Monthly Archives : November 2020

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Разумков заявив, що Рада не буде розглядати проєкт держбюджету цього тижня

30
Nov,2020

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Верховна Рада не буде розглядати проєкт державного бюджету на 2021 рік цього пленарного тижня. Про це на засіданні погоджувальної ради керівників парламентських фракцій та груп заявив спікер Дмитро Разумков.

Він зазначив, що Кабмін подав проєкт лише минулої п’ятниці, тому депутатам треба час, щоб ознайомитися з ним.

За словами Разумкова, держбюджет можуть розглянути або наступного пленарного тижня або на позачерговому засіданні.

Верховна Рада отримала доопрацьований до другого читання Кабінетом міністрів проєкт закону «Про державний бюджет України на 2021 рік» 27 листопада.

26 листопада Кабінет міністрів України на позачерговому вечірньому засіданні схвалив проєкт держбюджету-2021 до другого читання. Як заявив прем’єр-міністр Денис Шмигаль, проєкт передбачає дефіцит у розмірі 5,5% від валового внутрішнього продукту.

За його словами, проєкт держбюджету-2021 передбачає доходи в розмірі 1 трлн 92 млрд грн та видатки в розмірі 1 трлн 328 млрд грн.

5 листопада парламент затвердив проєкт держбюджету в першому читанні.

 

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In France, Public Resistance to COVID Vaccine

30
Nov,2020

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As French authorities prepare to roll out their COVID immunization strategy this week, they face skepticism in a country where surveys show many people do not trust the vaccine.France was among the nations of Europe taking the heaviest hit from the COVID-19 outbreak as more than 50, 000 people died of the virus.Like the rest of the world, hopes are high that vaccines will defeat the virus and enable people to go back to a normal life. The French immunization campaign is scheduled to start by the end of December with the elderly, people living in nursing homes and medical personnel slated to receive the first doses.In an address to the nation, French President Emmanuel Macron said a scientific committee would supervise the immunization campaign and a citizen group would be created to make sure the population is part of the process. Immunization against COVID-19 must be clear and transparent and information must be shared  on what is known and unknown, insists Macron, who stressed that immunization will not be mandatory in France.The government is worried that millions of French people will refuse coronavirus vaccine shots due as skepticism grows in the country. Fifty-nine percent of French people surveyed say they would not get vaccinated, according to an IFO poll published on Sunday.Prime Minister Jean Castex recently said his fear is that not enough French people will get vaccinated.Jean Paul Stahl, a French doctor of infectious diseases, said the numbers concern him.The professor explains there is a common fear of side effects for these vaccine.He said there is also skepticism as people see this vaccine as a tool used by the government. Stahl said that nowadays in our societies, more and more people do not trust any authority: political, scientific, and others.France has budgeted more than $1.75 billion to buy vaccines next year. 

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Офіційний курс сягнув 28 гривень 50 копійок за долар

30
Nov,2020

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Національний банк України встановив на 1 грудня курс 28 гривень 50 копійок за долар, це на 3 копійки більше за офіційний курс на сьогодні.

На українському міжбанківському валютному ринку торги відбувалися у вузькому діапазоні, сесія завершується на рівні 28 гривень 49,5–51 копійка за долар, свідчать дані Finance.ua. На відміну від долара, євро зріс до позначок 34 гривні 18–19 копійок (із ранкових котирувань 34 гривні 9–11 копійок), що відбиває посилення європейської валюти на світовому ринку (пара євро-долар впритул наблизилася до позначки 1,20).

«Певну загрозу для гривні, як і раніше, становитимуть дії нерезидентів. Саме їхні покупки минулої п’ятниці через «Сітібанк» призвели до подолання психологічного порогу в 28,50 гривні за долар», – вказали фахівці сайту «Мінфін».

Українська валюта раніше в листопаді відіграла проти долара близько 50 копійок (перед тим, 2 листопада, долар зріс проти гривні до рекордного за 33 місяці рівня – 28,6 гривні за одиницю американської валюти). Фахівці це пояснювали настанням в Україні квартального податкового періоду, коли частина експортерів змушена продавати валюту для сплати до бюджету. Цей податковий період завершився 19 листопада, і котирування в парі гривня-долар повернулися до майже максимальних значень 2020 року.

