British politics in foment as exit poll shows May failing to win majority

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

British politics in foment as exit poll shows May failing to win majority

By Kate Holton and David Milliken | LONDON

Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party will fail to win a parliamentary majority in Britain’s election, according to an exit poll on Thursday, a shock result that would plunge domestic politics into turmoil and could delay Brexit talks.

The exit poll predicted May’s party would not win a majority of the 650 seats in parliament to take office alone, meaning she would have to form a coalition or attempt to govern with the backing of other smaller parties.

The exit poll predicted the Conservatives would win 314 seats and the Labour Party 266, meaning no clear winner and a “hung parliament”.

The exit poll sent shockwaves through financial markets. Sterling fell more than two cents against the U.S. dollar. .

It was an extraordinary failure for May, who was enjoying opinion poll leads of 20 points and more when she called the snap election just seven weeks ago.

But her lead had gradually shrunk over the course of the campaign, during which she backtracked on a major social care proposal, opted not to take part in a high-profile TV debate with her opponents, and faced questions over her record on security after Britain was hit by two Islamist militant attacks that killed 30 people.

“If the poll is anything like accurate, this is completely catastrophic for the Conservatives and for Theresa May,” George Osborne, who was the Conservative finance minister from 2010 to 2016 when he was sacked by May, said on ITV.

Analysts were treating the exit poll with caution. In the last election, in 2015, the corresponding poll predicted May’s predecessor David Cameron would fall short of a majority. But as the night wore on and the actual results came in from constituencies, it became clear he had in fact won a majority, albeit a small one of just 12 seats.

That outcome was a triumph for Cameron though, because he had been predicted to fall well short. For May, who went into the campaign expecting to win a landslide, even a narrow win later in the night would leave her badly damaged.

Until the final results become clear, it is hard to predict who will form the next government.

“It’s difficult to see, if these numbers were right, how they (the Conservatives) would put together the coalition to remain in office,” said Osborne.

“But equally it’s quite difficult looking at those numbers to see how Labour could put together a coalition, so it’s on a real knife edge.”

Political deadlock in London could derail negotiations with the other 27 EU countries ahead of Britain’s exit from the bloc, due in March 2019, before they even begin in earnest.

A delay in forming a government could push back the start of Brexit talks, currently scheduled for June 19, and reduce the time available for what are expected to be the most complex negotiations in post-World War Two European history.

The poll forecast the Scottish National Party (SNP) would win 34 seats, the center-left Liberal Democrats 14, the Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru three and the Greens one.

If the exit poll is correct, Labour, led by veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn, could attempt to form a government with those smaller parties, which strongly oppose most of May’s policies on domestic issues such as public spending cuts.

May called the snap election to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations with the other 27 EU countries and to cement her grip on the Conservative Party after she took over as prime minister in the wake of last year’s Brexit referendum.

If she fails to win a majority, that could call into question her position as Conservative leader and might mean a second election in Britain this year.

If Corbyn’s Labour does take power with the backing of the Scottish nationalists and the Liberal Democrats, both parties adamantly opposed to Brexit, Britain’s future will be very different to the course the Conservatives were planning and could even raise the possibility of a second referendum.

May had promised to clinch a Brexit deal that prioritized control over immigration policy, with Britain leaving the European single market and customs union, and said no deal would be better than a bad deal.

Labour said it would push ahead with Brexit but would scrap May’s negotiating plans and make its priority maintaining the benefits of both the EU single market and its customs union, arguing no deal with the EU would be the worst possible outcome.

It also proposed raising taxes for the richest 5 percent of Britons, scrapping university tuition fees and investing 250 billion pounds ($315 billion) in infrastructure plans.

(Additional reporting by Paul Sandle, William Schomberg, Andy Bruce, William James, Alistair Smout, Paddy Graham, writing by Guy Faulconbridge and Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

UK PM May’s lead narrows after Manchester attack placing landslide win in doubt

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

UK PM May’s lead narrows after Manchester attack placing landslide win in doubt

By Guy Faulconbridge and Michael Holden | LONDON

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s lead over the opposition Labour Party has narrowed sharply, according to five opinion polls published since the Manchester attack, suggesting she might not win the landslide predicted just a month ago.

Four opinion polls published on Saturday showed that May’s lead had contracted by a range of 2 to 6 percentage points, indicating the June 8 election could be much tighter than initially thought when she called the snap vote.

“Theresa May is certainly the overwhelming favorite to win but crucially we are in the territory now where how well she is going to win is uncertain,” John Curtice, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, told Reuters.

