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ISIS Destroyed Iraq but UK is Stepping in to Help Rebuild

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ISIS destruction

When ISIS became active in Iraq the footage that came out from the country was hard to bear. Schools, hospitals, markets, private homes, apartment blocks, factories, shops, and power plants, everything was destroyed. Iraqis were displaced and human lives were lost, and those who lived, had barely anything left.

Today, there are around 1.8 million Iraqis living in other countries, waiting to go back to home. The United Kingdom has pledged to give more than 30 million pounds to Iraq, in attempt to rebuild the country and make it become self-reliant again. At the moment, the country is hugely reliant on economic help from the world superpowers.

The aid package is aimed at helping Iraq get back on its feet. 16 million pounds have been earmarked to rebuild affected neighbourhoods that were flattened by ISIS during the war. Almost 7 million pounds would be used in the rebuilding and rehabilitation of infrastructure, factories, business and power plants.

Alistair Burt, the UK Middle East Minister, recently spent four days in Iraq and announced the new aid package. The 30 million amount is part of an international fund that is set to get the country back on its own feet. The United Kingdom is the first to contribute, though US President Donald Trump has also mentioned about contributing. He has said the US will be first to support the Iraqi people and offer vital support to the people, although it is unclear if the USA has in fact done this.

Iraq defeated ISIS in 2017, but the country remains fragile. There is much to be done in the country, and maintaining peace is going to take a lot of hard work, commitment and dedication.

The Department for International Development (DFID) said that the funds given to Iraq will be used efficiently, helping Iraqis to return to the country, improving the infrastructure of the country, generating jobs for people and boosting potential business trade between Iraq, the UK and other countries. 

Since 2014, the United Kingdom has been providing healthcare to over 4 million people,  clean and safe water to 2 million, and  shelter to around 1 million people. The UK has provided food and basic day to day provisions also.

The idea is for the Iraqi government to wean itself off international aid and to become the bustling and independent country that it once was.

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Sadiq Khan and Donald Trump Enter the Revenge Arena Yet Again

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Sadiq Khan and Donald Trump

Known for his oblivious statements, the United States President Donald Trump was unable to leave hands with his eccentricity, as he launched an inept pugnacity at the London Mayor Sadiq Khan. Over the weekend, the British capital witnessed five violent attacks in less than 24 hours.

The incidents caused deaths of three people, while three other were injured. It raised the total number of homicides in the city for this year to 56. Citing the frequency of the attacks, Trump stamped Khan as a “national disgrace” over Twitter. Moreover, he believes that this is the time when London needs a new mayor.

On Sunday, the US President retweeted a post by right-wing media commentator Katie Hopkins, stating that Labour Party’s Khan “is a disaster – will only get worse!”. Besides, he accused the mayor of “destroying the City of London”.

However, it wasn’t late when similar fingers started pointing Trump and his country’s condition in retaliation. Many highlighted the per capita murder rate of America, which is twice as high in the New York city.

While the US President attempted to showcase bogus sympathy towards London, it was associated to the long-running feud between him and Sadiq Khan. As per the reports, Trump’s antipathy towards Sadiq Khan goes back to 2015, when the two were campaigning for elections.

Back then, Khan had criticised Trump’s presidential campaign pledge as ‘outrageous’, where he had promised to ban Muslims from America. A year later in 2016, the Muslim London Mayor described the US President’s views as “ignorant”, which coerced Trump to challenge him to an IQ test.

The tiff went on for another year following the London Bridge attack, when Trump deliberately highlighted a different context to Khan’s tweet.

The Mayor’s spokesman stated that Khan had “more important things to do than respond to Donald Trump’s ill-informed tweet”.

The spat escalated further, and Trump’s proposed state visit was canceled by the British government, as he titled Khan’s ignorance as a “pathetic excuse”.

“I don’t think we should roll out the red carpet to the president of the USA in the circumstances where his policies go against everything we stand for,” Sadiq Khan stated on Channel 4 News.

The fire between the two rivals is still burning same. Earlier this month, the American leader reflected some burning ashes of the rage, when he called the mayor a “stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London”.

Khan’s spokesman said that the “childish insults should be beneath the president of the United States”.

