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Chances of Brexit deal fading every day, EU Commission chief says

The British pound, which moves in line with perceptions of either a chaotic or orderly Brexit, held within striking distance of a two-month low on Wednesday.

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Boris Johnson

London: The head of the European Commission said on Wednesday the chances of reaching a trade deal with Britain were fading by the day as the British government pushes ahead with moves that would breach their divorce treaty.

The British government unveiled draft legislation last week which it acknowledges would violate its international legal obligations and undercut parts of the divorce deal it signed before Britain formally left the European Union in January.

Brussels wants Prime Minister Boris Johnson to scrap what is known as the Internal Market bill, saying it could sink talks on future trade arrangements before Britain leaves the EU’s single market. Britain has remained part of the single market during a status quo transition period that expires at the end of this year.

Johnson has refused.

“With every day that passes, the chances of a timely agreement do start to fade,” said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, the EU executive.

In a speech to the European Parliament, she said the divorce agreement “cannot be unilaterally changed, disregarded or dis-applied”.

“This is a matter of law, trust and good faith … Trust is the foundation of any strong partnership,” she said.

The British pound, which moves in line with perceptions of either a chaotic or orderly Brexit, held within striking distance of a two-month low on Wednesday.

The EU fears a disorderly Brexit if the terms of the trade relationship are not agreed, and former British prime ministers have said breaking the law is a step too far that undermines the country’s image.

Johnson said it was essential to counter “absurd” threats from Brussels including that London be required to put up trade barriers between Britain and its province of Northern Ireland and that the EU would impose a food blockade. Such steps, he said, would threaten the unity of the United Kingdom.

“WAY THROUGH”

The Internal Market Bill is being debated by the British parliament, where Johnson faces opposition from some members of his governing Conservative Party.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said the government sees a ‘way through’ the parliamentary maze, and Johnson has been talking to the party rebels.

Buckland said there had been talks with Bob Neill, a Conservative lawmaker who has proposed amending the bill to ensure that any attempt to use the clauses that breach the Brexit divorce agreement receive prior approval from parliament.

Britain’s Northern Ireland minister Brandon Lewis told parliament he stood by remarks he made last week that the bill would “break international law in a very specific and limited way”.

But Scotland’s top law adviser to the British government, Richard Keen, has offered his resignation to Johnson over his plan to break international law, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

EU diplomatic sources told Reuters that if the bill was passed in its current form, Brussels felt it could not deal with London.

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Kim Jong-un pays tribute to fallen Chinese soldiers

He then paid tribute to Mao Anying, the son of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong, who died in the conflict, and a floral basket was laid at his grave, the KCNA said.

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Kim Jong Un

Seoul, Oct 22 : North Korean state-media on Thursday reported that the country’s leader Kim Jong-un visited the cemetery of Chinese soldiers who fell during the 1950-53 Korean War, to mark the anniversary of their participation in the conflict.

It appears to be in line with Kim’s push to further strengthen bilateral ties with China at a time when the North is in need of support from the ally amid stagnant economic growth and stalled nuclear negotiations with the United States, Yonhap news agency reported.

Kim visited “the martyrs of the Chinese People’s Volunteers (CPV) in Hoechang County, South Pyongan Province, and paid a high tribute to them on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the entry of the Chinese People’s Volunteers into the Korean front,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

Hoechang is where the headquarters of the Chinese soldiers was located during the war.

“He said with deep emotion that even though 70 years have passed since the excellent sons and daughters of the fraternal Chinese people made an entry into the sacred Fatherland Liberation War fought by the Korean people, the immortal exploits and heroic feats made by the CPV by sacrificially supporting us… remain vividly in the memory of our people.” the KCNA added.

Kim lauded the participation of Chinese soldiers in the Korean War as a “historic contribution to the great victory in the Fatherland Liberation War.”

“The great victory won by the armies and peoples of the North and China while linking their destiny as one and sharing weal and woe with each other is, indeed, of great significance no matter how much water flows under the bridge,” Kim was quoted as saying.

He then paid tribute to Mao Anying, the son of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong, who died in the conflict, and a floral basket was laid at his grave, the KCNA said.

In July 2013, Kim visited the cemetery and paid tribute to the fallen Chinese soldiers to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean armistice agreement that ended the war, followed by another visit in 2018 to mark the 65th anniversary.

“The difference this year is that they marked the 70th anniversary of China’s participation in the war,” he added.

The North has been seeking to maintain closer ties with its traditional ally amid an impasse in nuclear negotiations with Washington.

Earlier this week, Kim pledged to further boost friendly relations with China in a reply message to Chinese President Xi Jinping, who sent a congratulatory letter to Kim to mark the 75th founding anniversary of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party.

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Lucknow Covid team’s data includes US couple & one long dead

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Corona Death Body

The district health department in Lucknow has released Covid reports of two persons who are in the US and one, who died years ago.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Sanjay Bhatnagar said an employee was suspended and show cause notice was served to another on Tuesday after a probe found them guilty of the lapse.

According to reports, Ashray Jaiswal, a bank executive, tested Covid positive on October 6.

Two days later, a contact tracing team came to his rented house in Rajajipuram area to collect the samples of his wife and two children for tests.

The team gave Ashray a link of the portal where he could login to see the test results.

When Ashray opened the portal the next day, he was shocked to see reports of five other persons, along with his family members, with the same residential address.

“The reports of my wife and children stated that they were tested through the RT-PCR method. While my son tested positive, wife and daughter came negative. However, of five other names, three were of my landlord’s family — two of them were the couple who own the house and are currently in the US — while third report was of the landlord’s father who had passed away a few years ago. The remaining two persons are not known to me,” he told reporters.

The team, apparently, noted the names of the landlord’s family from the nameplate outside the house without actually collecting samples.

Ashray reported the matter immediately on the Covid helpline. “Thereafter, a contact team personnel arrived and apologised while promising to get my family’s tests done again”.

Source: IANS

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Soldiers open fire on Nigerian protesters in Lagos: witnesses

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Nigerian Protesters

LAGOS : Soldiers opened fire on Nigerian protesters in the Lekki district of the commercial capital Lagos on Tuesday, shooting at least two people, three witnesses told Reuters.

Protesters have demonstrated here for more than a week over allegations of police brutality in Nigeria.

“They started firing ammunition toward the crowd. They were firing into the crowd,” said Alfred Ononugbo, 55, a security officer. “I saw the bullet hit one or two persons,” he said.

Lagos state government said it would open an investigation into the shooting, which witnesses said took place around 7 p.m. (1800 GMT).

“There have been reports of shooting at the Lekki Toll Plaza,” Gboyega Akosile, a spokesman for the governor, said on Twitter. “The State Government has ordered an investigation into the incident,” he said in another tweet.

A Nigerian army spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Inyene Akpan, 26, a photographer, said more than 20 soldiers arrived at the toll gate in Lekki and opened fire. He said he saw two people being shot.

Akinbosola Ogunsanya, a third witness, said he saw around 10 people being shot. He also said he saw soldiers remove bodies.

A Reuters witness heard sirens and gunfire.

Authorities on Tuesday imposed a round-the-clock curfew on Lagos, which contains Africa’s biggest city, in response to the protests, which the state governor said had turned violent.

The national police chief also ordered the immediate deployment of anti-riot forces nationwide following increased attacks on police facilities, a police spokesman said.

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