Category Archives: World

Tony Blair calls for people to ‘rise up’ against Brexit

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Tony Blair pictured with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in January

Tony Blair is to announce his “mission” to persuade Britons to “rise up” and change their minds on Brexit.

The former prime minister will say in a speech later that people voted in the referendum “without knowledge of the true terms of Brexit”.

He will say he wants to “build support for finding a way out from the present rush over the cliff’s edge”.

But former Cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith said Mr Blair’s comments were arrogant and utterly undemocratic.

Downing Street has said it is “absolutely committed” to seeing Brexit through.

Prime Minister Theresa May wants to trigger formal Brexit talks by the end of March – a move which was backed in the House of Commons by MPs last week.

‘Expose relentlessly’

Mr Blair, who was UK prime minister between 1997 and 2007, will say in his speech to the pro-European campaign group Open Britain that those driving a withdrawal from the European Union “always wanted a hard Brexit”.

“Indeed even the term ‘Hard Brexit’ requires amendment. The policy is now ‘Brexit at any cost’,” he will say.

“Our challenge is to expose, relentlessly, the actual cost.

“To show how this decision was based on imperfect knowledge, which will now become informed knowledge.

“To calculate in ‘easy to understand’ ways how proceeding will cause real damage to the country and its citizens and to build support for finding a way out from the present rush over the cliff’s edge.”

Mr Blair, who campaigned to Remain in the EU, will say he accepts the verdict of June’s referendum, but would recommend looking again at Brexit when “we have a clear sense of where we’re going”.

He will also say the debate is being driven by immigration “which I fully accept is a substantial issue”.

“Nonetheless, we have moved in a few months from a debate about what sort of Brexit, involving a balanced consideration of all the different possibilities; to the primacy of one consideration – namely controlling immigration from the EU – without any real discussion as to why, and when Brexit doesn’t affect the immigration people most care about.”

‘Rallying call’

Mr Blair has faced criticism in the past for his government’s decision to allow people from Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to work in Britain without restrictions, while most EU states imposed transitional controls to slow the rate of migration.

BBC political correspondent Tom Bateman said the former prime minister’s intervention on Friday is “quite an explicit rallying call” for those who campaigned on the Remain side, warning them that now is not the time to retreat but to “rise up in defence of what we believe”.

But he added that not everyone on the Remain side agrees with Mr Blair, with one former campaign boss arguing that they should be working for the best version of Brexit, rather than fighting against it.

A government spokesman said the British people had expressed their view very clearly on 23 June, adding: “There will be no second referendum.”

Iain Duncan Smith, who was a prominent Leave campaigner, said Mr Blair’s comments were arrogant, utterly undemocratic and showed that the political elite was completely out of touch with the British people.

Brexit bill

Supporters of leaving the EU argue it will free up the UK to trade better globally and give the government better control of immigration.

Previously, Mr Blair has called for the views of the “16 million” people who had backed remaining in the EU not to be ignored.

He has argued that there has to be a way, either “through Parliament, or an election, or possibly through another referendum, in which people express their view”.

Earlier this month, MPs overwhelmingly agreed to let the government begin the UK’s departure from the EU by voting for the Brexit bill.

The draft legislation was approved by 494 votes to 122, and will move to the House of Lords on Monday.

But the Commons vote prompted splits in the Labour party, with shadow business secretary Clive Lewis quitting the front bench to vote against the bill. Despite calls by leader Jeremy Corbyn for his party to back the government, 52 MPs rebelled.

Lib Dem attempts to amend the bill to include a provision for another referendum were defeated by 340 votes to 33.

The government has promised to invoke Article 50 – setting formal talks with the EU in motion – by the end of next month, but it requires Parliament’s permission before doing so.

Source: BBC

Robert Harward turns down Trump’s national security adviser offer

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Retired Vice-Admiral Robert Harward

Retired Vice-Admiral Robert Harward is a 60-year-old former Navy Seal

US President Donald Trump’s choice for national security adviser has turned down the job offer.

