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  1. #8566

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Hong Kong Protesters Smashed Their Way Into Government Headquarters
    Limbs wrapped in plastic. Hard hats at the ready. The smell of spray paint thick. This was the scene in Hong Kong as protesters forced their way inside the government's headquarters.

    Rosalind Adams
    BuzzFeed News Reporter
    Reporting From Hong Kong

    Anthony Wallace / AFP / Getty Images

    HONG KONG — Hong Kong citizens smashed their way into the city's main government building on Monday, the anniversary of the territory's return to Chinese rule.

    "For the longest time we wanted to get in here," Edgar Kwok, one of the hundreds of protesters who'd made their way inside, told BuzzFeed News through his black face mask.

    "If we the people can get in here it means you have to listen to us," Kwok said while inside the building's lobby. "We want the government to listen to us, not the other way around."

    The protests have been ongoing for weeks now, as anger at a bill that would allow suspects to be extradited to mainland China for trial has shifted into anger at the territory's government more broadly.

    People gathered on Monday quickly surrounded the headquarters of the Legislative Council, or LegCo, the legislature of the semi-autonomous territory. The demonstration appeared well-organized and prepared for conflict with the police from the outset. Some attendees had their limbs wrapped with plastic and wore face masks to guard against tear gas. Long lines of people ferried supplies through the crowd and chants broke out reminding those gathered not to take photos that would make identifying participants easy for the authorities.

    Hard hats were also distributed as the crowd nearest the building began attempting to break through the defenses surrounding the LegCo building. Protesters zip-tied metal barricades together and launched them at the lobby, even as police could be seen waiting behind the doors. The bars around the building came down one at a time as the people worked to gain entry.

    After hours of efforts, even as crowds milled around peacefully further away, the protesters outside the LegCo had managed to smash their way through the glass doors and windows to work on the metal barricades inside.

    Once inside, protesters began to take out closed-circuit cameras that might later be used to identify them while others destroyed interior doors. Protestors also coordinated to AirDrop a map of the building's fire evacuation plan onto other peoples' phones.

    A yellow poncho that demonstrators hung inside the LegCo served as a reminder of a young protestor who died by suicide last month — just prior to his death, the man called for the removal of Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's chief executive, from office.

    Others made their way inside the LegCo's main chamber to spray-paint the city's logo with black paint and tie a flag from the British colonial period in Hong Kong to podiums inside.

    Anthony Wallace / AFP / Getty Images

    Hong Kong police have described the protest as a "riot," leading many to disperse, the air thick with the smell of aerosol from cans of spray paint still. Others began to gather on the ground floor to game out what their next steps would be.

    While protesters' demands have stayed consistent, the path toward achieving that remained unclear as the night wound down.

    "We are trying everything we can think of," Yo Yo Chin, 24, a university student who was volunteering and helping spread information and supplies, told BuzzFeed News. "We don't really have a plan that we think will necessarily succeed, we're just trying everything."

    With midnight quickly approaching, the Hong Kong police announced that they would soon clear the building and use "reasonable force." Rather than stick around, protesters started to clear the lobby as a round of applause broke out in the crowd. Renewed chants of "Hong Kong, add oil" — a Chinese idiom that means "keep going" — filled the air.

    This is a developing story. Check back for updates or follow Rosalind Adams on Twitter.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  2. #8567

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Adam Schiff
    ‏Verified account

    Foreign policy is not a photo-op. It’s not reality TV. It takes hard work, planning, and perseverance.

    Since Trump first met Kim, North Korea’s nuclear program has grown. Now, he has again aggrandized a ruthless dictator, for nothing in return.

    He has been played by Kim. Again.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  3. #8568

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Boris Johnson Backed A Singapore-Style Tax Free Port At Bristol 6 Weeks After Receiving £25,000 From The Bristol Port Company
    The Tory leadership frontrunner has endorsed a report specifically calling for his donor's port at Bristol to be made a tax-free zone.

    Posted on July 5, 2019, at 7:19 a.m.
    Alex Wickham
    BuzzFeed News Reporter

    Boris Johnson has endorsed a report calling for a Singapore-style tax free port at Bristol six weeks after receiving a £25,000 donation from the Bristol Port Company.

