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

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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

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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

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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.

Britain, Germany Slam Attack on Saudi Oil Plants, US Again Blames Iran

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

 

Britain, Germany Slam Attack on Saudi Oil Plants, US Again Blames Iran

Monday, 16 September, 2019 – 11:45
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Britain and Germany condemned on Monday the attacks against Saudi Aramco oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson stands in support of his Saudi Arabian allies following an attack on its oil facilities which marked a “wanton violation of international law”, his spokesman said.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas slammed the attack, saying “the situation is exceedingly worrisome.”

He added that Berlin is currently evaluating with its partners, “who is responsible for this attack, how it could happen.”

Washington has blamed Iran for the attack.

The Tehran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen claimed Saturday’s strikes on the plants.

US President Donald Trump said Sunday the United States is “locked and loaded” to respond to the attack.

His accusations were echoed Monday by US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, who said: “The United States wholeheartedly condemns Iran’s attack on Saudi Arabia and we call on other nations to do the same.”

In an address to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s general conference in Vienna, he said “this behavior is unacceptable” and that Iran “must be held responsible.”

“Make no mistake about it, this was a deliberate attack on the global economy and the global energy market,” he stressed.

He said Trump has authorized the release of strategic oil reserves should the US need them, and that his “department stands ready” to proceed if necessary.

Perry also added that “despite Iran’s malign efforts we are very confident that the market is resilient and will respond.”

Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads since May last year, when Trump pulled the US out of a 2015 deal with world powers that promised Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

Mike Pence accused of humiliating hosts in Ireland: ‘He shat on the carpet’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE UK EXPRESS)

 

Mike Pence accused of humiliating hosts in Ireland: ‘He shat on the carpet’

The vice-president’s comments on Brexit while visiting Ireland and his stay at his boss’s golf course did not go down well

Vice-President Mike Pence arrives in Doonbeg to dine with relatives at a seafood restaurant.
 Vice-President Mike Pence arrives in Doonbeg to dine with relatives at a seafood restaurant. Photograph: Jacob King/PA

Missteps during Mike Pence’s visit to Ireland that included controversial praise of the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, have led to accusations of betrayal and “humiliation”.

One Irish Times columnist concluded that the vice-president, a “much-anticipated visitor”, turned out to have “shat on the … carpet”.

Pence’s problems started with his decision to stay for two nights at Donald Trump’s golf resort in Doonbeg, County Clare, more than 140 miles from Dublin, necessitating costly and logistically complex travel. The move quickly drew fire from ethics experts and political rivals.

The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, called Trump’s properties a “cesspool of corruption” and accused the president of “prioritizing his profits over the interests of the American people”.

“Pence is just the latest Republican elected official to enable President Trump’s violations of the constitution,” she said.

A spokesman for the vice-president said the decision was partly based on the president’s suggestion Pence stay there, and partly on secret service concerns about costs and logistics. Questioned about the decision on Wednesday, Trump claimed he had “no involvement, other than it’s a great place”.

But that was only the start of the controversy.

The Irish Times columnist Miriam Lord responded to a tense meeting between the vice-president and the taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, in which Pence urged the republic to protect the “United Kingdom’s sovereignty”. That Varadkar is gay and Pence a past champion of anti-LGBTQ legislation in Indiana also caused widespread comment.

Pence laid on platitudes about being “deeply humbled” and “honored” to be visiting Doonbeg, the home of his mother’s grandmother. But in Dublin he offered his hosts a clear lesson in his administration’s political priorities.

“Let me be clear: the US supports the UK decision to leave the EU in Brexit,” Pence told Varadkar in a prepared statement. “But we also recognise the unique challenges on your northern border. And I can assure you we will continue to encourage the United Kingdom and Ireland to ensure that any Brexit respects the Good Friday agreement.”

Among media responses, Irish Central asked: “Did VP Pence betray Ireland in his Brexit comments during Irish trip?”

The Irish Examiner accused Pence of trying to “humiliate” the republic.

But Lord struck the most telling blow.

She described the impact of the Pence visit on Ireland as “like pulling out all the stops for a much-anticipated visitor to your home and thinking it has been a great success until somebody discovers he shat on the new carpet in the spare room, the one you bought specially for him”.

