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europe confronts blowback from u.s. economic moves

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palestinian engineer, gunned down in malaysia, published drone research

kuala lumpur, malaysia—palestinian electrical engineer fadi al-batsh was on his way to a mosque outside malaysia’s capital for dawn prayers when he was shot dead by a helmeted attacker on a motorcycle.hamas, the palestinian militant and political organization that governs the gaza strip, blamed israel for mr. batsh’s death on saturday, calling it an assassination. hamas leader ismail haniyeh said mr. batsh was a member of the group, with “an honorable reputation in science.”...





french lawmakers pass immigration bill, but some members of macron’s party abstain

paris—french president emmanuel macron’s grip on power showed some weakness late sunday when a group of lawmakers from his party abstained from voting on one of his government’s signature bills. france’s national assembly approved legislation that would tighten immigration and asylum laws by doubling the time migrants can be detained, speeding their deportation and strengthening police powers to search illegal immigrants. but the vote exposed unusual opposition from within mr. macron’s large centrist majority, some of whose members have criticized the proposal as being too harsh on migrants.after floor debate that stretched until nearly 11 p.m. sunday, the measure was approved with 228 votes in favor, 139 against and 24 abstentions. all of those who voted in favor came from mr. macron’s majority and other smaller centrist parties. but even after a last-minute effort to soften one provision, 14 members of mr. macron’s majority were among the abstainers—and one member voted against the legislation in a rare show of defiance.the measure will now be sent to the senate for consideration.mr. macron’s government introduced the proposal in february to fulfill an election promise. along with allowing migrants to be detained for up to 90 days and giving police greater powers to fingerprint them, the bill aims to simplify and speed up asylum-application processes. the bill also includes measures aimed at helping those whose asyl...





china ‘welcomes’ mnuchin’s interest in traveling to beijing for trade talks

treasury secretary steven mnuchin says he may be heading to beijing for trade negotiations, suggesting an easing of u.s.-china tensions that have widened to include big-name companies in both countries.mr. mnuchin said saturday he is considering the china trip, and on sunday, china’s commerce ministry said in a terse statement that “the chinese side welcomes this.”the display of good will, following weeks of harsh words from both sides, gives rise to hope of a thaw in a trade stalemate that has seen both countries slap tariffs on some goods and threaten to impose them on a lengthening list of products.“it’s very likely” that mr. mnuchin will make the trip, said a chinese official with knowledge of beijing’s decision-making process. mr. mnuchin, who declined to comment on the timing of the visit, said he is “cautiously optimistic” about reaching an agreement with beijing that could defuse the bilateral trade conflict that has rattled world markets in recent weeks.mr. mnuchin told reporters saturday that he met with yi gang, china’s central-bank governor, at the spring meeting of the international monetary fund. mr. yi passed along mr. mnuchin’s message about his interest in going to beijing, according to people familiar with the matter.u.s. officials say mr. mnuchin might be accompanied by other u.s. officials, including u.s. trade representative robert...





terrible traffic? call in the 7-foot-tall robocops

kinshasa, congo—traffic in this african city is a daily death-defying battle between humans and robots. sometimes the robots lose. kinshasa and other cities in congo rolled out traffic robots in recent years to try to manage some of the world’s most chaotic intersections. equipped with red-and-green lights and movable arms to direct vehicles, this small brigade of tin men watches over thoroughfares with six or more lanes, where cars, trucks and motorcycles skirmish for right of way. ...





nicaragua revokes legislation that increased payroll tax, cut pension benefits

nicaraguan president daniel ortega canceled an unpopular package of measures to overhaul the country’s social security system, seeking to contain rising unrest after five days of violent street protests that left as many as 26 people dead in this poor central american nation.in a televised speech sunday, mr. ortega said that he revoked legislation to increase payroll taxes and cut pension benefits to shore up the country’s threadbare social security fund....





europe confronts blowback from u.s. economic moves

german chancellor angela merkel and french president emmanuel macron visit washington this week with strains hanging over european economic relations with the u.s.the strains—over trade, sanctions and other matters—were evident during semiannual meetings of the international monetary fund and world bank this in washington this weekend.european capitals find themselves facing blowback from u.s. confrontations with china, russia and iran, including the threat of steel and aluminum tariffs, the prospect of the u.s. pulling out of the nuclear deal with iran that the u.k., france and germany helped negotiate; and proposed sanctions on russia. other tensions loom with the u.s., including europe’s plan to tax digital companies.ms. merkel and mr. macron visit washington as a number of deadlines loom, including may 12, mr. trump’s self-imposed date for essentially getting out of the iran deal, and may 1, for steel and aluminum tariffs taking effect in europe.“we are allies,” french finance minister bruno le maire said friday in a news conference. “we can’t live with a sword of damocles hanging over our heads.”he indicated that until the u.s. removes the threat of tariffs on european steel and aluminum, the bloc wouldn’t join in washington’s campaign to pressure beijing.“if we want to discuss china we must first get rid of that threat,” m...