    The Tory leadership frontrunner today announced he was “firing the starting gun on free ports for Britain”, endorsing a report which called for special free trade zones across the UK where taxes and tariffs on imported goods do not apply.

    Johnson accepted a £25,000 payment from First Corporate Shipping, which trades as the Bristol Port Company, on 22 May.

    The Bristol Port Company was formed in 1991 when businessmen Terence Mordaunt and David Ord bought the Port of Bristol from Bristol City Council.

    The report, backed by Johnson on Friday, specifically proposed Bristol as one of six candidate tax free ports across the country. The report showed how the proposal could benefit Bristol port, estimating that each port made into a free trade zone would benefit from hundreds of millions of pounds in additional investment each year.

    It said that in order to “illustrate the potential of a national Free Zone Policy”, free zone sites could be created at Bristol, Teesport, Grimsby, Hull, Liverpool and Belfast.

    “An aeronautics cluster at Bristol port, exploiting existing linkages across the Midlands,” as well as the five other suggested free ports, could create 70,500 extra jobs and a £4.2 billion contribution to GDP after 25 years, the report by Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen claimed.

    Endorsing the proposals, Johnson said: “I welcome this well-written report”. He added: “Taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by leaving the EU on 31 October to introduce free ports is an excellent way to boost businesses and trade.”

    In a press release on Friday morning, Johnson committed to launching an immediate review by the Department for International Trade and HMRC into setting up free ports across the UK, and said he would take steps to introduce pilot free ports as soon as possible after the UK leaves the EU.

    A government led by Johnson “will also consider specific candidate sites,” his campaign said.

    Johnson’s full-throated backing of a report calling for a free port at Bristol – just six weeks after his campaign received a five-figure donation from the owners of the Bristol port – will raise cash-for-policy questions.

    First Corporate Shipping has also donated £25,000 to Jeremy Hunt’s leadership campaign.

    While Hunt has not embraced the free ports policy as keenly as Johnson, he said he would be willing to consider the proposals if he became prime minister.

    The Johnson campaign and the Bristol Port Company have been approached for comment.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  4. #8569

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Jeremy Hunt’s Tory Leadership Campaign Is Being Funded By The UK’s Point Man To Mohammed Bin Salman
    Exclusive: Labour has called on the foreign secretary to return a donation from a close associate of the Saudi crown prince.

    Posted on July 4, 2019, at 12:15 p.m.
    Alex Wickham

    Saudi Ministry of Communications
    Jeremy Hunt donor Ken Costa and Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

    Jeremy Hunt’s Tory leadership campaign is being funded by the UK’s official point man to Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, BuzzFeed News can reveal.

    Ken Costa, the UK government’s special representative to bin Salman’s controversial Saudi Vision 2030 project, is a close associate of the crown prince and has been described as the “linchpin” of the partnership between Britain and the kingdom.

    Costa’s Instagram and Twitter profiles show photos of him meeting bin Salman on multiple occasions. The Foreign Office confirmed that he remains in his role as the UK’s envoy to the crown prince’s beleaguered political and economic modernisation project.

    His £10,000 donation will raise questions about why Hunt is accepting money from the UK’s link to bin Salman after the crown prince’s implication in the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October.

    Two weeks ago, a UN investigator found that there was “credible evidence” that bin Salman was behind the killing of Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post, and that he should be investigated.

    The damning 100-page report described the killing as a “deliberate, premeditated execution, an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible”. It said there was evidence that bin Salman and other senior officials were individually liable for the killing.

    Labour is calling on Hunt to give the money back. The party has also raised questions about whether it is appropriate for a serving UK government official to be donating to a party political campaign.

    Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle, a member of the parliamentary committee on arms exports controls, told BuzzFeed News: “Serious questions need to be raised if the foreign secretary is taking money from Saudi interests to finance his bid to become prime minister.

    “Hunt needs to give back the money immediately and pledge to not accept future donations that could interfere with his day job of running the foreign office.”

    Speaking in the House of Commons in October, Hunt, the foreign secretary, said the official Saudi explanation of Khashoggi’s death was not credible and expressed his view that the "horrific treatment was inflicted by people who work for a government with whom we have close relations”.

