Animal rights bill threatens to break Poland’s ruling coalition – POLITICO


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Poland’s conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party risks losing control over the country’s ruling coalition thanks to an unexpected dispute over an animal rights bill. 

The animal rights bill, which seeks to ban fur farming and the use of animals in circuses, lies close to the heart of PiS’s cat-loving leader Jarosław Kaczyński but threatens to undermine Warsaw’s governing right-wing coalition.

Many in the conservative camp say that the ban would affect the entire agricultural sector and they do not want to alienate core rural constituencies.

This new legislation that could hit farming communities has also exacerbated other splits in the right-wing bloc about issues such as gay rights, abortion and the rule of law.

PiS currently holds a majority in the Sejm, the lower chamber of the Polish parliament, thanks to a coalition called Zjednoczona Prawica, or United Right, formed with the radical right-wing Solidarna Polska and more center-right Porozumienie.  

The animal rights protection law, which also looks to put limits on religious slaughter, passed in the Sejm on Thursday night but mainly thanks to the votes of the opposition.

PiS’s problem is that there is now intense disagreement in the coalition over two bills: The animal rights legislation and another proposal to give immunity to policymakers who broke the law while fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Tensions have reached such a point that, according to lawmakers, the split within the group could force PiS to form a minority government, or even call an early election. 

The animal rights protection law, which also looks to put limits on religious slaughter, passed in the Sejm on Thursday night but mainly thanks to the votes of the opposition. All the parliamentarians from Solidarna Polska were against it, and most Porozumienie MPs abstained. 

The rebel group included PiS’s agriculture minister, Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski, who has been lobbying against the new law from the outset, saying it would hit the country’s farmers, and powerful Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, leader of Solidarna Polska and the author of controversial judicial reforms. 

As an immediate reaction, Kaczyński decided to suspend 15 party members, including Ardanowski. 

The immunity bill, which could give legal cover to several PiS members whose conduct during the pandemic has been questioned, was withdrawn from the voting schedule on Thursday evening, after Ziobro said that Solidarna Polska wouldn’t support it. 

This is not the first time the coalition has been on the brink of collapsing. Earlier this year, Porozumienie refused to back PiS’s attempts to organize the presidential election at the first planned date and forced the party to postpone it.

In recent weeks, the coalition had difficult talks before an October governmental reshuffle and suffered from both internal splits on policy issues and a fight between Ziobro and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who are both eyeing an opportunity to take over the leadership of the coalition after Kaczyński steps down.

The party leadership is expected to meet on Monday to discuss scenarios for the coalition. But some politicians have already announced the end of the group — and are hinting at an early election. 

“Our coalition partners voted against [the bill] or abstained. And there will have to be consequences,” said Ryszard Terlecki, the head of the PiS caucus. “It looks like, in the current situation, the coalition practically doesn’t exist, and there will have to be consequences when it comes to the positions in the government.”

PiS spokesperson Anita Czerwińska said that, in the party’s opinion, “the coalition doesn’t exist.”

Powerful Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro was among the rebel group | Omar Marques/Getty Images

“What happened yesterday in the Sejm, unfortunately was in a certain sense a termination … of this coalition,” she added.

Michał Dworczyk, the head of the prime minister’s political office, said: “A minority government is one of the options. A real option … Such a minority government doesn’t stand a chance of running until the end of the term, so it’ll probably result in … early elections,” he added. 

Borys Budka, the head of Civic Coalition, the country’s biggest opposition party, said his party had already started to prepare for an early election. He added that Civic Coalition would negotiate with other parties to team up and vote down the government, if it doesn’t have a majority. 

The junior coalition parties don’t want to prejudge any developments.

“I don’t think an early election is what Poland needs right now,” said Jarosław Gowin, the head of Porozumienie. 

Solidarna Polska’s MPs have called PiS politicians “friends” but at the same time said that any attempt to dismiss Ziobro would mean the end of the coalition.

Kaczyński himself remains upbeat. “It’s going to be fine,” he told reporters on Thursday night. 





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U.S. threatens to sanction arms makers that sell to Iran


WASHINGTON, Sept 16 (Reuters) – The Trump administration vowed on Wednesday to impose the “full force” of U.S. sanctions on any international arms manufacturers who deal with Iran once Washington sees a United Nations arms embargo on Tehran as reimposed.

Elliott Abrams, U.S. special envoy on Iran, issued the warning in a briefing with reporters hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States would return to the U.N. to try to reinstate sanctions on Iran next week, despite a lack of support within the U.N. Security Council.

