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Britain and US prevent Alexander Prokopchuk’s election as Interpol President

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Alexander Prokopchuk

The expectations of Russia have been blighted as the delegates elected South Korea’s Kim Jong-yang as next President of the International Criminal Police Organization, that is, Interpol.

On Wednesday, at Interpol’s general assembly in Dubai, Kim secured at least two-thirds of votes cast. He will be serving until 2020 for the remainder of the current mandate, Meng Hongwei, who was detained in China over alleged corruption.

It was expected that Alexander Prokopchuk, a former Russian Interior Ministry official, will be the elected president. However, his nomination was strongly opposed by the critics, namely the United States and Britain.

According to the media reports, the White House along with its European partners had lobbied against Prokopchuk’s attempts to be elected the next president of Interpol.

The countries had raised concerns that naming Alexander Prokopchuk as the President would lead to further Russian abuses of Interpol’s red notice system to target its political opponents.

South Korean Kim Jong-yang’s name as President followed a last-ditch bid by America and Britain to impede Moscow’s chosen candidate.

According to The Times, Prokopchuk have also been accused of being a foreign intelligence agent who has served in the KGB, by a prominent Ukrainian MP.

Besides, on November 20, senior UK politicians and human rights groups also criticized the candidacy of Moscow’s nominee, and called for his to halt from getting the top job.

Officials in Ukraine and Lithuania had even said that they would consider withdrawing from Interpol if he was elected.

Moreover, a UK Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable also warned that if Alexander Prokopchuk was elected, Interpol risked becoming a “branch of the Russian mafia.” He said even the likelihood of his election demonstrated that the police organization was “potentially corrupt.”

Referring to the Novichok attack by the suspected agents of Russian military intelligence, Sir Vince Cable said, “If this Russian gentleman were to become head of Interpol it would be an absolute insult to the victims of the Salisbury attack.”

He also added that it would be “a massive propaganda victory for the Putin regime” and “amount to accepting that Interpol has become a branch of the Russian mafia.”

The British Government also confirmed that it would not support the frontrunner’s promotion from his role as vice president.

On the other hand, in an open letter released on Monday, US senators said, “’Russia routinely abuses Interpol for the purpose of settling scores and harassing political opponents, dissidents and journalists.” They also accused Prokopchuk of being “personally involved” in this strategy since being elected to Interpol’s executive committee.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had endorsed Kim Jong-Yang, a South Korean police official, to take the position of president at Interpol. Besides, Britain also supported him.

While tensions have been there between Britain and Moscow since the Salisbury attack, the US is against Russia for meddling in its 2016 election. Speculations have emerged that since both the countries share strained ties with Russia, they have smartly coalesced against the Moscow’s candidate and prevented his promotion from vice president.

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An 18-carat gold toilet nicked from an art exhibition at Blenheim Palace

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Gold Toilet

The police is looking for an 18-carat gold toilet, which was stolen during the wee hours from Winston Churchill’s birthplace. The officers were informed about the theft at Blenheim palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, where the gold lavatory worth £1m was put on show in an art exhibition, on Saturday.

DI Jess Milne of Thames Valley police told, “The piece of art that has been stolen is a high-value toilet made out of gold that was on display at the palace.

“The artwork has not been recovered at this time, but we are conducting a thorough investigation to find it and bring those responsible to justice.”

So far, the police has arrested a 66-year-old man who allegedly has connection with the robbery.

The theft has caused considerable damage and water-logging. The gold toilet, a masterpiece by the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, was plumbed in, making it usable for the visitors.

The artist named the golden lavatory as ‘America’, and it became a popular artwork while on display in New York. It was fitted in a wooden panel chamber adjacent to the room where Winston Churchill was born.

Blenheim palace is the heritable seat of the Duke of Marlborough. Before the gold toilet was installed, duke’s step-brother, Edward Spencer-Churchill, who is also the founder of the Blenheim Art Foundation, said the gold lavatory will not be “the easiest thing to nick”.

