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Navalny “is being weaned off mechanical ventilation” and “is responding to verbal stimuli,” Berlin’s Charité Hospital said. “It remains too early to gauge the potential long-term effects of his severe poisoning,” the hospital added.

The critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin became sick from suspected poisoning on a flight to Moscow from the Siberian city of Tomsk on August 20.

Germany’s government said last week that tests on Navalny showed “unequivocal evidence” of the use of a chemical nerve agent from the Soviet-era Novichok group.

The attack on Navalny was met with widespread international condemnation, while the Kremlin has remained defiant in the face of global unease over Russia’s role in the incident.

Navalny’s team have pointed the finger of blame directly at Putin.

“In 2020, poisoning Navalny with Novichok is exactly the same as leaving an autograph at the scene of the crime,” Leonid Volkov, Navalny’s chief of staff, wrote over a picture of Putin’s signature after the poisoning, in a tweet that has since been deleted.

Novichok agents are highly unusual, so much so that that very few scientists outside of Russia have any real experience in dealing with them.

The lethal chemical weapons were first developed in secret by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Even today, no country outside of Russia is known to have developed substances in the group.

Novichok was also used in a March 2018 attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the English cathedral city of Salisbury.

Later on Monday, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that he has summoned Russian ambassador Andrey Kelin. “Today the UK summoned Russia’s Ambassador to the UK to register deep concern about the poisoning of Alexey Navalny,” Raab said on Twitter.

“It’s completely unacceptable that a banned chemical weapon has been used and Russia must hold a full, transparent investigation.”

Navalny’s poisoning and questions over the Russian state’s role may also dramatically alter the relationship between Berlin and Moscow.

During an interview with the Bild Am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday, German foreign minister Heiko Maas did not rule out freezing the European-Russian gas pipeline project — Nord Stream 2 — in response to the incident.

This stance was repeated by a German government spokesperson Monday.

“The Chancellor [Angela Merkel] has endorsed the language of the foreign minister,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert said during a press conference.

Last week, Merkel said Germany’s response to the attack on Navalny would depend on the extent to which Russia provides answers as to who may be behind the poisoning.

Police officer poisoned by Novichok in UK issues cryptic tweet on Navalny

While Seibert did not provide a deadline for such a response Monday, he made clear that Germany’s patience was not endless.

“I can’t comment on any time frames, except that we are not talking about months or until the end of the year,” he said.

Meanwhile the Russian government has said it is waiting for further information from Berlin before opening a probe into Navalny’s poisoning. Germany has dismissed this explanation.

“All evidence, witnesses, traces, etc. are located in the place where the crime was perpetrated, presumably somewhere in Siberia,” Christopher Burger, a spokesman for Germany’s foreign ministry, said Monday.

“The allegation aimed at Germany that the progress of an investigation is being stalled is therefore not valid, because Russia could start an investigation anytime without Germany if Russia is willing and if it has an interest to do so,” Burger added.

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Pelosi: Covid relief deal could still happen before Election Day

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On Friday, Pelosi told CNN she sent Mnuchin a list of concerns “that we still had about ‘what is the answer?'”

“My understanding is he will be reviewing that over the weekend, and we will have some answers on Monday,” she said Sunday.

Pelosi said she’ll not hold out to see whether Democrats win the White House and the Senate and keep the House after in the Nov. 3 elections to pursue a bill more to Democrats’ liking. Instead, she said she’ll continue working to get a relief bill passed “as soon as possible.”

The speaker went on to say that a relief bill could be passed as soon as this week in the House, but that it’s up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell whether it would go to the Senate floor.

McConnell has largely steered clear of stimulus talks recently and many GOP senators are opposed to the $2 trillion deal being discussed by Pelosi and Mnuchin. On Tuesday, McConnell softened his stance a bit, saying he would allow the Senate to vote on a Pelosi-Mnuchin agreement — assuming that first Trump agrees to sign it.

Earlier Sunday on CNN, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said, “We’ve identified those Senate Republicans most likely to vote” for the relief deal to pass. But he said Republicans will not blindly pass the bill without first reading its terms fully.

