A few thousand demonstrators gathered in freezing temperatures outside Hungary’s state broadcaster Monday night in a fifth day of protests against the right-wing government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban. 

Lawmakers from all opposition parties took to a temporary podium to declare they would continue protests until they are allowed to read out their demands on state television. 

The protests were sparked by a new labor law that in essence enables the return of a six-day work week, if an employee agrees, with overtime payments potentially unpaid for up to three years.

Demands expand

But the demands of protesters have expanded to include cleaning up state corruption, creating an independent judiciary and ensuring neutral state media. 

“We will continue with protests all the while our demands are not read out over state media. We are not going anywhere,” Timea Szabo, a Parliament member for the small, centrist Dialogue party, told the crowd. 

“The law has not been trampled on in such a way here for 30 years,” she said, apparently referring to the roughing up of some legislators by security guards at the MTVA building early Monday. 

Protesters chant slogans

Demonstrators repeatedly chanted slogans like “We won’t leave” and “They are lying day and night!”

Legislators charged that police took orders from private security guards in forcing them out of the MTVA building, rather than protect their right to enter a public building.

Agnes Vadai of the Democratic Coalition, a center-left party, told The Associated Press that she had been manhandled by security guards, 

 “This is nonsense,” she said of the lack of help from police officers. “It’s their obligation to protect all Hungarian citizens, regardless of their position.”

 defendsThe group of 10 lawmakers had entered the building insisting on the right to read their five demands live on air, including the revocation of the labor law.

Government defends law

The government has defended the law, saying it will ease the shortage of workers, most especially in the booming auto and manufacturing sectors, and enable employees to earn more money as they wish.  

Orban’s allies have denounced the protests as the work of liberal groups financed by Hungarian-American financier George Soros. The Open Society Foundations, an organization founded by Soros, again denied that Monday. 

“The Hungarian people are protesting against their government because they have legitimate grievances. Nobody believes Viktor Orban’s false assertion that George Soros is behind these protests,” the group said in a statement. 

 

 

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The European Union agreed Monday to a goal of cutting carbon emissions from cars by 37.5 percent in a decade, finally settling differences between vehicle-producing countries and environmentally-conscious lawmakers.

The 28-nation bloc has been divided for months over how strict to be on CO2 emissions from vehicles as part of its push to reduce greenhouse gases overall by 40 percent by 2030.

Germany, with the EU’s biggest auto sector worth some 423 billion euros ($480 billion) in 2017, had warned tough targets and the drive toward more electric cars could harm its industry and cost jobs.

Representatives of the European Parliament and the EU countries finally struck a compromise Monday, after nine hours of talks, to cut emissions from cars by 37.5 percent and vans by 31 percent by 2030 compared with 2021.

There was also agreement on an interim target of a 15 percent cut for both cars and vans by 2025.

“This is an important signal in our fight against climate change,” said current EU president Austria’s Sustainability Minister Elisabeth Koestinger.

But Brussels-based green lobbying group Transport & Environment expressed disappointment the deal was not even more ambitious.

“Europe is shifting up a gear in the race to produce zero-emission cars. The new law means by 2030 around a third of new cars will be electric or hydrogen-powered,” said its clean vehicles director, Greg Archer. “That’s progress, but it’s not fast enough to hit our climate goals.”

The compromise was tougher than the original EU executive proposal of an emissions decline of 30 percent compared to 2021.

Germany had endorsed that, but a push by several EU countries, including the Netherlands and France, raised the target for EU countries to 35 percent. The EU Parliament had wanted 40 percent, so in the end, they split the difference.

The German automobile association (VDA) said the new legislation would set high demands while doing little to promote or provide incentives for switching to electric vehicles.

EU countries were among nearly 200 that agreed Saturday to rules for implementing the 2015 Paris climate accord at a U.N. conference in Poland.

“Today’s successful outcome is even more important in view of this weekend’s conclusions … in Katowice. It clearly shows, once again, our unwavering commitment to the Paris Agreement,” EU Climate Commissioner Arias Canete said.

EU countries are separately considering the extent to which truck emissions should be cut, with a debate due Thursday.

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France agreed Monday to a new military framework with Burkina Faso that would speed engagement of its forces to fight Islamist militants in a northern border region of Burkina where there has been a spike in violence.

