Newly appointed European Central Bank head Christine Lagarde makes her first official assessment Thursday of the mixed bag that is the eurozone economy, which suffers from slowing manufacturing and global trade even as consumer spending helps prop up growth.
Analysts think Lagarde will stress that the economy still needs support from the central bank, and that policymakers must be their guard against things turning out worse than expected. The ECB, however, is not expected to announce changes to a stimulus package decided Sept. 12 before Lagarde succeeded Mario Draghi on Nov. 1.
Doubts have grown about how much good additional central bank action can do to support developed economies; the U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday kept interest rates unchanged and signaled it would leave them alone through 2020.
Instead, interest is focused on Lagarde, who is presiding over her first meeting since she was appointed by European leaders as the head of the institution that sets monetary policy for the 19 euro countries that use the euro and their 342 million people. She is well known from her previous jobs as head of the International Monetary Fund and as French finance minister but investors will want to see how she communicates and explains the complexities of monetary policy to markets and voters.
Other themes that may come to the fore at her news conference are her plans for a review of the bank's monetary policy framework and how it defines price stability, the goal it is supposed to seek under the European Union treaty. There's also been discussion of whether the ECB should do more to support financing of projects aimed at fighting environmental pollution and climate change.
Analysts will also look for signals on how she will manage dissent on the ECB's 25-member governing council. A minority criticized the measures enacted under predecessor Draghi on Sept. 12. Those included a cut in the deposit rate to minus 0.5% from minus 0.4%. The rate is charged on excess cash left at the central bank overnight by commercial banks, so the negative rate is in effect a penalty that aims to push banks to lend the money to companies. The bank also started 20 billion euros ($22 billion) in monthly purchases of government and corporate bonds.
Russia expelled two German diplomats Thursday in retaliation for Germany ejecting two employees of the Russian Embassy in Berlin last week over a brazen killing last summer in the German capital.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that it was making the move "due to the reciprocity principle" and ordered them to leave the country within the next seven days.
Germany expelled the Russian Embassy employees on Dec. 4 after Russian authorities didn't answer requests by Germany to help shed light on the daylight slaying of a Georgian man in Berlin on Aug. 23.
Russia expelling German diplomats in response "sends the wrong signal and is unjustified," the German Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday.
German federal prosecutors took over the investigation after concluding that evidence suggested involvement either by the Russian government or Chechnya.
Russian President Vladimir Putin this week alleged the slain man was "a bandit" and "a murderer" and said Russia repeatedly asked Germany to extradite him, but to no avail. German authorities say they weren't aware of any extradition requests for the victim from Russia.
"The man who died in Berlin took active part in fighting in the Caucasus. He was on a wanted list, he was a militant, a very cruel man who shed a lot of blood. He was responsible for the death of 98 people in just one attack. He was one of the organizers of explosions on the Moscow subway," Putin said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday that the victim's alleged "participation in incredibly bloody terrorist acts and mass murders" in Russia had been established by the country's law enforcement agencies.
Polling stations opened in 650 constituencies across Britain at 7 a.m. (0700 GMT) Thursday in the country's general elections.
This is the second general election Britain has witnessed since its Brexit referendum in 2016.
Elections in the UK traditionally take place every four or five years, but members of parliament voted in October for a second snap poll in roughly three years.
It is also the first winter election since 1974 and the first to take place in December since 1923.
Thousands of polling stations, taking up space in community buildings, schools, libraries, shops, public houses and mobile huts, will operate until 22 p.m. Thursday. After they close, counting will begin immediately and most results will come out Friday.
The 46 million registered voters in Britain will be handed slips of paper containing the names of candidates in their respective constituencies, and some of them have already voted via postal votes, waiting to be added to the final tally.
The general election was called in a bid to break the Brexit deadlock, which has gripped Britain ever since the seismic 2016 referendum vote to leave the European Union. After struggling to lead a minority administration, Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson hopes to secure a majority government that will enable him to take Britain out of the bloc on Jan. 31.
A landslide in a remote, Taliban-controlled district in northeastern Afghanistan killed at least six people, all of them poor villagers mining the hillside for gold, officials said Thursday.
The landslide took place on Wednesday in the district of Raghistan in Badakhshan province, said provincial council member Abdullah Naji Nazari. The province, nestled in the Hindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges and bordering China, is one of the most remote in the country.
The six were among dozens of villagers who were digging for gold in the area, a common practice among the villagers in the impoverished region. The area, rich in gold, has been under Taliban control since 2015. Many of the illegal mines are run by the Taliban to fund their insurgency.
More than 30 villagers were injured and were missing for hours, buried under the mud and debris after the landslide, Nazari said.
