UK-France trade blame for Channel drownings
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urgently convened the Cobra Committee for Emergency Management in response to the drowning of 31 migrants when their dinghy deflated as they made a perilous Channel crossing from France to the UK. British and French officials have traded blame after the tragedy, as French President Emmanuel Macron demanded an emergency meeting of EU ministers over migration. On a trip to Calais, French Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin called for a “very tough, coordinated, international response” and called on other European countries concerned to fight against smugglers “like we fight against terrorists”. Johnson said he was “shocked and appalled” by the deaths and called on France to do more to deter people from attempting the crossing. The International Organisation for Migration says it is the biggest single loss of life in the Channel since it began collecting data in 2014. Meanwhile, four suspected traffickers are reported to have been arrested near the Belgian border, accused of links to the sunken boat.
Andersson resigns few hours after being elected PM
Hours after being elected as Sweden’s prime minister, Magdalena Andersson resigned Wednesday after suffering a budget defeat in parliament and coalition partner the Greens left the two-party minority government. Parliamentary Speaker Anderas Norlen said he will contact the party leaders “to discuss the situation” and will announce the road ahead later today.
Saif Gaddafi blocked from Libya presidential race
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi has been excluded from running in the December 24 presidential elections. The electoral commission rejected the candidacy of several applicants, citing “legal reasons”. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes and murder committed when his father ruled Libya. The application of strongman Khalfa Haftar has also caused a stir in the country as he is facing criminal charges in US courts, but it is unclear if he’s among those whose application has been rejected. Sixty people submitted applications to run for president including women’s rights activist Leila Ben Khalifa, 46, who is the only female aspirant.
Baby ban in House of Commons
Several British politicians demanded a change in parliamentary rules on Wednesday after a lawmaker was told she couldn’t bring her three-month-old baby into the House of Commons. Labour Party legislator Stella Creasy said she had received a letter from Commons authorities after she took her son Pip to a debate. She said she had previously taken both Pip and her older daughter to Parliament without problems, but had been told the rules had changed in September. Creasy said the rule undermined efforts to make politics more family-friendly. Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said he had asked Parliament’s procedure committee to review the rules, and noted that there were “differing views on this matter”.
Scholz to replace Merkel as a new centre-left coalition is announced
Olaf Scholz, the centre-left Social Democratic Party candidate, is set to become Germany’s next chancellor, replacing Angela Merkel. Christian Lindner, the head of the pro-business Free Democratic Party, is set to be the next finance minister, according to the deal which was announced Wednesday afternoon. The Green Party’s co-leaders, Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck, are poised to take on the roles of foreign minister and economy and climate minister, respectively. The draft coalition agreement covers a wide range of climate policies.
North Korea sentences ‘Squid Game’ smuggler to death
A man who allegedly smuggled Netflix’s South Korea-based series “Squid Game” through USB flash drives from China into North Korea has been sentenced to death by firing squad, sources told Radio Free Asia (RFA). A high school student who bought one of the flash drives received a life sentence, while six others who watched the footage have been sentenced to five years of hard labour. Teachers and administrators at the school were also fired or faced forced labour in remote mines. Last year, the country passed a law on the “Elimination of Reactionary Thought and Culture”, which carries a maximum penalty of death for watching, possessing, or distributing media from capitalist countries like South Korea and the US.
China’s top movie ever is war epic about American defeat
“The Battle at Lake Changjin,” a 176-minute epic starring Chinese actor Wu Jing, isn’t only the highest grossing film worldwide so far in 2021 but has become China’s biggest film ever – toppling 2017’s “Wolf Warrior 2,” which also stars Wu – according to ticketing platform Maoyan Entertainment. The film tells the story of how People’s Volunteer Army troops entered North Korea and valiantly defeated the Americans last century. And Variety reports that a sequel is already underway, entitled “Water Gate Bridge,” which continues the story of the campaign to drive American troops out of North Korea.