Weekly News 31st October- 4th November

Monday 31st October

Italy: The European Commission is dissatisfied with Italy’s letter responding to EC strictures about the draft 2017 budget, EC sources said Monday. Of the five letters that have been received so far, they said, three are more constructive (Portugal, Finland, Belgium) and two less so, from Italy and Cyprus. The deadline for the EC to request changes to the draft budget plan, if it sees serious risks of deviation from structural adjustment targets, falls on Tuesday. (Ansa)

Lebanon: Michel Aoun, was chosen president of Lebanon on Monday morning, ending a two-and-a-half-year vacuum that had tested the country’s ability to function without political leadership. Mr. Aoun has developed a fervent political base of supporters who consider him a last hope for the country’s dwindling Maronite Christian community. But his detractors are just as passionate, blaming him for allying with his onetime enemies, the Syrian government, and with the militant group Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran and Syria and listed as a terrorist group by the United States. (The New York Times)

Spain: Mariano Rajoy takes office for a second term as Spain’s prime minister this week, overcoming a 10-month leadership impasse but heading a minority government with little maneuvering room to enact legislation. Mr. Rajoy, who was re-elected by parliament on Saturday night, faces pressing economic and fiscal challenges that he and his fellow lawmakers put aside while they were consumed by political gridlock. At stake is whether Spain can keep up the momentum that has made it the eurozone’s fastest-growing large economy. (The Wall Street Journal)

War on Terror: Advancing Iraqi troops broke through Islamic State defenses in an eastern suburb of Mosul on Monday, taking the battle for the insurgents’ stronghold into the city limits for the first time, a force commander said. The fighting came after two weeks of advances by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces who cleared surrounding areas of insurgents, in the early stages of the largest military operation in Iraq since the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. Commanders have said the battle for the city, the hardline militants’ last big bastion in Iraq, could take months. (Reuters)

Tuesday 1st November

France: French Police check the status of the migrants who reside in the migrant camp of Stalingrad (in the northeast of Paris). Before their eyes, a few hours later, an excavator destroyed everything and threw their belongings into a dumpster and dismantle the camp. Those who had called earlier the ownership of these assets have clashed with CRS. (Le Monde)

Italy: Italy’s first woman minister Tina Anselmi died on Tuesday aged 89.Anselmi joined the Resistance at the age of 17 in 1944, working as a message courier codenamed Gabriella. The same year she joined the Christian Democrat party. She joined Christian trade unions, campaigned tirelessly for equal opportunities and became Italy’s first female cabinet member in 1976 when Premier Giulio Andreotti named her labour minister. In 1981 she was named to lead a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the subversive Propaganda Due (P2) masonic lodge, and in 1984 filed a damning report on its activities. In later years she was frequently mentioned as a token candidate for Italian president. (Ansa)    

Wednesday 2nd November

Italy: Egyptian prosecutors on Tuesday handed over to Rome prosecutors documents belonging to Giulio Regeni, the Italian student tortured and murdered in Cairo earlier this year. Regeni’s passport, two Cambridge University cards and his ATM card were handed over at a meeting in Cairo which Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni called “positive”. (Ansa)

War on terror: Daesh released an audio message on Thursday morning apparently of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi calling for his fighters not to retreat in Mosul, as Iraqi forces prepared to reclaim the city in a final assault. If confirmed, it would be the first time the Isil leader had been heard from since he was thought to have been severely injured in an air strike on Mosul in March 2015. There were rumours he had been paralysed in that attack. (The Telegraph)

Thursday 3rd November

Brexit: The British government’s plan for leaving the European Union was thrown into uncertainty on Thursday after the High Court ruled that Parliament must give its approval before the process can begin. The court’s decision seemed likely to slow the British withdrawal from the bloc, a step approved by nearly 52 percent of voters in a June referendum. Nevertheless, the court’s decision was a significant blow to Prime Minister Theresa May. She had planned to begin the legal steps for leaving the European Union by the end of March, and to prepare for the negotiations over Britain’s exit mostly behind closed doors. (The New York Times)

Italy: Premier Matteo Renzi on Wednesday ruled out putting off the December 4 referendum on Constitutional reform because of the quake crisis. He called the idea “surreal” while acknowledging that Interior Minister Angelino Alfano had acted correctly in weighing an opposition request for a postponement. But, he said, Alfano’s tone had been “doubtful” in itself. Earlier on Wednesday Alfano said that the executive would consider a request from the opposition for the referendum to be postponed due to Italy’s earthquake emergency. The main opposition parties quickly came out against the idea. (ANSA)

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake struck central Italy in the early hours of Thursday in the same region hit by recent strong quakes last week. It said the temblor was very shallow, only 6.2 miles (10 km) deep, and was centered 32 miles (51.5 km) southeast of Perugia. The National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology (INGV) places the earthquake’s epicentre in Pieve Torina (Macerata) at a depth of 8km, and rates the magnitude as 4.8. Earthquakes measuring 5.5 and 6.1 hit the area on October 26, followed by a 6.6 magnitude quake on Sunday, the biggest tremor to strike Italy for 36 years. (The Telegraph)

Lebanon: Lebanon’s Central Bank chief Riad Salameh said on Thursday that the election of a new president and the coming formation of a new government will increase confidence in the economy and attract foreign aid.The election of President Michel “Aoun should lead to a normal activity of the constitutional institutions … increasing confidence in the economy”. “The formation of a new government would help by attracting foreign aid and mitigating the cost of the Syrian presence in Lebanon that we estimate at 5 percent of the GDP,” Salameh added, referring to the large number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. (Asharq al-Awsat)

Friday 4th November

COP21: The Paris agreement on climate change enters into force on Friday, marking the first time that governments have agreed legally binding limits to global temperature rises. The passage of the accord – the fruit of more than two decades of often tortuous international negotiations on combating climate change – was hailed by nations and observers around the world. Next week, governments will meet in Morocco under the auspices of the United Nations to discuss how to put the Paris accord into force, and meet its aims. (The Guardian)

France: At 6:00 Friday morning, authorities started evacuating the camp of migrants of Stalingrad, in the northeast of Paris. (Liberation)

Italy: A 60-year-old Italian volunteer who worked for the Pentalux NGO, Tonino Tonial, has died in Burkina Faso. The cause of death has not been determined yet and no signs of violence have been found on his body, according to reports on Friday. News of Tonial’s death emerged on Thursday, when the association he worked for, which delivers aid from the north-eastern region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia to Africa, alerted the volunteer’s family. Italy’s embassy in the Ivory Coast and the consulate in Burkina Faso confirmed the news. (Ansa)

Spain: The new thirteen ministers chosen by the Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, sworn Friday morning in front of the King. (ABC)

Turkey: Today eight people were killed and over a hundred others injured in a car bomb attack against a police building in Diyarbakir, in southeast of the Country predominantly Kurdish. (Le Figaro)

The two joint leaders of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) have been detained along with at least 10 MPs because of their reluctance to give testimony for crimes linked to “terrorist propaganda”. Turkish police raided the Ankara home of co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş and the house of co-leader Figen Yüksekdağ in Diyarbakır, the largest city in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish south-east, early on Friday. At least 10 other HDP parliamentarians were also detained in a major escalation of the government’s crackdown on its opponents in the wake of the failed coup on 15 July. Raids also took place in the south-eastern cities of Van and Bingöl. (The Guardian)

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