The arid Sahel region is suffering violence from militant groups linked to al-Qaida and Islamic State, highlighting the difficulty international partners face in restoring regional stability.

The northern region of Burkina Faso, bordering Mali and Niger, has been especially hard hit, leaving the fragile West African state struggling to assert its authority since ex-Burkinabe president Blaise Compaore was ousted in 2014 at the hands of a popular uprising.

“There will be no extra [troop] involvement on the French side,” President Emmanuel Macron said at a news conference with Burkinabe counterpart Roch Marc Christian Kabore in Paris.

However, he said Paris was ready to send more trainers and military advisers as well as extra equipment.

French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said the two sides had signed an agreement defining the legal framework for security cooperation, suggesting that French troops could provide help more quickly and easily to Burkinabe forces.

Paris will provide the local army with 34 pickup trucks.

France, the former colonial power in the region, intervened in Mali in 2013 to drive out Islamist militants who had occupied the north, and has since kept about 4,500 troops in the region as part of Barkhane counterterrorism operations. It has between 250 and 400 special forces based in Burkina. Led by France, Western powers have provided funding to a regional force made up of soldiers from Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania to combat jihadists.

But the so-called G5 force has been hobbled by delays in disbursing the money and poor coordination between the five countries while insecurity has escalated.

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Російське втручання продовжується на кількох платформах, йдеться в доповіді комітету американського Сенату з розвідки, присвячій виборам президента США у 2016 році.

«Активні та безперервні операції втручання залишаються на кількох платформах», – зазначають автори документа.

Він був створений базованою в США компанією New Knowledge, профілем якої є кібербезпека. Вона використала дані, які Сенат отримав від Facebook, Twitter та Alphabet – холдингом-власником Google.

Згідно з документом, у 2016 році дезінформація поширювалася з боку «Агентства інтернет-досліджень» – компанії з російського Санкт-Петербурга, яку американська розвідка описує як «фабрику тролів», пов’язану з російською владою. Метою «агентства» було розділення суспільства в таких спірних питаннях як імміграція, раса, контроль зброї й допомога на той час кандидату в президенти Дональду Трампу.

Сам глава держави раніше неодноразово відкидав причетність Росії до своєї перемоги на виборах.

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Iran called on the European Union on Monday to press U.S. authorities to allow delivery of Airbus passenger aircraft purchased by Tehran, Iran’s student news agency ISNA reported.

To upgrade its aging fleet, Iran Air ordered 200 passenger aircraft – 100 from Airbus, 80 from Boeing and 20 from Franco-Italian turboprop maker ATR – after a 2015 nuclear deal was reached between Iran and six major powers.

But the U.S. Treasury revoked licenses for Boeing Co and France’s Airbus to sell commercial planes to Iran Air after President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the agreement in May and reimposed sanctions.

“Our main concern is being able to serve our passengers better … We hope that the EU can get the OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) licenses for delivery of purchased Airbus planes,” IranAir Chief Executive Farzaneh Sharafbafi was quoted by ISNA as saying.

Although Airbus is based in France, it must have the approval of the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to sell planes to Iran because at least 10 percent of the components of the aircraft are U.S.-made.

“As OFAC licenses were issued for ATR planes …the licenses for Airbus planes can be pursued by (the EU),” she said.

“IranAir can never be stopped.”

Under a special agreement after U.S. licenses were revoked but before new sanctions came in force on Nov. 5, ATR delivered 13 of the 20 turboprop aircraft sought by IranAir while the remainder remain on order.

Other signatories of the nuclear deal and the EU have remained committed to the pact and have been trying to salvage it.

Airbus, which delivered three aircraft before the licenses were withdrawn, continues to show the order as active on its books.

Boeing never officially added Iran’s order to its list of sold jets and has said it will not pursue the deal.

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British Prime Minister Theresa May is pressing on with her deal to leave the European Union, her spokesman said on Monday, rejecting calls for a second referendum or to test support for different Brexit options in parliament.

After a tumultuous week in which she survived a confidence vote and sought last-minute changes to a Brexit agreement reached with Brussels last month, May faces deadlock over her deal in the British parliament.

With the EU offering little in the way of concessions to win over lawmakers, an increasing number of politicians are calling for a second referendum – something some of her ministers say could be avoided if the government tested Brexit scenarios in parliamentary votes.

Parliament is deeply divided, with factions pressing for different options for future ties, exiting without a deal or remaining in the EU.

