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UK PM forced to return to London to placate a minority party

When May traveled to Brussels on Monday, it was in the expectation that she would sign a historic ag..

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When May traveled to Brussels on Monday, it was in the expectation that she would sign a historic agreement with European Union leaders that would enable Brexit talks to move on to a crucial new stage — the nature of a future relationship between Europe and the UK.The timetable was tight: The remaining 27 EU nations are set to meet on December 14 and 15 to decide if "sufficient progress" has been made to move on to the second phase of negotiations. Even though Britain doesn't leave the EU until 2019, businesses want clarity now so they can make crucial investment decisions.So the choreography was set: a working lunch with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, followed by a meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk and capped off with a triumphant statement to the House of Commons in London on Tuesday.It didn't quite work out like that. May relies for support in the UK Parliament from a small but hardline party in Northern Ireland — the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). And when the DUP's 10 members of Parliament got wind of the language in May's deal around the arcane but historically significant issue of the Irish border, they had something of a public meltdown. May was forced to abandon her plans and return to London.May insisted later that there were merely a "couple of issues" that remained outstanding and that she was confident a deal could be done soon. But as the dust settled on Tuesday, it was clear from the previous day's breakneck developments in London, Brussels and Dublin that the contours of a final Brexit deal had fundamentally changed.

What's on the table?

When Brexit negotiations began just under six months ago, the EU was clear on its position: It would not countenance any discussion about a future relationship with Britain until "sufficient progress" had been made on three issues: that Britain pay a substantial "divorce bill;" that rights of European citizens in the UK are guaranteed; and that there is no reinstatement of a border infrastructure between Northern Ireland, which will leave the EU with the rest of Britain in March 2019, and the Irish republic, which remains in the EU. After tortuous negotiations, the two sides were close on the first two issues, in particular after the UK agreed to make a substantial payment to the EU budget, leaving the Irish border as the final stumbling block.Town at center of Brexit tug-of-war fears border changesIt is a historically delicate issue: The dismantling of border controls and infrastructure was a key plank of the Good Friday Agreement, which brought peace to Northern Ireland after years of sectarian conflict. Finally, on Monday morning, negotiators appeared to have found common ground. The UK would guarantee that Northern Ireland would continue to be aligned with EU laws and regulations that, if they diverged, would require checks at the border.Unfortunately for May, the text leaked. Members of the DUP — which devotes its entire energy to preserving the union between Britain and Northern Ireland and opposes any suggestion that its laws and regulations could be hitched to those of Dublin — were furious. May was forced to return to London and try to placate the DUP.Her calculation appears to be that the DUP will fall in line. After all, can the party afford to risk the £1.5 billion funding deal for Northern Ireland that it struck with May upon agreeing to support her government?And if the DUP withdrew its support from May and left the possibility open for another general election, would it risk the election of the Labour Party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, becoming Prime Minister? Corbyn has in the past expressed support for Irish nationalist causes, anathema to the DUP.So if she can get past her problems with the DUP, what are the options for May? Unfortunately for her, all are replete with problems.

Soft Brexit

What is it? Under a so-called soft Brexit, the UK would remain in or closely aligned with the EU's customs union and single market. It would ensure that the UK would adhere closely to EU rules and standards, although it would not have a say in how they were agreed on. Theresa May's final Brexit hurdle looks a near impossible leapWhy could it work? Such a stance would be well received in Scotland, Wales and London, whose leaders have already backed it. Most large business leaders would welcome a close relationship with the EU. A "soft Brexit" template already exists: four non-EU countries participate in the single market through membership of the European Free Trade Association.Why might it fail? Critics will accuse the government of betraying the people who voted to leave, with this deal effectively allowing the UK to remain in the EU. It would also rile the Brexiters in the Conservative Party who would likely protest against the deal.May's majority in Parliament is thin and she cannot afford to alienate members of her own party without risking a vote of no confidence. In any case, she has already ruled out this option and it seems unlikely that she would reverse course.

