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Day Four of Extinction Rebellion Protests Causes Serious Disruption in the Capital City

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extinction rebellion

It’s been four days since the protests against the government by Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists started in London.

The environmental protestors have pledged to continue protesting by maintaining roadblocks, which has led to “serious disruption” in the capital city. Nearly 400 people have been arrested as a part of the Extinction Rebellion protests while half of the London population remains affected by it.

Extinction Rebellion has emerged as a premier protest movement for climate change activists.  Thousands of people have been taking part in the civil-disobedience protest against the government and have blocked four landmarks in the capital – Parliament Square, Waterloo Bridge, Oxford Circus and Marble Arch. By disrupting the London transport, the protestors aim to bring attention to their cause.

The protests were an attempt to force the government to take stricter actions against growing climate changes and wildlife declines to avoid a “sixth mass extinction”.

The protestors had three main demands. Firstly, they asked to “Tell the truth” about “how deadly our situation is”, so that the citizens and businesses are aware of the cause and effects, and could take appropriate steps to avoid it.

Secondly, they wanted the government to cut the carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and that the global economy should run on half of the planet’s resources per year. Lastly, they demanded a citizen’s assembly to be set up to enact the long-term changes, as they did not trust the government for it. The group has vowed to keep up their acts of “non-violent civil disobedience” until all the three demands are met.

In order to prevent the activists from coordinating protests, Wi-Fi networks at the underground stations in London were jammed.  Michael Gove, Environment Secretary, acknowledged the motive behind the ongoing protests and accepted that proper steps need to be taken to resolve the problem. Mayor Sadiq Khan, while supporting the rights of the protestors, asked them to work peacefully with the police to minimize the disorder in the city.

John Apter, chairperson of Police Federation, criticised Khan for his views in favour of the protestors. He said, “The likes of Sadiq Khan should be supporting the police, especially when we are having to deal with rising crime on our streets.”

Amidst the chaos, where many have joined the Extinction Rebellion protest, a recent YouGov poll showed that 52 percent of the 3,561 adults stood against the protests while only a minuscule part of the population supported it.

The protests that initially started on Monday are likely to continue until next Friday.

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Ashes 2019: England Wraps Series with a Win as Australia Keeps the Urn

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Ashes 2019

In a series that had it all from the neutral’s point of view, Ashes 2019 concluded with England winning the fifth and the last test match by 135 runs to tie the series at 2-2. Fortunately, Aussies did retain the Ashes urn, but for Joe Root and his boys, it was still a moment to salvage their lost pride and confidence, after a disappointing defeat at Manchester. Victory for the home side also meant that Ashes ended in a draw for the first time since 1972.

Batting first after losing the toss, the English Lions were restricted to a score of 294 runs by the visitors. England lost Joe Denly for the score of 14 runs in the early part of the innings. However, skipper Joe Root along with Rory Burns took the situation under control as England crossed the 100 run mark, but Burns fell shorty after – at the score of 47 runs – implying England were 2 down at the score of 103 runs. Other than Burns, only Root made 57 runs, and Jos Buttler, who registered 70 odd runs against his name made significant contributions to help their side reach a respectable total. Mitchell Marsh was the star bowler for Australia with 5 wickets haul against his name, and the remaining 5 were shared between Pat Cummins and Josh Hazelwood.

Australia were awful in their reply to England’s 294 and got all-out for 225. The Aussies lost both the openers cheaply, but Steve Smith once again came to the rescue and scored a handy knock of 80 runs. He was only supported by a good hand of 48 runs by Marnus Labuschagne. The situation gave England a lead of 69 runs ahead of their second innings. For England, Jofra Archer bagged 6 big wickets, while Sam Curran took 3 and the only wicket remaining was taken by Chris Woakes.

Piling up on the lead, England added another 329 runs to set Australia a target of 399 runs. For the home side, Joe Denly came over the disappointment of 1st innings and scored 94 runs, Stokes also came to party and scored 67 runs, while Buttler continued his good form and scored 47 runs. For Australia, Nathan Lyon claimed 4 wickets, while Cummins, Peter Siddle, and Marsh bagged a couple each.

The visitors, chasing an unlikely 399 to win Ashes 2019 in a shade under two days, were in trouble early in the innings when Stuart Broad removed both the openers. However, they still had hope with the former captain Steve Smith at crease. But after Stokes dived to his left at leg slip to dismiss Smith at 23, England knew that the match was on their side. Surprisingly, Smith got out for a score of less than fifty for the first time in Ashes 2019.

Matthew Wade offered brave resistance with his superb knock of 117 runs, but Root finally got his man, luring him forward as Jonny Bairstow removed the bails with ease. No other player could put his foot forward for Australia, as Nathan Lyon and Hazelwood were removed in successive deliveries by Jack Leach, to bundle Australia 135 short of their target. For the home side, Broad and Jack Leach got 4 wickets each, while Root claimed the remaining 2.

Stokes was named player of the series for his brilliant performance throughout the Ashes 2019.

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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

Last updated on September 16th, 2019

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 16th, 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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