context of the Irish Government’s recent decision to phase out oil exploration licences in the future,” he said.

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“Importantly, existing licences remain valid.”

Oddie said the Government’s continued highlighting of the “key role” gas will play as a transition fuel is encouraging news for Inishkea, a Europa site which it estimates holds 1.5 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Europa claimed Inishkea, which is near the Corrib gas field, could play an important role in satisfying Ireland’s future energy needs.

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Rich trophy hunters pay to shoot reindeer in wild and say it’s ‘magical’

Rich trophy hunters are paying to shoot reindeer in the wild.

Brits are being offered the chance to join a trip where they can stalk and kill real-life Rudolphs in a national park.

The animals being targeted by trophy hunters belong to the last surviving population of wild reindeer in Europe and roam in two of Norway’s largest national parks.

The shooting trips are being run by Hendry, Ramsay and Waters, which describes itself as “Scotland’s Premier Sporting Agency”.

On its website is a photo of two men pictured next to the carcass of a large reindeer.

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The agency boasts: “We have full exclusivity in both the Brehei-men and Jotunhei-men national parks, which hold Europe’s last-surviving population of wild reindeer, which have been hunted here since the Ice Age.

“The Jotunheimen national park reopens this year after being closed to all hunting for the past eight years, so this untouched territory will really be worth a visit.”

But Nick Weston, from the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “It’s hardly in the spirit of Christmas to shoot Rudolph, is it?

“There is no justification for shooting animals for fun at any time of the year, but to celebrate Christmas by killing Santa’s reindeer doesn’t really keep with the season of goodwill.

“When will we learn that animals are not commodities and give them the gift of life instead of needlessly
killing them?”

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There are thought to be around 200,000 reindeer in Norway. They can migrate huge distances looking for food – a lichen that is known as “reindeer moss”.

As well as the chance to hunt reindeer and the bigger moose, the agency offers the chance to shoot bears and wolves, which are a critically endangered species in Norway.

It also runs big-game packages to Africa, where trophy hunters can target species such as zebra, kudu, antelope and bushbuck.

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The company, run by Vernon Waters, also offers deer stalking at various sites in England and Scotland.

Hendry, Ramsay and Waters describe shooting a red deer as a “magical experience”.

The agency says: “Red Deer stalking in Scotland is truly one of the most magical experiences that hunting in the UK can offer.”

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Latest ‘SNL’ pokes fun at the effect Trump’s impeachment is having on Americans

All eyes were on the polarizing effect that United States President Donald Trump’s impeachment is having on Americans as the cast played family members sitting down for their Christmas dinners in this week’s Saturday Night Live cold open.

SNL‘s Aidy Bryant opened the show dressed up as a snow-woman, who encouraged Americans to try to keep it together during the holiday season.

“If we listened to some dinner conversations tonight, I bet we’d see we all have more in common than we realize,” said Bryant, who then admitted she’d hacked into their home-cameras.

Each Christmas dinner featured a family with a different view on Trump’s impeachment.

One, in San Francisco, Calif., depicted a family all too excited about Trump’s possible impeachment.

“I’m so happy everyone flew here for the holidays and I’m even more happy that they did it! They’re impeaching Trump!” said one of the actors.

Another, in Charleston, SC., complained that Trump’s only real crime was “being an alpha-male who gets things done,” and the last, in Atlanta, GA., that offered a glimpse into the lives of a more family concerned with whether Bad Boys III was going to be a good film, turning to politics to avoid a heated family conversation.

“I hate to say this but can we please talk about politics instead?” the fake son complained.

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South Korea's November U.S. crude imports up 80.4% on-year

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s U.S. crude oil imports rose 80.4% in November from a year earlier, with imports in the first 11 months soaring 165.3%, customs data showed on Sunday.

South Korea, the world’s fifth-largest crude oil importer, shipped in 1.56 million tonnes of U.S. crude oil in November, or 382,357 barrels per day (bpd), according to the customs data. That was up 80.4% from 867,687 tonnes a year earlier, but down 12.9% from nearly 1.8 million tonnes in October.

