Displaying items by tag: Europe
Ursula von der Leyen said the EU is willing to be ‘creative’ to get a deal with the UK and that European interests will best be served by leaders backing any compromise that emerges. There is concern among member states that the UK might successfully push the commission into making concessions which will give British businesses an advantage in the marketplace over the decades to come. Ms von der Leyen said she trusted Michel Barnier’s ‘skilful steer’. The EU’s chief negotiator is expected to go to London on 27 November in a last-ditch push for an agreement. ‘These are decisive days for negotiations with the United Kingdom’, von der Leyen said; ‘I cannot tell you today if in the end, there will be a deal.’ She said the commission’s negotiating team was open-minded as to how to bridge the gaps between the two sides, but that they were holding firm on key principles.
Spain's government has a new strategy to tackle the spread of online disinformation. The procedure was approved last month and a special government commission should combat the issue. Madrid said the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is accompanied by an ‘unprecedented infodemic’. Spanish authorities will monitor the internet for disinformation campaigns, investigate their origin, and implement a ‘policy response’ if necessary. This response may take the form of a diplomatic warning if a foreign state is behind such a campaign. The Madrid press association has accepted the government's wish to combat disinformation, but have noted a ‘clear risk’ that the government will act ‘as a censor rather than a guarantor of the truth’.
In Brussels a high-stakes disagreement has emerged with a jackpot worth the total value of the EU budget until 2027 plus its €750bn Coronavirus Recovery fund. 24 member states and a majority in the EU Parliament are in opposition to Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia over the division of EU funds between member states being linked to the behaviour and the values of individual governments. The EU wants to pass a law that if a member state pursues policies that the EU feels are in conflict with its core values, it will lose access to the funds. Poland and Hungary emerged as democracies from communist dictatorship and both have gone on to elect right-wing nationalist governments, heavily dependent on EU funds. Political opposition and economic reliance has introduced a strain of toxicity into their Brussels relations.
Negotiations for a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU are expected to continue next week as the deadline draws nearer. The two sides resumed talks in London this week, with a UK government source saying they were in the ‘final stage’. But big gaps still remain, and the UK described the EU’s position on fishing access as ‘wholly unrealistic’. Boris Johnson is prepared to move forward without a deal. If nothing is agreed, the UK will trade with the bloc on World Trade Organisation rules - leading to tariffs on many imports and exports, which could push up costs for businesses and consumers. Both sides say they want to avoid this outcome, but the EU will not do a deal ‘at any price’. Mr Johnson said the UK will prosper either way.
According to the UN Refugee Agency, there are approximately 19,600 migrants and refugees on the Aegean islands as of 8 November. A series of large blazes destroyed Greece's largest migrant camp, Moria on the island of Lesbos, back in September. The Greek authorities said that the fires were deliberately started by the camp's residents. Officials on Samos reported a similar fire at a migrant camp on 2 November, the second blaze to hit such a facility over the last ten days. The cause of this fire has not yet been determined, and the number of migrant tents destroyed by the blaze is not yet known.
An earthquake in the Aegean Sea on 30 October has so far killed 107 people in Turkey and Samos. It is not yet clear on how many people are still under the rubble of 20 Turkish buildings; 144 survivors are still in hospital and over 1,000 people were injured in Turkey. A ‘mini tsunami’ flooded streets in Turkey and Samos. Four days after being buried alive a young girl called Ayda was pulled from the rubble. As she was being taken to an ambulance, wrapped in a thermal blanket, everyone clapped and chanted ‘God is great’. Her rescue came a day after a three-year-old girl and a 14-year-old girl were also pulled out alive from collapsed buildings. Pray for those still waiting for news of lost relatives - and for any more still alive to be found.
