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China rewrites world history, and Amber Heard isn't willing to change a word in her testimony

15-6-2022 |

Fresh - freshly squeezed news from the international press. We prepare it 3 times a week.

AP: UK vows more Rwanda deportation flights after legal setback

The British government vowed Wednesday to organize more flights to deport asylum-seekers to Rwanda, after a last-minute court judgment grounded the first plane due to take off under the contentious policy.

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel
Photo: Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Home Secretary Priti Patel said ”preparation for the next flight begins now” despite legal rulings that none of the migrants earmarked for deportation could be sent to the East African country.

Under a deal signed in April between Britain and Rwanda, the U.K. government plans to send some migrants who arrive in the U.K. as stowaways or in small boats to Rwanda, where their asylum claims will be processed. If successful, they will stay in the African country, rather than returning to Britain.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government says the plan is a legitimate way to protect lives and thwart the criminal gangs that send migrants on risky journeys across the English Channel.

Human rights groups argue that the plan rides roughshod over the protections afforded to refugees under rules set up after World War II. They have called the idea unworkable, inhumane and a waste of money — Britain paid Rwanda 120 million pounds ($150 million) up front for the deal.

U.K. courts refused last week to ground the first flight, scheduled for Tuesday, but the number due to be aboard was whittled down by appeals and legal challenges. The European Court of Human Rights— an international tribunal supported by 46 countries including the U.K. — ruled late Tuesday that an Iraqi man due to be on the plane shouldn’t fly, saying he faced “a real risk of irreversible harm.” That allowed the final few migrants on the plane to win reprieve.

U.K. Cabinet minister Therese Coffey said the government was “surprised and disappointed” by the ruling.

“I think the public will be surprised at European judges overruling British judges,” she told Sky News.

In fact, the European court didn’t overrule British decisions, which declined to ground the flight as a whole. The ECJ dealt with the cases of individuals due to be aboard.

A full trial of the legality of the U.K. government plan is due to be heard in the British courts by the end of July.

Reuters: ECB to discuss market rout in unscheduled meeting

The European Central Bank's policy-setting Governing Council will hold a a rare, unscheduled meeting on Wednesday to discuss the turmoil in bond markets, underscoring official concern around a blowout in borrowing costs for some euro zone nations.

Bond yields have risen sharply since the ECB promised a series of rate hikes last Thursday and the spread between the yields of German bonds and those of more indebted southern nations, particularly Italy, soared to its highest in over two years.

At the same time, the ECB failed last week to provide any details about possible measures to support highly indebted euro zone nations, which further fueled concerns among the investment community.

"The Governing Council will have an ad-hoc meeting on Wednesday to discuss current market conditions," an ECB spokesperson said.

The last time the ECB held an unscheduled meeting during market stress it rolled out the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme, a 1.7 trillion euro ($1.78 trillion) bond buying scheme that proved to be its main tool during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The options open to the ECB to fight so-called fragmentation risk - when some countries face markedly higher borrowing costs than others in the same currency bloc - include channelling reinvestments from maturing bonds into markets experiencing stress or devising a brand new instrument. Some analysts have warned, however, that reinvestments alone are unlikely to be enough.

ECB board member Isabel Schnabel, the head of the bank's market operations, on Tuesday said that the ECB was "closely" monitoring the situation and was ready to deploy both existing and new tools if it found that the market repricing was "disorderly." read more

"We will not tolerate changes in financing conditions that go beyond fundamental factors and that threaten monetary policy transmission," Schnabel said, adding that there were no limits to its commitment to prevent fragmentation.

CNN: Amber Heard says she will stand by her testimony to her 'dying day'

Amber Heard has spoken out about everything from the public's treatment of her during her defamation trial with ex-husband Johnny Depp to whether she was telling the truth about his alleged abuse.

Photo: Getty Images

Heard sat down for an exclusive interview, her first, with NBC News' Savannah Guthrie, a portion of which aired on "Today" Tuesday.

The actress did not back down from her claims that Depp had physically and emotionally abused her during their marriage.

"To my dying day, I will stand by every word of my testimony," she told Guthrie.

