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Posts Tagged ‘UK Politics News’

Not so noble: EU’s Peace Prize win sparks debate over legitimacy

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 11, 2012

The European Union’s presidents have received this year’s Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the 27-member group. However, growing numbers of critics have pointed to the EU’s economic and foreign policy failures, arguing the prize is undeserved.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz have accepted the 930,000-euro ($1.2 million) award on behalf of the EU.

In his acceptance speech, Van Rompuy praised postwar leaders in France and Germany who created the EU by uniting their economic interests: “The EU’s secret weapon – an unrivalled way of binding our interests so tightly that war becomes impossible.”

The French and German representatives at the ceremony – President Francois Hollande and Chancellor Angela Merkel, respectively – greeted the award with standing ovations.

But critics argued the award was an inappropriate honor. Six EU leaders, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, did not attend the event. The initial news that the European Union won the 2012 Peace Prize sparked heated debate over whether the award was being discredited, a debate that also raged after US President Barack Obama’s win in 2009. Read the rest of this entry »

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US election: How can it cost $6bn?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 7, 2012

By Cordelia Hebblethwaite

 The estimated price tag for the US elections in November is almost $6bn (£3.8bn). Why so much?

“The sky is the limit here,” says Michael Toner, former chair of the US Federal Election Commission.

“I don’t think you can spend too much.”

In a time of general belt-tightening, it may sound like a surprising argument, but Toner believes there should be more – not less – spending on US elections.

Anything that engages voters, and makes them more likely to turn out is, he says, a good thing.

“It’s very healthy in terms of American politics… it’s a symptom of a very vigorous election season, there’s a lot at stake here.”

On 6 November, Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, is set to challenge Barack Obama for the presidency, and polls suggest the margin between them could be wafer thin.

New figures just released by the Center for Responsive Politics, an independent research group which tracks money in politics, estimate the total cost of November’s elections (for the presidency, House of Representatives and Senate) will come in at $5.8bn (£3.7bn) – more than the entire annual GDP of Malawi, and up 7% on 2008.

Continue reading the main story

Squaring up the figures

Mitt Romney (l) and Barack Obama (r)

Projected spending estimates for 2012 US elections:

  • Total cost – $5.8bn (£3.7bn)
  • Presidential election – $2.5bn (£1.6bn)
  • Super Pacs and other outside groups – at least$750m (£480m) Read the rest of this entry »

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David Cameron Snubs Argentina President Over Falklands Letter

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 20, 2012

Cristina Fernandez De Kirchner

President de Kirchner tried to give David Cameron a letter over the Falklands

David Cameron has refused to accept a letter from the Argentinian president over the country’s claim to the Falkland Islands.

The prime minister spoke to Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner before the first session of the G20 summit on Tuesday, telling her that she should “respect the views” of the islanders who are holding a referendum on control.

Ms de Kirchner attempted to hand Mr Cameron a package marked “UN – Malvinas” but the Prime Minister refused to accept it.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Falklands conflict which resulted in a task force being sent to the south Atlantic to successfully reclaim the islands after the Argentinian military junta had invaded the British-held territory.

Britain has rejected calls made by Ms Kirchner to the UN decolonisation committee last week for direct talks to discuss the future of the disputed territory in the south Atlantic.

Downing Street aides said the Prime Minister sought out Ms Kirchner to make Britain’s position on the Falklands clear.

Mr Cameron said: “I am not proposing a full discussion now on the Falklands but I hope you have noted that they are holding a referendum and you should respect their views. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Inter-Faith Understanding Is More Important Than Ever in Leadership

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on May 14, 2012

By Tony Blair, Former Prime Minister of Britain

The Alpha Leadership conference taking place today in London is a reminder that despite all the negative news about religion, a different face of faith is visible and real the world over. The Alpha course on leadership, which was begun under Nicky Gumbel of the Holy Trinity Church in London, has been taken by 18 million people world-wide and is all about spreading a gospel of compassion and service to others. A similar message is given out from the remarkable Rick Warren’s church in Southern California where his congregation now numbers in excess of 100,000 people and his global reach extends to every nation on earth.

