Wednesday, 16 October 2019: London becomes first city to ban “Extinction Rebellion” protests, Russian troops patrol in northern Syria, Brexit deal still possible, Barcelona airport cancels flights after protests


London becomes first city to ban “Extinction Rebellion” protests: London has become the first city in the world to prohibit “Extinction Rebellion” climate activists from staging protests. Police officers have cleared activists from makeshift camps in Trafalgar Square and other sites in London. Meanwhile, climate change protesters targeted the Department for Transport and MI5 on Tuesday morning. “Extinction Rebellion” co-founder Gail Bradbrook was arrested after climbing on to the entrance of the Department for Transport on Tuesday morning. Police also cleared further protesters from outside the building. The group has brought widespread disruption to parts of central London over the past week to highlight the growing climate and ecological emergency. “Extinction Rebellion” activists have been invited to a Welsh government climate change conference in Cardiff on Wednesday.,,,

Thomas Cook ex-boss grilled over £500,000 bonus: Thomas Cook’s former boss Peter Fankhauser has been grilled over a bonus payment of £500,000 and said he was not the only one to blame for the firm’s collapse. Fankhauser told a cross-party committee of MPs that he worked tirelessly for Thomas Cook. While he was sorry for the collapse, he said the reasons were not one-sided. The former chief executive said that he did not receive a bonus in 2018 but had received a £750,000 bonus in 2017. Committee chair Rachel Reeves told Fankhauser his apologies rang hollow. Reeves asked Fankhauser if he would return money to repay taxpayers for the massive repatriation programme to bring 150,000 holidaymakers back to the UK and help fund redundancy payments to staff. Fankhauser said he would consider what was right but would not decide that today.

Curbing MP abuse not high priority for leaders, says watchdog: Tackling the growing abuse and intimidation of MPs does not appear to be a high priority for party leaders, the UK’s standards watchdog has said. Lord Evans, chairman of the committee on standards in public life, said leaders must set a better example to their supporters on social media. Kim Leadbeater, the sister of murdered MP Jo Cox, said she was very concerned about politicians’ physical safety.

Brexit: UK border risks snarl up in no-deal Brexit – audit office
Election: UK vulnerable to malicious meddling in election, warns study
Transport: UK plans to accelerate decarbonisation of transport sector
Mental health: Former Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson to chair ITV’s new Mental Health Advisory Group


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Russian troops patrol in northern Syria: Turkey pressed ahead with its offensive in northern Syria on Tuesday despite US sanctions and growing calls for it to stop. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Europe of having failed in the Syria conflict. He said the international community had left Turkey alone with the burden of the conflict and should now support the Turkish invasion of northern Syria. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said his country supports Turkey’s plan to move refugees into Syria, contradicting the EU’s formal opposition to Turkey’s military incursion. Russia moved to fill the void left by the US in northern Syria on Tuesday, deploying troops to keep apart advancing Syrian government forces and Turkish troops. No one was interested in fighting between Syrian government troops and Turkish forces, said Alexander Lavrentyev, Moscow’s envoy for Syria. Russia was not going to allow it. Syrian government forces have taken full control of Manbij after the US-led coalition left the city. The UK is to halt new arms export licences to Turkey. A delegation including US Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will head to Ankara on Wednesday to get Turkey to end the fighting in Syria. The United Nations Security Council will meet this Wednesday to discuss latest developments in Syria. An estimated 70,000 children have been displaced since the Turkish offensive in Syria started., (Erdogan); (Hungary); (Russia); (Syrian troops); (UK); (Pence);, (United Nations)

Brexit deal still possible: Negotiators from the EU and Britain were scrambling Tuesday at talks in Brussels to craft a deal so the UK can leave the EU as scheduled on 31 October with a Brexit deal in place. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said a deal on a draft Brexit text was needed overnight if he was to recommend on Wednesday that EU leaders sign off on an agreement when they meet later this week. He said the Irish Sea could largely become the customs border between the EU and the UK. That would avoid having a visible land border on the island of Ireland between the two but put Northern Ireland in a special position. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told reporters in Dublin that talks had moved in the right direction. EU ministers on Tuesday again delayed accession talks for North Macedonia and Albania, in the third such attempt for the two Balkan countries. France has called for reforms to the accession process it called inefficient.,, (Brexit); (Accession)