May and her ministers have repeatedly ruled out a replay of the referendum, saying it would deepen rifts and betray voters who backed Brexit by 52 percent to 48 percent in 2016.

That increases the risk of Britain leaving without a deal on March 29, a scenario some businesses fear would be catastrophic for the world’s fifth largest economy.

The political and economic uncertainty over Brexit is having an impact, with data on Monday showing a drop in consumer spending, falling house prices and growing pessimism in household finances.

May will use a statement in parliament on Monday to reject the idea of a second referendum and to again set out that her agreement to keep close economic ties with the EU after Brexit is the only one on offer.

Uncertainty

“Let us not break faith with the British people by trying to stage another referendum,” May will tell lawmakers, according to extracts of her statement released in advance.

“Another vote which would do irreparable damage to the integrity of our politics, because it would say to millions who trusted in democracy, that our democracy does not deliver.

Another vote which would likely leave us no further forward than the last,” she will say.

Business Minister Greg Clark said a second vote would only increase uncertainty for the country.

Several members of May’s cabinet team, including Education Minister Damian Hinds, said at the weekend they were open to putting the range of options to parliament to gauge whether there was a majority for any of them.

May’s spokesman said: “In relation to an indicative vote, there are no plans to hold one.”

The opposition Labor Party, under pressure from smaller opposition parties to propose a motion of no confidence against the government, said on Sunday it would seek to force May to bring the deal back to parliament for a vote before Christmas.

May’s spokesman said on Monday parliament’s vote on the Brexit deal will be in January.

May used a visit to Brussels last week to call on EU leaders to offer assurances over the so-called Northern Irish “backstop” – an insurance policy to prevent the return of a hard border between the British province and EU-member Ireland that its critics fear will tie Britain to the bloc in the long term.

But while EU leaders said they were willing to help May, they warned the British prime minister she could not renegotiate the deal.

“What the prime minister is focused on is securing the extra assurances which are required to get the deal through the House of Commons,” her spokesman said.

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One person is to appear before a judge as part of a terrorism-related investigation into a shooting attack that killed five people last week near a Christmas market in the eastern French city of Strasbourg, the Paris prosecutor’s office said Monday.

 

An official close to the investigation, who could not be named as the case was ongoing, said the man is suspected of having been involved in supplying the weapon used by suspected gunman Cherif Chekatt in the Dec. 11 attack. Chekatt died in a shootout with police in Strasbourg Thursday.

 

The suspect is the only one of seven people initially detained as part of the investigation who is still in custody.

 

The death toll from the attack increased to five Sunday night after a Polish man died of his wounds in a Strasbourg hospital. Barto Orent-Niedzielski, 36, lived in the city, where he worked at the European Parliament and as a journalist. The other casualties include a tourist from Thailand and an Italian journalist covering the European Parliament.

 

According to some reports, Orent-Niedzielski fought the shooter and stopped him from entering a crowded club, possibly preventing more deaths.

 

Polish President Andrzej Duda wrote early Monday on Twitter that “I knew him by sight. I am shocked. I had not realized that he was the one mortally wounded protecting other people. Honor to his memory. RIP.”

 

 

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Представники збройних сил Сполучених Штатів повідомляють про загибель 62 бойовиків екстремістської організації «Аш-Шабаб» внаслідок авіаційних ударів 15 і 16 грудня поблизу міста Гандарш у Сомалі.

Як заявляє Африканське командування Збройних сил США, 15 грудня американські військові здійснили чотири авіаудари, які спричинили смерть 34 бойовиків. Ще два були завдані 16 грудня і коштували життя 28 членам збройного угруповання.

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«Африканське командування і наші сомалійські партнери здійснили ці авіанальоти, щоб не дати терористам використати віддалені регіони як безпечні хованки, де вони можуть розробляти і керувати операціями, надихати і рекрутувати людей для майбутніх атак», – йдеться в заяві Африканського командування.

У жовтні 2018 року Африканське командування повідомляло про авіаудар, внаслідок якого нібито загинуло 60 членів організації.

Бойовики «Аш-Шабаб» закликають повалити уряд Сомалі, який підтримують Сполучені Штати і 20-тисячна армія Африканського союзу, розміщена в країні.

У 2011 році угруповання було витіснене зі столиці Сомалі Могадішо. Наразі бойовики контролюють значні території в сільській місцевості.

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