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The world’s most powerful passports

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(CNN) — It's been a two-horse race this year to be named the world's most powerful passport, with both top contenders in Asia.

Now, as we enter the final quarter of 2019, Japan and Singapore have held onto their position as the world's most travel-friendly passports.

That's the view of the Henley Passport Index, which periodically measures the access each country's travel document affords.

Singapore and Japan's passports have topped the rankings thanks to both documents offering access to 190 countries each.

South Korea rubs shoulders with Finland and Germany in second place, with citizens of all three countries able to access 188 jurisdictions around the world without a prior visa.

Finland has benefited from recent changes to Pakistan's formerly highly restrictive visa policy. Pakistan now offers an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) to citizens of 50 countries, including Finland, Japan, Spain, Malta, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates — but not, notably, the United States or the UK.

The European countries of Denmark, Italy and Luxembourg hold third place in the index, with visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 187 countries, while France, Spain and Sweden are in the fourth slot, with a score of 186.

Five years ago, the United States and the UK topped the rankings in 2014 — but both countries have now slipped down to sixth place, the lowest position either has held since 2010.

While the Brexit process has yet to directly impact on the UK's ranking, the Henley Passport Index press release observed in July, "with its exit from the EU now imminent, and coupled with ongoing confusion about the terms of its departure, the UK's once-strong position looks increasingly uncertain."

The United Arab Emirates continues its ascent up the rankings, up five places to rank 15th.

"It's the strongest climber this quarter," Lorraine Charles at Cambridge University's Centre for Business Research says in the October release.

"While the UAE may not be able to compete with Saudi Arabia — the regional hegemon — in terms of military strength and economic power, the projection of its soft power is uncontested in the GCC."

At the other end of the scale, Afghanistan is once again at the bottom of the rankings, with its citizens needing a prior visa for all but 25 destinations worldwide.

Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners and the creator of the passport index concept, says in the July release: "With a few notable exceptions, the latest rankings from the Henley Passport Index show that countries around the world increasingly view visa-openness as crucial to economic and social progress."

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Japan has held onto the top spot throughout 2019.

TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images

The best passports to hold in 2019 are:

1. Japan, Singapore (190 destinations)

2. Finland, Germany, South Korea (188)

3. Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg (187)

4. France, Spain, Sweden (186)

5. Austria, Netherlands, Portugal (185)

6. Belgium, Canada, Greece, Ireland, Norway, United Kingdom, United States, Switzerland (184)

7. Malta, Czech Republic (183)

8. New Zealand (182)

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French prosecutors open sex assault probe into ex-president d’Estaing

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French prosecutors said Monday they are opening an investigation into ex-president Valery Giscard d'Estaing over allegations by a German journalist that he sexually assaulted her after an interview in 2018.

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The investigation follows claims by reporter Ann-Kathrin Stracke that Giscard d'Estaing, 94, repeatedly grabbed her buttocks in his Paris office.

Giscard d'Estaing, France's oldest surviving former leader, served as president from 1974 until 1981, when he lost out on re-election to Francois Mitterrand.

Stracke, 37, told AFP last week she had filed charges against the former leader, claiming he had placed his hands on her backside three times while they posed for a photograph together in December 2018, when he was 92.

"I decided to tell my story because I think that people should know that a French former president harassed me sexually after an interview," said Stracke, a journalist for German public television WDR.

She took her case to Paris prosecutors on March 10 this year, backed by her employer which carried out an independent investigation into her claims.

Stracke said Monday she was pleased to hear of the decision, adding: "I am, of course, at the disposal of the French authorities in the context of this investigation."

Giscard d'Estaing's lawyer declined to comment.

Tried to push him away

Recalling the interview on December 18, 2018, Stracke said last week that she had asked for a photograph to be taken with Giscard d'Estaing and her colleagues after the interview.

"I was standing to his left, and while taking the photo, he put his hand on my left waist before sliding it to my backside where it stayed," said Stracke.

The same action was allegedly repeated twice — once while a new photo was being taken and another time when the former president was showing Stracke photographs ofRead More – Source

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Joël Robuchon, the world’s most Michelin-starred chef, is dead at 73

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Robuchon owned and ran restaurants on three continents and was the world's most Michelin-starred chef, according to his website and his spokeswoman.Robuchon, who had been suffering with cancer, died in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday morning.The chef owned restaurants in cities across the world including Paris, Monaco, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, Tokyo and Bangkok.One of his best-known recipes was for mashed potatoes.Benjamin Griveaux, a spokesman for the French government, said Robuchon would continue to "inspire the younger generation of chefs."In her book "L'Atelier of Joël Robuchon," cook and author Patricia Wells said the Frenchman would "undoubtedly go down as the artist who most influenced the 20th century world of cuisine."She added: "To describe Joël Robuchon as a cook is a bit like calling Pablo Picasso a painter, Luciano Pavarotti a singer, Frederic Chopin a pianist."