Hard Brexit

What is it? A hard Brexit involves cutting as many ties with the EU as possible while maintaining some form of trading relationship. It's what the most ardent supporters of leaving the EU demanded — that Britain "takes back control" of its laws and immigration policies. It would require negotiators to conclude a tailor-made trade deal, and is the most complicated of all the options: It took nine years to forge a trade agreement with Canada.Why might it work? It would please the hardcore Brexiters as it would take the UK out of the customs union and single market while also ensuring the country had full autonomy over its legal system. The option has support from some senior figures in May's cabinet and a small but vocal section of her MPs. Why might it fail? If the UK leaves the customs union and single market, it's hard to see how customs checks would not be required at the Irish border, and a hard border wouldn't pass muster with the government in Dublin. It also seems likely that such an option would not command a majority of votes in the House of Commons.Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar wants the UK to make guarantees over the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish republic.What is it? If talks collapse, and Britain ends up without a trade deal or even a transition arrangement, the logical legal consequence of Britain triggering the Article 50 process of leaving the EU means that it would crash out on March 29, 2019.Theresa May warned to change course over Brexit and Irish borderWhy might it work? In the absence of bespoke trade deals, there is a ready-made framework for world trade: the terms agreed on by the World Trade Organization. Many countries in the world successfully trade with each other on WTO terms. Why might it fail? Theresa May used to insist that "no deal is better than a bad deal," but most business leaders believe WTO terms would be disastrous for British trade. In any case, WTO rules don't cover some crucial areas of pan-European cooperation, such as on security and aviation. It's also highly unlikely MPs would approve leaving the EU without a deal.

Staying in the EU

What is it? If neither "soft" nor "hard" Brexit can command sufficient support in Parliament, and if MPs refuse to allow a "no-deal" Brexit, the only other option would appear to be remaining in the EU.Why might it work? Most legal experts believe the UK could suspend the process of leaving the EU if it wants to. EU leaders have said they would prefer the UK to remain in the bloc. Most business leaders believe leaving the EU would be economically disadvantageous.Why might it fail? Even the most ardent pro-Remain politicians generally accept that Britain is leaving the EU, and the debate is merely about how close a future relationship would be. But the Brexit process has been nothing if not unpredictable, and if no other option is on the table, there is at least a theoretical path to Britain remaining in the EU.British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) and European Council President Donald Tusk are hoping to strike a deal.

What will happen now?

The European Commission has made it clear that it believes a deal was done. The Irish government's position is the same. The clock is ticking: EU officials say an agreement must be made within days if the UK wants a European summit on December 14 and 15 to agree to move on to trade talks. But all sides are prepared to give May time to square off the 10 MPs of the Democratic Unionist Party. "The show is now in London," one official said.Speaking to reporters in Brussels on Tuesday, British Chancellor Philip Hammond insisted he was "very confident" that there would be movement over the coming days. "We have made a lot of progress over the last weeks," he told reporters. "We have made tremendous steps forward. We are very close, but we are not there yet."

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Corriere della Sera: Belgian judges exerted illegal & undue pressure on Eva Kaili

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Madrid Journal – Italian and Greek media seem to lose patience with how the Belgian authorities are dealing with corruption case in the European Parliamentary. The ill treatment of the Belgian judiciary became very obvious where the prosecution is practically employing blackmail as a tactic to get Eva Kaili to confess despite her pleading innocence from day one. According to the report of the Italian newspaper, the Belgian judges investigating the Qatargate scandal allegedly exerted illegal undue pressure on Eva Kaili, suggesting that she confess her guilt, with the promise that she will be released from prison.

It should be noted that after the conclusion of the last hearing, the lawyers of Eva Kaili complained that their client was kept in solitary confinement for six hours, speaking of torture reminiscent of the Middle Ages and a violation of human rights.

Today the Italian newspaper brings to light the aforementioned claim of the well-known criminologist Michalis Dimitrakopoulos.