 

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Biden, Economic Realities Spur Turkey-Saudi Rapprochement

30
Nov,2020

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Turkey’s relations with Saudi Arabia appear to be thawing after years of regional rivalry, with both countries’ leaders pledging to improve bilateral ties. Analysts suggest factors that are leading to the improvement in ties could be economic matters as well as an incoming Joe Biden presidency.  “President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and King Salman agreed to keep channels of dialogue open to improve bilateral ties and overcome issues,” a Turkish presidency statement said after the two leaders spoke by phone earlier in November. The leaders’ conversation has been followed by similar warm statements by the Turkish and Saudi foreign ministers who met in Niger on the sidelines of an Organization of Islamic Cooperation meeting. “A strong Turkey-Saudi Arabia partnership will be beneficial not just for our countries, but for the whole region,” Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted. FILE – Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Saudi King Salman attend a ceremony in Ankara, Turkey. Apr. 12, 2016.Erdogan and Saudi Crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman have been bitter rivals in the past, frequently exchanging angry barbs while pursuing regional dominance. “Saudi Arabia and MBS [Mohammed Bin Salman] in particular, he tries to be the leader of the Arab world.” said professor of international relations Huseyin Bagci of Ankara’s Middle East Technical University.  “Saudi Arabia is a close ally to the U.S., and Donald Trump gave them a free hand without conditions. Turkey was also trying to be the leader of the Arabs and the Islamic world, which was opposed by Saudi Arabia,” Bagci said.  Observers blame the bilateral rivalry for worsening conflicts across the Middle East and North Africa. But Biden’s apparent election victory over Trump is forcing the Turks and Saudis to reassess.  FILE – Then-US. Vice President Joe Biden (L) meets with Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul, Nov. 22, 2014.”One of the impetus [for Saudi Turkish rapprochement] is the arrival of Joe Biden,” said former Turkish Ambassador to Qatar, Mithat Rende, now a regional energy analyst. “The Saudis should be prepared [for] a different treatment by the Biden administration, so the Saudis and also the Turks, they came to understand this worsening of relations, this crisis in bilateral relations is not sustainable.” Analysts also cite economic factors in the push for Turkey’s rapprochement with Riyadh. “Turkey has economically terrible conditions at the moment, and Saudi Arabia has always been a life-breath for Turkey,” said Bagci.  “In the past, they invest and bring money into the country, so probably this also try by Turkey to renew the relations, and to make some concessions,” he added. FILE – A Saudi woman looks at the dairy products in a supermarket, after Saudi Arabia’s retail stores urged customers to boycott Turkish products, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 18, 2020.Riyadh is reported to have imposed an unofficial trade embargo on Turkish goods. The Turkish Exporters Assembly said exports to Saudi Arabia fell 16%  until October this year to $2.23 billion.  But Ankara appears optimistic of a breakthrough.”We expect concrete steps to solve problems in our trade and economic relations,” Turkey’s Sabah newspaper quoted trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan as saying. “Our counterparts told us there was no formal decision that there were some exceptional issues.” In a possible gesture to Riyadh, analysts suggest Ankara is toning down its rhetoric over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. FILE – People hold pictures of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a gathering to mark the second anniversary of his killing at the Saudi Consulate, in Istanbul, Turkey, Oct. 2, 2020.Khashoggi’s murder inside Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate in 2018 saw Erdogan take a leading role in international condemnation of Riyadh for the slaying, which was widely blamed on prominent members of the Saudi regime.An Istanbul court is currently trying Saudi officials in absentia for Khashoggi’s killing.  Ankara had been drawing publicity to the case, until now. Last week’s hearing drew no comment by Erdogan or any of his senior party officials, and the case is adjourned until March.  “Turkey has stopped making this an international issue,” said Emre Caliskan of Britain’s University of Oxford. “It seems Erdogan has lowered his tone over Khashoggi case; this would also be an indication Erdogan wants to have a better relationship with Riyadh.” However, Ankara’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood remains a major stumbling block to any reset in Turkish-Saudi ties.”Turkey has supported the Arab Spring and the Saudis they were not happy about it. The support of the Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] movement, in particular, it was considered by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Gulf kingdoms as a threat to their rulers and systems,” said Rende. Riyadh lists the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, a designation Ankara strongly rejects.  “I don’t think Erdogan will break its position with Muslim brotherhood at least in near future because this support has a direct impact on Turkey’s policy in Libya, Syria, and Qatar,” said Caliskan. History and pragmatism will be critical to any rapprochement, predicts  Caliskan.   “We should not forget that these two countries had a very good relationship before the Arab spring. Turkey and Saudi Arabia must learn to work together with their different agendas and baggages. But when it comes to pragmatism Erdogan is the champion of pragmatism; I am confident Erdogan would establish a dialogue with the Saudi leadership and vice versa would be true,” Caliskan said. 