Landslides are common and often deadly in Afghanistan. In 2014, also in Badakhshan, a landslide triggered by heavy rain killed at least 350 people and left more than 2,000 missing. And a landslide in Baghlan province, also in northeastern Afghanistan, killed 71 people in 2012.
One of Germany's richest families, which owns Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Pret A Manger and other international brands, is giving millions to support Holocaust survivors as it seeks to atone for its use of forced laborers during the Nazi era and its enthusiastic support of Adolf Hitler, The Associated Press has learned.
In addition to 5 million euros ($5.5 million) being given to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany to help thousands of elderly survivors around the world, the Reimann family's JAB Investors company plans to announce Thursday that it will provide another 5 million euros to find and support forced laborers used by its predecessor under the Nazis. An additional 25 million euros will be provided annually to Holocaust education and promoting democratic values to fight the rise of populist nationalism.
The family established the Alfred Landecker Foundation in Berlin to oversee the efforts, named after a German Jew who was killed by the Nazis and — remarkably — whose grandchildren have a combined 45% stake in JAB.
"To confront this was quite an emotional wake-up call for the family," David Kamenetzky, board chairman of both the foundation and JAB Investors, said in a telephone interview from Washington ahead of Thursday's planned announcement.
The 5 million euros dedicated to the Claims Conference's existing emergency assistance program will be distributed through some 200 welfare agencies over the next three years, said Greg Schneider, executive vice president of the conference.
"It will have a huge impact on the lives of the poorest Holocaust survivors around the world," Schneider told the AP in a telephone interview from New York.
This year some 10,500 survivors, average age 83, were helped through short-term financial crises by the program in 34 countries. The additional funding will allow for increased payments, or some 3,000 more survivors to receive assistance, with the Claims Conference and partner agencies taking on the administrative costs themselves.
The announcement comes after the Reimann family earlier this year released initial details from a report it had commissioned on its own Nazi past.
Luxembourg-based JAB, worth some 20 billion euros, grew out of Benckiser, an industrial chemicals company run by Albert Reimann Sr. and Albert Reimann Jr., Nazi party members who died in 1954 and 1984 respectively.
Today, in addition to Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Pret a Manger, the conglomerate has controlling stakes in the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Keurig Green Mountain, Peet's Coffee & Tea, Caribou Coffee Co., Panera Bread and other companies.
Immediately after World War II, Reimann Sr. and Jr. were investigated by the occupying Allied powers and initially banned by the French from continuing their business activities. The judgment was then overturned by the Americans.
Neither talked about the Nazi era, according to the family, but after coming across documents they had kept, the younger generation began to ask questions and commissioned a University of Munich historian in 2014 to examine the family's past more thoroughly.
He uncovered documents in Germany, France and the U.S. that revealed Albert Reimann Sr. and Albert Reimann Jr. used Russian civilians and French POWs as forced laborers, and were early supporters of the Nazi party, including donating to the paramilitary SS even before Hitler came to power.
Researchers have so far identified 838 people who were forced to work for Benckiser during the war, Kamenetzky said. None were Jewish or were sent to Benckiser as slave laborers from concentration camps.
Efforts are underway to locate those who might still be alive, not only to offer financial assistance but also to ask them to talk about their experiences, he said.
"We have a commitment to look into the history," Kamenetzky said.
That history also includes Alfred Landecker, a Jewish German World War I veteran who was killed by the Nazis, likely either in the Sobibor or Belzec death camp.
In a remarkable twist, Albert Reimann Jr. — a Nazi — ended up having three children with Emilie Landecker, the daughter of Alfred Landecker, whose Catholic wife died in 1928.
Landecker had all three of his children baptized Catholic, and by the time the Gestapo came for him in 1942 Emilie Landecker was already working as a clerk for Reimann Jr. — the same man who in 1937 wrote a letter personally to SS leader Heinrich Himmler declaring "we are a purely Aryan family business."
Emilie Landecker continued to work for the company after the war. Though it's not clear when she and Reimann Jr. started their affair, they had their first child together in 1951, followed by two more. Reimann Jr., who had no children with his wife, adopted all three in 1965. Two of them are now among four shareholders in JAB Investors. The third is uninvolved.
With an eye on the events that led to the killing of their grandfather and 6 million other Jews, the annual 25 million euro funding through the foundation will focus on programs aimed at fighting anti-Semitism, protecting minorities, and strengthening democracies against populism and nationalism.
The family named the foundation after Alfred Landecker, both as a tribute to him and to ensure the focus was not on JAB Investors or the Benckiser company, Kamenetzky said.
"Of everything that came out of this, the 10 million, the 25 million, the most important thing is the naming," he said. "The naming is a true statement