Rare Indian art displayed in London exhibition

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

 

Rare Indian art displayed in London exhibition

Titled ‘Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company’, the exhibition has opened at the Wallace Collection until April, showcasing artwork from various collections across the globe, curated by writer William Dalrymple.

WORLD Updated: Dec 05, 2019 06:42 IST

Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Images of artwork at the London exhibition.
Images of artwork at the London exhibition.(SOURCED.)

Exquisite colonial-era paintings by artists such as Shaikh Zain ud-Din, Bhawani Das and Ghulam Ali Khan have been brought together for the first time in a major exhibition that shifts the focus from ‘Company School’ of painting to lesser known artists.

Titled ‘Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company’, the exhibition has opened at the Wallace Collection until April, showcasing artwork from various collections across the globe, curated by writer William Dalrymple.

The paintings were commissioned during the late eighteenth and nineteen centuries by East India Company officials and their wives, as well as by itinerant British artists and intellectuals passing through India for pleasure and instruction.

Comprising work from a variety of Indian traditions, organisers say the exhibition belatedly honours historically overlooked artists such as Shaikh Zain ud-Din, Bhawani Das, Shaikh Mohammad Amir of Karriah, Sita Ram, Bahadur Singh, Mihr Chand and Ghulam Ali Khan.

“The exhibition highlights the conversation between traditional Indian, Islamic and Western schools and features works from Mughal, Marathi, Punjabi, Pahari, Tamil and Telugu artists”, the organisers say.

The focus is on main centres of what has traditionally been described as the ‘Company School’ of painting: Calcutta and Lucknow, where Mughal painters from Murshidabad, Patna and Faizabad were employed; colonial Madras and Tanjore, where artists from south Indian traditions received patronage; and Delhi, where Mughal artists were based.

The exhibition includes a Mughal dagger, which was owned by a East India Company patron of this period: Claude Martin, who commissioned artists to create works of art depicting the flora, fauna and daily life in colonial India.

Xavier Bray of the Wallace Collection said: “We hope this exhibition will introduce a wider audience to one of the most interesting but often underappreciated phases of Indian painting, as well as explore the Wallace’s rich collection of Mughal arms and armour”.

Dalrymple added: “Forgotten Masters showcases the work of a series of extraordinary Indian artists, each with their own style and tastes and agency, whose brilliance has been frequently overlooked until now”.

“These masterpieces combine Indian and European influences to create rich, hybrid works which reflect the cultural fluidity of this period in India’s history.”

UK Labour Party omits Jews from campaign video promoting minority rights

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

UK Labour Party omits Jews from campaign video promoting minority rights

Amid anti-Semitism scandal, clip posted by Corbyn mentions over 20 marginalized groups and says party ‘will value you,’ but neglects Jews

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn gestures during a general election campaign visit at Whitby Leisure Centre in Whitby, northern England, on December 1, 2019. (Paul ELLIS / AFP)

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn gestures during a general election campaign visit at Whitby Leisure Centre in Whitby, northern England, on December 1, 2019. (Paul ELLIS / AFP)

UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn failed to mention Jews in an election campaign video that champions diversity and the rights of over 20 groups.

The 68-second video released Saturday features images of British people, towns and cities, along with a September speech by Dawn Butler, who holds the party’s Women and Equalities portfolio.

Butler lists various population groups, including people who are LGBT+, straight, Roma, black, white, Asian, disabled, “struggling to pay rent” or “wear a hijab, turban, a cross.” She assures that “a Labour government will value you, just be your true authentic self.”

While Jews make up 0.37 percent of the United Kingdom’s population, leaders of major Jewish groups suggested the omission was not connected to the minority’s limited electoral strength.

Jeremy Corbyn

@jeremycorbyn

This is our strength.

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Rather, they say, it is linked to the anti-Semitism problem in Labour’s ranks following the 2015 election of Corbyn as its leader. Corbyn, a far-left politician, has supported boycotting Israel and called Hamas and Hezbollah his friends, and he has been widely and repeatedly accused of failing to adequately tackle rampant anti-Semitism within the party’s ranks.