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UK Inquiry Looks into Role of Air Pollution in Death of Girl

30
Nov,2020

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A public inquiry opens Monday in London to determine the role played by air pollution in the death of a girl living near a busy London street, a case that could set a precedent. Then 9 years old, Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah died February 15, 2013, of a serious asthma attack after nearly three years of repeated attacks and more than 30 hospitalizations related to the disease.  An initial investigation, in 2014, determined that she died of acute respiratory failure caused by severe asthma. But those findings were overturned in 2019 and a new investigation was ordered because of new evidence regarding air pollution risks, highlighted in a report in 2018.  This second investigation, which begins Monday and will last two weeks, will examine the levels of pollution to which Ella had been exposed and determine whether they caused her death. If the coroner, charged with identifying the reason for death, concludes that air pollution directly caused Ella’s death, that would set a precedent. The girl is believed to be the first person in the United Kingdom to have air pollution as the cause of death. ‘Striking link’Ella lived less than 30 meters from the South Circular, a busy and regularly congested route in South London.  In 2018, Professor Stephen Holgate, a British air pollution expert, noted a “striking link” between Ella’s emergency hospitalizations and the recorded peaks of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and airborne particles, the most harmful pollutants. The investigation will examine possible failures by the authorities to take measures to reduce pollution and inform the public about the health risks. Officials from the British Ministries of Transport, Environment and Health will be heard, as well as Holgate. Ella’s mother, Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, will testify during the second week of the investigation. “It has been almost eight years since Ella passed away and it has been a long and difficult struggle to get this investigated, with obstacles in the way. I want justice for Ella and the true cause of her death written on her death certificate,” Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah said in a statement, before the opening of the second investigation. “She was the life and soul of our home, always playing music, dancing with my other daughter, Sophia. She had a lot of influence on her younger siblings, encouraging them to succeed, their doing sports,” she said. According to figures from the city of London, 99% of the city exceeds the limits recommended by the WHO in terms of air pollution.  Last month, the executive director of the Clean Air Fund, Jane Burston, noted “that children in London age 4 were .2% more likely to be hospitalized with asthma on days when nitrogen dioxide pollution is high.” London Mayor Sadiq Khan said last month, citing supporting figures, that air quality had improved since 2016. He highlighted the measures put in place since his election, including enforcement last year of an “ultra-low emission zone” (ULEZ) that forces the drivers of the most polluting vehicles to pay a daily tax on entry. 

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French Police Charged in Beating, Racial Abuse of Black Man

30
Nov,2020

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Four French police officers have been charged in connection to the beating and racial abuse of a black music producer, a judicial source said Monday, days after the incident in Paris that intensified controversy over a proposed security law. The beating of music producer Michel Zecler — exposed in video footage published last week — has become a focus of anger against the police, who critics accuse of institutionalized racism and targeting black and Arab people. Tens of thousands protested Saturday against a security bill, which would restrict the right to publish images of on-duty police. Police said 81 people were arrested at the protests, with Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin saying the violence was unacceptable. An investigating magistrate ruled early Monday morning to charge the officers with “willful violence by a person holding public authority” and forgery, a judicial source told AFP. Two remain behind bars, while the other two were put on conditional release, the source added. Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz on Sunday had called for the officers to be charged specifically with using racial abuse.Fire-fighters pull off a fire on a burning car during a demonstration against a security law that would restrict sharing images of police, Nov. 28, 2020 in Paris.Racial abuse chargesAhead of the charges, the four officers had been questioned by the police’s National Police Inspectorate General on suspicion of using violence and racial abuse. Heitz said three of the officers should remain in custody “to avoid the perpetrators communicating or putting pressure on witnesses.” He also called for charges of intentional violence, racial abuse and posting a false police report. The fourth officer, who arrived on the scene later and fired a tear gas canister, should be freed under conditions and charged with intentional violence, he said. The four officers had a good service record before the incident, he said, and claimed they had acted “out of fear.” Zecler had been stopped for not wearing a mask and because of a strong smell of cannabis. But only a tiny quantity of the substance was found, he said. Lawyers representing three of the officers declined to comment Monday on the charges. Law controversyCommentators say that the images of the beating, first published by the Loopsider news site, might never have been made public if the contentious Article 24 of the security legislation was made law. The bill would criminalize publishing images of on-duty police with the intent of harming their “physical or psychological integrity.” It was passed by the National Assembly although it is awaiting Senate approval. 

