Wednesday, 15 September 2021: UK recommends Covid booster shots for everyone over 50, EU says it has no option but to engage with Taliban, Europeans would back Merkel over Macron as EU president, says survey


UK recommends Covid booster shots for everyone over 50: Plans for tackling COVID-19 during autumn and winter in England have been unveiled, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning the disease remains a risk. „Plan A“ is designed to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed, and promotes vaccines and testing. „Plan B“, to be used if the NHS is coming under „unsustainable pressure“, includes measures such as face masks. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said that as children returned to school, more people returned to work and people met up indoors, the demands on the health service would increase. The government’s plan, Javid said, gives the nation the best possible chance of living with Covid without the need for stringent social and economic restrictions. It comes shortly after British officials gave the green light to offer vaccine boosters to vulnerable people and everyone aged over 50 years old six months after their second dose. Javid told lawmakers that the government had accepted the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and would start offering booster shots next week,,,

Covid myth spreaders like Nicki Minaj should be ashamed, says Whitty: The Chief Medical Officer for England, Chris Whitty, has condemned US rapper Nicki Minaj for her tweets about Covid jabs, saying she should be ashamed of her anti-vax message. Whitty looked visibly angry as he was asked about the singer’s comments at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The singer posted on Twitter that her cousin’s friend became impotent from getting the vaccine. “There are a number of myths that fly around … some of which are just clearly ridiculous and some of which are clearly designed just to scare. That happens to be one of them. That is untrue,” Whitty said during Tuesday’s Downing Street press conference.,

China’s ambassador banned from UK Parliament: China’s ambassador to the UK, Zheng Zeguang, has been told he cannot come to parliament while sanctions remain in place against a number of MPs and peers. The ambassador was due to attend a Commons reception on Wednesday, hosted by the all-party group on China. But after protests, Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle and Lord Speaker Lord McFall ruled this out. The Chinese embassy said it was a „despicable and cowardly“ decision that would harm both countries‘ interests.

Job vacancies surge past one million in new record
Climate targets: Trade minister Liz Truss brands Australian climate storm fake news
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak says wave of foreign takeovers shows confidence in economy
Cabinet Minister Michael Gove criticised over racist and homophobic language in student speeches
Labour: Shadow equalities secretary quits as does shadow women’s minister


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EU says it has no option but to engage with Taliban: The EU has no choice but to engage with the Taliban government in Afghanistan and will maintain a diplomatic presence in Kabul, the union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, has said. In a speech in the European Parliament, Borrell pointed out that the crisis in Afghanistan is not over. To have any chance of influencing events, the EU would have no other option but to talk to the Taliban, Borrell said, adding that the EU would stress the importance of human rights. There is concern in Brussels and the EU capitals at a potential migration crisis as more people seek to flee Afghanistan in the coming months. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that Turkey does not have the capacity to deal with a possible new refugee wave from Afghanistan. In Kandahar, hundreds of protesters from a neighbourhood populated by former Afghan army servicemen marched Tuesday against plans by the Taliban to evict them from their homes., (Borrell); (Erdogan); (Protest)

UK delays controls on EU imports again: The UK has postponed the introduction of controls on EU imports for a second time, and it now expects they won’t be fully in place until 1 July 2022. UK Brexit minister David Frost said the delays are necessary because the coronavirus pandemic and global supply chain pressures had hit the agri-food sector in particular and caused shortages of certain products in the UK. Frost has also said he is concerned by EU comments which suggests it does not want a real negotiation on Northern Ireland. The UK wants fundamental changes to the NI Brexit deal known as the Protocol. Frost said it would be a significant mistake to think the UK would not trigger Article 16. That is the part of the Protocol which allows parts of the deal to be temporarily set aside if they are causing serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties that are liable to persist, or to diversion of trade.,

Europeans would back Merkel over Macron as EU president, says survey: Angela Merkel may be preparing to say goodbye to frontline politics but many across Europe would support her taking a leading role in the EU, according to a survey published Tuesday by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) think tank. Given a hypothetical choice between Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron becoming “EU president” — a job that in real life doesn’t exist — a clear majority opted for the German chancellor, according to the survey. But a majority of Europeans also believe Germany’s star is fading, as the country prepares for life without Merkel. The poll shows 34% of Europeans surveyed think the best is behind the country.,

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EU lawmakers call for protection of LGBTQ+ families: The EU should lift all obstacles facing LGBTIQ people when exercising their basic rights, MEPs said in a non-binding resolution. The resolution states that marriages or registered partnerships formed in one member state should be recognised in all of them in a uniform way, and same-sex spouses and partners should be treated the same as their opposite-sex counterparts. More generally, MEPs want rainbow families to have the same right to family reunification as opposite-sex couples and their families. To ensure that children do not become stateless when their families move between member states, MEPs argued that families should be treated the same across the EU.

US and EU seek global alliance to cut methane emissions: The United States and the European Union will ask other countries to join them in a pledge to lower their emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Countries that join the Global Methane Pledge would promise to cut their methane emissions from energy, agriculture and waste by 30% of 2020 levels by the end of the decade, according to documents seen by Reuters.

