UK: May stands firm as MPs put heat on new Brexit plan


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British Prime Minister Theresa May took criticism from members of parliament from across the political spectrum during Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions session in the House of Commons, regarding her handling of Brexit.

MPs from the Scottish National Party (SNP), Labour, and the Conservative Party took time to question her approach, with some calling on her to resign.

"Her customs union compromise [was] already dismissed by the European Union; isn’t this new deal just a fantasy?" asked Ian Blackford of the SNP. "Her own party doesn’t want her deal, and now even the pro-Brexit Labour front bench won’t support her deal. Her time is up."

"It concerns me, and it has long concerned me that we don’t have the consent here in this House to deliver the Brexit that is likely to emanate from this House," said Conservative MP Phillip Lee. "Can she commit towards reaching out across this House in order to bring about the vote which remains to take place, which is the choice between having a final say of the British public or a no-deal Brexit."

May stood firm on her stance that the only way forward was her deal, which the House of Commons has already voted down multiple times, saying, "There is only one way of this House ensuring that we leave the European Union without no-deal, and that is to leave with a deal, and that is to support the second reading of the withdrawal agreement bill."

She added, "I have not changed my view on a second referendum. I’ve been clear that I think this House should be delivering on the result of the first referendum."

The United Kingdom has until October 31 to find a deal which could garner support in the House of Commons and with the European Union, without which it risks crashing out of the bloc without a deal.

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LIVE: Austrian Chancellor Kurz delivers statement amid ongoing political scandal


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Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz delivers a statement in Vienna on Wednesday, May 22.

Kurz announced on Saturday that the country will hold snap elections, in the wake of a scandal involving his former Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache that resulted in his resignation, along with other FPÖ ministers.

Earlier on Wednesday, finance minister Hartwig Löger from the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) was sworn in as Vice-Chancellor. "

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UK: May vows to 'pursue every step' to save British Steel


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British Prime Minister Theresa May said the government was negotiating with various stakeholders to save the United Kingdom's second-biggest steel producer, British Steel, during a Prime Minister's Questions session in the House of Commons in London on Wednesday.

"We recognize that this is a worrying time for the thousands of dedicated British steel workers and their families," May said. "The government has been working tirelessly with the company, with its owner, Greybull Capital, and lenders to explore all potential options to secure a solution for the company."

"We will be working with the company and other, and the official receiver in the days and weeks ahead to ensure that we can pursue every step to secure the future of the operations at Scunthorpe, Skinningrove and on Teesside," she added. "There are no job losses at this time and the official receiver has already said staff will continue to be paid and employed."

Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin asked May whether she would meet with MPs cross-party whose constituencies are affected by the matter, to which she responded affirmatively.

"I will certainly meet with him and a group of MPs to consider this issue. This is about one company owned by Greybull Capital, but obviously we have taken steps in the past to ensure that we continue to have a steel industry in the United Kingdom and we will want to look at that wider issue," said May.

The jobs of 5,000 British Steel workers are reportedly at stake, as well as 20,000 more in the supply chain, as British Steel has been trying to secure an investment of £75 million (€85 million, $95 million) to help it address "Brexit-related issues."

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn urged the government to nationalise the company on Tuesday.

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Australia: Fireball believed to be a meteor illuminates the skies over Adelaide


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What appears to be a massive fireball, and believed by experts to have been a meteor, dashed through the sky over Australia on Tuesday, footage filmed in Adelaide shows. The object was also spotted in other cities in southern Australia, as it flew through the air and illuminated the sky.

Experts were reportedly confident that it was a meteor burning up as it entered the Earth’s atmosphere, and vaporized over Australia.

Local residents were reportedly stunned with the night-time meteor surprise.

Mandatory Credit: Adam Dobson

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Indonesia: Six reported dead as post-election protests turn violent


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Six people have reportedly died and at least 200 were injured as protests erupted in Jakarta after the Indonesian election commission declared President Joko Widodo as the winner of last month’s election, footage filmed on Tuesday night shows.

Protesters can be see scuffling with police, with projectiles being thrown from both sides. The police also fired tear gas to break up the crowd.

According to reports, demonstrators had set fire to vehicles and to a police dormitory in the Indonesian capital.

The protest started on Tuesday afternoon, outside the election commission's headquarters, following presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto’s team’s rejection of the outcome of the election on the basis of alleged fraud.

Incumbent Joko Widodo secured 55.5 percent of the vote versus 44.5 percent for Prabowo, according to Indonesia's election council.

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Russia: Abandoned bear cubs find new home in Tver wildlife centre


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Two brown bear cubs abandoned by their mother found new home in the International Fund for Animal Welfare Centre (IFAW) in the village of Bubonitsy in the Tver region, as seen from footage filmed on Wednesday.

The animal centre, which already shelters 14 other bear cubs, said that the newcomers were found abandoned in the Smolensk region in March. When it became clear that their mother would not return to them, the people who found the bears informed the centre about the cubs.