    Hunt has also repeatedly spoken in defence of press freedom, tweeting in March that it was “shocking” that journalists around the world have been killed while doing their jobs.

    But that did not stop him from accepting a five-figure donation from bin Salman’s close ally Costa via his company KJ Costa Advisory.

    In an interview last year, Costa said he had an “extremely cordial” relationship with bin Salman, boasting that he had met him a dozen times.

    When bin Salman came to the UK on a state visit in March 2018, Costa helped set up a UK-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council meeting hosted by the crown prince and Theresa May where £65 billion of investment pledges were made.

    According to reports at the time, Costa was responsible for organising another meeting between UK business leaders and bin Salman at the Saudi ambassador’s residence.

    “The linchpin of this partnership is Ken Costa,” said the Financial Times, noting: “He injects a bit of humour into proceedings and the Saudis like him.”

    The paper reported that those present at the meeting orchestrated by Costa were “plied with mint tea and Arabic coffee, and were addressed by Mohammed bin Salman”.

    Costa, a South African-born banker, has previously acted for the Qatari state’s sovereign wealth fund and advised Mohammed al-Fayed during the sale of Harrods to the Qatari royal family. He was approached for comment.

    Hunt's campaign did not respond to requests for comment.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  5. #8570

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Will the last decent politician in the world please flush the toilet?
    Missing winter...

  6. #8571

    Re: World News Random, Random

    5 Jul 2019
    Johnson denies No 10 tried to restrict his access to intelligence
    By Paul McNamara

    Boris Johnson has denied suggestions that security chiefs kept top secret information from him when he was foreign secretary. Speaking at a Tory leadership hustings in Darlington, he said the reports were simply “not true”. But the question that perhaps seemed to stump the frontrunner was when he was asked whether he had ever set aside self-interest for the benefit of the country.

    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  7. #8572

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Alec Luhn
    ‏Verified account

    Yikes. Officer at the funeral of 14 sailors killed in the fire on Russian nuclear submarine Monday says "they saved the ship & prevented a catastrophe of a global scale." Russia didn't even admit there was a reactor on board until Thursday. @OpenMedia_io

    The link is in Russian.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  8. #8573

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Quote Originally Posted by Ti-Amie View Post
    Alec Luhn
    ‏Verified account

    Yikes. Officer at the funeral of 14 sailors killed in the fire on Russian nuclear submarine Monday says "they saved the ship & prevented a catastrophe of a global scale." Russia didn't even admit there was a reactor on board until Thursday. @OpenMedia_io

    The link is in Russian.
    Good to see that they've learned from Chernobyl.
    Meet again we do, old foe...

  9. #8574

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Revealed: Boris, the Russian oligarch and the Page 3 model
    Exclusive: Parties at Italian villa where ‘nothing is off the menu’ raise fresh concerns about PM hopeful being a ‘security risk’

    James Cusick
    6 July 2019

    Evgeny Lebedev | Editingpagesallthetime - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

    In October 2016, Boris Johnson, the recently-appointed foreign secretary, left Whitehall behind to fly to Italy for a private weekend break. He was invited to the luxurious Umbrian villa of his wealthy friend, Evgeny Lebedev – the Russian owner of London’s Evening Standard newspaper. It was not the first time Boris had been to the secluded Palazzo Terranova in the hills near Perugia.

    During his stint as London’s mayor, Boris had been to the 17th-century villa four times as Lebedev’s guest, using his friend’s private jet to fly there and back to London. His now estranged wife, Marina Wheeler, sometimes accompanied him.

    Boris’s host, the son of a wealthy Russian oligarch and former KGB agent, is regarded as a ringmaster of lavish, “outrageous” gatherings which attract the elite of Britain’s stage, screen, and politics. Some of those who have experienced what one guest called Lebedev’s “full Italian experience” have told openDemocracy that “nothing is off the menu from the moment you are greeted to the moment you leave. A quiet English country house retreat it is not.”


    On this occasion, Boris declined the offer of the private jet, and flew to Pisa airport in Italy on Easyjet. He also opted to leave his close-protection officers from the Metropolitan Police behind in the UK.

    Among the weekend guests at the villa was the glamour model Katie Price. She took advantage of the free-flowing champagne on the private jet from London and the pure Russian vodka on offer to guests before dinner.