A 20-year-old gunman, Kujtim Fejzulai, previously convicted of trying to travel to Syria to join IS, was killed by police after he had gone on a shooting spree, killing four different people at different locations in Vienna. 23 people including a policeman were wounded; three of them are still in a critical condition. The victims were in an area near the central synagogue, full of people in bars and restaurants. Several arrests were made during searches. The IS group claimed responsibility, but there is no evidence of any accomplice. Fejzulai had been freed from prison in December 2019 after completing a de-radicalisation programme.
The text of the 1905 French law that lays down the separation of church and state in the country doesn't specifically mention secularism. Nevertheless, the principle is a key part of the country's political fabric. But tensions between some sections of Islam and an interpretation of secular values have now become more pronounced, particularly in recent weeks. Protests have erupted in recent days in many Muslim countries against France, its president, Emmanuel Macron, and its perceived animosity towards their faith. France claims it is officially neutral, supporting neither religion nor the absence of it.
A prayer report looking at November 2020 Covid-19 Hot Spots and Progress with developing Vaccines - with Prayer Pointers and Links to Resources:
As of 30th October, the total global figure for people infected by Covid-19 stands at 45.1 million according to Johns Hopkins University. In addition to this, the recorded number who have died totals 1,182,272.
Covid-19 hot spots
The US continues to be the country with the highest numbers confirmed cases and deaths related to Covid-19 globally with figures at around 8,947,830 and 228,675 respectively. The daily infection rate has increased over the past month to around 80,000 new cases per day and new deaths are projected at around 800 a day according to Worldometer.
The infection rate in England may be rising by as much as 96,000 cases a day according to the latest results from Imperial College, London. The researchers estimate that England’s R number – the number of people each person with coronavirus infects – is now 1.6, up from 1.1 in late September. They estimate that infections are doubling every nine days, compared to every 29 days previously, and that they are rising across all age groups, with the largest increase in infections seen among people aged 55 to 64.
Both France and Germany have announced a tightening of restrictions to try to curb surging coronavirus cases. France will enter a second nationwide lockdown starting on Friday to last until at least the end of November, and Germany is imposing a one-month partial lockdown from 2 November after reporting two days with record increases in daily new cases.
Russia confirmed 18,283 Covid-19 cases Friday, bringing its official number of cases to 1,599,976 and setting a new one-day record for infections. In the past 24 hours, 355 people have died. All of Russia's regions are currently experiencing shortages of doctors to fight the coronavirus, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday.
Russia’s coronavirus vaccine faces equipment shortages that could delay it from entering mass production, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday as reports suggested that developers have paused clinical trials due to the shortages.
Russia has no plans to introduce nationwide lockdown measures, Putin said, saying "justified, targeted" measures would allow the economy to stay open.
India has become the second country to record more than eight million coronavirus cases amid fears of a further spike due to a series of upcoming Hindu festivals - including Diwali. The health ministry's most recent figures reported 49,881 infections and 517 deaths in the past 24 hours - bringing the overall case count above 8.04 million and the death toll to 120,527. While nationally the daily infection rate is dropping, India's capital of New Delhi saw its worst day on record on Wednesday, with 4,853 new coronavirus cases - having managed to get below 1,000 per day last month.
Latin America is now the worst-hit region in the world, along with Asia. Brazil has had more than 4.5 million confirmed cases - the third highest tally in the world after the US and India - and has had the most deaths after the US. Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and Peru have also had major outbreaks, and are in the top 10 countries with the most confirmed cases.
There's been a slight increase in Covid-19 infections in Africa over the past month, according to the latest information from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of new daily confirmed cases has started rising after declining since mid-July, although in some countries cases are still on a downward trend. Over the four weeks up to 25 October, there was a 6% average increase in new cases, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). This was across most regions except in west and central Africa - in Nigeria, there was a decline in new cases. Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa and Kenya recorded increases over this period, but in Ethiopia, there was a marginal decrease. And other countries which have experienced the decreases in new cases include Sierra Leone, the Gambia, Burkina Faso, Eswatini and Ivory Coast.