“She is no longer guaranteed to get the landslide majority that she was originally setting out to get,” said Curtice, a leading psephologist who is president of the British Polling Council.

May called the snap election in a bid to strengthen her hand in negotiations on Britain’s exit from the European Union, to win more time to deal with the impact of the divorce and to strengthen her grip on the Conservative Party.

But if she does not handsomely beat the 12-seat majority her predecessor David Cameron won in 2015, her electoral gamble will have failed and her authority could be undermined just as she enters formal Brexit negotiations.

Sterling on Friday suffered its steepest fall since January after a YouGov opinion poll showed the lead of May’s Conservatives over Labour was down to 5 percentage points.

LANDSLIDE IN QUESTION?

When May stunned politicians and financial markets on April 18 with her call for a snap election, opinion polls suggested she could emulate Margaret Thatcher’s 1983 majority of 144 seats or even threaten Tony Blair’s 1997 Labour majority of 179 seats.

But polls had shown May’s rating slipping over the past month and they fell sharply after she set out plans on May 18 to make some elderly people pay a greater share of their care costs, a proposal dubbed the ‘dementia tax’ by opponents.

As her lead shrank, May was forced to backtrack on the policy at an appearance before the media on Monday at which she appeared flustered and irritated when taking questions from reporters.

Campaigning was suspended for several days after the Manchester attack but resumed on Friday.

Polls since the attack showed little evidence that May – who as a former interior minister oversaw the police and domestic intelligence agency – had gained support.

“The campaign has changed,” Johnny Heald, managing director of ORB International, said. “Expect to see a forensic focus on Brexit and security over the next two weeks.”

Opinium said May’s lead had slipped to 10 percentage points, down from 13 points the week before and from 19 percentage points on April 19. Its online survey of 2,002 people was carried out between May 23 and 24.

ComRes said the lead of May’s Conservatives had fallen to 12 percentage points in an online poll of 2,024 carried out May 24-26, from 18 percentage points in a comparable poll on May 13.

ORB said May’s lead had halved to 6 percentage points, according to an online poll carried out May 24-25.

A YouGov survey of 2,003 people between May 25-26 showed May’s lead had narrowed 7 percentage points from nine a week ago.

The polls painted a complicated picture of public opinion, with Britons’ current voting intentions being influenced by both the deadly Manchester attack and May’s unpopular social care proposals.

Conservative election strategist, Lynton Crosby, has ordered a return to May’s main message: that only Theresa May can be trusted to negotiate Brexit, The Sunday Times reported.

(Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Gareth Jones and Michael Holden)

Manchester England: Police Identify The Coward Who Set Off Bomb At Children’s Concert

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Police identified 22-year-old Salman Abedi as the suspected suicide bomber who detonated bombs as throngs of teenagers poured out of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester that killed 22 people.

The suspect carrying explosives acted as a lone attacker and died in the blast Monday night, which left the wounded and the dead scattered across the arena’s bloodied entrance and sent screaming girls running for cover, according to police.
Greater Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins named the suspect Tuesday but said that the man’s identity had not been yet confirmed by a coroner.
The blast marked the deadliest terror attack on British soil since the 2005 London bombings. Hundreds of residents remembered the newest victims during a Tuesday evening vigil.
A powerful explosion shook part of the cavernous Manchester Arena late Monday as concertgoers streamed out following the American pop star’s last song.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack but offered no evidence.
An 8-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman have been named as the first victims of the attack, which has drawn condemnation and horror from around the world as a heinous assault targeting children.

Key developments

  • Ariana Grande suspends her world tour.
  • Police have carried out two raids in Manchester.
  • Queen Elizabeth II described bombing as “act of barbarity.”
  • 59 people injured, some in life-threatening situations.
  • US President Donald Trump slams attackers as “losers.”
  • British Prime Minister says police have identified the suspect.

People tend to the injured inside the Manchester Arena after the attack Monday night.

ISIS said on its Telegram channel Tuesday that a “soldier of the caliphate” was able to “plant explosive devices” at the arena, a US counter-terrorism source told CNN. ISIS routinely claims attacks it has no proven links with.
But authorities have discovered no evidence of a link between the attacker and an established terror group, a British counterterrorism official told CNN.
No determination has been on the sophistication of the explosive device or what chemicals were involved, the official said.
A US counterterrorism official said bombing “looks much like” an ISIS attack but that American intelligence officials were working with British counterparts to determine more.
On Tuesday evening, hundreds attended a vigil outside Manchester City Hall in honor of the victims.
“We will stand together to say that this city is greater than the force that aligns itself against it,” David Walker, Bishop of Manchester, told the crowd. “We are sending a signal not just to Manchester, but across the world that you can not defeat us because love in the end is always stronger than hate.”