But such work is not confined to the Christian religion. There are extraordinary Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist organisations that do great work and show selfless sacrifice in some of the poorest and most forgotten parts of the world. 40% of the healthcare in Africa is delivered by Faith groups, notably the Catholic Church.

When we began the Tony Blair Faith Foundation four years ago, there was a lot of scepticism as to whether there really was any interest in inter-faith understanding. Weren’t religion and religious people bound to be introspective and uninterested in the faith of others? Today we are active in 20 countries, thousands of people take part in our programmes and we have volunteers in over 140 nations. The truth is that the numbers of people who have Faith is growing, such growth is not at all limited to the developing world and it is simply impossible to comprehend politics in certain parts of the world – e.g. the Middle East – without comprehending the importance of Faith.

However, the exclusivist and sometimes hostile face of Faith cannot either be denied. There is a struggle in the world of Faith that reflects the broader struggle within society. This is a struggle between the open-minded and the closed-minded. I am a Christian and will remain so. This means that there are certain beliefs I hold dear. But I can, without reducing my Christian commitment, surely accept that someone else, brought up in a different tradition, holds a different set of beliefs, holds them as strongly as I hold mine, and I can respect that person and his/her right to believe as he/she does. In an era of globalisation, in which we are far more likely to share society together because society is becoming more diverse and the internet is creating a more global sense of community, the existence of such respect and mutual understanding becomes essential. Read the rest of this entry »

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What Would British Fascism Look Like?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 30, 2012

By James Bloodworth, Writer, blogger at The Independent and Obliged to Offend

It has been reported that the National Front (NF) is planning on fielding 35 mayoral and local election candidates in May, the largest number it has put up for election since 1983.

An outfit that most of us thought had disappeared in the 1980s has re-emerged due to splits that are currently ravaging the British National Party (BNP).

All being well of course, NF candidates will take a thorough battering at the polls next month. Fortunately, the economic crisis that began in 2008 has not yet been marked by the racial tensions that characterised large economic crises of the past.

And yet, were a far-Right government ever to win power in Britain – and never get too complacent, for a Searchlight poll last February found a staggeringly high number of voters who said they would be prepared to vote for party of the far-Right if it renounced violence – what might it do in its first year of power?

This is pure speculation of course, but interesting all the same, I think.


Recent wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya are often simplified into a Left/Right question: if you are on the Left you were against them, if you are on the Right you supported them. This is crude and misleading. In the tradition of isolationism, the British far-Right is concerned with foreigners only when they directly threaten the national interest. This includes foreigners dying at the hands of barbaric regimes. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hundreds Demanding Equal Rights For Gurkhas March On Parliament (PHOTOS)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 25, 2012


Hundreds of demonstrators demanding equal citizenship and pensions rights for former Gurkhas have descended on Westminster, amassing outside the Ministry of Defence and the Houses of Parliament.

The protesters – marching peacefully but clearly angry – had expected to meet David Cameron in Downing Street to deliver a petition against what they say is unfair treatment by the UK government. However they allege the PM cancelled the meeting two weeks ago, something which has clearly led to fury among those campaigning for Gurkhas’ rights.

Nabina Gurung, a representative from the newly-formed action group Enough Is Enough, told HuffPost : We were supposed to have a little chit-chat with the prime minister himself, however because of his busy schedule he couldn’t meet us. Read the rest of this entry »

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One Direction Turn Down Michelle Obama’s Invite To The White House

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 4, 2012

Boy band One Direction have reportedly turned down an invitation to meet US President Barack Obama at the White House, because their hectic schedule means the group are too busy.

On Monday The Sun revealed that first lady Michelle Obama had invited Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Niall Horan and Zayn Malik to the White House after watching them perform at the recent Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards in LA.

However according to the Politico website, the band have had to shun the offer “due to prior commitments” – as they are due to be continuing their plans for world domination in Australia. Read the rest of this entry »

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FBI And CIA ‘Turf War’ Scuppered Secret Plan That Could Have Thwarted 9/11, David Davis Claims

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 28, 2012

Is this just politics within politics or another drama? Otherwise why has it taken so long to come out?:

Infighting between US intelligence agencies delayed a secret plan to tap every phone in Afghanistan that could have helped prevent the September 11 attacks, a senior Conservative MP has claimed.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday evening, David Davis, the former shadow home secretary, said the American government then attempted to cover up its embarrassment by shutting down a series of court cases, including one in London, that arose from the intelligence operation.

