The Hubble Telescope Has Found a Smile in Space to Warm Your Heart

Source: The Hubble Telescope Has Found a Smile in Space to Warm Your Heart

Counting All Votes For An Honest Election Should Be All That Matters

Counting All Votes For An Honest Election Should Be All That Matters

 

Well, another election has come and gone here in the U.S., well, not really. The Election was one week ago today yet there are still questions and acquisitions flying all over from Republicans about the counting and the recounting of people’s votes. For those of you who know me you know that I am a registered Independent. The reason for this is because quite honestly, both the Democratic and the Republican parties disgust me with their platform and voting records. We the people (at least with me) did not vote for Mitch McConnell (even though he is one of my home state Senators) nor did I cast a vote for Paul Ryan or Nancy Pelosi. Yet it is these folks and others like them who tell all of the Senators and Congressmen/Congresswomen how they are going to vote on every issue. This is why you have cases like the current one where when you have 51 Republican Senators and 49 Democratic Senators on basically all votes in the Senate on any Bill tends to be passed or failed at a 51/49 ratio. As a citizen I am sick of this garbage, I just want all parties to work toward the middle and to quit the partisan BS. This is why I am an Independent voter.

 

The reason for the first paragraph was just s you wouldn’t think a was some staunch Democrat who was just looking for a chance to slam the Republicans. For the purpose of this article I am just going to speak of the current election cycle issues in the state of Florida. In the state of Florida the current Republican Governor who will be out of Office soon because of term limits went up against the current Democratic Senator in an attempt to unseat the Senator. Also, for the position of the new Governor a Republican Congressman went up against the current Mayor of the States Capitol who was the Democrat. In both of these cases as last Tuesday night was closing out the Republican candidates were looking like they were going to win, but my very very narrow margins. The issue was that in the states largest counties not all of the votes had been counted yet, there were still many thousands left uncounted. So as the days have worn on these other ballots were being counted and being they were in areas that were heavily Democratic the vote count flipped over to where the Democratic candidates have overtaken the Republicans. Now the Republicans like Donald the habitual liar Trump and the other Florida Senator Marco Rubio are crying foul, saying the election commissions are cheating but they have shown no proof of any foul play. The current Governor (the Republican candidate for the Senate) has even ordered the State Police to investigate even though the State Police have told him there is nothing to investigate. Even a Federal Judge in Florida has chastised the Republicans for spreading fake news, fake conspiracy accusations.

 

Here is my take on this situation, I just want the real winner to be declared the winner, whether it be a Democrat or the Republican. I want honesty! As is typical of him the President has been crying and demanding that the votes stop being counted and that the Republicans be declared the winner, whether they were or not. People like our President do not care one little bit about honesty, only winning. Do not get me wrong on this, as I said I am not a Democrat. I believe without a doubt that if the tables were turned that there would be many Democratic politicians doing the exact same thing that these Republicans are doing. With these folks honesty seems not to matter at all. I will close with this last thought. I am not a big fan of early voting, I believe the time limit should be cut way down except for military personnel stationed overseas. Also, I believe that these early votes should be tallied before election day and once the polls have closed in their State put those votes out first, not last. Thank you for your time, I appreciate you reading.

The president’s performance in Paris was a stunning abdication of global leadership!

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SLATE NEWS)

 

Trump Retreats From the West

The president’s performance in Paris was a stunning abdication of global leadership.

U.S. President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and his wife Brigitte Macron attend a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Sunday.
U.S. President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and his wife Brigitte Macron attend a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Sunday.
Benoit Tessier/AFP/Getty Images

The most disturbing thing about President Trump’s disgraceful performance in France this past weekend is the clear signal it sent that, under his thumb, the United States has left the West.

He came to the continent to join with other world leaders to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. But the significance of the armistice is not so much to commemorate the fallen in an absurd and ghastly war as it is to celebrate the special peace—grounded in a democratic European Union and a trans-Atlantic alliance—that grew in its wake and the greater war that followed.

