Tag: world

Montenegro’s President Asks Pro-Serb Opposition Leader to Form New Government | World News

PODGORICA (Reuters) – Montenegro’s president nominated Zdravko Krivokapic, the leader of a pro-Serb opposition alliance backed by the powerful Serbian Orthodox Church, to form a government on Thursday, ending three decades of socialist rule.

For the Future of Montenegro and its allies from the centre-right alliance Peace is Our Nation, and a group led by the green URA party, jointly secured a slim majority of 41 deputies in the 81-seat parliament in an election on Aug. 30. They subsequently agreed to form a cabinet.

After meeting the leaders of the proposed coalition, President Milo Djukanovic said he would forward Krivokapic’s name to parliament.

Djukanovic, who faces reelection in 2023, said the new government would maintain reforms and investments in the tiny Adriatic republic of only 620,000, a NATO member and a candidate to join the European Union.

“This proves the maturity of our society … Montenegro is recognised as a (key) factor for regional stability,” he said.

For Future of Montenegro has pledged the country would maintain its EU membership bid and NATO membership.

Krivokapic said that the talks with Djukanovic “were a sign of improvement of the political culture” and that he and other opposition leaders will send a proposal for the composition of new Cabinet to the parliament by Nov 8.

“The most important thing for us is the different future for Montenegro,” he told reporters.

Opposition leaders, democracy and human rights watchdogs, have long accused Djukanovic and his Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) of running Montenegro as their own corrupt fiefdom with links to organised crime.

The DPS and Djukanovic deny the charges.

Montenegrins who identify as Serbs account for about a third of its population. Most Montenegrins and Serbs share language and the Orthodox Christian faith, and many of Serbia’s citizens have roots and families in Montenegro.

The Serbian Orthodox Church, the largest in the country, held daily protests against a law adopted last December that allows the state to seize religious assets whose historical ownership cannot be proven.

(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Lebanon’s President Says Consultations on New Government Start Next Week | World News

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said on Wednesday parliamentary consultations to choose a new prime minister who will form the country’s next government will begin on Oct. 15.

Lebanon’s government resigned on Aug. 10 in the wake of a devastating blast that killed nearly 200 people and wrecked swathes of the capital, Beirut.

Mustapha Adib, the country’s former ambassador to Berlin, was picked on Aug. 31 to form a cabinet after French President Emmanuel Macron intervened, securing a consensus on naming him in a country where power is shared out between Muslim and Christian sects.

He quit in late September, however, after trying for almost a month to line up a non-partisan cabinet. His resignation dealt a blow to a French plan aimed at rallying sectarian political leaders to tackle the worst crisis since the nation’s 1975-1990 civil war.

Under the French roadmap, the new government would take steps to tackle corruption and implement reforms needed to trigger billions of dollars of international aid to fix an economy that has been crushed by a mountain of debt.

But Adib’s efforts stumbled in a dispute over appointments, particularly the post of finance minister, who will have a key role in drawing up economic rescue plans.

Macron admonished Lebanon’s leaders following Adib’s resignation, saying the failed efforts amounted to a collective “betrayal”, but vowed to push ahead with his efforts.

The country’s leaders bristled at Macron’s accusations, but there has been little movement since.

(Reporting by Raya Jalabi; Editing by Dominic Evans)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Indonesia police use water cannon and teargas to disperse labour law protests | World news

Indonesian police have used water cannon and teargas to disperse protesters rallying against a new jobs law in two cities on the island of Java, according to a police spokesman and media reports.

Thousands of workers and students had protested peacefully across the archipelago on Tuesday at the start of a three-day national strike against president Joko Widodo’s “omnibus” job creation bill, which was passed into law on Monday.

Elshinta radio posted a video on its official Twitter account showing police late in the evening using water cannon against hundreds of protesters in the city of Serang in Banten province, about 70km (43.5 miles) to the west of Jakarta.

Radio Elshinta

Kondisi terkini pukul 20:00 WIB – Ratusan massa dari berbagai elemen mahasiswa di Provinsi Banten berdemonstrasi menolak pengesahan UU Omnibus Law Cipta Kerja di depan Kampus UIN Banten, Ciceri, Kota Serang, Selasa (6/10/2020) ricuh. pic.twitter.com/8pRAw8zVbL@fesbukbanten

October 6, 2020

Other posts on social media also appeared to show water cannon being used on students in Serang.

