Thursday, 09 August 2018: Boris Johnson faces growing criticism over burka jibe, Germany reaches deal with Spain to return refugees, Several journalists arrested in Belarus, Trump writes letter to Putin


Boris Johnson faces growing criticism over burka jibe: Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson is facing growing criticism over his remark that Muslim women wearing the burka “look like letter boxes”. Dominic Grieve, the ex-attorney general, said he would quit the party if Johnson became leader. Grieve said the former foreign secretary was not a fit and proper person to lead the party. Ex-Tory chairwoman Baroness Warsi warned Johnson’s remarks could trigger a rise in hate crime. Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said Muslim women who wear burkas should be defended in the same way as Christians who wear a crucifix. Senior Tories have urged Johnson to apologise but he has not done so, and has stood by his comments. A complaint about Johnson has been lodged with Tory party chairman Brandon Lewis, who is responsible for the party’s code of conduct which says that Tory MPs and other holders of public office should foster respect and tolerance in their work.,,

DUP’s Ian Paisley faces recall from parliament: The Democratic Unionist party MP Ian Paisley is facing the first parliamentary recall petition since legislation was introduced to allow voters to oust misbehaving politicians. The petition was launched as a result of an investigation by the “Daily Telegraph” which revealed Paisley had received hospitality for his family worth tens of thousands of pounds. Paisley was suspended from the House of Commons for 30 days after acting as a paid advocate for Sri Lanka and lobbying on its behalf, while failing to register that the country’s government had paid for his family to go on holiday twice. This triggered the recall procedure, and should 10% of the electorate, or 7,543 people, sign a petition over the next six weeks, then a byelection will be held in North Antrim.,

Britain’s foreign aid budget will be used to help hurricane hit overseas territories: Britain’s foreign aid budget will be used to fund disaster relief for people devastated by hurricanes in the UK’s overseas territories, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt has announced. Last year the Government was forced to find 57 million pounds in additional funding to help overseas territories including Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands after they were devastated by Hurricane Irma. International aid rules meant that the overseas territories were considered too wealthy to receive emergency foreign aid, leaving the Treasury to find additional funding.

Half of Parliamentary candidates female: Tories aim for candidate equal gender split
Public sector pay: Civil service unions start legal case after government fails to consult on pay
Local government: Tory MP breaks ranks on Northamptonshire council crisis


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Germany reaches deal with Spain to return refugees: Refugees who come to Germany after entering the European Union through Spain can be turned back at the border under the terms of an agreement between Berlin and Madrid, the German Interior Ministry said on Wednesday. The agreement was signed on Monday and will take effect on Saturday. Interior Ministry spokeswoman Eleonore Petermann said the deal would enable the two EU countries to send such migrants back to Spain within 48 hours. Spain did not require anything in return, she added. A Spanish government spokeswoman said the deal was part of the agreements reached in the last European summit on migration in late June. She said Spain accepted Germany’s demand to send back asylum seekers who got to Germany from Spain. Spain has taken just over 40 percent of all irregular migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea into Europe this year, according to the UN Migration Agency.,,

German foreign minister warns US Iran sanctions could cause chaos: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued a warning on Wednesday saying that US President Donald Trump’s decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran could further destabilise the Middle East and create chaos. Isolating Iran could boost radical and fundamentalist forces, he said, adding that “chaos in Iran, as we have experienced in Iraq or Libya, would further destabilise an already troubled region”. Noting Iran’s geographic proximity to Europe, Maas warned that anyone who was hoping for regime change must not forget that whatever follows could bring much bigger problems. A controversial cash payment to the Iranian government does not violate German anti-terrorism laws, according to investigations by Germany’s customs authority. Iran’s Minister of Cooperatives, Labour and Social Welfare, Ali Rabiei, was sacked by parliament on Wednesday, state media reported, the latest shuffle in top economic posts as the Islamic Republic struggles to stabilise its economy. The trade dispute between the US and China has escalated further, as neither side shows any appetite for backing down. The Chinese government unveiled tariffs on 16 billion dollars of US goods on Wednesday. Turkey said it remained committed to energy contracts with Tehran despite the risk that renewed US sanctions against Iran could make Turkish firms a target.,, (Payment), (Labour minister),

