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    Norwegian police say they now believe that the wife of one of Norway's richest men who allegedly was abducted eight months ago has been killed and they 'cannot exclude a staged kidnapping to hide it.' Chief police investigator Tommy Broeske says 'it is less likely that we are facing abduction with an economic motive.' Broeske declined Wednesday to say whether anyone has been arrested. Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen, who was last seen alive on Oct. 31, is the wife of Tom Hagen — a media-shy real estate investor and owner of an electric company. A note was found in their house describing what would happen to her if a ransom wasn't paid. Norwegian media have said the ransom was 9 million euros ($10.2 million), to be paid in cryptocurrency.
  • The Latest on the heat wave in Europe (all times local): 12:50 p.m. Paris is banning older cars for the day as a heat wave aggravates the city's pollution. Regional authorities estimate the measure put into place Wednesday affects nearly 60% of vehicles circulating in the Paris region, including many delivery trucks and older cars with higher emissions than newer models. Violators face fines. Around France, some schools have been closed because of the high temperatures, which are expected to go up to 39 degrees Celsius (102 Fahrenheit) in the Paris area later this week and bake much of the country, from the Pyrenees in the southwest to the German border in the northeast. Such temperatures are rare in France, where most homes and many buildings do not have air conditioning. French charities and local officials are providing extra help for the elderly, the homeless and the sick this week, remembering that some 15,000 people, many of them elderly, died in France during a 2003 heat wave. ___ 10:30 a.m. Large parts of western and central Europe are sweating under blazing temperatures, with authorities in one German region imposing temporary speed limits on some stretches of the autobahn as a precaution against heat damage. Authorities have warned that temperatures could top 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in some parts of the continent over the coming days as a plume of dry, hot air moves north from Africa. The transport ministry in Germany's eastern Saxony-Anhalt state said it has imposed speed limits of 100 kph or 120 kph (62 mph or 75 mph) on several short stretches of highway until further notice. Those stretches usually have no speed limit. About half of Spain's provinces were on alert for high temperatures. Zaragoza was forecast to be the hottest on Wednesday, with 39 degrees Celsius, building to 44 degrees on Saturday, according to the government weather agency AEMET.
  • China on Wednesday renewed a demand that Canada release a top executive of tech giant Huawei a day after announcing a suspension of all imports of Canadian meat products in an apparent bid to increase the pressure on Ottawa. Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters at a daily briefing Wednesday that Canada should 'take seriously China's concerns' and immediately release Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief financial officer and the daughter of the company's founder. The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa said in a statement Tuesday that Chinese customs inspectors detected residue from a restricted feed additive called ractopamine in a batch of Canadian pork products, prompting the ban. The additive is permitted in Canada but banned in China. Meng was arrested Dec. 1 in Canada at the request of U.S. authorities, who want to try her on fraud charges. She resides under house arrest in one of her mansions in the city of Vancouver. Days after Meng's arrest, China responded by detaining two Canadians and sentenced another to death in an apparent attempt to pressure for Meng's release. The two detained men, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor, have been accused of conspiring together to steal state secrets. No evidence has been provided and they have not been allowed access to family members or lawyers while remaining in custody. The latest action against Canada comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads to Japan for the G-20 summit later this week. U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to meet with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the summit amid the ongoing tariff war between the world's two largest economies. Meng's arrest set off a diplomatic furor among the three countries, severely damaging Beijing's relations with Ottawa. The Chinese have refused to talk to senior Canadian government officials, including Trudeau and Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. Before acting against Canadian meat, China previously stopped importing certain Canadian products like canola. Last year, Canada's shipments of pork to China were worth about 500 million Canadian dollars, or about $380 million.
  • Bank of England Governor Mark Carney says he'd be inclined to back a stimulus package to shore up the British economy if the country crashes out of the European Union at the end of October with no deal. In testimony to lawmakers, Carney said Wednesday that the response from the bank's rate-setting panel over a 'no-deal' Brexit 'would not be automatic' and will depend on the impacts on demand, supply and on the exchange rate. A fall in the pound could lead to a rise in inflation that could prompt some rate-setters to increase interest rates. Carney said 'some of us, myself included' think it's 'more likely' that some stimulus will be provided but that there were 'no guarantees' on that.