malaysia seeks killers of palestinian engineer

kuala lumpur, malaysia—palestinian electrical engineer fadi al-batsh was on his way to a mosque outside malaysia’s capital for dawn prayers when he was shot dead by a helmeted attacker on a motorcycle.hamas, the palestinian militant and political organization that governs the gaza strip, blamed israel for mr. batsh’s death on saturday, calling it an assassination. hamas leader ismail haniyeh said mr. batsh was a member of the group, with “an honorable reputation in science.”...





french lawmakers pass immigration bill, but some members of macron’s party abstain

paris—french president emmanuel macron’s grip on power showed some weakness late sunday when a group of lawmakers from his party abstained from voting on one of his government’s signature bills. france’s national assembly approved legislation that would tighten immigration and asylum laws by doubling the time migrants can be detained, speeding their deportation and strengthening police powers to search illegal immigrants. but the vote exposed unusual opposition from within mr. macron’s large centrist majority, some of whose...





trump will tell kim jong un that dismantling nuclear arsenal must precede economic benefits

president donald trump will urge north korea to act quickly to dismantle its nuclear arsenal when he meets north korean leader kim jong un and isn’t willing to grant pyongyang substantial sanctions relief in return for a freeze of its nuclear and missile tests, administration officials said.those two closely related questions—the pace of pyongyang’s nuclear dismantlement and the timetable for sanctions relief—stand to be the major issues of the summit....





china ‘welcomes’ mnuchin’s interest in traveling to beijing for trade talks

treasury secretary steven mnuchin says he may be heading to beijing for trade negotiations, suggesting an easing of u.s.-china tensions that have widened to include big-name companies in both countries.mr. mnuchin said saturday he is considering the china trip, and on sunday, china’s commerce ministry said in a terse statement that “the chinese side welcomes this.”the...





kabul suicide bomber targets voter-registration center in deadly blast

kabul—a suspected islamic state suicide bomber struck a voter-registration center in the afghan capital on sunday, killing at least 52 people in an attack aimed at inciting sectarian strife and undermining long-delayed parliamentary elections.the attacker detonated his explosive belt among a crowd of afghans who had lined up outside the center, a government-rented building, in the mainly shiite muslim district of dashte barchi in western kabul to obtain the identification cards they needed to cast their ballots in the elections,...





russian farmer alters rural economy with virtual currency, as moscow watches warily

kolionovo, russia—farmer mikhail shlyapnikov says the best way to revive the ailing economy in this remote village is cutting financial ties to moscow. mr. shlyapnikov has launched a cryptocurrency, the kolion, named after his hamlet some 80 miles southeast of moscow, buoyed by an initial investment of a half-million dollars from investors in russia and abroad.since...





china’s universities face a #metoo moment

beijing—a decades-old case of alleged rape and suicide at a prestigious university is giving china a #metoo moment—and showing the constraints confronted by social movements in the authoritarian-ruled country.since the rape allegation against a professor resurfaced earlier this month, a rolling wave of calls for action has followed, with three professors at another university in beijing being accused of sexual harassment and a teaching assistant at a third beijing university being accused of rape.government officials—and students say university officials—have reacted swiftly to tamp down #metoo discussions, with censors deleting posts by those seeking to share their experiences. students say those who have publicly called for more information about the decades-old case have been summoned into meetings with teachers, quizzed about their associates and told to stop speaking out.so far, the #metoo debate appears to be limited to universities. in recent months, hundreds of students and alumni from dozens of schools have signed letters petitioning universities to address sexual harassment. according to a 2016 survey by the nonprofit china family planning association, more than 30% of male and female university students say they’ve experienced sexual harassment or sexual violence.‘it’s very rare, what’s happening at all these university campuses’—leta hong fincher, author of forthcoming book “betraying big brother: the feminist awakening in china”no similar ...





