Wednesday, 29 July 2020: Government review urges growth in free school meals, EU responds to China’s actions in Hong Kong, Greece says tension easing in gas dispute with Turkey, Italy to extend state of emergency until end of October

⊂ UNITED KINGDOM ⊃

Government review urges growth in free school meals: Up to 1.5 million more children in England should get free school meals to help tackle a growing crisis of food poverty and unhealthy eating, a government-ordered review has said. The National Food Strategy, led by Leon restaurant founder Henry Dimbleby, said urgent government action is needed in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, and described the country’s diet as a “slow-motion disaster”. The government-commissioned report also warned that the climate crisis will be the source of the next food emergency.
theguardian.com, independent.co.uk

MPs accuse government of slow and inconsistent approach to social care: The cross-party Public Accounts Committee has accused ministers of a slow, inconsistent and at times negligent approach to social care during the pandemic that has exposed years of delayed reforms to the sector. The decision to discharge around 25,000 patients from NHS hospitals into care homes – without first testing them – was an appalling error in the initial weeks of the outbreak, the committee said. It added that failure to provide kit for workers and volunteers who risked their lives through the first peak of the pandemic was a sad, low moment in the UK’s national response. The Alzheimer’s Society said care homes had been abandoned at the start of the pandemic, allowing outbreaks to spread unchecked and causing catastrophic loss of life.
independent.co.uk, bbc.com

MPs may have been misled over BAME voter ID claims: It has been revealed that data cited by Cabinet Office minister Chloe Smith to prove voter ID does not discriminate against BAME voters does not exist. Smith said in June that the evidence showed there was no impact on any particular demographic group. However, in both of its most recent reports, the Electoral Commission said it had no way of measuring the effect of voter ID on minority ethnic communities’ votes. Labour has said the disconnect between the Cabinet Office’s statement and the Electoral Commission’s evidence will raise questions over whether the government has examined any evidence on the impact on ethnic minority voters of requiring voters to bring ID in order to vote.
theguardian.com

Police violence: UK government gives green light to more tear gas sales to US police despite UN warning over violence independent.co.uk
Racism: Government failing to prioritise tackling racism, says watchdog boss bbc.com
Climate change: UK pension scheme NEST tightens climate change policy uk.reuters.com

⊂ POLITJOBS UNITED KINGDOM ⊃

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⊂ EUROPE ⊃

EU responds to China’s actions in Hong Kong: The Council of the EU has expressed grave concern over China’s national security legislation for Hong Kong. The EU states have set out a coordinated response package of measures in various fields, including limiting exports of equipment China could use for repression in Hong Kong. The EU is also considering additional options for supporting civil society, such as scholarships and academic exchanges for students or easier EU protection for activists who are politically persecuted. The EU response package does not mention any sanctions for Chinese politicians who are responsible for the security legislation for Hong Kong. Meanwhile, China’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday that Hong Kong’s government would suspend agreements on mutual assistance for criminal matters, including extradition, with Britain, Canada and Australia.
consilium.europa.eu, wsj.com (EU response); reuters.com (Britain, Canada and Australia)

Greece says tension easing in gas dispute with Turkey: Turkey could pause energy-exploration operations in the eastern Mediterranean Sea for a while pending talks with Greece, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin announced on Tuesday. He said President Tayyip Erdogan had requested that operations be put on hold as a constructive approach to negotiations. Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said Monday that Turkey was withdrawing navy vessels from the area, adding that Athens remained ready to enter negotiations with Turkey within the framework of international law and good neighbourly relations.
reuters.com, dw.com

EU coronavirus aid for Kenya, Bangladesh, Ecuador and El Salvador: The EU continues its global deliveries of medical supplies and personal protective equipment. In response to a request from Kenya, Slovakia has sent 20,000 protective face masks, 50,000 coronavirus test kits, hand disinfectant and laboratory supplies to the country. Furthermore, France offered to send medical supplies and equipment to Bangladesh, Ecuador and El Salvador. During this ongoing pandemic, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism has coordinated the delivery of assistance to 24 countries, including seven EU member states.
ec.europa.eu

Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine tighten regional cooperation: The three countries have announced a new platform for increasing cooperation in security, economy, and political matters, as well as for fighting Covid-19. The foreign ministers of Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine launched the so-called Lublin Triangle during a meeting in the eastern Polish city of Lublin. It is meant to help their mutual ties as well as their ties with the EU and Nato.
apnews.com

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International Space Station: Elon Musk’s SpaceX to launch French astronaut into space next year politico.eu
Facebook gains temporary court reprieve on EU antitrust data demand reuters.com
Tech giants set to testify: EU eyes hearing for future competition challenges euractiv.com
European Central Bank tells eurozone banks not to pay dividends until January 2021 ft.com
Libya mission: Germany sends frigate to Mediterranean spiegel.de

⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃

I’m afraid you are starting to see, in some places, the signs of a second wave of the pandemic.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suggested that some countries in continental Europe may be in for a second wave of coronavirus infections.
npr.org, politico.eu

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

Italy to extend state of emergency until end of October: The Italian government plans to extend the country’s state of emergency, which allows it to rule by decree without needing parliamentary approval, despite protests from opposition parties. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has previously said that the possible extension simply meant that the government was then in a position to continue taking the necessary measures to fight the coronavirus. On Tuesday, the premier said the plan had been discussed at a cabinet meeting and would be decided on after the parliamentary debate, but did not give a specific date. Opposition parties said they would contest the move.
politico.eu, bloomberg.com

Masks mandatory in Greece, Madrid and Madeira: Greece has reopened six ports to cruise ships. The country will also make mask-wearing compulsory at more indoor public spaces to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The new measures come into effect from Wednesday and will require masks to be worn by everyone inside retail shops, offices, banks, food stores and bakeries. Churches are excluded for the time being. Spain’s capital Madrid will make face masks compulsory everywhere at all times, regional leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso said on Tuesday. Wearing masks in public will also be compulsory at all times on the Portuguese island of Madeira.
handelsblatt.com, reuters.com (Greece); nytimes.com (Madrid); reuters.com (Madeira)

Curfew in Antwerp: A curfew will be imposed on the entire territory of the province of Antwerp as authorities race to contain a steady surge in new coronavirus cases. Stopping short of imposing a new all-out lockdown, authorities decided that all residents in the province must be home from 11:30 PM to 6:00 AM.
brusselstimes.com

Arrest after arson attack on Belgian parliament: A man who threw a homemade bomb at Belgium’s federal parliament on Monday did so in an act of retaliation against the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The man was arrested on Monday afternoon after he threw a molotov cocktail at the gates of the parliament building in Brussels, damaging a few parked cars.
brusselstimes.com

Spain’s unemployment rises by 15%: Spain’s unemployment rate rose in the second quarter of this year. The number of jobless increased by 55,000 to 3.37 million workers. That lifted the unemployment rate to 15.33% from 14.4%. The increase in jobless reflects the fallout from the strictest part of the country’s lockdown to deal with the coronavirus.
bloombergquint.com

Austria: Number of new Covid-19 infections increased to over 100 afp.com
A different approach to Covid-19: Is Sweden’s image suffering? tagesschau.de

⊂ POLITJOBS ⊃

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⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃

Twitter suspends Donald Trump Junior: Twitter has banned the US president’s son from tweeting for 12 hours after Donald Trump Jr put out a tweet that contained a video with misleading information about the coronavirus. The video questions the efficacy of mask usage despite widespread and clear evidence to the contrary. It also promotes giving the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to coronavirus patients. The National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration have said the drug is not likely to be effective.
bbc.com, npr.org

 

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