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Dozens Reported Detained in Anti-Lukashenko Marches in Belarus 

30
Nov,2020

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Authorities in Belarus have detained dozens of protesters amid ongoing demonstrations aimed at ousting strongman Alexander Lukashenko from the presidency. 
 
At least 130 people were reported detained in Minsk and Barauliany, according to the Vyasna human rights group. Other detentions were reported across the country. This is the second week in which the Belarus demonstrations have been held under the rubric March of Neighbors. The opposition has adopted the strategy as a way of decentralizing the protests and making it more difficult for police to round up activists. RFE/RL’s Belarus Service reported that law enforcement used tear gas and stun grenades against some demonstrators. Mobile Internet services were not available in Minsk and the central metro stations were closed. 
 
It was unclear how many people participated in the demonstrations. 
 
Belarus has seen nearly continuous protests since a disputed presidential election on August 9 gave Lukashenko a sixth presidential term. The United States and the European Union have not recognized Lukashenka’s reelection. 
 
The opposition has been calling for Lukashenko’s resignation, the release of all political prisoners, and a new election. 
 
During a visit to a Minsk hospital on November 27, Lukashenko implied that he would resign if a new constitution was adopted. 
 
“I will not work as president with you under the new constitution,” state media quoted him as saying. 
 
Lukashenka has called several times for a new constitution, but the opposition has dismissed the statements as a bid to buy time and stay in power. 
 
A former collective farm manager, Lukashenka, 66, has ruled Belarus since 1994. Demonstrations were reported in almost all districts of the capital. 
 
One video posted on social media appeared to show police in Minsk dragging away an unconscious person near the Pushkin metro station. It was unclear how many people participated in the demonstrations. 
 
Belarus has seen nearly continuous protests since a disputed presidential election on August 9 gave Lukashenko a sixth presidential term. The United States and the European Union have not recognized Lukashenko’s reelection. 
 
The opposition has been calling for Lukashenko’s resignation, the release of all political prisoners, and a new election. 
 
During a visit to a Minsk hospital on November 27, Lukashenko implied that he would resign if a new constitution was adopted. 
 
“I will not work as president with you under the new constitution,” state media quoted him as saying. 
 
Lukashenko has called several times for a new constitution, but the opposition has dismissed the statements as a bid to buy time and stay in power. 
 
A former collective farm manager, Lukashenko, 66, has ruled Belarus since 1994. 

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Court Orders France to Rethink 30-Person Limit on Worship 

29
Nov,2020

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France’s highest administrative court on Sunday ordered a rethink of a 30-person attendance limit for religious services put in place by the government to slow down the spread of coronavirus.The measure took effect this weekend as France relaxes some virus restrictions, but it faced opposition by places of worship and the faithful for being arbitrary and unreasonable. Even before the ruling, several bishops had announced they would not enforce the restrictions and some churches were expected defy it.The Council of State has ordered that Prime Minister Jean Castex modify the measure within three days.French churches, mosques and synagogues started opening their doors again to worshippers this weekend — but only a few of them, as France cautiously starts reopening after its latest virus lockdown.Many people expressed irritation outside several Paris churches where priests held services for groups that numbered over 30.“People respected social distancing perfectly, each to his place and with enough space so I don’t think there’s anything to worry about here,” Laurent Frémont told The Associated Press on his way home after Mass.To attend Mass, they had to book tickets online and give their names on their way in. However, the church’s protocol didn’t seem to help limit the number of people inside the building.Asked whether they would stay if the crowd was too large, most said they would. “I really think you couldn’t do better from a sanitary point of view,” said Humbline Frémont.For some, the new rules stirred up fears. French Catholics were sharing rules and recommendations on social media for how to behave if the police arrive at a church for a head count.Farid Kachour, secretary general of the group running the mosque of Montermeil, a heavily immigrant suburb northeast of Paris, says that his mosque simply wouldn’t open with too few people permitted.“We can’t choose people” allowed to enter for prayer. “We don’t want to create discontent among the faithful,” he said.Kachour noted that Muslims pray five times a day, further complicating the situation. To respect the rules, the mosque would need 40 services a day to allow all the faithful to pray, he said.Places of worship were allowed to continue during France’s latest nationwide lockdown, which is coming to an end in December, but regular prayer services were banned due to health concerns. Around the world, some religious services have been linked to coronavirus clusters, including superspreading events.France has reported over 52,000 virus-related deaths, the third-highest pandemic death toll in Europe after Britain and Italy.“Non-essential” shops reopened in France on Saturday, but bars and restaurants will not reopen before Jan. 20. 

