EU infringement against Poland
The EU Commission has decided to open an infringement procedure against Poland for the decisions taken by the Constitutional Court. EU economy commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said the decisions, among other things, violate the principle of the primacy of EU law over that of individual countries.
Libya: presidential elections on January 24
The Libyan Electoral Authority has proposed to postpone the presidential elections to January 24, after the parliamentary commission that has to oversee the consultation said that it was “impossible” to hold them on the date originally scheduled for December 24. The run-up to the poll has been marred by disputes over the eligibility of candidates and growing security fears in Tripoli, where armed groups took up positions in suburbs around the city.
HK University removes Tiananmen memorial statue
The University of Hong Kong (HKU) has confirmed that the statue commemorating those killed by Chinese troops in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square has been dismantled and removed after 24 years. The institution said in a statement that the decision was based on “external legal advice” and “a risk assessment for the best interest of the university”. The sculpture depicted a tangle of 50 painfully-deformed bodies.
Biden intends to run in 2024
US President Joe Biden intends to run in the 2024 presidential election and the chances of his candidacy would increase if Donald Trump takes the field. In an interview with ABC, he said, “If I am in good health, as I am now, I will run.”
Draghi on becoming president…
Amid speculation he could become Italy’s next head of State, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has said his own destiny does not matter. President Sergio Mattarella’s seven-year term ends in February.Draghi told the traditional end-of-year news conference he did not have any particular aspirations but was “at the service of the institutions”. If the former ECB chief is elected president, it could lead to early elections, which he said he did not want.
… and on COVID-19
Draghi also spoke about the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the decision to extend the state of emergency to the end of March was “an act of necessity and good sense” in the light of the recent upswing in contagion. The government’s COVID taskforce will discuss possible new measures later today. On Wednesday, Italy registered 36,293 new cases and 146 deaths.
UK registers new record of infections
A new absolute record of coronavirus infections has been registered in the UK: 106,122 cases have been recorded in the last 24 hours, with 140 deaths. Early data suggesting that the Omicron variant of coronavirus may be less severe than previous variants is picked up on many front pages including the Daily Telegraph. The paper says senior government sources have said that Britain should not be subject to further COVID restrictions following the findings.
France expects 100,000 infections a day
French Health Minister Olivier Véran has told BFMTV the country should exceed 100,000 infections a day by the end of December, due to the high level of propagation of the new Omicron variant. The latest data speaks of 72,832 new cases and in Paris there are long queues of people wanting to carry out anti-COVID tests. Meanwhile, more European countries have announced tightening restrictions as the continent again becomes the centre of the pandemic. These include Spain, Belgium and Austria.
Tough measures also in Asia
Preventive measures are also being taken in Asia: The Chinese authorities have imposed a lockdown in Xi’an, a city of 13 million inhabitants, capital of the Shaanxi province, due to an outbreak of COVID. And India has banned all cultural, religious, social, political or entertainment initiativesfollowing 213 cases of Omicron to date, with the highest concentration in Delhi.
Migrants: dead and missing in the Aegean
The bodies of three people were recovered from the Aegean sea, while dozens of missing people were being sought after a boat on which migrants were travelling in sank after engine failure. The Hellenic Coast Guard said it had rescued 12 people. Reports say the boat had left Turkey for Italy.
Maxwell jury breaks for Christmas
A jury in New York, deliberating in the sex trafficing trial of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has adjourned till after Christmas. Maxwell, who denies recruiting girls for Jeffrey Epstein, faces up to 80 years in prison if convicted.
Mendy accused of rape by fourth woman
Manchester City footballer Benjamin Mendy will spend Christmas in prison after he appeared in court accused of rape by a fourth woman. Mendy, 27, already facing serious sex offence allegations, is now accused of eight offences against five different women, including seven counts of rape relating to four females.