“As Pence read from the autocue and Irish eyes definitely stopped smiling,” she added, “it was clear he was channeling His Master’s Voice. Trump is a fan of Brexit and of Boris.”

“Pence,” Lord continued, “is Irish American and wastes no opportunity to go misty-eyed about his love for the ‘Old Country’ as he lards on his Mother Machree schtick on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Lord wasn’t alone in her criticism. The Cork Examiner’s political editor, Daniel McConnell, wrote: “The cheek of him coming here, eating our food, clogging up our roads and then having the nerve to humiliate his hosts.”

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China: British PM in limbo after MPs reject his Brexit plan, elections

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

 

British PM in limbo after MPs reject his Brexit plan, elections

AFP
British PM in limbo after MPs reject his Brexit plan, elections

AFP

A handout photograph released by the UK Parliament shows Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson gesturing as he reacts to main opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn during his first Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons in London on September 4, 2019.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government was left in limbo on Wednesday after MPs voted to derail his Brexit plan and rejected his call for an early election to break the political deadlock.

Just six weeks after taking office, Johnson lost his majority in the House of Commons as his own MPs joined opposition parties to stop him taking Britain out of the EU next month without a deal.

On Wednesday evening, they approved a bill that could force Johnson to delay Brexit to January or even later if he cannot agree exit terms with Brussels in time.

Johnson says he does not want a “no deal” exit on October 31 but says he must keep that option open in order to get an agreement.

He said the bill, which was being debated in the upper House of Lords into the night, “destroys the ability of government to negotiate” — and said he had no option to call an election to win a new mandate.

“If I’m still prime minister after (the vote on) Tuesday October 15 then we will leave on October 31 with, I hope, a much better deal,” he told MPs.

Labour rejects ‘cynical’ move

But in yet another twist in the tortuous Brexit process, the opposition Labour Party refused to vote for the election, which requires the backing of two-thirds of MPs.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that while he wanted an election, he would not support the prime minister’s “cynical” call until the law blocking “no deal” was implemented.

The default legal position is that Britain will leave the EU on October 31 unless it delays or asks to stay in the bloc.

Corbyn said: “Let this bill pass, then gain royal assent, then we will back an election so we do not crash out with a no-deal exit from the European Union.”

Johnson accused Corbyn of being frightened of losing, but urged the opposition to reconsider over the next few days.

For now, he is unable to pursue his Brexit plan — the central focus of his leadership — or call an election that might change the situation.

Across the Atlantic, US President Donald Trump earlier offered his support, telling reporters: “Boris knows how to win. Don’t worry about him. He’s going to be OK.”

‘Sham’ negotiations

Johnson took office in July, three years after the 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU, promising to deliver Brexit whatever happens.

He says he wants to renegotiate the divorce deal his predecessor Theresa May agreed with Brussels, while at the same time stepping up preparations for a disorderly exit.

Johnson insisted his team was making “substantial progress.”

But the bloc has so far refused to reopen the text, and a senior EU source poured cold water on the idea that a deal could be struck at next month’s Brussels summit.

The European Commission says Britain has yet to come up with any alternative for the most controversial element of the current deal, the so-called “backstop” plan for the Irish border.

Corbyn said the negotiations Johnson talked about “are a sham — all he’s doing is running down the clock.”

The European Commission also said the risk of a “no deal” exit has increased, a prospect many fear because of the economic damage risked by severing 46 years of UK-EU ties overnight.

British lawmakers take control: What it means for Boris, Brexit and Britain

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITICO NEWS)

 

BRITAIN

British lawmakers take control: What it means for Boris, Brexit and Britain

The House of Commons took the unprecedented step of usurping government control of Parliament — a dramatic move that raises more questions than it answers.

Updated 

The United Kingdom’s House of Commons has usurped government control of Parliament.

It’s an unprecedented step — achieved with a dramatic vote Tuesday night — that could have far-reaching ramifications for the country’s future.

The immediate goal is to stop British Prime Minister Boris Johnson from taking the country out of the European Union at the end of October without a formal deal to manage that departure — something he has repeatedly threatened to do. But the effects of the thunderous vote could be heard for years to come.