Jonathan Goldstein, chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, addresses the crowd in Parliament Square at the #EnoughIsEnough demonstration organized by UK Jewish leaders to protest anti-Semitism in the Labour party, March 2018. (Marc Morris/Jewish News)

Jewish Leadership Council Chairman Jonathan Goldstein told the Jewish Chronicle that the omission of Jews from the video was “extraordinary and chilling” and “shows they don’t regard the Jewish community or anti-Semitism as equal to other communities or racism of other types.”

The Board of Deputies of British Jews said that in the video, “The Jewish community is ‘erased’ as a minority group worthy of their support.”

Deborah E. Lipstadt@deborahlipstadt

Labour’s campaign video: Mention of every possible religious, ethnic, gendered, sexual orientation etc. minority. Except one. Jews. Sure it was just an oversight https://twitter.com/jeremycorbyn/status/1200675327636385792 

Jeremy Corbyn

@jeremycorbyn

This is our strength.

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A Labour Party spokesperson told UK media: “This video launched our Race and Faith Manifesto, which includes policies to guarantee the security and well-being of the Jewish community, defend and celebrate Jewish way of life, and combat anti-Semitism in Britain and across Europe. A Labour government will maintain real-terms funding for the Community Security Trust, make attacks on places of worship an aggravated offense, and force the tech giants to tackle anti-Semitism on social media.

“We will also protect the religious rights and freedoms of Jewish people and ensure public services meet the needs of Jewish people, from coroner services conducting quick burials to proper provision of religious and culturally sensitive social care and youth services. We will also ensure wider teaching about anti-Semitism in schools so that the next generation are better equipped to recognize and challenge these prejudices.”

Corbyn last week sparked outrage by repeatedly declining to apologize for his handling of anti-Semitism in the party in an interview with the BBC.

The BBC’s Andrew Neil pressed Corbyn six times to apologize to the Jewish community, in the wake of Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis’s unprecedented statement that Britain’s Jews were “gripped by anxiety” over the future of the community in the country, amid the prospect of a Labour win in the December 12 election.

After being slammed for the interview, on Wednesday Corbyn tried to tamp down the flames by saying that the party had already apologized for anti-Semitism in its ranks.

Polls suggest that just six percent of UK Jews plan to vote Labour. Nearly half say they would “seriously consider” emigrating if Corbyn — a man 87% of those polled believe is an anti-Semite — gets to Downing Street.

Jewish groups have accused Corbyn of allowing a massive rise in anti-Semitism within the ranks of the party that was once considered the natural home of British Jewry. Thousands of cases of alleged hate speech against Jews have been recorded within Labour since 2015, when Corbyn was elected to lead the party.

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London: Another Terror Attack On The London Bridge

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

LONDON — A man was shot by police Friday afternoon after several people were stabbed near London Bridge, officials said.

The area surrounding the incident was cordoned off and bus, subway and train stations were closed. Shops and restaurants in the area were evacuated.

Video posted to social media from eyewitnesses appeared to show armed police and members of the public crowd around a person on the floor, on the north side of the bridge. Police are treating the incident as though it were terrorism-related on a precautionary basis.

Hand Luggage Only@HLOBlog

Please stay away from ! I just saw a man with a knife being shot in the head by police. Please be careful London!

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The attack was first reported just before 2 p.m. (9 a.m. ET) and the Metropolitan Police confirmed “a number of people have been injured.” Their condition is not known.

Transport for London confirmed that London Bridge station, a major terminus for commuters across the southeast of England, was closed.

The London Ambulance Service declared a major incident and confirmed it had a number of crews at the scene.

Metropolitan Police

@metpoliceuk

Police were called at 1:58pm to a stabbing at premises near to London Bridge.

Emergency services attended, including officers from the Met and @CityPolice.

A man has been detained by police. We believe a number of people have been injured. Further info to follow.

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Police vehicles and a fire truck could be seen arriving at the scene 90 minutes after the incident.

A bystander who declined to provide a name described hearing “rapid gunfire” and seeing police officers dragging a motionless body away from the scene.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement released via official Twitter account: “I’m being kept updated on the incident at London Bridge and want to thank the police and all emergency services for their immediate response.”

London Bridge was the scene of a terror attack in 2017, in which eight people died and 48 were injured.

UK chief rabbi: What will be the fate of Jews if Labour ‘poison’ comes to power?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

UK chief rabbi: What will be the fate of Jews if Labour ‘poison’ comes to power?

