⊂ EUROPE ⊃
Knife attack at church in Nice leaves three dead: A man used a knife to attack people at the Notre Dame Basilica in Nice, France, Thursday, killing three people, authorities say. Several more were injured. Police have arrested the suspect, a Tunisian man who recently arrived in France through the Italian island of Lampedusa. Following the attack, French Prime Minister Jean Castex raised the country’s national security alert to “urgent,” the highest possible level. French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in the city shortly afterwards and spoke of an “Islamist terrorist attack.” Macron added that he is mobilising thousands of soldiers in response to the threat of terrorism, boosting France’s domestic Operation Sentinel security mission from 3,000 to 7,000 soldiers. Other alarming incidents were also reported on Thursday. In Lyon, police arrested a man carrying a knife near a large train station. In Saudi Arabia, the French Embassy said a man wielding a knife attacked a guard at its consulate in Jeddah. The man was arrested, and the guard was reportedly not badly injured. And in Avignon, police reportedly shot and killed an armed man after he threatened them in the street – although authorities say that case seems to be unrelated to the attack in Nice.
npr.org, dw.com, politico.eu
EU leaders condemn deadly attack in Nice: EU heads of state and government opened their videoconference meeting on Thursday evening by issuing a collective statement in support of France following the knife attack at a church in Nice. “We, European Leaders, are shocked and saddened by the terrorist attacks in France,” the leaders said in their statement. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms these attacks which represent attacks on our shared values. We stand united and firm in our solidarity with France, with the French people and the government of France — in our common and continued fight against terrorism and violent extremism.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was deeply shaken by the terrible murders in Nice, adding that her thoughts were with the relatives and those injured.
At least 140 migrants die after boat sinks: At least 140 Europe-bound migrants drowned off the coast of Senegal when their boat caught fire and capsized, marking the deadliest shipwreck recorded this year, the International Office for Migration (IOM) said on Thursday. The IOM said in a tweet along with an official statement it was deeply saddened by this tragedy, which follows four shipwrecks recorded in the Central Mediterranean last week.
Lukashenko shakes up security team to stamp out Belarus protests: Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko partially closed the country’s land borders and replaced his interior minister and named three security hawks to new roles on Thursday in an attempt to tighten his grip after months of mass protests. Ivan Kubrakov, who as head of police in the capital Minsk has led the crackdown on the biggest demonstrations, was appointed interior minister. His predecessor, Yuri Karayev, was one of three men named to new roles as presidential aides and inspectors responsible for key regions of the country.
Facebook gains court backing in document row with EU regulators: Facebook on Thursday won backing from Europe’s second-highest court in a row with EU antitrust regulators over what the US company says are excessive demands for data. Facebook challenged the European Commission at the Luxembourg-based General Court in July over its demands for access to documents in two investigations related to its trove of data and online marketplace. Facebook alleged that EU antitrust regulators were seeking information beyond what was necessary, including highly personal details. The General Court said Facebook will transmit requested documents related to its business activities to the EU Commission.
Prospects for EU reform and strategies for a new progressive agenda 2022+: Cerstin Gammelin in conversation with Wolfgang Schmidt. 2020 Progressive Governance Digital Summit with more than 2,800 fellow progressives from 70+ countries, 114 speakers, 25 partner organisations.
⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃
“Lies and disinformation, conspiracy theories and hatred damage not only the democratic debate but also the fight against the virus.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that populists who argue the coronavirus is harmless are dangerous and irresponsible.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Merkel defends lockdown in Germany: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has defended the government’s decision to impose a limited lockdown. In a speech in parliament that was regularly interrupted by shouts from several German lawmakers, Merkel said the current rate of infection poses a massive threat to the country’s health system. “Such a dynamic would overwhelm our intensive care units within a few weeks,” she said. Acting only after hospital beds are full would be too late. “The winter will be difficult. Four long difficult months, but it will end,” she said. Merkel added that she understood frustration over the pandemic and the new restrictions, but she urged lawmakers and the public to do their part to slow the spread. Under new restrictions going into effect Monday, German restaurants, bars, sports and cultural venues will be shut for four weeks. Gatherings are limited to 10 people from a maximum of two households and all non-essential journeys will be discouraged.
Austria prepares tighter restrictions: Austria will announce tighter restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus on Saturday, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said, as the daily tally of new cases surged past 4,000 to a new record on Thursday. In the legal dispute over the Covid crisis management in the Austrian ski resort of Ischgl, the government has denied any culpable action by the authorities. In an official statement, the State Financial Procurator also questioned that the person concerned had been infected with Covid-19 in Ischgl. Meanwhile, in France, children aged six and over will have to wear face masks in the classroom to keep schools open. Working from home will be mandatory all the week in France except when it is technically impossible, Labour Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Thursday. Spain’s parliament has endorsed an extension of the state of emergency declared by the government until 9 May. Luxembourg’s residents will have to stay home between 11 pm and 6 am as of this Friday.
reuters.com, zeit.de (Austria); theguardian.com, reuters.com (France); orf.at (Spain); luxtimes.lu (Luxembourg)
Polish prime minister calls for stop to abortion protests: Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki appealed Thursday for a stop, amid a huge spike in the country’s coronavirus infections, to a week of protests against a high court ruling that tightens already strict abortion laws. Morawiecki said the dispute should be resolved through dialogue, instead of through repeated mass street gatherings that are banned under pandemic restrictions. Large crowds have protested daily over the past week after a top court ruled that abortion of fetuses with congenital defects is unconstitutional.
New Czech health minister named amid spiraling coronavirus crisis: Czech President Milos Zeman on Thursday appointed Jan Blatny as the country’s health minister to succeed Roman Prymula, who was forced to resign after being photographed violating his own lockdown restrictions. Blatny, who was hand-picked by Prime Minister Andrej Babis, is a respected pediatric hematologist, specialising in the treatment of children with blood clotting disorders. He heads the department of pediatric hematology at Brno University Hospital.
Ukraine: President Zelenskiy slams corruption ruling dw.com
Germany: Coronavirus lockdown opponents claimed responsibility for Berlin explosion politico.eu
Sweden: Another daily Covid-19 case record as hospitals feel strain reuters.com
⊂ POLITJOBS ⊃
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⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃
Wisconsin Republican Party says hackers stole $2.3 million: Hackers have stolen $2.3 million from the Wisconsin Republican Party’s account that was being used to help reelect US President Donald Trump in the key battleground state, the party’s chairman said on Thursday. The hackers had manipulated invoices from four vendors who were being paid to send out direct mail for Trump’s re-election efforts and to provide pro-Trump material such as hats that could be handed out to supporters. Invoices and other documents were altered so when the party paid them, the money went to the hackers instead of the vendors.