Thursday, 18 July 2019: British government urges Iran to let Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family visit, EU will investigate Amazon, G7 oppose Facebook’s digital currency, Germany plans mandatory measles vaccinations


British government urges Iran to let Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family visit: Downing Street has urged Iran to allow the family of a detained British-Iranian woman to visit amid fears that she is being tortured to sign a forced confession after she was moved to an isolated psychiatric ward. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was moved to the mental health ward of Iman Khomeini hospital on Monday. Her husband has expressed concern that she could be forced to condemn the British government and sign a confession after Revolutionary Guards holding her blocked access to her father and consulate staff. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a native of Iran who has lived in London for more than a decade, has been held in Iran since 2016, when she was detained in a Tehran airport. At the time, she was working as a program director at the Thomson Reuters Foundation — a charity independent of Thomson Reuters and Reuters News — and was accused of plotting to overthrow Iran’s government.,,

May warns against absolutist politics: In a final speech of her premiership, Theresa May took a coded swipe at the absolutism of politicians like Boris Johnson. The prime minister said the growth of an uncompromising absolutism in British and global politics risked poisoning debate and undermining democratic values. An inability to combine principles with pragmatism and make a compromise when required seemed to have driven political discourse down the wrong path. May also said most people across the country had a preference for getting Brexit done with a deal, as she reiterated her belief the deal she negotiated with the EU did deliver on the EU referendum vote. Brexit minister Stephen Barclay said on Wednesday the chances of Britain leaving the EU without a deal at the end of October were underpriced.,, (May); (Barclay)

Conservative PM candidates face final hustings: The two candidates to become the next prime minister have made their final pitch to the Conservative Party. Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt took part in the final leadership hustings at the London Excel Centre on Wednesday, in front of more than 2,000 Tory members. Brexit dominated the conversation, although feminism and hair-dye also made an appearance. The winner of the contest will be announced on 23 July, and take office the following day.

Labour: Lady Hayter sacked for comparing Corbyn to Nazis
Bullying in Parliament: MPs extend complaints scope
Abortion: Pro-choice groups raise concerns over possible delays to Northern Ireland abortion law


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EU will investigate Amazon: The EU Commission will investigate the world’s largest online retailer to see if its use of other merchants’ data breaches EU antitrust rules. The investigation will focus on Amazon’s standard agreements with marketplace sellers and its use of data. The Commission will look at how that data might be used to Amazon’s own advantage or in other anti-competitive ways. The EU’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said in a statement that e-commerce had boosted choice for consumers and reduced prices. But she emphasised the need to ensure that large online platforms don’t eliminate these benefits through anti-competitive behavior. In a separate case, Amazon reached a deal with Germany’s anti-trust authority to overhaul its terms of service for third-party merchants, who had complained of unfair treatment when selling through the world’s biggest online retailer.,, (EU); (Germany)

EU states vetted on adherence to rule of law: EU member states are to be vetted annually on their adherence to the rule of law, the EU Commission has announced. The process would see EU officials take information from national institutions, international watchdogs such as the Council of Europe, as well as NGOs and EU agencies, to produce an annual rule of law report summarising the situation in the member states. Meanwhile, the Commission announced it was moving ahead with an infringement procedure against new disciplinary rules for Polish judges that it had opened in April.,,

G7 oppose Facebook’s digital currency: The finance ministers of the G7 countries cast a cloud over prospects for Facebook’s Libra digital coin on Wednesday, insisting tough regulatory problems would have to be worked out first. France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the Libra project could not be accepted without a strong set of rules. He warned that the sovereignty of nations coult not be jeopardised. German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said Facebook’s plans did not seem to be fully thought through, adding that there were also data security questions.,

US stops sale of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey: The White House announced on Wednesday that Turkey will no longer be part of the American F-35 fighter jet programme. The US government said Turkey’s decision to buy the Russian S-400 air defence system rendered its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible. In a cabinet meeting Tuesday, US President Donald Trump expressed sympathy for Turkey, saying that his administration was working through current issues. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov has said Russia is considering signing an agreement for the sale of fighter aircraft to Turkey. The conflict parties in eastern Ukraine have agreed to a ceasefire. A senior Ukrainian official said on Tuesday his country and Russia had agreed to exchange prisoners over the next month. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an order on Wednesday further expanding the number of Ukrainian citizens who can apply for fast-track Russian passports. Five years after the MH17 downing, the EU called on Russia to take responsibility for the tragedy., (Fighter jets); (Ceasefire); (Prisoner exchange); (Passports); (MH17)

Refugees: Commissioner Stylianides talks about obligation to rescue human lives


She actually promised everything to everyone.
German MEP Udo Bullmann has criticised the future EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.


Germany plans mandatory measles vaccinations: The German cabinet has backed a bill requiring all children to receive a measles vaccination before entering school or kindergarten. If the German parliament approves the bill, parents will be required to provide evidence that their child has been vaccinated before they are enrolled, and will face fines if they fail to do so. The number of measles infections in Germany has risen significantly in recent years. There are concerns the highly infectious disease is making a comeback across the developed world as parents refuse to have their children vaccinated.,,

French parliament debates Ceta: French lawmakers in the National Assembly began debating the controversial trade deal between the EU and Canada on Wednesday. The EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta) was approved by the EU Parliament two years ago, but it must also be ratified by each EU member state to become permanent. The deal removes tariffs on 98% of goods and services between Canada and Europe. The agreement has already had a positive impact on the French economy by increasing imports to Canada by 6.6%.

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German court backs military’s decision to dismiss far-right janitor: An employment hearing has vindicated the termination of employment of a German Bundeswehr janitor over his links to the far right. The military had cited concerns about the janitor’s loyalty to the constitution. The labor court ruled that the civilian employee’s dismissal over his membership of a far-right group was basically justified. The individual was said to have attended certain events that had raised concern, and to have expressed his agreement with extremist content online.

Italy 1: Interior Minister Salvini under pressure for alleged Russian donations
Italy 2: Prosecutor appeals against release of German „Sea Watch“ captain Rackete
Spain: 276 people rescued from the Mediterranean Sea
France 1: Prosecutors want Air France tried for 2009 Rio crash
France 2: Entrepreneur Bernard Arnault overtakes Bill Gates as world’s second-richest person

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Elon Musk reveals brain-hacking plans: NeuraLink, a company set up by Elon Musk to explore ways to connect the human brain to a computer interface, has applied to US regulators to start trialling its device on humans. Neuralink executives acknowledged they had a long way to go before they could begin to offer a commercial service. But they were ready to discuss their work publicly. The device the firm has developed consists of a tiny probe containing more than 3,000 electrodes attached to flexible threads which can then monitor the activity of 1,000 neurons. The advantage of this system, according to the firm, is that it would be able to target very specific areas of the brain, which would make it surgically safer.,



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