The Security Council resoundingly rejected a U.S. attempt on Aug. 14 to extend an international arms embargo on Iran beyond its expiration in October, but the United States is pressing ahead with its efforts based on its own legal interpretation. (Reporting By Matt Spetalnick Editing by Chris Reese)



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California fire that killed 3 threatens thousands of homes


OROVILLE, CALIF. —
A Northern California wildfire threatened thousands of homes Thursday after winds whipped it into a monster that incinerated houses in a small mountain community and killed at least three people.

Several other people have been critically burned and hundreds, if not thousands, of homes and other buildings are believed to have been damaged or destroyed by the North Complex fire northeast of San Francisco, authorities said.

Some 20,000 people were under evacuation orders or warnings in Plumas, Yuba and Butte counties.

Between Tuesday and Wednesday, the fire — which had been burning for weeks in forestland and was 50 per cent contained — exploded to six times its size as winds gusting to 45 mph drove a path of destruction through mountainous terrain and parched foothills.

The winds subsided Wednesday but the fire was only 24 per cent contained and the danger remained.

“Time and time again we have seen how dangerous wildfires can be. … So I ask that you please, please please be prepared, maintain situational awareness and heed the warnings,” Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea pleaded.

Honea announced the three deaths but declined to provide details. California Highway Patrol Officer Ben Draper told the Bay Area News Group that one person was found in a car and apparently had been trying to escape the flames.

Many homes were incinerated in the Butte County hamlet of Berry Creek, with a population of 525 people.

John Sykes, a 50-year resident, managed to flee on Tuesday with his car and some clothes but he watched the town burn from about a mile away.

“The school is gone, the fire department’s gone, the bar’s gone, the laundromat’s gone, the general store’s gone,” he told the Sacramento Bee, adding, “I’ll never go back.”

“I don’t want to see it,” he said. “That’s why I’m leaving. I never want to see California again.”

Four burn victims were taken to UC Davis Medical Center in critical condition, the Bee reported.

The fire also threatened Paradise, a town devastated just two years ago by the deadliest blaze in state history that prompted a deadly traffic jam as panicked residents tried to escape. Eighty-five people lost their lives and nearly 19,000 buildings were destroyed in that fire.

On Wednesday, the sky turned from black to cherry red and ash carried on strong winds rained down in a scene reminiscent from the fateful morning of Nov. 8, 2018, former Mayor Steve “Woody” Culleton said.

“It was extremely frightening and ugly,” Culleton said. “Everybody has PTSD and what not, so it triggered everybody and caused terror and panic.”

Even in the midst of its dry, hot, windy fire season, California has seen wildfires advancing with unprecedented speed and ferocity. Since the middle of August, fires in California have killed 11 people, destroyed more than 3,600 structures, burned old growth redwoods, charred chaparral and forced evacuations in communities near the coast, in wine country and along the Sierra Nevada.

Thick smoke choked much of the state and cast an eerie orange hue across the sky. In some areas of the San Francisco Bay Area and the Sacramento Valley, the smoke blocked out so much sunlight that it dropped the temperature by 20 to 30 degrees over the previous day, according to the National Weather Service.

More than two dozen major fires were burning around the state, some of them among the largest ever recorded in recent California history.

The U.S. Forest Service, which had taken the unprecedented measure of closing eight national forests in Southern California earlier in the week, ordered all 18 of its forests in the state closed Wednesday for public safety.

In Southern California, fires burned in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Diego counties. People in foothill communities east of Los Angeles were warned to be ready to flee, but the region’s notorious Santa Ana winds were weaker than predicted.

“We’re encouraged that the wind activity appears to be dying down,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said. “The rest of the week looks a little more favourable.”

——

Melley reported from Los Angeles.

Associated Press writers John Antczak in Los Angeles and Olga R. Rodriguez in San Francisco contributed to this report.





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Mark Kelly Supporter Allegedly Threatens to Shoot Rep. Paul Gosar



An activist for Arizona Senate candidate Mark Kelly (D) allegedly threatened on Monday to shoot Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) in the head.

The Arizona Daily Independent identified the Kelly supporter as retired teacher Margaret Kathleen Spangenberg. She allegedly made the threat during a phone call Monday.

The Independent posted a transcript of the phone call:

WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE

So, the way I see it, since you supported a child rapist who has 65 years of crimes and you are doing shit about Covid, and I’ve had people die, I think it’s totally ok for me to come with my gun and shoot you in the head.

That’s what we think of you Mr. Gosar. You’re a murderer supporter and you are just going down. Murderer, murderer, murderer supporter, you are going down.

And we’ll make sure we’ll send lots of protesters your way too.

You’re a real big fucking piece of shit.

On Sunday. September 5, 2020, Rep. Gosar tweeted about the phone call:

Two days earlier — on September 3, 2020 — Gosar tweeted about discussing the threat with 550 KFYI’s James Harris: “I was on the James Harris Show to discuss political violence and a death threat against me from a Mark Kelly activist.”

