Europe

Best-known journalist in the Netherlands shot in central Amsterdam
Europe

Best-known journalist in the Netherlands shot in central Amsterdam

Dutch crime reporter Peter R. de Vries was shot and seriously injured in Amsterdam on Tuesday evening. De Vries was shot on the street in central Amsterdam at around 7.30 pm, as he was leaving the studio of a talk show where he was a guest. Witnesses said they heard five gunshots and saw that the reporter was shot in the head. His condition is critical enough to push Femke Halsema, mayor of Amsterdam, to declare that he “struggles between life and death.”

Peter R. de Vries, 64, had just been on a TV show where he was a regular guest and walked on the Lange Leidsedwarsstrat when someone shot him four or five times. In a video, we see the lifeless reporter on the ground, the blood coming out of his head.

The attack to De Vries is shocking and inconceivable. It is an attack on a brave journalist and therefore an attack on the freedom of the press that is so essential to our democracy and our rule of law,” said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at a press conference in The Hague. The journalist and TV presenter is a figure known in the Netherlands for his role in several criminal cases and has appeared regularly as a spokesperson for victims or in the close circle of crucial witnesses.

Meanwhile, as Amsterdam police chief Frank Paauw said, three “people have arrested. Two individuals in a car driving away from the city along a highway, and one in Amsterdam. Among them, there is probably the suspected shooter”, he added, without giving further information on the arrests or a possible motive for the crime. In 2019, De Vries announced on Twitter that he had been informed by police and justice officials that he was on the ‘blacklist’ of a fugitive criminal. From 1995 to 2012, De Vries ran a top-rated television program in the Netherlands about crime in the following high-profile cases. The reporter is also known for his investigative work following the kidnapping of beer magnate Freddy Heineken in 1983.

 The Dutch police asked anyone who witnessed the ambush to come forward and testify. Meanwhile, the agents are still viewing the images of the cameras in the area. Because of the threats received, De Vries had been assigned a security service, even though he had refused to have a real escort in order not to share – as the Dutch newspapers report – “his whole agenda and his whole life with the police.” However, in a recent interview with Vrij Nederland, he declared that he was not afraid of intimidation.

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EU condemns Belarus’ usage of migrants as a political tool
Europe

EU condemns Belarus’ usage of migrants as a political tool

European Council President Charles Michel said, on Monday, that the European Union condemns Belarus’s decision to allow illegal migrants to cross into Lithuania in response to EU sanctions.

The Lithuanian government, on Friday, declared a countrywide emergency as the flow of mainly Iraqi migrants arriving from Belarus surged to around 150 per day.

This count has hit its highest toll in the last three years.

“My European Council colleagues are very clear that the Belarus authorities, by using irregular migration tactics, is trying to put pressure on the European Union, including Lithuania,” Michel spoke to a news conference in Vilnius with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda.

“The European Union is with one voice, loudly, condemning the pressure exerted by using the migrant tactic. I want to express European Union solidarity,” he added. “It is my wish to tell Lithuania of the member states’ solidarity.”

Michel also announced to speak with Iraq’s president next week to discuss the repatriation of Iraqi nationals.

According to media reports, between Friday and Monday, a total of 560 migrants crossed the 679-kilometre (422 miles) border of Lithuania and Belarus, bringing the count to 1,232 for this year.

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“It is very complex to communicate with the regime whose legitimacy is not recognised by us, and which is sending the migrants on purpose – as a political tool – and not by mistake or negligence,” Nauseda told the news conference.

On May 26, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko had said that his administration would not prevent migrants from crossing via its western border into the EU.

EU followed this with the imposition of sanctions by the EU after a plane was forced to land in Minsk, where a Belarusian dissident journalist on board was arrested.

On the other hand, the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada expanded their sanctions on Belarus, following human rights abuses by Alexander Lukashenko’s authoritarian regime.

As per CNN, the partnering forces, in a joint statement, said that they were “united in our grave concern regarding the Lukashenko regime’s surging attacks on human rights, fundamental freedoms, and international law.”

