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New York officials defend curfew, subway safety ahead of Monday reopening


(Reuters) – Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday said New York is on track to reopen on Monday from the coronavirus lockdown that turned the most populous U.S. city into a virtual ghost town, restarting work at 32,000 shuttered construction sites.

Both the mayor and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo dug in after critics urged an end to an 8 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew set to last until Monday morning following looting and other violence amid city protests sparked by George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody.

Los Angeles is among several U.S. cities that lifted curfews after critics said they unnecessarily restricted the right to protest.

“5 a.m. Monday the curfew ends and does not come back,” de Blasio told a news conference.

Cuomo, who had been at de Blasio’s side when the curfew was announced earlier this week, said it was a “local decision” he supports, noting, “you have not seen the looting in the past couple of days.”

On Monday, the first stage in restoring economic activity will allow 32,000 construction sites to reopen, de Blasio said.

“Getting people back their livelihood – that’s what Phase 1 is about,” he said.

Trains in the world’s largest subway system have undergone weeks of disinfecting, and platforms have been marked for social distancing. The city is confident people will be safe, said city Transit Authority Interim President Sarah Feinberg.

“The system is going to be busy. There will be crowding conditions,” Feinberg said. “People have to be very vigilant about mask usage and putting as much space between themself and others as they can.”

While clearly mass transit “is the way to get around” the often-congested city, many will choose instead to drive their own cars, she said, offering two words of advice to New Yorkers with a short commute: “Consider walking.”

Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut and Barbara Goldberg in Maplewood, New Jersey; editing by Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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#Brexit – ‘We are ready to start the next phase, to defend and promote Europe’s interests’ #EUCO


 

The decisive victory by the British Conservatives in yesterday’s general election was widely and enthusiastically welcomed by European leaders attending today’s (13 December) European Council.

Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said that they welcomed the certainty that the election provided and said that it had been difficult when things had been agreed in Brussels, then rejected by the House of Commons. Bettel added that it is also time for Boris to deliver.

The President of the European Council Charles Michel said that the EU is ready to start the next phase: “We are ready also to defend and to promote the European interest the level-playing field is a very important goal for us.”

The President of the European Commission underlined that the timeframe to reach an agreement in the second phase was going to be very challenging, she said that the EU will be ready to get the most out of the short period available. Von der Leyen was keen emphasise that while the UK would become a third country, she hoped that the UK would enjoy an unprecedented partnership with the EU. She also said that she hoped for a deal that was: “no tariffs, no quotas, no dumping.” The reference to ‘dumping’ refers to the guaranteeing of minimum standards in several fields including state aid, environmental and consumer standards, social rights and other fields. She also added that we should “care” for the 3.5 million European citizens living in the UK.

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar congratulates Prime Minister Johnson on and “an enormous victory for him […] and for his party.” Varadkar also welcomed the clear majority the PM enjoys and hopes that it will help in swiftly ratifying the Withdrawal Agreement. Varadkar reminded us that the agreement would guarantee no hard border between North and South, the protection of the common travel area, and the protection of British and Irish citizen’s rights.

Varadkar said it was also important to work with Prime Minister Johnson on getting the Northern Ireland executive and assembly up and running again and that this will have to be a key priority for the next couple of weeks.

All leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron were optimistic about an ambitious trade deal, but all made it clear that the deal would be conditional. However, it is already clear that many countries will have very specific red lines. On her way into the European Council, Danish Prime Minister said that she would insist on access to British waters for fishing.

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Category: A Frontpage, Brexit, EU, EU, European Commission, European Parliament, UK





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David Casa MEP calls for European Council intervention to defend #RuleOfLaw in #Malta


In a letter sent today (25 November), Casa stated: “Malta has been gripped by crisis from the moment the late Daphne Caruana Galizia reported on the Panama Papers. It was a scandal that exposed corporate structures reeking of money laundering and connected to secretive deals with Azerbaijan. Those involved were Prime Minister Muscat’s closest political allies.

“Keith Schembri is still his chief of staff, and Konrad Mizzi, is still a cabinet minister. He held portfolios from Health to Energy and now Tourism.

“Joseph Muscat defended them through the Panama Papers, through revelation after revelation, as the web of corruption continued to be exposed. Daphne Caruana Galizia was considered to be Joseph Muscat’s most vociferous critic, but when she was assassinated by a car bomb on the 16th October 2017, not a shred of political responsibility was shouldered.

“The situation today is degenerating into unprecedented desperation.

“The arrest of Yorgen Fenech was supposed to bring us closer to justice, but Muscat’s interference poses a nauseating predicament that is rapidly further eroding trust in the institutions of the State. Yorgen Fenech, the chief murder suspect and owner of a Dubai company linked to Schembri and Mizzi’s Panamanian companies, was arrested trying to flee Malta on his luxury yacht.

“Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri are implicated in serious crimes. With each passing day it is becoming all the more clear that Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered so as to prevent her from exposing these very same crimes.

“Joseph Muscat’s incessant protection of Schembri and Mizzi to this day has inevitably rendered him complicit in their actions.

“To add insult to injury, members of Muscat’s cabinet are being questioned by the police in relation to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Instead of resigning, Muscat has increased his role in this investigation.

“While the police commissioner is refusing to comment, the prime minister is informing the public on the progress of a murder investigation that could implicate members of his cabinet and connects the chief murder suspect to Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi.

“Joseph Muscat also has the power to recommend presidential pardons. He has already given assurances that he will recommend such a pardon to the middleman involved in setting up the assassination. Now Yorgen Fenech has also asked for a pardon. How can the prime minister decide on such matters when his political fate is intrinsically tied to those that Yorgen Fenech could expose? Given his glaringly obvious interest in the case, it is nothing short of obvious that Muscat should step aside and allow the investigation to carry on independently of undue pressure.

“The prime minister wields domineering influence on supposedly independent institutions giving him effective control. The fact that he has attached himself so forcefully to the murder investigation is seriously undermining Malta’s democratic credentials.

“Prime Minister Joseph Muscat alone is responsible for the constitutional crisis in which Malta is trapped. His resignation is imperative. The Prime Minister no longer holds the moral or political authority to represent our nation as a European country with democratic credentials.

“I am therefore calling upon you, as President of the European Council, to intervene to help safeguard Malta’s democracy and to ensure the respect of the values listed in Article 2 of the Treaty in Malta and in particular, justice and the rule of law.”





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