Dismissing claim by Corbyn’s party to be working to root out anti-Semitism in its ranks as ‘mendacious fiction,’ Ephraim Mirvis asks: ‘What should we expect of them in government?’

Illustrative: Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis gives a speech as he attends a Holocaust Memorial Day Ceremony at Central Hall Westminster, January 27, 2015. (AP/Chris Jackson)

Illustrative: Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis gives a speech as he attends a Holocaust Memorial Day Ceremony at Central Hall Westminster, January 27, 2015. (AP/Chris Jackson)

Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis took an unprecedented stand against the Labour party ahead of next month’s election, urging voters to see the “new poison” that has taken root in the party, and expressing fear for the fate of Jews in the country should Jeremy Corbyn become prime minister.

In a column published Monday on The Times website, Mirvis said he was compelled to intervene in politics because Britain’s Jews were “gripped by anxiety” over the future of the community and of Judaism in the country amid the prospect of a Labour win on December 12.

Without explicitly calling on people not to vote for Labour, or even mentioning Corbyn by name, Mirvis warned that “a new poison – sanctioned from the top – has taken root in the Labour Party.”

“The question I am now most frequently asked is: What will become of Jews and Judaism in Britain if the Labour Party forms the next government?” he wrote.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party, addresses party members during the Labour Party Conference at the Brighton Centre in Brighton, England, September 24, 2019. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

“This anxiety is justified. Raising concerns about anti-Jewish racism in the context of a general election ranks among the most painful moments I have experienced since taking office,” the chief rabbi wrote, explaining his bombshell intervention by saying that “challenging racism is not a matter of politics, it goes well beyond that.”

Polls suggest that just six percent of UK Jews plan to vote Labour. Nearly half say they will “seriously consider” emigrating if Corbyn — a man 87% of those polled believe is an anti-Semite — gets to Downing Street.

Jewish groups have accused Corbyn, a far-left politician, of allowing a massive rise in anti-Semitism within the ranks of the party that was once considered the natural home of British Jewry. Thousands of cases of alleged hate speech against Jews have been recorded within Labour since 2015, when Corbyn was elected to lead the party.

The Labour leadership has strenuously defended itself, with Corbyn himself arguing in recent weeks: “Antisemitism and racism is an evil within our society. I’ve done everything to confront it throughout my life, and will always do so.”

Much of the fear of Corbyn is spurred by revelations about his past record that have emerged since he became Labour leader. These include him describing Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends”; defending an anti-Semitic mural in East London; and a seeming willingness to associate with alleged anti-Semites, terrorists and Holocaust-deniers.

Mirvis described the last four years of having Labour repeatedly minimize and deny the rampant anti-Semitism in the party and the attacks, and even death threats, Jewish party members faced for speaking out about it, with many hounded out of the party.

Illustrative: People hold up placards and Union flags as they gather for a demonstration organized by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism outside the head office of the British opposition Labour Party in central London on April 8, 2018. (AFP/Tolga Akmen)

He noted Labour’s “quibbling and prevarication” over whether to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance‘s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, finally only doing so after adding an amendment that emphasized the right to “free speech” on Israel.

And he highlighted the party being formally investigated by the UK’s anti-racism watchdog.

“And all of this while in opposition. What should we expect of them in government?” Mirvis asked. “Therefore, with the heaviest of hearts, I call upon the citizens of our great country to study what has been unfolding before our very eyes.”

Mirvis dismissed Labour’s claims that it was doing everything possible to root out anti-Semitism as a “mendacious fiction.”

“According to the Jewish Labour Movement, there are at least 130 outstanding cases before the party, some dating back years, and thousands more have been reported but remain unresolved.

“The party leadership have never understood that their failure is not just one of procedure, which can be remedied with additional staff or new processes. It is a failure to see this as a human problem rather than a political one. It is a failure of culture. It is a failure of leadership. A new poison – sanctioned from the top – has taken root in the Labour Party,” he wrote.

Mirvis said given Labour’s record, it “can no longer claim to be the party of equality and anti-racism.”

“How far is too far? How complicit in prejudice would a leader of Her Majesty’s opposition have to be to be considered unfit for office?” he asked.

“Would associations with those who have incited hatred against Jews be enough? Would describing as ‘friends’ those who endorse the murder of Jews be enough? It seems not,” he said. referring to Corbyn’s calling terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah “friends” when inviting members for a parliamentary meeting in 2009. Corbyn later downplayed the comment and said he regretted using the term.