Girls scramble over seats and barriers to flee the arena.

Girls scramble over seats and barriers to flee the arena. 00:41
Video from inside the arena showed girls screaming as they scrambled over chairs and railings to escape the 21,000-seat venue, while photographs showed bodies laying bloodied on the floor.
After an emergency Cabinet meeting, British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the attack as “callous” and “cowardly.”
“We struggle to comprehend the warped and twisted mind that sees a room packed with young children not a scene to cherish but as an opportunity for carnage,” May said in London before leaving for Manchester.

Young victims named

Saffie Rose Roussos, 8, was among those killed in the Manchester Arena attack.

Eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos from Leyland has been named as one of the fatalities, the Lancashire County Council confirmed.
Chris Upton, the head teacher at the Tarleton Community Primary School, described her as “simply a beautiful little girl” who was “quiet and unassuming with a creative flair.”

Victim Georgina Callander, left, pictured with Ariana Grande.

Georgina Callander, 18, was also killed, according to her school, the Bishop Rawstorne Church of England Academy.
“All of our students will gather together today for a time of prayer and reflection and to give thanks for the life of Georgina,” the school said.
At least 12 victims aged 16 or under were being treated at a children’s hospital for serious injuries, some of them fighting for their lives, a Manchester health official said.
Grande, who had just finished the first of three scheduled UK performances, tweeted about her devastation several hours later: “broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.”
The pop star has suspended her “Dangerous Woman” tour following the attack, a source with knowledge of the situation told CNN. Grande was scheduled to perform in London and across Europe through mid-June.
Queen Elizabeth II said Tuesday that “the whole nation has been shocked.”

‘Darkest of nights’ in Manchester

Britain has been under a “severe” terror threat alert for three years and there has been an uptick in terror-related arrests in recent months.
Police have warned that another attack was likely after a man plowed his car into a crowd on London’s Westminister Bridge in March and stabbed a policeman, in an attack that left six dead.
Monday’s bombing has raised concerns that a more sophisticated network may exist in the country.

Emergency crews evacuated victims at the Manchester Arena Monday night.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham described the attack as “our darkest of nights.”
“These were children, young people and their families that those responsible chose to terrorize and kill. This was an evil act,” he said.
Around 400 police were deployed overnight following the attack, and on Tuesday, large groups of armed police were seen in several parts of the city. Security was boosted in London.
People began paying their respects to the victims on Tuesday afternoon. A family of four arrived at St. Ann’s Square in the city center with a bouquet of flowers and balloons.
“I’m just feeling really down for all the families that lost their children and family members,” said Michael Heveril.
“It’s quite close to home — I never thought anything like this would ever happen in Manchester.”

Chaotic scenes

The explosion rocked the arena at around 10:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m. ET). The sound of wailing sirens cut through the smoky aftermath.
Crying children and parents desperately tried to find each other as cell phone signals faltered, witnesses said.

Mom: I don't know if daughter is dead or alive

Mom: I don’t know if daughter is dead or alive 01:22
Manchester resident Charlotte Campbell told CNN she waited for news on her 15-year-old daughter, Olivia. “We’ve tried everything we can. They’re telling us to wait by the phones,” she said.
Olivia had gone to the concert with a friend and neither have been in contact. Her father was looking for the girls.
“I want her home and I want her safe,” Charlotte Campbell said. “I just want her to walk through the door.”

Trump calls attackers ‘losers’

president trump israel manchester explosion attack losers sot es_00003411

Pres. Trump: Manchester attacked by losers 02:05
US President Donald Trump slammed the attack, saying that terrorists were “losers.”
“So many young beautiful innocent people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers in life. I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term. They would think that’s a great name. I will call them from now on losers because that’s what they are,” he said. “This wicked ideology must be obliterated.”
The US Department of Homeland Security said it was “closely monitoring” the situation.

Spanish minister tells UK to ‘not lose temper’ over Gibraltar

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Spanish minister tells UK to ‘not lose temper’ over Gibraltar

Story highlights

  • EU officials suggested Gibraltar could be part of Brexit trade talks
  • Lord Howard compared Prime Minister Theresa May to Thatcher

(CNN) Spain’s foreign minister has called on British politicians not to lose their temper after a Brexit-fueled dispute over a tiny outcrop of land escalated into talk of war.

