Merkel optimistic about German coalition deal; Sudanese protests spread

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  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel is optimistic that she can persuade the center-left Social Democrats party (SPD) to team up with her Christian Democrats (CDU), after after she failed in November to form an alliance with two smaller parties. Germany is still without a new government — three months after a national election. Merkel said the parties had much work to get through but added: “I think it can succeed.” The five-day talks will include Merkel’s CDU, her allies the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the SPD. President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has said the coalition stalemate was the worst governing crisis in the 68-year history of its post-World War Two democracy. Merkel has said that she would prefer a new election rather than lead a minority government.  Read WikiTribune’s backgrounder on the issue.

  • Demonstrations over rising bread prices sparked unrest in Sudan’s capital Khartoum on Sunday and then spread across cities to the south, witnesses told Reuters. Officials arrested a prominent opposition leader and confiscated newspapers in a move to suppress growing disturbances in the country. The protests followed others in the southeastern city of Sennar on Saturday, after bread prices doubled in recent days. The surge occurred after the government announced last month that it was removing subsidies in its 2018 budget.

  • U.S. President Donald Trump says he would “absolutely” talk to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.  North Korea agreed on Friday to hold official talks with South Korea next week amid a standoff over Pyongyang’s missile testing. Trump said he would speak to the man he had previously called “Rocket Man” (CNN):  “Absolutely, I would do that … I have no problem with that at all,” he told reporters at presidential retreat Camp David.
  • Trump also defended his intelligence and emotional stability in a series of tweets that addressed allegations made in Michael Wolff’s upcoming book Fire and Fury – Inside the Trump White House. As Wolff promotes his book, the controversial author claims that several White House aides see Trump as unfit for the presidency. (Read more about Fire and Fury and allegations of dysfunction and infighting in the White House). 

Donald J. Trump on Twitter

to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!

  • Government supporters gathered across Iran to accuse the United States for instigating the largest anti-government protests since 2009. Parliament met on Sunday to discuss the week of protest with the ministers of interior and intelligence, Iran’s police chief, and the deputy commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards, state television said. State TV reported that Tehran’s Friday prayer leader called on authorities to deal “firmly” with those responsible for igniting over a week of demonstrations, in which 22 people have died and more than 1,000 have been arrested, according to Iranian officials.
  • Eleven princes in Saudi Arabia were arrested for protesting the government’s decision to stop paying their utility bills., a Saudi news service, reported that the eleven members of royalty refused to leave after being confronted by authorities. Saudi Arabia previously paid the water and electricity bill of members of the royal family. The rule was abandoned as part of the government’s larger efforts to reform the economy, which record a $32.4 billion deficit in November 2017.
  • The United Nations will investigate an attack in Congo last month that killed 15 Tanzanian peacekeepers. The probe which will look at the circumstances surrounding the attack, evaluate the peacekeeping mission’s preparedness and provide recommendations for prevention of future attacks, a UN statement said. Officials said they suspected that Ugandan rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces, an Islamist rebel group, executed the December 7 attack on the base in the town of Semuliki in Congo’s North Kivu province.


  • Brazil’s President Michel Temer was swept up in a corruption investigation where police asked him 50 questions as part the probe. The alleged corruption is related to a government decree regulating the country’s ports. Police are looking at whether Temer took bribes in exchange for shaping the decree in a way that would benefit logistics firm Rodrimar SA, which operates some services in the Port of Santos, Latin America’s busiest container port. “The decree, published in May, lengthened the deadline for contracts governing port concessions, benefiting current operators,” Reuters reported.

What we’re reading

  • Millions of women and men around the world have taken part in the #MeToo movement, sharing their experiences of sexual harassment in an attempt to show the magnitude of the problem. But the digital campaign has not been as prominent on Chinese social media until now. But as the BBC reports, Luo Xixi, an academic from a university in Beijing, shared her experience of sexual harassment by one of her professors on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. Her post gained more than three million views within a day, triggering a heated debate online about sexual misconduct. Many Chinese feminist groups are encouraging women to follow in Luo’s footsteps, but think that even if the #MeToo movement takes off it will look quite different in China. — Charles Anderson

What the WikiTribune community’s up to

  • President Donald J. Trump announced on Thursday that he will disband the commission tasked with investigating voter fraud in federal elections. Statistically, voter fraud in the United States is extraordinarily rare. Yet 34 states have some type of voter identification law to prevent impersonation at the ballot box. Trump and the majority of Americans support these laws, but many others believe the laws are designed to prevent people from voting, in particular people of color and lower-income Americans. In this community story, staff reporter Charles Turner is looking for help in creating a piece that outlines the key issues and debate. Sign up to take part.

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