  • South Korean President Moon Jae-in met Wednesday with visiting Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who promised to help with possible fuel shortages in case of supply disruptions caused by tensions in the Middle East. Moon and the Saudi prince also called for international efforts to secure safety at the Strait of Hormuz, where the U.S. has blamed Iran for mysterious explosions targeting oil tankers, Moon's office said after the meeting at Seoul's presidential Blue House. Tehran denied involvement in the attacks, which raised concerns among Asian countries of potential supply disruptions. South Korea gets more than 70% of its crude oil from the Middle East and most of the supplies flow through the strait. Moon's office said the countries also agreed to increase exchanges in various sectors including technology and industry. Moon also pledged South Korean support for Saudi Arabia's national drive to diversify its oil-dependent economy by developing sectors such as health, education and tourism. South Korea is the world's fifth largest importer of crude oil and Saudi Arabia has been its biggest supplier. South Korea imported nearly 101.5 million barrels of crude from Saudi Arabia from January to April, according to the state-run Korea National Oil Corp. Prince Mohammed's visit came a week after a United Nations independent investigator called for him to be investigated over the death of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October. Following a monthslong inquiry, Agnes Callamard, the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said she concluded that Khashoggi was a victim of a 'deliberate, premeditated execution, an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible.
  • Doctors in Rome are warning of possible health hazards caused by overflowing trash bins in the city's streets, as the Italian capital struggles with a renewed garbage emergency aggravated by the summer heat. Trash disposal is a decades-long problem for the Eternal City. Rome was left with no major site to treat the 1.7 million metric tons of trash it produces every year since the Malagrotta landfill was closed in 2013. Successive mayors from different parties have all proved incapable of solving the city's garbage woes, which have re-emerged dramatically since Mayor Virginia Raggi of the populist 5-Star Movement took the helm three years ago. Raggi's administration is facing frustration and anger from both tourists and Romans over the piles of trash that threaten peoples' health and tarnish the city's image. 'We've become the third, fourth world in my opinion,' said Rome resident Rossana Franza. 'Mrs. Raggi should take a small stroll here once and a while. Because in her neighborhood, which I have been to, it is all in order.' Another woman living in Rome who only gave her name as Alessia told The Associated Press that a rat walked by her the other day and she cannot even go outside in the evenings because 'there's an incredible stink.' Animals like dogs, cats and rats or even birds like seagulls pose a serious health risks as they root around in garbage and spread bacterial infections through their waste or urine, Dr. Roberto Volpe from the National Research Council CNR told The Associated Press. 'The main risk for us comes when we take out and throw the trash away,' Volpe warned. 'There's a risk of taking the contamination back home with us. That's why it's important to wash our hands properly afterward.' Volpe also discouraged angry citizens from setting garbage piles on fire, saying that could cause greater health risks through dioxin contamination, which can lead to cancer. Officials in Rome, who are often at odds over the possible solutions to the constant waste emergency, do agree on one thing: the garbage problem needs a long-term solution. 'Let's be honest ... no waste plan can solve a problem aggravated by 60 years of mismanagement in one year,' said Marco Cacciatore, president of the local commission for environmental and city politics in Rome. 'Let's tell the truth to citizens: We are human. This difficult infrastructural situation cannot be resolved in the short term.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron sees himself as a global climate crusader but even a watchdog that he created says his government is lagging on its promises to the planet. The High Council for the Climate issued its first report Tuesday night on the French government's climate policy, saying measures are 'too weak' and 'insufficient' to meet Macron's own goals of slashing emissions by 2050. The government promised action within six months. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said climate policies should be 'amplified, given the urgency to fight against climate destabilization, whose effects we are already feeling' — referring to a heat wave currently hitting France and other European countries. The report came the same day as a landmark court ruling holding the French state responsible for failing to rein in health-damaging pollution.