Trump writes letter to Putin: US Senator Rand Paul on Wednesday delivered a letter from President Donald Trump to Russian President Vladimir Putin that emphasised the importance of further engagement between the two leaders. The letter also highlighted how Putin wants to continue to work together with the US on countering terrorism, enhancing legislative dialogue and resuming cultural exchanges, Paul said. The letter comes nearly a month after Trump and Putin met in Helsinki, Finland. Trump has sought to ease tensions between the former Cold War foes despite friction in the relationship that was exacerbated by US intelligence findings that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election, trying to tilt the outcome to Trump. WikiLeaks announced in a tweet Wednesday the Senate Intelligence Committee called on its founder Julian Assange to testify on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The United States on Tuesday urged Russia to pull out Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Kremlin-backed separatist regions of Georgia. The US will impose sanctions on Russia for using a lethal nerve agent against former Russian double agent Sergej Skripal and his daughter in Britain.,, (Assange), (Georgia), (Skripal)

Saudi Arabia escalates feud with Canada: Saudi Arabia took concrete steps to disengage economically from Canada on Wednesday, escalating the feud over Canada’s criticism of Saudi Arabia. Anger between the two countries erupted last week when Canadian officials urged Riyadh to immediately release women’s rights activists Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah. The Saudi government responded on Monday by expelling the Canadian ambassador to Riyadh, Dennis Horak, recalling the Saudi ambassador to Ottawa and freezing all new trade and investment deals with Canada. It also said it would transfer thousands of Saudi students who were studying in Canada to schools in other countries. The kingdom announced on Wednesday that it would no longer send its citizens to Canadian hospitals and would withdraw resident physicians from Canadian hospitals. It has also said that it would suspend flights by Saudia, the national carrier, to Canadian airports starting Monday and informed traders that it would not buy Canadian barley or wheat.,,

Congo: President Kabila to step down ahead of key elections


Several journalists arrested in Belarus: Authorities on Wednesday arrested Deutsche Welle journalist Paulyuk Bykowski in the Belarusian capital, Minsk. Belarusian authorities did not give any reason for the arrest. DW lodged a protest with the Belarusian ambassador in Berlin and demanded his immediate release. The arrest follows the detention of at least four journalists from two popular news sites on Tuesday. The journalists are accused of unlawfully accessing news from state news agency BeITA. Accompanied by police officers, officials from the Investigative Committee searched the offices in Minsk, the capital, of three independent news outlets on Tuesday and Wednesday, cordoning them off while confiscating documents and computer hard drives. Those detained also included Marina Zolotova, the editor in chief of, Belarus’s leading independent news website. Other organisations targeted by the operation include the Belarusian Private News Agency and, a real estate publication.,

German man arrested for spying on mosque for Jordan: German prosecutors on Wednesday ordered the arrest of a 33-year-old man for allegedly spying on a mosque for Jordan. The German national was detained on Tuesday. The suspect worked in 2016 for a Jordanian intelligence agency, the prosecutors said in a statement. He is accused of spying on a mosque in the central German city of Hildesheim. Alexander B. is said to have passed on information about people planning to travel to Syria to join the “Islamic State” (ISIL, also known as ISIS) or those who had already travelled there.

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Italy will sell stake in Monte Paschi: Italy plans to sell its holding in Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the country’s economy minister Giovanni Tria said on Wednesday, in remarks that appear to show a split within the country’s ruling coalition. Italy owns 68 percent of Monte Paschi after it bailed the bank out in 2016 under a 5-year rescue plan agreed with the EU Commission which included a commitment to sell the government’s entire stake in the bank by a date that is confidential. Tria’s comments appeared to be at odds with statements made previously by senior members of the ruling coalition which is composed of the 5-Star Movement and far-right League.

Portugal: Firefighters battle Iberia wildfires
Burqas: Where in Europe is the Islamic full-face veil banned?

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World heading toward an uninhabitable ‘Hothouse’ new study warns: Earth is at risk of entering uninhabitable conditions, according to a new study released on Monday. Scientists have dubbed the scenario “Hothouse Earth”. The findings, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveal that under these potential hothouse Earth conditions, the climate in the long-term will stabilise at a global average of four to five degrees. That’s higher than pre-industrial temperatures with sea level higher by 10-60 metres than it is today. Avoiding this scenario requires not only the reduction of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere but also enhancement of existing biological carbon stores, warns the Stockholm Resilience Centre, a research institute specialising in sustainable development and environmental issues.


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