A meteoric rise to the top

Born in Poitiers, western France in 1945, Robuchon told CNN he first fell in love with cookery after entering a seminary, hoping to become a priest. "But I often found myself helping the nuns in the kitchen and thus discovered my passion for cooking. I began to cultivate my skills and aspirations at the age of 15, when I embarked on my first apprenticeship at Relais de Poitiers [hotel]," he said in 2011. Robuchonrose through the ranks at rapid speed, taking over as head chef at the Hotel Concorde La Fayette in Paris, at the age of 29.In 1981 he opened Café Jamin in Paris, which earned a Michelin star in each of its first three years — the first restaurant to achieve such a feat.Robuchon was famous for his mashed potatoes.Eight years later, Robuchon was awarded the "Chef of the Century" title by the prestigious restaurant guide Gault & Millau.In 1994 he opened Restaurant Joël Robuchon in Paris, which the International Herald Tribune acclaimed that same year as the best restaurant in the world.He eventually opened his own brand of restaurants across the world, taking his cuisine across the globe.In June 2018, his company closed its two restaurants in Singapore, with five Michelin stars between them.Speaking to Business Insider in 2014, Robuchon said: "The older I get, the more I realize the truth is: the simpler the food, the more exceptional it can be."I never try to marry more than three flavors in one dish. I like walking into a kitchen and knowing that the dishes are identifiable and the ingredients within them easy to detect."

Robuchon's legacy

Hours after Robuchon's death was announced, French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to the highly-decorated chef in a statement from the Elysee Palace. "Joël Robuchon died today, but his 32 Michelin stars shine bright in the constellation of world gastronomy. His name and style embody French cuisine all over the world, they symbolize a lifestyle, a demand for a job well done, and convey the richness of our traditions," the statement read. It praised his attention to detail, ability to transform ingredients into mouthwatering dishes and his legacy."In Paris or Las Vegas, New York, London, Hong Kong, Bangkok or Shanghai, gourmets rushed to the chef's many restaurants to taste his famous mashed potato puree, as well as his truffle tart and cauliflower cream with caviar or his langoustine ravioli," the statement continued.Robuchon was also known for his mentoring skills, helping to develop chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, Éric Ripert and Michael Caines. Writing on his Instagram page, Ramsay said: "We've Lost The God Father of Michelin the most decorated Chef in the World, he kept all of us on our toes ! Even when we were sleeping ! Merci Chef, God Bless."Michel Roux Jr., renowned Michelin-starred chef patron at Le Gavroche in London, wrote a simple tribute on Twitter, "I loved every mouthful of food cooked by this man, sad loss. RIP chef"Television cook Nigella Lawson also paid tribute to Robuchon on Twitter, writing: "Thinking of Joel Robuchon, and his mashed potatoes."In a tweet, the official French Michelin Guide wrote: "He was one of the greatest French chefs. Joël Robuchon has passed away, he was 73 years old. The MICHELIN guide mourns with his loved ones." The culinary world has lost several high-profile names in recent months including chef, television host and author Anthony Bourdain in June, Pulitzer Prize-winning restaurant critic Jonathan Gold in July and Paul Bocuse, a renowned chef credited with transforming French cuisine in January.

CNN's Saskya Vandoorne reported from Paris. James Masters wrote from London.

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The world’s most powerful passports

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(CNN) — It's been a two-horse race this year to be named the world's most powerful passport, with both top contenders in Asia.

Now, as we enter the final quarter of 2019, Japan and Singapore have held onto their position as the world's most travel-friendly passports.

That's the view of the Henley Passport Index, which periodically measures the access each country's travel document affords.

Singapore and Japan's passports have topped the rankings thanks to both documents offering access to 190 countries each.

South Korea rubs shoulders with Finland and Germany in second place, with citizens of all three countries able to access 188 jurisdictions around the world without a prior visa.

Finland has benefited from recent changes to Pakistan's formerly highly restrictive visa policy. Pakistan now offers an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) to citizens of 50 countries, including Finland, Japan, Spain, Malta, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates — but not, notably, the United States or the UK.

The European countries of Denmark, Italy and Luxembourg hold third place in the index, with visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 187 countries, while France, Spain and Sweden are in the fourth slot, with a score of 186.

Five years ago, the United States and the UK topped the rankings in 2014 — but both countries have now slipped down to sixth place, the lowest position either has held since 2010.