“Firstly, it’s plumbed in and secondly, a potential thief will have no idea who last used the toilet or what they ate,” Edward Spencer-Churchill said. “So no, I don’t plan to be guarding it.”

The chief executive of Palace, Dominic Hare said, “Following the Thames Valley police statement we can confirm ‘America’, the art piece by Maurizio Cattelan, has been stolen in the early hours of this morning.”

He requested people to come up and divulge any information about the robbery to the police.

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Yemen War: Britain’s Arms Sales Put Aid Assistance in Shade

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Yemen War: Britain’s Arms Sales Put Aid Assistance in Shade

The Yemen war that escalated nearly 5 years ago, caused destruction, killed millions and forced many other people to leave their home. Where the Saudi-led coalition has been fighting, the United Kingdom also played a crucial role in the background, providing aid to the civilians as well as arms to the Arab nation and other members.

A report found that Britain earned eight times more from arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates than it has spent to help the Yemenis fenced in the conflict. The approach was condemned as “completely incoherent” by several activists.

Yemen has been caught up in a proxy war since March 2015, witnessing direct and indirect intervention of several global countries. The Saudi-led coalition participated directly to restore the government of President
Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi ousted from power by the Houthis, an Iran-backed rebel group. Since then, civilians have been paying the piper.

Yemen war led to a collapsed economy, while hunger became a widespread issue. The United Nation warned that 10 million people in the country are on the brink of famine. Besides, there have been ravaging outbreaks of infectious diseases, including cholera. Moreover, thousands of civilians have been killed with haphazard bombing by the alliance of Arab nations, which has been alleged to be responsible for about two-thirds of the 11,700 killed in direct attacks.

The Oxfam report found that over the past half decade, Britain provided £770 million in food, medicines and other aids to people in Yemen, which became the sixth largest recipient of British aid. It reflected that during the same period, the country made £6.2 billion of arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

On one side the UK reflected generosity, and became a supporter to the coalition indulged in the Yemen war, on the other. Oxfam Chief Executive Danny Sriskandarajah said, “The UK government’s approach to Yemen is completely incoherent – on the one hand offering lifesaving aid to people devastated by the conflict, and on the other, helping to fuel that conflict by arming those involved.”

Middle East has been most one of the most significant buyer of UK-manufactured arms, which acquired nearly two-thirds of British arms exports in 2015-16. Besides, both the UAE and Saudi Arabia have been influencing Britain’s foreign policies decision making for their interests.

A 2018 Spinwatch report revealed that the Emirates put lobbying pressure on former Prime Minister David Cameron to influence foreign policy making in the UK. The Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed had directly threaten him to follow their demand, otherwise they will discontinue the concession that British Petroleum (BP) received from the UAE, and cancel the fighter jet deals from BAE Systems.

Besides, the UK’s former Prime Minister and British Peace Envoy Tony Blair also received payments from the Emirates for their geopolitical and commercial goals. Blair, who was a link between the two nations, used these payments from the sovereign wealth fund to run his businesses.

Other member countries of the coalition that purchased UK arms since 2015 are Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, Senegal and Sudan, said the report.

In June, the court of appeal had ruled that the arms sales to Saudi Arabia were unlawful. The judgement also accused the ministers of neglecting questions on whether the airstrikes killing Yemenis broke international law.

The then international trade secretary, Liam Fox suspended new arms sales to Saudi Arabia in response, but stated to appeal against the verdict.

The Oxfam report urged the government to respect the court judgement, asking to halt arms sales permanently, focus on putting efforts to halt the Yemen war and getting more donations for emergency relief. The UN fund for Yemen reportedly received only a third of the funds needed, resulting in end of most vaccination programmes.

“What the UK has given in aid to hungry, homeless Yemenis is dwarfed by what it has gained in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners,” the report said. “The UK should be doing everything it can to end the war.”

