Thursday, 26 September 2019: Johnson dares opposition to call no-confidence vote, Biden accuses Trump of abuse of power, Merkel calls for new approach to climate protection, EU sanctions Maduro


Johnson dares opposition to call no-confidence vote: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has challenged opposition parties to hold a vote of no confidence in his government. He argued that an election was needed to break the Brexit deadlock in the House of Commons. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn refused to take Johnson’s bait, arguing that first his party wants to ensure the prime minister could not take the country out of the EU without a deal. Other opposition parties also rejected the government’s offer. Johnson further told MPs the Supreme Court was wrong to pronounce on a political question at a time of great national controversy. Widespread condemnation erupted after Johnson shrugged off comments by an MP about the murder of remain-campaigner and Labour MP Jo Cox. Shortly after, Johnson said Cox was best remembered by getting Brexit done, which further fuelled the outrage.,,

Angry Commons exchanges as MPs return to work: MPs engaged in angry exchanges over the government’s unlawful decision to suspend parliament as they returned to work on Wednesday. The mammoth debate in the House of Commons lasted for over eight hours. It centred on Brexit and Operation Yellow Hammer with Michael Gove, the cabinet minister in charge of preparations for a no-deal Brexit, fielding the majority of questions. Attorney General Geoffrey Cox chastised what he called a dead parliament during a defence of his advice to ministers that suspending parliament was legal. He said his advice to the government had been sound at the time and rebuffed calls for him to step down. The SNP’s Joanna Cherry urged Cox to publish the legal advice he gave the government ahead of the suspension. She said Cox was being offered up as a fall guy for the government’s plans.,,

Parliament questions grant to company run by Johnson’s friend: Digital minister Matt Warman told the House of Commons that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had absolutely no role in the government’s decision to grant a £126,000 grant to American entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri. Warman said the grant had been awarded by officials through the proper process. Shadow culture secretary and Labour deputy leader Tom Watson said it was very difficult to see how Arcuri’s company, registered in the US, fulfilled the criteria for the grants. He said the case posed questions about whether Johnson was suitable to occupy high office and disburse public funds.,

Conservative Party: Conservatives to ask for parliamentary break to hold annual conference
N. Ireland: Ireland open to Brexit extension, says Varadkar
Opposition: MPs seek way to make Johnson request Brexit extension earlier

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Biden accuses Trump of abuse of power: US President Donald Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, during a phone call in July. The White House released the transcript of the phone call on Wednesday. Trump maintained that there was no quid pro quo. Zelensky denied that Trump put any type of pressure on him and reiterated that nobody could pressure him because he was the president of an independent state. He also said he took no action to push to reopen a probe into the Bidens. Biden himself said the summary revealed that Trump worked with his personal attorney to manufacture a smear against a domestic political opponent, using a malicious conspiracy theory. Biden said the abridged document provided by the White House was not enough, and that Congress was entitled to the full whistleblower complaint. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, likened the conversation to a classic mafia-like shakedown. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said it was far more damaging to the president’s case than anyone had anticipated.,,,

Merkel calls for new approach to climate protection: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has rejected the view that measures to combat climate change will hurt the economy. In light of new technological possibilities, Germany had every chance of combining prosperity and climate friendliness, Merkel said. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that global sea levels are rising faster than previously thought. Sea levels are currently rising by 3.6 millimetres per year. The increase is twice as high as the average of the 20th century: Sea levels rose by around 15 centimetres during the whole of the 20th century. There is some guarded hope that the worst impacts can be avoided, with deep and immediate cuts to carbon emissions. Climate activist Greta Thunberg has won Sweden’s alternative Nobel Prize for her climate activism. (Merkel);,, (IPCC); (Thunberg)

EU sanctions Maduro: The EU is expanding its sanctions against supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The sanctions target seven members of secret and security services who are believed to be responsible for torture and other human rights violations. The EU is also considering sanctions against Nicaragua. Maduro received support from Russian President Vladimir Putin during a visit to Moscow. Russia is one of Maduro’s allies alongside China, Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua.,

EU countries bump up renewables goal: France, Greece and Bulgaria have pledged to update their national targets for renewable energy and bump up the share of wind, solar and other renewables to 33%, 35% and 27% of their energy consumption respectively by 2030. Former communist countries like Poland, Czechia and Hungary, for their part, underlined the need to increase financing available to meet the EU’s 2030 climate objectives. While Poland wants nuclear power to complement renewable energy sources, Germany opposed any suggestion that EU money could be used to back nuclear.

European Central Bank: Lautenschläger resigns before end of term
Climate protection: Healthy oceans can provide solutions to climate change
Thomas Cook bankruptcy: EU says it is in close contact with Germany over Condor loan
Human rights: EU failing human rights defenders, says Amnesty International
International Monetary Fund: IMF board selects World Bank’s Georgieva as new chief


Indeed, we are aware of an increase of arrivals in Greece and Bulgaria. However, it must be said that these numbers are much lower than those from before the conclusion of the EU-Turkey agreement.
The EU Commission said Tuesday it was aware of the recent increase of migrants coming illegally from Turkey to Bulgaria and Greece, but dismissed any immediate plans for changes to the migration deal with Turkey.


Germany to fund reforestation effort: The German government has promised 547 million euros to revitalise the country’s crisis-hit forests. State contributions will boost the funding to 800 million euros. A combination of storms, drought, forest fires and aggressively spreading bark beetle plagues have destroyed swathes of German forest. The money will be used to remove dead trees from affected areas and plant new ones. Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner said the programme needed to bring about at least as many trees as were lost in recent years. The kind of trees planted would vary from region to region, according to the local climate.,

Development in former East Germany better than expected: Germany has come a long way but has not yet reached its goal, the government’s commissioner for eastern German affairs Christian Hirte said on Wednesday. He emphasised cause for celebration to counter what he called a psychological problem in the east with skepticism remaining over the ability of the east to reach the standards of the west, and a general feeling of being left behind. A majority of Germans in the former communist East feel like second-class citizens almost three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall even though they are catching up economically with western regions.,

Google refuses to pay publishers in France: Google will not pay press publishers in France to display their content and will instead change the way articles appear in search results. France is so far the only country to have transposed the EU’s copyright reform’s new right for press publishers into a national law. To apply the new copyright rules in France, Google will change the way news results appear on its search engine by removing so-called snippets, or short excerpts from the article, the vice president for news at Google, Richard Gingras, said in a blogpost.

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Labelling dispute between Greece and North Macedonia: For almost thirty years, Greece and Macedonia were embroiled in a bitter name dispute, leading to divisions between both peoples. In 2018, the Prespa agreement finally ended the conflict, with Macedonia being renamed North Macedonia. Yet tensions remain. Businesses continue to bicker over which products can be labelled “Macedonian.” Wine is the biggest bone of contention when it comes to labelling, after all, both nations are major wine exporters.

Austria: Medical specialists contradict Strache; Strache’s former bodyguard arrested;
Germany: Federal police must retrieve refugees from Greece
France: Europol raids on French winemakers

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Facebook will not remove rule-breaking posts from politicians: Facebook’s head of global affairs Nick Clegg has announced that the social network will not take down politicians’ posts that violate its community standards. Facebook will only take down posts if a politician’s content has the potential to incite violence or pose a safety risk that outweighs the public interest value. And political advertisements must still meet Facebook’s rules. Clegg said Facebook was working to discredit false information intended to manipulate public opinion, but would not be the arbiter of acceptable speech in the political arena.,


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