“She has not agreed to confess to something she has not done” 
“From the first moment they suggested that Eva Kaili plead guilty and be released from prison so that she can finally hug her daughter again,” says Dimitrakopoulos, clarifying however that his client , who has been claiming innocence since day one, has always denied it.

“Despite the fact that being away from her little girl is the greatest psychological torture, she has not agreed to confess to something she has not done,” adds the Greek lawyer.

As also stated in the publication “she does not want her daughter to inherit the stigma that her mother was a corrupt female politician, because it is not true”.

The same publication also states that: “The former Greek TV journalist was immediately acquitted by her partner Giorgi, but the investigators did not believe the couple’s version, convinced that the woman belonged to Pantzeri’s network and tried to help him disappear the money from the funds. In fact, they accused her of bribery and of trying to hide the fruits of a crime.”

What will be her next move
The next moves Dimitrakopoulos plans for Eva Kaili are to build a profile of a woman deeply scarred by the month and a half she spent behind bars in Haren prison, the newspaper says.

“She was shaking as she told the judge, who was also a woman, about the torture she suffered, not in prison, but in a police cell. What he experienced – says the lawyer – is reminiscent of the movie ‘Midnight Express’, but unfortunately this is happening in the center of Europe”.

The indictment against the allegedly aggressive methods of the Belgian justice system ends with the announcement of the next legal move by Eva Kaili’s defense team: “Next week we will appeal to the Supreme Court, announces Dimitrakopoulos. When someone is arrested they are immediately protected by the law. I wonder if it was the same in Brussels.”

 

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The 5 best resorts and boutique hotels in Italy 2023

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Seehof Nature Retreat /Naz-Sciaves (Bressanone)

Adults-only resort overlooking the shores of a private lake, the Seehof Nature Retreat has 40 rooms, including suites and doubles, with lake view or garden view. The wellness rite to clarify ideas about what to do in the future is carried out in the spa, it is the Aufguss, the infusion of vapors with essential oils which is carried out by a sauna master. The swimming pool is heated and can therefore also be used in winter, while the lake is frozen, so only the bravest will go and get their feet wet after a session in the sauna. Those who can’t sit still can go skiing in the Gitschberg/Jochtal and Plose/Bressanone areas, on the way back, massage with alpine herb pads or with arnica and St. John’s wort to soothe the muscles. The stay is all-inclusive (with a four-course gourmet dinner); the half board is on request.

Langhe House / Cerretto Langhe (Cuneo)

The Alta Langa is a land of great reds and also of sparkling wines, hazelnuts, cheeses and castles. Heritage of biodiversity, it is a land that tries to defend its relationship with nature, limiting highways and new constructions.

The result is Casa di Langa, a five-star resort amidst hazelnut groves and vineyards, which renounces single-use plastic, focuses on energy independence and recycles water for the irrigation of its vineyards and biodynamic vegetable gardens which Luigi Merlo, the gardener, takes care of Daniel Zeilinga, the executive chef, with two years of experience alongside Enrico Crippa at the Piazza Duomo restaurant in Alba. Aromatic herbs, edible flowers, ancient varieties all that grows is needed at the Sorì Cocktail Bar, which favors infusions for drinks, the Fàula restaurant, which has just entered the Michelin guide, and the Spa.

Villa Gelsomino / Santa Margherita Ligure

An 18th-century villa, Art Nouveau details and 5 sea-view suites, with original frescoes and Genoese grit floors. Villa Gelsomino is the project of three friends, who transformed the house into a boutique hotel reserved for adults only. The structure uses green energy, is plastic-free, and compensates for C02 emissions by planting trees around the world. You stay among a few guests and in the quiet, on request, there are private yoga and pilates lessons and you get around with electric scooters and e-cycles.