And yet, after flying nearly 4,000 miles across the Atlantic, Trump stayed in his room in Paris on Saturday rather than making the additional 50-mile trip to the Aisne-Marne cemetery, where 50,000 American soldiers were laid to rest a century ago. His excuse for not attending was lame, to say the least. His aides said, after the fact, that rainfall precluded a trip by helicopter—a claim refuted by the writer James Fallows, an instrument-certified pilot who, as a former White House official, is familiar with this helicopter.

A later claim, that the route posed a challenge to the large presidential motorcade, is doubly insulting. It’s insulting, first, to the Secret Service and White House travel office whose professionals prepare for, and surmount, any and all obstacles on such trips (an insult exacerbated by the fact that none of the other leaders’ security teams had any trouble dealing with the route); second, to the armed forces and allies, who must wonder whether Trump might turn away from the challenges of mobilizing armored battalions to the front lines in the event of an invasion.

Let us stipulate that Trump didn’t want to get his hair mussed or that security risks frightened him, which may also explain the fact that he hasn’t yet visited American troops in any war zone. (By contrast, Obama made his first trip to Iraq three months into his term and, in his time as president, flew eight times to Afghanistan; George W. Bush, in his two terms, made four trips to Iraq and two to Afghanistan.) However, this does not explain Trump’s late showing for Sunday’s ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe, or his skipping of the march toward that event down the Champs-Elysees.

Among the more than 60 world leaders who gathered for the ceremony, only he and Russian President Vladimir Putin were latecomers. (British Prime Minister Theresa May didn’t come to France at all, perhaps owing to her own current problems with the EU.) Many cocked eyebrows have been thrown at the photo of Trump beaming at Putin, while other allied leaders went deadpan, as his friend from the Kremlin approached.

Back in 1917, Russia was the first allied nation to leave the war as the Bolsheviks took power, in part thanks to the Germans, who smuggled Lenin onto a train from Zurich back home, where he proceeded to lead the revolution. That same year, the United States was the last allied nation to enter the war, supplying the aid and firepower that helped break the stalemate and secure victory.

President Woodrow Wilson then led negotiations for a peace on such onerous terms to the defeated powers—historian David Fromkin called it “a peace to end all peace”—that a resumption of war 20 years later was almost inevitable. World War II was fueled by nationalist impulses and facilitated by the crumbling of empires—both of which resonate with developments in global politics today.

This was the context of French President Emmanuel Macron’s speech at the Arc de Triomphe, in which he condemned nationalism—the “selfishness of nations only looking after their own interests”—as a “betrayal of patriotism.” In part, and most obviously, he was jabbing at Trump, who listened with a scowl; but he was also warning against, as he put it, “old demons coming back to wreak chaos and death.” Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it, George Santayana once wrote. The problem with Trump is he never knew history—and doesn’t think he needs to learn it. His election marked Year Zero, as far as he is concerned: He frequently says that he’s unlike, and better than, any previous president, so any lessons of the past are irrelevant.

Macron and everyone else at the Arc had not only the rise of Trump in mind but also the turn toward right-wing nationalism in Hungary and Poland, the uncertain course of Brexit in Britain, and the collapse of Angela Merkel’s centrist coalition in Germany—leaving Macron as the last surviving celebrator of the post-WWII Western traditions, and he too is buffeted by pressures from the left and the right.

At such an occasion so rife with moment and symbolism, any other American president would have felt compelled to repair and strengthen this union. If there were any doubts that President Trump understands little about his mission, and cares even less, this trip dispelled them once and for all.

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Republican Politicians And Their Sham Against Democracy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

 

Republicans Are Casting Doubt On Normal Election Processes For The Sake Of Winning

By characterizing basic safeguards as illegitimate, Rick Scott and President Trump are undermining democracy.
X

On Thursday night, two days after Election Day, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) stood on the steps of the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee and unleashed a nuclear bomb aimed at the very foundation of democracy. Scott suggested there was “rampant fraud” in the state. “No ragtag group of liberal activists or lawyers from D.C.” was going to steal the election from Floridians, the governor said.