Europe sees migrant crisis as the boat sinks off drowning 43 people
Europe

Europe sees migrant crisis as the boat sinks off drowning 43 people

At least 43 migrants and refugees are feared to have drowned while 84 were rescued after a shipwreck off Tunisia’s coast. This boat sailed from Zuwarah on Libya’s northwest coast, carrying migrants and refugees from Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea and Bangladesh. These migrants were trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Italy. This desperate attempt was made since the asylum seekers were struggling for interpreters at the USEU border. Though the Libyan navy acknowledges the dangerous chase of the migrant boat, still many drowned in the sea. It can be seen in the camera that the Libyan coastguards were chasing behind to save the people. Rather the navy rescued 84 migrants and 43 others drowned in a boat that set off from Libya’s Zuwara towards Europe.

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Since Libya is a frequent departure point for Europe-bound migrants making a dangerous Mediterranean Sea crossing. It can be seen from 2014 that more than 20,000 migrants and refugees have died at sea while trying to reach Europe from Africa. At least 866 people are feared to have drowned while making the journey across the Mediterranean from North Africa in 2021 itself.

Human smugglers launch vessels, many of them flimsy rubber dinghies or rickety fishing boats, crowded with migrants who hope to reach European shores to seek asylum. Some are fleeing conflict or persecution, while many of the hundreds of thousands are fleeing poverty. This is such a shame to humankind since almost 19,800 migrants arrived in Italy at the beginning of the year against just over 6,700 in the same period last year.The local radio station reported that media houses gave them food and drink to the victims as they were looking for space to house them for the required Covid isolation period before they could set their foot in the country. 

Germany: 50 billion for Defense to revitalize its armed forces
Europe

Germany: 50 billion for Defense to revitalize its armed forces

Germany confirms its desire to strengthen Defense and increases the budget for 2022. There is talk of 50.3 billion euros, with an increase of three billion compared to the program planned for the previous year. A move that is not surprising given the interest of the executive led by Merkel in restructuring the German Defense. But it is also a sign of how central the role of the armed forces has returned to Berlin.

Someone talks about militarization, especially on the left. But regardless of the fears for a return to a militarist wind in Germany, what is certain is the Berlin attempt to revitalize a sector affected by a profound crisis for decades. How the country has greeted the withdrawal from Afghanistan, without any gratitude on politics, also exposes the problem. After the attacks in Mali, parties have already asked Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to withdraw from the Sahel and Minusma mission. The abandonment that Berlin has already denied is also because Germany is playing a whole game in the Sahel for the EU defense hierarchies. But it is an indication of how the German population is essentially very unwilling to go to missions abroad and use the armed forces.

However, the Grand Coalition does not seem oriented like this pacifist part of the country. Angela Merkel, close to the end of her mandate, has shown in recent years that she does not want to leave Germany as an economic power but utterly devoid of a military structure adequate to its role as a European power. And the confirmation came from the defense minister, the chancellor’s daughter, who, with the approval of the annual budget by the parliamentary commission, spoke of this expenditure as a “welfare budget.” You then reminded the public that defense funds are “the budget for life in peace and freedom” and that money is here to “guarantee the rights of future generations.”

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The words of the owner of the Defense encapsulate better than any other definition the role that Germany has decided to assign to military funds. According to the government plan, with these 50.3 billion, the country will be able to complete the rearmament and modernization programs already underway and, above all, to develop the new projects on which German industry is aiming. Berlin has given the green light to continue and strengthen the Scaf project, the Franco-German-Spanish model for sixth-generation hunting. But there are also essential innovations from the naval profile, with Deutsche Marine having the opportunity to develop the 212 CD submarines made in tandem by Germany and Norway. In addition, to acquire the Sea Lion and Sea Tiger helicopters, ships for intelligence, and fuel transport and strengthen its antispam surveillance system by providing for the purchase of new Poseidon P-8s from Boeing. Finally, Deutsche Marine will have the green light to acquire the Naval Strike Missile long-range missile system to replace the Harpoon system: in this case, in collaboration with Norway.