Less than a week after Britain triggered the formal process of leaving the European Union, London and Madrid were at loggerheads over Gibraltar, a British-controlled rocky headland on the southern tip of Spain.
The EU’s draft negotiating document on Brexit, published on Friday, suggested that Gibraltar could only be part of any future trade deal if Spain gave its approval.
That prompted fury in Britain: On Sunday, Lord Michael Howard, a former leader of the governing Conservative Party, even suggested that the UK might go to war over the dispute.
Gibraltar — a three-mile long headland with a population of 32,000 people — is a British Overseas Territory whose residents remain fiercely loyal to Britain but whose sovereignty is claimed by Spain.
To the surprise of Downing Street, the territorial tangle made its way into the draft Brexit negotiating position published by European Council President Donald Tusk on Friday.
“After the United Kingdom leaves the Union, no agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without the agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom,” the guidelines said.
In an interview on Sunday, Howard to urged a strong response, drawing a parallel with the Falkland Islands in the southern Atlantic, over which Britain and Argentina went to war for 10 weeks in 1982 under the government of Margaret Thatcher.
“I do think it is a remarkable coincidence that 35 years ago this week, that another woman Prime Minister sent a taskforce half way across the world to protect another small group of British people against another Spanish speaking country,” Howard told Sky News.
Howard said May should “show the same resolve in looking after the interests of Gibraltar as Margaret Thatcher did looking after the interests of the Falkland Islanders.”

Spain ‘surprised’ by war talk

Spain called for cool heads on Monday. Speaking in Madrid, the Foreign Minister, Alfonso Dastis, said the Spanish government was “surprised” by the tone of the comments. “Frankly, it seems to me that someone in the United Kingdom is losing their temper,” he said.
Dastis noted that Howard had not explicitly said Britain should go to war with Spain, but said that bringing up the Falklands conflict was “a little out of context.”
May called called Fabian Picardo, the chief minister of Gibraltar, on Sunday morning, Downing Street said, and told him that the UK was “steadfastly committed” to the territory.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Brexit would bring no changes to the status of Gibraltar.
“I think the position of the government is very, very clear, which is that the sovereignty of Gibraltar is unchanged, and it’s not going to change and cannot conceivably change without the express support and consent of the people of Gibraltar and the United Kingdom, and that is not going to change,” he said.

Rocky territory

Gibraltar, dominated by the 426-meter-high Rock of Gibraltar, is classified as a British Overseas Territory but it is mostly self-governing with a chief minister as its head. Britain provides some services, such as security, to the territory.
The UK has held sovereignty over Gibraltar for more than 300 years after it was captured from Spain in the Spanish War of Succession in 1704. Spain has recognized British rule under international law and in several treaties. Successive Spanish governments have raised talk of reunification since the 1960s, but in 2002, residents of Gibraltar rejected a proposal to share the territory between the UK and Spain in a referendum.
But residents also voted overwhelmingly to stay in the European Union in last year’s Brexit vote, with 96% voting to remain in the union.

UK Grows A Set of Testicals Concerning Growing Anti-Semitism At College Campuses?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL NEWS PAPER)

UK university cancels ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ event over anti-Semitism

Citing the British government’s adoption of a definition of anti-Semitism that includes exaggerated criticism of Israel, a university in Britain calls off an event marking “Israel Apartheid Week.”

According to a report on the Jewish Chronicle news site, the University of Central Lancaster event was meant to feature Ben White, a prominent anti-Israel activist, and pro-Palestinian academics.

A university spokesman quoted in the report says the session, titled “Debunking Misconceptions on Palestine,” was canceled because it contravened the government’s new definition of anti-Semitism and was thus “unlawful.”

“The UK government has formally adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s new definition of what constitutes anti-Semitism,” the spokesperson is quoted as saying. “We believe the proposed talk contravenes the new definition and furthermore breaches university protocols for such events, where we require assurances of a balanced view or a panel of speakers representing all interests.”

The British government in December adopted the relatively broad definition of anti-Semitism first put forward in May at a conference of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which is based in Berlin.

According to that definition, anti-Semitism includes “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

It also says anti-Semitism includes “using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing
Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis” and “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

Obama And Kerry Always Posturing, Playing Politics Even When It Cost Peoples Lives

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ALGEMEINER NEWS)

 

JANUARY 2, 2017 6:48 AM

Experts: Kerry Farewell Speech Put ‘Posturing Over Policy’

avatarby Sean Savage / JNS.org

Secretary of State John Kerry with President Barack Obama. Photo: White House.

Secretary of State John Kerry with President Barack Obama. Photo: White House.