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkinsa weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him at awrhawkins@breitbart.com. You can sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.





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Erdogan threatens Greece over disputed territorial claims


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened Greece with “painful experiences” if the country doesn’t enter talks with Turkey over disputed territorial claims in the eastern Mediterranean.

The two countries have been in a long-running dispute over oil and gas exploration rights in the area, with Turkey also butting up against Cyprus over the same issues.

All sides have deployed naval and air forces to assert their claims in the region.

“They’re either going to understand the language of politics and diplomacy, or in the field with painful experiences,” Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday.

“They are going to understand that Turkey has the political, economic and military power to tear up the immoral maps and documents imposed,” Erdogan added, referring to areas marked by Greece and Cyprus as their economic maritime zones.

He stressed that Turkey was “ready for every eventuality and result.”

A Turkish newspaper meanwhile has reported that tanks were being moved towards the Greek border.

The Cumhuriyet newspaper said 40 tanks were being transported from the Syrian border to Edirne in northwest Turkey and carried photographs of armored vehicles loaded on trucks.

A military official speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations said the deployment was a regular movement of forces and unconnected to tension with Greece.

The president’s comments come after NATO said military officers from Greece and Turkey had begun technical discussions to reduce the risk of armed conflict or accidents.

The two NATO allies have been locked for weeks in a tense standoff.

Turkey has been conducting exploration of the seabed for energy reserves in an area Greece claims as its own continental shelf.

Last Saturday, August 28, tensions escalated further after Turkey launched new military drills in the area.

Erdogan said Turkey had repeatedly expressed its willingness to come to a just agreement.

“Our word is sincere,” he said. “The problem is those before us disregard our rights and try to situate themselves above us.”

Turkey faces a wide range of opponents in the eastern Mediterranean. France, Italy and the United Arab Emirates have all sent forces to join war games with either Greece or Cyprus in recent weeks.

Egypt has signed an energy exploration deal with Athens for the Mediterranean.

The European Union, which counts Greece and Cyprus as members, has also threatened possible sanctions against Ankara over its “illegal” actions.

The recent crisis is the most serious in Turkish-Greek relations in decades. The neighbours have come to the brink of war three times since the mid-1970s, including once over maritime resources in the Aegean.



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UK coronavirus LIVE: Portugal and Greece spared from England quarantine list as latest R rate threatens fresh local lockdowns



Wales felt quarantine was only option after ‘tide of infections’ from Greek islands – minister

Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething has discussed the quarantine restrictions imposed on travellers returning from Portugal, Gibraltar, French Polynesia and six Greek islands from Friday.

He told the BBC’s Today programme: “I have a particular issue that just underpins everything – adds to that (Joint Biosecurity Centre) advice here in Wales – was flights from Zante earlier in the week, when I introduced advice to people from Zante and testing on the first two days and then testing again a week later.

“That was because in the week before we had over 30 cases from four different flights, two of which had landed in England.

“On that flight which landed in Cardiff on Tuesday, there are over 20 direct cases – that’s more than 10 per cent of that flight.

“Seeing a rising tide of infections coming in from that list of islands, having that direct experience in Wales and very clear advice about the higher risk to UK public health from the JBC, I did not feel that there was any course of action other than taking some form of action.

“It’s not for me to explain why others haven’t done that, but I’m very clear that we’re following that advice and keeping Wales safe.”

Asked about the different approach taken by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in Westminster, he said:
“I’m very content this is the right thing to do, it’s in line with the risk assessments we received from both the JBC and Public Health England, but also the reason why I’ve excluded the Azores and Madeira… is they do have a different rating but they also have testing on entry, so they’re able to understand before people get there.”



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Ann Summers threatens landlords with CVA process over shop rents


Retailer Ann Summers has warned its stores’ landlords they must take “a more pragmatic approach” to negotiations over rents.

The lingerie and sex toy chain said if this did not happen, it would ask to formally restructure its debts through a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA).

Chief executive Jacqueline Gold said landlords needed to recognise the retail landscape had changed.

Writing in Retail Week, Ms Gold said the ultimatum was “no idle threat”.

She said many landlords had been open to renegotiating rental costs but that others continued “to bury their heads in the sand”.

“I’m grateful to those landlords who have engaged in constructive discussions with us, and should we carry out a CVA, they will definitely not be compromised. To those who haven’t yet, there is still time to come to the table.

“It’s a shame we have to threaten a CVA in order to do this, but this is no idle threat.”

Ann Summers benefited from a boom in online orders during lockdown. As a result, the firm says it expects this year’s results to show significant improvement from last year. But its physical stores were forced to close temporarily.

Many retailers are concerned that store sales will be slow to recover given the continuing impact of the pandemic, making it hard to pay rents and business rates. Ms Gold said a CVA was the only way to resolve the problem.