Commission hints at quick fix of fiscal rules in 2022: The EU Commission said on Friday that it will explore options to improve the Stability and Growth Pact by the end of next year, as member states are preparing for a battle over the reform of the EU’s fiscal rules. The pro-fiscal stability group, mostly made of Northern member states, and Southern countries, in favour of an investment-friendly framework, agreed that the rules need to be simplified, after years of amendments and reinterpretations that have complicated its application.

„Polexit“: Nine out of ten Poles want to stay in EU, according to poll
The state of the EU: The EU’s 4 persistent problems still dogging the bloc
COVID-19: Which EU country is leading the vaccination race?
Climate: More Europeans are taking climate change seriously. In the US, not so much
Natural disasters: EU flood aid already almost completely used up
Ukraine: EU sanctions over territorial integrity prolonged for a further six months


The one thing we cannot afford is for the social side to be opposed to the climate side. I see this threat very clearly now that we have a discussion about the price hike in the energy sector.
Frans Timmermans, the European Commission vice president in charge of climate issues, said Tuesday the EU should ensure that the most vulnerable people won’t pay the heaviest price of the green transition.


Norway’s centre-left Labour begins coalition talks: Norway’s main opposition Labour Party began coalition talks to form a government Tuesday after the ruling Conservatives lost their command in parliamentary elections and the anti-oil Greens failed to win enough seats to become the potential kingmaker. Labour is likely to form an alliance with the country’s Centre Party and the Socialist Left Party. The election results unseat Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who after eight years of rule became Norway’s longest-serving Conservative leader.

Body cameras for police in France: French President Emmanuel Macron promised to double police patrols and improve riot training as he announced a package of security measures for France ahead of his bid for re-election next April. Among a list of innovations, all police officers in contact with the public will be equipped with video cameras. The question of police violence, how widespread it is and whether it is racially motivated has been a lightning-rod issue for years. The majority of police officers said they would vote for the far-right in the upcoming election, according to polling from earlier this year. Macron’s speech attempted to strike a balance between standing up for his record and for law enforcement, and recognising the hardships faced by some parts of the French population, either because of continuing insecurity or instances of police violence. Macron was careful to point out that only 4% of complaints through a government platform concern police behaviour.,

France criticises deal bringing Russian mercenaries into Mali: France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Tuesday criticised plans that would bring Russian mercenaries into Mali, saying such a move was incompatible with the French military presence in its former colony.

Merkel urges western Balkans to focus on EU membership: German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Albania on Tuesday to urge the leaders of the six western Balkan states to strengthen their regional cooperation in their strive for EU membership. The western Balkan states — which include Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia — are at different stages on the EU membership path. Their progress in integration has been delayed recently due to the bloc’s stalled interest in enlargement and the years of diplomatic turmoil the EU faced as Britain left the bloc.

Rain helps bring massive blaze in southern Spain under control: Authorities in southern Spain said on Tuesday that a large wildfire that has been raging for six days in Málaga province is finally under control. After burning through 10,000 hectares of forest land, forcing the evacuation of 3,000 people and claiming one life, the blaze in Sierra Bermeja was contained thanks to rainfall on Monday night.

Netherlands ease Covid measures: The Dutch government on Tuesday announced it is easing COVID-19 restrictions and will introduce a „corona“ pass showing proof of vaccination to go to bars, restaurants, clubs or cultural events. Denmark has lifted the last of its coronavirus restrictions, effectively declaring that the virus was no longer a “critical threat to society” and allowing the country to get back to a semblance of prepandemic normal. Germany has begun what it has called a vaccination “action week” as the government seeks to reverse a slowdown in its Covid immunisation drive. (Netherlands), (Denmark), (Germany)

Greece probes crash that killed witness in Netanyahu trial: Authorities in Greece on Tuesday opened an investigation into the crash of a private plane from Israel that killed a prosecution witness in the corruption trial of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Haim Geron, a former senior official at Israel’s ministry of communications, and his wife Esther, were killed in the crash late Monday off the island of Samos. Geron was one of more than 300 witnesses that prosecutors listed for Netanyahu’s trial on corruption charges. He is on trial for allegedly accepting expensive gifts from wealthy associates.

Spain: Government steps in to halt record rise in power prices
Italy: Former interior minister Salvini on trial this Wednesday for blocking refugee ship
Slovakia: Pope visit a sign of inclusion for Slovakia’s excluded Roma
Ireland takes on powerful farm lobby to meet climate goals
Poland free of Gazprom gas
Czech Republic: President Zeman taken to hospital


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Young people very worried about climate change: A new global survey illustrates the depth of anxiety many young people are feeling about climate change. Nearly 60% of young people approached said they felt very worried or extremely worried. More than 45% of those questioned said feelings about the climate affected their daily lives. The lead author, Caroline Hickman from Bath University, told BBC News: „This shows eco-anxiety is not just for environmental destruction alone, but inextricably linked to government inaction on climate change. The young feel abandoned and betrayed by governments.“


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