While the Brexit process has yet to directly impact on the UK's ranking, the Henley Passport Index press release observed in July, "with its exit from the EU now imminent, and coupled with ongoing confusion about the terms of its departure, the UK's once-strong position looks increasingly uncertain."

The United Arab Emirates continues its ascent up the rankings, up five places to rank 15th.

"It's the strongest climber this quarter," Lorraine Charles at Cambridge University's Centre for Business Research says in the October release.

"While the UAE may not be able to compete with Saudi Arabia — the regional hegemon — in terms of military strength and economic power, the projection of its soft power is uncontested in the GCC."

At the other end of the scale, Afghanistan is once again at the bottom of the rankings, with its citizens needing a prior visa for all but 25 destinations worldwide.

Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners and the creator of the passport index concept, says in the July release: "With a few notable exceptions, the latest rankings from the Henley Passport Index show that countries around the world increasingly view visa-openness as crucial to economic and social progress."

Japan has held onto the top spot throughout 2019.

TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images

The best passports to hold in 2019 are:

1. Japan, Singapore (190 destinations)

2. Finland, Germany, South Korea (188)

3. Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg (187)

4. France, Spain, Sweden (186)

5. Austria, Netherlands, Portugal (185)

6. Belgium, Canada, Greece, Ireland, Norway, United Kingdom, United States, Switzerland (184)

7. Malta, Czech Republic (183)

8. New Zealand (182)

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France ‘gilets jaunes’ protesters detained and tear-gassed

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Officers fired rubber bullets and hundreds of canisters of tear gas at the demonstrators, some of whom had set vehicles on fire. Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said 135 people were wounded in Saturday's protests across France, including 17 police officers. Castaner said 1,385 people were taken in for questioning and 974 were in custody. Two photographers from the newspaper Le Parisien were hit by projectiles. One was taken to hospital as dusk drew near in a city still in shock from last weekend's riots — the worst to hit the French capital in decades. One Parisian, teacher Francesca Testi, tweeted a video of protesters smashing up what appeared to be a cafe.A French radio reporter, Boris Kharlamoff, tweeted a photo of his wounded torso after a rubber bullet hit him."A policeman shot at me with a rubber bullet even though my press arm band was showing," he wrote. "It hurts but it's all right. Colleagues be careful on the Champs-Élysées."Protesters could be heard calling for Macron's resignation Saturday in Paris.Macron will address the demonstrations Monday, according to the Élysée Palace.Some 125,000 joined in Saturday's protests across France, the interior minister said, with about 10,000 in Paris. The latter converged around midday on the Champs-Élysées, with many dressed in "gilets jaunes," the yellow high-visibility jackets that have become the symbol of the movement. Police used water cannons in a bid to disperse the crowd. Tires were also set on fire, but with riot police outnumbering the demonstrators by about 2 to 1, there were none of the violent scenes that grabbed international attention a week ago. A smaller "yellow vest" demonstration of about 500 people also took place in the Belgian capital of Brussels near the European Parliament, according to the newspaper Le Soir.Protesters clash with riot police amid tear gas Saturday on the  Champs-Élysées in Paris.Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, President Donald Trump claimed the protests, which started in reaction to an eco-tax on gas,underscored his decision not to sign the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. "The Paris Agreement isn't working out so well for Paris," he tweeted. "Protests and riots all over France. People do not want to pay large sums of money, much to third world countries (that are questionably run), in order to maybe protect the environment. Chanting 'We Want Trump!' Love France."CNN reporters on the ground said the only time they heard Trump mentioned was as a joke when they were recording. Earlier, TV images showed French protesters parading past the flagship stores of some of Paris' best-known luxury brands such as Mont Blanc and Cartier, all with their shutters tightly fastened on what would usually be a busy shopping day before Christmas.Anticipating a repeat of last weekend's violence, monuments such as the Eiffel Tower and many of the city's Metro stations remained closed,with about 8,000 police on the streets of Paris and tens of thousands more deployed across the country. Riot police forces spray tear gas at a woman during copycat protests Saturday in Brussels, Belgium."We have to change the Republic," Ilda, a yellow jacket protester from the south of France near Toulouse, told CNN. "People here are starving. Some people earn just 500 euros a month; you can't afford to live. People don't want to stop because we want the President to go."Patrice, a pensioner from Paris, said he was protesting because of "the government and the taxes and all these problems. We have to survive."Who are the 'yellow vest' protesters causing chaos in France?With more unrest expected in other parts of France, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the government was deploying 89,000 security force members across the country.Philippe said that "it's time for dialogue" between politicians and representatives of the protesters.The French retail sector has suffered a loss in revenue of about $1.1 billion since the beginning of the yellow vest protests last month, a spokeswoman for the French retail federation, Sophie Amoros, told CNN. Amid heightened tensions, police seized 28 petrol bombs and three homemade explosive devices Friday at an area blockaded by protesters in Montauban in southern France, a spokesman for the Tarn-et-Garonne prefecture told CNN.Protesters gather near the Arc de Triomphe Saturday in the French capital.Dominique Moisi, a foreign policy expert at the Paris-based Institut Montaigne and a former Macron campaign adviser, told CNN the French presidency was not only in crisis but that Europe's future also hung in the balance."In a few months from now, there will be European elections, and France was supposed to be the carrier of hope and European progress. What happens if it's no longer? If the President is incapacitated to carry that message?" Moisi asked."It's about the future of democracy, as well; illiberal democracies are rising all over the world. And if Macron fails, the future of France risks looking like the presidency of Italy today. And it's much more serious because we have a centralized state, which plays a major role in the balance of power within Europe. Protesters take to the steets against President Emmanuel Macron's government."But make no mistake, it is a French version of a much more global phenomenon."France's far-left CGT movement has pledged support for the protests, which also are backed by the far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

