Category: Europe

Germany assumes EU presidency as Merkel pushes for massive bloc-wide recovery plan
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Germany assumes EU presidency as Merkel pushes for massive bloc-wide recovery plan

Issued on: 01/07/2020 – 07:57Modified: 01/07/2020 – 07:58

Germany takes over the European Union's six-month presidency Wednesday, with outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel staking her legacy on a massive economic recovery plan to help the bloc cope with the coronavirus fallout.

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Merkel's last major role on the international stage comes as the 27-member club faces its deepest recession since World War II, triggered by a pandemic that has killed more than 500,000 people globally.

The crisis has galvanised Europe's most powerful leader who, with just over a year left in her final term, has ditched her usual wait-and-see approach to call for "extraordinary measures" to weather the storm.

"Europe's future is our future," Merkel said Monday as she stood beside French President Emmanuel Macron to push for a 750-billion-euro ($843 billion) coronavirus recovery fund.

Analysis: German EU presidency brings 'sigh of relief' to coronavirus-..

Russian voters back reform allowing Putin to extend rule
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Russian voters back reform allowing Putin to extend rule

Issued on: 01/07/2020 – 22:09Modified: 01/07/2020 – 22:09

Russians appeared to have paved the way for Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036 by voting overwhelmingly for a package of constitutional changes which will also boost pensions, partial results of a nationwide vote showed on Wednesday.

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Results, after almost a third of ballots had been counted, indicated that the former KGB officer who has ruled Russia for more than two decades as president or prime minister would easily win the right to run for two more terms. That means he could remain president for 16 more years.

The Central Election Commission said 74% of votes counted across the world's largest country had supported changing the constitution. Just under 25% had voted no of the 30% of ballots counted.

Russians have been encouraged to vote with prize draws offering flats and an ad campaign highlighting other constitutional amendments in the same reform bundle, such as the pensions pro..

Britain imposes local lockdown in city of Leicester after Covid-19 flare-up
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Britain imposes local lockdown in city of Leicester after Covid-19 flare-up

Issued on: 30/06/2020 – 10:50Modified: 30/06/2020 – 10:51

Britain has imposed a stringent lockdown on the English city of Leicester following a local flare-up of the novel coronavirus just as Prime Minister Boris Johnson attempts to nudge the United Kingdom back to normality.

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The UK has been one of the world's worst-hit countries, with more than 54,000 suspected deaths, though coronavirus infections have been waning in recent weeks and Johnson is rolling back nationwide restrictions to revive the economy.

However, in Leicester, in the eastern Midlands of England, the seven-day infection rate was 135 cases per 100,000 people, three times higher than the next highest city.

Leicester accounted for 10 percent of all positive cases in England in the past week, the government said.

Ministers ordered schools and non-essential shops to be closed and postponed the planned reopening of pubs in the central English city after the alarming spike.

Amid warnings..

‘Build, build build’: UK’s Johnson unveils plan to beat Covid-19 slump
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‘Build, build build’: UK’s Johnson unveils plan to beat Covid-19 slump

Issued on: 30/06/2020 – 16:54Modified: 30/06/2020 – 16:59

Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to shake Britain's economy out of its coronavirus-induced crisis on Tuesday by fast-tracking infrastructure investment and slashing property planning rules.

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As Britain emerges from lockdown, Johnson is looking to move past criticism of his government's handling of the pandemic with a plan to repair the economic damage and reshape the country.

"We cannot continue simply to be prisoners of the crisis," Johnson said. "We must work fast because we've already seen the vertiginous drop in GDP and we know that people are worried now about their jobs and their businesses."

His message, delivered at a college in the central English town of Dudley, was overshadowed by the announcement of a new lockdown in Leicester, just 50 miles away, where Covid-19 infections are surging.

Nevertheless, with an exhortation to "build, build, build", Johnson announced pla..

Russians set to back reforms allowing Putin to stay in power
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Russians set to back reforms allowing Putin to stay in power

Issued on: 01/07/2020 – 04:24

Russians are set to approve constitutional reforms on Wednesday denounced by critics as a manoeuvre to allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in the Kremlin for life.

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The changes were passed weeks ago by Russia's parliament and copies of the new constitution are already on sale in bookshops, but Putin pushed ahead with a nationwide vote that ends Wednesday to confer legitimacy on his plans.

The Kremlin pulled out all the stops to encourage turnout, with polls extended over nearly a week, the last day of voting declared a national holiday and prizes — including apartments and cars — on offer to voters.

Initially planned for April 22, the vote was postponed by the coronavirus pandemic but rescheduled after Putin said the epidemic had peaked and officials began reporting lower numbers of new cases.

There is little doubt the reforms — which include patriotic and populist measures like guaranteed minimum pensions and an eff..

