US, EU launch inflation–reducing task force
The US and the EU have launched a joint task force on the Inflaction Reduction Act, the recent US law to reduce the effects of inflation, to “continue to promote a deeper understanding of the significant progress of the law on inflation, lower costs for families, our common climate objectives, opportunities and concerns for EU producers”. This was announced by the National Security Council, whose deputy adviser Mike Pyle met Bjoern Seibert, chief of staff of European commission president Ursula von der Leyen to discuss various priorities, including the reconstruction of Ukraine. In their meeting they also launched the Inflation Task Force, which will meet for the first time next week.
EU’s goal is to approve energy plan by December
“We will try to adopt the (energy) package at the next extraordinary Council” on November 24, EU Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson has said. At the end of the Energy Affairs Council, she said she was “confident” that an agreement could be reached “by December”, adding that on the coordinated purchase of gas “there is the ministerial agreement which must become a reality in view of the filling of the stocks for the next winter”. Furthermore, we ask Acer (the European Union Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators) to develop a new benchmark for the EU by March 31, which reflects the current situation. And we will also propose a dynamic cap to the Dutch TTF Gas futures price quote that can be applied immediately, she said.
Sunak culls 11 ministers in Cabinet reshuffle
Rishi Sunak culled nearly a dozen of Liz Truss’s top-tier ministers on Tuesday after vowing to fix the “mistakes” of her leadership and bracing the nation for “difficult decisions”. He revived the frontbench careers of Dominic Raab and Suella Braverman who were forced out under Truss but kept Jeremy Hunt as chancellor after the Conservative leader warned the UK was facing a “profound economic crisis” in his first speech since being appointed by the King. Boris Johnson loyalists who stayed close to Truss, including Jacob Rees-Mogg, were among the 11 ministers who were out of government. Raab was rewarded with deputy prime minister and justice secretary, roles he held under Johnson before being sacked by Truss for his support of Sunak. James Cleverly was kept on as foreign secretary and Ben Wallace as defence secretary. More than an hour after Truss defended her economic strategy in her farewell speech from Downing Street on Tuesday morning, Sunak stood outside No 10 criticising her brief tenure. He said his predecessor, whose 49 days in office made her the shortest-lasting PM in history, was “not wrong” to want to drive up growth, describing it as a “noble aim”. “But some mistakes were made. Not born of ill will or bad intentions – quite the opposite in fact. But mistakes nonetheless,” he added. “I’ve been elected as leader of my party and your Prime Minister in part to fix them – and that work begins immediately.” The cost of Government borrowing dropped and the pound soared to the highest level since before Truss’s disastrous mini-budget.
Meloni easily wins confidence vote in parliament
Italy’s new far-right-led government of Premier Giorgia Meloni on Tuesday night easily won the first of two required confidence votes in Parliament by a comfortable margin. The vote in the lower Chamber of Deputies was 235 in favour of her coalition government and 154 against, while there were five abstentions. The coalition needed at least 195 votes for a majority. Later today, the new government will face a vote in the upper chamber, the Senate, where it also holds a solid majority. Earlier Tuesday in the Chamber, Meloni laid out her government’s policy aims, firing back at domestic and foreign critics who are worried that her far-right politics might undermine European unity or the civil rights of Italian citizens. She criticised the European Union for not always being ready for challenges, notably the dramatic energy crisis now threatening households and businesses. She bristled at critics, including those from foreign governments, who have said they would keep a “vigilant” eye on Italy’s first far-right-led government since the end of World War II. Such attitudes are tantamount to “a lack of respect for the Italian people, who don’t need lessons,’’ Meloni said.
Putin acknowledges “economic difficulties” linked to sanctions
President Putin on Tuesday acknowledged that his country was experiencing “economic difficulties” because of different “restrictions” imposed on his country due to the war in Ukraine. Putin, who spoke as he presided over the first meeting of Russia’s new coordination council, also said his country needed to “to speed up” decision-making in relation to its military campaign in Ukraine.
UN Watchdog to Visit Sites Amid ‘Dirty Bomb’ Claims
Amid Russian allegations that it has evidence that Ukraine was preparing to use a “dirty bomb” which it presented to a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council on Tuesday, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said it would send inspectors to two locations in Ukraine at Kiev’s request. The IAEA did not specify which sites it would visit. Meanwhile, Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said in a briefing that if Russia uses a ‘dirty bomb’ or other type of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, “there will be consequences”. These consequences have been communicated to Moscow at various levels, he added, reiterating that the Russian allegations that Kiev is preparing a ‘dirty bomb’ are blatantly false.
Brittney Griner’s 9-year prison sentence confirmed
A Russian court on Tuesday dismissed American basketball star Brittney Griner’s appeal against a nine-year sentence for possessing and smuggling vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. The White House reacted by calling it a “sham trial” and called for her immediate release. Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, was arrested on February 17 at a Moscow airport, a week before Russia invaded Ukraine. The US chargee d’affaires in Moscow, Elizabeth Rood, who attended the hearing, called the sentence “excessive and disproportionate”.
USA towards new sanctions against Iran
The Biden administration is preparing to announce new sanctions against Iran in the coming days, according to Politico. It quotes sources saying the sanctions would be linked to the repression of the protests that broke out over the death of Masha Amini, who died after being arrested for not wearing the veil correctly.
Macron’s gift to Pope may have been Nazi loot
Poland’s foreign ministry is investigating whether a rare book – a copy of “Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch” by Immanual Kant, printed in 1796 – given to Pope Francis by French President Emmanuel Macron was looted from Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II. Macron gave the book to the Pope during a private audience on Monday. But after photographs of it were posted online following the presentation, Poles were quick to spot that it bears the stamp of a Polish reading society founded by students at a university in the city of Lviv – or Lwow as it is known in Polish. The Polish stamp has prompted speculation that the book was looted by the Nazis during the war. During the war, German forces in Poland looted thousands of cultural artefacts and the Polish government has made the return of stolen property a priority.
29,000 migrants have died in bid for asylum
More than 29,000 people have died during migration journeys to Europe since 2019, the International Organisation for Migration said in a report yesterday. The agency’s Missing Migrants Project warned of “increasing numbers of deaths seen on routes across the Mediterranean, on land borders to Europe and within the continent”. The report says the deadliest migration route continues to be the Central Mediterranean, where 2,836 migrants and refugees have died since January 2021 trying to reach Italy or Malta by crossing mainly from Libya and Tunisia. Meanwhile, Alarm Phone reports two boats off the coast of Libya carrying a total of 1,300 people on board. About 500 migrants, with six different boats, have arrived in Lampedusa between last night and early this morning.