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    A massive fireball that engulfed people scooping up fuel spilling from a pipeline ruptured by thieves in central Mexico killed 21 people and badly burned 71 others in what was a chronicle of a tragedy foretold. It came just three weeks after new President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador launched an offensive against fuel theft gangs that drilled dangerous, illegal taps into pipelines an astounding 12,581 times in the first 10 months of 2018, an average of about 42 per day. With crowds of townspeople often involved, either aiding thieves or collecting spilled fuel in primitive containers, it was only a matter of time before a fire occurred. In fact, they have occurred before, but seldom with the scale and horrifying death toll of Friday's fire in the state of Hidalgo, which came as people collected the spilled gasoline in buckets, plastic jugs and garbage cans. The leak was caused by an illegal pipeline tap in the small town of Tlahuelilpan, about 62 miles (100 kilometers) north of Mexico City, according to state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex. Video footage showed dozens of residents in an almost festive atmosphere as whole families gathered in a field as a geyser of fuel spouted dozens of feet into the air from the tap. Footage then showed flames shooting high into the air against a night sky and the pipeline ablaze. Screaming people ran from the flames, some themselves burning and waving their arms. Hidalgo Gov. Omar Fayad said 21 people were killed immediately and 71 suffered burns in the blast at the duct that carries fuel - apparently gasoline - from the Gulf coast to Tula, a city just north of Mexico City. Pemex attributed the blaze to 'the manipulation of an illegal tap.' Hidalgo state police said the leak was first reported at about 5:00 p.m. local time. 'There was a report that residents were on the scene trying to obtain fuel,' according to a police report. Two hours later, the pipeline burst into flames. And another pipeline burst into flames in the neighboring state of Queretaro on Friday, because of another illegal tap. Pemex said the fire near the city of San Juan del Rio was 'in an unpopulated area and there is no risk to human beings.' In December 2010, authorities blamed oil thieves for a pipeline explosion in a central Mexico near the capital that killed 28 people, including 13 children. That blast burned people and scorched homes, affecting 5,000 residents in an area six miles (10 kilometers) wide in San Martin Texmelucan. The blast will further focus attention on Lopez Obrador's fight against the $3 billion per-year illegal fuel theft industry. 'I greatly lament the grave situation Tlahuelilpan is suffering because of the explosion of the duct,' Lopez Obrador tweeted. He called on all branches of government to assist the victims. He launched the offensive after taking office Dec. 1, deploying 3,200 marines to guard pipelines and refineries. His administration also shut down pipelines to detect and deter illegal taps, relying more on delivering fuel by tanker truck. There aren't enough trucks, however, and long lines at gas stations have plagued several states. But Lopez Obrador faces resistance in his battle against fuel theft. Gangs have been able to win the loyalty of whole neighborhoods, using free gasoline and getting locals to act as lookouts and confront military patrols carrying out raids against the thefts. It is unclear whether Friday's tragedy will turn the tide of opinion against the gangs in the impoverished villages that lie above the underground pipelines. 'I am calling on the entire population not to be accomplices to fuel theft,' Fayad wrote. 'What happened today in Tlahuelilpan must never happen again.