Davis was using the case to provide a warning against proposals by the British government to bring in similar powers in courts that would suppress any embarrassing intelligence failures.

He told MPs that in 1998, the Taliban decided Afghanistan needed a new phone network. As no domestic companies had the necessary expertise, they invited foreign companies to bid for the rights to build the network. The company they chose was called Telephone Systems International.

Based in New Jersey, TSI was owned by one Ehsanollah Bayat, a Kabul-born American citizen – who unknown to the Taliban was also an FBI informer. Read the rest of this entry »

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Gerald Howarth Attacks Joanna Lumley’s ‘Disgraceful’ Gurkhas Campaign

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 27, 2012

A Conservative defence minister has said the “disgraceful” campaign by Joanna Lumley on behalf of the Gurkhas has led to some of his Aldershot constituents leaving the town.

Gerald Howarth, the minister for international security strategy, said the number of Nepalese men who had served in the British Army deciding to move the the UK was putting too big a strain on local services.

In 2009 Lumley, with the backing of David Cameron and Nick Clegg, helped convince the then Labour government to allow Gurkhas who retired before 1997 the right to settle in the UK.

But speaking on BBC Radio Surrey on Monday, Howarth said the decision had been a mistake and was adversely affecting his constituency, which is the home of the British Army.

The Aldershot MP said: “I was walking around in Aldershot on Saturday and everywhere I went there were Nepalese just basically sitting out in the open, sitting out on the park benches. Read the rest of this entry »

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Budget 2012: Osborne Scraps 50p Tax And Boosts Income Tax Threshold

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 21, 2012

George Osborne has used his 2012 Budget to cut taxes at both ends of society, by raising the threshold at which people start to pay income tax and by cutting the 50p top rate of tax for the wealthy.

The Chancellor announced that people will not have to pay income tax on any earnings below £9,205 which he said would leave millions of working people £220 better off every year.

The “further and faster” acceleration towards a £10,000 income tax threshold can be seen as an attempt to offset a potentially unpopular decision to give wealthier Britons a tax cut as well.

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Osborne unveiled a cut in the top rate of tax from 50p to 45p on earnings over £150,000 a year, a move sought by many Tory backbenchers, but the change will not come into force for a year.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Osborne said his Budget would help create a tax system “where millions of the lowest paid are lifted out of tax all together” as well as one “more competitive for business than any other major economy in the world”.

He said the the 50p tax rates had “caused massive distortions” as £16bn of income was deliberately shifted into the previous tax year at a cost to the taxpayer of £1bn. Read the rest of this entry »

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Queen’s Jubilee Speech Praises Prince Philip, Politicians And The Armed Forces

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 20, 2012

The Queen has paid tribute to public servants, the armed forces and her family at Westminster, responding to the Loyal Address by Parliamentarians for the monarch’s diamond jubilee.

A bright spring morning at Westminster saw the Queen address both houses of Parliament, accompanied by Prince Philip. In her speech the Queen paid particular tribute to her husband, who she said was “well known for declining compliments of any kind.

“Throughout he has been a constant strength and guide. He and I are very proud and grateful that the Prince of Wales and other members of our family are travelling on my behalf in this Diamond Jubilee year, to visit all the Commonwealth realms and a number of other commonwealth countries.”

There was laughter and applause when the Queen said: “At the last count I have had the pleasurable duty of treating with twelve Prime Ministers.”

She added: “The happy relationship I have enjoyed with parliament has extended well beyond the more than three and-a-half thousand Bills I have signed into law.”

The Queen made her address in Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the Palace of Westminster which has stood since Norman times. Read the rest of this entry »

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David Cameron And Barack Obama To Discuss Afghanistan Withdrawal In Washington Talks

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 13, 2012

David Cameron flies to the USA today for talks with President Barack Obama, with the timetable for withdrawal of British and American troops from Afghanistan likely to top the agenda.