Retired Vice-Admiral Robert Harward was widely tipped for the post after Mr Trump fired Michael Flynn on Monday.

A White House official said Mr Harward cited family and financial commitments, but US media said the sticking point was he wanted to bring in his own team.

Mr Flynn had misled US Vice-President Mike Pence over his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the US.

The latest setback emerged hours after Mr Trump robustly denied media reports of White House disarray, insisting in a news conference that his administration was running like a “fine-tuned machine”.

Mr Harward told the Associated Press the Trump administration was “very accommodating to my needs, both professionally and personally”.

“It’s purely a personal issue,” added the 60-year-old former Navy Seal who is currently based in Abu Dhabi as an executive for US defence contractor Lockheed Martin.

Asked about reports that he had asked to bring in his own staff at the National Security Council, Mr Harward said: “I think that’s for the president to address.”

Mr Flynn, a retired army lieutenant-general, was ousted amid claims that before he was even appointed as national security adviser he had discussed sanctions with a Russian envoy.

This would have potentially breached a law banning private citizens from engaging in diplomacy.

Mr Flynn initially denied having discussed sanctions with Sergei Kislyak, Moscow’s ambassador to Washington.

But on Monday, Mr Trump asked for his resignation following revelations that Mr Flynn had misled the vice-president about his conversations with the diplomat.

Leading Republicans have called for an investigation into intelligence leaks that led to Mr Flynn’s resignation.

Source: BBC

Banking giants ‘rigged’ South Africa’s currency

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Rand notes and coins
Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela’s image is on some notes

Seventeen banks have been accused of rigging the price of South Africa’s currency, the rand. The country’s Competition Commission has called for big fines against the banking giants, which include HSBC and Barclays, after making a long list of serious and extensive allegations against them.

The commission accused the banks’ foreign currency traders of conspiring to fix the price of the rand; sometimes using online chat rooms to coordinate fictitious bids and offers in order to sway the market.

A two year investigation concluded there was “widespread collusion” and recommended that the banks be fined 10% of their annual turnovers in South Africa.

The 17 banks are now likely to face prosecution at South Africa’s Competition Tribunal.

The Bank of America, Barclays, JP Morgan and HSBC are among those implicated in activities that the commission alleges have been going on since at least 2007.

Several banks have already said they will cooperate with the authorities.

In recent years, South Africa has successfully prosecuted and fined local construction companies and bakeries for price fixing.

Source: BBC

Flynn-Russia calls: Republicans join demands for investigation

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Leading members of the US Republican Party have joined calls for a wide investigation into the former national security adviser’s links with Russia.

Michael Flynn quit on Monday over claims he discussed US sanctions with Russia before Donald Trump took office.

On Tuesday, a White House spokesman said Mr Trump knew weeks ago there were problems with the Russia phone calls.

But calls for an independent investigation have encountered a cold response from some senior Republicans.

The development came as the New York Times reported that phone records and intercepted calls show members of Mr Trump’s presidential campaign, as well as other Trump associates, “had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election”.

However, officials spoken to by the newspaper said they had not yet seen evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia on the hacking of the Democratic National Committee or to influence the election.

As well as an FBI investigation, both the Senate and House intelligence committees are already examining Russian involvement in the election. It is not yet clear whether the latest claims will be included in their scope.

Why Mr Flynn resigned

He stood down over allegations he discussed US sanctions with a Russian envoy in December, before Mr Trump took office.

The conversations took place about the time that then-President Barack Obama was imposing retaliatory measures on Russia following reports it attempted to sway the US election in Mr Trump’s favour.

Mr Flynn could have broken a law – known as the Logan Act – by conducting US diplomacy as a private citizen, before he was appointed as national security adviser.

The retired army lieutenant-general initially denied having discussed sanctions with Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. Vice-President Mike Pence publicly denied the allegations on his behalf.

The White House admitted it had been warned about the contacts on 26 January but President Trump initially concluded Mr Flynn had not broken any law.