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Opposition Calls on Hungary’s Orban to Sack Museum Head for Likening Soros to Hitler 

29
Nov,2020

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A leading Hungarian opposition party joined calls on Sunday for Prime Minister Viktor Orban to sack the head of a state-funded museum for making extreme anti-Semitic comments likening U.S. financier George Soros to Adolf Hitler.Nationalist Orban has long vilified Soros, a Hungarian Jew who emigrated after World War II, as part of a general campaign against immigration. Orban accuses Brussels of trying to force Hungary to accept migrants under the influence of Soros. In an op-ed published on Saturday, Szilard Demeter, who heads the Petofi Literary Museum and serves as a government cultural commissioner, called Soros “the liberal Fuhrer” and wrote that Europe was Soros’ “gas chamber” with “poisonous gas” flowing from the capsule of multicultural open society. Demeter issued a statement on Sunday that he would withdraw the article, saying his critics were right that “the Nazi parallel could unintentionally hurt the memory of the victims.” Earlier Hungarian Jewish groups including the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities called his op-ed “unforgivable” and “an ugly provocation”. The main leftist opposition party the Democratic Coalition called for Demeter’s immediate dismissal. “The Democratic Coalition expects from the government that Szilard Demeter should be unemployed by the end of today. A man like him has no place in public life, not just in a European country but anywhere in the world,” it said. The government has not replied to emailed Reuters questions on whether they shared Demeter’s views. FILE – Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrive ahead of a meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels, Belgium Sept. 24, 2020.Referring to a budget row between Poland and Hungary and the European Union, Demeter said Poles and Hungarians were the “new Jews” who were targeted by liberals who tried to expel them from the bloc. Poland and Hungary have said they would block a new European Union budget and coronavirus recovery fund if rule-of-law conditions are attached. Israel’s embassy tweeted that it utterly rejected “the use and abuse of the memory of the Holocaust for any purpose… There is no place for connecting the worst crime in human history, or its perpetrators, to any contemporary debate, no matter how essential.” Soros has been at odds with Orban’s government for years for pouring funds into liberal organizations and institutions in Hungary. In 2019 the Central European University he founded said it was being forced out of the country by the nationalist government and moved most of its operations to Vienna. 

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Britain, France in Pact to Stop Illegal Migrant Crossings

29
Nov,2020

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Britain and France on Saturday signed an agreement aimed at ending illegal migration across the English Channel.Starting Dec. 1, patrols on French beaches will be doubled, and technology, including drones and radar, will be used detect the would-be migrant crossings, British Home Secretary Priti Patel said.Patel said the agreement would help the two countries “make channel crossings completely unviable.”She said in the past 10 years Britain had given France nearly $200 million to tackle immigration.More than 6,000 people tried to cross the Channel from Jan. 1 through August of this year.French authorities have said that in September they had intercepted more than 1,300 people attempting to reach Britain.Seven people have died so far this year trying to cross to Britain, and four died last year.