Jeremy Corbyn (second from left) holding a wreath during a visit to the Martyrs of Palestine, in Tunisia, in October 2014. (Facebook page of the Palestinian embassy in Tunisia)

“It is not my place to tell any person how they should vote,” Mirvis said. “I regret being in this situation at all. I simply pose the question: What will the result of this election say about the moral compass of our country?”

Therefore, he added, “When December 12 arrives, I ask every person to vote with their conscience. Be in no doubt, the very soul of our nation is at stake.”

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Julian Assange: Sweden drops rape investigation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Julian Assange: Sweden drops rape investigation

Julian Assange gestures to the media from a police vehicle on his arrival at Westminster Magistrates court on 11 April 2019Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image caption Assange was arrested in London after Ecuador abruptly withdrew its protection in April

Prosecutors in Sweden have dropped an investigation into a rape allegation made against Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange in 2010.

Assange, who denies the accusation, has avoided extradition to Sweden for seven years after seeking refuge at the Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2012.

The 48-year-old Australian was evicted in April and sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for breaching his bail conditions.

He is currently being held at Belmarsh prison in London.

The Swedish investigation had been shelved in 2017 but was re-opened earlier this year following his eviction from the embassy.

In June, the then UK Home Secretary, Sajid Javed, formally approved an extradition request from the US where Assange is wanted on 18 counts related to the mass leak of American secrets.

What did the prosecutors say?

Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Eva-Marie Persson took the decision to “discontinue the investigation regarding Julian Assange”, the Swedish Prosecution Authority said.

“The reason for this decision is that the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question,” it added.

Media caption Julian Assange being dragged from the Ecuadorean embassy in London

Ms Persson said: “I would like to emphasize that the injured party has submitted a credible and reliable version of events.

“Her statements have been coherent, extensive and detailed; however, my overall assessment is that the evidence situation has been weakened to such an extent that that there is no longer any reason to continue the investigation.”

The prosecutors said the decision had been taken after interviews with seven witnesses in the case.

What was the Swedish investigation about?

Assange was accused of rape by a woman and sexual assault by another one following a Wikileaks conference in Stockholm in 2010. He has always denied the allegations, saying the sex was consensual.

Media caption Who is Julian Assange?

He also faced investigations for molestation and unlawful coercion, but these cases were dropped in 2015 because time had run out.

Vietnamese police accelerate illegal immigration probe following lorry deaths in Britain

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

Vietnamese police accelerate illegal immigration probe following lorry deaths in Britain

Xinhua
Vietnamese police accelerate illegal immigration probe following lorry deaths in Britain

AFP

Bui Phan Chinh, father of 37-year-old of Bui Phan Thang who is feared to be among the 39 people found dead in a truck in Britain, sits outside his house in Hong Linh district of Vietnam’s Ha Tinh province on October 29, 2019.

Police of Vietnam’s central Ha Tinh province have detained two individuals following reports of local families seeking for their missing relatives in Britain.

The provincial police have instituted legal proceedings against one among them for organizing, brokering illegal immigration and residence in foreign countries, Vietnam News Agency reported on Friday, quoting deputy head of Ha Tinh police Nguyen Tien Nam as saying.

Local police are also collecting testimony from others related to the case, Nam said, adding that they are working with the Ministry of Public Security and police of other localities to further investigate the case.

The investigation, which was officially announced on Thursday, follows reports of 10 families in the province who lost contact with their relatives on the way to Britain after the Essex lorry incident.

Ha Tinh authorities have collected DNA samples from members of those families to send to Britain for victim identification.

On Thursday, police of Vietnam’s central Thua Thien Hue province also pressed criminal charges and instituted legal proceedings against three Vietnamese individuals for organizing and brokering illegal immigration, Vietnam News Agency reported.

A resident from the province was duped into paying the trio over 36,000 U.S. dollars to immigrate to the United States.

Earlier on October 26, police of central Nghe An province filed the same charges against four people, who between 2015 and 2019 received hundreds of thousands dollars from more than 400 people without sending anyone abroad, local online newspaper VnExpress cited Nghe An police as reporting.