  • Trade ministers of a Pacific Rim trade bloc were meeting in Tokyo on Saturday, gearing up to roll out and expand the market-opening initiative. The Pacific Rim free trade agreement, rejected by President Donald Trump after he took office in 2017, took effect at the end of last year after Australia became the sixth nation to ratify it. So far, seven of the 11 member countries have done so, and the others are expected to follow through soon. Known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, it aims to streamline trade and slash tariffs to facilitate more business among member nations with a combined population of nearly 500 million people and GDP of $13.5 trillion. The trade officials were expected to discuss expanding the bloc at the meeting in Japan's capital, New Zealand's Minister of Trade and Export Growth David Parker said before leaving for Tokyo. 'This is a significant milestone. The CPTPP — a major trade agreement among 11 Asia-Pacific economies — is already delivering improved access for our exporters, including into Japan, Canada and Mexico where we have not previously had an FTA (free trade agreement),' he said in comments posted on a government website. The 11 nations remaining after the U.S. withdrawal amended the pact to enable it to take effect even without Washington's participation. Vietnam, Canada, Mexico and Singapore also have ratified it. Peru, Chile, Brunei and Malaysia have not yet done so. The U.S. departure was a huge loss given the size of the American market. But other countries are reportedly interested in joining the trade deal, seen as a first step toward a pan-Pacific free trade zone. Trump said he was putting 'America first' in seeking bilateral deals rather than broader ones like the Trans-Pacific Partnership — the trading group's original name. Members are still hopeful the U.S. might eventually rejoin. For now, nearly two dozen stipulations sought by the U.S. in the original deal reportedly have been shelved after Washington withdrew, watering down the plan proclaimed by the previous U.S. administration of President Barack Obama as being the 'gold standard' for 21st century trade rules. Separate efforts are underway to forge a free trade arrangement within Asia called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which encompasses the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, India and China, but not the United States.
  • Arizona has become the only state in the country where members of federally recognized tribes are exempt from work or volunteer requirements for Medicaid benefits, while 120,000 state residents risk losing health coverage if they don't comply. The announcement came Friday from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which said it believes the exemption is consistent with the tribes' status as political entities. Early last year, the agency wrote to tribes saying exempting all Native Americans from work requirements could violate equal protection laws. Tribes across the country pushed back, saying the position ignored Supreme Court decisions that allow federally recognized tribes to be treated differently than others, disregarded the U.S. Constitution and violated treaties. They also cited high unemployment rates on reservations and funding shortfalls at the federal Indian Health Service that Medicaid reimbursements help fill. The tribal exemption in Arizona sets a precedent for other states with significant Native American populations. Eight states have taken up the Trump administration on its offer to approve work requirements for low-income people on Medicaid. Now that the administration has granted Arizona's request, it's expected to follow suit for any other state seeking the exemption. Arizona initially wanted to include all Native Americans, which might have raised concerns under civil rights laws that the exemption wasn't allowed based on race, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokeswoman Yvonne Hylton said. After negotiating, the request was limited to members of federally recognized tribes. 'We have long stressed the importance of meaningful tribal consultation when states are contemplating program reforms, and I'm pleased with how this important process informed Arizona's approach,' agency Administrator Seema Verma said. The Trump administration urged changes to Medicaid programs to encourage work and independence. Others see work requirements as unfairly targeting the working class. Arizona residents will have a three-month grace period when the work requirements take effect next January. About 120,000 of Arizona's 1.8 million residents on Medicaid, ages 19 to 49, must work or volunteer at least 80 hours a month and report those hours. If not, coverage will be suspended for two months. Christina Corieri, a senior policy adviser for Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, said he believes the requirements will improve residents' financial situations, help them engage in communities and become healthier. 'We believe that those who can work should, and we think that's backed up by evidence as well,' she said. 'This can improve people's lives.' Arkansas implemented work requirements last summer and has seen 18,000 people lose coverage, said Jessica Schubel, a senior policy analyst for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. 'It's just one more burden on people who are more likely already working, but are in jobs that are low-wage jobs, and they are relying on Medicaid to help them treat their condition,' she said. Most of those affected in Arizona were added to the Medicaid rolls in 2013 after the state expanded coverage under former President Barack Obama's health care law. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services denied Arizona's request for a five-year limit on coverage for those who fail to meet the work requirements. Others who are exempt in Arizona include the mentally ill, those with disabilities and pregnant women. Arizona has 21 federally recognized tribes, whose reservations take up about a quarter of the state. Navajo President Jonathan Nez said approval of Arizona's plan is a victory for all of them. Victoria Stevens, vice chairwoman of the governing board for the San Carlos Apache Healthcare Corp., said the tribe's hospital stood to lose $15 million in Medicaid funding if tribal members were forced to work or volunteer. About 70 percent of patients there have Medicaid, she said. She and others worked to pass a law in Arizona last year with similar language. She said classifying tribes as anything but political entities is illegal. 'Native American people are entitled to health care because of treaty rights and settlements when tribes were defeated in war,' she said. In Maine and Wisconsin — two other states with work requirements for Medicaid — tribes can satisfy them by participating in tribal work programs, including traditional subsistence activities. Federal regulators approved the plans last year. Maine also exempts tribal members from paying proposed premiums. ___ Associated Press writer Marina Villanueve in Augusta, Maine, and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.
