- NewsThe Telegraph
Lord Patten of Barnes last night warned that China's Communist Party had taken its most significant step yet towards tearing up the Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong after Beijing announced an overhaul of the city's electoral system. China on Friday moved to bar pro-democracy candidates from standing for election in Hong Kong and hinted at expanding the legislative to include more Beijing-appointed members. “China's communist parliament has taken the biggest step so far to obliterate Hong Kong's freedoms and aspirations for greater democracy under the rule of law," said Lord Patten, the last colonial governor of Hong Kong. "The Chinese Communist Party has ordained that in order to be a Chinese patriot you must swear allegiance to the Communist Party. This completely destroys the pledge of one-country, two-systems." Mr Patten went on to say the CCP was "a continuing and brutal danger to all who believe in free and open societies.” China announced the new plans at the annual meeting of its ‘rubber-stamp’ parliament. The Communist Party said it wanted to “to safeguard national security", amid mounting criticism from the UK and other Western nations for Beijing’s suppression of the territory. “We will resolutely guard against and deter external forces’ interference in the affairs of Hong Kong,” Li Keqiang, the country’s premier, said in an opening speech to the National People's Congress in Beijing. About 3,000 delegates from across the country descended in Beijing, under increased security and coronavirus controls to ensure the most high-profile political event of the year goes off without a hitch. The annual two-week meeting is heavy on political spectacle and light on actual lawmaking, as delegates have no choice but to approve proposals put forward by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
- CelebritySky News
The Duchess of Sussex has said it is "really liberating" to be "able to make a choice on your own" in the latest teaser clip of her interview with Oprah Winfrey. In the new clip, Meghan recalls a previous conversation with Winfrey in which she said should would not be able to take part in an interview with her. "I couldn't have said yes then - that wasn't my choice to make," Meghan says.
- NewsAssociated Press
Europe's vaccine solidarity got a boost on Friday after France said it could emulate Italy's move to block coronavirus vaccine exports outside the European Union if that's what is needed to enforce the bloc's own contracts with drugs manufacturers. The European Union defended the Italian authorities' decision to stop a large shipment of doses destined for Australia as part of a longstanding feud with drug manufacturer AstraZeneca. The EU's executive arm said the decision was not targeting Australia but that it had been taken to ensure that AstraZeneca delivers the number of doses it committed to dispatching to EU countries.
- PoliticsThe Week
Federico Klein, a former State Department aide who worked on former President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, was arrested Thursday on charges related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, the FBI announced Thursday night. This is the first known instance of a Trump appointee facing prosecution in connection with the attack, Politico reports. An FBI Washington Field Office spokeswoman told Politico that Klein, 42, was taken into custody in Virginia, but did not release any information on the charges against him. Federal Election Commission records show Klein worked as a tech analyst for the 2016 Trump campaign, Politico says, and after the election he was hired at the State Department. A federal directory from last summer lists Klein as a special assistant in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, making him a "Schedule C" political appointee, Politico reports. On Jan. 6, a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying President Biden's victory. Klein's mother, Cecilia, told Politico on Thursday night that he told her he was in Washington, D.C., on the day of the riot, and "as far as I know, he was on the Mall." She is a retired economist and trade official, and told Politico because of their different views, she rarely spoke about Trump or politics with her son. "Fred's politics burn a little hot," she said. "But I've never known him to violate the law." More stories from theweek.comWhat Republicans talk about when they talk about the 'working class'Why the Dr. Seuss 'cancellation' is chillingA shocking number of Democrats voted against a $15 minimum wage
- NewsThe Telegraph
Boris Johnson has accused Brussels of endangering global efforts to combat the covid-19 pandemic, as France signalled it could follow Italy and block AstraZeneca vaccines leaving the EU. Downing Street suggested the European Commission had reneged on previous assurances it had made, after it approved Italy’s request to stop 250,000 jabs destined for Australia from leaving the country. A “frustrated” and “disappointed” Australia has also demanded a review of the decision, and has sought assurances from Brussels that future vaccine shipments will go ahead. The blockade is the first time that EU-wide export controls, which require manufacturers to seek permission from the national authorities and Commission to export vaccines outside the bloc, have been used. It has already led France to threaten similar action, as member states seek to catch up with other nations which have surged ahead in their vaccination programmes. Defending the move on Friday the Commission’s chief spokesman said that it was necessary to send a “message” to AstraZeneca over its failure to hit its contractual targets with the bloc. He added: “The EU continues to be a leading provider of vaccines around the world. During the period from 30 January to 1 March, 174 requests for exports requested in the context of the Regulation have been approved by the Member States.”
- PoliticsAssociated Press
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger won wide praise last fall for firmly rejecting then-President Donald Trump’s false claims of voter fraud. Both men say they support Georgia Republicans' efforts to enact an ID requirement for absentee voting that would do away with the state's signature matching system, which Trump heavily attacked. While the bills being pushed in Georgia and several other states have the backing of a GOP base that embraces Trump, they also could stir up Democratic backlash, not to mention make it harder for GOP voters to cast ballots.