The 10 Countries With The Most Billionaires

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

The 10 Countries With The Most Billionaires

 

Countries With the Most Billionaires

The world is home to about 2,754 billionaires who together control $9.2 trillion in wealth, according to the 2018 Billionaire Census, compiled annually by Wealth-X.

While billionaires are spread out all over the globe, that wealth is concentrated in a small handful of countries. As it turns out, 40 percent of the world’s billionaires reside in the countries below.

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10. United Arab Emirates

Credit: DieterMeyri / iStock

The United Arab Emirates, or UAE, is an oil-rich Arab nation on the Persian Gulf. It’s also home to 62 billionaires who together have a total wealth of $168 billion.

Dubai, the capital city, is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, thanks to architectural wonders like the Burj Khalifa — which is currently the tallest building in the world. Dubai is also home to 65 percent of the nation’s billionaires, according to Wealth-X data.

9. Saudi Arabia

Credit: jamjoom / iStock

Saudi Arabia is a mecca for billionaires, literally and figuratively. The country ties its neighbor for the total number of billionaires with 62, but it’s got the UAE beat in terms of shared wealth. Saudi billionaires hold a total of $169 billion, $1 billion more than their Emirati counterparts.

Saudi Arabia is the largest economy in the Middle East, thanks to the more than 266,000 barrels of untapped oil lying beneath its desert sands. The nation exports more oil than any other country, and the size of its reserve is second only to Venezuela.

8. United Kingdom

Credit: Daniel Lange / iStock

The United Kingdom is home to 90 billionaires at last count, who together hold $251 billion.

You might be surprised to learn that Queen Elizabeth II isn’t among them; she’s worth only half a billion. The U.K. billionaire club includes a diverse list of business people such as steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal ($18.9 billion), bagless vacuum inventor Sir James Dyson and family ($12.3 billion), and Virgin Atlantic founder and space cowboy Richard Branson ($4.1 billion).

But you’ve probably never heard of the U.K’s richest man: Jim Ratcliffe, CEO of London-based chemical manufacturer Ineos. Ratliffe is entirely self-made, mortgaging his house to buy his first chemical assets.

7. Hong Kong

Credit: Nikada / iStock

We know, we know. Hong Kong isn’t really a country, per se. It is a semi-autonomous region of China. But its high concentration of billionaires makes it worthy of distinction. The city-state has a total of 93 billionaires worth a combined $315 billion.

In terms of billionaire cities, Hong Kong is ranked second, nestled between New York (#1) and San Francisco (#3). Hong Kong owes its wealth to more than a century of British rule, which came to an end in 1997. Possessing one of the world’s busiest shipping ports, Hong Kong became a manufacturing powerhouse.

The country’s richest person is 90-year-old entrepreneur Li Ka-shing. A high school dropout, Li made his fortune in plastic manufacturing, port development, and retail.

6. Russia

Credit: Mordolff / iStock

Russia is home to 96 billionaires worth a combined $351 billion. That number doesn’t include the net worth of President Vladimir Putin, who is rumored to be the world’s richest man with $200 billion in secret assets. But according to documents filed with the Russian election commission, Putin only claims to earn an average annual salary of $112,000.

Officially, Russia’s richest man is Leonid Mikhelson at $23.6 billion. Mikhelson is CEO of Novatek, Russia’s largest independent natural gas company. He’s among the politically powerful Russian oligarchs who rose to power after rapidly gobbling up assets when Russia’s state-owned companies went private.

5. Switzerland

Credit: AleksandarGeorgiev / iStock

Switzerland has 99 billionaires worth a total of $265 billion. That’s a high concentration of billionaires for such a small country, and once a year it gets even more concentrated. CEOs and heads of state from all over the world descend upon the snowy ski-town of Davos at the beginning every year for the World Economic Forum.

Many Swiss billionaires owe their riches to the banking and financial industry. Provided the country’s neutral status during both World Wars, and its centuries-long tradition of secrecy, Swiss banks became a global favorite. In 2018 it was estimated that Swiss banks held $6.5 trillion in assets, which is a quarter of all global cross-border assets.

4. India

Credit: Leonid Andronov / iStock

India is a country of extremes. About 58 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty, surviving off less than $3.10 a day. It is also home to one of the fastest-growing economies and 104 billionaires in total. Together India’s billionaires are worth $299 billion.