    Lebedev, according to associates, likes his guests to dress glamorously for dinner and to make a formal toast at the table. Seated by their host next to Boris, Price rose to make her contribution. She called Lebedev “You Guv”, announced that “champagne and Pricey don’t mix,” and then lifted her top to expose her breasts, turning to face the foreign secretary as she did so.

    Although Lebedev’s parties have a reputation for excess, there was concern among some guests – the party also included the actress Joan Collins, pop star Pixie Lott, Johnson’s brother Leo and Marina Wheeler – that Price’s antics would eventually appear in the pages of a red-top newspaper. Britain’s foreign secretary had just put himself in an extremely embarrassing situation, and had put at risk the one asset the Foreign and Commonwealth Office values above all else: control. “This is a hand grenade too far,” Joan Collins reportedly said.

    One of Lebedev’s four-strong team of armed personal bodyguards, headed by an ex-SAS soldier, escorted Price from the dinner table. She was not seen again over the weekend.

    Lebedev’s parties, their excess, extravagance and his penchant for “grenades,” would have been well known to Johnson. In October 2012, then London mayor, he accepted two nights accommodation at Terranova and two return flights from Farnborough on Lebedev’s private yet. In 2013 he visited again, this time flying from Luton. In 2014 and 2015 he returned to the Umbrian villa again. Johnson has also stayed overnight at Lebedev’s lavish country retreat on the Hampton Court estate, Stud House. During his time as London mayor, Johnson said of Lebedev: “I am proud to call him a friend.”

    ITN’s political editor, Robert Peston, described the Lebedev-Johnson friendship in his book, WTF? Peston wrote: “Some would argue it is unsettling that Johnson, as mayor of London and then foreign secretary thought it appropriate to take hospitality from a Russian-born media mogul, whose oligarch father’s relationship with President Putin and the Kremlin is much debated, and is certainly opaque.”

    Meanwhile the Sunday Times recently carried a story claiming the former foreign secretary had been branded “a security risk by a senior cabinet minister who was close to Theresa May, but is backing Hunt for the leadership.” In the front page story on Johnson, the Sunday Times quoted the cabinet minister in conversation with another unnamed cabinet minister: “There will be things in his private life that we don’t know about … there’s the danger that people leak what they have over him or blackmail him with it.”

    Shortly after Johnson was promoted to foreign secretary by Theresa May in July 2016, Sky’s political editor, Adam Boulton, also writing in the Sunday Times, said that responsibility for MI6 had been “quietly shifted [from Boris Johnson] to the prime minister and the National Security Council.”

    However after Jeremy Hunt (now Johnson’s leadership rival) became Foreign Secretary, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed to openDemocracy that Hunt had “oversight” of both MI6 and GCHQ (part of the UK’s intelligence network responsible for signals intelligence and information).

    So had MI6 oversight, as Boulton claimed, been quietly removed from Boris? The FCO did not challenge the central claim made by Boulton that Downing Street had intervened and altered Boris’s security access. Their response to openDemocracy was simply : “The Foreign Secretary has oversight of SIS [MI6]” and that “no change was made to these arrangements in 2016.”

    Friends with the Russians

    Evgeny’s father, Alexander Lebedev, was a KGB agent at the Russian embassy in London in the 1980s, later working for its successor agency, the FSB. Like many others, he took advantage of the Yeltsin era’s economic chaos to acquire vast wealth. He grew a small Russian bank into one of Russia’s largest, acquired shares in Aeroflot and a stake in Russia’s aircraft building industries, and held significant shares in Gazprom, one of Russia’s largest companies, which is now majority-owned by the Russian government.

    In 2006 his wealth was estimated to be close to $4 billion. But the scale of the Lebedevs’ fortune is reported to have significantly fallen. Along with the former president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, Lebedev Senior is also a shareholder in Novaya Gazeta, a newspaper often critical of the Putin regime. Although he has a difficult relationship with the Kremlin, he continues to survive and is tolerated by Putin.

    Alexander Lebedev has met Boris Johnson numerous times. And now that Johnson is front-runner to become the next prime minister, Boris’s friendship with the Lebedev family may be providing other dividends.