JNS.org – The timing of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s so-called farewell speech on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seemed to stem largely from “personal animosity” between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, experts said.u

“It’s unclear why the Obama administration thought this would be a good time for such a speech,” Mideast expert Oren Kessler, the deputy director for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told JNS.org.

Kerry’s speech came just days after one of the lowest points in US-Israel relations in decades, when the Obama administration abstained from a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s settlement policy. This broke from the longstanding American policy of vetoing one-sided UN measures targeting Israel.

JANUARY 2, 2017 7:31 AM
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A New Year in a Broken World

Those who have the healthy habit of working out at a gym several times a week will soon be complaining…

“Like that abstention, Kerry’s address reflects this administration’s tendency to place posturing over policy on critical Middle East issues,” said Kessler, who said that the speech indicated Obama’s “apparent desire to land a final blow before leaving office.”

At the same time, questions have arisen over why the speech was delivered by the secretary of state rather than Obama himself, like former presidents might have done.

Kessler speculated that Obama may have wanted to distance himself from the speech in order to avoid tarnishing his legacy on Israel.

“If that was the intention, it’s unlikely to bear fruit, as it’s clear to all that this Security Council abstention, and Kerry’s speech, are expressions of the President’s own views,” said Kessler.

“Kerry indicated in the speech that he is concerned by some remarks on Israel coming from the circle of President-elect Donald Trump,” Kessler said. “Kerry apparently wanted to put a UN Security Council resolution on the books before Trump enters office, and before his administration makes moves on Israel that the current administration deems harmful to the prospect for peace.”

“It’s ironic that Kerry said at the start of his remarks that settlements are not ‘the whole or even the primary cause of the conflict,’ and then proceeded to speak for over an hour, mainly on the settlements,” Kessler noted.

Referring to Judea and Samaria as “Palestinian territory,” Kerry warned in his speech that “the status quo is leading toward one state and perpetual occupation,” referring to Israel’s continued settlement construction. “The Israeli prime minister publicly supports a two-state solution, but his current coalition is the most right-wing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by its most extreme element,” said Kerry.

Indeed, within his 72-minute speech Kerry said the words “settlements” or “settlers” 62 times, while only mentioning “terror” or “terrorism” 14 times, and “Palestinian terror” not at all.

Further, Kerry used the term “settlements” in a general sense, failing to draw a distinction between the Jewish holy sites, well-established Jewish neighborhoods in the middle of densely populated Jewish areas and remote outposts.

Even British Prime Minister Theresa May, whose government voted in favor of the Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements, criticized Kerry for disproportionately focusing on settlements in his speech.

“We do not believe that the way to negotiate peace is by focusing on only one issue, in this case the construction of settlements, when clearly the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians is so deeply complex,” a spokesman for May said on Thursday.

Longstanding US policy has been to describe as “unhelpful” any Israeli settlement building beyond the 1967 lines — territorial parameters encompassing the holy sites in eastern Jerusalem, including the Western Wall. The Oslo Agreements of 1993, however, which are the current basis for peace talks between Israel and the Arabs, intentionally make no reference to “settlements” or any requirement that Israel cease building them.

Nevertheless, the Obama administration has been almost obsessively focused, experts say, on any building by Israel beyond the 1967 lines — regardless of the location — during the last several years.

Shortly after taking office, President Obama pressured Israel to introduce a moratorium on settlement construction across the 1967 lines, even in dense Jewish neighborhoods, in order to spur Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu obliged, issuing a 10-month halt on construction in 2010 that ended in no meaningful negotiations.

Additionally, experts note that during the Obama years, the President has remained silent on the illegal Palestinian construction that has boomed in the West Bank.

“Secretary Kerry put Israeli construction under a microscope, but made no mention of vast Palestinian construction throughout the West Bank,” Alex Safian, associate director of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), told JNS.org. “Is this because the Administration considers the West Bank to be exclusively Palestinian? If so, this is another break with the longstanding US position that borders are a final status issue that must be decided in direct negotiations between the parties.”

Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, told JNS.org regarding Kerry’s heavy focus on Israeli settlements, “The laser-like international focus — now including the US government — on Jewish residences on the West Bank, ignoring so many larger and more egregious problems (such as the Turks in Cyprus or the Chinese in Tibet) always has one main reason: The deep-seated belief in ‘linkage:’ the notion that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the key to problems racking the entire Middle East. Once one believes that absurdity, it makes perfect sense to obsess over the building of a new verandah.”