It also emerged that the foreign secretary of 2016, Prime Minister Boris Johnson recommended the UK to allow the Saudi Kingdom to buy British bomb parts, which were expected to be deployed in the Yemen war.

While the UK has been making money by selling weapons to the Gulf nations, they in return have been putting pressure on Britain to continue the deals. The war-torn country continues to face world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and the Saudi-led coalition is still sticking by its stance. Where British assistance have been reaching Yemen, the earnings flowing-in to the UK through the bloodshed roots are overshadowing it.

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Operation Yellowhammer Paints True Picture of Britain, Post No-deal Brexit

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Operation Yellowhammer

Last updated on September 13th, 2019

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the UK Government initiated an “Operation Yellowhammer” to mitigate the disruptions caused as a result. This will remain active for three months. Civil Contingencies Secretariat developed the planning.

Not only, will it highly impact the food supply but it can also adversely affect the financial services and cross-channel traffic. Apart from this, there is an increased possibility of riots and medicine and medical repository are also subject to further reductions, as stated in the document. 

The details were released after the MPs voted to share the details about the planning, in case of Britain leaves the EU without a deal. Following the release of the information stating the effects of no-deal Brexit, the opposition party Labour has asked to recall the parliament claiming it to be “more important than ever”.

Document titled “Operation Yellowhammer” revealed that electrical prices will significantly rise, post Britain’s exit without a deal. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace claimed that government is taking adequate measures to minimize adverse affects. –

The document further states that due to no-deal, cross-channel traffic will experience a reduction of 40-60 percent. It might also impede trading for few businesses, leading to growth in black market and failure of the adult social care providers.

Brexit spokesperson for Labour Party Keir Starmer, said that the document justifies the efforts by MPs to block no-deal Brexit. In a post on social network, he said, “Boris Johnson must now admit that he has been dishonest with the British people about the consequence of a no-deal Brexit.”

If the statements of “Operation Yellowhammer” are to be believed, no-deal will also negatively impact the economy of the Gibraltar due to the border checks on Spain-Gibraltar border. Along with the economy, cross-border services and data flow of Gibraltar will also be hampered.

According to the document, “Despite the time extension to EU Exit, Gibraltar has still not taken decisions to invest in contingency infrastructure (port adjustments; waste management equipment) and there are still concerns that Gibraltar will not have passed all necessary legislation for No Deal.”

Michael Gove, the Cabinet Minister of Boris Johnson’s government said that the “revised assumptions” will be revealed “in due course alongside a document outlining the mitigations the government has put in place and intends to put in place”.

The events listed in the “Operation Yellowhammer” are actual, plausible short-term shocks that might occur due to no-deal Brexit. The document has provided some of the concrete and quotable situations what might follow post Brexit without a deal with the EU.

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Tories, Labours and Lib-Dem Call May’s Brexit Deal ‘Perfectly Pragmatic’

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Brexit Deal

The MPs are continuously looking at alternatives to prevent no-deal Brexit as the country nears the impending deadline of October 31. In order to ensure a Brexit deal, they have now formed a coalition from different parties to form a group called “MPs for a Deal”.

The cross-party coalition comprising of ex-Tory ministers, Labour MPs and Lib-Dem backbenchers also claimed that it is willing to back the Tory leader Boris Johnson if he brings a feasible plan for Brexit. Some of the MPs who formed the coalition group are Labour’s Caroline Flint and Stephen Kinnock, Tory’s like Rory Stewart, Nick Boles and the Lib Dem Norman Lamb.

MPs working to prevent no-deal said that the former and present Tory members and the MPs are now willing to support the Brexit deal and the second referendum.

Speaking at the launch of the group, Labour MP Caroline Flint said that until Boris Johnson gets in agreement with Brussels, he won’t be able to end his concerns surrounding the Brexit.