White House lawyers then conducted a review and questioned Mr Flynn before reaching the same conclusion as Mr Trump, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said, but the trust had gone.

“In the end, it was misleading the vice-president that made the situation unsustainable,” White House Counsellor Kellyanne Conway said on Tuesday.

Mr Flynn was also reportedly questioned by FBI agents in his first days as national security adviser, according to US media.

What Mr Flynn says

In an interview conducted with the conservative website The Daily Caller on Monday, but published only on Tuesday, Mr Flynn said he “crossed no lines” in his conversation with the ambassador.

He said he discussed the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats over alleged hacking ahead of the election, but “it wasn’t about sanctions”.

He said he was concerned that the apparently classified information had been leaked. “In some of these cases, you’re talking about stuff that’s taken off of a classified system and given to a reporter,” he said. “That’s a crime.”

However, in his resignation letter, Mr Flynn said “the fast pace of events” during the presidential transition meant that he had “inadvertently briefed the vice-president elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador”.

How are Republicans reacting?

In his first public comments about the controversy, President Trump tweeted on Tuesday: “The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N Korea etc?”

US House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes told reporters on Tuesday he wanted to examine the leaks, and said the FBI should explain why Mr Flynn’s conversation had been recorded.

But the Senate’s second-ranking Republican,John Cornyn, and other Republican senators have called for an investigation into Mr Trump’s connections with Russian officials.

Republican John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Mr Flynn’s resignation was a “troubling indication of the dysfunction of the current national security apparatus”, which raised questions about Mr Trump’s intentions towards Russia.

Meanwhile, the Senate’s most senior Republican, Mitch McConnell, said the intelligence committee was already looking into Russian influence on the election, indicating there was no need for a new investigative panel.

And Russia?

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia would not be commenting on the resignation.

“This is the internal affair of the Americans, the internal affair of the Trump administration,” he added. “It’s nothing to do with us.”

In this file photo taken on 10 December 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen centre right with retired US Lt Gen Michael Flynn, centre left

Mr Flynn was pictured dining with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in December 2015

What will America’s allies think? – by BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus

Gen Flynn’s resignation comes just as senior US officials are mounting a major effort to reassure uncertain allies in Europe about the Trump administration’s intentions.

The new US Defence Secretary General James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Vice-President Mike Pence are all in Europe over the coming days. Gen Mattis is in the vanguard – he meets his Nato counterparts in Brussels on Wednesday.

There will be few tears shed within the alliance over Gen Flynn. His was widely seen as a bizarre and destabilising appointment.

But his demise and the rumbling row over team Trump’s contacts with Russia continues to cause unease at Nato where many governments wonder at the Trump administration’s resolve in standing up to what they see as a new assertiveness from Moscow.

Many key US officials are still to be appointed and the continuing chaos at the heart of the Trump administration is a cause for concern among Nato countries whatever reassurance the heavyweight US diplomatic trio may bring.

What happens next?

Democrat Adam Schiff, a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has said Mr Flynn’s departure will not end questions about contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia. But there are various ways that these questions could be answered.

Two Democratic members of the House of Representatives have demanded a classified briefing to Congress on Michael Flynn by the justice department and FBI.

Several House Democrats had already called on Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz to launch an investigation into Mr Flynn’s ties to Russia.

Source: BBC

UK Foreign Secretary Johnson visits Prez Akufo-Addo Wednesday

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Akufo-Addo [L], Ghana’s president and Boris Johnson [R], UK Foreign Secretary

The United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is expected to pay a courtesy call on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Wednesday, February 15.

The two are expected to hold bilateral talks at the presidency, the Flagstaff House.

The talks are “aimed at boosting the already strong bilateral relations that exists between Ghana and the United Kingdom,” a statement from the Office of the President said.

Other matters of mutual interest will also be discussed.

This is the first visit of Mr Johnson since becoming UK’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs after Brexit.

He was one of the ardent exponents of Brexit.