    Lebedev’s Evening Standard newspaper, London’s only freesheet distributed daily across the capital in the afternoon, and its editor, George Osborne, have openly backed Boris in the race for Number 10, stating: “Mr Johnson is the candidate who might just get Britain feeling good about itself again… he can put his party, and his country, back on track.”

    The Standard was given one of the rare newspaper interviews with Johnson, reporting on his promise to reach out “beyond Tory voters” and to bring “excitement” but also “seriousness” to politics. And it was the Standard who published the first post-row picture of Johnson with his girlfriend, Carrie Symonds, claiming – without explanation or evidence – that all was now well with the couple.

    The front page of the paper, largely filled with an undated image of the couple holding hands in a country garden, stated: “Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds broke cover today in pictures of them holding hands and gazing into each other’s eyes just days after police were called to a row at her flat. “ A “source” in the article confirmed the picture was “genuine”.

    Friends with the Saudis

    The Lebedevs, in turn, have many reasons to nurture a close relationship with the likely next prime minister.

    Their Evening Standard newspaper has recently attracted controversy because of its links to Saudi business interests. Following the sale in 2017 of a significant part of Lebedev’s shares in the Evening Standard and Independent website to an entity in the Cayman Islands, the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Wright, decided to trigger competition and public interest probes.

    Wright said the Cayman companies had “strong links” to Saudi Arabia and said the sale warranted investigation, given the public requirement for accurate news and free expression of opinion. (Media reports had already identified the Saudi link.)

    The Competition and Markets Authority and the media regulator, Ofcom, have until August 23 to respond. The UK, however, will have a new prime minister by that date, potentially one who calls Evgeny “a friend.”

    The strange case of the dead dog

    There is much that remains opaque about the Lebedevs’ other business relationships, and personal loyalties. Whatever their relationship with Putin is, and whatever the current scale of the family’s wealth in London and Moscow, Evgeny Lebedev is, according to some of his close associates, still personally afraid of the actions Putin could deploy to control the business activities of his family.

    One example of that fear is the recent death of his dog. Vladimir, a large white Borzoi, a Russian wolfhound, was found dead on the Umbrian estate. The dog was said to be Lebedev’s pride and joy. His Instagram account is full of pictures of the huge dog, which was clearly an important part of his life. The last picture of the dog was posted in November last year.

    Lebedev has told associates that he believes the dog was poisoned and that it was a message from Moscow.

    The great and the good

    As might be expected from the owner of a media company,, Boris Johnson is just one in a long list of senior politicians and celebrities entertained by Evgeny Lebedev. David Cameron and Vince Cable, the former head of the Metropolitan Police Bernard Hogan-Howe, and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage have all been welcomed at his lavish London properties. Rupert Murdoch and other media elites are repeat guests.

    Other actors and celebrities who are regular guests at his home in central London, at Stud House on the Hampton Court estate, and in Italy include Elton John, Shirley Bassey, Elizabeth Hurley, Stephen Fry, Rupert Everett, Michael Gambon and Shirley Bassey. Peter Mandelson, who held numerous cabinet posts in Tony Blair’s government, accompanied by his partner Reinaldo da Silva, have also been visitors.

    Sarah Sands, the former Evening Standard editor and now editor of the BBC Today Programme, and George Osborne, the former chancellor and now editor of Lebedev’s Evening Standard, have both made multiple visits to Umbria. Amol Rajan, the former editor of The Independent, now media editor of the BBC, frequently travelled to Umbria when he worked as Lebedev’s personal assistant and fixer, and later during his brief stint running the Independent newspaper. The online Independent remains part of Lebedev’s ESI Media company.

    Dignity in public office

    Boris Johnson’s opponent in the Tory leadership race, current Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, has so far refused to go negative on Boris – in particular on his personal life. The Foreign Secretary, although understood to have potential ammunition on his competitor, has so far restricted criticism to calling Johnson “a coward” for refusing to take part in televised debates. Their only scheduled TV debate is in early July, crucially after the arrival of ballot papers to Conservative members.