So where does Tuesday’s vote leave Boris Johnson, Brexit and Britain?

BORIS

The vote means the embattled British prime minister could become the shortest-serving tenant of No. 10 Downing Street since the office was created in 1721. Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, who famously defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, served 23 days as a caretaker prime minister in 1834.

Traditionally, when a British prime ministers lose their ability to win votes in Parliament, they are ejected via a vote of no confidence — or they call for an early election to decide their fate.

Johnson’s preference is for an election on Oct. 14, hoping that his Conservative Party will gain seats in the House of Commons and give him more backing for his preferred approach to Brexit.

Calling an election would be a big risk, though. It would essentially amount to a second referendum on Brexit in all but name and serve as a first referendum on Johnson. The previous prime minister, Theresa May, called an early election in 2017, only to have it misfire, leaving her with a wafer-thin majority.

While Conservatives top national opinion polls, that support is stuck in the low 30 percent range and they face surging opponents on both their left — Liberal Democrats — and right — Brexit Party — in addition to their traditional rivals, the left-wing Labour Party.

And to even get an election called, Johnson would need support from the opposition Labor Party. Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn has flip-flopped on whether he would support such a move. After insisting for months on calling an early general election, he backtracked Tuesday. His new condition: no-deal Brexit must be off the table before he agrees to an election.

Parliament could also attempt to remove Johnson without turning to the voters — via a vote of no confidence. But because Johnson succeeded in getting the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks starting on Sept. 9, there’s likely no time for Johnson’s Parliamentary opponents to pull off that maneuver.

Who could replace Johnson?

If there’s no election, but Johnson goes down via a no-confidence vote or resigns, a front-runner to lead a temporary administration to handle Brexit would be Kenneth Clarke. A former Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, Clarke is a moderate Conservative who supports EU membership but has three times voted for softer forms of Brexit out of respect for the 2016 referendum result.

If the Conservatives lose any election, the most likely new prime minister would be Corbyn. Corbyn would either run a minority government or unite with other pro-EU parties such as, the Liberal Democrats, to lead a coalition government.

BREXIT

Will Brexit be delayed? That depends on whether there’s an election and how far Johnson is willing to push constitutional norms. With no written constitution, Britain is on shaky ground here.

Johnson has said Britain is leaving the EU on Oct. 31, regardless of what Parliament says. If he sticks to that line of defying Parliament and avoids an October election, the Queen is likely the only person who could stop Johnson. While “The Queen versus Boris Johnson” might be a dream story line for scriptwriters at “The Crown,” it’s a far-fetched scenario, given it would represent the most direct political play by a British monarch in nearly 200 years.

In an October election, the three choices for voters would be: back Johnson’s Brexit-by-any-means policy, elect a Labour-led government that would pursue a managed Brexit, and enter the uncharted territory of a minority government led by a pro-EU party such as the third-placed Liberal Democrats.

Can Brexit be stopped? Probably not.

Opinion polls show the country to be as divided as it was in 2016 on Brexit. The opposition leader, Corbyn, has committed to deliver Brexit since the referendum. Meanwhile, the nationalist Brexit Party has at times risen to the top of national polls in recent months. In addition: most leading Conservatives are committed to Brexit, though many want it to be softened and managed in cooperation with the EU.

Does that mean Britain is headed for a managed Brexit? That is a message Parliament has regularly sent to Downing Street and is the preference of EU officials. That’s why May’s government and the EU spent two years working toward the deal agreed in December.

But to get there, the EU may have to smooth the edges of the existing deal — something it has so far refused to do.

What does the EU think?

The EU looks on with sadness and fear in equal measure and will not alter the core elements of the existing deal. The bloc prizes maintaining the integrity of its single-market system over all else and has been keen to make an example out of Britain’s choice to leave — so other EU members aren’t tempted to follow.

Given those fundamentals, the EU has shifted to treating a no-deal Brexit as its default expectation.

Officials in Brussels on Wednesday will propose two budget instruments to support the companies and workers who would be most affected by a no-deal Brexit. The EU’s goal: prevent the U.K. tearing a hole in its single market.