A CVA is an insolvency procedure that allows a company to reach agreement with creditors regarding payment of all, or part of its debts.

“All of us retailers acknowledge that the way customers shop isn’t going to just go back to how it was before the pandemic,” Ms Gold wrote.

“That’s why we, like many retailers, think turnover-based rents are the way forward.”

Jacqueline Gold said some landlords were clinging on to outdated terms

Ms Gold said she was optimistic about the future after reforms within the company and changes to product quality and price positioning.

She described 2019 as “the toughest year” in the company’s history, leading to a £16m loss last year.

“My family has ploughed large sums of money into the business to help us address the issues which held us back last year and get Ann Summers back on an even footing, with plans to invest further,” Ms Gold wrote.

“But there is no point doing that just to subsidise those landlords who continue to cling on to outdated terms.”





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Victoria’s falling coronavirus testing rate threatens efforts against second wave, Chief Health Officer warns


Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton has flagged serious concerns about a fall in the number of people getting tested for coronavirus, just as the state attempts to put the tail end of its deadly second wave behind it.

The daily figure of 10,153 tests reported on Tuesday was the lowest since 8,149 tests were reported on June 23, near the beginning of the second wave.

“That’s not enough. I know there’s more respiratory illness out there,” Professor Sutton said.

“So we do need everyone who’s got compatible symptoms — runny nose, a sore throat, a cough, shortness of breath, fever, but even headache and fatigue, change in smell and in taste … to step up for testing.”

Drop in cases may be fuelling complacency

Victoria’s average daily number of tests has been slowly falling since late July when it was sitting at about 25,000 for several weeks.

On Tuesday, authorities reported 70 new cases and five deaths, and the Premier announced two separate roadmaps were being developed to begin lifting restrictions in Melbourne and regional Victoria.

Professor Sutton said the downward trend of infections in the community should not lead Victorians to believe testing wasn’t important.

“These are low numbers,” he said.

“It can cause complacency for people who think, ‘I don’t need to test. There’s not enough virus out there.’

“It is a concern if testing numbers were to continue to drop because it’s one of our really significant tools in managing this.”

If infections are flying under the radar, they could explode when restrictions lift

Professor Sutton said it was critical health authorities were able to pick up as many undetected chains of community transmission as possible before they began to relax restrictions.

“If we’re not aware of those chains of transmission, if we’re not aware of those hidden cases because people haven’t come forward for testing, then they will persist and then accelerate as we ease restrictions,” he said.

“If we only detect them when they’re large outbreaks, it means that there’s much more community transmission out there.

“And even though we can identify and get on top of outbreaks, it does become really challenging if there’s widespread community transmission.”

The Victorian Government is offering a $450 payment to people who lose their only income while they self-isolate after a test.(ABC News: Nicole Asher)

Professor Sutton said unknown community transmission was happening around the world, including in New South Wales where he said intensive contact tracing had been underway for two months to prevent outbreaks from growing.

“The very best thing that we can do is drive these numbers down to the lowest possible level,” he said.

Premier says many test results are returned within 24 hours

Professor Sutton said there were more than 190 testing sites across Victoria, and they were listed on the health department’s website.

“There’s no place in Victoria where you have to travel too far,” he said.

“And for some people who need to be tested at home, we’ve got a service that can test people at home.”

A line of cars near a sign with COVID-19 testing on it.
There are several drive-through testing sites at shopping centres and health services across the state.(ABC News: Gemma Hall, file photo)

Premier Daniel Andrews tests were being processed “faster than ever”, with many people receiving their results within 24 hours.

He said it was “absolutely critical” the state had the clearest possible picture of the spread of the virus so it could avoid a lurch back into tough restrictions after September 13.

“In many respects, the most important point is a very simple one,” he said.

“Please get tested. It is so important, so, so important.”



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Facebook threatens to ban Australians from sharing news



Australians could be blocked from sharing news content on Facebook and Instagram, if a world-first attempt to govern how media companies deal with big tech becomes law.

Facebook has issued the threat in response to a proposed law that would see Facebook and Google forced to pay Australian media organisations for hosting their content.

“This is not our first choice — it is our last.

“But it is the only way to protect against an outcome that defies logic and will hurt, not help, the long-term vibrancy of Australia’s news and media sector.”

Google has already launched a strong opposition campaign to the laws, pushing an open letter onto its users.

The media has long argued companies such as Facebook and Google benefit from the work of journalists, without paying for access to those stories or sharing any advertising revenue from their platforms.

The Government says its proposed laws are essential for creating a level playing field between local media and big internet companies.

Under the laws, Facebook and Google would be forced to negotiate payments with Australian media companies for their content.

If no agreement can be reached, they could be forced into an arrangement.

More to come.



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