Along the same lines, Kessler believes that the Obama Administration’s “obsession” with settlements “stems from both a double standard — good behavior is expected from Israel, but not so much from the Palestinians — and the low-hanging fruit effect [that] settlements are, for some reason, deemed a more manageable problem than, say, Palestinian intransigence,” he said.

Arab Reaction

Within the Arab world, there has been praise for the address.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judah called Kerry’s speech “impartial” and “well laid out” on Twitter. Similarly, in a statement issued through its official state news agency, Saudi Arabia said it “welcomed the proposals” by Kerry, adding that they were in accordance “with the majority of the resolutions of international legality and most of the elements of the Arab Peace Initiative.” Official statements by Qatar and Egypt echoed that of Saudi Arabia.

“Arab observers know that the Obama administration has just a few weeks left, and they know President-elect Trump will almost certainly take a more Israel-friendly approach than his predecessor,” Kessler said.

Obama’s Legacy

With only a few weeks left in Obama’s presidency, Kessler called it “remarkable that Secretary Kerry and President Obama would leave this as the cap on their Israel legacy, given the eight years of acrimony between Obama and Netanyahu and the fact that Washington pushed through an Iran deal that Jerusalem vehemently opposed.”

President-elect Trump, meanwhile, has made it clear that things will change come inauguration day.

“We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but not anymore. The beginning o the end was the horrible Iran deal, now this (U.N.)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!” he tweeted.

As such, the parting shots by Obama and Kerry likely means that Trump will need to do little to appear as a strong friend of Israel.

“More than anything, this Security Council abstention and Kerry’s address are a gift to Donald Trump,” Kessler told JNS.org. “By simply pursuing standard US policy, namely vetoing biased resolutions at the UN and refraining from excessive public criticism of Israel, he can appear to be a steadfast friend of the Jewish State by hardly doing a thing.”

—With reporting by Karen McDonough

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Iran’s Supreme Ruler: Iman Khamenei “Islamic Unity Only Solution To Extricate Muslims From U.S., Zionist Evil

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF: ENGLISH.ALMAMAR.COM.LB T.V. NETWORK)

Imam Khamanei: Islamic Unity Only Solution to extricate Muslims from US, Zionist Evil
Imam Khamenei
Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei

“Should we unite and proceed toward Islamic goals in a united manner, then the US and the malignant, nefarious Zionist nexus can no longer hold nations in their clutches,” he said on Saturday on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

The Leader was addressing a number of state officials and diplomatic representatives of Muslim countries as well as participants at an international unity conference in Tehran.

“Today, the Muslim world is facing great tribulations, the way out of which is Islamic unity,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

“Today, Muslim killings are taking place  from Myanmar to Africa; some are being killed at the hands of Boko Haram, others by Buddhists.”

“Today, there are two volitions at contrast with each other in the region: The will for unity and the will for schism. Should unity transpire, the situation will not be as it is today and Muslims will earn esteem.”

Imam Khamenei said the British version of Shia Islam and the American version of Sunni Islam, which pit Muslims against one another, are “two blades of the same pair of scissors.”

The British policy of “divide and rule” is seriously being pursued by the enemies of Islam, the Leader said.

Imam Khamenei said worldwide Muslim unity, the most important type of readiness needed by the Muslim world, would abort the conspiracy to consign the issue of Palestine to oblivion.

 

Source: Press TV

Britain’s top court hears case that could delay European Union exit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

Britain’s top court hears case that could delay European Union exit

BRITAIN’S Supreme Court yesterday began a historic hearing to decide whether parliament has to approve the government’s Brexit negotiations, in a highly charged case that could delay the country’s EU exit.

For the first time, all 11 Supreme Court judges convened to hear a challenge by the government against a ruling that Prime Minister Theresa May must seek lawmakers’ approval before starting the process to leave the European Union.

The High Court ruled last month that the government did not have the executive power alone to invoke Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, formally starting exit talks which could take two years.

The decision enraged Brexit supporters and some newspapers who accused judges of thwarting the will of the 52 percent who voted “Leave” in the June 23 referendum.

The vote for Britain to become the first country to leave the 28-nation bloc sent shockwaves across the world and emboldened populists in Europe and the United States.

Supreme Court President David Neuberger said people involved in the case had received threats and abuse and stressed that the judges would rule without any political bias after criticism from Brexit backers.

A parliamentary vote on Article 50 could open the door to pro-EU lawmakers delaying or softening Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc.

Neuberger said the judges were “aware of the strong feelings” surrounding Brexit but “those wider political questions are not the subject of this appeal.”

