Bloomberg – Alex Morales, Nikos Chrysoloras and Joe Mayes / Brexit talks fray, increasing chances of chaotic U.K.-EU split
- During crisis meetings Thursday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government rebuffed an EU request to scrap his plan to re-write the Brexit divorce accord even after the bloc gave him a three-week ultimatum to do so and threatened legal action.
- The U.K. and the European Union are heading for a chaotic split without a new trade deal as talks between the two sides frayed. The dispute risks jeopardizing already faltering efforts to secure a trade deal between the two sides by Dec. 31. The pound fell.
- “The U.K. has not engaged in a reciprocal way on fundamental EU principles and interests,” EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said in a statement. “Significant differences remain in areas of essential interest for the EU.”
- Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove says he told European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic that “we would not be withdrawing this legislation.” Negotiators plan to meet again next week in Brussels, Frost said.
- The Guardian – Paul Lewis and Owen Bowcott / Government’s top legal advisers divided over move to override Brexit deal
Project Syndicate – Richard Haass / The UN’s unhappy birthday
- The United Nations turns 75 this autumn, and if this were a normal year, many of the world’s leaders would gather in New York City to celebrate this milestone and open the annual meeting of the General Assembly.
- But this year is anything but normal. There will be no gathering because of COVID-19 – and even if there were, there would be little grounds for celebration. The United Nations has fallen far short of its goals.”
- This is not to suggest the UN is without value. It provides a useful venue for governments to talk, be it to avert or calm a crisis. UN agencies have promoted economic and social development and facilitated arrangements ranging from telecommunications to monitoring of nuclear facilities.
- Peacekeeping missions have helped to maintain order in many countries. But overall the UN has disappointed, owing to great power rivalries and member countries’ reluctance to cede freedom of action. The organization’s own shortcomings haven’t helped.
- Financial Times – Timothy Garton Ash / Hearts don’t beat faster for ‘the rules-based international order’
Politico – Nektaria Stamouli / Greece goes arms shopping as Turkey tension rises
- Despite the deep recession caused by the coronavirus crisis and a rising budget deficit, Athens has decided it’s time to act. Fighter jets, frigates, torpedoes and helicopters are all on Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ shopping list.
- France, which has given Athens political and military backing in its confrontation with Ankara, will be a big beneficiary of the procurement push. But other key allies are also likely to benefit from plans that are expected to raise military spending by some €10 billion over the next 10 years, according to Greek officials.
- Some €1.5 billion will be spent on arms and equipment in the coming months and most of it will come from a recent 10-year bond issue. Greek officials have justified the plans to ramp up spending in part by citing the rising tensions with Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean.
- Athens and Paris are in the final stages of negotiating a deal that is expected to lead to the purchase of around 18 Rafale fighter jets. The package is also expected to include the purchase of missiles and the maintenance of Greece’s Mirage jet fighters. Officials say they expect the deal will be followed by agreement on mutual defense assistance.
- The Guardian – Patrick Wintour / How a rush for Mediterranean gas threatens to push Greece and Turkey into war
The New York Times – Thomas Fuller and Christopher Flavelle / A climate reckoning in fire-stricken California
- Multiple mega fires burning more than three million acres. Millions of residents smothered in toxic air. Rolling blackouts and triple-digit heat waves. Climate change, in the words of one scientist, is smacking California in the face.
- The crisis in the nation’s most populous state is more than just an accumulation of individual catastrophes. It is also an example of something climate experts have long worried about, but which few expected to see so soon: a cascade effect, in which a series of disasters overlap, triggering or amplifying each other.
- A scorching summer led to dry conditions never before experienced. That aridity helped make the season’s wildfires the biggest ever recorded. The intensely hot wildfires are not only chasing thousands of people from their homes but causing dangerous chemicals to leach into drinking water.
- Excessive heat warnings and suffocating smoky air have threatened the health of people already struggling during the pandemic. And the threat of more wildfires has led insurance companies to cancel homeowner policies and the state’s main utility to shut off power to tens of thousands.
- The Economist / Why is California burning?
Further reading for the weekend:
- Financial Times – Richard Milne / Anders Tegnell and the Swedish Covid experiment
- The Guardian – Tim Harford / Facts v feelings: how to stop our emotions misleading us
- Wired – Klint Finley and Joanna Pearlstein / The WIRED guide to 5G
- The New Yorker – Masha Gessen / Svetlana Alexievich is not going anywhere