Tuesday, 12 January 2021: European leaders question Twitter’s Trump ban, Possible riot incitement charges against Giuliani, 50 countries vow to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030


European leaders question Twitter’s Trump ban: German Chancellor Angela Merkel is concerned about Twitter permanently suspending President Donald Trump’s account, her spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Monday. Seibert reiterated that the right to freedom of opinion was of fundamental importance. Merkel agreed with the practice of flagging Trump’s inaccurate posts, Seibert said. However, any curbs on free expression should be decided by the law and not by private companies. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire also expressed his disagreement with Twitter’s ability to unilaterally decide to remove the American president from the platform. “What shocks me is that Twitter is the one to close his account. The regulation of the digital world cannot be done by the digital oligarchy,” Le Maire said on France Inter Monday morning. EU Commissioner Thierry Breton said the storming of the US Capitol will herald an era of tougher social media regulation. Breton compared the violence with the attacks of 11 September 2001, that led to a global crackdown on terrorism. “Just as 9/11 marked a paradigm shift for global security, 20 years later we are witnessing a before-and-after in the role of digital platforms in our democracy,” the Commissioner for the Internal Market wrote in a column for Politico. In the United States, a House resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke constitutional authority to remove Trump from office was blocked Monday by Republicans, although a vote still could occur as early as this Tuesday.
dw.com, politico.eu, reuters.com, politico.eu (Twitter ban); pbs.org (Impeachment)

Possible riot incitement charges against Giuliani: The New York State Bar Association has opened an inquiry into removing former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani from its membership for his role in provoking a pro-Trump mob to storm the US Capitol and attempts to overturn the 2020 election results, the group said Monday. The District of Columbia’s attorney general said that he is looking at whether to charge Giuliani, Donald Trump Jr. and US Rep. Mo Brooks with inciting the violent invasion of the Capitol. Meanwhile, the Treasury Department announced a new spate of sanctions on Monday targeting the inner circle of Andrii Derkach, the pro-Russian Ukrainian lawmaker who aided Giuliani’s efforts to probe unsubstantiated allegations of wrongdoing by President-elect Joe Biden and his family.
cnn.com, cnbc.com, politico.com

EU lawmakers kick off two-month review of UK trade deal: The European Parliament kicked off a two-month review on Monday of the EU-UK trade agreement struck on Christmas Eve, promising to properly scrutinise the deal even if it is almost certainly bound to approve it. British lawmakers approved the post-Brexit trade deal with the EU on 30 December. EU governments have also given their backing, but the deal is only in force provisionally, pending a vote in the EU Parliament.

Facebook Live: IJP-AfricaTalk #7 – Agriculture and Food Security: Does COVID-19 have an impact on access to food? COVID-19 pandemic movement restrictions have implications on food security. The measures are likely to exacerbate food security challenges. Meanwhile, certain agricultural regions were already in trouble, facing floods, conflicts and decreasing prices. What needs to be done to achieve adequate food supply in periods of crisis? Facebook Live-Discussion with Renate Künast (MdB, Die Grünen) on Thursday, 10 December 2020, 09:45 UTC +01. facebook.com

MEPs to view CureVac vaccine contract on Tuesday: MEPs will be able to see the CureVac vaccine contract starting Tuesday. „Transparency & accountability are core EU values,“ Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides wrote on Twitter, adding that she has been working with companies to make more information public: „More companies should follow this example.“ For months, the EU Parliament has called for more transparency with the Commission’s classified vaccine deals, while the Commission has countered it’s up to the companies to release confidential information. Meanwhile, the Commission wants to fast-track funding to treat Covid-19 patients with blood plasma collected from survivors, an EU document seen by Reuters shows.
politico.eu (CureVac), reuters.com (Blood plasma)

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EU border agency: Is Frontex involved in illegal pushbacks in the Balkans? dw.com
Poll: Most Europeans plan to curb flying and eat less meat for climate euractiv.com
United States: Trump returns Cuba to US list of state sponsors of terrorism reuters.com
Israel announces new settler homes, risking Biden’s anger apnews.com


We have spoken a lot about the links between biodiversity loss and Covid.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has warned of the risk of new pandemics in view of the loss of biodiversity.


50 countries vow to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030: At least 50 countries committed to protecting 30% of the planet, including land and sea, over the next decade to halt species extinction and address climate change issues, during a global summit Monday aimed at protecting the world’s biodiversity. The event, held annually since 2017, focused on four key themes: the protection of terrestrial and marine ecosystems; increasing funding for biodiversity protection; finding links between deforestation and the health of human and animals; and promoting agroecology. „We know even more clearly amid the crisis we are going through that all our vulnerabilities are interrelated,“ French President Emmanuel Macron said. Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed: „We need to step up our efforts to protect biodiversity and natural habitats, not just at some point in time, but now, and not just somehow but considerably, otherwise the consequences will very soon be irreversible,“ she said from Berlin. Ahead of the conference, major funders announced 11.8 billion euros to accelerate the development of the Great Green Wall project in Africa’s semiarid Sahel region.
marketwatch.com, dw.com

Showdown nears for Italy’s simmering political crisis: A cabinet meeting widely seen as setting the stage for a final showdown in Italy’s simmering government crisis will be held this Tuesday. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will ask his ministers to approve plans to spend around 200 billion euros in loans and grants that Italy expects to receive from the EU to help its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The plan has been a major bone of contention between Conte and former premier Matteo Renzi, who is threatening to pull his small but pivotal Italia Viva party out of the ruling centre-left coalition.

Germany’s stricter lockdown starts: Harder coronavirus lockdown restrictions came into force across all of Germany’s 16 federal states on Monday. Health Minister Jens Spahn appealed to the public to stay the course. „I know that these are once again particular difficulties, hardships for many,“ he said on ZDF television. „Also social hardships, but at the moment that is the arena in which the virus is spreading above all others.“ The EU Commission has given the green light to Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine. Germany will get 2 million doses in the first quarter and 50 million in all of 2021, Spahn told reporters in Berlin. In other news, Germany plans to require laboratories to test the gene sequence of Covid-19 samples to determine whether they match the new, more infectious variants of the disease that are spreading rapidly in Britain and South Africa.
dw.com, apnews.com, reuters.com

Greece opens primary schools and daycare centres: Schools in Greece reopened on Monday after more than two months of remote learning. Special measures will be applied to primary schools, kindergartens and special education schools, such as the wearing of face masks and the use of multiple entrances/exits. In the midst of its ongoing conflict with Turkey over energy and sovereign rights in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, the Greek government announced that it will soon increase the military service term to 12 months.
greece.greekreporter.com (Schools), greekcitytimes.com (Military service)

Covid case occurred in Italy in November 2019 spiegel.de
Czech Republic: Jewish community condemns use of yellow Star of David at protest against Covid measures spiegel.de
Denmark: Stricter entry regulations amidst coronavirus crisis n-tv.de
Ireland: Covid-19 jobless claims jump to highest level in six months reuters.com
English Channel: French authorities rescue 30 refugees deutschlandfunk.de


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Dutch municipality to test nearly 62K residents: A Dutch municipality is planning to test all of its residents two years of age or older following a coronavirus outbreak at an elementary school that included cases of the more transmissible variant first discovered in the UK. Lansingerland municipality’s decision to test nearly all of its 62,000 residents marks the first time such a mass test has happened in the Netherlands since the pandemic began.


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