Monday, 18 November 2019: Johnson pledges to end Brexit uncertainty, Germany’s military training for Chinese soldiers criticised, Russia to return navy ships seized from Ukraine, “Yellow Vest” anniversary in France


Johnson pledges to end Brexit uncertainty: Prime Minister Boris Johnson will tell business leaders this Monday that the Conservatives will deliver Brexit and end the uncertainty and confusion that has paralysed the economy if they are re-elected. The Conservative Party has made several pledges to business, including cutting tax on business properties, reducing an employment tax, boosting tax relief on construction and cutting tax on research and development. Johnson hopes to win a majority to push through the last-minute Brexit deal he struck with the EU last month. In an interview with “The Telegraph”, he said every Conservative Party candidate in the upcoming December 12 general election has promised to back his Brexit deal.,

Corbyn against coalition deal: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party would not form a coalition government if it fails to secure a majority in parliament at the general election. Four opinion polls published on Saturday put Labour between 10 and 17 percentage points behind Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives. Asked about possible demands for a Scottish independence referendum in return for the support of the Scottish National Party (SNP) if Labour are short of a majority, Corbyn told BBC TV that Labour would not be doing deals with anybody. He also said he would not support SNP calls for indyref2 ahead of the Scottish Parliament election. In his speech to the CBI this Monday, Corbyn will set out Labour’s plans for 320,000 apprenticeships in England. The Liberal Democrats’ leader, Jo Swinson, will say the Lib Dems are the natural party of business because they want to cancel Brexit.,,

Government and military accused of war crimes cover-up: An investigation by the BBC and the “Sunday Times” has spoken to eleven detectives who said they found evidence of war crimes by British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq which the government and armed forces covered up. The Ministry of Defence said it rejected the unsubstantiated allegation of a pattern of cover-ups. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said all of the allegations that had evidence had been looked at. He said the right balance had been struck over decisions whether or not to investigate alleged war crimes.

Electoral fraud: Police investigating allegations of electoral fraud
Russia: Tory donor Alexander Temerko calls for Russia report to be published
Climate: Scientists and climate advisers condemn Tory environmental record
Grenfell Tower fire: Labour candidate to report Lib Dem rival to police for Grenfell claim
National Health Service: NHS bosses accused of gagging staff during election campaign


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Germany’s military training for Chinese soldiers criticised: A military document shows that the German military plans to train Chinese soldiers in 2020. Human rights group Amnesty International has urged the German government to cease its practice of training Chinese soldiers, saying that in light of the current situation in Hong Kong, Germany should send a clear sign and immediately cease any military co-operation. FDP politician Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann has pointed out that the military’s training focused exclusively on civilian aid. Hong Kong has been rocked by months of violent protests triggered by a proposed law allowing for the extradition of criminal suspects to China, which was subsequently withdrawn. The city’s police force has been accused of using excessive force to quell the protests. On Sunday, protesters shot bows and arrows and hurled petrol bombs from a barricaded university campus. Police briefly stormed the campus early Monday, making arrests and threatening to meet further resistance with live rounds before retreating., (German military);, (Protests)

Russia to return navy ships seized from Ukraine: Russia will return three captured naval ships to Ukraine this Monday, according to Crimea’s border guard. Russia’s military had captured the ships last November after they tried to gain access to the Sea of Azov through the Kerch Strait. Russia said the ships had illegally entered its territorial waters, which Ukraine denied. Relations between Ukraine and Russia collapsed following Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula. The US House committees overseeing the impeachment inquiry against US President Donald Trump have released closed-door testimony by Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Mike Pence on Europe and Russia, and Tim Morrison, the former senior director for European affairs at the National Security Council. It provides another window into the alarm within the US government over Ukraine pressure., (Ukraine);, (Trump)

Fuel price protests in Iran: Demonstrations swept Iran this weekend as people protested the government’s decision to raise gasoline prices. Motorists blocked roads in major cities after a night of demonstrations, during which guns were fired and at least one person was killed. Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency said 1,000 protesters had been arrested and 100 banks torched. Authorities shut down much of the internet. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has defended the fuel price rise, labelling violent protests the acts of thugs. Officials have warned of a tougher response if illegal actions continue. Protests erupted on Friday after the government unexpectedly announced it was rationing petrol and removing subsidies, sending prices up by 50%.,,,

Sri Lanka: Former defence chief wins presidential election


The French are seeking strong European co-operation to replace Nato.
German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer distanced herself from French President Emmanuel Macron’s criticism of Nato.


“Yellow Vest” anniversary in France: Protests took place across France on Saturday as demonstrators commemorated the one-year anniversary of the “Yellow Vest” protests against the government of President Emmanuel Macron. Paris police said at least 31 people were detained on Sunday, in addition to 173 others the day before. Police dislodged demonstrators trying to block the bypass around the city and fired tear gas to push back protesters who were preparing to march across town. Dozens of protesters briefly rallied under the dome of Paris’ Galeries Lafayette store to denounce consumer culture. They were later expelled by security guards and police.,

Czech anti-government protesters mark anniversary of revolution: At least 200,000 people attended a mass rally in Prague against Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, when Czech dissidents led by the late Czech President Vaclav Havel overthrew a half-century of Communist rule. Demonstrators called for Babis to resign over allegations of fraud. Babis has been investigated over a €2 million EU subsidy paid to a farm and convention centre that is now part of his Agrofert business. He insists the site was owned by family members at the time of the subsidy, making it eligible.,,

Venice hit by third high tide: Venice was hit Sunday by a record third exceptional tide in the same week while other parts of Italy struggled with a series of weather woes. Stores and museums were mostly closed in the hardest-hit area around the famous St Mark’s square. The flooding in Venice has been its worst in half a century and has killed two people. Venice’s mayor Luigi Brugnaro has put the flooding damage at hundreds of millions of euros and Italian officials have declared a state of emergency for the area. Venice is both sinking into the mud and facing rising sea levels due to climate change. Brugnaro said he has invited the United Nations to set up a climate change research centre in Venice.,,

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Warning about extremism on Germany’s remembrance day: German dignitaries paid their respects to the victims of war, oppression and violence on Sunday, as they took part in annual Volkstrauertag ceremonies in Berlin. The day was marked by the laying of several wreaths and a remembrance ceremony at the German parliament. Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer also attended a ceremony at the Jewish Weissensee cemetery in Berlin. The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, used the day of remembrance to caution against what he called a creeping tendency of right-wing populism and extremism.

Greece: March to mark anniversary of 1973 student revolt
Hungary: Amnesty International criticises judicial reform plans
Georgia: Tens of thousands of protesters call for early elections

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US businesswoman raises allegations against Boris Johnson: US businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri, who is at the centre of allegations over British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s conduct while he was mayor of London, has said Johnson had broken her heart by casting her aside since the furor surfaced. Arcuri said she had tried to contact Johnson many times since the newspaper reports but he would not speak to her. The “Sunday Times” reported in September that when Johnson was mayor he failed to declare close personal links to Arcuri, who received thousands of pounds in public business funding and places on official trade trips.,


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