Both leaders have stressed in public that there will be no rush to the exit in the wake of the recent deaths of six British soldiers and the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians by a renegade US serviceman.

They are expected to focus during the three-day visit on the timing of handover of the lead security responsibility throughout the country to Afghan forces during 2013.

This will allow allied troops to step back into a support role in the fight against the Taliban and begin the process of returning home by the previously-agreed target of the end of 2014.

An announcement on the date for transition to Afghan control is not expected until Nato’s Chicago summit in May. Nato agreed at a previous summit in Lisbon in 2010 that home-grown forces would take the lead responsibility for security by the end of 2013, but there was some speculation today that this could be brought forward to the summer of next year. Read the rest of this entry »

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Being Strong: National Security Guarantees for Russia

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 23, 2012

By Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister of the Russian Federations

In a world of upheaval there is always the temptation to resolve one’s problems at another’s expense, through pressure and force.

It is no surprise that some are calling for resources of global significance to be freed from the exclusive sovereignty of a single nation. This cannot happen to Russia, not even hypothetically.

In other words, we should not tempt anyone by allowing ourselves to be weak. We will, under no circumstances, surrender our strategic deterrent capability. Indeed, we will strengthen it.

We will not be able to strengthen our international position or develop our economy or our democratic institutions if we are unable to protect Russia.

We see ever new regional and local wars breaking out. We see new areas of instability and deliberately managed chaos. Determined attempts are being made to provoke such conflicts even close to Russia’s and its allies’ borders. The basic principles of international law are being degraded and eroded, especially in terms of international security.

Under these circumstances, Russia cannot rely on diplomatic and economic methods alone to resolve conflicts. Our country faces the task of sufficiently developing its military potential as part of a deterrence strategy. This is an indispensable condition for Russia to feel secure and for our partners to listen to our country’s arguments. Read the rest of this entry »

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Electro-Magnetic Pulse ‘Space Attack ‘Quite Likely’

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 22, 2012

Britain’s critical national infrastructure could be crippled in a high-altitude space attack by a rogue state or terrorists, MPs warned today.

A nuclear device detonated up to 500 miles above the earth’s surface could generate an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) with a “devastating” effect on power supplies, telecommunications and other vital systems, the Commons Defence Committee said.

It warned that countries such as Iran – which is resisting international pressure to end its nuclear programme – and even eventually some “non-state actors” could acquire the technology to mount such an attack.

Terrorists could also build a “crude” non-nuclear EMP weapon, with the power to cause disruption over a more limited area.

James Arbuthnot, the chairman of the committee, said he believed the possibility of an EMP attack was “quite likely”.

“I personally believe that it’s quite likely to happen. It’s a comparatively easy way of using a small number of nuclear weapons to cause devastating damage,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“The consequences if it did happen would be so devastating that we really ought to start protecting against it now, and our vulnerabilities are huge.”

Arbuthnot said that exploding a nuclear weapon in space in order to knock out electronic systems would actually be worse than if one was exploded on the ground in a city. Read the rest of this entry »

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Theresa May Reveals UK Border Agency To Be Broken Up After Revelations Of Lax Immigration Checks

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 20, 2012

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) is to be broken up after further revelations of relaxations of checks on immigrants to Britain, Theresa May has told the Commons on Monday afternoon.

The UK Border Force – which physically runs the checks on travellers at airports and Eurostar terminals – will be split from the UKBA, because Theresa May believes managing all the operations is “too great for one organisation.”

The decision, which comes into effect on the 1st of March, is likely to cause a significant shakeup to the policing of Britain’s borders. Theresa May told MPs: “Many of the changes I’ve outlined cannot happen overnight. They will take time, but we will make them as quickly as possible.”

The decision comes in the wake of a report by John Vine, the independent inspector of the UK Border Agency, who was called in to investigate the lapses in passport checks which led to the resignation of Brodie Clark. The former head of the UK Border Force was accused of exceeding the terms of a pilot scheme over the summer, which reduced some checks on passengers. Read the rest of this entry »

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