The ember has reignited with Trump’s recent Tweet. While he had not left any chance of being humiliating Sadiq Khan, the recent attack is being considered to have crossed every limit. The American ruler, who is known for taking bizarre decisions for his own country and causing internal disputes in his administration, is questioning the leaders of the UK.

While President Trump refuses to keep his hands to himself, his heedless remarks are just pushing Khan in a better light, who on the other hand has been running his political image on the basis of strong opposition to discrimination.

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Julian Assange to Remain in UK Jail Until Next Year

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Julian Assange

Last updated on June 17th, 2019

Julian Assange’s fight against the extradition will probably have to wait until next year. On Friday, a British court set the full hearing date on whether the WikiLeaks founder should be sent to the United States. He will have to deal with the multiple charges against him in 2020 during his five days hearing beginning on February 2020.

The court decision comes after the Home Secretary Sajid Javid signed the formal extradition request from the US, backing the Assange’s detention.

The 47-year-old appeared for his hearing through a video link from the Belmarsh Prison on the outskirts of London. He remained absent in the previous hearing, where his lawyer Jennifer Robinson informed that her client was too ill to appear. The United Nations official, along with the experts, asserted Assange’s condition a symptom of declining physical and mental health.

Several protestors gathered in support of Julian Assange outside the Westminster Magistrates Court in London, demanding his release as they denounced Javid’s decision.

The US’ prosecutors charged him with a single count of computer hacking, and 17 other charges, including violation the Espionage Act. According to the US Justice Department officials, most of the charges were associated with obtaining the secret document records as opposed to publishing them.

Julian Assange was seen wearing glasses and a gray T-shirt in the Friday brief court appearance. Reuters reported that as prosecutors read out the allegations on him, he denied hacking a Pentagon network password.

“It is important that people aren’t fooled into believing that WikiLeaks is anything but a publisher,” Assange told the court. “The U.S. government has tried to mislead the press.”

His lawyer Robinson on Friday said that her client was being held in the held in the hospital’s health care ward and “continues to suffer the permanent and difficult adverse health impacts” of his long-term stay in the Ecuadorean Embassy, and then in prison.

As there are several months before the next hearing, the final judgement is vague. However, the extradition process is expected to be long and complicated, in case the court’s judgement turns in favor of the US.

While Julian Assange is serving his 50-week jail term, the major concern is his health condition. However, with the next hearing set for 2020, the supporters are expecting him to recover better.

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Tory Leadership First Round Winner Boris Johnson Says No to Debate

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Boris Johnson

Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has emerged as a winner of the first elections within the Tories for the post of the Prime Minister and successor of Theresa May. Johnson, who has been quite vocal about his policies and stance on the Brexit, garnered more votes than the next three candidate in-line combined.

The voting that took place on Thursday saw a total of 10 candidates receiving votes. Following the result of the first round, the bottom three candidates Andrea Leadsom, Mark Harper and Esther Mcvey were not able to garner the minimum 16 votes to go through the second round – hence, were disqualified.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who stood sixth in the first ballot, backpedalled from the race for the next Tory leader. Hancock, the youngest contender, has not revealed the name of the candidate, whom he would be supporting now.

With Hancock’s exit, only six candidates remain in the race now – Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab, Sajid Javid and Rory Stewart.

Out of these six candidates, all excluding Johnson will be taking part in the debate on Sunday. Johnson backed his stance on not taking part in the Sunday’s debate by saying that a debate with these many candidates might become or turn out to be “slightly cacophonous”.

However, he said that he will take part in the second round of the debate, which will be held on Tuesday, once the number of candidates is reduced following the second round of voting on Tuesday.

Johnson has been criticised by many for not taking part in the debates. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that the future national leader should not be “hiding away from the media”.

Recently, Boris Johnson got in brawl with French President Emmanuel Macron, following Johnson’s comment on not clearing the £39 billion Brexit divorce bill, unless the EU renegotiated on the withdrawal deal.

During an interview, Johnson answered questions on a no-deal Brexit and a face-off with Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn. However, he avoided the questions like what his alternative plan would be, if he could not influence the EU officials or the MPs in the House of Commons regarding the Brexit deal.

Considering all the factors, it can be said that former foreign secretary Boris Johnson might become the next Tory leader, if he keeps his cool and does not indulge in controversial comments or speech.