Graph: Top 6 countries in Africa for Covid-19 cases
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Mainland China reported 42 new COVID-19 cases on Oct. 27, the highest daily toll in more than two months due to a rise in infections in the northwestern Xinjiang region, the country’s health authority said on Wednesday. Of the new cases, 22 in the city of Kashgar in Xinjiang were previously asymptomatic patients. The region’s health authorities also reported another 19 symptomless infections, which China does not recognise as confirmed COVID-19 cases, which accounted for half the new asymptomatic cases reported.
The daily toll for China marks the highest since 44 confirmed infections were reported on Aug. 10, though it remains far off the peaks in February at the height of the outbreak in mainland China that forced the country into a virtual standstill. Kashgar health officials said the COVID-19 testing drive for the 4.75 million people in the area was completed as of Tuesday afternoon and a total of 183 people were confirmed to have been infected with the novel coronavirus. The cases are linked to a garment factory, though it’s not yet clear how the infections began.
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in mainland China now stands at 85,868, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.
Vaccines being developed by Oxford University and in Germany are the most likely candidates to be ready this year, experts have said, but there are also candidates being tested in the US, Russia and China. There are also some signs that China is pulling ahead in the race. A German vaccine backed by Pfizer could be ready to distribute before Christmas, the company's chief executive said.
However, a major new study has found that immunity to coronavirus may only last a matter of a months, which could hinder the rollout of a successful vaccine.
A study by Imperial College London, which involved 365,000 people, showed that antibodies in the population fell by more than a quarter in just three months.
Scientists said the findings suggested a "rapid" decline in immunity – which could mean that even if a successful vaccine is found, it might have to be administered twice a year.
It comes after the head of the UK's vaccine taskforce has warned that any jab is likely to be only 50 per cent effective. Kate Bingham said any vaccine capable of immunising against the coronavirus will likely only be as effective as the flu vaccine.
"The vaccines we have for flu are about 50 per cent effective, and they are annual shots, based on the strain that emerges each summer which we then get vaccinated for the winter,” Ms Bingham said. "So, I think it would be fair to say, we shouldn't assume it's going to be for the moment, better than a flu vaccine."
The latest data in the Oxford trials shows that the vaccine produces a "strong" immune response among the elderly. Analysis of the Phase II stage of the trial process reportedly found similar responses across all age groups, in findings that have been hailed as a "milestone" in the fight against the pandemic.
As well as several phase 3 trials taking place on vaccine candidates around the world, the UK is starting some "human challenge trials", where volunteers are exposed to the virus as part of testing the vaccines.
The Imperial human challenge trial is being run by hVivo, a spin-off company from Queen Mary University of London. Already roughly 2,000 people have signed up to take part in challenge studies in Britain through the group 1Day Sooner.
Those testing the vaccine will be given the jab and will then wait a month for antibodies to build. The volunteers will then be exposed to the virus.
Currently, vaccines are tested at population level, so scientists look to see whether a smaller percentage of people are infected than would be expected in the vaccine arm of the trial compared to a control group.
However worldwide lockdowns have meant that virus in the community has been very low in recent months, and scientists have struggled to get enough data to know whether their vaccines are working.
Oxford University has been forced to move some of its vaccine testing to South America and South Africa, although it is expecting results back soon.
Over 150 countries equivalent to 64% of the world’s population have pooled efforts and resources to set up the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, otherwise known as COVAX. The benefits of this are that all member parties can take advantage of successful vaccines produced from their collective library so that everyone will have access to a working product in the shortest time frame possible. In the event that a country’s own vaccine plans fall through, they will have a backup option in COVAX. Notably absent from this coalition are China and USA.
COVAX have now announced a plan to fairly distribute working vaccines around the world going first to front-line workers and then to those at highest risk. However, funding to provide vaccines to lower income countries is not yet sufficient as only $800 million of the $2 billion required has been raised.
Let us continue to declare that the novel coronavirus is defeated by the blood of Jesus.