  • Photos and video taken by animal welfare activists at a recent trophy hunting convention show an array of products crafted from the body parts of threatened big-game animals, including boots, chaps, belts and furniture labeled as elephant leather. Vendors at the Safari Club International event held last week in Reno, Nevada, also were recorded hawking African vacations to shoot captive-bred lions raised in pens. The club has previously said it wouldn't allow the sale of so-called canned hunts at its events. The hidden camera footage was released Friday by the Humane Society of the United States. Both federal and state laws restrict the commercial sale of hides from African elephants, which are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Nevada's chief game warden confirmed to The Associated Press on Friday that an investigation is underway to determine if state law was violated. Safari Club spokesman Steve Comus said Friday the group was also conducting an internal investigation after what he described as allegations based on 'what appears to be an unauthorized visit' by the Humane Society. The group didn't respond to written questions from the AP about what steps it takes to ensure exhibitors at its events are following the law. The club denied a request earlier this month from the AP for a media credential to attend its annual conference, billed as the nation's premier big-game hunting show. 'This hunters' heaven has everything the mind can dream of and occupies more than 650,000 square feet of exhibit space,' the group's web site boasts. 'Six continents are under one roof where SCI members come to book hunts, rendezvous with old friends and shop for the latest guns and hunting equipment.' Humane Society investigators purchased tickets to the conference and prowled the exhibit booths with concealed cameras. They recorded racks of clothing and other products made from the hides, bones and teeth of imperiled African wildlife. 'Making money off the opportunity to kill these animals for bragging rights is something that most people around the world find appalling,' said Kitty Block, acting president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. 'It's an elitist hobby of the 1 percent, and there is no place for trophy hunting in today's world.' The wares included oil paintings of big-game animals painted on stretched elephant skins, bracelets woven from elephant hair and an elephant leather bench. There was also a coffee table made from the skull of a hippopotamus and boxes filled with hippo teeth. Under a state law passed in 2017, it is illegal in Nevada to purchase, sell or possess with intent to sell any item that contains the body parts of elephant, lion, rhinoceros, tiger, leopard, hippopotamus and other imperiled wildlife. A first offense is a misdemeanor that carries a fine up to $6,500 or an amount equal to four times the fair market value of the item sold, whichever is greater. Additional violations can be classified as a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Tyler Turnipseed, the state's chief game warden, confirmed Friday that his office had opened an investigation as a result of the information and images provided by the Humane Society. He said that there is a learning curve when new laws are implemented and that state officials would work with the Safari Club 'to try and prevent unlawful sales in future years.' Though President Donald Trump has decried big-game hunting as a 'horror show,' his administration reversed Obama-era restrictions on the importation of elephant and lion trophies for personal use or display. But federal law still prohibits the sale or use of the body parts from such international protected species for commercial purposes. The Safari Club has actively lobbied the Trump administration to loosen restrictions on the importation of wildlife trophies, arguing that the fees paid to African countries by American hunters help to fund anti-poaching and conservation programs. A licensed two-week African hunting safari can cost more than $50,000 per person, not including airfare, according to advertised rates. The AP reported last year that a federal advisory board created by then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to advise his agency on the issue was stuffed with big game hunters. At least seven of the 16 members of the International Wildlife Conservation Council are Safari Club members, including the group's president. In a February 2018 media release, the Safari Club said it would no longer support the practice of breeding lions in captivity so they can be shot for trophies, saying the