Mikhail Gorbachev turned 90 on Tuesday, with several world leaders sending well-wishes to the former leader of the Soviet Union. The former leader of the Soviet Union and secretary-general of the Communist Party is considered by some as one of the greatest reformers of the 20th century — but remains a controversial figure at home. How did he celebrate his birthday? Still active, Gorbachev heads a political foundation and co-owns the Kremlin-critical newspaper, Novaya Gazeta . He celebrated his birthday while staying in a hospital as a precaution amid the coronavirus pandemic. Gorbachev was scheduled to have video calls with his aides and associates who gathered at his foundation to congratulate him. He also spoke with world leaders and read messages from admirers worldwide. Gorbi and the Germans: Mikhail Gorbachev at 90 Remembering the 'Fathers of Unity' The first and only president of the former Soviet Union turns 90 on March 2. Since German … [Read more...] about Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev celebrates his 90th birthday
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Germany's Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) have placed the Alternative for Germany (AfD) under surveillance, according to local media. That designation gives state agents more powers for surveillance in certain circumstances, including potentially tapping the party's communications. The BfV refused to comment on media reports from Der Spiegel magazine, the DPA news agency and public broadcaster ARD. The Interior Ministry, which oversees the BfV, said it would neither confirm nor deny them. Why has there been no official statement? The BfV is apparently unable to announce the decision officially because of an ongoing legal dispute. A court in the city of Cologne last week rejected an urgent motion by the AfD to stop the BfV from placing it under formal investigation . The party said any announcement that it was being investigated would undermine its right to fight the election on an equal footing to other political parties. In response, the … [Read more...] about Germany places entire far-right AfD under surveillance — reports
Germany on Wednesday took a step towards forcing companies to take responsibility for any labor or environmental abuses in their global supply chain. A new law (Lieferkettengesetz in German) allows for hefty fines starting at several hundred thousand euros if their contractors abroad are found to breach human rights or environmental rules. The fines go up to two percent of the company's annual revenues if they exceed 400 million euros ($484 million). The companies are held responsible for every step of the way: from the raw materials to the finished product. "This law protects workers from exploitation across sprawling supply chains and protects human rights across the world," Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday, adding "In future, it will be clear that 'Made in Germany' also means respect for human rights." The SPD-run development and labor ministries initially wanted the law to also target smaller companies, but backed down in the face of strong opposition from the … [Read more...] about Germany to implement supply chain law against exploitation
Germany's domestic intelligence agency has put the opposition Alternative for Germany (AfD) party under observation on suspicion of extreme far-right sympathies, according to local media. The action by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) comes more than two years after it announced it was examining public comments by party members and links to extremist groups more closely. In January 2019, the agency put the youth wing of AfD as well as the party faction linked to a prominent leader in eastern Germany , Bjoern Hoecke, under covert surveillance over extremism allegations. At the time, the BfV cited the youth organisation's stated goal of creating an ethnically pure country and efforts by Hoecke's faction - known as "The Wing" - to downplay Germany's Nazi history. The Wing has also suggested it might pursue "revolutionary" means to achieve its political aims, warranting scrutiny from the BfV, which is tasked with monitoring all extremist … [Read more...] about Germany’s domestic intelligence agency ‘suspects Alternative for Germany party of far-right sympathies’
Here are the key points from Chancellor Rishi Sunak's budget speech: • Economy expected to return to pre-COVID levels by the middle of next year, six months earlier than previously thought • GDP growth forecast for this year downgraded to 4% (from 5.5%) according to Office for Budget Responsibility • Unemployment expected to peak at 6.5% • Forecasts show government borrowing reaching £355bn in 2020/21, of 17% of the national income - the highest level since the Second World War. For 2021/22 it climbs to £234bn, 10.3% of GDP. • Debt is set to peak at 97.1% of GDP in 2023-24. • An additional £65bn in spending in response to coronavirus takes total fiscal support to £407bn • £1.6bn will go towards continuing the vaccine roll-out and improving future preparedness • Chancellor confirms furlough scheme will be extended until the end of September, with the government paying 80% of salary though employers will asked to put in 10% from July and 20% from August • Help for … [Read more...] about Budget 2021 key points: What was announced in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s speech?