russian farmer alters rural economy with virtual currency, as moscow watches warily

kolionovo, russia—farmer mikhail shlyapnikov says the best way to revive the ailing economy in this remote village is cutting financial ties to moscow. mr. shlyapnikov has launched a cryptocurrency, the kolion, named after his hamlet some 80 miles southeast of moscow, buoyed by an initial investment of a half-million dollars from investors in russia and abroad.since its launch last year, the currency is slowly becoming a tender of choice here and in surrounding towns for transactions, from milk to tractors. “you don’t see many rubles around here,” mr. shlyapnikov said outside his log home one recent day. “we have our own country here, our own currency. we do pretty well for ourselves.”russia, like many other countries, is weighing whether to embrace or ban cryptocurrencies as president vladimir putin orders up rules for the unregulated industry by the summer. as part of their efforts, officials are monitoring mr. shlyapnikov’s experiment to understand how cryptocurrencies work. stepping into this regulatory breach is mr. shlyapnikov, a self-described agro-anarchist, who is making a unique test of self-sufficiency in the rural region he says has long been neglected by moscow.mr. shlyapnikov next to a logo of his cryptocurrency, kolion, which took in an initial investment of a half-million dollars. photo: thomas grove/the wall street journal his efforts highlight th...





hamas blames israel for alleged assassination of one of its members

militant and political group hamas on saturday blamed israel for the alleged assassination of one of its members in malaysia on his way to a mosque for prayers.hamas said 35-year-old fadi al-batsh was killed at dawn in the malaysian capital of kuala lumpur. hamas officials didn’t disclose mr. al-batsh’s role in the islamist movement or how he was assassinated but said he was a researcher in “the field of energy.”the killing came a day after israeli intelligence minister yisrael katz warned the gaza strip rulers that israel would mount targeted killings should the group threaten israeli commanders.tensions between israel and hamas have surged in recent weeks. palestinians began protesting last month at the fence separating gaza from israeli territory, calling for the right of refugees to return to what is now israel. the protests led to clashes with the israeli army.the violence has left 37 dead from israeli gunfire and 4,500 injured, including four killed friday, palestinian authorities have said.the clashes between the israeli army and palestinians coupled with the dire state of the gazan economy have raised international concerns of another round of major fighting between hamas and israel.hamas leader ismail haniyeh said late saturday that his group sent a delegation to malaysia to hold talks with officials there. also in the regionboth mr. haniyeh and mr. al-batsh’s family accused israel’s foreign intelligence service, mossad, of the assassination and called on...





china ‘welcomes’ mnuchin’s interest in traveling to beijing for trade talks

beijing—china showed a renewed willingness to engage in negotiations with washington after u.s. treasury secretary steven mnuchin confirmed he is considering a trip to china to discuss the countries’ escalating trade fight.the chinese commerce ministry, in a terse statement, said sunday that beijing received the message about u.s. interest in coming to beijing to discuss economic and trade issues. the statement, citing an unnamed spokesman, said, “the chinese side welcomes this.”...





kabul suicide bomber targets voter-registration center in deadly blast

kabul—a suicide bomber targeted a voter-registration center in afghanistan’s capital city on sunday morning, killing at least 31 people and wounding 55 others, according to wahidullah majrooh, a spokesman for the country’s ministry of public health.the attack followed a quiet few weeks in kabul. it targeted a group of people lining up to register to vote in coming parliamentary and district-council elections.the elections, funded by afghanistan’s international donors, are seen as a milestone for young afghan democracy.“where is my son?” asked an elderly woman who arrived at the scene after the attack, with tears in her eyes. “does anybody know?”the blast in qalay nazar, located in the west of the city, occurred in an area populated mostly by members of afghanistan’s shiite hazara minority.islamic state, locally known as daesh, claimed on sunday through its amaq news agency that it carried out the attack.initially, afghan elections were scheduled for 2015, but they have been delayed repeatedly and security remains a key challenge.the country’s electoral body expects to register as many as 14 million eligible afghans in more than 7,000 polling centers for this year’s elections. with a deteriorating security situation across the country, registering that many voters is ambitious.bloodstained identification papers and voters’ photos following a deadly attack on a voter-registration center in western kabul. photo: rahmat gul/associated press ...





china’s universities face a #metoo moment

beijing—a decades-old case of alleged rape and suicide at a prestigious university is giving china a #metoo moment—and showing the constraints confronted by social movements in the authoritarian-ruled country.since the rape allegation against a professor resurfaced earlier this month, a rolling wave of calls for action has followed, with three professors at another university in beijing being accused of sexual harassment and a teaching assistant at a third beijing university being accused of rape....





new hope for families of americans detained in north korea

seoul—north korean reassurances about the fate of three americans detained in the country have raised hopes for their possible release ahead of a summit between president donald trump and north korean leader kim jong un.“i’m a lot more hopeful now,” said sol kim, the 27-year-old son of tony kim, a korean-american accounting professor whom north korea detained a year ago.during...