practice 'has doubtful value to the conservation of lions in the wild.' The club also pledged not to accept advertising from the operators of such canned hunts or allow such trips to be sold at its annual convention. In the video released by the Humane Society of Friday, multiple vendors at the Safari Club conference were recording salesmen pitching hunts of captive-bred lions in South Africa, describing how the lions would be 'placed' where they could be easily shot. Vendors also described hunts where lions were baited using the meat from giraffes or other animals, with one guide bragging that a customer had shot a lion in less than 90 minutes. ___ Associated Press investigative reporter Michael Biesecker reported from Washington. ___ Follow Biesecker at http://twitter.com/mbieseck
  • The black box construction branded 'DIOR' was so big it obscured the view of the Eiffel Tower. The sheer scale of menswear designer Kim Jones' pop-up venue of 2,840 square meters (30,570 square feet) could only mean one thing: he was competing for show of the season on Friday at Paris Fashion Week. A high-tech conveyor-belt catwalk allowed models to parade before a starry Dior Men front row that included Kate Moss, Lily Allen and a tardy Robert Pattinson. Here are some highlights of the day's fall-winter shows. DIOR'S CONVEYOR-BELT COUTURE This is what a luxury supermarket might look like. At Dior Men, a snaking, meter-wide conveyer belt began moving to thumping music as models in dark, shimmering and couture-infused looks filed by. In the presentational style, Jones made a welcome ironic comment on the commercial nature of ready-to-wear. But this superlative display needed no gimmicks to please. A romantic sash was slung over a double-breasted charcoal suit at the chest and hip in a feat of accomplished styling — and one that harkened to couture draping. A contemporary version of 19th-century spats — banding across the ankles — and arm-length leather gloves added to the show's romantic, almost swashbuckling, mood. Jones added an edgy interpretation to the strict codes of Christian Dior, the designer who died in 1957, by translating his obsessions. Dior's love for big cats became a white tiger fur T-shirt hybrid. The late designer's penchant for superstition became charm bracelets, and his initials a 'CD' fastening on a safety pin. Dior's love of art became a sparkling print of a frowning Mona Lisa on a shirt, jacket and sweater. The entire display maintained a brooding quality, thanks to the insistence on couture-style cashmeres, silk-satin and furs. ___ BERLUTI FINDS ITS FOOTING After much creative change at the top of the LVMH house, Berluti — the one-time boot-maker — seems to have found its footing. Belgian Kris Van Assche replaced artistic director Haider Ackermann last year and Friday's standout show towed the line perfectly between vibrant and tasteful. Berluti, which started a clothes line in 2011, has cut a corner for itself in the menswear luxury market for its eye-popping hues. And Van Assche didn't let the fall-winter mood dampen any of this zest for color, all the while working in his signature minimalist touches. A shocking pink trench coat was kept tasteful thanks to the simplicity of its clean cut. It was paired with a crimson suit that gave the whole look a visual electricity. A bright yellow oversize coat had a 19th-century weight to it that evoked a Parisian dandy. To cap the collection, leather looks in black and dark blue provided a welcome contrast in color and sex appeal. A soft kinky hoody shimmered sensually. ___ JIL SANDER'S PRECISION The Milan-based fashion house Jil Sander, which was founded by a German designer, showed its menswear collection Friday in Paris. It's the kind of frontier-defying cross-pollination that's healthy in European fashion to keep styles fresh and force designers to constantly challenge their own ideas. Designer duo Lucie and Luke Meier demonstrated this in droves at their beautifully-executed minimalist show inside the grand Hotel Salomon de Rothschild. The silhouettes were geometric, layered yet lightweight. Coats were tailored. Materials were light with a subtle sheen. The color palette moved in a precise sequence from cream to gray, blue, burgundy and then black. The program notes said the Meiers aimed for 'parity between a tailoring which is sharp and precise and a softened modern wardrobe.' A narrow trench coat in rose red cut a fine style by being ever so slightly asymmetric with a square panel on one side of the chest, a sharp triangle on the other. Geometry continued via the straps of leather bags that crossed the body