Resolute response if Putin invades Ukraine – Biden
US President Joe Biden has assured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that the US and its allies would respond “resolutely if Russia invaded Ukraine further”. A note by White House spokesman Jen Psaki says that during their telephone conversation the two leaders “have expressed support for the diplomatic efforts, starting next week with the bilateral (US-Russia) dialogue for strategic stability, the NATO-Russia Council and the OSCE”.
Quirinale: ‘Let there be a woman’
As the seven-year term of Italian President Sergio Mattarella comes to an end, 16 women have appealed to the country’s political forces saying that “the time has come to elect a woman” at the Colle. They said, “There are women in Italy who for titles, merits, experience and balance can very well go up to the Quirinale”, adding that they “refuse to think that these women do not have the charisma, skills, abilities and authority to express the highest form of representation and recognition”. They underlined: “There are no acceptable reasons for postponing this choice any longer.”
Man arrested over South Africa’s parliament fire:
A man has been arrested after a large fire severely damaged the Houses of Parliament in the South African city of Cape Town. A police spokesperson said the man faces charges of arson, housebreaking and theft, and would appear in court on Tuesday. Firefighters worked for hours to extinguish the blaze, which President Cyril Ramaphosa described as a “terrible and devastating event”. He vowed parliament’s work would continue. The House is not currently in session because of the holidays, and no injuries were reported.
EU flag removed from Arc de Triomphe
A giant European Union flag, displayed at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to mark France taking on the bloc’s presidency, has been removed after it was criticised by right-wing politicians, foremost far-right leader Marine Le Pen who said “replacing” the French flag at the monument was an attack on the country’s identity. France has taken over the EU’s rotating presidency for the next six months.
COVID: French government meeting on Omicron
French Prime Minister Jean Castex will have a meeting this afternoon with 10 of his ministers to take stock of Omicron and study how to “guarantee the continuity of essential public services”. A source reported hospitals, schools, public transport, administrations, the military, police stations and even companies in the energy sector” would be the most affected sectors.
Israel: fourth dose to over 60’s
Israel has given the green light to the fourth dose of vaccine against COVID for all those over 60s after four months from the recall. Prime Minister Naftali Bennet told a news conference that “at the end of this week we will reach 20,000 infections a day and at the peak of the wave we may well exceed the threshold of 50,000”. He said if people were vaccinated, “we are protected from severe forms of the disease even if we were infected”.
30 arrests in Amsterdam demonstrations
Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Amsterdam to protest against anti-COVID restrictions and tensions have lead to clashes with the police, injuries and 30 arrests. The demonstrators gathered in one of the main squares of the Dutch capital despite the prohibition of the authorities. Police said riot officers had to use force after protesters refused to leave the square: four policemen were injured in the clashes that ensued and 30 people were arrested.
UK: petition against Blair knighthood.
Over 230,000 Brits have signed a petition to remove former British Prime Minister Tony Blair from the title of Knight of the Order of the Garter – the highest degree of knighthood in the United Kingdom. Mothers who lost their sons in Afghanistan described Blair’s knighthood as ‘the ultimate insult’, as they considered returning the Elizabeth Cross they had received in protest. On Twitter, others have asked that Blair be taken to the Hague tribunal for international crimes.
Sudan’s Prime Minister resigns
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, who leads the civilian front of the transition in the country, has announced his resignation, two months after a coup followed by a repression which resulted in 56 deaths. In a speech to the nation, Hamdok said he did his best to try to prevent the country from plunging into disaster, but this has not happened. Sudan, he added, was at a “dangerous turning point, which puts its very survival at risk”. Shortly before his resignation, Sudanese security forces violently dispersed pro-democracy protesters, killing at least two people.
Americans fear for their democracy, say polls
A year after the violent assault on the US Capitol, Americans remain deeply concerned about the health of their democracy, according to two polls published yesterday. The January 6 attack on the seat of Congress, led by supporters of Donald Trump, was “a harbinger of increasing political violence,” and American democracy “is threatened”, according to two-thirds of those surveyed for a CBS News poll. Americans’ “pride” in their democracy has dropped sharply, from 90% in 2002 to 54% now, a Washington Post/University of Maryland survey found. Meanwhile, the parliamentary commission investigating the assault on Congress has “first-hand testimony” that during the attack, Ivanka Trump, daughter and adviser of the then President Donald Trump, asked him “at least twice ‘please stop the violence’“.
Ukraine complains to Netflix over Kyiv character
Ukraine’s culture minister says he has complained to Netflix over the portrayal of a character from Kyiv in ‘Emily in Paris’. The Netflix show follows a young American, played by Lily Collins, who travels to the French capital for work. In the latest series, Petra, a Ukrainian, shoplifts during a trip with main character Emily. Oleksandr Tkachenko described the caricature image of Petra as “insulting”.