Group member and the Labour MP Stephen Kinnock said, “The fact is that we are rooted in reality here. This is not a unicorn. We hope that by 14 October at the latest, if not before, this Prime Minister will be ready to bring a deal to Parliament, and MPs for a Deal wish him well in doing that and will be backing that and supporting that, because it is the only way to take the country forward.”

He added that the MPs in the group believe that May’s Brexit deal “can command a majority in Parliament and reunite the deeply divided country”. Also, he claimed that the withdrawal deal offered by May which comprised of concessions on workers’ rights, environmental and consumer protections and customs arrangements is “the basic foundation of a perfectly pragmatic deal”.

In lieu of the second referendum for the Brexit, Tory MP Sir Oliver Letwin said, “If [Boris Johnson] can’t get a deal that he can bring to the House of Commons and get a majority for, there’s another option of course, which is to bring back a deal and ensure a majority for it by attaching it to a referendum.”

“I think it’s pretty clear there’s a huge number of Labour MPs, Liberal Democrat MPs, SNP MPs, who would vote for any reasonable deal subject to a referendum,” he added.

The possibility of the second referendum would mount high pressure on Johnson forcing his hand to secure his own Brexit deal with the EU. He would also need to get the support of Eurosceptic Tories in order to avoid the second referendum.

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Australia Hands England Defeat at Manchester to Retain the Ashes

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If it was not for Headingley, the Aussies are surely taking home the Ashes bait back with them now. In another topsy-turvy match filled with emotions and dramas, Manchester became the happy hunting ground for Australia, after they defeated England by a formidable margin of 185 runs. The victory gave Australia the unassailable lead of 2-1, meaning England can only tie the series, if they win the last Ashes test, which won’t be enough to retain the Ashes trophy.

Winning the toss and batting first, Australia put a massive total of 497 runs on the board; courtesy Steve Smith playing a mighty knock of 211 runs in the innings. He was well supported by half-centuries from Marnus Labuschagne, skipper Tim Paine and Mitchell Starc. Meanwhile for England, Stuart broad picked up 3 key wickets in the innings.

England in reply suffered early blows with Joe Denly getting out at the score of 4 runs, while Craig Overton for the score of 5. The situation implied that England were already reduced to 8 wickets left for the score of 25 runs. However, the side’s ship was steadied by captain Joe Root and the opener Rory Joseph Burns, who added 141 runs before Burns – after scoring 81 runs – lost his wicket at the score 166 runs. He was quickly followed by Root who departed – after scoring 71 runs – with 175 runs for the loss of 4 wickets on the board.

No real contributions other than Jos Buttler’s 41 was made by the remaining English batsmen, as the team bundled out for a total of 301 runs. For Australia, Mitchell Strac and Pat Cummins bagged 3-wickets-each, while Josh Hazelwood claimed the remaining 4.

The scenario gave Australia a lead of 196 runs ahead of their second innings and the team added another 186 runs to set England a target of 383 runs. For the away side, Steve Smith picked up from where he left in the previous innings, and scored more than a handy knock of 82 runs.

England, in reply were surely starring down at the possibly of losing the Ashes bait. However, Root-led side was no short of self-belief after the unbelievable victory at Headingley. Commencing the final Innings of the match, England made a horrific start and lost Root and Burns without a run on the board.

Denly came to the rescue for his side, while Jason Roy also looked in good touch. However, their good looking partnership was broken at the score of 66 runs, when Roy fell for 31 runs. The Headingley heron – Ben Stokes – came in next, but fell for only a run against his name, leaving England in deep waters at 74 for the loss of 4 wickets.

Further, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, and Craig Overton all got starts, but failed to convert them into big scores. Battling the fierce bowling attack, England did manage to reach the last hour of the day, but no further. Overton, who batted for 105 deliveries, was the final wicket to fall at the score of 197. Speedster Cummins was the pick of the bowlers with 4 wickets in 24 overs.

The fifth and the only remaining Ashes test will begin on 12 September.

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