Category Archives: Government

Trump Decides To Keep Troops In Afghanistan 

By: Jeremy B White of The Independent 

Donald Trump vowed to maintain America’s military commitment in Afghanistan, sustaining America’s longest war and reversing his previously staunch resistance to the US engagement there.

In his first first nationally-televised prime-time address since January, the President laid out a vision short on concrete details, but strong on rhetoric – saying that US troops “will fight to win” in Afghanistan, as well as putting pressure on Pakistan to crack down on terrorist sanctuaries near its borders and calling for further help from India.  

While multiple reports earlier in the day that Mr Trump was ready to commit as many as 4,000 more troops to the country, the President pointedly declined to state specific details about troop totals. But he made it clear that he planned to keep troops in Afghanistan as a bulwark against violence, even as he said “the American people are weary of war without victory”.

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Catholic Church Refuses To Pay Victims Of Child Sex Abuse

By: Fiona Keating of The Independent 

The Catholic Church and British local authorities have been accused of using a legal loophole to avoid paying compensation to victims of child sex abuse.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, a government agency, has denied some children financial settlements because it said the victims had “consented” to the abuse, a group of charities has warned.

Lawyers representing victims have warned that this line of defence is becoming increasingly common.
One case that the charity Victim Support brought attention to involved a 12-year-old girl who was given alcohol, brought into woodland and then sexually assaulted by a 21-year-old male. The girl was denied compensation because she had “voluntarily” gone into the woods with the man.

“No child ever gives their ‘consent’ to being abused, and the increased use of this line of defence, although still quite rare, is worrying,” said Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England. “I have contacted the Ministry of Justice previously and again recently about this issue and the Government should look urgently at what can be done to tackle it.”

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South Korean President Vows To Prevent War At All Costs 

By: Peter Pae of Bloomberg 

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that any military action against Kim Jong Un’s regime requires his nation’s approval, and vowed to prevent war at all costs.

“There will be no war repeated on the Korean Peninsula,” Moon said in a speech on Tuesday marking the anniversary of the end of Japanese occupation in the 1940s. Military action against North Korea should be decided by “ourselves and not by anyone else,” he said.

While Moon said that South Korea would work with the U.S. to counter security threats, he emphasized the need to focus on diplomatic efforts. Sanctions were designed to bring North Korea to the negotiating table over its nuclear and missile weapons programs, he said.

The comments from a key U.S. ally contrast with the threats of war coming from President Donald Trump, who vowed to unleash “fire and fury” on Pyongyang if Kim persists with advancements in his arsenal, particularly intercontinental ballistic missiles. Trump’s rhetoric has raised concerns that a miscalculation — or unilateral action by the U.S. — could spark a military conflict that risks devastating North Korea’s neighbors.

The diminishing prospects of war have helped equities to rally. Stock indexes from Tokyo to Hong Kong to Sydney climbed on Tuesday after the S&P 500 Index surged 1 percent, while havens such as gold, Treasuries and the yen retreated.

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Driver Who Plowed In To Protestors Saturday Afternoon in Virginia Is Denied Bail

Compliments of The BBC

James Alex Fields was denied bail as he was arraigned for second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of hit and run.

Heather Heyer, 32, died and 19 were injured when a car hit demonstrators in Charlottesville on Saturday.

Mr Fields is said to have harboured Nazi sympathies.

President Donald Trump has been criticised for not specifically denouncing the far-right elements in the weekend’s march.

But the White House has defended his remarks as explicitly condemning the white supremacy groups involved.

Ken Frazier, CEO of drugs giant Merck, announced on Monday he would resign from the president’s American Manufacturing Council over Mr Trump’s response to Charlottesville.

Mr Frazier, who is African American, tweeted he had “a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism”.

James Alex Fields looked nervous and listless on the small monitor in the corner of the courtroom. Mostly he kept his head down, his eyes darting occasionally up towards the camera.

He was wearing a striped jumpsuit and had the neat, buzzcut hairstyle favoured by many white supremacists and neo-nazis who have united under the banner of the so-called “alt-right”.

Judge Robert Downer read his charges – one count of murder, one count of hit and run, three counts of malicious wounding.

Alex Fields spoke briefly to say he was employed by Securitas and Omni Ohio, could not afford a lawyer, and had no ties to Charlottesville. Judge Robert Downer denied him bail, and revealed he could not be appointed a public defender because someone in the public defender’s office was directly affected by the crime.

His appointed lawyer, Charles Webster, named in court by the judge, had yet to be contacted to inform him of his latest client.

In 10 minutes it was over. Outside the court, known white nationalist Matthew Heimbach was shouting that the death of Heather Heyer was the fault of the police.

“Nazis go home,” the crowd chanted back at him. “I think I like it in Charlottesville,” he said. “I think I’ll stay.”

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New Zealand Authority Pushes To Ban Alcohol In Supermarkets 

By: Eleanor Ainge Roy of The Guardian

The New Zealand Medical Association has called for a ban on selling alcohol in supermarkets, saying that having it next to groceries and food normalises a dangerous drug.

Wine and beer have been widely available in most supermarkets around the country since 1990, although spirits can be bought only in bars and off-licences.

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) said having alcohol in supermarkets normalised the drug, and made buying it cheap and easy – meaning people put a bottle of sauvignon blanc in their trolley alongside their bread, milk and toilet paper without a second thought.

According to the association well over half a million New Zealanders consume alcohol in a hazardous way, with many emergency rooms filled on Friday and Saturday nights with alcohol-related admissions.

The NZMA believes it is the government that is best placed to crack down on heavy consumption – a position supported by many health and social policy academics and Alcohol Healthwatch. 

