European Commission presidency race, red and blue waves at US midterms and facial recognition software for Australia security goes too far. Delano’s breakfast briefing for Thursday.
Commission president race
The race to choose a new European Commission president to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker is heating up, reports Bloomberg. Europe’s Christian Democrats (EPP) will nominate Manfred Weber of Germany or Alexander Stubb of Finland. But there was little to distinguish between the two who played it safe at a debate on Wednesday, reports Politico. A secret ballot will be held on Thursday morning to decide the lead candidate.
Merkel losing public support
A poll suggests almost two thirds of Gemans want German Chancellor Angela Merkel to step down next year, Politico reports. The Insa institute poll, conducted for Bild newspaper, showed 62.2% said Merkel should hand over the reins to a CDU member successor. Her party made significant loss in regional elections and last week announced she would not seek a new term as CDU leader. The Guardian, meanwhile, reports that Merkel’s longtime conservative rival Horst Seehofer could be ready to stand down as leader of his party. The two had frequent clashes over migration, Merkel’s 2015 open-door policy and boder controls. Seehofer was expected to announce his resignation at a CDU leadership meeting over the weekend.
US President Donald Trump’s Republican party lost control of the House of Representatives in Tuesday’s midterm elections. But, he vowed to fight if Democrats used their new power to launch investigations into his finances, reports Reuters. On Wednesday Attorney General Jeff Sessions was forced out, a move Democrats say is an attempt to undermine a probe into possible involvement with Russia. Politico described the results as both a blue and red wave, with Democrats making gains in the suburbs while Republicans winning over the non-college educated white voters to gain ground in the Senate. It was also a record breaker for women as they won seats in record numbers, while women voters tilted Democratic by nearly 20 points at exit polls. The Guardian reports that in a press conference on Wednesday, the White House revoked the press pass of CNN reporter Jim Acosta when he tried to challenge Trump over scaremongering related to the so-called “caravan of migrants”.
Facial imaging in Australia
Use of facial imaging matching software in Australia has prompted serious concerns among academics, human rights groups and privacy experts, The Guardian reports. “The capability”, as the system is known, collects biometric information, which can be matched in real-time with sources such as CCTV. Intended as a tool to fight identity crime and identify suspects, critics warn it is a substantial erosion of privacy. This week in China ABC news reported authorities are deploying a surveillance tool which recognises people’s body shapes and gait to identify them, even when they hide their face.
UK house price slump
UK house prices have reached a six-year low, with the steepest drops in London and south-east England, a survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) found. Euronews said that its index fell to -10 in October, the lowest since September 2012. Sales volumes were flat or negative across almost all of the UK. The Guardian said surveyors expected prices to fall further in the south-east and in London, with experts blaming Brexit for shaking buyer confidence.
Rynair fires crew for stunt
Ryanair fired six cabin crew for allegedly staging a photo of them sleeping on the floor of the VIP lounge at Malaga airport. Euronews said the image was widely shared online, via media outlets and on the Facebook page to highlight claims of poor staff treatment “Ryanair Must Change”. Ryanair tweeted video footage showing it was a stunt. The Guardian said the crew was stranded on 13 October because of storms in Porto and there were no hotel rooms for staff because of the Hispanic Day national holiday.
Russian tycoon detained
Police in Monaco detained Russian tycoon Dmitry Rybolovlev for questioning in relation to a corruption and influence peddling investigation, The Guardian reports. Rybolovlev is suspected of influencing law enforcement officials in a dispute with Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier. He claims Bouvier overcharged on 38 pieces of art purchased over a decade. Bouvier is the owner of the Luxembourg art storage facility, the Luxembourg Freeport. Rybolovlev denies wrongdoing.