CNN's Saskya Vandoorne reported from Paris, while Hilary Clarke wrote in London. Journalist Pierre Buet contributed to this report.

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Are cell phone calls on airplane flights inevitable?

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(CNN) — Ah, holiday travel. Between huge crowds and weather delays, flying during this time of year is hectic. Now close your eyes and imagine the entire scenario with one additional annoyance: Loud talkers yammering into their cell phones at 35,000 feet.Don't worry — this potentially ear-splitting scenario isn't a reality yet. At least not in the United States. But it could be soon. Some even say it's just a year or two away.

The technology to support midair cell phone calls exists right now.

Just about every plane that offers WiFi has the bandwidth to support voice over the internet, and several international airlines allow voice calls on certain routes already. Still, at least on domestic US flights, voice calls are forbidden for four distinct reasons: flight attendants, public perception, concerns about safety and US law.

Airline officials won't even consider in-flight cell-phone calls until or unless they feel there is overwhelming demand from customers to provide the service, according to Henry Harteveldt, president of Atmosphere Research Group, a travel industry analysis firm in San Francisco. Even then, airlines still may not cave in.

"No matter how you look at it, allowing cell phone calls on planes is controversial," he says. "These are precisely the kinds of issues airlines tend to avoid addressing unless they must."

Keeping cabins calm

Flight attendants already mediate many passenger disputes.

Shutterstock

Without question, flight attendants are the biggest barrier to allowing voice calls in the air.

Pretty much across the board, people who work in airplane cabins say the idea of allowing passengers unfettered in-flight phone use would lead to chaos, conflict and downright craziness in flight. As such, they oppose phone use vociferously.

Flight attendants are already tasked with managing overhead bin use, monitoring drink intake among unruly passengers and mediating fights between seat-recliners and passengers who don't recline.

Taylor Garland, spokesperson for the Association of Flight Attendants, a union representing 50,000 flight attendants at 20 airlines, says her colleagues don't want to take on any more policing of passengers' social behaviors.

"We are strongly against voice calls on planes," she wrote in a recent email. In another, she doubled down with all caps: "NO CELL PHONES."

Flight attendants' opposition is significant.

They've had major influence on certain decisions regarding domestic passenger travel. In recent years, they've been at the forefront of efforts to get airlines to control unruly passengers. In the 1980s, they led the charge against cigarettes in cabins, which ultimately led to full-fledged bans on in-flight smoking by 2000.

On the issue of in-flight cell phone calls, flight attendants say that passengers inevitably would offend some neighbors by being too loud, and arguments would surely follow.

Cassandra Michele Brown, a flight attendant who works for Frontier Airlines, adds that unfettered cell phone use in midair likely would prevent passengers from complying with flight attendant instructions in the event of an emergency.

"At the end of the day, our job is to evacuate an aircraft in 90 seconds or less," says Brown, who is based out of Las Vegas.

"If you're a passenger on my flight, no matter how good you might be at multitasking, you're not going to be able to follow my step-by-step instructions to evacuate if you're focusing on your phone."

Passengers advocating for quiet

04 phones on planes talking on plane

Most passengers don't want to listen to their fellow travelers talk on their cell phones.

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Among the travel experts and the traveling public, feelings about allowing voice calls in the air are mixed.

Much like the flight attendants, a vocal contingent of passengers has emerged as opponents of loud noise, insisting that an open environment for in-flight cell-phone calls will create an "annoying" cacophony of chaos in the skies and undoubtedly trigger disagreements about what volume is appropriate.