Dr Kate Baddock, the chair of the association, said evidence suggested alcohol was worse than methamphetamine, marijuana and heroin, because it was a cheap, addictive, psychotropic drug.

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Venezuelan Vote Said To Be Tampered With

By: The BBC 

Venezuela’s electoral authorities said more than eight million people, or 41.5% of the electorate, had voted for a new constituent assembly.

But the CEO of Smartmatic, Antonio Mugica, said the actual turnout was inflated by at least one million.

Venezuela’s electoral council dismissed the allegations as “baseless”.

Threatening to open legal action against Mr Mugica, the council’s boss Tibisay Lucena called it an “irresponsible accusation, based on estimates”.

What did the voting firm have to say?

“It is with the deepest regret that we have to report that the turnout numbers on Sunday 30th July for the Constituent Assembly in Venezuela were tampered with,” Mr Mugica told a media conference in London.

He added that although the company’s system had recorded the true number of voters, a full audit would have to take place before he could give the precise figure.

Asked why he had not contacted the Venezuelan authorities, Mr Mugica said he thought they “would not be sympathetic to what we’d say”.

Smartmatic provided about 24,000 machines for Venezuelans to cast their votes electronically.

According to the company, their system supplied correct voting statistics but altered results were announced in their place.

Separately, the Reuters news agency reported it had seen an internal memo from Venezuela’s electoral authorities saying fewer than four million votes had been cast just two hours before polls closed.

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More Changes To Trump’s Administration 

By: CNN

Anthony Scaramucci is out as White House communications director, two sources tell CNN.

It’s the latest high-profile departure from the Trump White House. Chief of Staff Reince Priebus resigned at the end of last week, replaced by John Kelly, whose first day is Monday.

A White House official said Kelly wanted Scaramucci removed from his new role as the communications director because he did not think he was disciplined and had burned his credibility.

Scaramucci, a colorful and controversial figure, was brought on during the latest in a long list of White House shake ups that have rocked the presidency with a sense of chaos.

Scaramucci is the third White House communications director to leave the post that had been vacant since late May, when Mike Dubke left after about three months on the job. Sean Spicer, the former White House press secretary, also assumed some of the communications director role before he resigned when Scaramucci was hired July 21.

Scaramucci’s departure comes days after he unleashed a vulgar tirade against two top White House officials in a conversation with a reporter.

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U.S Skinny Repeal Bill Denied 

By: Compliments of BBC 

At least three Republicans – John McCain, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski – voted against the bill, which needed a simple majority to pass.

President Donald Trump said the three had “let the American people down”.

The so-called “skinny” repeal, which would have scaled back some of the more controversial provisions, is the third failed attempt to repeal Obamacare.

It would have resulted in 16 million people losing their health insurance by 2026, with insurance premiums increasing by 20%, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

What happened in the Senate?

The vote was delayed after Senate Republicans kept a procedural vote open before the actual Obamacare vote while they attempted to persuade their members to vote for the repeal.

Vice President Mike Pence was seen talking to Mr McCain for more than 20 minutes. But Mr McCain then approached a group of Democrats, who appeared happy to see him.

The bill was eventually voted down by 51 votes to 49 in the Republican-dominated Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, described the result as a “disappointing moment”.

Democrat Chuck Schumer said his party was relieved that millions of people would retain their healthcare.

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Is The World Underestimaing The Power Of North Korea ?

By: Jeff Daniels 

North Korea test fired a missile that may have landed within 230 miles of Japan’s coast, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

The missile was fired shortly before midnight Japan time on Friday, Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK, said, citing government officials. Abe is convening an emergency meeting of officials, Reuters reported.

“We detected a launch of a ballistic missile from North Korea,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Logan told CNBC in an email statement. “We are assessing and will have more information soon.”

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said the North Korean missile flew for about 45 minutes before landing in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, which stretches some 200 nautical miles from its coast. Suga reported that there were no immediate reports of damage from the missile.

A South Korean military official told NBC News that North Korea fired “one unidentified projectile” into the East Sea, which is a portion of the Sea of Japan. The military official said the incident was immediately reported to South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Top U.S. and South Korean military officials met to discuss military options after the launch, a spokesman for a top U.S. general told Reuters. Marine General Joseph Dunford and U.S. Pacific Commander Admiral Harry Harris called South Korean Joint Chief of Staff General Lee Sun-jin to discuss the commitment of the alliance and military response options.

The missile was fired from Jagang province in northern North Korea, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported, citing the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff. The agency also said the South Korean president arranged an urgent meeting of his national security team.

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British Chief Strategist Resigns 

By: Tim Ross of Bloomberg 

Theresa May’s director of strategy has become the latest member of her senior team to quit, leaving the premier without the authors of her Brexit vision at a critical time in negotiations with the European Union. 

Chris Wilkins will leave his post inside May’s office in 10 Downing Street at the end of this week, he said by telephone on Wednesday. Since the election, May’s been hit by a string of resignations in policy, strategy and communications. As well as leaving the prime minister short of advisers that she knows and trusts at a vital moment, the departures suggest that staff see little future in the job.

“It’s not quite rats deserting a sinking ship, but it does indicate that people feel things can’t go on as they have been going,” said Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary, University of London. “There needs to be some kind of reinvigoration, but this does indicate that some people feel that can’t be done.”

The departure means that May has lost both her top strategists in the wake of last month’s general election. Nick Timothy, her co-chief of staff, quit the day after May’s Conservatives were stripped of their parliamentary majority in the poll. He and Wilkins wrote the Brexit speech in January in which she set out her plan to take the U.K. out of the single market and customs union.

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