EU close to final tightening on Minimum wage directive
The EU is one step away from political agreement on the directive for the minimum wage. The decisive round of negotiations between the European institutions (Commission, Parliament and EU Council) will start on Monday evening at 7 pm in Strasbourg, on the sidelines of the plenary of the European Parliament. The chances of reaching an agreement in the night between Monday and Tuesday are very high, it is learned. The directive, proposed by the European Commission in 2020, aims to establish a framework for setting adequate and fair minimum wages while respecting the different national approaches of the 27 and to strengthen the role of collective bargaining.
Prince Charles pays moving tribute to ‘Mummy’ the Queen
Prince Charles paid an emotional personal tribute to his mother, Queen Elizabeth, on Saturday during celebrations to mark her Platinum Jubilee, praising the monarch for uniting the nation and continuing to make history during her 70-year reign. Charles spoke at a star-studded pop concert that opened with a comic sketch of the 96-year-old monarch having tea with Paddington Bear and tapping out the tune to the Queen anthem ‘We Will Rock You’ on her china teacup. The heir-to-the-throne appeared towards the end of the concert outside Buckingham Palace. As images of Elizabeth’s reign were displayed onto the walls, Charles, 73, told a crowd of 22,000, with millions more watching on television, the Jubilee had given the country the chance to say thank you. Elizabeth herself was not present, having missed a number of Jubilee events because of mobility problems that have caused her to cancel engagements recently. Elizabeth ascended the throne aged 25 on the death of her father, George VI, in 1952. During her reign, there have been 14 prime ministers and 14 US presidents; the Berlin Wall rose and fell; Britain joined and left the EU and her nation’s own once-mighty empire disintegrated, replaced by a Commonwealth of 54 nations. Elizabeth was instrumental in creating the latter and many regard its success as her greatest achievement.
Litvinenko ‘poisoner’ dies from Covid-19
One of the men accused of killing former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London has died of Covid-19 in Moscow, it has been widely reported. Dmitri Kovtun was one of two men who a UK inquiry ruled had poisoned Litvinenko’s tea with a rare radioactive substance in 2006. In reports being attributed to Russian news agency Tass, Kovtun is said to have contracted coronavirus before dying in a Moscow hospital. Kovtun, along with Andrei Lugovoi, was accused of being behind Litvinenko’s assassination 16 years ago at the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair. A British public inquiry concluded in 2016 that the killing of the outspoken critic of President Putin, who died after drinking tea laced with radioactive polonium-210, had “probably” been carried out with the approval of the Russian President. The European Court of Human Rights also ruled last year, following a case brought by the deceased’s widow, Marina Litvinenko, that Russia was responsible for his killing. Russia has always denied any involvement in the death and had refused to comply with international arrest warrants issued for Kovtun and Lugovoi.
Macron remarks on Russia ‘can only humiliate France’
Ukraine rebuked French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday for saying it was important not to “humiliate” Russia, a position Ukrainian foreign minister Dmitro Kuleba said “can only humiliate France”. Macron has sought to maintain a dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February. His stance has been repeatedly criticised by some eastern and Baltic partners in Europe.
Pope to discuss possible visit to Kiev
Pope Francis said on Saturday he would meet soon with Ukrainian officials to discuss the possibility of a visit to their country. Francis disclosed the coming meeting in a question-and-answer session with children in one of the Vatican’s main courtyards. He said that he wanted to visit Ukraine but had to choose the right time.
Ukraine pushing back Russia in Sievierodonetsk
Ukraine’s forces have managed to repel nine Russian attacks on the eastern Donbas region over the last 24 hours, according to Ukrainian military staff. It comes as President Putin’s forces train their efforts on attempting to seize Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, the only two cities in the Luhansk province not controlled by the Kremlin. But, according to local officials, Ukraine has recaptured “approximately 20 per cent” of Sievierodonetsk since the Russian since invasion began. Elsewhere, Russian forces have been accused of destroying bridges across the Seversky Donets river in a bid to block Ukrainian reinforcements from delivering aid to civilians in the town of Sievierodonetsk. In an announcement broadcast on TV on Saturday, Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai also said the Ukrainian military was continuing to maintain its positions inside the town, and was pushing back Russian forces in several locations. Reports of modest Ukrainian resistance in the Donbas arrive in the wake of the UK Ministry of Defence saying that Russia is devoting significant troop strength and firepower to a “creeping advance” on the eastern region.
Russia ‘cracking’ enemy weapons ‘like nuts’
Russian anti-aircraft forces have shot down dozens of Ukrainian weapons and are “cracking them like nuts”, President Putin said in a brief excerpt of an interview aired on Saturday. RIA news agency, which first cited the comments, quoted Putin as responding to a question about US-supplied arms by saying Russia was coping easily and had already destroyed the weapons by the dozen. But the clip of an an interview to be aired on Sunday made clear that Putin had in fact been responding to a different question, which was not shown. “Our anti-aircraft systems are crunching them like nuts. Dozens have been destroyed,” Putin said. Although the exact kind of weapon was not clear, Russia says it has destroyed both aircraft and missiles fielded by Ukraine.
Mariah Carey sued
Singer Mariah Carey is being sued on copyright infringement charges for her 1994 Christmas mega-hit, “All I Want for Christmas is you”. Singer-songwriter Andy Stone claims to have co-written a song of the same name five years earlier and alleges that the singer used her “popularity” and “style” to make it her own. He is now seeking compensation of at least $20 million. Despite sharing a title, the two songs appear musically different, but Stone claims that Carey caused confusion and didn’t ask for permission. The singer has not, as yet, commented.
Massive fire on the outskirts of Athens
A large fire broke out on the outskirts of Athens, damaging homes and cars and forcing the fire brigade to evacuate residents. Pushed by strong winds, the fire quickly spread to the slopes of Mount Imetto overlooking the Greek capital, sending thick clouds of smoke over the southern outskirts. As a precaution, the Civil Protection authorities evacuated some parts of the Voula and Glyfada regions about 20 kms from the centre of Athens.
Bidens evacuated after plane enters restricted airspace
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden were briefly evacuated from their beach house in Rehoboth Beach, in the US state of Delaware, after a private plane mistakenly entered restricted airspace. The president and the first lady arrived at the beach house on Thursday night to celebrate Jill Biden’s birthday.
Cambodia hopes for a new opposition party
Cambodians head to the polls today to elect tens of thousands of commune chiefs and councillers and the election results may bring a surprise, as a new opposition party appears to be surging in popularity. The ruling Cambodian People’s Party, or CPP, in power since 1979, has tightened its stranglehold on politics since 2017, when it forcibly banned its only real opponent. The ruling party will be tested by the Candlelight Party, which will field candidates in 1,632 of the country’s 1,652 communes in today’s election, making it the second-largest party.