Harteveldt, the analyst, is in this camp, and says research recently conducted by his firm estimates that less than 5% of all domestic air passengers want to use their cell phones in midair.

"I don't want to be forced to overhear someone else's conversation if it's avoidable," he says. "It's bad enough when you find yourself in that situation at a coffee shop or in a hotel lobby. In an airplane at cruising altitude, in a situation where you can't do anything or go anywhere to escape, it would be horrendous."

Other passengers say privacy also would be a concern, since even first-class passengers are packed tightly into airplane seats for the duration of most flights.

Business travelers, however, seem to be more utilitarian in their thinking.

Paul Forgue, a consultant who manages performance improvement for a global private equity portfolio company and travels 40 weeks a year, says he could see situations in which in-flight phone use could come in handy.

"For those work emergencies when you really need to have contact with someone, it would be fantastic to know you could pick up your phone and do that from the plane," says Forgue, who is based in San Francisco. "In those situations where you need to talk to a colleague about something you can't articulate via text or email, it'd be perfect — provided people don't take advantage."

One strategy Forgue says airlines could implement to allow in-flight cell phone calls: Special areas of the plane for those passengers who wish to use their phones and special areas for those passengers who do not.

This is the plan deployed by Amtrak and various commuter rail systems across the country. For the most part — save for the occasional abusers or overflow problems on crowded trips — it works.

Is the technology safe?

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Newer planes are designed to not be affected by passengers' technology.

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The story of in-cabin calls from personal electronic devices is a colorful saga that goes back decades.

In the 1980s and 1990s, when cellular technology became mainstream, use on planes went relatively unchecked. If you're 40 or older, you probably remember the seatback handsets available to anyone with the swipe of a credit card for upwards of $4 or $5 per minute. These essentially were early public cell phones.

Even after the turn of the millennium, cell phone calls were mostly unregulated; victims of the 9/11 terror attacks were able to call their loved ones from the hijacked airplanes before the planes crashed.

The rise of smartphones changed everything.

As phones became more sophisticated, industry insiders worried about the possibility of a phone's radio transmitter interfering with certain equipment in the cockpit and therefore rendering some of the equipment unreliable.

Many of these concerns were stoked by published papers about the potential effects of electromagnetic interference to flight navigation and communication systems. The gist of those reports: Some devices had the potential to interfere with unshielded cockpit instruments, and that such interference could in worst-case scenarios affecting the regular operation of the plane.

Airline experts subsequently have noted that this was an issue with older devices on older aircraft.

Seth Miller, an industry analyst and the owner of the PaxEx.areo blog, said newer phones operate at much higher frequencies, and newer planes are designed to not be affected by the amount of electronics that passengers bring when they fly.

"There was one documented example of something affecting depth [instruments] in one very specific old (airline) model when under certain circumstances, says Miller. "But nobody was able to determine with certainty if it was a phone leaking radio frequency when it shouldn't have been — or an instrument screen not being shielded from certain frequencies when it should have been."

"The reality is that new technology and new equipment have all but eliminated this problem," says Miller. "There's no longer any technical reason for people to not use cell phones on planes."

Internationally, in fact, a handful of airlines have inked deals with third-party vendors to offer and allow satellite-based internet services that support voice calls via cell phones. Some of these include British Airways, Emirates and Etihad.

Viasat, a communication company based in Carlsbad, California, is one of those vendors. Don Buchman, theRead More – Source

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More turmoil at Germany’s biggest bank

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John Cryan has run out of time in his efforts to turn Deutsche Bank around.

Deutsche Bank, Germany's biggest lender, is getting rid of its CEO after years of heavy losses.

John Cryan, who became CEO of the embattled bank less than three years ago, will leave at the end of this month, the company said in a statement late Sunday.

He's being replaced by Christian Sewing, a 47-year-old executive who has worked for Deutsche Bank for nearly three decades, most recently overseeing its wealth management and retail banking businesses.

"Following a comprehensive analysis we came to the conclusion that we need a new execution dynamic in the leadership of our bank," Paul Achleitner, the chairman of the company's supervisory board, said in the statement.

British-born Cryan, 57, tried to overhaul the giant lender to help it compete with its international rivals on Wall Street and beyond. He closed hundreds of bank branches and axed tens of thousands of jobs.

Related: Deutsche Bank hasn't made a profit in 3 years

But his efforts haven't been enough to bring the company, which has been dogged by problems dating from the 2008 financial crisis, back into the black. It posted an annual loss for 2017 of €500 million ($610 million). That followed losses of €1.4 billion ($1.7 billion) for 2016 and €6.8 billion ($8.4 billion) for 2015.

Investors have shown little confidence in the bank's prospects: its stock has lost nearly two-thirds of its value in the past three years.

