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Panama's Chinese Connection, Dilma's Bad Day, Internet Turns 47

PANAMA PAPERS, THE CHINESE CONNECTION

The latest revelations to emerge from the Panama Papers focus on the family members of top China Communist Party members, including the brother-in-law of President Xi Jinping, Bo Xilai's wife and a distant relative of Mao Zedong. According to The Guardian, these relatives are part of China's "red nobility," "whose influence extends well beyond politics.". Clients from China and Hong Kong of Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca reportedly represented the firm's biggest source of business, with a total of about 40,000 companies linked to them in the confidential documents.

DUTCH VOTERS SAY "NEE"

Voters in the Netherlands have rejected the European Union's trade partnership deal with Ukraine, with 61.1% voting "No" in yesterday's referendum. According to De Telegraaf, the turnout was just 32.2%, but above the required threshold of 30%, meaning the issue has to be examined by the Dutch parliament. But the referendum, sparked by an online petition, was non-binding, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said after the vote that "we will continue our movement towards the European Union" regardless. The vote is seen as an important victory for Eurosceptics two months ahead of a crucial EU membership referendum in Britain, where Brexit supporters are accusing the government of being "biased and hysterical" after it emerged that it was using more than $12 million in taxpayer money to print "pro-Remain" leaflets.


DILMA ONE STEP CLOSER TO THE EDGE

Photo: Cris Faga/ZUMA

A Brazilian congressional commission investigating whether to impeach President Dilma Rousseff will recommend her removal from office when it votes next Monday, Folha de S. Paulo reports. Rousseff is accused of manipulating budget figures to hide the country's deficit in the months before her reelection, which she denies. The lower house of Congress is expected to vote in mid-April, with a two-third majority required for the impeachment proceedings to proceed to the Senate.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Chinese people comprised Japan's largest tourist group last year, followed by South Koreans and Taiwanese. But as Caixin reports, the growing presence of Chinese travelers has raised mixed emotions among the Japanese public, even those in the tourist industry who would be bound to profit from the phenomenon. "Complaints range from Japanese business travelers who suddenly find it difficult to book hotel rooms in certain Japanese cities, to broader gripes about the ‘etiquette,' or lack of it, among Chinese tourists," the newspaper writes. "Chinese travelers have a reputation for cutting lines, being noisy and littering. Local governments in cities that are popular with Chinese tourists have taken measures, such as putting up posters in Chinese to remind them of the code of behavior."

Read the full article, Japanese Hosts And Chinese Tourists, It's Complicated.


SECULAR BANGLADESHI BLOGGER KILLED

A 28-year-old secular activist was hacked to death in the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh, after criticizing Islamists, the BBC reports. According to the police, Nazimuddin Samad was attacked by three men with machetes at a traffic junction and was then shot. Though Bangladesh is officially a secular country, the government has come under criticism for failing to address such attacks, which have multiplied recently and targeted religious minorities, including Shia Muslims, Christians and Hindus.


25

"Peak friendship" comes at age 25, Finnish and British researchers have found. The study analyzed the mobile data of 3.2 million European users, and the findings suggest that our social networks shrink until the age of 45, as we dedicate more time to a smaller group of friends and family.


PAYING FOR SEX NOW ILLEGAL IN FRANCE

After two years of hard-fought debates, the French parliament approved a bill that makes it illegal to pay for sex, Le Monde reports. Prostitutes will no longer be punished for soliciting, but clients risk a fine of 1,500 euros ($1,700) and up to 3,750 euros for repeat offenses, a move that critics have said will do little to stop criminal networks that exploit young girls and force sex workers further underground. France is the fifth European country to punish customers rather than prostitutes, after Sweden, Norway, Iceland and the UK.


MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD



ANGOLA TURNS TO IMF AMID LOW OIL PRICES

Angola has requested financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund for the second time in seven years, as the African country and OPEC member struggles to cope with low oil prices, Portuguese daily Público reports. The government of Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos is said to be requesting a three-year program worth $1.5 billion. In exchange, the IMF is likely to demand that the country diversify its economy to rely less on black gold.


EXTRA!


Kiev-based weekly news magazine Krayina asks its readers, "Are you ready to live until you're 120?" See the newsweekly's cover about longevity here.


FAREWELL MERLE HAGGARD

Country music legend Merle Haggard died yesterday from pneumonia on his 79th birthday in his home in northern California. Haggard was best known for his 1969 song "Okie From Muskogee," along with dozens of other No. 1 hits. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994. Read his Rolling Stone obituary here.


VENEZUELANS GET A NEW DAY OFF

Weekends for Venezuelan workers just got longer, after the government decreed Fridays off for the next two months in the oil-rich country's desperate bid to save energy amid its economic crisis.


ON THIS DAY


The Internet (or should we say "internet"?) turns 47 years old today. That and more in today's shot of history.

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Geopolitics

Why Fast-Tracking Ukraine's NATO Entry Is Such A Bad Idea

Ukraine's President Zelensky should not be putting pressure for NATO membership now. It raises the risk of a wider war, and the focus should be on continuing arms deliveries from the West. After all, peace will be decided on the battlefield.

American soldiers from the U.S. army during a training exercise in Grafenwoehr, Germany

Christoph B. Schiltz

-OpEd-

Nine NATO member states from Eastern Europe and the Western Balkans are now putting pressure for the military alliance to welcome Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been calling for "accelerated accession."

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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As understandable as it is that his country wants to join a strong defensive military alliance like NATO, the timing is wrong. Of course, we must acknowledge the Ukrainian people's heroic fight for survival. But Zelensky must be careful not to overstretch the West's willingness to support him.

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