Bukan Golongan Kalian

📍UIN Serang, Banten.

Stay safe guys✨ pic.twitter.com/LZTd5Mo3vq

October 6, 2020

Banten police spokesman, Edy Sumardi Priadinata, said via text message that the situation was under control by 9:15 pm local time on Tuesday and that two police officers had been injured by rocks thrown at them, but did not respond to further queries.

In Bandung, the capital of West Java province, police used tear gas against protesters who hurled rocks and fire crackers and damaged a police car, according to news website Detik.com.

A group of workers demonstrate in Tangerang, Banten, Indonesia.

A group of workers demonstrate in Tangerang, Banten, Indonesia. Photograph: Barcroft Media/Getty Images

The website also reported police had arrested 10 protesters.

The spokesman of West Java police could not immediately be reached for comment.

There was no significant demonstration in Jakarta. Police blocked workers from protesting in front of the national parliament, citing the need to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Critics of the omnibus law, which revises more than 70 existing laws to accelerate reform of south-east Asia’s largest economy, say it is too pro-business with its removal of labour protections and relaxation of environmental rules.

Government officials say the law relaxes rigid labour rules and streamlines environmental rules in order to improve the investment climate and create jobs.

Indonesian markets cheered the passage of the bill, with the main stock index up as much as 1.31% and the rupiah also gaining. lifting 1.28%, before paring some gains.

The government’s investment board said it would lead to better welfare for workers by facilitating more foreign investment.

Citibank, in a research note, said the law simplifies business licensing and addresses restrictive trade and labour policies, but added that immediate foreign investment was unlikely in the currently depressed global economic climate.

Trimegah Securities economist, Fakhrul Fulvian, said banks and export-oriented industries should benefit from the law, while consumer and retail sectors may be pressured as workers may increase savings to compensate for changes in labour rules.

However, many Indonesians criticised the law on Twitter,

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EU court rules against Hungary over law that targeted Soros-affiliated university | World news

The European Union’s highest court has ruled that changes by Hungary to its law on higher education, which effectively forced a university founded by George Soros to leave the country, were not in line with EU law.

The European court of justice (ECJ) ruled against prime minister Viktor Orbán’s government, saying in the ruling that “the conditions introduced by Hungary to enable foreign higher education institutions to carry out their activities in its territory are incompatible with EU law”.

At the heart of the conflict is the fate of the Central European University (CEU) established by Soros, a Hungarian-American financier. Under pressure from Orbán, it had to relocate most of its main activities to Vienna from Budapest, where it had been operating since the early 1990s.

Orbán has been a vocal critic of Soros for years, arguing that the billionaire philanthropist is intent on undermining European values with his liberal views on migration, claims Soros has denied. Orbán’s ideological aim of creating an “illiberal state” is also in contrast with Soros’s ideal of an “open society”.

Soros called the ruling “a victory for the fundamental values of the European Union”, but he acknowledged it would make little difference for the university.

“The decision comes too late for CEU,” Soros said. “We cannot return to Hungary, because its prevailing laws don’t meet the requirements of academic freedom.”

Hungary’s justice minister, Judit Varga, reacted to the decision by saying that any EU court ruling would only be applied “in accordance with the interests of the Hungarian people” and said the CEU was seeking to get advantages other Hungarian universities did not have.

Among the legal changes Hungary imposed was tying the operation of foreign universities in the country to a bilateral agreement between the Hungarian government and the universities’ country of origin. Foreign universities were also compelled to carry out educational activities in their home countries. That forced the CEU to move to Vienna.

The EU court ruled that by imposing such conditions, “Hungary has failed to comply with the commitments” under the framework of the World Trade Organization and acted in contravention of the provisions of the EU’s charter of fundamental rights.

In light of Orbán’s views on Soros, the amendments to the academic rules were widely seen as targeting CEU. The EU commission launched an infringement procedure in April 2017 against Hungary in the wake of the changes. It subsequently referred Hungary to the court of justice in December 2017.

Under such a ruling by the ECJ, the member state is legally forced to immediately comply with the court’s judgment, and if it refuses, the EU commission can seek to fine it.