Before then, he was London Mayor, having occupied that position for eight years throughout the tenure of Former Prime Minister David Cameron.

Mr Johnson will be in Ghana after a brief visit to The Gambia.

By Emmanuel Kwame Amoh|3news.com|Ghana

Akufo-Addo congratulates new German president

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President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has congratulated newly elected German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Mr Steinmeier was elected over the weekend by the Federal Assembly in Berlin. He polled 931 out of 1,260 votes.

He is said to be one of the most popular politicians in Germany, having served as Foreign Minister for eight years.

“I recall, with fondness, our time as Foreign Affairs Ministers of our respective countries, and the good collaboration and partnership we forged, which enabled our two countries develop further areas of co-operation for the benefit of our two peoples,” Ghana’s leader said in a statement on Monday, February 13.

Mr Steinmeier is expected to take office on March 19.

“I wish President Steinmeier and the German people the very best of luck throughout the course of his tenure of office, and in the years to come. It is my hope that the strong relations between Germany and Ghana will be deepened, and grow from strength to strength.”

Source: 3news.com|Ghana

Trump’s national security adviser quits

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Michael Flynn encouraged a softer policy on Russia and a harder line on Iran

Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has resigned over his contacts with Russia, the White House has announced.

Mr Flynn is alleged to have discussed US sanctions with the Russian ambassador before Mr Trump took office.

He is said to have misled officials about the conversation.

Earlier, US media reported that the Justice Department had warned the White House about the contacts late last month.

They said that Mr Flynn might be vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

Senior Democrats had called for Mr Flynn to be fired.

It is illegal for private citizens to conduct US diplomacy, and the calls happened late last year before Mr Flynn was appointed to the administration.

In his letter of resignation, Mr Flynn said he had “inadvertently briefed the vice-president-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador”.

A White House statement said Lt Gen Joseph Keith Kellogg had been appointed as interim replacement.

Mr Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, initially denied having discussed sanctions with Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, and Vice-President Mike Pence publicly denied the allegations on his behalf.

However, Mr Flynn later told the White House that sanctions may have been discussed.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday that Mr Flynn and Mr Kislyak did not discuss lifting sanctions.

Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Monday called for Mr Trump to fire Mr Flynn, tweeting that he “cannot be trusted to serve America’s best interests and national security instead of Russia’s”.

Several House Democrats have called on Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz to launch an investigation into Mr Flynn’s ties to Russia.

Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine said it would also be “troubling” if Flynn had been negotiating with a foreign government before taking office.

Mr Flynn, who was previously fired by Barack Obama as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was an ardent supporter of Mr Trump during the campaign.

He became a close ally of both the president and his chief strategist, Steve Bannon.

He encouraged tougher policies on Iran and a softer policy on Russia, but questions were raised about his perceived closeness to Moscow.

Source: BBC

Kenya jails union reps over doctors strike

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A Kenyan student doctor shouts slogans as he participates in a strike to demand fulfilment of a 2013 agreement between doctors" union and the government that would raise the medical practitioners pay and improve working conditions in Nairobi, Kenya, January 19, 2017.
Kenyan doctors are calling for better pay and working conditions

A Kenyan court has jailed seven union officials for a month over a doctors strike that has crippled public hospitals for 10 weeks.

High Court Judge Hellen Wasilwat had handed down suspended sentences to the officials a month ago after they ignored an earlier court order to end the strike.

Jailing them for contempt of court, the judge said they had provided no reason for the punishment to be deferred.

The seven officials were handcuffed and driven to jail past placard-waving supporters gathered outside the court.

The nationwide strike involving thousands of doctors and nurses began on 5 December and has left public hospitals closed and patients unable to get basic medical care.

North Korea conducts missile test

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North Korea has fired a ballistic missile in the first such test since Donald Trump took office as US president.

Mr Trump assured Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that “America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100%”.

The missile flew east towards the Sea of Japan for about 500km (300 miles), South Korean officials say.