The idea is that in Berlin, they have clear ideas about the future. The prospects for the European fighter serve above all in terms of politics and strategic autonomy vis-à-vis American projects and the Italo-British-Swedish competitor Tempest. But the strengthening of the naval component also indicates a specific desire to armor the seas in an era in which the security of the Baltic and other areas in which German forces will be involved in NATO and beyond will be increasingly central. Germany does not like its military strength: but in an era characterized by chaos and a continuous state of crisis, strengthening its military apparatus, both physical and digital, seems to be on the agenda even on the German federal agenda.

Belarus orders immediate closure of its border with Ukraine
Europe

Belarus orders immediate closure of its border with Ukraine

Belarus’s ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka ordered, on Friday, the complete closure of the border with Ukraine, citing security reasons.

He claimed the authorities had uncovered Western-linked “terrorist” sleeper cells but didn’t substantiate his allegations with proofs of any sort.

“They have crossed the line and cannot be forgiven,” he said.

Lukashenka was speaking at an event that 30 years of independence of post-Soviet Belarus, where he announced that he had ordered officials to close the country’s border with pro-Western Ukraine to stop a “huge amount” of weapons coming within Belarus.

This step of closing borders with Ukraine comes at a time when Belarus has just been hit by additional Western sanctions in view of last month’s forced landing of a Ryanair flight and the arrest of an opposition journalist who was on board, in Minsk.

A Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman said rejected the Belarusian narrative by saying that Ukraine has not interfered in its neighbour’s domestic affairs nor was it planning to do so.

“The Ukrainian side is yet to receive an official notification from Belarus on the border closure. As it seems, It would be the Belarusian people primarily who would suffer from such a step,” Oleh Nikolaenko said.

The US government, on the other hand, said that it is aware of reports that Belarus has sealed its border with neighbouring Ukraine, and vowed that Washington would keep holding the government of President Alexander Lukashenko liable for its actions.

Lukashenka’s regime has been facing intense international pressure over its cruel crackdown on dissent in view of last year’s disputed presidential election.

His latest move intends to deepen a standoff between Belarus and external powers who are angered by his government’s repeated authoritarian steps. Western countries inflicted sanctions on Belarus to correct it for the action, and the European Union and Ukraine have also forbidden Belarus-registered flights from entering their airspace.

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Covid-19, in Spain after the end of the state of emergency, infections among young people increase
Europe

Covid-19, in Spain after the end of the state of emergency, infections among young people increase

The numbers of the new covid-19 outbreak in Palma de Mallorca, in Spain, continue to rise. Over 2,000 young Spaniards from 12 autonomous communities contracted COVID-19 infection during a leisure trip to the island.

It is not an isolated case because in the last few days, the contagion rate between the ages of 12 and 29 worries in at least eight regions, which are beginning to evaluate new measures. In Spain, there are 287 cases for every 100 thousand inhabitants among adolescents, 293 among the twenties.

“We are convinced that the vaccination campaign will ensure that there is no greater increase, but we cannot hope too much because the virus is still there,” said Health Minister Carolina Darias. They already know this in Cantabria, where the cases between 20 and 29 years are 727 per 100 thousand inhabitants, and the local authorities could decide to return to close the nightlife venues.

It is not so much the young that are worrying, but their contacts with vulnerable people who have not yet received the second dose. Spain has vaccinated 37% of the population, one of the best figures in Europe. But 34% of 40-year-olds, 26% of 50-year-olds, and 53% of over-60s have not yet been fully immunized.

Faced with the increase in infections, some regions, such as Catalonia and the Balearics, will open vaccination to under the 30s; in others, such as Andalusia and the Basque Country, the initial plan will be maintained by pushing on the accelerator.

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In San Juan, in the Basque Country, during the patronal feast, the contagions increased from 74 percent on thousand inhabitants to 402.5 in just two days. In Menorca 70 positives were recorded after the Sant Joan de Ciutadella festivities. In Andalusia, the municipality of Cantillana has more than a thousand cases per 100 thousand inhabitants. According to Daniel López-Acuña in El País, a former member of the World Health Organization, “a microwave is taking place among young people, which affects the general impact.”

For the expert, it is not a phenomenon linked to the macro-brewery of Mallorca but it is a problem linked with the end of the state of emergency, the elimination of curfews, and the relaxation of night entertainment. All this contributed to a feeling of false security about the alleged invulnerability of young people to the virus.

