2017 archive photo shows Souvenir T-shirts with Putin and Trump and the text "We love Russia" in Moscow. Photo: Shutterstock
Russian president dismisses Trump claims over Biden son, suspected Channel hijacking intervention and private jets buck struggling aviation trend. Delano’s breakfast briefing for Monday.
Russia cools on Trump
Russia’s president Putin discredited US president Donald Trump’s claims that Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, engaged in unethical practices in Ukraine. In a televised speech on Sunday, Putin said he saw nothing criminal about the democratic challenger’s son’s business activities and was willing to work with any US leader. Reuters.
Suspected hijacking in English Channel
British armed forces detained seven people on Sunday on suspicion of hijacking oil tanker the Nave Andromeda in the English Channel. It is believed troops from the Special Boat Service, an elite navy special forces unit, were involved. The crew were reportedly safe and well while the seven, thought to have stowed away on board in Nigeria, were detained by police. Reuters, The Guardian, FT.
Private jet uptake
Private jet operators appear to be experiencing a boost in activity as wealthy flyers favour private jets over commercial flights in a bid to lower their risk of catching the coronavirus. While commercial flight numbers have halved, the number of private flights dipped 10% from 1 September to 15 October compared to 2019, while in August they rose. FT.
Poland abortion ban
There were mass protests in Poland at the weekend against a constitutional court ruling that amounts to a near-total ban on abortion. The decision outlaws abortions due to foetal defects, ending the most common of the few legal grounds left for abortion in Poland. Reuters.
Belarus presidential protests
Several people were injured by police when over 100,000 protestors marched in the capital on Sunday calling for the resignation of president Lukashenko. The president took post two months ago in an election which exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said was manipulated. Euronews, The Guardian.
Chileans voted overwhelmingly in favour of tearing up the country’s Pinochet-era constitution for a new charter. The referendum results were still being counted but early counts found 78% in favour of a new text that would offer more equal rights to healthcare, pensions and education. Reuters.
Kuwait & Qatar boycott French products
Supermarkets in Kuwait and Qatar are boycotting French produce in response to French president Emmanuel Macron’s crackdown on radical Islamism. French prime minister Gérald Darmanin proposed a ban on “separatist” organisations following the murder on 16 October of a history teacher who showed caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in a class about freedom of expression. France recalled its ambassador to Turkey on Sunday after Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Macron needed mental treatment over his attitude towards Muslims. FT.
Tech giants tax avoidance
US tech giants Google, Facebook and Microsoft have been accused of failing to pay a fair amount of taxes in poor countries, according to research from anti-poverty charity Actionaid International. The not-for-profit found tech firms exploited tax loopholes to avoid paying $2.8b a year in developing countries, a gap which could have paid the salaries of 700,000 new teachers. The Guardian.
Internet business model
Last week EU lawmakers backed proposals to phase out the targeted advertising model of tech giants, ahead of an overhaul of the EU’s digital rulebook, expected to be published in December. Politico examines what a ban on targeted adverts could mean and the disturbing data protection breaches the model has led to.
Infection numbers swelled to a record high in Luxembourg on Friday when 862 people tested positive. They calmed somewhat on Saturday to 491 infections. Over the two days, four people died, bringing the total number of fatalities to 145. Sunday's figures will be published at 5:30pm on Monday (health ministry).
On Monday, Luxembourg’s government is expected to draft an amendment to the country’s covid law (adopted 22 September), to include a curfew (11pm to 6am) and a ban on meetings (without masks) of more than four people. The so-called rule of four will apply to restaurants, bars and gatherings in the home. Both would apply for an initial period of one month. The amendment is expected to be adopted before the end of the week.
On Friday, people testing positive were urged to notify people they had high risk contact with themselves as the country’s manual contact tracing services struggle to keep up with the rising cases.
According to The Guardian, across 31 countries monitored by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, the average 14-day case incidence rate per 100,000 residents multiplied from 13 in July to 250 last week. With an incidence rate of 1,210 per 100,000 residents, Belgium was singled out as one of the most dangerous in Europe.
Italy and Spain, which were severely hit in the first wave, announced new measures on Sunday, including curfews and, in Italy, the closure of pools, theatres and cinemas. FT.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has produced a robust immune response in elderly people in immunogenicity tests, two people familiar with the findings told the FT. Oxford University, which is developing the vaccine, declined to comment. The results will be published shortly in a clinical journal.
Ahead of the International Space Station’s twentieth anniversary celebrations this week, The Guardian reflects on how the international cooperation project came about, the scientific research conducted by the 240 men and women who have stayed there and the vast sums of money invested.
Coming up this week
Work will begin Monday to amend Luxembourg’s covid law to include a curfew and tighter restrictions on gatherings, the so-called rule of four.
On Tuesday, the educational working group will discuss the suicide rate in Luxembourg, the constitutional reform group will examine the next stages of the constitutional reform and the budgetary control working group will present a preliminary report on the Luxeosys project.