Trump’s former adviser sounded alarm in Ukraine affair: Former US national security adviser John Bolton was reportedly so alarmed at a back-channel effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate US President Donald Trump’s political rivals that he told a senior aide to report it to White House lawyers. Fiona Hill, the former top Russia expert in the White House, told lawmakers that Bolton also warned that Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who has emerged as the point man in the president’s alleged drive to pressure Ukraine to dig up dirt on Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, was a hand grenade who was going to blow everyone up. US Senator Elizabeth Warren has gained support among New York Democrats and is now tied with former Vice President Joe Biden, a poll released Tuesday shows. Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, is considering running for president if Biden drops out. Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden has admitted that he exercised poor judgment in working on the board of a Ukrainian energy company—but said he did nothing improper in doing so.,,,,,

EU Commission starts with a delay: The EU Parliament will probably postpone the confirmation of future EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. EU Parliament spokesman Jaume Duch said Tuesday it was impossible to hold a confirmation vote on 23 October as planned after three commissioner-designates, including France’s Sylvie Goulard, were rejected on ethical concerns. The new calendar depended on the appointment of new candidates. Von der Leyen was picked to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as Commission president last summer.

Hong Kong: Activists visit Brussels
US tariffs: EU parliament committee chairman expects US tariffs on Friday
Capital markets union: Council adopts new clearing house rules
Baltic Sea: Council agreement on 2020 catch limits
International Monetary Fund: IMF says trade war will cut global growth to lowest since financial crisis a decade ago


It is of course possible to move beyond the summit and continue talks next week because the UK is not due to leave the EU before the end of the month but from everybody’s perspective if we cloud bring clarity at this summit that would be a welcome development.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney is optimistic that a Brexit deal could still be done.


Barcelona airport cancels flights after protests: Hundreds of travellers were stranded at the airport in Barcelona on Tuesday when 45 flights were cancelled in addition to more than a hundred grounded due to protests by Catalan independence supporters. In other parts of the country, railroads were blocked by pro-independence protesters who threw trash on the tracks and then set it on fire. Demonstrations also swarmed major roads, bringing traffic to a standstill. Spain’s Supreme Court had found nine Catalan politicians and grassroots leaders guilty of sedition on Monday. Convicted Catalan activist Jordi Cuixart said the politicians and activists sentenced for their roles in a 2017 push for Catalan independence will take their case to the European Court of Human Rights.,,,

Italy lets migrant ship dock: The Italian government has authorised charity rescue ship “Ocean Viking” to bring 176 migrants ashore. The ship had picked up 74 people off the coast of Libya on Sunday and a further 102 people, including 12 women and nine children, in a separate operation later the same day. Around one week after an accident off the Italian island of Lampedusa, the shipwreck was found along with several bodies.,

Scotland’s First Minister Sturgeon plans 2020 referendum: Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Tuesday that a second referendum on Scottish independence must happen next year. Sturgeon confirmed that she will ask the UK government for formal consent by the end of this year. She said Westminster had no right to block the request, and its opposition to a referendum was not sustainable. Sturgeon added that if the Northern Ireland Assembly was given an opportunity to vote on the arrangements for its border with the Republic of Ireland, Scotland would be the only nation in the UK leaving the EU without having voted for that outcome.,

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Orban asked to be Romania’s new prime minister: Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said on Tuesday he has appointed opposition Liberal Party leader Ludovic Orban as prime minister-designate to form a transitional government until a parliamentary election next year. Orban must put together a cabinet and governing programme which will need to gain parliament’s vote of confidence. Orban said his government’s chief objectives include downsizing government structures, investment in key infrastructure projects and correcting economic measures which have hit the business sector.,

Germany: Youth fear environmental destruction, according to study
France: Notre-Dame cathedral not yet totally saved

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Bulgarian football chief resigns: The president of Bulgaria’s football association Borislav Mihaylov has handed in his resignation after England players were subjected to racist abuse during Monday’s Euro 2020 qualifier. The game was twice temporarily halted in the first half after England debutant Tyrone Mings alerted officials to the abuse being directed at both himself and his teammates from various parts of the Levski Stadium in Sofia.


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