We pray for divine intervention and for God's name to be glorified even as each nation and government tries its best to flatten the curve, prevent and lessen the impact of second spikes and finally arrest this epidemic.
We release wisdom, skill, and integrity upon our leaders.
We pray for protection, wisdom and strength, for those working to bring treatment and comfort to the sick and their families.
We pray special grace and help for the vulnerable and lesser-developed nations.
We pray for refugees and displaced peoples. We pray against domestic violence and other crimes that have become rampant during lockdowns.
We pray for a safe, effective, and affordable vaccine to be released soonest but without including aborted baby cells in its creation or neglecting proper testing protocols.
We continue to release faith, hope, and love over the peoples of the world. May the Church seize this opportune time to manifest Jesus our Lord and Savior to those who are seeking answers and peace.
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Reporting from John Hopkins University: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality
Further data on Europe and the world: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/geographical-distribution-2019-ncov-cases
This year is the 30th anniversary of the re-unification of Germany. Our friends at European Evangelical Alliance have invited us to share in some prayers and thanksgiving for Germany at this time.
Our recent national holiday was a time to celebrate and to thank God. After the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9th, 1989, and the rapid political changes within one year, the accession of former East Germany (GDR) to be within the scope of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany was sealed on October 3rd, 1990.
Since then, as a reunited German nation, we have trodden a historic path, from two very different political entities and a divided nation after the Second World War into a common identity as one nation. This path has not been without pain and has required sacrifice and grace on both sides - so that it can best serve all our people and indeed other nations.
On this anniversary we want to celebrate and be thankful for our united Germany, and above all for reunited families, for the new marriages, families, friendships and relationships that have occurred since the fall of the Berlin Wall, for the new generation of children born, and for the freedom and prosperity throughout Germany.
As we thanked God for our Basic Law at the prayer conference in Bonn last year, let us now thank God for the abundant blessing that we have received.
At this time, when much is being put to the test and shaken, God again wants to show us as a nation his ways of salvation that go beyond our prayers and understanding (Psalm 50:23).
- Praise and thanks for 30 years of unity. (Psalm 98)
- We lay down before the Lord everything that we have achieved. Our land belongs to Him. (Psalm 24)
- After the political turn-around 30 years ago, we ask the Father now for Germany to turn around to Him, so that He can set us free to fulfil our calling as a nation. (John 8:36) (-KH-)
The calling of Berlin
The history of Berlin, now our capital and the seat of government in our country, goes back to the 13th century.
German history was made in Berlin in so many ways. Many cultural and political debates as well as ideological disputes have their origin here in Berlin and this is still true today. The city has had to live through many times of upheaval.
The division of Germany, with the construction of the Wall, was not experienced so directly anywhere else than in Berlin as a tangible and painful reality.
With the reunification of Germany, God has opened a new chapter and Berlin has become the “city of unity” and a symbol of God's grace-outpouring and miracle-working.
The message that comes to us from Berlin is that what God has done here, He can do anywhere else in the world. Not only political but also spiritual leadership should be evident in this city, along with a servant spirit and wise understanding.
Berlin needs our love as well as God's help and guidance. The destiny and future of Berlin is important to us all. Let us pray for God's redemptive plans and together bless and set this city free in its calling.
- For the special protection of God in all the current winds of change and upheaval. (Psalm 27: 1)
- That God's salvation plans and purposes for Germany become visible in and for Berlin. (Isaiah 60:18)
- We speak out over Berlin: You are a city of unity, of wise leadership … – a miracle of God. (-AS-)
More at: www.waechterruf.de/international/
Let's also be in prayer for breakthrough for nations going through divisive political, cultural, economic and other turmoil at this time, including North and South Korea, Armenia and Azerbaijan, and Belarus.
Read the inspirational recounting of The Miracle of Leipzip by Jeff Fountain, which we highly recommend. (Photo used above is from that article – with thanks)