US warning to allies: ‘a Putin blitz on Ukraine possible’
The New York Times writes US and British intelligence are increasingly convinced that Vladimir Putin is considering military action to take control of a larger slice of Ukraine or to destabilise the country by propitiating a more pro-Moscow government. The Americans are admonishing the allies that there is a narrow time window to prevent such an action, pushing European countries to work with the US to develop a package of economic sanctions and of military measures to curb the Kremlin.
European lockdowns and bans on the unvaccinated
As Austria prepares to go into a full nationwide lockdown and makes vaccinations mandatory to tackle surging COVID cases, several European nations report hospitals being at breaking point. Some lawmakers are reinforcing strict measures including lockdowns and banning the unvaccinated from public places. While some countries, such as Ireland, Portugal, Denmark and Malta, have reached near universal vaccination of around 90%, the likes of Romania and Bulgaria have only fully vaccinated just over 30% and 20% respectively. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned “storm clouds” of a new COVID wave are gathering over parts of Europe and could make their way to the UK. Despite restrictions being introduced in Europe, scientific advisers have said there is no need to implement Plan B measures in the UK yet, but advised that more booster doses should be rolled out. Plan B measures include mandatory COVID passports, making face masks compulsory again and advising people to work from home.The German state of Saxony on Friday announced widespread public restrictions to start Monday and remain in place at least until December 12. Christmas markets throughout Bavaria and Saxony, including one of Germany’s largest in Dresden, are canceled.
EU takes step towards punishing Poland and Hungary
The European Commission has written to Poland and Hungary to launch a process that could lead to them being deprived of funds over threats to the EU legal order. The move came as European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders visited Warsaw, expressing concern about the independence of the judiciary and urging the government to respect EU court rulings. In Hungary’s case, the commission will raise concerns over public contracts, conflicts of interest and corruption in the spending of EU funds. Poland and Hungary are the first states to be targeted under the EU’s new “conditionality mechanism”.
‘Mom we miss you’ – Charlene’s children move the principality
The six-year-old Crown Prince of Monaco Jacques and his twin sister Gabriella appeared on the balcony of the Principality Palace, raising signs with messages of affection for the mother Charlene, absent for health reasons from the celebrations for Monaco’s National Day. “We love you mommy” was written on a large white sign shown by Prince Jacques. “Mom, we miss you”, added a second message brought by Gabriella. The two children were in front of their father, Prince Albert, on the balcony of the palace of Monaco from where they watched the traditional parade of the national holiday, followed by numerous inhabitants of the principality. The Palace announced Princess Charlene would not attend the national holiday due to “a profound state of general fatigue” after returning from South Africa, where she underwent various surgeries.
Biden urges calm after Rittenhouse cleared over protesters’ deaths
President Joe Biden has warned against violence and appealed for calm following the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, the American teenager who shot dead two men during protests and riots against police brutality in Wisconsin last year. A jury found Rittenhouse, 18, not guilty of reckless and intentional homicide and other charges stemming from the shootings that took place in August 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rittenhouse claimed he acted in self-defense.
Harris briefly becomes first US woman to hold presidential power
A smiling United States President Joe Biden has returned to the White House from an extended medical checkup during which US Vice President Kamala Harris briefly assumed the presidency while he was under anesthesia. “I feel great,” Biden, wearing his trademark aviator sunglasses, said after disembarking from the Marine One helicopter. “We’re in great shape.” However briefly, Harris became the first woman to hold presidential power in the US. She is already the first female vice president.
Twelve to stand trial for Kardashian West’s Paris jewel heist
Twelve people will stand trial in Paris over a $10 million jewellery heist targeting Kim Kardashian West in 2016. The reality TV star said she was tied up at gunpoint and locked in a bathroom after armed robbers forced their way into her rented Paris apartment during fashion week. After five years of investigation, investigating judges have ordered the case sent to trial. The 12 suspects face a range of charges related to the theft. No trial date has been set.