The country’s richest man is Mukesh Ambani, who is worth an estimated $49.6 billion. He owns 43 percent of Reliance Industries, which owns a little bit of everything: energy, oil, textiles, retail stores and telecom. Ambani also owns a professional cricket team, the Mumbai Indians.

3. Germany

Credit: bkindler / iStock

With 152 in total, you might be asking why Germany has so many billionaires. The answer is cars, machines, chemicals, electronics and groceries.

As it turns out, that “Germany engineering” you always hear about is a real thing, and it’s worth a lot of money. German billionaires control a total of $466 billion in assets, much of it earned from industrial and chemical manufacturing companies.

But the country’s richest person is Dieter Schwarz, whose company owns Europe’s largest supermarket chains, Lidl and Kaufland. At 79, Schwarz is worth a whopping $24.9 billion.

2. China

Credit: bjdlzx / iStock

At 338, China is home to 12 percent of the world’s billionaires who together possess $1 trillion in total wealth. Deng Xiaoping, who served as leader from 1978 to 1989, paved the way for the country’s growth by drastically reforming the economy. Flash forward to today where China generates a new billionaire every two days, according to UBS. The richest among them is Alibaba founder Jack Ma, with a net worth of $40.1 billion.

1. The United States

Credit: FilippoBacci / iStock

The United States is far and away the leader when it comes to billionaires with a total of 680. That is 25 percent of all billionaires in the world. U.S. billionaires have more than $3.16 trillion in assets combined.

America’s four richest billionaires are household names: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos ($120 billion), Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates ($95.5 billion), investing genius Warren Buffett ($82.5 billion) and Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg ($65.9 billion).

 

 

U.K. government says Brexit deal is “essentially impossible”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)

 

U.K. government says Brexit deal is “essentially impossible”

London — Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office told British journalists Tuesday that reaching a Brexit deal with the European Union ahead of the upcoming October 31 deadline was “essentially impossible.” Johnson’s government was reacting to a call between the him and German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier in the day, during which Merkel reportedly said it was “overwhelmingly unlikely” any deal could be reached based on proposals Johnson sent to the EU last week.

The dire outlook presented by Johnson’s government sparked a war of words with European Council President Donald Tusk, who tweeted directly at the prime minister: “What’s at stake is not winning some stupid blame game. At stake is the future of Europe and the UK as well as the security and interests of our people. You don’t want a deal, you don’t want an extension, you don’t want to revoke, quo vadis?” (Quo vadis is Latin for “where are you going.”)

Donald Tusk

@eucopresident

.@BorisJohnson, what’s at stake is not winning some stupid blame game. At stake is the future of Europe and the UK as well as the security and interests of our people. You don’t want a deal, you don’t want an extension, you don’t want to revoke, quo vadis?

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The U.K. is set to leave the EU on October 31, but legislation recently passed by Britain’s Parliament requires Prime Minister Johnson to ask Brussels for an extension if the House of Commons doesn’t endorse a deal or consent to a no-deal Brexit by October 19. It’s unclear whether Johnson’s government might be able to find a loophole in that legislation that would enable it to stick to his promise to pull Britain out of the EU, with or without a deal, on the 31st.

There was “skepticism” within EU circles over the U.K.’s description of Johnson’s call with Merkel, CBS News partner network BBC News reported. A spokesman for Merkel’s office declined to comment on confidential conversations.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, the U.K. government published a “No-Deal Readiness Report,” outlining preparations it has made in the event the U.K. does leave the EU without an agreement.

Previously leaked government documents laid out the possibility of medicine and food shortages in the U.K. should Britain leave with no deal, as well as potential civil unrest.

The plan published Tuesday detailed what the government has done to try and avoid those worst-case scenarios — many of which had been previously discussed. The “Readiness Report,” for example, notes the government has created a dedicated unit to support suppliers of medical goods in Britain, which could soon need to jump through additional hoops to ensure the integrity of  their supply chains.

“While we remain optimistic, we are also realistic about the need to plan for every eventuality,” the author of the report, Parliamentarian Michael Gove, said in the preface. “If we cannot secure a good agreement with the EU, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.”

What comes next

Parliament is expected to be suspended Tuesday evening until October 14 to give Johnson’s government the chance to set out a new legislative agenda in a “Queen’s Speech.” This comes after the Supreme Court ruled Johnson’s previous request for a suspension of Parliament — or “prorogation” — was illegal, because it shut down debate for what it said was an unreasonable amount of time.