    Others are less circumspect. Max Hastings, Johnson’s boss when he was a journalist at the Daily Telegraph, described him as “utterly unfit to be prime minister” and a “tasteless joke” being foisted on the British people by the Conservative Party, adding: “Dignity still matters in public office and Johnson will never have it.”

    openDemocracy contacted Boris Johnson’s campaign asking for any comment he would care to make. No reply was received.

    Contact was also made with Katie Price’s management team and with Joan Collins’ managing agents. No reply was received.

    Mr Lebedev’s office at the Evening Standard was also contacted. An initial statement simply said “This is wrong.” Asked to clarify what was wrong - namely, the foreign secretary’s visit to Terranova, Katie Price’s invitation and attendance, and the description of the dinner party - no further response was received.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  10. #8575

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Ursula von der Leyen signals she will not reopen Brexit talks
    Nominee to lead European commission also says ‘precious’ backstop must be defended

    Jennifer Rankin in Brussels
    Wed 10 Jul 2019 15.38 BST

    Ursula von der Leyen, the nominee to lead the European commission, has signalled she will not reopen Brexit talks with the next British prime minister and stressed the “precious” Irish backstop must be defended.

    She said she still hoped the UK would remain in the European Union, while indicating she had no intention to renegotiate the withdrawal deal agreed by Theresa May and EU leaders.

    “I think it’s a good deal, but it is your responsibility and your noble task to sort this out,” she told a British Liberal Democrat MEP in the European parliament, in her first public comments on Brexit.

    In a thinly veiled message to the Tory leadership candidates Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson, Von der Leyen said the tone and attitude with which Brexit happens were crucial, adding: “Brexit is not the end of something, Brexit is the beginning of future relations and it’s of absolute importance that we have good cooperation.”

    She also made it clear she opposed attempts by both men to reopen discussions on the backstop, the fallback plan to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

    “I think the backstop is of utmost importance and we absolutely know how crucial this nonexistent border is for you,” she said in response to an Irish MEP. “Having the backstop in the Brexit deal is precious, important and has to be defended.”

    Von der Leyen was addressing the European parliament’s liberal group as part of a round of meetings with large political groups to rally support ahead of a vote on her appointment next week. After being backed by EU leaders Von der Leyen needs at least 376 MEPs to elect her as commission president.

    The current German defence minister is a member of the centre-right European People’s party (EPP), so needs to win over some combination of socialists, liberals, greens or Eurosceptics.

    Von der Leyen, who would be the first woman to lead the EU executive, said she wanted an equal share of men and women as European commissioners. However, this depends on the EU’s member states appointing women to be their commissioners – an appeal many ignored in 2014.

    Brexit is scheduled for 31 October, the day before the new European commission takes office.

    Making her pitch to MEPs, Von der Leyen emphasised her green credentials while also arguing that the EU needed to be more assertive in the world – a traditional preoccupation of the centrist group. Her earlier meetings with the EPP, Eurosceptic group and socialists were not broadcast online.

    She pledged her full commitment to making the bloc climate neutral by 2050, saying this required tougher targets for 2030 as well as EU funds for countries that would otherwise struggle to make the green transition.

    Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary recently blocked an EU declaration for a net-zero carbon emissions target by 2050, and are angling for more money before signing up to any pledge.

    Speaking in a mix of English, French and German, Von der Leyen emphasised her European outlook, reminding MEPs she was born in Brussels and attended the city’s European school with Dutch, German and French classmates. “That was my first impression of Europe,” she said.

    She clarified her views on European defence, restating that national parliaments should continue to have the final say on sending men and women into dangerous situations. “I prefer to speak about the army of the Europeans, not the European army,” she said, citing as a model the existing cooperation between Dutch and German forces.

    Although it is expected Von der Leyen will be approved by the European parliament, she still faced sniping over the process of her appointment whereby she leapfrogged politicians who had declared bids to lead the commission before European elections.

    The Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld asked whether she would be tougher in acting against violations of the rule of law and democracy than the outgoing commission, adding it was “remarkable” that Poland and Hungary had supported Von der Leyen’s nomination.

    Von der Leyen answered “yes” and pointed out her appointment was backed by all countries, although Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, did not vote for her because of divisions in Germany’s ruling coalition.

    In her opening remarks Von der Leyen said the rule of law was “the jewel in the crown of our work” and that the EU needed a mechanism for upholding it in member states.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

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