Thursday, 17 October 2019: Trump says Johnson asked him to set up meeting with Harry Dunn family, US stops sharing intelligence with Turkey, Start of new EU Commission delayed, Steps towards a Brexit deal


Trump says Johnson asked him to set up meeting with Harry Dunn family: The grieving parents of British teenager Harry Dunn said they were extremely angry and felt they had been taken advantage of after a highly choreographed White House encounter with US President Donald Trump – where he presented them with an unexpected offer to meet the woman involved in the crash that killed their son. The family says that Trump surprised them with the news that Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a US diplomat stationed in the UK, was in an adjoining room. Photographers were waiting in the wings, said a family spokesman, who described the encounter as an ambush. The spokesman blamed Trump’s national security adviser, Richard O’Brien, for the failed stunt. Trump has claimed that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked him to set up the surprise meeting. Dunn’s parents are in the US this week to make the case that Sacoolas should be returned to Britain to face justice.,

MP quits Labour over antisemitism concerns: MP Louise Ellman has quit the Labour Party, saying party leader Jeremy Corbyn was not fit to become prime minister. She wrote in a letter that she had been deeply troubled by the growth of antisemitism in Labour in recent years. Ellman, who has been an MP since 1997, said antisemitism had become mainstream in Labour under Corbyn’s leadership. She stressed she had no intention of defecting to another political party, as other former Labour MPs had done, and hoped to be able to return to Labour under different leadership.

MPs press minister over Jennifer Arcuri investigation: MPs have called for a police investigation into a company run by US businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri, who is at the centre of conflict of interest row involving Prime Minister Boris Johnson. At a hearing on Wednesday, members of the DCMS select committee urged the culture secretary, Nicky Morgan, to refer the company to the police if it found that the money had been obtained fraudulently.

NHS: Charity launches legal action against NHS fees for pregnant migrants
Rail: Northern rail could be renationalised, says transport secretary
Climate change: Prime Minister Johnson to chair new committee
Technology: Controversial porn blocker plan dropped


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US stops sharing intelligence with Turkey: The US government has largely excluded the Turkish military from its international military coalition against Isis, with Turkey no longer receiving information from reconnaissance flights. The move comes amid US concerns that Turkey might be using the coalition’s findings for its fight against the Kurds in northern Syria. US President Donald Trump has compared the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) with Isis, saying the PKK was probably a greater terrorist threat than Isis. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rejected US calls for a ceasefire in Syria. Edrogan will meet with US Vice President Mike Pence and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Ankara on Thursday. Russian President Vladimir Putin has invited Erdogan to visit Russia in the next few days. Hundreds of Syrian Kurds entered Iraqi’s Kurdish autonomous region on Wednesday, fleeing the Turkish invasion in Syria. (Coalition); (Trump); (Erdogan); (Putin); (Iraq)

Start of new EU Commission delayed: The next European Commission will likely not take office before 1 December, one month later than planned. EU Parliament President David Sassoli and leading MEPs agreed on Wednesday that the assembly’s confirmation vote on the new Commission, originally scheduled for next week, will be cancelled, as the names of three commissioner-designates are still missing. Romania and Hungary have proposed new nominees, but new Commission of President-elect Ursula von der Leyen has not yet accepted them. Complicating the process is the collapse of the Romanian government. Von der Leyen wishes to make the screening procedures for nominees more comprehensive through the creation of an independent ethical body.,,

Steps towards a Brexit deal: European Council President Donald Tusk has said the foundations of a Brexit deal were in place and it was only last-minute doubts in London that stood in the way. The EU’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, said there were possibilities for an agreement, but it was not done. He said customs and VAT matters were the remaining big issues to resolve. During a joint appearance with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, told reporters that a deal was just being finalised. EU leaders will gather this Thursday and Friday in Brussels with hopes they can finally agree on a Brexit deal.,

Air pollution caused 400,000 premature deaths: Poor air quality caused 412,000 premature deaths in Europe in 2016, according to an EU report released Wednesday. The report recommends European countries reduce the number of cars to lower nitrogen dioxide levels — and therefore air pollution. In line with EU law, member states are required to examine the level of a range of pollutants and take action if pollutants, such as ozone matter, exceed healthy levels.

Hong Kong’s Lam forced to stop speech after protests: Pro-democracy lawmakers forced the adjournment of the annual policy address by Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam on Wednesday. Lawmakers shouted “five demands, not one less,” referencing the list of requests by protesters, at Lam as she was set to deliver her speech. Lam’s remarks were initially suspended amid disruption. As she was set to begin her address a second time, pro-democracy lawmakers interrupted her and some even threw objects at her. Live feeds of the meeting were cut amid the disorder. Prominent Hong Kong activist Jimmy Sham was attacked by four to five men wielding hammers on Wednesday evening. A Norwegian politician has nominated the people of Hong Kong for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize.,,,

European Labour Authority (ELA): New EU authority starts its work
Euro zone: Inflation drops more than foreseen


We have made much progress on solidarity to manage migration within the EU.
European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos has shown optimism about a planned distribution mechanism for migrants.


Merkel and Macron reach arms export deal: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed on common rules for weapons and defence exports at a joint ministerial meeting in the French city of Toulouse. German curbs on arms exports to non-EU or non-Nato countries have been a thorn in bilateral co-operation for years. Under the deal reached Wednesday, Germany will not block French exports to third countries provided equipment was made with less than 20% German components. France and Germany also agreed to speed up the development of the SCAF fighter jet in the next few months.,

Protests in Catalonia for third night: Protests against the conviction of Catalan separatist leaders took place in Barcelona and several other Catalan towns for a third night Wednesday. Tens of thousands of protesters faced off against police in Barcelona. The Spanish government said 51 people had been arrested across Catalonia on Monday and Tuesday. More than 170 people were reported injured, including about 40 police officers. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the Spanish government will respond with firmness, calmness and unity to the confrontations.,

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Bulgaria and Romania compete for VW plant: Bulgaria is ready to offer more incentives to Volkswagen to build a new plant in the country after VW postponed a decision on building it in Turkey amid criticism of the Turkish offensive in Syria. Bulgaria is ready to boost its offer and double the subsidies available to VW to 260 million euros from an initial 135 million, Rosen Plevneliev, a board member of the non-governmental Bulgarian Automotive Cluster, said Wednesday. Neighbouring Romania said it has initiated new talks to lobby for the investment.

Poland: New legislation treats sex education as “pedophilia”
Malta: Police may have turned down evidence in journalist’s murder
Germany: Protests disrupt AfD founder Lucke’s university lecture

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Italian court lets da Vinci work travel to Louvre: An Italian court gave the go-ahead for Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic “Vitruvian Man” drawing to travel to the Louvre for an exhibition that starts next week. A group had filed a complaint saying the drawing was too fragile to travel. The court in Venice cited the exceptional global relevance of the Louvre exhibition and Italy’s desire to maximise its heritage potential in overturning the bid to stop the loan of several Da Vinci works.,


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