“Kabul: at least 80 killed by massive car bomb in diplomatic quarter”
Scores of civilians have been killed after a massive explosion in a highly secure diplomatic area of Kabul left at least 80 people dead and wounded more than 360, the Afghan public health ministry has said. The attack is the deadliest in the Afghan capital since an Isis suicide bomber killed nearly 100 people at a protest last summer, and one of the largest to hit Kabul since the 2001 intervention.
The huge blast of a bomb hidden in a sewage tanker occurred close to the German embassy in the Wazir Akbar Khan area of the capital on Wednesday morning, sending clouds of black smoke spiralling into the sky near the presidential palace and foreign embassies. Meanwhile, the vast majority of casualties are expected to be civilians. It took place at the peak of Kabul’s rush-hour when the streets were packed with commuters and just days into the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Witnesses described dozens of cars choking the roads as wounded survivors and panicked schoolchildren sought safety, with people struggling to get through security checkpoints to search for loved ones. Basir Mujahid, a spokesman for Kabul police, said the bomb had struck close to the fortified entrance to the German embassy. “It was a car bomb near the German embassy, but there are several other important compounds and offices near there too. It is hard to say what the exact target is,” Mujahid said.
No group has claimed responsibility but both the Taliban and Isis have staged large-scale attacks in the city. The Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, condemned the attack. “The terrorists, even in the holy month of Ramadan, the month of goodness, blessing and prayer, are not stopping the killing of our innocent people,” he said in a statement.
“Trump ‘poised to quit Paris climate deal’”
The 2015 accord for the first time united most of the world in a single agreement to fight climate change. It was signed by 195 countries out of 197 in a UN group on climate change, with Syria and Nicaragua abstaining. In a tweet on Wednesday, Mr Trump said he would announce his decision within the «next few days».
Adopting a roadmap for speeding up progress, the countries agreed to: (i) Keep global temperatures «well below» 2.0C (3.6F) above pre-industrial times and «endeavour to limit» them even more, to 1.5C; (ii) Limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the same levels that trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100; (iii) Review each country’s contribution to cutting emissions every five years so they scale up to the challenge; (iv)Enable rich countries to help poorer nations by providing «climate finance» to adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy.
A top EU official said Europe was ready to assume leadership on combating climate change. German government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said: «Like you I’ve seen the reports but I don’t have any information beyond that.
“Mercedes-Benz says it will ‘buy American’ more often”
Mercedes-Benz will increase the number of American parts used at its factory in Alabama, saying it «sees value» in having more local suppliers. The move comes amid fresh criticism from President Trump over the large trade gap the United States has with Germany. A spokesperson for the Stuttgart-based automaker said the decision to buy more U.S.-made components was not the result of pressure from the Trump administration.
Instead, Mercedes-Benz said it hopes to persuade more suppliers to set up shop near its Tuscaloosa plant in order to increase efficiency and cut transport time for parts. The plant, which employs over 3,600 workers, is already in the midst of a $1.3 billion expansion.
The share of American and Canadian parts used in GLE-Class SUVs has also increased to 65%. Still, the shadow of politics looms. Mercedes-Benz (DDAIF) matches the profile of two of Trump’s favorite trade targets — it’s a foreign automaker, and it’s based in Germany. Trump used his first few months in the White House to heap pressure on automakers to increase production in the U.S. and hire more American workers.
“Ukraine is struggling with corruption, sometimes successfully”
Ukraine is fighting two wars. One is near its eastern border, where it faces Russian aggression. The other is at its core, where it is wrestling with some of the worst corruption of any post-Soviet state. The war against corruption is only starting, and the fighting is carried out office by office, ministry by ministry.
Naftogaz, a state oil and gas firm which once epitomized the country’s misgovernment, has been cleaned up. Some of the most powerful oligarchs have been squeezed. One of the main sources of corruption that feeds the system, state procurement, has been slowly overhauled, producing some positive results. In 2016 the health ministry launched a four-year programmed to outsource procurement of medicines to international agencies. In the past, bureaucrats allied with suppliers to inflate prices. With one of Europe’s fastest-growing HIV epidemics and many other health emergencies, this was a burden Ukraine could not afford. Patients of Ukraine, an NGO, has estimated that 1,600 Ukrainians die daily from the resulting lack of medicine. This may be a small victory, but the fight against corruption is rarely won by tanks. As the fighting intensifies, the corrupt system is starting to push back. Some politicians are even attempting to tarnish the name of one of the country’s most respected anti-corruption organizations, the Anti-Corruption Action Centre (AntAC). The group has received grants from Western donors, and pushed to create an anti-corruption prosecutor’s office, making itself plenty of enemies in the process. Alexander Martynenko, the head of Interfax Ukraine, a news agency, says AntAC’s foes, unable to ban it, are trying to discredit it in the eyes of its sponsors and cut it off from funding sources. In such a campaign, disinformation is the ammunition of choice.