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News diary 6-12 January: Maltese PM set to resign over Daphne Caruana Galizia murder scandal

Foresight News provides a look-ahead to the key events that need to be in your news diary for next week… 

Labour’s National Executive Committee meets on Monday to formally agree a timetable for the party’s leadership contest, which is expected to kick off on Tuesday.

Emily Thornberry and Clive Lewis are the only confirmed candidates so far, though Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Jess Phillips are among those widely expected to throw their hats into the ring.

The long-awaited trial for disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein begins in New York. Weinstein faces charges of first-degree and third-degree rape and a first-degree criminal sex act over incidents involving two women, while four other women are set to testify as corroborating witnesses.

Closer to home, Lord Ahmed of Rotherham will also go on trial charged with four counts of attempted rape and sexual assault against two children in relation to incidents between 1971 and 1974.

Parliament returns from recess on Tuesday for three days of debates over Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which passed its second reading by a vote of 358 to 234 before Christmas in a show of support for his new majority government.

Jeremy Corbyn has tabled an amendment that would extend the transition period – currently set to end on 31 December – if a comprehensive trade agreement hasn’t been secured, but Johnson’s majority means close-call opposition amendments are now a thing of the past.

A British teenager convicted of making a false rape allegation in the Cypriot resort of Ayia Napa last July is scheduled to be sentenced. The 19-year-old, who says she retracted her allegation under pressure from police, has asked Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to help bring her home.

Fugitive automotive mogul Carlos Ghosn is expected to hold a press conference in Beirut on Wednesday following his dramatic escape from Japan on 31 December.

The former Nissan chairman was due to stand trial in Tokyo on charges of financial misconduct, and was under house arrest; inquiries are ongoing in Japan and Turkey to determine how he managed to smuggle himself into Lebanon despite close surveillance and his passports reportedly being held by his lawyers.

Wednesday also marks a court-ordered deadline for the US State Department to release records relating to the Trump administration’s communications with Ukraine, in a case brought by ethics watchdog American Oversight.

The court order covers documents up to 18 October, including the period after the whistleblower complaint was made. Records released on 22 November in the same case showed that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had been in contact with Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

The House of Commons considers the final stages of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill on Thursday before sending it to the House of Lords, bringing the UK one step closer to what now looks to be a definite exit from the EU on 31 January.

Further protests are planned in France as part of an ongoing dispute over government proposals for pension reform. Union leaders have called for mass action in addition to a new blockade of petrol facilities and the ongoing transit strike, which recently surpassed records set during the country’s civil unrest in 1968.

US President Donald Trump is scheduled to hold his first campaign rally of the election year in Toledo, Ohio. With the impeachment saga rumbling on and the assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guards leader General Qassem Soleimani ratcheting up tensions with Tehran, we’re likely to see a long, aggressive speech that has become a staple of Trump’s rallies.

And we should be hearing even more from the president on Friday, when the FBI is due to submit a proposal to the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court about how it plans to change its processes for national security surveillance warrant applications.

The court accused the FBI of misleading judges over the rationale behind its investigation into former Trump advisor Carter Page during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Friday marks the 100th anniversary of the League of Nations, the world’s first intergovernmental organisation and the precursor to the United Nations.

Set up in the aftermath of the First World War, the organisation championed collective security and disarmament in pursuit of international peace, but was considered a failure when it couldn’t prevent (and contributed to) the outbreak of the Second World War.

A quiet weekend domestically, but plenty on the international front, with highly anticipated elections in Taiwan on Saturday. Taiwan has shown vocal support for protests against Chinese influence in Hong Kong, and incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen has used the protests as a platform to re-assert Taiwanese independence amid Chinese pushes for reunification.

SpaceX has set Saturday as the earliest possible date for a launch test of its Crew Dragon’s in-flight abort system. The IFA is designed to separate the capsule from the Falcon 9 rocket in an emergency, and if the test is successful, Elon Musk’s company will be able to proceed with a manned demonstration mission to the International Space Station later this year.

Embattled Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat (pictured) is expected to step down on Sunday amid an ongoing political scandal over the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017.

Muscat’s chief of staff Keith Schembri resigned in November after energy tycoon Yorgen Fenech was arrested while trying to flee the country on his yacht, and subsequently named Schembri as the mastermind behind Galizia’s murder.

Haitians mark 10 years since a devastating magnitude-7.0 earthquake hit the country, killing around 250,000 people (the death toll remains disputed). The country has never recovered, with repeated cholera outbreaks, droughts, hurricanes and political corruption contributing to slow rebuilding and continued displacement.

On 13 January, the country’s current legislature will expire, plunging the country into a constitutional crisis that is likely to exacerbate tensions already evident in widespread anti-government protests.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Reuters/Vincent Kessler

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