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Britain imposes local lockdown in city of Leicester after Covid-19 flare-up

Issued on: 30/06/2020 – 10:50Modified: 30/06/2020 – 10:51

Britain has imposed a stringent lockdown on the English city of Leicester following a local flare-up of the novel coronavirus just as Prime Minister Boris Johnson attempts to nudge the United Kingdom back to normality.

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Read more

The UK has been one of the world's worst-hit countries, with more than 54,000 suspected deaths, though coronavirus infections have been waning in recent weeks and Johnson is rolling back nationwide restrictions to revive the economy.

However, in Leicester, in the eastern Midlands of England, the seven-day infection rate was 135 cases per 100,000 people, three times higher than the next highest city.

Leicester accounted for 10 percent of all positive cases in England in the past week, the government said.

Ministers ordered schools and non-essential shops to be closed and postponed the planned reopening of pubs in the central English city after the alarming spike.

Amid warnings..

Sale of sacred statues in Paris vexes Black Lives Matter campaigners
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Sale of sacred statues in Paris vexes Black Lives Matter campaigners

Issued on: 30/06/2020 – 08:29Modified: 30/06/2020 – 08:29

A pair of sacred statues that a Nigerian museum commission and protesters claimed were looted during the country's 1960s civil war fetched 212,500 euros ($239,000) at auction in Paris on Monday.

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The Igbo statues were sold by the Christies auction house, which defended the sale and said the artworks were legitimately acquired.

A Princeton scholar, Chika Okeke-Agulu, alongside Nigerias National Commission for Museums and Monuments, raised alarm earlier this month that the objects were looted during the Biafran war in the late 1960s. The war saw more than 1 million people die, many of starvation, trying to create a state for the Igbo people. The Igbo are one of Nigerias largest ethnic groups.

Okeke-Agulu, who is Igbo, said the objects were taken through “an act of violence” and shouldn't be sold. An online petition with the hashtags BlackArtsMatter and MyHeritageMatters collected more than ..

End of the line for Fessenheim as France’s oldest nuclear plant shuts down
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End of the line for Fessenheim as France’s oldest nuclear plant shuts down

Issued on: 30/06/2020 – 07:36Modified: 30/06/2020 – 07:36

France's oldest nuclear plant was switched off on Monday, ending four decades of output that built the local economy but also fuelled cross-border controversy.

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The second and last reactor of the plant at Fessenheim in eastern France — opened in 1977 and three years over its projected 40-year life span — went offline as of 11:00 pm (2100 GMT), said state-owned power company EDF.

The procedure to finally shut down the plant, four months after the first reactor was taken offline, had started hours earlier than scheduled, and will be followed in the coming months and years by the site's dismantlement.

Its closure is welcomed by anti-nuclear campaigners in France, Germany and Switzerland, who for years warned of contamination risks, particularly after the catastrophic meltdown at Fukushima, Japan in 2011.

Then-president Francois Hollande pledged to close Fessenheim — on the Rhine river — but..

‘There must be investigations and prosecutions’ of alleged police racism during lockdowns
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‘There must be investigations and prosecutions’ of alleged police racism during lockdowns

Issued on: 29/06/2020 – 12:42Modified: 29/06/2020 – 12:48

As Amnesty publishes a report detailing allegations of police racial discrimination during coronavirus lockdowns, Spains former Justice Minister tells FRANCE 24 that the claims must be investigated, and if proven, prosecuted. Juan Fernando Lopez-Aguilar, chair of the EU Parliaments Justice and Civil Liberties committee, also calls for abuses of civil liberties during EU states coronavirus responses, to be punished, if proven.

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As Spain and other states re-impose localised lockdowns after initially relaxing their restrictions, the Spanish MEP defends the re-opening of internal EU borders, saying that without the Schengen visa-free travel zone, “there is no recovery”.

Finally, as EU heads of state try to thrash out a multi-billion Euro deal to restart the continents economy,Read More – Source

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Germany investigates 30,000 suspects as online paedophilia probe widens
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Germany investigates 30,000 suspects as online paedophilia probe widens

Issued on: 29/06/2020 – 16:50Modified: 29/06/2020 – 16:51

Germany is investigating 30,000 suspects as part of a probe into an online paedophile network, the latest in a series of child sex abuse scandals that prompted authorities to promise a crackdown.

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The probe began last October with the arrest of a suspected perpetrator in Bergisch Gladbach, near Cologne.

But investigators digging into the case have turned up a far bigger paedophile network than expected.

"I did not expect, not even remotely, the extent of child abuse on the internet," North Rhine-Westphalia's justice minister Peter Beisenbach told reporters on Monday.

What the investigation team had uncovered was "deeply disturbing", he said.

"We must recognise that child abuse on the internet is more widespread than we had previously thought."

The cyber crime office in North Rhine-Westphalia is now "investigating 30,000 unknown suspects" in the case linked to the city of Bergisch Gladbach..