  • Global shares were turned higher on Wednesday as investors await developments in trade friction between the U.S. and China at the Group of 20 meeting of major economies in Japan later in the week. France's CAC 40 was up 0.1% in midday trading, at 5,518. Germany's DAX was up 0.4% at 12,280 and Britain's FTSE 100 inched nearly 0.1% higher to 7,427. U.S. shares were set to drift higher with Dow and S&P 500 futures both adding 0.4%. Asian markets closed lower earlier. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 slipped 0.5% to finish at 21,086.59, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.3% to 6,640.50. South Korea's Kospi stood virtually unchanged at 2,121.85. Hong Kong's Hang Seng edged up 0.1% to 28,221.98, while the Shanghai Composite lost 0.2% to 2,976.28. Trade policy remains the biggest source of uncertainty looming over the market. Investors are worried about the trade dispute between the U.S. and China and its potential impact on global economic growth and corporate profits. Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping will meet this week at the G-20 summit. The world's two largest economies spent much of the current quarter escalating their trade war and giving global markets jitters over prospects for economic growth. 'To a large extent, any further deterioration in trade relations is expected to guide expectations here so the focus remains up ahead with the G-20,' said Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG in Singapore. How the trade war develops could affect whether central banks move in to support the economy. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell this week noted that the economic outlook has become cloudier since early May amid uncertainty over trade and global growth. The Fed and the European Central Bank have indicated they are open to cutting interest rates if needed. ENERGY: Benchmark crude oil rose $1.07 to $58.90 a barrel amid worries about tensions in the Middle East, centered around concerns about Iran, and industry data that showed a decrease in U.S. crude oil inventories. It fell 7 cents to settle at $57.83 a barrel Tuesday. Brent crude oil, the international standard, rose 75 cents to $65.03 a barrel. CURRENCIES: The dollar rose slightly to 107.71 yen from 107.03 yen on Tuesday. The euro weakened to $1.1367 from $1.1381. ___ Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama On Instagram https://www.instagram.com/yurikageyama/?hl=en
  • The Trump administration's $50 billion economic support plan for the Palestinians cannot succeed without addressing the political elements of a Middle East deal, international financial chiefs and global investors said Wednesday in comments that pushed back on the U.S. insistence that the two must be separated. Panelists at the two-day conference in Bahrain welcomed the proposal's ambitious investment and development goals, but warned it would fall short without good governance, rule of law and realistic prospects for lasting peace — which they said are largely missing from the initiative. Their views were aired as the Palestinians repeated their outright rejection of the so-called 'Peace to Prosperity' plan because it ignores their political demands, including an end to the Israeli occupation and the creation of an independent state. Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, suggested that peace is the missing part of the proposal, which was put together by President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. The Palestinians have great economic potential that can only be fulfilled with serious reform and protections for investors that must include serious anti-corruption efforts. But those alone are not enough, Lagarde said, stressing that a 'satisfactory peace' is imperative for prosperity. 'It's a matter of putting all the ingredients together,' she said. 'Improving economic conditions and attracting lasting investment to the region depends ultimately on being able to reach a peace agreement,' she said in a statement released later by the IMF. 'Peace, political stability and re-establishment of trust between all the parties involved are essential pre-requisites to the success of any economic plan for the region.' Lagarde's comments appeared at odds with the views expressed by Kushner when he opened the conference on Tuesday. 'Agreeing on an economic pathway forward is a necessary precondition to resolving what has been a previously unsolvable political situation,' he said. The proposal depends heavily on private sector investment in the West Bank, Gaza as well as Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, where it envisions creating a million new jobs, cutting Palestinian unemployment to single digits, doubling the Palestinian gross domestic product and reducing the Palestinian poverty rate by 50% through projects in the health care, education, power, water, tourism, transportation and agriculture sectors. The plan acknowledges that its success hinges on the completion of a long-elusive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. But that necessity was driven home by participants who sprinkled their comments with repeated references to 'Palestine,' a 'country' and a 'nation-state.' Those words have not featured in U.S. officials' comments about a resolution to the conflict since Trump became president in 2017 and began cutting aid and political support to the Palestinians in what critics have cited as the U.S. administration's pro-Israel bias. The administration has also refused to endorse a two-state solution that has long been seen as the only viable path to peace. 'You are going to have to deal with the political thing in order to get investment,' said Daniel Mintz, a founder of Olympus Capital Asia. 'Stability and security is key to investment in every country where we go,' said Selim Bora, the president of the Turkish investment firm Summa. 'Things don't have to be perfect, but we have to have a minimum level to go in.' Others said the plan could not succeed without the Palestinians having rights and dignity within their own state. Neither Israel nor the Palestinians are represented by official delegations and many Arab nations that are attending the gathering have sent lower-level officials in a sign of their skepticism of the plan. Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have been staging protests against the plan and the Bahrain conference since Monday. On Wednesday, the Palestinian Liberation Organization issued a scathing statement condemning the plan and the Trump administration for what it called blatant bias toward Israel. It accused the administration of showing 'willful blindness to the occupation' and a 'deliberate refusal to deal with reality.' 'The workshop attempts to circumvent the real issues by peddling in recycled and failed ideas. It wants to sell a mirage of economic prosperity for the Palestinian people so long as they accept and endorse their perpetual captivity,' it said. 'This is a formula that no dignified people can accept.' In a sign of solidarity with the Palestinians, the Gulf Arab state of Oman used the second day of the conference to announce Wednesday that it would open an embassy to the 'State of Palestine' in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The Omani foreign ministry said the decision comes 'in continuation of the sultanate's support for the Palestinian people.' Also speaking at the Bahrain conference on Wednesday were former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the head of the international football federation FIFA Gianni Infantino, and the lone Palestinian on the agenda, Ashraf Jabari, a West Bank businessman who is viewed with deep suspicion by many fellow Palestinians. Infantino, who participated in the event despite a last-minute direct appeal from the Palestinians to reconsider, said he was hopeful that sports, particularly soccer, could have an important role in giving hope to Palestinian communities and improving relations with Israel. 'With football, though football, we can really build bridges,' he said in a discussion about using sport and entertainment as catalysts for development. 'Let's use football as tool to show what is possible. We play footoball in Palestine, we play football in Lebanon, it is possible. Football can play a little role, but an important one.' Infantino's co-panelist, film producer Fernando Sulichin, spoke of the need to change the narrative of 'Palestinian victimization' through entertainment. 'We need to stop the victimization and start telling new stories.' He suggested there could be a 'Black Panther' or 'Billy Elliott' hero for the Palestinians or an uplifting story like 'Roma,' the Academy Award winning film about the life of a live-in housekeeper of a middle-class Mexican family. 'Why don't we have a 'Roma' in Palestine?' he asked.