In contrast, Michael Gove, Britain’s minister in charge of preparing for Brexit, refuses to publish his own governments’ planning scenarios — known as Operation Yellowhammer. The presumed reason, based on leaked versions of the plans, is that they paint a devastating picture of the effects of a no-deal Brexit.

BRITAIN

The long-term effects of this week’s debate could be significant. It’s now clear Johnson will be unable to unite his country, even if he can hang on and find a way to deliver Brexit.

Johnson’s government now has a choice between fomenting a constitutional crisis — if the government ignores Parliament — or managing a policy crisis — given Parliament is on track to overturn the government’s key policy in a second critical vote Wednesday.

The political and cultural divisions run deep across Britain.

Moderate Labour MP Liz Kendall tweeted Tuesday that she had “never seen such cold hard anger” among her Parliament colleagues as she did watching Conservative moderates react in fury as hard-line Brexiteer Jacob-Rees Mogg addressed Parliament.

The politically neutral Queen is also getting uncomfortably close to the action: Last week, she was roped into suspending Parliament for five weeks via a secretive constitutional forum known as the Privy Council, convened at her summer castle in Balmoral, Scotland.

While protesters have reached for extreme daily slogans like “Stop the coup,” there are plenty of other sharp realities at hand that require no exaggeration.

The Scottish government, which has similar powers to the state government in the United States, is pushing for a referendum on leaving the U.K. London, a bastion of pro-EU support, is splintering further from the rest of the country. And the inability to avoid recreating a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland is threatening to destabilize a peace agreement reached more than 20 years ago.

In other words, the longest-term effect of Brexit could be the breakup of the United Kingdom.

England: Boris Johnson’s intention is clear: he wants a ‘people v parliament’ election

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LONDON GUARDIAN)

 

Boris Johnson’s intention is clear: he wants a ‘people v parliament’ election

The plan to prorogue parliament is a nakedly populist move that Johnson hopes will lead to a parliamentary majority

 Boris Johnson confirms plan to suspend UK parliament – video

Boris Johnson’s plan to prorogue parliament ahead of a Queen’s speech on 14 October is intended to provoke parliamentarians into blocking a no-deal Brexit, or triggering a general election through a vote of no confidence. Both are feasible in the time available.

The last time parliament stepped in to block no deal earlier in the year, the necessary legislation was passed in just three days. Johnson has deliberately left enough time for parliament to seize control again. That’s because Johnson’s real objective is to use Brexit to win a general election, rather than use a general election to secure Brexit. By forcing the hands of his opponents, he has defined the terrain for a “people versus parliament” election. Expect him to run on “Back Boris, Take Back Britain”. He will say that the only way to definitely leave on 31 October is to give him a parliamentary majority to do so. The man of Eton, Oxford and the Telegraph will position himself as the leader of the people against the hated establishment and “remainder elite”.

Johnson’s electoral strategy is simple: unite the Brexit-supporting right of politics behind him while remainders are fractured across Labor, the SNP, Liberal Democrats and Greens. Since the day he took office, Johnson has been acting to consolidate the votes of leave supporters behind him. From Brexit party supporters to leave-backing Labor voters, Johnson has sought to create a winning electoral coalition.

The Tories have spent recent weeks closing off predicted Labor attack lines. Sajid Javid has announced a one-year spending review will take place on 4 September. After nearly a decade of relentless reductions in spending, the public have plainly tired of austerity. Waiting times in the NHS are longer; class sizes are larger; and the police are no longer able to keep up with rising crime or keep many communities safe. Johnson’s government has already promised more spending in each of these areas.

Sajid Javid
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 ‘The Tories have spent recent weeks closing off predicted Labor attack lines. Sajid Javid has announced a one-year spending review will take place on 4 September.’ Photograph: Matt Dunham/PA

But these are very Tory announcements, with an added right-wing edge. So the leaked proposal to invest in schools is to be accompanied by proposals to allow teachers to use “reasonable force” against pupils, and the additional resources for the police include proposals to allow all officers to carry Tasers. There is no serious public policy discussion about precisely how much force grown adults should use against children, just as the problem with knife crime is not the police’s ability to pacify knife-wielding youths with Tasers. These plans are red meat for the Tory base, designed to distract from rather than solve the problems our society faces.