Besides of taking care of the bears and preparing them for adult life, the rescue centre also pays special attention to the diet of the animals. The cubs are usually fed with buckwheat, oatmeal, eggs, as well as vitamins, calcium, and other nutrients.

The orphan animal centre is located near the village of Bubonitsy, and is the only one of its kind in Russia. The employees of the centre nurse the cubs so that they can eventually be returned to the wild.

At the moment, the IFAW is home to 16 bear cubs. In 29 years of operation, the centre has saved more than 200 young animals.

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LIVE: IOC President Thomas Bach holds press conference in Switzerland


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International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach is holding a press conference in Lausanne on Wednesday, May 22, amid rumors over the International Boxing Association (AIBA) being stripped of the right to organise the Olympic boxing tournament at Tokyo 2020.

The expected decision, which would represent the biggest shake-up in Olympic boxing history, comes after inquiry into AIBA's governance, finances, refereeing and judging.

AIBA has run Olympic boxing for 73 years.

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LIVE: European People’s Party holds final EU election rally in Munich


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The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) hold their final European election rally in Munich on Friday, May 24.

Manfred Weber, the centre-right European People's Party candidate seeking to replace Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission, German chancellor Angela Merkel and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz are expected to deliver a speech in front of supporters.

This is the first time that CDU/CSU are campaigning together for a European parliament election.

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LIVE: Zakharova holds MFA weekly briefing in Moscow


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Spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova conducts her weekly press briefing on current foreign affairs in Moscow on Thursday, May 23.



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France: Activists stage 'die-in' at Bayer HQ to decry harmful impact of their products


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Around 70 activists stormed the headquarters of pharmaceutical giant Bayer in La Garenne-Colombes, near Paris, on Wednesday, where they staged a 'die-in' protest to denounce the impact of the corporation's products on biodiversity.

Activists from the Attac association, the Farmer Confederation (Confederation Paysanne), Extinction Rebellion and RadiAction reportedly participated in the protest.

Charlotte of the RadiAction association said, "We want to show the destructive model that Monsanto has been promoting for decades, including the destructive use of pesticides and [its impact] on biodiversity and the living in general.”

Spokesperson for the Attac association, Annie, noted that the activists demand "to ban these products, to force Bayer to recognise the harmfulness [of their products] and to compensate the victims and put an end to this type of products."

France is among the biggest consumers of pesticides in the EU alongside Spain and Italy.

Last week, hundreds of activists marched from the capital's Place de la Republique to Stalingrad, demanding an immediate ban on synthetic pesticides of the US chemicals giant Monsanto and its parent company Bayer.

In April, a French court ruled that Monsanto was liable for the ill health of farmer Paul Francois, who inhaled one of the weedkiller products made by the firm.

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Kyrgyzstan: Lavrov holds talks with Chinese counterpart at SCO foreign ministers meet


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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held bilateral talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Bishkek on Wednesday as part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers meeting.

The Russian diplomat said that the SCO will continue to be at the forefront of the struggle for justice throughout the world.

Discussing Sino-Russian relations, Lavrov stated “We appreciate our relations [with China], especially in a period that is characterized by an increase in instability in international affairs, an increase in conflict potential.”

“The decisions that were approved at this session will further strengthen the voice of the SCO in international affairs in support of the supremacy of international law, the UN Charter, and the norms of the World Trade Organisation,” he added.

The SCO foreign ministers reportedly reviewed a draft final declaration for the upcoming summit in June, containing joint approaches to building up cooperation within the organisation, as well as coordinated positions on international and regional issues at the meeting in Bishkek.

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Kyrgyzstan: Lavrov discusses results of SCO Foreign Ministers summit


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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov talked about the results of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Foreign Ministers meeting in Bishkek on Wednesday.

“We reviewed the draft documents that are being prepared for this event - the central political document of the Bishkek Declaration,” he said.

“We paid special attention to the effectiveness and expansion of the scope of activities of the SCO regional anti-terrorist structure in the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking, organised crime, extremism and other threats and challenges in our space,” he added.

The members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will also hold a meeting in Bishkek scheduled for June 13-14.

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Russia: Two militants killed during counter-terrorism op in Vladimir region


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A counter-terrorism operation in Kolchugino in the Vladimir region ended with two militants being killed, footage released on Wednesday shows.

According to the Russian National Anti-Terrorism Committee's press-release, Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) received information about armed militants who were planning to commit a terrorist act, and that they were located in a private house in the city of Kolchugino.

In order to prevent the terrorist attack and ensure the safety of citizens, the head of the regional department of the FSB of Russia decided to conduct the counter-terrorist operation.

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LIVE: European People’s Party holds final EU election rally in Munich


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The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) hold their final European election rally in Munich on Friday, May 24.

Manfred Weber, the centre-right European People's Party candidate seeking to replace Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission, German chancellor Angela Merkel and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz are expected to deliver a speech in front of supporters.

This is the first time that CDU/CSU are campaigning together for a European parliament election.

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