  • Australia's three largest media organizations joined forces on Wednesday to demand legal reforms that would prevent journalists from risking imprisonment for doing their jobs. The demands came after unprecedented raids against media organizations by police searching for leaked documents that some say were deeply embarrassing to the government. News Corp. Australia, Australian Broadcasting Corp. and Nine Entertainment made their demands after raids by federal police on consecutive days earlier this month at ABC's Sydney headquarters and a News Corp. reporter's Canberra home in search of secret government documents. The rival organizations want journalists to be exempt from national security laws passed since 2012 that 'would put them in jail for doing their jobs.' They also want a right to contest warrants such as those executed in Sydney and Canberra. Both the ABC and New Corp. this week lodged court challenges to both those warrants in a bid to have documents returned. The organizations have called for greater legal protections for public sector whistleblowers as well as reforms to freedom of information and defamation laws. ABC Managing Director David Anderson, News Corp. Australia Executive Chairman Michael Miller and Nine Chief Executive Hugh Marks addressed the National Press Club on Wednesday as part of a campaign to gain public support for reform. 'Clearly, we are at a crossroads. We can be a society that is secret and afraid to confront sometimes uncomfortable truths or we can protect those who courageously promote transparency, stand up to intimidation and shed light on those truths to the benefit of all citizens,' Anderson said. Miller described the police raids that have united media organizations in their demand for change as 'intimidation, not investigation.' 'But there is a deeper problem — the culture of secrecy,' Miller said. 'Too many people who frame policy, write laws, control information and conduct court hearings have stopped believing that the public's right to know comes first.' Marks said 'bad legislation on several fronts and probably overzealous officials ... in the judiciary, in the bureaucracy and our security services have steadily eroded the freedoms under which we, the media, can operate.' 'Put simply, it's more risky, it's more expensive to do journalism that makes a real difference in this country than it ever has been before,' Marks said. The demands come a week before Parliament resumes for the first time since the conservative government was elected for a third term on May 18. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has not criticized the police raids, but has said he is open to suggestions for improvements to Australia's laws. Denis Muller, from the Melbourne University Center for Advancing Journalism, said the three organizations had identified 'real flaws' in the laws and said their united front would put pressure on the government. 'The government is going to be kicking and screaming every inch of the way with this because they will be getting very severe pushback from the bureaucracy, from the Federal Police, from the intelligence services,' he said. Australia is the outlier among its Five Eyes intelligence-sharing partners the United States, Britain, Canada and New Zealand in not having oversight to balance press freedom with national security. 'We're the only ones without any sort of formal protection of freedom of the press and we are the ones that have basically enacted the most oppressive national security regime,' Muller said. Experts say Australia went from having no counterterrorism laws before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the U.S. to having more than any other country in the world, with more than 60 new pieces of legislation and amendments. There had been no counterbalancing laws to uphold human rights or press freedom. Australia doesn't have enshrined rights like the U.S. First Amendment guarantee of free speech. Yet the World Press Freedom Index rates Australia at 21, higher than the United States at 41. Former army lawyer David McBride will appear in a Canberra court on Thursday on charges relating to the leaking of classified documents about Australian Special Air Service involvement in Afghanistan to ABC journalists. The leak was related to the police raid on the ABC. The ABC reported in 2017 on growing unease in the Australian Defense Force leadership about the culture of special forces, and that Australian troops had killed unarmed men and children. McBride told reporters two weeks ago that his prosecution was not about protecting national security but concealing 'a national shame.' The police raid on the home of Annika Smethurst, the political editor of Sydney's The Sunday Telegraph newspaper, focused on a 2018 story detailing an alleged government proposal to spy on Australian citizens, which cannot currently be done legally. No arrests were made as a result of either raid.