He told the court: “This appeal is concerned with legal issues, and, as judges, our duty is to consider those issues impartially, and to decide the case according to the law. That is what we shall do.”

He said some parties involved in the case had received threats of “serious violence and unpleasant abuse,” warning that there were “legal powers” to deal with such threats.

Attorney General Jeremy Wright, the government’s chief legal adviser, outlined the government’s case at the start of the four-day, live-broadcast hearing, with a judgment expected in January.

In his opening statement, he said there was a “universal expectation” that the government would implement the referendum result.

He argued that the government had constitutional authority over foreign affairs, including the right to withdraw from treaties, under so-called “royal prerogative powers.”

The royal prerogative is “not an ancient relic but a contemporary necessity,” he said.

If it loses, the government is expected to introduce a short bill — reportedly comprising just three lines of text — which it will then seek to push rapidly through parliament to authorize the triggering of Article 50.

May, who became prime minister after the Brexit vote, has insisted a parliamentary vote on the legislation would not disrupt her plans to trigger Article 50 by the end of March.

However, the opposition Labour Party delivered a blow to the government on Saturday when it announced it would seek to amend any bill, potentially delaying the process.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the amendment would ensure Britain retains access to the European single market and protect workers’ and environmental rights.

May faces a further potential complication from representatives of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who will argue Article 50 also needs to be approved by the UK’s devolved parliaments.

Brexit: In The UK, Just like In The U.S. The Vote Of The People Means Nothing?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME MAGAZINE)

UNITED KINGDOM

What to Know About the Brexit Ruling Against the U.K. Government

BRITAIN-EU-POLITICS-COURT-BREXIT
Niklas Halle’n—AFP/Getty ImagesGina Miller, co-founder of investment fund SCM Private and the lead claimant in the case, reads a statement outside the High Court in central London after winning the legal challenge that Article 50 cannot be triggered without a decision by parliament, on November 3, 2016. The High Court in London ruled on Thursday that parliament, not the government, must approve the start of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, in a landmark decision that could delay Brexit.

High Court decision has thrown a wrench in the gears of Theresa May’s government

The United Kingdom’s High Court ruled on Thursday the British government must receive approval from parliament to begin the process of withdrawal from the European Union, a move that could significantly disrupt the progress of so-called ‘Brexit.’

The ruling comes as a bitter blow to the government of Prime Minister Theresa May, which had argued the triggering of the mechanism that puts Brexit into motion did not need to be approved by lawmakers. Lawyers for the government will now appeal the ruling in the U.K.’s Supreme Court.

Here’s a quick guide to the biggest obstacle yet placed in Brexit’s path:

Does this mean Brexit is doomed?

No. The ruling merely makes it harder for the government to trigger ‘Article 50,’ the section of the relevant E.U. treaty that allows for countries to leave the 28-nation bloc. May said in October that the government would notify the E.U. of Article 50 before the end of March next year, formally starting a two-year process of leaving. This ruling throws that timeline into doubt, and threatens to undermine May’s negotiating position with E.U. leaders over the terms of departure.

What was the nature of the legal challenge?

The British government had argued that Article 50 could be triggered under the so-called “royal prerogative,” by which it has exercised executive power on issues of foreign policy for centuries.

Lawyers for the anti-Brexit campaigners who brought the case argued that, since withdrawing from the E.U. would affect their domestic legal rights, the royal prerogative should not apply, and lawmakers in parliament should be asked for approval.

The court sided with the plaintiffs, concluding that the government “does not have power under the Crown’s prerogative to give notice pursuant to Article 50 of the [E.U. treaty] for the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union.”

So now MP’s will get to vote on Brexit?

Yes, if the ruling survives the appeal process. The Supreme Court will rule on the government’s appeal in early December. If that fails, the government could escalate its appeal to the European Court of Justice—but that would be a supremely ironic move, given Britain is currently seeking to escape its jurisdiction. If the Supreme Court ruling goes against the government, May will face enormous pressure to drop the challenge and give parliament a vote.

How will lawmakers vote?

That’s an interesting question. In the buildup to the E.U. referendum, a large majority of members of parliament (MPs) across the various parties were in the ‘Remain’ camp. If the parliamentary vote had been held before the referendum, it undoubtedly would have been in favor of staying in.

But the public has now spoken, and MPs will be under pressure to reflect the will of their constituents as opposed to what they personally feel about Brexit. This is especially the case for the opposition Labour Party, whose constituencies voted 70-30 to leave the European Union in spite of the party’s near-unanimous support for ‘Remain.’

