Germany halts lifting of vaccine patents
Deutsche-Welle reports Germany has rejected a proposal backed by the World Trade Organisation and the United States to waive international patent protection for COVID-19 vaccine. The WTO had urged member states to start negotiations in earnest. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday that the bloc was ready to discuss the proposal, stressing that Europe’s priority would be to “ramp up” global supplies.
Malta cheapest safe destination for British tourists
London’s The Independent says air fares to some destinations predicted to be quarantine-free are soaring. It quotes prices charged by British Airways, Easy Jet and Ryanair. However, it states that prices to Malta, another possibility for a low-risk rating, are significantly lower. Air Malta has an outbound flight on 17 May for £104, with a return a week later for £43. Potential early candidates for the holiday ‘green list’ of quarantine-free destinations from May 17 include Malta, Gibraltar and Portugal.
The UK goes to the polls
The Guardian reports how millions of Britons have been to the polls to vote for 143 councils, 39 police commissioners, 13 mayors, two national parliaments, the London Assembly and the Hartlepool bye-election. The ‘Super Thursday’ elections are the first ballot box test of Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer since the pandemic. Results will start coming out early today, but counting is slower than usual due to COVID restrictions. The full picture may not be known until late in the weekend or Monday.
Shots fired at Sicilian trawler
A trawler from the Mazara del Vallo fishing fleet in Sicily was machine-gunned by a Libyan motorboat on Thursday and its captain wounded, the captain’s son told ANSA. The trawler was fishing off Benghazi. However, the Libyan Navy, which controls the coast guard, denied firing on Italian trawlers and said it had fired warning shots into the air against vessels which had allegedly trespassed into Libyan waters.
Belgium grows bigger
A farmer in Belgium inadvertently changed geography by moving his country’s border with France. The farmer was driving a tractor and apparently got annoyed by a large stone blocking his path. So, he moved it some 2.3 metres, effectively giving Belgium more land. The move could cause a problem for private landowners and neighbouring countries. But David Lavaux, mayor of the Belgian village of Erquelinnes, told French TV channel TF1 that people in both Belgium and France had a good laugh over it.
WWII veteran honoured
A World War Two pilot who was part of the Great Escape team will have a train named after him today. BBC Wales recalls how Wing Cdr Ken Rees was imprisoned in Stalag Luft III prisoner of war camp in Germany and helped dig a tunnel that prisoners fled through in March 1944. He was caught in the shaft during the breakout when it was discovered by a guard. Great Western Railway set out to mark last year’s 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two by naming seven trains after people involved in the conflict.