The United States was South Korea’s No.4 crude oil supplier in November after Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq.

“November South Korea’s U.S. crude volume was actually steady to October,” Emma Li, senior oil analyst with Refinitiv.

But Li said, a rise in freight rates in October, which affected November-loading vessels, would weigh on January and February arrivals.

Freight rates surged in October amid a tanker shortage following U.S. sanctions against Chinese shipper COSCO over alleged Iranian oil cargoes.

South Korea has imported over 1 million tonnes of U.S. crude oil every month this year, hitting the highest monthly intake of 1.91 million tonnes in July, or 450,838 bpd, the data showed.

South Korea’s U.S. crude imports were 16.09 million tonnes in the first 11 months of the year, or 353,115 bpd, up 165.3% from 6.07 million tonnes over the same period a year earlier.

(GRAPHIC: South Korea’s monthly crude oil imports – here)

Historically one of Asia’s major Iranian oil buyers, South Korea again did not import oil from Iran in November. Iranian crude imports have remained zero since May with the end of waivers on U.S. sanctions on shipments.

For the January-November period of 2019, the country’s total Iranian crude oil imports dropped 45.9% to 3.87 million tonnes, or 93,356 bpd, compared with 7.15 million tonnes over the same period a year earlier.

Overall, South Korea’s November crude oil imports fell 2.1% year-on-year to 12.44 million tonnes, or 3.04 million bpd, according to the data.

Crude oil shipments from Saudi Arabia, South Korea’s top crude oil supplier, were 3.22 million tonnes in November, or 787,837 bpd, down 15.9% from 3.84 million tonnes amid ongoing OPEC-led supply cuts.

In the first 11 months of the year, South Korea’s crude oil imports were 131.11 million tonnes, or 2.88 million bpd, down 3.8% from 136.22 million tonnes.

The country’s final crude oil import data will be released later this month.

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One man injured in northeast Edmonton stabbing

Edmonton police are investigating a stabbing in northeast Edmonton Saturday afternoon.

Officers were called to a home near 118 Avenue and 61 Street around 4:45 p.m. Saturday.

Police were told a group had gathered at the home when a fight broke out and one man was stabbed.

The victim was rushed to hospital with serious injuries.

The person or people responsible were able to escape before police arrived.

No arrests have been made.

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Maple Leafs hold off Edmonton Oilers for 4-1 win

In game that was billed as a battle of some of the NHL’s top offensive players, it was the depth players who made the difference as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 Saturday night at Rogers Place.

The Oilers are 0-3-1 in their last four games.

Mikko Koskinen made a sprawling leg save on Pierre Engvall four-and-a-half minutes into the game, but seconds later Engvall set up Alexander Kerfoot in front. His rising shot made it a 1-0 Toronto.

“I thought we had a pretty good start,” McDavid said. “They obviously get one fairly early and we’re behind and chasing it, but I thought we did a good job competing. We worked hard.”

Frederik Gauthier appeared to have a tap in goal later in the first, but he misdirected the puck wide though he has mere inches from the goal line.

In the second period, the Leafs kept the puck alive in front, allowing Kerfoot to nudge the puck to Ilya Mikheyev for an easy goal.

“We’ve got to see the positive in things,” Klefbom said. “Obviously Toronto is a good team and they play well here. That’s in the past right now. It’s going to be tough for us mentally and physically going into St. Louis and Dallas but we’ve got to come through this and come together as a team.”

With Cody Ceci in the box in the third for shooting the puck over the glass, Alex Chiasson put the Oilers on the board. He shovelled the puck past Frederik Andersen for his fourth of the season.

With 6:11 left, Gauthier took advantage of some shoddy defensive coverage by the Oilers to make it 3-1 Toronto. Mitch Marner added an empty net goal on a late Leafs power play.

“Losing four in a row is not good enough,” McDavid said. “We’ve got to find a way to put some wins together here. This is an opportunity for our group to go play two really good teams and see where we’re at.”

The Oilers, 18-13-4, will play in Dallas on Monday.

–With fies from 630 CHED’s Brenden Escott and Scott Johnston

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