When Scott made his comments, Florida hadn’t even hit the deadline to submit unofficial election results to the state. Scott asked the state’s law enforcement agency to investigate his allegations, but the agency quickly said there was nothing to investigate.

That hasn’t stopped President Donald Trump from continuing to insist that there was fraud in the state. There is no evidence of fraud to support his claim.

Scott’s election night lead over Nelson has shrunk significantly, and the margin is now so slim that the state is in the midst of a legally required recount. But election experts say there’s nothing unusual or nefarious about vote tallies changing days after an election. Instead of letting election officials count the ballots as usual, the comments from Scott and Trump amount to an effort to undermine normal election processes.

Steven Huefner, a law professor at Ohio State University, wrote that it was “beyond unseemly” and “downright destructive of public trust in our elections” for election officials to attribute changing vote totals to nefarious actions.

Florida allows voters to cast ballots by mail and accepts them until 7 p.m. on Election Day. Election officials then have to verify signatures on the ballots in addition to determining whether provisional ballots cast on Election Day can count. That process can take time, which is why Florida and other states give counties time to conduct what’s called a canvass and review the votes. In Florida, the deadline for counties to submit unofficial results to the state was Saturday and the deadline for official results is Nov. 18.

“Results on election night, it’s actually never been final on election night. Ever in the history of our country. There’s always been this continuation of calculating the results and all that,” said Amber McReynolds, the former top elections official in Denver who is now the executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute, a group that advocates for voting by mail. “This is not new. Florida’s doing exactly what other states are doing right now. California has even more to count. But in California, there’s not a Republican that might win, so it’s not getting any attention.”

Charles Stewart, the director of the MIT Election Lab, noted that, in addition to trying to deal with mailed-in ballots, counties also had to tally their early votes. Florida law doesn’t allow officials to count early votes until after the polls have closed. Different counties may also tally at different speeds because of the equipment available, the kinds of ballots they receive and staffing, experts say.

Scott has complained that Brenda Snipes, the supervisor of elections in Broward County, refused to turn over information about how many ballots still needed to be tallied. He secured a court order on Friday requiring her to hand over the information.

Ned Foley, a law professor at Ohio State University, has studied the way that vote totals change during a canvass after Election Day. Those shifts tend to benefit Democrats and are a “relatively new phenomenon,” he said, because more people are voting by mail and Congress passed a law in 2002 requiring officials to offer provisional ballots.

“Both of those things have the effect of having ballots eligible to be counted but not available for counting on election night,” he said. “For demographic reasons, groups that tend to vote Democratic Party ― students, younger voters, more mobile voters ― you’re more likely to get caught up in the need for a provisional ballot if you’re just a more transient population.”

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Usually, shifts in vote counts after Election Day go unnoticed because they aren’t enough to overcome the initially reported margin of victory. But in Florida, the changing tally is getting scrutinized because the margin separating the candidates is so thin, Foley said. A similar process is playing out in Arizona, where election officials are still counting the ballots in close races for U.S. Senate and secretary of state.

California has even more to count. But in California, there’s not a Republican that might win, so it’s not getting any attention.Amber McReynolds, executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute

Trump tweeted Monday that Florida shouldn’t consider any of the votes tallied after election night, a move that would disenfranchise military voters whose ballots can be accepted until Nov. 16.  Scott’s campaign is also suing in state court to block officials in Broward County, a key bastion of Democratic votes, from officially counting any ballots that weren’t tallied by the state’s Saturday deadline for unofficial results.

Foley said the allegations of fraud and election stealing in Florida were particularly worrisome because there could be shifts of tens of thousands of votes during a presidential election. The allegations in Florida could serve as a prelude for a candidate to undermine the results in 2020. A key part of democracies, he said, is that the candidates accept the results of elections as legitimate.