Varga told the state news agency MTI that “all universities in Hungary must comply with the legislation equally”.

She said the law affected dozens of foreign institutions operating in Hungary, but most of them had no problem complying with this legislation, referring to the CEU as a “mailbox” institution.

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European Parliament Set for Tight Vote on ‘Historic’ Climate Law | World News

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Lawmakers in the European Parliament expect a tight vote on Tuesday on the European Union’s new climate target for 2030, with support splintered over the bloc’s green ambitions.

The assembly will vote in the evening on a landmark bill to make EU climate targets legally binding. The most contentious part is a new target for emissions cuts this decade.

The EU’s current goal is to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, against 1990 levels. That needs upgrading if the bloc is to become climate neutral by 2050.

The European Commission last month proposed a 2030 emissions cut of “at least 55%”, which it said was economically feasible but would require tougher policies for many sectors, including tighter car emissions standards and higher carbon costs for industry and airlines.

The European Parliament’s environment committee last month voted for a 60% cut target for 2030, and groups representing just under half of the assembly said they would back this goal on Tuesday. Some officials said enough extra votes had been secured for a razor-thin majority.

“I think we have a historic opportunity to take the climate policy to higher levels,” said Sweden’s Jytte Guteland, lead lawmaker on the issue.

“It will be a very tight result,” said Pascal Canfin, chair of Parliament’s environment committee.

Conservative lawmakers are meanwhile rallying behind a proposal by the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) to cut emissions by at least 55% this decade.

“The 60% is stretching too much,” German EPP lawmaker Peter Liese said, adding that he was “quite optimistic” his proposal would gain majority support.

Some Green lawmakers said they could support a 55% goal, but took issue with EPP’s plan to count carbon sinks – emissions absorbed by forests – and carbon credits from overseas projects towards the target.

“That is a clear red line for us,” Green lawmaker Bas Eickhout said.

The split in Parliament reflects broader divisions among the EU’s 27 countries, which must also approve the 2030 goal.

Wealthy western and northern countries largely back an emissions cut of at least 55%, while others oppose tougher climate policies that could hit their strategic economic sectors, such as coal mining in Poland and automobile manufacturing in the Czech Republic.

(Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by John Chalmers and Alex Richardson)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Split EU Lawmakers Rap Bulgaria on Rule-Of-Law Failings | World News

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Parliament turned up the heat on Bulgaria on Monday as lawmakers debated a resolution that highlights flaws by the EU’s poorest member in respecting the rule of law, combating endemic corruption and supporting media freedom.

A vote is expected later this week on the resolution that challenges Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s governance after almost three months of anti-graft protests in Bulgaria that seek his resignation.

Thousands of Bulgarians have been rallying daily since July, accusing three-times premier Borissov of eroding democratic rules and allowing corrupt practices that support oligarchs and businesses close to his centre-right GERB party.

In a heated debate, lawmakers from the socialist party family, as well as the Greens and liberals slammed Bulgaria’s government for backsliding on democratic values and abuse of EU funds.

MEPs from the centre-right group EPP, to which Borissov’s own party belongs, defended Borissov as a pro-European leader.

Bulgaria ranks as the bloc’s most corrupt member state according to Transparency International’s index. The country has dropped to 111th position in terms of media freedom from 51st in 2007, when it joined the EU, according to Reporters Without Borders.    

“Bulgarian citizens will deal with their government, but we need to stop feeding the vampires that are sucking the life blood out these wonderful people,” said Clare Daly from the group of the European United Left-Nordic Green Left.

EPP chair Manfred Weber said the protests showed that democracy works in Bulgaria. Borissov has refused to step down and on Monday Weber said protesters could have their say at an election scheduled for next March.

A European Parliament resolution rapping Bulgaria for shortcomings in respecting the rule of law would have no practical consequences except political embarrassment for Borissov. But it would also be a signal that Brussels is not turning a blind eye.

Unlike Hungary and Poland, Bulgaria has managed to avoid a formal EU process checking if rule-of-law is observed, by promising changes and setting up bodies to combat graft and overhaul the judiciary, while dragging its feet on delivering results.