or in the paneled blocks of a knitted sweater. ___ JUUN J.'S CHECK It was intentional mismatching and deconstruction at the award-winning South Korean designer Juun J.'s fall display that riffed on the military. Giant black-and-white checks on skirts cut on the bias and on double-breasted woolen coats were used as contrasts to silver bubble jackets or camouflage print styles. Tartan and check insets were pieced together in visually arresting juxtapositions. This formula was employed alongside Juun J.'s signature oversize styles that were puffed up with voluminous layering. The one major impracticality in these ready-to-wear looks were some headdress-helmets in silver, white, black and electric blue that came down to the eye and might have caused their wearers to walk into traffic. ___ THE ART OF INVITATION The art of the chic invite is still very much a staple of Paris fashion. Houses compete to produce the most eye-catching, inventive, and often plain wasteful, hand-delivered show invitations. The little works of art often provide a hint as to what the collection has in store. Louis Vuitton's Virgil Abloh had guests second-guessing the meaning of a white bejeweled glove that arrived in the post. It was, of course, a reference to Michael Jackson, to whom he paid a fashion homage. South Korean Juun J.'s 'invitation' was a gargantuan black-and-white check woolen scarf — to set the winter scene and demonstrate the designer's penchant for oversize styles and checks. Berluti won the prize for the clunkiest invite: a hefty wooden block with the label's details on top. ___ ISSEY MIYAKE BRINGS THE WIND The Franco-Japanese house of Issey Miyake put on a collection in homage to the wind. In the fall-winter silhouettes, it was not the wind of an angry storm at work, but more a gentle breeze that served to curve and soften the clothes' shapes. The result was a low-key affair by designer Yusuke Takahashi. A welcome sharpness did appear in the collection via its print detailing, but its power was diluted by the rounded shapes. For instance, some jagged yellow diagonal motifs evoked the strong movement of wind — but the looseness of the suits and coats on which they appeared lessened the effect. The prints were conceived by an Asian wax resistant dyeing technique called batik that the house frequently uses. Issey Miyake is one house that cannot be faulted for its use of cutting-edge fashion-making methods. Elsewhere, another Asian technique, ikat — a sort of tie-dye — was employed to produce the collection's strongest pieces. A silk-wool series sported beautifully defused white horizontal bands across icy blue-gray pants and shimmering coats. ___ Thomas Adamson can be Twitter.com/ThomasAdamson_K
  • Facebook may be facing the biggest fine ever imposed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for privacy violations involving the personal information of its 2.2 billion users. The FTC is considering hitting Facebook with a penalty that would top its previous record fine of $22.5 million , which it dealt to Google in 2012 for bypassing the privacy controls in Apple's Safari browser, according to The Washington Post. The story published Friday cited three unidentified people familiar with the discussions. In an automated response, the FTC said it was unable to comment, citing its closure due to the U.S. government shutdown. Facebook declined to comment. The potential fine stems from an FTC investigation opened after revelations that data mining firm Cambridge Analytica had vacuumed up details about as many as 87 million Facebook users without their permission. The FTC has been exploring whether that massive breakdown violated a settlement that Facebook reached in 2011 after government regulators had concluded the Menlo Park, California, company had repeatedly broken its privacy promises . The FTC decree, which runs through 2031, requires Facebook to get its users' consent to share their personal information in ways that aren't allowed by their privacy settings. Since the Cambridge Analytica erupted 10 months ago, Facebook has vowed to do a better job corralling its users' data. Nevertheless, its controls have remained leaky. Just last month, the company acknowledged a software flaw had exposed the photos of about 7 million users to a wider audience than they had intended. The FTC's five commissioners have discussed fining Facebook but haven't settled on the amount yet, according to the Post. Facebook's privacy problems are also under investigation in other countries and the target of a lawsuit filed last month by Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine.