“Every election has a winner and a loser, and the loser has to accept defeat,” he said. The loser “has to think that, even though they really wanted to win and thought they should have won ― or maybe even thought the vote-counting process was inaccurate in some respects ― that we can accept it.”

The talk of fraud got the attention of the chief state judge in Broward County, who urged lawyers for both campaigns who were in court Monday to “ramp down the rhetoric” about voter fraud.

Richard Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, who specializes in elections, wrote in Slate that that kind of questioning of election results could lay the foundation for a constitutional crisis.

“If President Trump is ahead in his re-election bid on the night of the election, only to lose that lead as more ballots in larger — mostly Democratic — counties are counted through a normal process in the days and weeks after Election Day, it seems reasonable to be concerned that he will contest such a legitimate vote,” Hasen wrote. “We don’t know if he would even vacate his office in such a scenario, triggering the possibility of a real constitutional crisis.”

Trip to mackinac island….

STAY AT HOME MOM

I always wanted to go to an island…. How beautiful it is….  A piece of land surrounded by water…. Vowwww….

So guys…. Here i am with my awesome experience on Mackinac island….

CAC870F5-6B2B-40CF-995E-609C93DDA9B7 Side view of Mackinac island

We know islands are always been an exciting place to visit…. But mackinac island is lot more than that….

Let me share from the beginning….

Before visiting the place you must know 3 things :-

  1. You have to take ferry ride inorder to reach the island and there are options to book the tickets for ferry ride in online….
  2. In my opinion, you must book a hotel nearby the ferry starting point. And also book the hotels as early as you can….
  3. You must know the fact that cars are not allowed in the island…. We can have either bicycle ride or horse ride…

We had booked room in Bay side hotel and…

View original post 423 more words

Facing US Sanctions, Tehran Set to Lose Economic Deals in Syria

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Facing US Sanctions, Tehran Set to Lose Economic Deals in Syria

Tuesday, 13 November, 2018 – 09:15
Booth selling handmade crafts in Damascus bazaar, EPA
Damascus – Asharq Al-Awsat
Washington’s newly imposed sanctions on Iran have given rise to many speculations concerning the fate of Tehran’s recently stepped up investments in Syria.

Despite Iran and Syria labeling their relationship as ‘strategic’ when it comes to political, military and security cooperation, their economic ties have remained humble with a small trade exchange valued at $361 million between 2010 and 2011.

Most of trade happening between the two is skewed to benefit Iran, and fails to meet forecast hopes. Both Damascus and Tehran had hoped to achieve a whopping $2 billion exchange.

Iranian investment is at the bottom of the list when compared with other countries that ventured in Syrian markets that opened up to better global trade relations in 2000. The number of projects undertaken by Iran between 2006 and 2010 totaled seven only, and included a cement manufacture plant, energy supply contracts, and car production deals involving the Syrian Iranian Car Manufacturing Company LLC (SIAMCO).

During that very same period, Turkey bagged a total of 26 investment projects in Syria. Back in 2010, the Syria government approved 37 foreign investment projects, ten of which belonged to Turkey.

After the 2011 uprising set Syria on a downward spiral of bloodshed and devastation, the country’s gross domestic production took a crippling blow and bled an estimated $226 million in losses. Syria’s currency lost up to 90 percent of its value, leaving 85 percent of the Middle Eastern country’s population below the poverty line.

In the aftermath of the Syria Civil war, unemployment aggravated to a staggering 53 percent in 2015 and coincided with depleted national foreign currency reserves, with reports saying the country was left with a diminishing 5.88 percent of its pre-war foreign currency reserves.

Reaching such a tattered state of affairs forced the Syrian regime to seek out squeezing more economic help from Iran, in addition to military and political support. Responding to regime calls, Tehran increased its economic input in Syria by late 2011.