Last week the European Commission, in a milder tone, criticised Bulgaria’s shortcomings on courts’ independence and the lack of senior officials jailed on corruption charges in its first report on rule of law in the EU.

Speaking on Monday, the EU’s top democracy official, Commissioner Vera Jourova said the EU Commission would press ahead in monitoring Bulgaria until it sees tangible results in fighting corruption and overhauling of the judiciary.

“There is still unfinished business. And we want to see the job done,” she said.

(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova in Sofia and Jan Strupczewski in Brussels; editing by Richard Pullin)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Coronavirus live news: Irish government ‘to reject new lockdown recommendation’; Paris bars to close | World news

An initiative from Germany’s Social Democrat labour minister to give people the right to work from home is facing opposition from chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and business groups, though a survey shows most workers like the idea.

The coronavirus pandemic has interrupted work flows in many companies in Europe’s largest economy, accelerating a trend to work partly from home and speeding up the digitisation of business organisation and communication.

But it has also created new problems such as working longer hours and pushing up stress levels, especially among parents juggling childcare and working from home.

Hubertus Heil from the co-governing, centre-left SPD told Deutschlandfunk radio on Monday that his draft law would give employees the right to work from home or somewhere else at least 24 days per year if the profession and work flows allow.

With the draft law, Heil wants to increase job satisfaction among employees and avoid home working automatically leading to longer working hours.

Employers must ensure that employees record their entire working time at home, or else face a fine of up to €30,000.

In addition, accidents that happen while working from home should be regarded as work accidents which means the employer’s insurance must fully cover the costs.

A survey conducted by several economic institutes showed that roughly two thirds of German employees welcome the proposal for such a legal right.

But a spokeswoman of economy minister Peter Altmaier from Merkel’s conservatives said during a regular news conference that there were many unanswered questions and that Altmaier remained sceptical of the idea.

“Above all, we need less bureaucracy and not new state guarantees for everything,” the spokeswoman cited Altmaier as saying.

Merkel’s spokesman said the draft law would now be discussed between the labour ministry and the chancellery, adding that there were still a lot of issues to be resolved.

The VDMA engineering association said there was no need for a legal right to work from home.

“It only raises hopes that cannot be fulfilled in every case,” VDMA managing director Thilo Brodtmann said.

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Coronavirus live news: global cases pass 35m as Walter Reed physician calls Trump drive ‘insanity’ | World news

US president Donald Trump has begun a fourth day at the military hospital where he is being treated for Covid-19, as his condition remained unclear and outside experts warned his case may be severe.

The president’s team is treating 74-year-old Trump with a steroid, dexmethasone, normally used only in the most severe cases.

His medical team told reporters on Sunday that Trump could return to the White House as early as Monday. Even if he does, he will need to continue treatment as the Republican president is still undergoing a five-day course of an intravenous antiviral drug, remdesivir.

The normal quarantine period for anyone testing positive for the coronavirus is 14 days.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Monday reiterated the hope that Trump would be released shortly from the hospital.

“He will meet with his doctors and nurses this morning to make further assessments of his progress,” Meadows told Fox News. “We are still optimistic that he will be able to return to the White House later today.”

Sequestered at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington since Friday, Trump has released a series of videos in an effort to reassure the public that he is recovering.

Donald J. Trump


October 4, 2020

On Sunday, he left his hospital room to ride in a White House motorcade that drove him past supporters gathered outside the hospital.

Critics and medical experts criticised Trump for the move, which potentially exposed the staff in his car to infection.

“Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days,” James Phillips, who is also an assistant professor of emergency medicine at George Washington University’s medical school said on Twitter.

“They might get sick. They may die. For political theater.”

Dr. James P. Phillips, MD

Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential “drive-by” just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity.

October 4, 2020

On Monday, his Twitter account released a stream of more than a dozen messages including “LAW & ORDER. VOTE!” and “RELIGIOUS LIBERTY. VOTE!”

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Sunday showed Trump trailing Biden by 10 percentage points. About 65% of Americans said Trump would not have been infected had he taken the virus more seriously.

Trump has consistently downplayed the risks of the pandemic since it first emerged this year, and he has repeatedly flouted social distancing guidelines meant to curb its spread.

CNN quoted a White House official as saying that his wife, Melania, who also tested positive for Covid-19, is not considering leaving the White House.