  • The U.S. will soon start lifting a decades-old arms embargo on Cyprus because Washington acknowledges the Mediterranean island nation's contribution to bolstering regional stability and security, the Cypriot foreign minister said Friday. Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides said that Washington sees the 'added value' of allowing Cyprus to acquire military equipment that would help enhance its capabilities to boost regional security. The embargo was imposed in 1987 with the aim of preventing an arms buildup that would hamper diplomatic efforts to reunify divided Cyprus. The island was split along ethnic lines in 1974 when Turkey invaded in the wake of a coup aimed at union with Greece. Christodoulides said the process to lift the embargo has been set in motion in the U.S. Congress, reflecting a 'positive shift' in that Washington no longer views Cyprus solely as an unsettled conflict of ethnic division. 'This is proof, if you like, of the recognition by the U.S. administration of the positive role that Cyprus plays as a pillar of stability and security in the broader region,' Christodoulides told The Associated Press. Heightened U.S. interest in the gas-rich east Mediterranean has apparently irked Russia. The Russian foreign ministry last month warned against what it called 'anti-Russian plans' of a U.S. military buildup in Cyprus in order to counter Russia's growing influence in the region. Christodoulides said that doesn't reflect reality on the ground. He has conveyed to his Russian counterpart that stronger ties with Washington shouldn't be interpreted as 'prejudicial' to Cyprus' relations with any other country. He said Cyprus' foreign policy doesn't engage in a 'zero-sum game.' Cyprus regularly offers its facilities to countries — including the U.S. — that have asked to carry out humanitarian missions, he said. He said the U.S. and some European Union countries are keen to join energy-based partnerships that Cyprus and Greece have established with neighboring countries — including Egypt, Jordan and Israel — that are expanding to include Lebanon and the Palestinians. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that there are 122 trillion cubic feet of gas in the east Mediterranean, with just over a quarter of that amount discovered in waters of Egypt, Israel and Cyprus. Offshore exploratory drilling continues along with talks on how to deliver that gas to European markets and beyond, either through onshore gas processing facilities or via pipelines. 'I am personally convinced that hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean can become what the coal and steel was for the European Community,' Christodoulides said. Christodoulides said Cyprus is ready to negotiate its sea borders with neighboring Turkey, which has repeatedly warned that it won't allow the country to infringe on its rights and those of breakaway Turkish Cypriots to the region's gas reserves. Christodoulides dismissed Turkey's claims as 'totally unfounded,' adding that Washington and the EU fully support the Cyprus government's rights to search for gas inside its exclusive economic zone. 'I sincerely believe that it is only through dialogue and negotiations, and not through gunboat diplomacy, that peace and stability can be achieved in our volatile region,' he said. 
  • Tiffany & Co. says holiday shoppers and Chinese tourists spent less on its bling. The luxury jeweler, famous for its little blue boxes, says sales slipped in the holiday shopping season as Chinese tourists spent less while traveling due to the strong dollar, making it more expensive to buy Tiffany jewelry outside of its stores in China. The company also says it was hurt by the ups and downs of the stock market, anxiety around Brexit and protests in Paris that forced the company to close its store during some weekends. All the uncertainty makes shoppers 'more cautious' about spending, says CEO Alessandro Bogliolo. The New York company said sales at established stores worldwide fell 2 percent in November and December compared to the same period the year before. Tiffany's holiday sales numbers came a day after the owner of Kay Jewelers and the Jared chains also reported a drop in sales. Parent company Signet Jewelers Ltd. said Thursday that fewer people came to its stores as competitors slashed prices in December. At Tiffany, Bogliolo says that even though Chinese customers spent less while traveling, sales are still growing at stores within China. Bogliolo says Tiffany stores in the U.S. will add digital payment options like Alipay to make it easier for Chinese tourists to make a purchase with their smartphones. The New York-based company says it now expects earnings for the fiscal year ending in January to be at the lower end of its previous forecast of earnings between $4.65 per share and $4.80 per share. Still, shares of Tiffany & Co. rose nearly 6 percent Friday afternoon.