Gallicantu / Luogosanto (Sassari)

They are the new refuges for travelers who have already experienced everything; the pens, the rural settlements where the animals are rounded up, in the Sardinian Gallura are small treasure properties, created among the blocks of granite, sheltered from the confusion of the coast (but the beaches are always short range). Gallicantu, a micro-resort revisited by architect Jean Claude Lesuisse, with just five rooms and two suites, is close to Luogosanto (its name comes from the 22 country churches in the area), Tempio, where Fabrizio De André had chosen to live, and the beautiful Aggius, which is part of the authentic villages of Italy. If you wish, instead of reaching the Costa Smeralda, you can stop by the pool, among the olive trees. There is also a wellness area with sauna, Turkish bath, emotional showers. The pre-nuragic cave of the property is instead intended for the tasting of wines, cold cuts and cheeses.

Cape of Senses / Torri del Benaco (Verona)

55 lake view suites, three swimming pools, one of which is sports and two infinity, adults-only Spa, with fitness and yoga platforms, two restaurants, a 15,000-metre property among the retreats in Italy that will make headlines in 2023 is the Cape of Senses, which will open in July in Albisano, above Torri del Benaco, on Lake Garda. Designed by Hugo and Alessia Demetz, the hotel will be an oasis where you can stay for three days or more: upon request, you can sleep in a mobile structure, in direct contact with the stars. Two restaurants, At sunset, with gourmet à la carte cuisine, and La Pergola, with traditional cuisine served on the panoramic terrace.

This article was originally published on GQ (Italiana Edition)

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NGOs: Belgian authorities treatment of Kaili is inhumane

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Greek and European Human Rights organisations have organisations have criticised harshly the Belgian authorities treatment of Eva Kaili and described it as inhumane. The NGOs including Amnesty added that Kaili’s daughter was deprived of her mum for very long time due to the ongoing investigation.
Reports have suggested earlier that Haren prison where Kaili is jailed is one of the worst and most populated prisons in Belgium with very low staff maintaining it. In fact, Belgians have agreed under pressure to allow Kaili to see her daughter after a month of separation between the mum and her little daughter. Such treatment of the Belgian authorities can only be seen under oppressive regimes not in Europe.
After almost a month, Eva Kaili, the former Vice-President of the European Parliament who was jailed as part of the investigation into the Qatargate corruption case, was able to see her two-year-old daughter again.

Accompanied by her grandfather Alexandros Cailis by taxi, the little girl arrived at the Haren prison, according to the Italian newspaper Repubblica.  This is the new Belgian prison located a few kilometers from the center of Brussels and where the MEP is being held.

According to the same sources, Eva Kaili’s lawyer, Michalis Dimitrakopoulos said that the Greek politician was “happy to see her child again after a month”. Mother and daughter “played together for about two hours and twenty minutes. The room was very nice and I didn’t feel like I was in a prison,” he added. 

Then the well-known criminologist revealed that in the coming days the child will again return to Haren prison to see his mother.

It is noted that in the previous period the Eva Kaili had complained that they did not allow her to see her daughter, a claim denied by the Belgian authorities, stating that detained mothers can see their children at predetermined times, while they have the possibility – if they wish – to keep them in specially designed cells.

It is recalled that Kaili was arrested on December 9, for calling her father and asking him to come and pick up a suitcase from the house where she lived with her husband Francesco Giorgi, after learning that her partner had been arrested. A suitcase in which there were 750,000 euros. Kaili told authorities she knew her husband was holding something on behalf of Italian former MEP Antonio Pancheri, but claims she didn’t know the contents of the suitcase until that morning. 

However, the MEP’s entourage speaks of a plot of big interests on her back, while the documents that linked the Greek politician to bank deposits in Panama are still under the microscope.

It is recalled that Kaili was arrested on December 9, for calling her father and asking him to come and pick up a suitcase from the house where she lived with her husband Francesco Giorgi, after learning that her partner had been arrested. A suitcase in which there were 750,000 euros. Kaili told authorities she knew her husband was holding something on behalf of Italian former MEP Antonio Pancheri, but claims she didn’t know the contents of the suitcase until that morning. 

However, the MEP’s entourage speaks of a plot of big interests on her back, while the documents that linked the Greek politician to bank deposits in Panama are still under the microscope.

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