The political logic is obvious. In 2017, Theresa May lost the slim Tory majority she inherited from her predecessor in an election campaign that turned away from Brexit and towards the state of the country at home. Labor’s clear anti-austerity message resonated across the Brexit divide and paid electoral dividends for the party. Johnson is aiming to prevent such a turn taking place this time.

Yet the public will be skeptical that the same people who needlessly degraded public services are now prepared to invest in them. While Johnson is unconstrained by principle or the shackles of ideology, he leads a cabinet of the hard right of the Conservative party. For those who have dedicated a lifetime to hacking back the state and severing Britain’s ties with the European Union, it seems unlikely that they are on board with a project of investment in public services. But they are certainly committed to a no-deal exit that is an Atlanticist project rather than a unilateral one – and to the aggressive tax cuts that Johnson has promised. This is a government that intends to realign Britain to the US and is set to govern just like US Republicans – cut taxes first, then maintain spending to blow up the deficit before using that to justify far deeper spending cuts.

So why would the public believe what Johnson says? The real secret of populists, from Donald Trump to Matteo Salvini to Johnson, is the conflation of transgression with truthfulness. The willingness to engage in bigotry and violate hard-won social norms against racist, homophobic or misogynistic language convinces people that these politicians “speak their mind” and “say what they think”. Paradoxically, their lack of virtue confirms their veracity.

Their bigotry is the result of calculation rather than miscalculation – and the predictable howls of outrage from critics only serves to amplify the message. The upcoming election will turn on whether Johnson is found out for what he is: Trump with a thesaurus, whose real agenda of a Brexit for the elite is disguised behind the thin veneer of a few spending announcements that come after a desperate decade of the degradation of Britain at home and abroad.

 Tom Kibasi is director of the Institute for Public Policy Research. He writes in a personal capacity

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5 Cities With the Largest Subway Systems

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 Cities With the Largest Subway Systems

A great subway system is a badge of honor for a city. As writers at City Metric, a website devoted to exploring topics that affect the lives of city-dwellers, discovered, there are lots of ways to measure such a system. Maybe it’s by how many people ride a specific subway in a day or year, or maybe it’s by how many stations there are around a city.

For the purposes of this article, we looked at subways with the longest routes. Here are the top five largest subway systems in the world.

Seoul, South Korea

Seoul, South Korea

Credit: Savvapanf Photo/Shutterstock.com

332 km/206 miles

More than two billion people ride the particularly high-tech subway system in Seoul each year. It’s known for its tech, including screens displaying important messages and internet access on its cars. The first line was built in the 1970’s, and today the system includes 22 lines that are still being expanded. Plus, it’s relatively cheap and known for its cleanliness, and all directional signs are written in three languages, including English.

New York City, New York, U.S.A.

New York City, New York, U.S.A.

Credit: William Perugini/Shutterstock.com

373 km/232 miles

The much older New York City subway system opened in 1904. Nearly six million people utilize the transit system every day, at about 470 stations — more than any other system in the world. Most of those stations operate 24 hours a day.

London, England

London, England

Credit: andrea flisi/Shutterstock.com

402 km/250 miles

The London Underground, sometimes called the Tube, opened in the 1860’s. Despite the name, most of the lines were built just below the surface with the “cut and cover” method, and many of the newer tracks are above ground. The system includes 11 lines and about 200 stations, and carries about five million daily passengers today.

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Beijing, China

Beijing, China

Credit: ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock.com

527 km/327 miles

With almost 11 million daily riders, this is the world’s busiest subway system. It first opened in 1969 and had only two lines for decades, before undergoing a rapid expansion in 2002. And those 11 million daily riders are expected to expand to 18 million by 2021. By then, the subway will account for 60 percent of the city’s public transit ridership.

Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China

Credit: Arwin Adityavarna/iStock

548 km/341 miles

The largest subway system in the world by route length is still expanding, with plans to add seven new lines by 2025. It’s a system that links provinces and provides inter-city transportation — or at least, it will soon. On a regular day, 10 million people use the system. The most recent expansions to the system opened in December.

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