Lawmakers could, however, use a requirement for a vote to pressure the government to seek a “softer” Brexit—maintaining access to the European single market, for example, or even allowing free movement across borders. This would certainly undermine the position of the Conservative government, which wants a clean, sharp break from the economic and political bloc.

What’s the reaction been like to the ruling?

The government issued a terse statement saying it would appeal the ruling. Elsewhere, it has provoked sharply different reactions from ‘Remainers’ and ‘Leavers.’ Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, warned on Twitter the ruling would open the door to a “betrayal” of the popular vote:

Trump Says Hillary’s Policy’s Will Start WW-3

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 Trump: Clinton’s foreign policy plan would start WW-3
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during an campaign event with employees at Trump National Doral in Miami.Image copyright AP
Image caption Donald Trump: “Russia is a nuclear country, but a country where the nukes work”

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said his rival Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy plan in Syria would trigger World War Three.

He also said the US should focus on defeating so-called Islamic State (IS) rather than removing Syria’s president.

Mrs Clinton has proposed a no-fly zone over Syria. The top US military chief has said that could spell conflict with Russian jets in the region.

The Clinton campaign accused Mr Trump of “playing to Americans’ fears”.

Mr Trump also attacked Republicans for not uniting behind his candidacy.

“If we had party unity, we couldn’t lose this election to Hillary Clinton,” he told Reuters news agency at Trump National Doral golf resort in Miami, Florida.

The Republican standard-bearer struck an apocalyptic tone when criticizing his Democratic rival’s plan to control Syrian air space.

“You’re going to end up in World War Three over Syria if we listen to Hillary Clinton,” Mr Trump said.

“You’re not fighting Syria any more, you’re fighting Syria, Russia and Iran, all right?

“Russia is a nuclear country, but a country where the nukes work as opposed to other countries that talk.”

Mr Trump suggested there should be a refocus away from the long-held US position of trying to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying: “What we should do is focus on IS. We should not be focusing on Syria.”

He also suggested Mrs Clinton would be unable to talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin after her sharp criticism of him.

Mr Trump questioned “how she is going to go back and negotiate with this man who she has made to be so evil” if she is elected president on 8 November.

The Clinton campaign dismissed the criticism, saying both Republican and Democratic national security experts have denounced Mr Trump as unfit to be commander-in-chief.

“Once again, he is parroting Putin’s talking points and playing to Americans’ fears, all while refusing to lay out any plans of his own for defeating ISIS or alleviating humanitarian suffering in Syria,” Clinton spokesman Jesse Lehrich said in a statement.

‘Kill a lot of Syrians’

Mr Trump’s warning of confrontation with Russia echoes concerns raised last month at a congressional hearing by the highest-ranking military officer in the US armed forces.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Marine Gen Joseph Dunford told lawmakers a “no-fly zone” in Syria could spell war with Russia.

“Right now, senator, for us to control all of the airspace in Syria it would require us to go to war, against Syria and Russia,” Gen Dunford told the Senate Arms Services Committee.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford testifies on Capitol Hill in WashingtonImage copyright AP
Image caption America’s highest-ranking military officer has warned against a US-imposed no-fly zone in Syria

“That’s a pretty fundamental decision that certainly I’m not going to make.”

At the final presidential debate in Nevada on 20 October, Mrs Clinton outlined her support for the measure.

“A no-fly zone can save lives and hasten the end of the conflict,” she said on stage.

But in a 2013 speech to Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs, Mrs Clinton said establishing a no-fly zone would “kill a lot of Syrians”, according to a transcript disclosed by Wikileaks.

The civilian death toll would result from the US needing to take out Syrian air defenses, which are located in populous areas.

Her policy is not only a disagreement with President Barack Obama, but would be a significant escalation of US involvement in the Syrian conflict.

Mr Trump’s comments come two weeks before election day and as his campaign grapples with a backlash over a string of accusers who have come forward with allegations of sexual assault.

The New York businessman, who is trailing Mrs Clinton in national polls, has railed against media and suggested members of the press were colluding to rig the election against him.

“The people are very angry with the leadership of this party, because this is an election that we will win 100% if we had support from the top,” he said. “I think we’re going to win it anyway.”


What happens next?

  • The two candidates spend the remaining 13 days of campaigning, criss-crossing the country in their bid to persuade undecided voters. Expect to see lots of appearances in battleground states such as Ohio, North Carolina, Florida and Pennsylvania
  • Voters will go to the polls on Tuesday 8 November to decide who becomes the 45th president of the US
  • The new president will be inaugurated on 20 January 2017

More on the US election

Clinton and Trump and world leaders

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