Mr Abe said the test was “absolutely intolerable”. Japanese officials say the missile did not reach its waters.

Speaking at a joint conference during a visit to the US, Mr Abe added that Mr Trump had also assured him that he was committed to “further enforcing our alliance”.

During his election campaign, Mr Trump said US defence commitments to Japan and South Korea were unfair and also called for Japan to pay the full cost of stationing US troops on its soil.

North Korea has conducted a number of nuclear tests in the past year that continue to alarm and anger the region.

Sunday’s launch took place at 07:55 local time (22:55 GMT Saturday) from the Banghyon air base in North Pyongan province on the west side of the Korean peninsula.

The missile reached an altitude of about 550km (350 miles), according to a South Korean official quoted by Reuters news agency, and appeared to be a Rodong medium-range missile.

In January, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un warned that his military was close to testing long-range missiles capable of reaching the United States and carrying nuclear warheads.

Mr Trump derided the claim in a tweet, saying: “It won’t happen.”

South Korea’s foreign ministry said that “North Korea’s repeated provocations show the Kim Jong-un regime’s nature of irrationality, maniacally obsessed in its nuclear and missile development”.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga confirmed the missile had not reached Japanese territorial waters, adding that Tokyo would make a “strong protest” to North Korea over the incident.

There has so far been no comment from North Korea.

On a visit to South Korea last week, US Defence Secretary James Mattis said that any use of nuclear weapons by North Korea would be met with an “effective and overwhelming” response.

He also reconfirmed plans to deploy a US missile defence system in South Korea later this year.

North Korea conducted its fifth test of a nuclear device last year, and claims it is capable of carrying out a nuclear attack on the US, though experts are still unconvinced that its technology has progressed that far.

Source: BBC

Donald Trump considers issuing new travel ban

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Donald Trump is considering a new executive order to ban citizens of certain countries from travelling to the US after his initial attempt was overturned in the courts.

Mr Trump told reporters on Air Force One that a “brand new order” could be issued as early as Monday or Tuesday.

It comes after an appeals court in San Francisco upheld a court ruling to suspend his original order.

It barred entry from citizens from seven mainly Muslim countries.

It is unclear what a new US immigration order might look like.

Mr Trump said that it would change “very little”, but he did not provide details of any new ban under consideration.

Despite his suggestion on Friday, Mr Trump’s administration may still pursue its case in the courts over the original order, which was halted a week ago by a Seattle judge.

“We’ll win that battle,” Mr Trump told reporters, adding: “The unfortunate part is it takes time. We’ll win that battle. But we also have a lot of other options, including just filing a brand new order.”

A unnamed judge from the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which on Thursday upheld the stay on the original order, has called on all 25 judges of that court to vote on whether to hear the appeal again.

Technically known as an en banc review, a second hearing of the case would involve an 11-judge panel, rather than the three who initially heard the appeal.

Mr Trump’s travel ban, which was hastily unveiled at the end of his first week in office, caused chaos at US airports and sparked protests across the country.

On Thursday, the appeals court said the administration failed to offer “any evidence” to justify the ban, which the president said was necessary to keep the US safe from terror attacks.

However Mr Trump insisted that the executive order was crucial for national security and promised to take action “very rapidly” to introduce “additional security” steps in the wake of the court’s decision.

He spoke as Virginia state lawyers argued in court that his policy “resulted from animus toward Muslims”.

Their challenge focuses on the travel restrictions imposed by the ban, rather than the four-month suspension of refugee admissions.

But lawyers for the US government in Virginia wrote that “judicial second-guessing” amounted to “an impermissible intrusion” on Mr Trump’s constitutional authority.

US system of checks and balances

The appeals court ruling means that visa holders from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen can continue to enter the US, and refugees from around the world, who were also subject to a temporary ban, are no longer blocked either.

But the ruling does not affect one part of Mr Trump’s controversial executive order: a cap of 50,000 refugees to be admitted in the current fiscal year, down from the ceiling of 110,000 established under his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Source: BBC