  • German automaker Daimler's Mercedes-Benz Cars unit says it is developing plans to open an assembly plant in Egypt. Mercedes-Benz said in a statement Friday that the passenger car plant would be built by a local business partner and the project is being developed 'in close collaboration' with Egypt's government. It said board member Markus Schaefer recently held 'successful discussions' with Egypt's president and prime minister. Schaefer described Egypt as 'an attractive and competitive location for production and supporting logistics' and said having an assembly plant there would enable Mercedes-Benz to expand its market position. The company said it is also offering expertise on modern mobility concepts, electric cars and autonomous driving as Egypt develops a new capital and other infrastructure projects, but detailed agreements haven't yet been reached on that.
  • The Latest on Canada (all times local): 7:10 p.m. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel about China's actions against Canada and the importance of the rules-based international order to ensure the confidence of the international business community. Trudeau's office said in a statement 'discussed the arbitrary detention of two Canadian citizens in China and the application of the death penalty to a third Canadian in China.' Trudeau thanked Chancellor Merkel for Germany's public support. The prime minister's office said the two 'emphasized the importance of the international community standing together to advocate for the respect of diplomatic immunity, international norms, and judicial independence.' China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Chinese Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Canada on Dec 1. China also sentenced another Canadian, Robert Schellenberg, to death in a sudden retrial of his drug-smuggling case. Canada says China has been interrogating Kovrig about his time as a diplomat. Meng is the chief financial officer of Huawei and the daughter of its founder. The U.S. wants her extradited to face charges that she committed fraud by misleading banks about Huawei's business dealings in Iran. Canada's public safety minister earlier said the country won't be deterred by Chinese pressure after China's ambassador to Canada threatened reprisals if Huawei was banned from supplying equipment for 5G networks. There are accusations that the telecom giant is controlled by China's ruling Communist Party or is required to facilitate Chinese spying. ___ 4:25 p.m. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says all countries should be concerned about Beijing's blending of its commercial interests with threats of consequences if Canada doesn't do what China wants. China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Chinese Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Canada on Dec 1. China also sentenced another Canadian, Robert Schellenberg, to death in a sudden retrial of his drug-smuggling case. Meng is the chief financial officer of Huawei and the daughter of its founder. The U.S. wants her extradited to face charges that she committed fraud by misleading banks about Huawei's business dealings in Iran. Trudeau says Canada will continue to stand up for the rule of law and the independence of Canada's justice system. Canada's public safety minister earlier said the country won't be deterred by Chinese pressure after China threatened reprisals if Huawei was banned from supplying equipment for 5G networks. There are accusations that the telecom giant is controlled by China's ruling Communist Party or is required to facilitate Chinese spying. ___ 12:30 p.m. Canada's ambassador to China says his message to Chinese authorities is that it's not in their interest to arrest people and use them as bargaining chips. Envoy John McCallum told reporters on Friday that his top priority is to win the release of two Canadians detained in China and to save the life of a third. China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor in apparent retaliation for the arrest of top Chinese executive Meng Wanzhou in Canada on Dec 1. China also sentenced another Canadian, Robert Schellenberg, to death Monday in a sudden retrial of his drug-smuggling case. The arrest of Meng on Dec. 1 at the request of the United States has created a growing diplomatic rift between China and Canada. Meng is the chief financial officer of Huawei and the daughter of its founder. The U.S. wants her extradited to face charges that she committed fraud by misleading banks about Huawei's business dealings in Iran. ___ 10 a.m. Canada's public safety minister said Friday that the country won't be deterred by Chinese pressure after China threatened reprisals if Huawei was banned from supplying equipment for 5G networks. There are accusations that the telecom giant is controlled by China's ruling Communist Party or is required to facilitate Chinese spying. The U.S., Australia, Japan and other governments have imposed curbs on use of its technology. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Canada has been abundantly clear it will not compromise national security. Goodale said: 'It's a difficult challenge but we'll not be deterred by what we believe to be right and what we believe to be in the interests of Canada.