“Melania Trump is aware of the dangers of Covid-19. Potentially exposing others is not a risk she would take,” the official said.

A return to the White House might help Trump project a sense of

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Pope Says Free Market, ‘Trickle-Down’ Policies Fail Society | World News

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Sunday that the COVID-19 pandemic was the latest crisis to prove that market forces alone and “trickle-down” economic policies had failed to produce the social benefits their proponents claim.

In an encyclical on the theme of human fraternity, Francis also said private property cannot be considered an absolute right in all cases where some lived extravagantly while others had nothing.

Called “Fratelli Tutti” (Brothers All), the encyclical’s title prompted criticism for not using inclusive language after it was announced last month.

In Italian, Fratelli means brothers but it is also used to mean brothers and sisters. The Vatican said it was taken from the “Admonitions”, or guidelines, written by St Francis of Assisi in the 13th century to his followers and could not be changed.

The pope says in the first line of the 86-page encyclical that St. Francis had “addressed his brothers and sisters” that way. In the document, he uses the term “men and women” 15 times and speaks several times about defending the rights and dignity of women.

Encyclicals are the most authoritative form of papal writing but they are not infallible.

The encyclical, which Francis signed in Assisi on Saturday, covers topics such as fraternity, immigration, the rich-poor gap, economic and social injustices, healthcare imbalances and the widening political polarisation in many countries.

The pope took direct aim at trickle-down economics, the theory favoured by conservatives that tax breaks and other incentives for big business and the wealthy eventually will benefit the rest of society through investment and job creation.

“There were those who would have had us believe that freedom of the market was sufficient to keep everything secure (after the pandemic hit),” he wrote.

Francis denounced “this dogma of neo-liberal faith” that resorts to “the magic theories of ‘spillover’ or ‘trickle’ … as the only solution to societal problems”. A good economic policy, he said, “makes it possible for jobs to be created and not cut”.

The 2007-2008 financial crisis was a missed opportunity for change, instead producing “increased freedom for the truly powerful, who always find a way to escape unscathed”. Society must confront “the destructive effects of the empire of money”.

Francis repeated past calls for redistribution of wealth to help the poorest and for fairer access to natural resources by all.

“The right to private property can only be considered a secondary natural right, derived from the principle of the universal destination of created goods,” he said.

A Vatican official said the pope was referring to those with massive wealth.

The pope wrote that the belief of early Christians – “that if one person lacks what is necessary to live with dignity, it is because another person is detaining it” – was still valid.

Those with much must “administer it for the good of all” and rich nations are obliged to share wealth with poor ones. But he said he was “certainly not proposing an authoritarian and abstract universalism”.

Some ultra-traditionalist Catholics have

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UK Government Says It Will Reform ‘Broken’ Asylum System | World News

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s interior minister vowed Sunday to stop people entering the country clandestinely and to fix what she called a “broken” asylum system, echoing commitments that have been made and broken by U.K. governments for years.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the government would bring in new laws so it could “stop those who come here illegally making endless legal claims to remain” and “expedite the removal of those who have no claim for protection.”

Patel said in a speech to a virtual Conservative Party conference that the changes would be “the biggest overhaul of our asylum system in decades.”

She said Britain would continue to “provide safe haven to those fleeing persecution, oppression or tyranny.”

Patel’s hardline rhetoric was designed to appeal to voters concerned at a surge in the number of people crossing the English Channel from France in small boats. Thousands have made the journey this year, most over the summer.

Opposition Labour Party immigration spokesman Nick Thomas-Symonds said the Conservatives were “devoid of compassion and competence” on immigration.

Migrants have long used northern France as a launching point to reach Britain by stowing away in trucks or on ferries. Many appear to have turned to small boats organized by smugglers during the coronavirus pandemic because virus restrictions have reduced vehicle traffic between France and Britain.

Patel’s speech follows reports in recent weeks that the government considered ideas including building a wave machine in the Channel to deter boats and processing asylum-seekers on Ascension Island, a remote volcanic island more than 4,000 miles (6,435 kilometers) from the U.K.

The government dismissed some of the more far-fetched claims, but Patel said she would “explore all practical measures and options to deter illegal migration.”

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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