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1/19/21

USA: Biden to block Trump's proposal to lift US travel restrictions on Europe - by Jessica Glenza

Joe Biden’s administration plans to retain coronavirus travel restrictions on much of Europe, the United Kingdom and Brazil, aides to the president-elect said, shortly after the White House announced plans to lift the measures on 26 January.

Donald Trump signed an executive order late on Monday, ending the travel restrictions that he imposed in March 2020, and instead requiring that travelers present proof of a negative Covid-19 test to enter the US.

Read more: Biden to block Trump's proposal to lift US travel restrictions on Europe | Donald Trump | The Guardian

Car Industry Alternative Energy: Electric car batteries with five-minute charging times produced

Batteries capable of fully charging in five minutes have been produced in a factory for the first time, marking a significant step towards electric cars becoming as fast to charge as filling up petrol or diesel vehicles.

Electric vehicles are a vital part of action to tackle the climate crisis but running out of charge during a journey is a worry for drivers. The new lithium-ion batteries were developed by the Israeli company StoreDot and manufactured by Eve Energy in China on standard production lines.

Read more at: Electric car batteries with five-minute charging times produced | Electric, hybrid and low-emission cars | The Guardian

Coronavirus vaccine: Scientists racing to understand new COVID-19 variants and whether they will derail vaccination efforts

Multiple new coronavirus variants have been discovered across several continents, from Europe to Africa to South America. Confirmed cases keep popping up in dozens of countries, Canada included.

Scientists are now racing to understand these sets of mutations, all while concerns are growing over their ability to infect people more easily or, in some cases, potentially evade the army of antibodies we create after being infected or vaccinated.

Read more at: Scientists racing to understand new COVID-19 variants and whether they will derail vaccination efforts | CBC News

U.S. Senate Republican leader McConnell says Trump 'provoked' Jan. 6 riot

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday accused President Donald Trump, a fellow Republican, of provoking the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

“The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people,” McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor.

Read more at: U.S. Senate Republican leader McConnell says Trump 'provoked' Jan. 6 riot | Reuters

1/18/21

The Netherlands: Dutch outgoing Rutte government criticized for chaotic start of vaccination program - local city health centers still in the dark when elderly will be vaccinated

The Dutch government continues to come under heavy criticism from lawmakers and the Public over their chaotic handling of the COVID-19 vaccination plan.

Local city health care center when called by people, young and old, are not able to give answers as to the schedules or details (dates) when the vacinations.

Read more at: EU-Digest

Global Economy: China Is the Only Major Economy to Report Economic Growth for 2020 - by Grace Zhu and Bingyan Wang

China’s economy expanded by 2.3% in 2020, roaring back from a historic contraction in the early months of the year to become the only major world economy to grow in what was a pandemic-ravaged year.

China’s ability to expand, even as the world struggled to control a deadly virus that has killed more than two million people, underscores the country’s success in largely taming the coronavirus within its borders and further cements its place as the dominant economy in Asia.

Note EU-Digest: On Monday, China reported a year-on-year increase of 6.5% for the fourth quarter of 2020 and a 2.3% increase for all of 2020, surpassing analysts' forecasts and making China the the only major economy to log positive growth in 2020.Fortune magazine predicts that financial experts believe that China's economy will overtake that of the US somewhere between 2026 and 2029.

Read more at: China Is the Only Major Economy to Report Economic Growth for 2020 - WSJ

USA: Trump to Leave White House for Mar-a-Lago Before Biden Inauguration- by Cecelia Smith-Schoenwalder,

President Donald Trump will reportedly leave the White House and fly to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida hours before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, breaking with tradition and skipping his successor's ceremony.

Several current White House staff members, including personal assistant Nick Luna are expected to keep working for Trump or his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Members of Trump's family are also expected to relocate to Florida, which was a frequent destination for the president during his administration.

But some neighbors of the Palm Beach resort have made it clear that they do not want Trump hanging around. Still, nothing is preventing the president from moving to the resort.

Read more at: Report: Trump to Leave White House for Mar-a-Lago Before Biden Inauguration | America 2020 | US News

Vaccination against COVID-19 re: allergic reactions: Experts offer reassurance

The authors, led by allergists at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, conducted a detailed review of issues relating to allergic reactions to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

They conclude that reactions to vaccines are rare, and that even people with known food or medication allergies are safe to receive the vaccine under the right circumstances.