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UK, EU Resume Face-to-face Trade Talks With Time Running Out

29
Nov,2020

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Teams from Britain and the European Union resumed face-to-face talks on a post-Brexit trade deal Saturday, with both sides sounding gloomy about striking an agreement in the little time that remains.EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier returned to London to meet his U.K. counterpart, David Frost. Talks have been held virtually for the past week as Barnier completed a spell of self-isolation after a member of his team tested positive for the coronavirus.COVID-19 is just one complication in negotiations that remain snagged over key issues including fishing rights and fair-competition rules. Barnier said Friday that the remote talks had made little progress and the “same significant divergences persist.”The U.K. left the EU early this year but remained part of the bloc’s economic embrace during an 11-month transition as the two sides tried to negotiate a new free-trade deal to take effect January 1. Talks have slipped past the mid-November date long seen as a deadline to secure a deal in time for it to be approved and ratified by lawmakers in Britain and the EU.If there is no deal, New Year’s Day will bring huge disruption, with the overnight imposition of tariffs and other barriers to U.K.-EU trade. That will hurt both sides, but the burden will fall most heavily on Britain, which does almost half its trade with the EU.While both sides want a deal, they have fundamental differences about what it entails. The 27-nation EU accuses Britain of seeking to retain access to the bloc’s vast market without agreeing to abide by its rules and wants strict guarantees on “level playing field” standards the U.K. must meet to export into the EU.The U.K. claims the EU is failing to respect its independence and making demands it has not placed on other countries with whom it has free-trade deals, such as Canada.To reach a deal the EU will have to curb its demands on continued access to U.K. fishing waters, and Britain must agree to some alignment with the bloc’s rules — difficult issues for politicians on both sides.British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Irish leader Micheal Martin on Friday that he remained committed “to reaching a deal that respects the sovereignty of the U.K.,” Johnson’s office said.

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French Protesters, Police Clash Over New Security Legislation

29
Nov,2020

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Violent clashes erupted Saturday in Paris as tens of thousands took to the streets to protest new security legislation, with tensions intensified by the police beating and racial abuse of a Black man that shocked France.Several fires were started in Paris, sending acrid smoke into the air, as protesters vented their anger against the security law that would restrict the publication of police officers’ faces.About 46,000 people marched in Paris and 133,000 in total nationwide in about 70 cities, including in Bordeaux, Lille, Montpellier and Nantes, the Interior Ministry said. Protest organizers said about 500,000 joined nationwide, including 200,000 in the capital.President Emmanuel Macron said late Friday that the images of the beating of Black music producer Michel Zecler by police officers in Paris last weekend “shame us.” The incident magnified concerns about alleged systemic racism in the police force.”Police everywhere, justice nowhere,” “police state” and “smile while you are beaten” were among the slogans brandished as protesters marched from Place de la Republique to the nearby Place de la Bastille.”We have felt for a long time to have been the victim of institutionalized racism from the police,” said Mohamed Magassa 35, who works in a reception center for minors. “But now we feel that this week all of France has woken up.”People with banners and posters attend a demonstration against security legislation, in Paris, Nov. 28, 2020.”The fundamental and basic liberties of our democracy are being attacked — freedom of expression and information,” added Sophie Misiraca, 46, a lawyer.Several cars, a newspaper kiosk and a brasserie were set on fire close to Place de la Bastille, police said.Some protesters threw stones at the security forces, who responded by firing tear gas and using water cannon, an AFP correspondent said.Police complained that protesters impeded fire services from putting out the blazes and said nine people had been detained by the early evening.French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin condemned “unacceptable” violence against the police, saying 37 members of the security forces had been injured nationwide.Investigation launchedAn investigation has been opened against the four police involved, but commentators say the images, first published by the Loopsider news site, might never have been made public if the contentious Article 24 of the security legislation had been made law.The article would criminalize the publication of images of on-duty police officers with the intent of harming their “physical or psychological integrity.” It was passed by the National Assembly, although it is awaiting Senate approval.Cars burn during a demonstration against the “Global Security Bill” opposed by rights groups in France, in Paris, Nov. 28, 2020.The controversy over the law and police violence is developing into another crisis for the government as Macron confronts the pandemic, its economic fallout and a host of problems on the international stage.In a sign that the government could be preparing to backtrack, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced Friday that he would appoint a commission to redraft Article 24.But he was forced into a U-turn even on this proposal after parliament speaker Richard Ferrand, a close Macron ally, accused the premier of trying to usurp the role of parliament.For critics, the legislation is further evidence of a slide to the right by Macron, who came to power in 2017 as a centrist promising liberal reform of France.”The police violence has left Emmanuel Macron facing a political crisis,” said the Le Monde daily.’Anger and fear’The issue has also pressured the high-flying Darmanin, who was promoted to the job this summer despite being targeted by a rape probe, with Le Monde saying tensions were growing between him and the Elysee.The images of the beating of Zecler emerged days after the police forcibly removed a migrant camp in central Paris.A series of high-profile cases against police officers over mistreatment of Black or Arab citizens has raised accusations of institutionalized racism. The force has insisted violations are the fault of isolated individuals.Three of the police involved in the beating of Zecler are being investigated for using racial violence and all four are being held for questioning after their detention Saturday was extended for another 24 hours, prosecutors said.In a letter seen by AFP, Paris police chief Didier Lallement wrote to officers warning them they risked facing “anger and fear” in the coming weeks but insisted he could count on their “sense of honor and ethics.”