On October 17 and 18, a summit of EU leaders will take place in Brussels ahead of the crucial date of October 19, when Johnson must ask the EU for a Brexit delay if a deal, or a no-deal Brexit, hasn’t been approved by Parliament.

The U.K. is currently set to leave the EU, with or without a Brexit deal, on October 31.

France, Germany, and UK say Iran is responsible for attacks on Saudi Arabia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF VOX NEWS)

 

France, Germany, and UK say Iran is responsible for attacks on Saudi Arabia

“It is clear for us that Iran bears responsibility for this attack,” the leaders of the three European powers said. “There is no other explanation.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron attend a lunch on “digital transformation” in Biarritz, France, on August 26, 2019.
 Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration has blamed Iran for the attacks on two vital oil facilities belonging to Saudi Arabia’s state-run oil company Aramco nine days ago. That assertion was met with deep skepticism by politicians, experts, and even some US allies, mostly because the Trump administration has executed a maximum pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic and many believe Washington has exaggerated intelligence about Tehran in the past.

But America’s claim received a major boost on Monday as the leaders of three key allies — France, Germany, and the UK — put out a joint statement at the UN saying that there’s no question Iran was behind the apparent drone and missile strikes on Saudi Arabia.

“It is clear for us that Iran bears responsibility for this attack,” they said. “There is no other explanation.”

“These attacks may have been on Saudi Arabia but they concern all countries and increase the risk of a major conflict,” the statement continued. The European powers also called on Iran to act more responsibly and in line with the terms of the Iran nuclear deal.

Raphaël Justine@RaphJustine

Leaders of 🇫🇷, 🇩🇪 and the 🇬🇧 just met in NYC and issued a joint statement:

It is clear to us that Iran bears responsibility for this attack. There is no other plausible explanation. We support ongoing investigations to establish further details.

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This is significant. Ever since the US withdrew from the nuclear agreement last year, the European countries who are party to the agreement — which include the nations from the statement — have tried to maintain good relations with Tehran.

French President Emmanuel Macron in particular has worked tirelessly to keep the accord alive and even tried to broker a meeting between President Donald Trump and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, at the UN this week.

But it seems they cannot ignore the intelligence they have, and decided to openly condemn the Islamic Republic.

With more allies on its side, the Trump administration may feel emboldened to increase the pressure on Tehran even more. That could come in the form of even more sanctions, or cyberattacks that can digitally render critical Iranian computers and networks useless. Those punishments could now be seen as more legitimate since other major world powers more friendly to Iran have also blamed it for the Saudi attacks.

Perhaps trying to fend off the worst, Iran has warned that a military response might prompt an “all-out war” in the Middle East.

The question now is how Iran will respond. With even more countries lambasting it publicly, it’s possible that it may choose more belligerence as a way to compel the US and others to lift the mounting economic and political pressure on it. If it goes that route, though, it may find itself in much more trouble than it’s already in.

Cameroon on a path to ‘national dialogue’ as Anglophone crisis continues

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Cameroon on a path to ‘national dialogue’ as Anglophone crisis continues

A man in Cameroon wears a shirt featuring President Paul Biya, taken March 20, 2008, via RNW media/Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0.

Cameroon’s leader Paul Biya, in an infrequent outing on Tuesday, September 10, announced talks to put to rest the crisis rocking the country’s English-speaking northwest and southwest regions – an impasse elapsing for the fourth year.

The conflict broke out in late 2016 when English-speaking Cameroonians began to protest the ongoing marginalization from the Francophone majority, who say the French-speaking majority government has consistently oppressed their language, culture and economies.

The protest movement, led mostly by teachers and lawyers, evolved into a militant separatist movement calling for the secession of English-speaking Cameroon. The government clamped down on Anglophone separatists and the conflict led to close to 2,000 people killed and over 500,000 displaced, according to the United Nations.

President Biya, who has been in power for 37 years, said the discussion would pull together people from a vast array of the country and will be chaired by Anglophone Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute.

“The dialogue in question will mainly concern the situation in the northwest and southwest regions. The dialogue will, therefore, rally all the sons and daughters of our beloved and beautiful country, Cameroon, to reflect on values that are dear to us, namely: peace, security, national unity and progress,” President Biya said on public television CRTV.