In this scenario, little is known about the evolution of the delta variant in Spain, and the data are contradictory. For the Catalan government, where there are 555 cases for every 100,000 inhabitants among the twenty-year-olds, it represents 30% of new infections in the region, a percentage high to 50% by Magda Campins, an epidemiologist of the Vall d’Hebron Hospital in Barcelona. According to the Ministry of Health, at the national level, it concerns only 2.7% of the total number of infections.

Meanwhile, in Mallorca, a judge suspended the forced solitary confinement of 118 young people with negative swabs in the Palma Bellver hotel. Fifty-eight positive cases remain in the facility, while sixteen have been hospitalized with mild symptoms.

The boys were brought back to the peninsula aboard a boat bound for Valencia. Awaiting them are buses provided by their regions of origin (Andalusia, Madrid, and Galicia). Before leaving for home, they received the opportunity to undergo a quick swab.

Brexit ‘sausage war’ put off for three months
Europe

Brexit ‘sausage war’ put off for three months

The EU and the UK, on Wednesday, finally agreed to put off a ban on some meat products being sold in Northern Ireland.

The delay in the ban comes as the latest twist in the Brexit row.

European Commission and Downing street have been in a disagreement for months over laws governing the trade of chilled meats from the British mainland.

British newspapers have termed this as a “Brexit sausage war”.

An extension in the grace period will halt products such as fresh sausages from being banned from supermarkets in the province.

“The UK had not been handed a blank cheque,” said the EU’s top Brexit official Maros Sefcovic. He is the bloc’s lead negotiator.

UK’s Brexit Minister and Sefcovic have, however, called for a permanent solution to the matter.

Brussels has taken the sizzle wisely and spice out of the “sausage war” between the EU and the UK. Many see the fundamental problem with Boris Johnson, who is unwilling to digest the consequences of Brexit, that he chose.

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Since the term “sausage war” is selling, few bother the vocabulary of trade, war, or otherwise to get in place in the issues linked to Northern Ireland. 

Sensibly, the EU has understood that no matter how frustrating the government of the UK might be, there are various other things at stake. The rhetoric has thus been dialled down.

Many see this as a moment to thank the fact that at least the UK and the EU have agreed to keep talking.

Experts are expecting another three months of tough negotiations in the scenario.

The EU’s olive branch on trading rules involves offering to amend its legislation to assure the free flow of medicines into Northern Ireland.

The UK government, meanwhile, has uncovered a system for overseeing subsidies to various companies. It has also promised that decisions will come at a faster rate than when Britain was a part of the EU.

Greece gives 150 euro to young people to vaccinate against Covid-19
Europe

Greece gives 150 euro to young people to vaccinate against Covid-19

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis aims to reach 60% of the vaccinated population by the end of July. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to convince young people to take their dose of anti-Covid serum. Thus, the Greek government has decided to allocate 141 million euros to “reward” with 150 euros starting from July 15 for those between 18 and 25 who undergo vaccination. It is a measure that affects almost one million Greeks, given that 940 thousand people fall into this age group.

In reality, young people will not receive cash but a voucher called the “freedom card.” The beneficiary can use it to pay tourist expenses such as hotels, ferries, airplanes, museums, and concerts. The sum will be transferred to a digital wallet after receiving the first dose of the vaccine. It will be a way to thank them for having faced the long and hard lockdowns while reminding them that now that they can regain their freedom, young people still need to be aware of the risk of the virus.

“Maybe young people think they cannot catch Covid, or if they catch it, they do not get seriously ill – said Mitsotakis in a speech on TV – but they are the ones who allow it to be transmitted. We hope that young people will seize this opportunity. The state thanks you for acting responsibly and doing something that I am sure you would have done anyway.”

Heavily dependent on tourism for its economy, Greece is looking for ways to fully reopen, after recently opening vaccination to all age groups. Government officials say additional freedoms will be granted to vaccination certificate holders but have not defined the details of that policy. According to local media, they are also looking into legal options to make vaccination mandatory for various employment’s categories, including the house of care’s staff.