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Catholics in France Oppose Prayer Service Restrictions Imposed on Places of Worship

29
Nov,2020

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As French authorities ease some measures taken due to the coronavirus pandemic, Catholics in the country are challenging the size limit still imposed by the government on prayer services.The coronavirus pandemic places a heavy burden on France, where more than 50,000 people have died of COVID-19. Places of worship were still open during the lockdown, but regular prayer services were banned due to health concerns.Believers in France were relieved this week when French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced that prayer services could resume Saturday in places of worship.During a press conference, Castex explained it would be progressive in places of worship, as they have become clusters during the pandemic, in France and all over the world. Only 30 people at a time will be allowed at prayer services inside places of worship and with stringent sanitary measures. That number might increase by December 15, when the lockdown ends, if the epidemic is under control, the French prime minister said.France’s Catholics Protest Lockdown MeasuresAs COVID infections rise, safe-distance restrictions include bans on public masses, prompting observant French Catholics to take to the streetsSince the announcement, the government has been heavily criticized for the arbitrary number. The 30-person limit for any building no matter the size – from tiny churches to gothic cathedrals – is not acceptable to a lot people, like Christiane, a Catholic from Paris.She says with this decision, authorities are making fun of them, as 30 people in a cathedral does not make sense to her. She said it shows disdain toward Catholics.Some Catholic clergy has vowed to fight the decision and said it hopes the government will shift its restriction on places of worship, according to Roman Catholic Bishop Matthieu Rougé of Nanterre, a city near Paris.“Many Catholics and non-Catholics find the decision ridiculous, unfair and disrespectful of Catholics,” said Rougé. Thirty people in a very large church is ridiculous. Why such a repeated mistake? These are institutional failures. There is, also, I think, a lack of consideration for faith or believers.”Shops regarded as “non-essential” also reopened in the country Saturday. Bars and restaurants will not reopen until at least January 20. 

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Cluster Munitions Ban is Saving Lives and Livelihoods

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Nov,2020

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A report by the Cluster Munition Coalition finds significant progress has been made in stigmatizing and eliminating these weapons since the global treaty banning cluster munitions came into force 10 years ago. Activists note that over the past decade, 1.5 million cluster bombs containing more than 178 million bomblets have been destroyed.  This represents 99% of all stocks declared by the 110 state parties to the treaty.The director of Human Rights Watch’s Arms Division, Stephen Goose, says no state party to the convention has used or produced cluster munitions for the past 10 years.  However, during this period, he says the Cluster Munition Monitor has documented the sporadic use of these weapons by eight countries that have not signed the treaty.  He says Syria has used cluster munitions without stop since 2012.“We have documented more than 686 cluster munition attacks in Syria since July of 2012,” said Goosei. “This is the real black spot on the issue of cluster munitions around the world, with the degree to which Syria, with great assistance from Russia has been a regular user of cluster munitions.” The Monitor reports cluster bombs were used by Libya and Syria in 2019.  This year, it notes the use of these weapons by Syria and by Armenia and Azerbaijan in the recent conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.The Monitor has identified at least 4,315 cluster munition casualties in 20 countries and other areas during the past decade, although the real total is probably higher.  Editor and research leader of the Monitor Loren Persi says more than 80% of the global casualties have been recorded in Syria, with children accounting for half of them.“One of the things to keep in mind is that the success of the convention is such that apart from this use in Syria, the number of casualties in most affected countries from the remnants of cluster munitions has actually been decreasing significantly over this period from hundreds of casualties recorded in some countries, particularly in Laos the most affected,” said Persi.Persi says Laos has reported just five casualties this year.  He calls this a milestone and a sign of the ban treaty’s great success in preventing casualties from cluster munitions globally.

