British pub named after slave trader renamed to 'Ye Olde Pubby McDrunkface'


IN THE PAPERS - Wednesday, July 1: Germany takes over the rotating EU presidency today at a time when uncertainty and crisis plagues the bloc. We take a look at reactions in the Chinese press after Beijing passed its controversial national security law in Hong Kong. Also, 'Da Vinci Code' author Dan Brown faces a sordid lawsuit from his ex-wife and a British pub named for a slave trader renames it (temporarily) to 'Ye Olde Pubby McDrunkface'!


We begin with Germany, which takes over the rotating EU presidency today. It comes at a particularly crucial time as it's Angela Merkel's last 15 months in office. She's due to step down at the end of her mandate next year. The EU needs to find agreement on a huge economic package to get through the coronavirus crisis, there’s still the lingering Brexit, an increasingly assertive China and uncertainty ahead of November’s elections in US. Despite the challenges, French paper La Croix believes it’s Merkel’s hour. Offering a hopeful editorial, they see this as an opportunity – perhaps the last for a flailing Europe to redeem itself. It's not quite the same take from Der Taggespiegel. The German paper says Europe is not made of fairy tales and Germany will not miraculously solve all the bloc’s problems in six months. Moreover, because it only has six months it is destined to fail. Plus, there’s the lingering question of money – and resentment – which is sparking new alliances in the south, led by Italy and the east led by Poland.

There are lots of reactions in the Chinese press after Beijing passed its controversial national security law for Hong Kong. It comes on the same day of Hong Kong's 23rd anniversary of the one country two systems deal that promised the island 50 years of freedom. The national security law tightens control over the semi autonomous island and makes subversion, secession, terrorism and colluding with foreign forces punishable by prison.  The Chinese press, however, spins it differently – the China Daily’s editors today say the bill will maintain stability and security in Hong Kong and better protect its autonomy by preventing "external forces from meddling". In the Hong Kong Free Press three writers, including pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, warn that with this new law Hong Kong could face the same fate as Tiananmen Square. They add that the liberal order is facing an unprecedented threat, saying "never since Napoleon’s France has the most likely to be the next superpower not belonged to the democratic order."

In other news, Dan Brown, the bestselling author of "The Da Vinci Code" is facing a sordid lawsuit from his ex-wife. "The Da Vinci Code" is a tale of deceit and intrigue and art imitates life it appears. Brown’s ex-wife is suing him for allegedly siphoning large sums of money from their accounts to conduct affairs with several women, including a Dutch horse trainer on whom he spent lavish amounts of money. Brown’s wife is not just a bystander in his success – she says she played an important role in helping develop his book, something he’s said in the past. Dan Brown has said he’s stunned by the lawsuit.

Finally, many of the world's institutions are facing a reckoning over their ties to colonial pasts and slavery. In the UK, a pub in Bristol has changed its name to support the Black Lives Matter movement. The pub was named after Edward Colston, a Bristol slave trader whose ships transported tens of thousands of slaves from Africa. But after anti-racism demonstrators toppled his statue in the city, the pub has temporarily changed its name to Ye Olde Pubby Mcdrunkface, which perhaps better represents its patrons. It’s of course a nod to the infamous research vessel Boaty McBoatface, which was named in a cheeky internet competition.


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