Climate protesters block roads: Thousands of environmental activists paralysed parts of central London on Monday by blocking Marble Arch, Oxford Circus and Waterloo Bridge in a bid to force the government to do more to tackle climate change. Parents and their children joined scientists, teachers, environmentalists and other protesters both young and old to occupy major junctions and demand action over the escalating ecological crisis. The protests were being led by the British climate group Extinction Rebellion and are to involve demonstrations in 33 countries around the world over the coming days. The group is demanding the government declare a climate and ecological emergency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025, and create a citizen’s assembly of members of the public to lead on decisions to address climate change. At the Shell building near the River Thames, two protesters scaled up scaffolding writing ‘Shell Knows!’ in red paint on the front of the building and three protesters glued their hands to the revolving doors at the entrance. Five people were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage after a glass door at Shell’s HQ was smashed.
uk.reuters.com, theguardian.com, bbc.com

Downing Street under pressure to close down Labour talks on Brexit: No 10 is feeling the pressure to pull the plug on Brexit talks with Labour and move to an alternative plan. With talks deadlocked and no sign that the government moving on its red lines, neither the Conservatives or Labour want to appear responsible for the breakdown in discussions. However, government sources acknowledge Prime Minister Theresa May is under much greater time pressure than Labour, which has little incentive to do a deal before the European and local elections. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said it was an absolute priority for the government to leave the EU by 23 May to avoid having to take part in European elections. He said the public would find it hugely disappointing to be asked to send MEPs to Brussels. Asked if it could be a disaster for the Tories, he told the BBC in terms of polling it certainly looked that way.
theguardian.com, bbc.com

No-fault evictions to be banned: Private landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants at short notice without good reason under new plans. The government announced it wants to protect renters from unethical landlords and give them more long-term security. Section 21 notices allow landlords to evict renters without a reason after their fixed-term tenancy period ends. First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced similar plans for Wales, while in Scotland new rules requiring landlords to give a reason for ending tenancies were introduced in 2017.

Knife crime: Javid says mindset of government needs to shift to tackle violence among young people theguardian.com
Shamima Begum: IS bride set to be granted legal aid bbc.com
Commons Speaker: Chris Bryant signals intention to replace Bercow as Speaker theguardian.com
Home Office: Minister apologises to couple wrongly accused of sham marriage theguardian.com


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Tougher EU copyright rules approved: EU countries approved sweeping reforms to the European Union’s copyright laws on Monday. The legislation, which was passed by lawmakers at the EU Parliament last month, aims to update Europe’s rules on copyright to reflect the challenges posed by the age of information. Under the new rules, Google and other online platforms will have to sign licensing agreements with musicians, performers, authors, news publishers and journalists to use their work. They also face new obligations to monitor their sites for any copyright-infringing content and remove any that falls under those licensing deals. Opponents of the law say this will lead to filtering systems that block everything from memes to GIFs before they’re even uploaded. However, the EU insisted this will not be the case, claiming that people will still be able to share such content freely. Tweaks to the law subsequently made an exception for content used for the purposes of quotation, criticism, review, caricature, parody and pastiche.
cnbc.com, reuters.com, bbc.com, politico.eu

EU to start trade talks with US: European Union countries have approved plans for trade talks with the United States. The decision by EU ministers gives the European Commission authorisation to conduct formal talks. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said the Commission wanted to wrap the talks up within six months, and that she would contact her US counterpart Robert Lighthizer later Monday to work out when formal negotiations might begin. France and Belgium refused to support the launch of negotiations, highlighting divisions over US President Donald Trump’s trade and climate policies. French President Emmanuel Macron has said he objects to negotiations because the Trump administration withdrew from the Paris climate agreement in 2017. France has, however, been outvoted. But the negotiating guidelines given to the Commission do respect French concerns in that they do not allow for talks on cutting tariffs on agricultural goods.
bbc.com, apnews.com, nytimes.com

United States: Justice Department expected to release redacted Mueller report Thursday cnn.com


If we agree to start, I think it can go quite quickly… We are definitely determined to do everything we can to finish this during the Juncker Commission.
European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said the EU wants to quickly conclude a trade deal with the United States.


Fire at Notre Dame cathedral: The Notre Dame cathedral in Paris was scarred by an extensive fire on Monday evening that caused its spire to collapse. Around 500 firefighters battled the blaze for nearly five hours. The cause of the fire is not yet clear. Officials said it could be linked to the renovation work that began after cracks appeared in the stone, sparking fears the structure could become unstable. Paris prosecutor’s office said it had opened an inquiry into “accidental destruction by fire”. A firefighter was seriously injured while tackling the blaze. President Emmanuel Macron said France would rebuild Notre Dame. The fire prompted the president to postpone a major speech. Macron had been due to give a televised address to outline measures he plans to take following nationwide public debates held in response to the “Yellow Vest” protest movement. Instead, he travelled to the cathedral to inspect the blaze and the efforts of firefighters to bring it under control.
nytimes.com, bbc.com, politico.eu

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Merkel and Grandi voice concern about situation in Libya and Sudan: During a meeting with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed concern about the human rights situation in Libya and Sudan while calling for an improved approach to the factors that force people to migrate. Merkel said the challenges of migration continue to be gigantic. Grandi said the escalation of fighting in Libya made it difficult to work in the refugee camps there. He thanked Germany for its support of migrants in Libya and elsewhere. Separately, Merkel talked to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on the phone about the political instability in Libya and Sudan.

Italy: Fighting in Libya will create huge number of refugees, PM warns theguardian.com
Finland: Election sets stage for tough talks about government formation bloomberg.com
Estonia: Liberals fail to form government france24.com
France: French-made tanks and howitzer canons used in Yemeni war uk.reuters.com


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Ecuadorian president accuses Assange of espionage: The government of Ecuador has continued taking jabs at WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after effectively evicting him from its London embassy and allowing for his arrest. In an interview published by the “Guardian”, Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno rejected claims that he had allowed for Assange’s arrest as a reprisal for WikiLeaks purportedly leaking documents that sullied his name, including claims of secret bank accounts and hidden wealth. Moreno insisted it was Assange’s actions against other democratic countries, taken while he lived in Ecuador’s embassy for seven years, that had led to the eviction. Moreno said Ecuador could not allow its embassy to become a centre for spying.


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