Nevertheless, the contribution did not come by for free. Iran soon subdued the Syrian regime by inking multiple agreements stringing across the entirety of Syrian economic sectors. Quintessential to its influence in Syria, Tehran secured a considerable share in production industries linked to the war-torn country’s sovereign wealth and natural resources.

These stakes were handed over to Iran to settle outstanding debts.

In August 2013, Tehran loaned Damascus $3.6 billion to cover for the regime’s oil derivatives expenditure.  But it was agreed that the money buys Iranian oil exclusively.

Later in July 2017, Bashar Assad approved his country acquiring another $1 billion loan to finance exports.

Syria’s energy, telecommunications, financial, construction and industrial sectors– to some degree–are spending Iranian credit. But it will not be a walk in the park for Iran to secure its share of the Syrian economy.

Russia, a strong regime ally, is also seeking to grab serious investment projects in Syria.  In light of competitiveness, observers believe that Moscow might use US sanctions to sway the situation in its favor, especially in forcing the Syrian regime to hand over energy sector concessions, previously promised to Iran, to Russian companies.

US sanctions are also expected to reduce the spread of Iran proxy militias in Syria because of lack of funds—signs of the US economic sanctions effecting Iran’s regional standing began showing as Russian troops began replacing Iran-linked forces in military outposts in eastern Syria.

For example, Russian forces have taken control of locations, formerly held by Iranian militias, in Abu Kamal, a city on the Euphrates river in eastern Syria’s Deir Ezzor province near the border with Iraq.

Jordanians Dash Over for Cheap Shopping at Syria Border

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Jordanians Dash Over for Cheap Shopping at Syria Border

Monday, 12 November, 2018 – 09:30
Vehicles are being checked by custom officers at the recently reopened Nassib border post in the Daraa province, at the Syrian-Jordanian border south of Damascus on November 7, 2018. LOUAI BESHARA / AFP
Nassib (Syria) – Asharq Al-Awsat
Near the recently reopened border with Jordan, former Syrian opposition fighter Bahaa al-Masri sells date-filled pastries and sesame biscuits to Jordanians flocking across the frontier to snap up bargains.

Syrian regime forces retook control of the Nassib border crossing from the opposition in July, and last month reopened it after a three-year closure.

Just several hundred meters from the frontier, 26-year-old Masri counts the boxes of biscuits he still has left in a green plastic crate strapped to the back of his motorbike.

“For two weeks I have been bringing sweets from Damascus and selling them to Jordanians who come to buy them here because they’re cheaper,” says the ex-combatant, wearing a black jacket and woollen hat.

“I sell 27 to 30 boxes a day.”

Masri hawks the pastries every day in a rest area on the edge of Syria’s southern province of Daraa for three Jordanian dinars each (around $4, 3.5 euros).

“Thank God, when the border opened there was work again here, after I spent around six years without a job,” Masri tells AFP.

Also looking to cash in are Jordanian drivers, jokingly dubbed “sailors”, who ferry goods from Syria across the frontier for a small commission.

A whole economy has sprung up again since the border begun working.

At the crossing itself cars sit side by side in several long queues waiting to cross over into Syria.

Large trucks, some refrigerated, also wait their turn.

Before the war, “we used to come over to Syria every day — sometimes just to have breakfast”, says Mohammed Sayes, a 25-year-old from Jordan’s adjacent border town of Ramtha.

It was his second such trip since the border reopened “to see the sights, go out and eat” cheap, he says.

“Yes, Syria lived through a war, but we suffered a siege,” says the specialist in tourism management.

“When the border reopened, it was like paradise opened up again.”

Further up, dozens of people stand in line outside a row of small pre-fabricated buildings to have their Jordanian passports stamped by Syrian officials.

Jordanian driver Muflah al-Hurani, 53, is crossing the border to drive a family back home from the Syrian capital Damascus just over 100 kilometers to the north.