Gina Sondo 🇨🇲@GinaSondo

In view of the National Dialogue, ’s PM Dion Ngute will meet the following…

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However, there are concerns the dialogue may be limited and remote-controlled by the country’s leadership.

Agbor Nkongho, a human rights lawyer, who was part of the initial protests, wrote on Twitter on September 11, reacting to the President’s speech:

Agbor Nkongho@AgborNkonghoF

The call for an inclusive dialogue is very appreciated. I urge those who will be attending to call for the release of all those detained in connection with the crisis, the need for constitutional amendment and also to ensure that the form of the state is equally discussed.

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The Anglophone crisis in context 

After World War I, Britain and France shared control over Cameroon. France ruled French Cameroon and Britain administered a territory then-called British Southern Cameroons.

French Cameroon gained independence in 1961 as La Republique du Cameroun while British Southern Cameroons voted to join La Republique du Cameroun to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon, made up of two states: West Cameroon (English-speaking) and East Cameroon (French-speaking).

However, the first president of Cameroon, Ahmadou Ahidjo, who held power from 1960-1982, abolished the federal system in 1972. Today, there are 10 regions in the United Republic of Cameroon, made of 8 French regions and 2 English regions.

Anglophone Cameroonians have long lamented suppression from Francophone Cameroonians, who have dominated the country’s leadership since inception.

In 1991, efforts made to incise the abscess of the Anglophone problem with a similar call for dialogue fell flat. The All Anglophone Conference in 1993 and 1994 also made no impact:

Dibussi Tande@dibussi

When Anglophone members of the Committee on Constitutional Reform, set up by @PR_Paul_BIYA in 1993, proposed an alternative Federal Constitution, the President instead convened a “Grand Debat National” to water down & sidestep Anglo demands

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Nonetheless, President Biya recently announced a national dialogue to take place at the end of September, and several groups have already submitted proposals on how to resolve the crisis.

In one of them, the opposition party, the Social Democratic Front, led by vice-president Joshua Osih called for a neutral personality to chair the talks. Several Anglophone separatists are calling for the release of their leaders from prison after receiving life sentences.

Doubt, hope, fear ahead of talks

Netizens took to Twitter to express hope as well as doubt about the impact of the national dialogue plan. Solomon Amabo called for the need for a third-party presence to ensure transparency and inclusivity:

Solomon Amabo@solomon_amabo

Dialogue:’Who will I dialogue with?asked Mr Biya?He turns around and calls for National Dialogue,to dialogue with who then?Dialogue with ready-made resolutions-One and indivisible Cameroon?Only negotiations with 3rd party presence(UN,USA,etc)can be binding.We are not in 1961!

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Peter Tah also worries about inclusivity and wonders how peace is possible without a clear ceasefire:

Peter Tah@TFomonyuy

It’s increasing clear that the national dialogue will focus on issues like bilingualism, social cohesion, cultural diversity, return of refugees, reintegration of ex-combatants & rebuilding of affected areas in the Northwest & Southwest regions of .

Peter Tah@TFomonyuy

Looking at how predialogue talks are unfolding, it’s evident that this will be far from being inclusive. The regime seems to be picking & choosing those who would attend. Plus if this is dialogue on a crisis involving two parties, how come one party gets to draw up the agenda?

See Peter Tah’s other Tweets

However, Biya clarified on Monday, September 16, that the national dialogues will focus on “bilingualism, cultural diversity and social cohesion, the reconstruction and development of conflict-affected areas, the return of refugees and displaced persons, the education and judicial system, but also decentralization and local development,” according to Cameroon Online.

The United Nations says it has taken in the resolve by Cameroon’s leader Paul Biya to settle the armed conflict in the country’s English-speaking regions.

The UN urged inclusive talks to end the conflict that has persisted for nearly four years:

The Secretary-General welcomes the announcement made today by President Paul Biya on the launch of a national dialogue process in Cameroon. He encourages the government of Cameroon to ensure that the process is inclusive and addresses the challenges facing the country. He calls on all Cameroonian stakeholders, including the Diaspora, to participate in this effort.

Still, the September talks are announced amidst ongoing violence and a new surge of refugees fleeing insecure situations — including lockdowns and school closures for the last three years — in the northwest and southwest regions.

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