Read more at: COVID-19 vaccine allergic reactions: Experts offer reassurance

Russia: Alexei Navalny: Poisoned Putin critic Navalny detained for 30 days

Russia's most prominent opposition figure has been arrested and detained for 30 days, after returning to Moscow for the first time since he was poisoned last year.

Mr Navalny, 44, said a court ruling from a police station was a mockery, urging people to stage street protests.

Mr Navalny has described the embezzlement charges as politically motivated.

US and European leaders have led calls for his release.

Mr Navalny was almost killed in an attack involving the nerve agent Novichok last August, which he blamed on the Kremlin. Moscow has denied involvement. The opposition politician's allegations have however been backed up by reports from investigative journalists.

Read more at: Alexei Navalny: Poisoned Putin critic Navalny detained for 30 days - BBC News

1/17/21

EU: Commission at odds with Parliament over GM crop authorisations – by Natasha Foote

The EU executive looks set to press ahead with a “new approach” to genetically modified (GM) crop authorisations in the wake of persistent lack of political support for the technology in the European Parliament.

In December, MEPs voted for a further five objections against authorisations of GM crops for use as food and feed in the EU, including one GM soybean and four GM maize varieties. This has brought the overall number of objections to GM crop authorisations to 51 in five years.

Read more at: Commission at odds with Parliament over GM crop authorisations – EURACTIV.com

EU-Russia Relations: Can EU keep Navalny safe as he 'defies' Putin? - by Andrew Rettman

EU diplomacy might help keep Russian opposition hero Alexei Navalny safe when he "defies" Russian president Vladimir Putin by going home this weekend.

"I think it's unlikely he [Navalny] would be arrested at the airport, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was," Vladimir Ashurkov, a Russian émigré living in London who is a close associate of Navalny's, told EUobserver on Thursday (14 January).

Russia has already prepared two warrants for Navalny's arrest on bogus charges - parole violation and embezzlement, Ashurkov said.

"If they tried before, there's nothing to stop them from doing it in the future," Ashurkov also said on the risk to Navalny's life, after Putin's spy service, the FSB, poisoned Navalny last year.

Read more at: Can EU keep Navalny safe as he 'defies' Putin?

Turkey: Canan Kaftancioglu, a shining new Turkish political star , has Turkey′s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatening rivals with jail

Left-wing CHP leader Canan Kaftancioglu inflicted a humiliating defeat on Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul in 2019. Now the Turkish president wants revenge in court.

Canan Kaftancioglu is a rising political star in Turkey. The popularity ratings of this 48-year-old doctor-turned-politician from the Black Sea region are among the highest in the country.

She had always stood out in the social democratic Republican People's Party (CHP) with her left-wing views, and at the beginning of 2018 she was elected Istanbul's provincial president.

But Kaftancioglu real breakthrough came a good year later after she masterminded one of the most successful election campaigns in Turkish history. This was the campaign of Ekrem Imamoglu, a relatively unknown local, in Istanbul's mayoral elections of March 2019. Few people expected this newcomer to win against the ruling AKP's candidate, former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

Read more at: Turkey′s Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatens rivals with jail | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 17.01.2021

The Netherlands: Riot police used water cannon to break up illegal anti-Rutte Government demo in Amsterdam

Riot police used water cannon and horses to break up an illegal demonstration on Amsterdam’s Museumplein on Sunday afternoon. The demonstration had been called by a group calling itself Nederland in Verzet (the Netherlands resists) but had been banned by mayor Femke Halsema because of fears that coronavirus measures would not be kept.

Read more at: Riot police used water cannon to break up illegal demo in Amsterdam - DutchNews.nl

EU-Btritain Relations: High Speed Rail Eurostar in 'critical condition' after collapse in travel between UK and France

Eurostar, the train operator that runs services through the Channel Tunnel, is in 'a very critical' state after a collapse in travel between Britain and the European continent, a top French rail executive warned on Friday.

Until recently a symbol of easy high-speed rail travel in Europe, Eurostar has been crippled by the coronavirus crisis, with its special platforms and facilities in Paris, London and Brussels now eerily quiet.

The group is currently running just one service a day between Paris and London, a far cry from the time before Covid-19 when it would operate two trains an hour during peak times.

Read more at The Local