He has been going in and out of Syria on an almost daily basis since Nassib reopened, to transport passengers or shop for relatives.

“I bring back fruit and vegetables including potatoes, onions, garlic, as well as children’s clothes made of cotton,” he says.

“And I fill up my car will fuel… It’s less than half the price (in Syria) despite the war.”

Not far off, the former arrivals hall is being repaired after it was damaged in the war.

Damascus hopes the reopening of Nassib will boost its war-ravaged economy.

Before the conflict, the crossing was a key passage for trade, linking Syria — but also Lebanon and Turkey — with Jordan and the Gulf beyond.

Syrian officials have registered more than 33,000 arrivals since October 15, against 29,000 departures.

Among those waiting to head across the border are also Syrians returning home, car roofs piled high with suitcases and blankets.

Last week, a Jordanian official said 6,000 Syrians had gone back to their country, among them 517 registered refugees.

The head of the Nassib crossing Colonel Mazen Ghandour says the number of people heading into Syria is increasing daily, and that most of those coming are Jordanians.

“Most Jordanians come to shop and then go home,” Ghandour says. “Others go to see Damascus.”

A few meters away, a Syrian woman living in Jordan smiles as she waits to cross over with her family for a two-week visit.

“Damascus is a blessing… That’s why everybody wants to visit after being cut off for so long,” she says.

China announces roadmap for building stronger modern air force

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA ‘SHINE’ NEWS AGENCY)

 

China announces roadmap for building stronger modern air force

Xinhua

Xinhua

J-20 fighter jets are seen during the 12th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, also known as Airshow China 2018, in Zhuhai City, south China’s Guangdong Province, 11 November 2018.

The Chinese Air Force on Sunday announced a roadmap for building a stronger modern air force in three steps.

The building of a stronger modern air force is in line with the overall goal of building national defense and the armed forces, Lieutenant General Xu Anxiang, deputy commander of Chinese Air Force, said at a press conference on celebrating the 69th anniversary of the establishment of Chinese Air Force held in Zhuhai, south China’s Guangdong Province.

According to Xu, the first step is to, by 2020, build a strategic force that integrates aviation and space power, and strike and defense capabilities, in which the fourth generation of equipment serves as backbone and the third generation of equipment as mainstay. The systematic combat capabilities will be enhanced.

The second step requires the air force to improve strategic capabilities and modernize its theory, organizational structure, service personnel, and weaponry. The building of a modern and strategic air force will be basically completed by 2035, Xu said.

The third step will see the air force fully transformed into a world-class force by mid-21st century, according to Xu.

Death toll from Mogadishu bombings climbs to 41

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS OF INDIA)

 

Death toll from Mogadishu bombings climbs to 41

Twin car bombs exploded within moments of each other, followed by gunfire and a third blast near a popular hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu, sending thick plumes of black smoke into the sky.

WORLD Updated: Nov 11, 2018 12:00 IST

Mogadishu bombings,Mogadishu,Somali capital
People rescue a wounded person following three blasts of suicide bomb car attacks in Mogadishu on November 9, 2018.(AFP Photo)

The death toll from a series of car bombings near a popular hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu has jumped to at least 41, police said on Saturday.

Friday’s attack was the latest in a wave of bombings by Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda affiliate which has been fighting to overthrow the internationally-backed Somali government for over a decade.

Twin car bombs exploded within moments of each other, followed by gunfire and a third blast, sending thick plumes of black smoke into the sky.

Police official Ibrahim Mohamed said that information received from various hospitals indicated that the number of dead had reached 41, with another 106 wounded.

“Most of these people were civilians and nearly 20 of them died in minibuses that were passing by the road when the blast occurred,” he added.

Another security official, Abdirahman Osman, told AFP that nearly 50 had been confirmed dead so far, although the final number was not yet known.

Officials on Friday had put the death toll at about 20.

