Monday, 2 August 2021: Scottish independence vote will happen if public wants it, says Gove, Belarusian sprinter forcibly removed from the Olympics, US, UK and Israel blame Iran for ship attack

⊂ UNITED KINGDOM ⊃

Scottish independence vote will happen if public wants it, says Gove: The UK government will not stand in the way of another vote on Scottish independence if it is the “settled will” of voters, Michael Gove has said. Westminster has repeatedly rejected requests from the Scottish government for the necessary powers to hold another vote but the Cabinet Office minister said if the public desire a second referendum, “one would occur”. The comment follows a decline in support for independence. After about six months of consistent polling showing majority support for separation last year – with one poll going as high as 58% in favour – the tide began to turn at the beginning of 2021. The most recent survey by Panelbase for the Sunday Times found 48% of the 1,287 respondents supported leaving the UK.
thenational.scot, theguardian.com

Sunak urges Johnson to ease holiday travel rules: Chancellor Rishi Sunak has urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ease holiday travel restrictions in order to boost the economy and save he summer travel plans of thousands, according to The Sunday Times. The report says the chancellor has written to Johnson warning that the UK’s border rules were damaging the economy and tourism. In the letter, Sunak said that the country’s border policy was “out of step with our international competitors”, adding that the restrictions had a detrimental effect on jobs. Fully vaccinated travellers from England, as well as children, no longer need to quarantine on their return from amber-list countries, though many may still choose to shun holidays abroad because of the risk of sudden quarantine rules being imposed.
independent.co.uk, theguardian.com

UK’s net zero goal too far away, says No 10 climate spokesperson: The government’s 2050 target date of reducing the UK’s net carbon emissions to zero is “too far away”, Boris Johnson’s climate change spokesperson Allegra Stratton has said. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s World This Weekend, Stratton said the science was clear that faster action is needed to bring down greenhouse gas emissions in order to stop global temperature increases by 2030.
independent.co.uk, theguardian.com

Equalities and Human Rights Commission warns employers over ‘no jab, no job’ policies politico.eu
Brexit: UK closing in on post-Brexit trade deal with New Zealand bloomberg.com
Poverty: Johnson faces rebellion over ‘intolerable’ hunger and poverty in home counties theguardian.com
Unison: Pay rise for NHS cleaners and porters must match 3% offered to medics independent.co.uk
Race: Hundreds demand reparations for Windrush generation theguardian.com

⊂ POLITJOBS UNITED KINGDOM ⊃

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⊂ EUROPE ⊃

Belarusian sprinter forcibly removed from the Olympics: Belarusian athlete Kristina Timanovskaya said Sunday she was safe and under police protection in Japan after claiming her country had forced her to leave the Tokyo Olympics. Timanovskaya said she was forced to pack before being taken to the airport in Tokyo against her will following her complaints about national coaching staff at the Olympic Games. The Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation (BSSF) said Belarus officials had tried to deport Timanovskaya. The Belarusian Olympic Committee had claimed that Timanovskaya left the Tokyo Games on medical advice because of her emotional and psychological state. But, speaking through the BSSF, Timanovskaya said that claim was not true. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it was seeking clarification from Belarussian officials. Belarus’s exiled opposition leader, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who claimed victory in last August’s elections before fleeing to neighbouring Lithuania, called on the IOC to take on Timanovskaya’s case.
france24.com, bbc.com, nytimes.com

US, UK and Israel blame Iran for ship attack: The United States and the United Kingdom joined Israel on Sunday in alleging Iran carried out a fatal drone strike on an oil tanker off the coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea. Speaking Sunday at a cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Israel had intelligence evidence that Iran was behind the incident. Calling it an unlawful and callous attack, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said his country and its allies planned a coordinated response over the strike Thursday night on the oil tanker Mercer Street. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken soon followed, saying there was no justification for this attack, which followed a pattern of attacks and other belligerent behaviour. Two crewmembers, a Briton and a Romanian, died on Thursday when the Mercer Street tanker was attacked by an armed drone believed to be operated by Iran off the coast of Oman.
apnews.com, cnn.com

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Aid organisations rescue hundreds of refugees in the Mediterranean: The German and French NGO ships „Sea-Watch 3“ and „Ocean Viking“ pulled 394 migrants from a dangerously overcrowded wooden boat in the Mediterranean Sea overnight on Sunday in an operation lasting about six hours, a Reuters witness said. The „Ocean Viking“ also rescued a total of 196 migrants off the coast of Libya on Saturday, according to the humanitarian ship’s operator. The ship was alerted to the migrants through German non-governmental organisation Sea-Watch international’s reconnaissance aircraft „Seabird“. The Mediterranean route between the north African coast and Italy is one of the most dangerous in the world. But many continue to make the sea crossing in a bid to escape conflicts as well as other factors such as poverty and food insecurity. According to the UN-affiliated International Organization for Migration (IOM), more than 1,100 people fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East have perished this year in the Mediterranean.
france24.com, dw.com

COVID-19: Pfizer and Moderna ramp up EU vaccine prices ft.com
East Jerusalem: Palestinians fear for their future dw.com
Myanmar: Junta extends state of emergency and promises elections by 2023 dw.com
United States: Pandemic eviction ban expires washingtonpost.com
Tunisia: US urges return to ‚democratic path‘ dw.com

⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃

If practically all experts worldwide say that Covid is dangerous and that vaccination helps, who actually has the right to say that they are smarter? For me, this is an almost unbearable level of arrogance.
The president of the German parliament, Wolfgang Schaeuble, has sharply criticised vaccine opponents.
pnn.de

