Thursday, 16 May 2019: Rebels hope to kill off May’s Brexit deal, US partially evacuates embassy in Iraq, Facebook tightens live-stream rules following Christchurch attack, Germany sees Syria as unsafe for asylum seekers


Rebels hope to kill off May’s Brexit deal: Brexit-supporting rebels in Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party said on Wednesday they would vote down her EU divorce deal when she brings it back to parliament next month. Defeat in the vote would likely spell the end of May’s divorce deal and probably her premiership. May has said MPs had a duty to ensure the government delivered Brexit by voting for the withdrawal bill in the Commons. The government said the bill – required to implement the PM’s deal – will be considered by MPs in the week beginning 3 June. Government sources have told the BBC there would not be a further attempt if the plan is rejected. Earlier, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said the deal would be dead if MPs did not pass it. He suggested the vote would be the final throw of the dice for the deal.,,

Farage’s party surges, Tories plunge in poll: The Conservative Party fell 4 percentage points from last month to 12%, while Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party surged to a six-point lead on 30%. Labour was seen at 24%. The pro-EU Liberal Democrats , Greens and Scottish National Party all gained, with 11%, 6% and 4% respectively, while Change UK, the pro-EU vehicle created by former Labour and Conservative politicians, is unchanged on 4%. Four former Ukip AMs have joined Farage’s Brexit Party, announcing plans to form an assembly group. The planned group, which includes Mandy Jones, Caroline Jones and David Rowlands, is subject to assembly approval. Some Plaid Cymru and Labour AMs want it stopped. (Poll); (Brexit Party)

Government rejects Islamophobia definition ahead of debate: The government has rejected a definition of Islamophobia created by a cross-party group of MPs. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims wanted to define it to tackle what it called a “social evil”. But a government spokesman said the wording needed further careful consideration and had not been broadly accepted. Martin Hewitt, the chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, which represents the leaders of law enforcement in England and Wales, issued a statement expressing concern about the definition on Tuesday. He said it was too broad as currently drafted, could cause confusion for officers enforcing it and could be used to challenge legitimate free speech on the historical or theological actions of Islamic states. The former Conservative chair Sayeeda Warsi, who has been outspoken about the need to tackle Islamophobia in the party, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Hewitt’s letter was irresponsible scaremongering and urged the government to accept the definition. MPs will debate the definition in Parliament this Thursday.,

Energy industry: Labour to end energy consumer rip-off and renationalise network
Prisons and probation: Probation will be renationalised after disastrous Grayling reforms
Military prosecutions: Unfair investigations to be barred
Poverty: Home Office misses deadline to access EU poverty relief funds


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US partially evacuates embassy in Iraq: The United States on Wednesday ordered all nonessential government staff to leave Iraq in the latest sign of tensions sweeping the Persian Gulf region over still-unspecified threats that the Trump administration says are linked to Iran. The State Department announced in a statement that non-emergency employees at the US Embassy in Baghdad and the US Consulate in Erbil were being ordered to leave, and that normal visa services would be temporarily suspended at both posts. US citizens had already been warned against travelling to the country and were advised on Wednesday to depart Iraq by commercial transportation as soon as possible. Germany and the Netherlands both suspended their military assistance programmes in the country. There was generally heightened alert, awareness for soldiers currently operating in the region, a German ministry spokesman said. Iran is officially ending one of its key commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal, local media reported Wednesday, citing a senior official at the country’s Atomic Energy Agency. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has warned of the implications of escalating tensions between the US and Iran. He said the collapse of the Iran nuclear deal would have far-reaching consequences for Germany and Europe as well as for the Middle East.,,,,

Facebook tightens live-stream rules following Christchurch attack: Facebook is tightening restrictions on its live-streaming feature in the wake of the horrific mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, which was livestreamed on Facebook by the alleged gunman. On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, as well as other leaders and high-profile executives from Google, Facebook and Twitter endorsed non-binding commitments — dubbed the “Christchurch Call” — aimed at curbing the spread of terrorist material on the web. The announcement came amid growing calls from politicians worldwide for social media companies to do more to tackle the hate speech, disinformation and terrorist material that now proliferates online. But amid mounting demands for new legislation, policymakers, tech executives and freedom of speech campaigners have yet to decide how best to protect people online while not harming their right to freedom of speech.,

European election: Migration and Trump on the menu as EU candidates face off
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE): Why centrists in the EU Parliament are prepared to drop the term “liberal”


I think this criticism of the European Union is completely out of line.
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has criticised Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz for his comments about an alleged over-bureaucratisation of the EU Commission.


Germany sees Syria as unsafe for asylum seekers: Syrian asylum seekers in Germany can breathe a sigh of relief as it emerged that the assessment of their applications will not change until the situation in Syria improves. The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (Bamf) will maintain current procedures regarding their right to stay in Germany, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said Wednesday. However, the situation will continue to be monitored and is subject to future revisions. There had been reports that the interior ministry would deny temporary protection to some Syrians based on an assessment suggesting parts of the country as free of conflict. Many Syrians receive subsidiary protection — a form of temporary protection lower than refugee or asylum status for people at risk of serious harm in their home countries.

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Greece: Government offers tax breaks, pension bonus
Poland: Polish ambassador to Israel, Marek Magierowski, assaulted in Tel Aviv
Czech Republic: Culture Minister Stanek resigns
Croatia: Reporters allegedly filmed illegal deportations

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Heiress downplays forced labour use during Holocaust: The Bahlsen biscuit empire heiress, Verena Bahlsen, sparked outrage after claiming forced workers were “well-treated” during World War II. Her comments caused an uproar worldwide, and especially in Germany, where commemorative culture is a highly sensitive issue. During the Nazi era, an estimated 13 million people were coerced to work for the Third Reich. Forced labourers included displaced civilians from occupied Europe, prisoners of war and concentration camp prisoners. Already in the year 2000, some 60 Eastern European individuals who had performed forced labour for the company filed a lawsuit against Bahlsen. Between 1941 and 1945, it is believed that up to 200 people, mostly Ukrainian women, were forced to work in Bahlsen’s Hannover factory.


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