First Published: Nov 10, 2018 20:55 IST

US, UK, Canada denounce dissolution of Sri Lanka parliament as undemocratic

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS)

 

US, UK, Canada denounce dissolution of Sri Lanka parliament as undemocratic

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to dissolve parliament, worsening an already major political crisis, has drawn criticism from Western powers, including the United States and Britain.

WORLD Updated: Nov 10, 2018 21:13 IST

Reuters
Reuters
Colombo
US,UK,Canada
Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to dissolve parliament has drawn criticism from Western powers, including the United States and Britain.(AFP)

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to dissolve parliament, worsening an already major political crisis, has drawn criticism from Western powers, including the United States and Britain.

Sirisena dissolved parliament on Friday night, only five days before it was due to reconvene, but a new cabinet he installed was in danger of losing a vote of no confidence. Sirisena also called a general election for Jan. 5.

The president triggered a power struggle when he sacked prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe late last month and appointed the island’s former leader, Mahinda Rajapaksa, a pro-China strongman defeated by Sirisena in an election in 2015, in his place.

Sirisena’s rivals are set to challenge his decision, which they describe as illegal and unconstitutional, in the Supreme Court on Monday.

The U.S. Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs said in a tweet that the United States was “deeply concerned by news the Sri Lanka Parliament will be dissolved, further deepening the political crisis”. It said democracy needed to be respected to ensure stability and prosperity.

Mark Field, the British minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, tweeted his concern about the dissolution of parliament days before it was due to be reconvened.

“As a friend of Sri Lanka, the UK calls on all parties to uphold the constitution and respect democratic institutions and processes,” Field said.

Canada’s Foreign Policy twitter feed said that it was “deeply concerned” about the decision and referred to the risks to reconciliation work after the nation’s civil war.

“This further political uncertainty is corrosive to Sri Lanka’s democratic future and its commitments on reconciliation and accountability,” it said.

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne expressed both concern and disappointment in a statement, saying the move “undermines Sri Lanka’s long democratic tradition and poses a risk to its stability and prosperity”.

Sirisena has said he fired Wickremesinghe because the prime minister was trying to implement “a new, extreme liberal political concept by giving more priority for foreign policies and neglecting the local people’s sentiment”.

Parliament test

Mangala Samaraweera, an ally of Wickremesinghe, said their party expects the court to rule that the dissolution of parliament was illegal and that eventually a vote in parliament will be held to test whether there is a majority.

“We will show that we have the parliament majority and we will show that the dictator president has dissolved a government which had a majority in the parliament,” he told reporters.

They were supported by the Tamil National Alliance, the main party representing ethnic Tamil groups in parliament, who said they too will petition the Supreme Court against the dissolution of the house.

“This is a clear violation of the constitution. The president can’t do this,” M.A. Sumanthiran, a spokesman for the alliance, told Reuters.

India and the West have raised concerns over Rajapaksa’s close ties with China. Beijing loaned Sri Lanka billions of dollars for infrastructure projects when Rajapaksa was president between 2005-2015, putting the country deep into debt.

Wickremesinghe refused to vacate the official prime minister’s residence saying he was the prime minister and had a parliamentary majority.

Before he signed the papers dissolving parliament and calling the election, Sirisena appointed allies of his and of Rajapaksa to cabinet positions.

One of them said Sirisena was right to order an election to end the political crisis. Dinesh Gunawardena, a newly appointed urban development minister, said the president had handed the country back to the people.

“It is the people’s right to vote. We have gone before the people. No force can interfere. The people’s mandate is supreme,” he said.

Independent legal experts have told Reuters that parliament could be dissolved only in early 2020, which would be four-and-half-years from the first sitting of the current parliament. The only other legal way would be through a referendum, or with the consent of two thirds of lawmakers.

Given those views, it was not immediately clear how Sirisena is on legal safe ground by dissolving parliament, though his legal experts have said there are provisions for him to do so.

First Published: Nov 10, 2018 21:11 IST