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

Protests against Covid rules in several countries: Thousands turned out in Berlin on Sunday to protest the German government’s anti-coronavirus measures despite a ban on the gatherings, leading to clashes with police and the detention of around 600 protesters. Local authorities had banned several different protests because the risk to public health was too high, but protesters in Berlin defied the ban. A number of other events protesting policy decisions during the pandemic were allowed to take place, including a motorcade, as police said a different hygiene concept applied to motorcades. In France, thousands of people protested the special virus pass with marches through Paris and other French cities on Saturday. Most demonstrations were peaceful, but sporadic clashes with riot police marked protests in the French capital. In Montpellier in the south of France, employees of a pharmacy where Covid tests are offered were insulted as „murderers.“ Other rants drew comparisons with collaborators during the Nazi era. Thousands of people also protested against Covid restrictions in Switzerland and Italy
apnews.com, faz.net (Germany); apnews.com, tagesspiegel.de (France); euronews.com (Italy and Switzerland)

German chancellor candidate Laschet attends WWII revolt observances in Poland: Germany’s centre-right candidate to replace Angela Merkel as chancellor in the country’s September election said he feels “deep shame and humility” over Nazi Germany’s crimes against the Poles during World War II. On Sunday, exactly 77 years since the start of Warsaw’s two-month devastating struggle against the occupying Nazi German forces, Laschet visited the Warsaw Rising Museum. The city’s ill-fated 1944 revolt against Nazi German occupation ended in the surrender of the Polish Home Army resistance fighters. Some 10,000 fighters and up to 200,000 residents were killed in the struggle and the German bombings. The Germans expelled the remaining residents, sending many to death camps like Auschwitz, and destroyed the city. Laschet told Poland’s daily Rzeczpospolita he had a personal urge to attend the weekend anniversary observances in Warsaw. “Germany must always be aware of its historical responsibility for Poland’s freedom and independence,” Laschet said. “This responsibility will determine our policy toward Poland also in the future.” Laschet visited a monument to the children who fought in the Warsaw Rising and attended a Mass and a roll-call ceremony, where Poland’s President Andrzej Duda gave a speech.
apnews.com

German minister backs Afghanistan deportations despite Taliban advances: Clashes between Afghan forces and Taliban fighters have intensified in the cities of Kandahar and neighbouring Helmand province. In the west, Afghan officials said Taliban commanders were swiftly gaining control of strategic buildings around Heraat city, forcing civilians to remain in their homes. Taliban fighters struck Kandahar airport in southern Afghanistan with at least three rockets overnight, the insurgent group’s spokesman said on Sunday. Despite the recent advances of the Taliban in Afghanistan, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said on Sunday he wants to maintain the existing policy regarding deportations to the country. In an interview with German newspaper „Bild am Sonntag“, Seehofer argued that Afghan criminals in Germany must be returned to their home country. The interior minister also backed finding ways to „further strengthen voluntary departure.“ Given the deteriorating circumstances in Afghanistan, the Green party in Germany has spoken out against plans to continue with the current deportation policy.
reuters.com, dw.com

Wildfires rage across Turkey, Greece and Italy: Dozens of villages were evacuated in tourist hotspots in southern Turkey on Sunday as wildfires continued to rage. In the Turkish region of Bodrum, people had to be evacuated by boats because the roads were no longer usable. So far, a total of eight people have died as a result of the wildfires. After hitting record levels last month, temperatures are set to remain high in the region. Firefighters were also battling fires in Greece, after a major blaze broke out early Saturday near Patras in the west. Five villages have been evacuated and eight people hospitalised with burns and respiratory problems. Italy was again hit by fires after more than 20,000 hectares of forest, olive groves and crops were destroyed by a blaze in Sardinia last weekend. Firefighters are working against blazes in the Sicilian cities of Catania, Palermo and Syracuse.
france24.com, tagesschau.de

Poland attacks German justice system over fine for anti-gay article: Poland has accused Germany’s justice system of putting European standards at risk after a Cologne court fined Polish theologian Dariusz Oko for an article describing gay people in the Catholic clergy as a “cancerous ulcer” and “parasites.” The court imposed the €4,800 penalty on Oko for inciting hatred through his article. A Munich priest had filed a legal complaint against Oko, leading to the court ruling. A spokesperson for the court said an appeal had already been lodged, meaning the case will likely be the subject of a trial. In comments to German news agency DPA published Sunday, Polish Deputy Justice Minister Marcin Romanowski said he saw anti-freedom tendencies in the German legal protection system. “The imposition of penalties for scientific activities represents a threat to fundamental freedoms and European standards,” Romanowski said. Polish authorities have faced international condemnation for anti-LGBTQ+ comments and declaring parts of the country to be zones free of “LGBTQ+ ideology.”
politico.eu

Germany 1: 100-year-old ex-death camp guard to go on trial dw.com
Germany 2: Government set to recommend Covid jab for adolescents dw.com
Portugal wants to relieve society and economy, eases restrictions faz.net
Czech Republic: Discos open for vaccinated persons nau.ch
Denmark: Many recreational facilities no longer require proof of vaccination or test nau.ch
Albania repatriates 5 women, 14 children from Syria apnews.com
France: One of the most far-reaching anti-terrorism laws in the EU faz.net

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⊂ LAST BUT NOT LEAST ⊃

Hackers shut down system for vaccine appointments in Italy’s Lazio region: Hackers have attacked and shut down the IT systems of the company that manages COVID-19 vaccination appointments for the Lazio region surrounding Rome, the regional government said on Sunday. The region said in a Facebook posting that all systems had been deactivated, including those of the region’s health portal and vaccination network, and warned the inoculation programme could suffer a delay. According to ANSA, Italy’s postal police and Rome prosecutors are looking into the matter and could open an investigation to find out who is behind the attack.
reuters.com

 

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