“We are not Nancy Pelosi. We are not going to vote or opine on a bill and pass it before we have read it,” he said.

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one man’s reflections on what has gone wrong with ‘the family’

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Jeremy Corbyn is elected as the new leader of Labour Party, September 2015: Forde barely hides his contempt for the MPs ‘who put a Marxist on the ballot paper’. | PA Images


4 min read

At times searing in his criticism of those he holds responsible for trashing the prospects of the Labour party, Gisela Stuart finds Matt Forde’s new book both entertaining and insightful

Matt Forde’s “Politically Homeless” is like an episode from the Archers’ in the early months of the lockdown. One man’s reflections on what has gone wrong with “the family”. To be fair to Forde, unlike the Archers, he does make you laugh.

We often think of political parties as families, and there is a reason for that. We like some members more than others, every so often we have a big row, but eventually we find a way of rubbing along. And we have secrets; things which we either all know to be true, but we would rather not talk about or which we hope will go away if we ignore them long enough.  Even when things get really bad, we rarely pack our bags and, move in with the family on the other side of the road.  

Matt Forde is as entertaining as he is insightful and like many of us, he wants to get back to the days when Labour was in government, invested in Sure Start centres, schools and hospitals, introduced a national minimum wage and ended boom and bust.

Every MP or party activist who has ever screamed and shouted at Regional Office for not doing this, that or the other, would benefit from Forde’s take on what it is like to be a regional organiser. The joys and tribulations of by-elections, ministerial visits, and photo calls. Needs must, and if that means dressing up as a chicken and stalking Charles Kennedy, then so be it. He is generous in naming some MPs he’s worked with who genuinely cared about their constituents and even occasionally said “Thank you”. He thought the late Tessa Jowell “made you behave better by her just being there” and he is right.

Every MP or party activist who has ever screamed and shouted at Regional Office for not doing this, that or the other, would benefit from Forde’s take on what it is like to be a regional organiser

But he is searing in his criticism of the string of events which started with Ed Miliband trashing the achievements of the Blair/Brown governments and culminated with the party electing Jeremy Corbyn as its leader. He barely hides his contempt for the MPs who put a Marxist on the ballot paper. He wonders if those who did so to “broaden the debate” were gutted because they couldn’t find a fascist.

Anyone who is still in doubt about the mountain Labour has to climb only needs to read his chapter on Stoke on Trent. A collection of six towns, represented by three Labour MPs, where the local council was so divided that a grand coalition of Britain’s three biggest political parties could only muster a majority of one against a collection of BNP and independent councillors who were either hard-left ex-Labour or had never been part of any political party.

Corbyn’s Labour Party hoped that by ignoring the stain of antisemitism, which became attached to the party as a whole, it would just somehow go away, which of course it didn’t. But there is an even bigger secret much of today’s Labour Party tries to not talk about. It is the simple fact that the whole point of a political party is to win elections. If you are not in power then you can’t make the changes necessary to help the people you claim to care about.

Jacqui Smith, when she was chief whip, used to remind MPs that the “worst day in government was better than the best day in opposition”. Entertaining as opposition might be, it can’t be your purpose.

It’s unlikely that we’ll be able to have a good heart-to-heart with our friends about the state of the party, drown our sorrows with a glass of wine and have a good laugh, but we can give each other Forde’s book as a Christmas present.

Baroness Stuart of Edgbaston is a Non-Affiliated peer and was Labour MP for Birmingham Edgbaston 1997-2017

Politically Homeless by Matt Forde is published by Quercus

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Nasa moon announcement: What is on the Moon?

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The US space agency, Nasa, has revealed conclusive evidence of water on the Moon.

Unlike previous detections of water in permanently shadowed parts of lunar craters, scientists have now detected the molecule in sunlit regions of the Moon’s surface.

Nasa has said it will send the first woman and next man to the lunar surface in 2024.

But what does this new discovery mean for this mission and future missions to the Moon?

What else is on the surface of the Moon?

BBC Science Correspondent Laura Foster explains.

Video by Laura Foster, Terry Saunders and Mattea Bubalo.

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