Heard said she was also aware of the negative light the case shone on both her and her ex-husband.

"I would not blame the average person for looking at this and how it's been covered and seeing it as Hollywood brats at their worst," she told Guthrie. "But what people don't understand is it's actually so much bigger than that."

Heard said she believed "the vast majority of this trial was played out on social media," referencing the many memes and spoofs of the court case which circulated on TikTok and other platforms. She said the jury was "not immune" to those less-than-flattering portrayals of her.

"I think even the most well-intentioned juror, it would have been impossible to avoid this," she said.

Guthrie pushed Heard on whether she had abused Depp after the "Aquaman" star said she never started a physical fight with Depp despite audio played during the trial, which appeared to show she had.

Guthrie pointed out that Heard's alleged aggression was "in black and white" via a court transcript.

"As I testified on the stand about this, is that when your life is at risk, not only will you take the blame for things that you shouldn't take the blame for," she said.

"But when you are in an abusive dynamic psychologically, emotionally and physically, you don't have the resources that, say, you or I do with the luxury of saying, 'Hey this is black or white' because it's anything but when you're living in it."

Heard admitted that she "did do and say horrible things throughout my relationship,"

"I behaved in horrible, almost unrecognizable to myself ways," she said. "I have so much regret."

Depp had sued his ex-wife for $50 million, alleging she defamed him in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed in which she wrote about her experience with domestic violence.

Depp was not referred to by name in Heard's piece, but he said it cost him work. Heard countersued him for $100 million.

Both Heard and Depp were found liable for defamation in dueling lawsuits against each other. The jury, however, awarded significantly more damages to Depp.

Heard said during her interview that in the days leading up to the trial she had to walk by blocks of Depp supporters on her way to court, holding signs that disparaged her with phrases that included "Death to Amber."

"This was the most humiliating and horrible thing I have ever been through," Heard said. "I have never felt more removed from my own humanity. I felt less than human."

Heard said she believes the verdict may have been different had "really important pieces of evidence" from a UK libel case Depp lost in 2020 against a British tabloid -- that called him a "wife beater" -- been allowed to be submitted in her case.

When asked if she thought Depp's lawyers were better than hers, Heard said his attorneys "did a better job of distracting the jury from the real issues."

Heard's team has said they intend to appeal the verdict.

The Guardian: New Hong Kong textbooks ‘will claim city never was a British colony’

New Hong Kong textbooks will teach students that the city was never a British colony, after an overhaul of a school subject that authorities have blamed for driving the pro-democracy protests.

According to local reports, the new texts will teach students that the Chinese government didn’t recognise the treaties that ceded the city to Britain after the opium wars.

They ended in 1997 when Britain returned Hong Kong to Chinese control, and therefore the texts claim Hong Kong was never a British colony.

The new books also adopt Beijing’s narrative that the 2019 protest movement was driven by “external forces”, South China Morning Post reported.

The four sets of textbooks for Hong Kong’s liberal studies subject were released online last week, for schools to choose materials for the new academic year in September. They are set to be used by fourth form students in “citizenship and social development” classes, which replaced the liberal studies course designed in 2009 to teach students critical thinking.

In 2020 the liberal studies course was attacked by pro-Beijing authorities who blamed it for driving youth towards protests and pledged rectification.

The then chief executive, Carrie Lam, said students needed protection from being “poisoned” and fed “false and biased information”.

A subsequent overhaul of the education system included an increased focus on national security and patriotism, with teachers encouraged to report students who breached the national security law.

“It is necessary for schools to teach students to think positively and to love their nation,” the head of Hong Kong’s education department said on Monday.

China’s state-backed tabloid, the Global Times, said the changes would ensure “some teachers will no longer be able to convey their wrong and poisonous political views to students when teaching this course”.

The proposed new textbooks come just weeks before Hong Kong marks 25 years since the British handover. The territory was promised 50 years of semi-autonomy, but activists argue the post-2019 crackdown, national security law, electoral changes, and growing central government interventions in civil society and the media have in effect ended that autonomy already.

Picked and squeezed for you: Irina Iakovleva