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More Buildings Await Reconstruction, Was Grenfell Tower Fire not Enough?

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Grenfell Tower fire

It’s been two years since the tragic incident of the Grenfell Tower fire happened, which claimed the lives of 72 people and left around 70 injured. Unfortunately, nothing much has been done in these two years to ensure that no such incidence takes place in the future and people still dread the present condition of the buildings.

Not just the people, but the fire authorities too, believe that a proper course of action is needed to resolve the dreadful conditions of the high-rise towers in the UK. On the anniversary of commemorating the fallen, Britons also explained the unsafe living conditions of the buildings.

While no one is considered responsible for the fateful Grenfell Tower fire, it is believed that the prime reason for the tragic incident was the external cladding of aluminium sheets with the core of polyethylene.

Apart from that, the perpendicular hollow spaces inside the cladding structure along with the foam insulation board also contributed to the fire.

There are still around 328 residential public buildings, covered with the same cladding material and structure that was on the Grenfell Tower two years back, which has added to the woes of the people.

The measures taken to rehabilitate the victims of Grenfell Tower fire still remain insufficient. More than dozen of families still live in temporary accommodation and more than 2,000 people, including children are being treated for mental health issues due to the incident.

The fire authorities have pointed out the difficulties they might experience if there is a similar outbreak, along with the safety standards ignored in the construction and development of the buildings.

“In the time since the fire, the government’s facile approach has utterly failed all those involved that night and the thousands of people who are at risk across the country,” The fire authorities said.

Speaking in regards of the Grenfell Tower fire, they said, “After two years, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry has delivered no answers and we are no closer to tackling any of the underlying causes of the tragedy.”

“As things stand, we risk sleepwalking into another catastrophic loss of life. We demand urgent action from government to ensure that the events of Grenfell Tower can never happen again,” they added.

While the high-rise towers of London, Salford and Newcastle brought the conditions of their building in focus in a unique way – a timely proper inspection along with proper funding to fire authorities might help in ensuring that a tragic incident like Grenfell Tower fire is never repeated.

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Julian Assange Extradition Request Gets a Green Signal from Sajid Javid

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Julian Assange

Last updated on June 15th, 2019

The WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange had expressed his plans to fight the extradition and the battle is expected to begin anytime soon. On Thursday, Home Secretary Sajid Javid revealed that he has signed a request for the 47-year-old Australian to be extradited to the United States.

Julian Assange was arrested on April 11, after spending seven years at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) highlighted that he was taken into custody under an extradition treaty between the UK and Washington.

While the owner of an anti-secrecy website, WikiLeaks, was already under the charges of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, the investigation that was dropped by Swedish prosecutors over rape and sexual assault in 2017 was also reopened last month. The US Justice Department had issued an 18-count indictment against him, including the charges under the Espionage Act.

At Present, he is serving imprisonment of 50 weeks since May 1, 2019 for jumping jail in 2012. During that time, Assange was facing an extradition to Sweden for questioning over the sexual assault allegations made by two women against him. The accusation is, however, denied by him.

While both the countries have been requesting his extradition, Sweden’s attempt were turned down after a court in Uppsala stated that the detention is not required, last week. Following the news, Britain recently received the formal request from DoJ to extradite Julian Assange for the first time since the arrest. While the Javid has stated to have signed the request, it is yet to go in the court.

“There’s an extradition request from the US that is before the courts tomorrow but yesterday I signed the extradition order and certified it and that will be going in front of the courts tomorrow,” Javid was heard saying on a BBC Radio 4’s “Today” programme.

The British Home Office stated that the final decision on Assange’s extradition relies upon the court.

According to the Home Secretary, Assange is “rightly behind bars”. While the ultimate decision remains with the courts, Javid stated that he wishes “to see justice done at all times and we’ve got a legitimate extradition request”.

While the cases, charges and their complications are increasing, Julian Assange’s health is also deteriorating. Last month, he was reported to be “too ill” for appearing at a hearing at Westminster magistrates regarding to the US request, which is rescheduled for Friday. Depending upon his condition, it may take place at Belmarsh prison where he is being held.

Julian Assange could possibly face imprisonment of 175 years. Where his health is being reported as an outcome of psychological torture, chances for his situation to become worse in the United States are much higher.

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