News of the change of CEO gave Deutsche Bank(DB) shares a bit of a lift Monday. The stock was up more than 3% in morning trading in Frankfurt.

When Deutsche Bank reported its most recent loss in February, Cryan pleaded for more time.

"When I took up this post two and a half years ago, I aimed to bring Deutsche Bank to a position where it could achieve its full potential," he said. "It has always been clear that it would take more than two or three years."

Achleitner thanked Cryan for his efforts, saying that "despite his relatively short tenure as CEO," he has "laid the groundwork for a successful future."

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‘Mother Meral’: The woman trying to drive Turkey’s Erdogan from office

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So presidential candidate Meral Aksener is going from town to town collecting these colorful pieces of cloth, known as "yemeni," from her supporters.The 61-year-old is leading what she calls the yemeni revolution to bring an end to the aggression of Turkish politics. If she becomes the one to finally end President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's long reign, she will put the headscarves on display in Cankaya, the former presidential palace in Ankara."Turkey has been ruled by a very harsh male for a very long time," she told CNN in the southern city of Adana, on the campaign trail.Some abroad call Aksener Turkey's Iron Lady, but others at home call her Asena, a mythical blue she-wolf that led Turkic tribes away from danger. But there are other names she prefers. "Some people call me sister, but there are many young people who call me 'Mother Meral,' and I like being a mother," Aksener said.Aksener is the only woman running for president in the June 24 elections, but her appeal is not based solely on her gender. Her conservative and longtime nationalist credentials are what make her most likely to lure support from Erdogan's base, even though she polls third. The main opposition candidate, Muharrem Ince, is in second place and has galvanized his own center-left base. But he is unlikely to split the conservative vote in the way Aksener can.

Aksener's rise

Aksener and her envisaged revolution have been drawing crowds across Turkey. Women at the Adana rally eagerly handed their headscarves up to the candidate on stage. Esra Demirkol, a fervent supporter who waited for hours to get a photo, jumped on stage to hug the candidate."For the future, for our kids, for our country for many reasons, I will vote for Meral Aksener. A woman's touch makes everything better. I want a mother to rule our country," said a breathless Demirkol as she returned from stage.Aksener collects headscarves from women in Adana.Aksener's Iyi Party (Good Party) is new to the political scene, but Aksener is a veteran politician. She served as interior minister for eight months at the height of the dirty war against Kurdish separatists when human-rights abuses were rampant in Turkey. When questioned about those allegations, Aksener is defiant, claiming there was not a single human-rights violation by the government during her time as minister."There was a human rights group at those times, they were publishing lists for missing people. I sent them a signed paper saying, 'Let us search for your missing together.' And they did not have any other publications for the rest of my ministry period," she said.An Aksener rally in the southern Turkish city of Adana.But during her stint as interior minister, she also gained credibilty for standing up to the military, which tried to overthrow the civilian government in the 1997 so-called "post-modern coup."Once again, it is her defiance that is fueling her popularity — Aksener broke with her longtime Nationalist Movement Party, MHP, last year over its alliance with the President.

'We do not have checks and balances'

Aksener, like all the opposition candidates, has vowed to roll back a change to Turkey's political system that Erdogan won last year in a referendum.He was widely accused of a power grab with the vote, in which he sought to change the country's parliamentary system to an executive presidential one, giving himself sweeping new powers. The vote was seen as unfair, as his government has imprisoned dissidents and crushed the free media following a failed coup in 2016. He won by a narrow margin, and a radical change to Turkey's system will come into effect after the election."I have been struggling with Erdogan and his extrajudicial behavior for the last two-and-a-half, three years," Aksener said. "The elections we are going into, it is what Erdogan wants. It is not a presidential system as in Western democracies. We do not have checks and balances."A supporter listens to Aksener speaking at a rally in Gaziantep, Turkey.With Ince polling second, Aksener may not be the opposition candidate to face off against Erdogan, should the vote go to a run-off round. But she has already been instrumental in shaping this election. In the previous presidential vote, opposition parties banded together to back a single candidate to challenge the incumbent. This time around, Aksener refused to join and announced her own candidacy. Soon other opposition parties followed and put forward their strongest candidates, giving more options for people to vote against Erdogan.Opposition parties including Aksener's have committed to support whoever faces off with Erdogan, should the vote go to a second round. People from the small southern town of Samandag welcome Aksener on the street.Mustafa Koseler, a 76-year-old supporter of MHP, Aksener's former party, will back the Iyi Party after decades of loyalty. He fears that Turkey will end up a "one-man dictatorship like Bashar Assad, like Hafez Assad, like (Mohamed) Morsy, like (Moammar) Gadhafi" under Erdogan's rule. He is looking to Aksener to preserve the country's democracy and prevent the change to Turkey's political system. "We do not want one-man rule," he said at the rally in Adana. "We want our republic, democracy and parliament to function as it is today. We want our members of parliament to have a say. In the new system, they won't."What Aksener is promising is a new dawn for her country. Her Iyi Party's blue logo is emblazoned with a golden sun, promising the optimism of a new movement. When voter Guler Yasa in Adana is asked why she supports Aksener, she refers to this logo. "Because she is turning her face to the sun. She will make a new sun rise over our country," Yasa said.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh contributed to this report.

