Monday, 27 September 2021: Labour backs Sir Keir Starmer over party rules reforms, Social Democrats edge ahead in Germany’s chancellor race, Iceland’s ruling coalition maintains its majority


UK to issue short-term visas to help ease trucker, food industry shortages: The UK will grant temporary visas in an effort to tackle supply chain woes, the government said late Saturday. “5,000 HGV drivers will be able to come to the UK for 3 months in the run-up to Christmas, providing short-term relief for the haulage industry,” it said in a statement. “A further 5,500 visas for poultry workers will also be made available for the same short period, to avoid any potential further pressures on the food industry during this exceptional period,” it added. Business leaders warned that the move is a short-term fix that will not solve an acute labour shortage that risks major disruption for retailers in the run-up to Christmas.,

Labour backs Sir Keir Starmer over party rules reforms: Labour’s annual conference has voted in favour of Sir Keir Starmer’s plans to overhaul the party’s rules. The changes give MPs more of a say in choosing its future leaders and make it harder for members to deselect MPs. The party also backed setting up an independent complaints process for claims of racism, following the controversy over anti-Semitism.

Government to cut threshold for graduate repayment of student loans, report says: Ministers are reportedly planning to lower the salary level at which graduates start to repay their student loan, in a move that has already sparked opposition MPs to accuse the Tories of “widening the gap” further for low-earning workers. Chancellor Rishi Sunak reportedly wants to overhaul student financing in his spending review ahead of October’s Budget, according to the Financial Times, over concerns in the Treasury that the taxpayer foots too large a bill for university courses.

Brexit: Threats not helpful in solving N.Ireland problems, says EU
UK immigration minister: EU citizens who have been refused to stay should take steps to leave now, or will be removed
Former Unite general secretary Len McCluskey rejects claims his preferred candidate did not win race to succeed him
Trans rights: Javid accuses Starmer of denying ‘scientific fact’ in trans rights row


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Social Democrats edge ahead in Germany’s chancellor race: The two main rivals vying to succeed Angela Merkel as German chancellor – centre-left Social Democrat leader Olaf Scholz and the leader of centre-right Christian Democrats Armin Laschet – have each said they will try to head the next government after early election results showed them neck-and-neck. According to latest projections, the Social Democrats got 25.8% of the vote and the Christian Democrats 24.1%. The Greens received 14.6%, FDP 11.5%, AfD 10.5%, and the Left Party 4.9%. Even if the Left party doesn’t secure the 5% support needed to make it into parliament, it has won three electoral districts outright, meaning it can automatically claim seats equivalent to its 4.9% support. The Greens will likely play kingmaker. Laschet has pointed out that it hasn’t always been the case that the party in first place provides the chancellor. Scholz declined to give a date for when a coalition would be formed, but added that „it must be the case that I, that we, do everything to ensure that we are ready before Christmas.“,

Iceland’s ruling coalition maintains its majority: Iceland’s ruling coalition boosted its majority in an election Saturday, according to results published Sunday. The country’s three governing parties – Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir’s Left-Green Movement, the conservative Independence Party and the Progressive Party – together took 37 out of 63 seats in Iceland’s parliament. The parties are now expected to enter coalition negotiations, and it remains unclear whether Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir will remain in the top post. Iceland briefly believed it had made history by electing Europe’s first female-majority parliament – before a recount showed it had just fallen short.,

Switzerland votes to make same-sex marriage legal: According to results provided by the Swiss federal chancellery, 64.1% of voters voted in favour of same-sex marriage in a nationwide referendum that was conducted under Switzerland’s system of direct democracy. Campaigners have hailed the vote as a historic moment for LGBT rights in the country. In the build up to the vote, church groups and conservative political parties opposed the idea, saying it would undermine the traditional family.,

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Lavrov says Mali approached Russian private companies: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed on Saturday that Mali sought the help of a private Russian military company. European countries have warned the Malian government on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this week against hiring paramilitaries from the controversial Wagner group. But with Paris set to reduce its military presence in Mali, Lavrov told reporters that the Malian government was turning towards private Russian companies. During his UN General Assembly address, Mali’s Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga accused France of abandoning his country with the „unilateral“ decision to withdraw troops.,

Announcement of the winner of Vaclav Havel Human Rights Award: Nominees are Belarusian opposition activist Maria Kolesnikova, NGO Reporters Without Borders and another person whose name is still being kept under wraps
Submarine dispute: Naval Group vows to claw back millions for cancelled submarine deal
Turkey: President Erdogan defiant about turning to Russia for defence needs
Syria: Eleven Syrian fighters killed in Russian air strike
Afghanistan: Taliban hang bodies of alleged kidnappers in Afghan city of Herat
West Bank: Five Palestinians killed in Israeli West Bank raid against militants


Every vote counts – your vote counts. Therefore, I ask you: Go to the polls today!
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has called on all citizens to cast their vote in the Bundestag election.


Serbian troops on heightened alert at Kosovo border: Government offices in Kosovo were attacked on Saturday as tensions with Serbia over a row over vehicle license plates escalate. Serbia doesn’t recognise its former province’s nation status and forces drivers from Kosovo to buy temporary plates when entering the country. Now Kosovo has decided to do the same. In response, ethnic Serbs in Kosovo blocked the provisional border with trucks, and two government offices in the capital Pristina have been attacked.,

Hacker attack hampers launch of controversial Covid passport in the Netherlands: The launch of the so called COVID-19 passport in the Netherlands has been hampered by hacker attacks. As a result, it was at times difficult to download the required QR code late on Saturday, the Ministry of Health in The Hague said on Sunday. It added that the attacks had been averted. Holders of the passport can prove they have full vaccination protection against Covid, or that they have recovered from the disease. It can also provide proof of a negative test. Hundreds of protesters marched against the introduction of the passport on Saturday. Mona Keijzer was sacked as state secretary of economic affairs in the Dutch government after criticising the passport.,,

Thousands protest against 3G rule in Italy: Thousands of people took part in demonstrations in several Italian cities on Saturday against the Italian government’s decision to extend the so-called 3G rule to all workers from 15 October. The largest protests took place in Rome, Milan, Turin and Trieste. In Norway, large numbers of people celebrated the end of many of the country’s Covid restrictions. Nightclubs and pubs were full, in many places the mood was boisterous.,

France to double Covid vaccine doses for poorer countries: France will double the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses it will send to poorer countries to 120 million, President Emmanuel Macron pledged on Saturday, in a video broadcast during the Global Citizen concert in Paris. „The injustice is that in other continents, obviously, vaccination is very late,“ he said. „We have to go faster, stronger.“

Austria: Local elections in Upper Austria
Catalonia’s former head of government Puigdemont returns to Belgium for now, wants to attend court hearing in Italy,
Italy: Actor Richard Gere to testify at trial against former interior minister Salvini
Germany: Authorities of several federal states concerned about radical Covid deniers
Poland: KGHM turns to nuclear as alternative power source
Spain: Volcano tourists cause congestion on La Palma


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Czech Republic: Historic military bunkers go on sale: The Czech army has been selling thousands of military bunkers that were intended to prevent a Nazi attack in 1938. The Czech army can transfer them to regions or municipalities, as well as sell them to private individuals. „The army will keep only a few buildings for its own purposes, such as storage facilities,“ Petr Sykora from the Czech Defence Ministry’s press department told DW. Among them are mainly larger fortress buildings. The army wants to keep one of them, for example, because it houses a seismic station for monitoring nuclear explosions.


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