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Hundreds of ‘Zombie Mink’ Resurfacing from Mass Graves

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Nov,2020

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Denmark’s government said on Friday it wants to dig up mink that were culled to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, after hundreds resurfaced from mass graves.Denmark ordered all farmed mink to be culled early this month after finding that 12 people had been infected by a mutated strain of the virus that causes COVID-19, which passed from humans to mink and back to humans.The decision led to 17 million animals being destroyed and to the resignation last week of Food and Agriculture Minister Morgens Jensen, after it was determined that the order was illegal.Dead mink were tipped into trenches at a military area in western Denmark and covered with 2 meters of soil. But hundreds have begun resurfacing, pushed out of the ground by what authorities say is gas from their decomposition. Newspapers have referred to them as the “zombie mink.”Jensen’s replacement, Rasmus Prehn, said on Friday he supported the idea of digging up the animals and incinerating them. He said he had asked the environmental protection agency to investigate whether it could be done, and parliament would be briefed on the issue on Monday.The macabre burial sites, guarded 24 hours a day to keep people and animals away, have drawn complaints from area residents about possible health risks.Authorities say there is no risk of the graves spreading the coronavirus, but locals worry about the risk of contaminating drinking water and a bathing lake less than 200 meters away.

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Macron Calls Images of Police Beating Black Man Shameful for France 

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Nov,2020

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President Emmanuel Macron said Friday that images showing Paris police beating up a Black music producer were shameful for France and that government would have to find a way to restore public confidence in the force.Prosecutors are investigating the violent arrest of Michel Zecler, who said he was also racially abused by the officers, after CCTV footage of the incident was released. The police watchdog is also investigating.Four police officers were being held for questioning as part of the investigation, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.The beating inside the entrance of a building was captured on closed circuit television and mobile phone footage, which has circulated widely online and has made headlines around Europe.”The images we have all seen of the aggression against Michel Zecler are unacceptable. They are shameful for all of us. France should never allow violence or brutality, no matter who it comes from. France should never let hate or racism prosper,” Macron said in a statement on his Facebook page.’Respect the law’He added that the police force should be exemplary.”Those whose job it is to apply the law should respect the law,” he said, adding that he has asked the government to urgently make proposals about how to restore confidence in the police.The beating of Zecler risks inflaming racial tension, with allegations of repeated police brutality against Black and ethnic communities at the forefront of many people’s minds after the death of Black American George Floyd in Minneapolis in May added fuel to  the “Black Lives Matter” movement.Dominique Sopo, president of anti-racism group SOS Racisme, told Reuters Zecler had been the target of a “racist attack.””For police officers to act that way, they must have a tremendous feeling of impunity. This situation is a symptom of an impunity that has been going on for too long,” he said.Paris police already faced criticism this week after social media photos and videos showed officers hitting protesters as they cleared out an illegal migrants’ campsite in a central Paris square.Incident at studioThe music producer told reporters he was set upon by police at his studio in Paris’s 17th arrondissement on Saturday.He said he had been walking in the street without a face mask — against French COVID-19 health protocols — and, upon seeing a police car, went into his nearby studio to avoid being fined. However, he said, the police followed him inside and began to assault and racially abuse him.Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told France 2 television on Thursday that the officers would be punished if the alleged wrongdoing was confirmed.Zecler’s arrest came amid fierce debate in France over legislation that would limit journalists’ ability to document French police officers at work.Around 3,500 people marched against the bill in the western city of Nantes, where police used tear gas and made several arrests. Many in the march also protested against police violence, some with their faces bandaged in support of  Zecler. A similar demonstration is planned in Paris on Saturday.The outrage generated by Floyd’s death in the U.S. in May has resonated in France, particularly in deprived city suburbs where police often clash with youths from ethnic minority backgrounds.Protests in Paris in June focused on unsolved cases of people dying during police operations, such as Adama Traore, who died in police detention near Paris in 2016.

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