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Greece Demands Return of Parthenon Marbles from Britain

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Ratcheting up fresh pressure, Greece has blasted the British Museum for exhibiting the Parthenon marbles, calling the collection “stolen” treasures and demanding the masterpieces be returned to Athens.

The call comes as Greece celebrates the 11th anniversary of the New Acropolis Museum, a four-story, state of the art edifice built to house the ancient treasures and weaken Britain’s claim that it is best able to look after the 2,500-year-old masterpieces.

“Since September 2003 when construction work for the Acropolis Museum began, Greece has systematically demanded the return of the sculptures on display in the British Museum because they are the product of theft,” the countrys culture minister Lina Mendoni said.

“The current Greek government – like any Greek government – is not going to stop claiming the stolen sculptures which the British Museum, contrary to any moral principle, continues to hold illegally,” she told the Athens daily Ta Nea.

Depicting figures of ancient Greek mythology, the 75-meter frieze and its 17 statues were sawed off the Parthenon temple and shipped to London by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century, during his tenure as Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.

Bankrupted by the venture, the British aristocrat sold them to the British Museum in 1816, where they became a major attraction and began one of the worlds longest running cultural disputes.

Mendoni said “It is sad that one of the worlds largest and most important museums is still governed by outdated, colonialist views.”

While successive governments in Britain have opposed calls for the return of the sculptures to Greece, pressure has mounted in recent years with a bandwagon of celebrities and politicians joining the repatriation campaign.

Greeces center-right government is also stepping up efforts to win back the treasures as the country gears up for its bicentennial independence anniversary next year.

A municipal worker wearing a protective suit sprays disinfectant outside Acropolis museum as the Parthenon temple is seen in…[contfnewc]

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A municipal worker wearing a protective suit sprays disinfectant outside Acropolis museum as the Parthenon temple is seen in the background in Athens on March 24, 2020.

While 50 meters of the 115-block Parthenon frieze is displayed in Athens, eight other museums scattered across Europe house fragments of it, including the Louvre and the British Museum.

Last year, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis secured a key agreement from French President Macron to allow the Louvre to lend a small fragment of the Parthenon in light of those celebrations.

Macron has become the first Western leader to initiate a comprehensive review of colonial looting, repatriating significant collections to Africa – a move traditionally resisted by leading museums in the West, including the British Museum.

A similar loan request was made to the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson but it was quickly knocked down by the British Museum, saying any swap would require Athens to relinquish ownership claims to the prized treasures — a request Greece has emphatically refused.

“Without the supreme symbol of culture, the Parthenon, Western Civilization cannot exist, and this symbol deserves to be reunited with its expatriate sculptures,” Mendoni told a local broadcaster in May.

Government officials have refused to clarify whether Athens has followed up with any alternative proposal to the British Museum. Nor have they said whether Greece would resort to legal action against Britain in a bid to win back the marbles.

“In law, a thief is not allowed to keep his or her ill-gotten gains, no matter how long ago they were taken, or how much he or she may have improved them,” said Geoffrey Robertson, a leading human rights attorney whom the government in Athens recruited in 2014 to consider legal action.

“In the past, a lot of cultural property was wrongfully extracted from places that are now independent states. They want the loot sent back to where it was created and to the people for whom it has most meaning.”

In its pamphlets, the British Museum argues that its free-of-charge entrance attracts millions of visitors every year from around the work, making the ancient Greek masterpieces available to the public within the context of a wide swath of human civilization — a claim Greece insists is now defunct with its $200 million mammoth museum.

An austere building wedged within the chaotic sprawl of a crowded old neighborhood, the new Acropolis museum was initially scheduled to open in time for the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics.

But legal fights over the expropriation of some 25 buildings, as well as archaeological findings unearthed at the site, derailed the project by more than 5 years.

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11 of Budapest’s best festivals

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(CNN) — Straddling the picturesque Danube, Budapest provides the perfect backdrop for a festival and this city definitely knows how to put on a show.Barely a month goes by when the Hungarian capital isn't playing host to some sort of event celebrating food and drink, music, dance or the arts.