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Greece has reopened to tourists

All tourists intending to travel to Greece must demonstrate that they have either a complete vaccination certificate, or a negative PCR molecular swab result performed within 72 hours before arrival, or a certificate of recovery from the disease, valid from 2 to 9 months.

The Government introduced two new features on 18 June. First of all, from now on, entry into Greece without further restrictive measures will also be allowed to travelers who have the negative result of a quick test (antigen test) carried out no more than 48 hours before arrival. Reports written in Italian are also considered valid.

Another novelty is the raising of the age limit for checks on children, following the recommendations of the European Union. The certificates necessary for entry into the country will now be carried out on children aged 12 and over, instead of 6 years old.

UK orders probe after top-secret files get recovered from bus stop
Europe

UK orders probe after top-secret files get recovered from bus stop

 Britain’s defence ministry, on Monday, said that it was probing how 50 pages of secret military documents were dropped by a senior ministry official that ended up at a provincial English bus stop.

The documents, as per local media reports, included 50 pages of emails and PowerPoint presentations, and were recovered in a “soggy heap”.

The classified documents included information related to Afghanistan and some pages of it were analysing Russia’s expected reaction to the passage of an HME Warship through the Black Sea.

“These documents were lost by a senior official early last week and the individual self-reported the incident,” said the minister of state at the defence ministry, Jeremy Quin.

Quin said that the documents lost included a paper that was ‘Secret – UK Eyes only’, however, he played the scenario down by saying that it was a “mistake made by an individual.”

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‘UK Eyes Only’ means that the document is not shared with allies and is only distributed in the United Kingdom. It is still unclear how and why these documents ended up at the bus stop and whether or not they were original copies.

The documents were recovered by a member of the public who handed them over to the BBC which published a news story. The BBC has, as per Quin, handed the documents back to the ministry.

Quin said the UK had informed the United States of the scenario and that the investigation would study the security procedures around the publication of the classified documents.

The BBC, on Sunday, reported that the cache of papers discussed the likely Russian response to the Royal Navy’s HMS Defender sailing through Ukrainian waters off Crimea.

Russia had, last week, said it fired warning shots at the destroyer for crossing its territorial waters, straining the diplomatic ties between London and Moscow.

After the scandal of the kiss, the Minister of Health resigns in the United Kingdom
Europe

After the scandal of the kiss, the Minister of Health resigns in the United Kingdom

He resisted for 24 hours, then had to resign: Matt Hancock left his post as Minister of Health of the United Kingdom. It was not the management of the Covid epidemic in the United Kingdom that overwhelmed him. But a fiery kiss with collaborator Gina Coladangelo slammed on the front page by the Sun. When the scandal came to light, Hancock tried to deflate the story, apologizing for not respecting the rules of social distancing: the photo dates back to May 6th, when citizens had to avoid physical contact with people not belonging to their circle.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson accepted the apology despite being under pressure. Saturday Johnson confirmed his confidence to the minister, who has often ended up on the polemics recently. But faced with the mounting of the story, Hancock could not help but resign. “The last thing I want is for my private life to distract attention from the one goal that is taking us out of this crisis.” He said, referring to the vaccination campaign. “I want to reiterate my apologies for breaking the rules and apologize to my family and loved ones for letting them go through this”. He added, answering to the Labor opposition, criticizing him also for the opaque appointment of Coladangelo to lead his team of consultants.

The pandemic situation in the UK

The Delta variant is advancing in London, with notable progression in recent weeks. The contagions also spread across elementary schools, where a 70% jump in positive cases was recorded in the week from 13 to 20 June. Data provided by the government reveal that the number of children aged 5 to 9 who have been infected with the virus, most of the former Indian variant, has increased significantly. Furthermore, there was a 56% increase among children between the ages of 10 and 14. More than 16,000 pupils did not go to school after covid suspicions in the third week of June, a significant increase from 10,600 the previous week, the Times writes. In the last 24 hours, infections and deaths have been decreasing in the UK, also thanks to the weekend effect, where the counts are always lower than on weekdays. London recorded 14,876 new cases and eleven victims, down from the 18,270 infections and 23 deaths of the day before.

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