For those keen to go and join the party, we've rounded up some of the most entertaining festivities happening in Budapest throughout the year.

Rosalia Festival

Rosalia Festival is dedicated to rosé wines, sparkling wines and champagnes.

Courtesy Rosalia Festival

Each year, Budapest jumps the gun on summer over a weekend in May for the Rosalia Festival.

Created by the organizers of September's wine festival, it's Hungary's only event dedicated to celebrating rosé wine, as well as champagne and sparkling wines.

Taking place over three days, it features a Rosé Garden, tastings, jazz concerts, Hungarian food stalls and special events for children.

Dates: May 31 to June 2, 2019

Sziget Festival

Sziget Festival

One of the biggest music festivals in Europe — Sziget Festival takes place every August.

Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images

For more than 25 years, the week-long Sziget Festival has been taking over the Danube river island of Óbudai-sziget every August, showcasing more than 1,000 performers and drawing tens of thousands of people from all over the world.

It's one of Europe's biggest music festivals, attracting performers including 2019 headliners Foo Fighters and Ed Sheeran.

Revelers soak up the lively ambience as dance artists put on theatrical performances on the site and everyone goes for a dip in the Danube along the sandy beach.

Dates: Aug 1 to 13, 2019

Budapest Summer Festival

Held throughout June, July and August, the Budapest Summer Festival brings some of the world's top classical musicians and ballet dancers to Margaret Island, located in the heart of Budapest.

There's a varied program of opera, ballet and classical music — with a bit of jazz and pop thrown in for good measure — most of which takes place in the enchanting setting of the Margaret Island Open-Air Stage.

Look out for the performances held in the open-air stage set up in the shadow of Margaret Island's historic water tower.

Dates: June to September

Budapest Summer Festivals, Open-Air Theatre, 1122 Budapest, Városmajor; +36 1 375-5922

Budapest Christmas markets

Budapest winter activities

The Christmas market on St. Stephen's Square is one of Budapest's top draws in winter.

Courtesy Hungarian National Tourist Office

Prepare to be utterly charmed by Budapest's Advent Christmas fair, which is held annually in the square in front of St. Stephen's Basilica.

From late November to early January, the area is filled with market stalls selling trinkets, toys, crafts and plenty of irresistible Hungarian food and drink.

Those who visit on Sunday can watch the Advent candles being lit.

To top it all off, there's a small but perfectly formed ice rink in the center, adding a further dollop of festive magic.

Even more treats are on offer at Vorosmarty Square, where the city's main Christmas market is held.

There are more than 100 stalls selling gifts and food — all of which have been personally vetted by a jury — ensuring the quality is high.

Budapest Wine Festival

Every September, Buda Castle becomes one giant civilized party in the late summer sun when scores of wine producers show off their latest vintages in a relaxed, yet convivial atmosphere.

Buy a glass and take it round for tastings at the various stalls, picking up Hungarian snacks along the way.

Four festival stages take turns with music and entertainment throughout the four-day event and there's also a Harvest Parade around Buda Castle celebrating folk music and dancing.

Dates: September 5 to 8, 2019

Budapest Fish Festival

Budapest Fish Festival

Traditional Hungarian cuisine meets international creations at the Budapest Fish Festival.

Courtesy Budapest Fish Festival

Hungarians spend the winter months keeping warm with a dish called halászlé — a red hot fisherman's soup brimming with paprika and river fish.

When early March comes round, many head to the three-day Budapest Fish Festival to feast on this spicy dish and plenty of other types of fish.

Heroes' Square is the setting for cooking contests, wine tastings, folklore music and fun for the kids — not to mention stall after stall of mouthwatering dishes.

Dates: March 2, to 4, 2019

Budapest Fish Festival, Heroes' Square, Budapest, Hősök tere, 1146

Danube Carnival

The Margaret Island Open-Air Stage and a host of other open-air venues around the Danube become filled with color during this week-long festival of folk dance in June.

Several hundred international dancers and musicians bring their own cultural sounds and dances to mingle with traditional Hungarian styles at the annual event.

The Carnival Parade that goes along the Danube Promenade to Vorosmarty Square is one of the festival's main highlights.

Dates: TBC

Festival of Folk Arts

Festival of Folks Arts

Festival of Folk Arts brings top Hungarian craftsmen to Buda Castle.

Janos Peter photography

Craftspeople from all around Hungary descend on Buda Castle every August for a three-day celebration of crafts made in the country for hundreds of years.

Visitors can take part in workshops and watch the experts in action as they spin, weave, carve, paint, demonstrating skills that have been handed down over the generations.

The festival includes folk dances and performances and — this being Hungary — plenty of food stalls offering delectable traditionalRead More – Source

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