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ISIS Destroyed Iraq but UK is Stepping in to Help Rebuild



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.


UEFA Super Cup: Liverpool Wins on Penalties as Chelsea Go Down Fighting



UEFA, Liverpool

Last updated on August 17th, 2019

Never running short on drama, UEFA Super Cup was no less than a roller-coaster ride. While Liverpool held the nerve to defeat Chelsea 5-4 on spot kicks, it was a shame that Chelsea had to end up on the losing side. Scoring 2-goals-a-piece after extra time, both clubs made a flurry of chances, but could not capitalize on the balls that fell their way.

Locking horns in Istanbul, Liverpool started as firm favourites on the night. Meanwhile, for Chelsea, it was another chance to overcome the heartbreak of 2013, when they lost to Bayern Munich on penalties.

It was Liverpool who picked up the pace of the game and unleashed the attack only in the 5th minute via Jordan Henderson, but could score on the break. Consequently, Chelsea, who were rattled by Manchester United just a couple of days ago, also looked good as a unit. As the game went on, the Blues were holding better amount of possession and pressing Liverpool against the odds.

The Blues carrying the momentum, thus, created some good opportunities and finally broke the deadlock in 36th minute via Olivier Giroud. Besides, N’ Golo kante also looked in fantastic touch and dictated Chelsea’s play in the midfield.

Having scored one, Chelsea hit Liverpool back with another goal via Christian Pulisic, only to be flagged offside moments later. The Reds could do nothing significant in the remaining minutes, as the official blew the half-time whistle with Chelsea leading by 1-0.

Liverpool made a change at the half-time and replaced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with Roberto Firmino, before Chelsea got the ball rolling once again. Interestingly, the replacement worked in the best of the ways, as the Reds with Firmion’s assist to Mane scored in the 48th minute.

The goal set the game wide open, with Liverpool relying on breaks to run at Chelsea’s defence. The Reds came really close on one of the attacks, but Kepa Arrizabalaga made two brilliant saves to deny Mohammed Salah and then Virgil van Dijk, only 14 minutes from time. Similarly, for the Blues, Mason Mount scored a low shot past Adrian, but denied by a late offside flag. With neither side able to find the winner inside 90 minutes, the contest moved into extra time.

The extra time began on really high note for Liverpool; courtesy Mane, who put the second goal past Chelsea’s goalkeeper to make it 2-1 in the 95th minute. Chelsea, however, were quick to react and won the penalty just 5 minutes later after Adrian committed foul in the box on Tommy Abraham. Jorginho than converted from the spot to make it 2-2. Nothing really happened in the second-half of the extra time, and the match went into the penalties.

Liverpool converted all five penalties from the spot, but Chelsea’s fifth kick, taken by Abraham, was stopped by Adrian’s trailing leg, to ensure Liverpool were once again champions of Europe.

“I’ve got nothing but pride in the team and the performance and confidence in what that means,” Chelsea coach Frank Lampard told BT Sport. “It was a tough game against a good Liverpool team that had extra time to recover after the weekend. But sometimes football comes down too little moments of luck,” he added.

The Controversy

The new controversy, however, came forward after images showed that Adrian left his goal line before Abraham kicked the ball from the spot. Technically implying that the kick should have been retaken, and Liverpool should not have been declared as winners at that very moment.

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Britain Promotes BritRail amid Withdrawal from Interrail Scheme



interrail scheme

The Rail Delivery Group of Britain (RDG) has initiated a no-member participation in the existing Interrail scheme and Eurail ticket schemes, believing that a separate BritRail pass is “the best option” for visitors to Britain.

The British train companies have rejected the Interrail and Eurail ticket schemes, which let the tourists travel throughout the Europe in just one pass. Launched in 1972, the Interrail scheme is the country’s decade-longest membership, designed basically for the European citizens, while the services of Eurail passes started only from January.

However, with the end of these facilities, the ticket holders would be liable to buy separate tickets to roam around Britain.

One of the major reasons behind the ending of these facilities is believed to be a dispute between two groups, wherein the country’s train operators in order to favour the BritRail scheme stopped selling the Eurail passes.

When compared with the Interrail and Eurail purchases that were shared with other countries, the BritRail purchases were kept in the country. Observing the circumstances, the Eurail group, solely responsible for managing the Interrail schemes and Eurail schemes, decided to end Britain’s membership for it.

As an outcome of the recent decision, the country’s train operators will not recognise the passes purchased by January 2020. It is apparent that the decision will in no way affect the Britons using Eurostar services, except that they will have to pay to reach a Eurostar station in the South East or fly across the Channel to continue their journey from London to other parts.

Amid the climatic crisis, the idea of making rail travel a difficult task brought criticisms from various people. The critics argued that the focus instead should have been on reducing the emissions, while at the same time opening more to the European neighbours amid the Brexit crisis. They held the RDG “deeply irresponsible” over the situation.

The rail experts believe that the BritRail scheme was “a backwards step” as ending the free travel pass might hinder the tourism to Edinburgh, York and Bath. Despite the budget airlines, people might not want to explore much, as none could have the same experience while travelling through air, as they might get on land. 

With the segregation, the Eurail passes will no more be available for the tourists. Thus, BritRail will become one of the best options for the tourists, which would include various deals and convenience of mobile tickets. The British people however, could use the Interrail scheme, get the Eurostar and travel by train across the Europe.

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Australia Rip England Apart to Win First Ashes Test



Australia Rip England Apart to Win First Ashes Test

Last updated on August 7th, 2019

Australia have drawn first blood in The Ashes 2019, defeating England at Edgbaston, by a thumping margin of 251 runs. Aussies who had a troubling start to the match after early departures on day one, made an improbable comeback via significant contributions from Nathan Lyon and Steve Smith.

The victory also meant that Australia won an Ashes Test match at Edgbaston after 2001. Having won the toss, Australia elected to bat first, but suffered early blows in David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, with just 17 on the board for the loss of 2 wickets. Usman Khawaja was quick to follow the openers, as England ripped apart the Aussie’s top order.

However, it was not all done and dusted for the away side, with Smith putting his head down and scoring a significant 144 runs, as Australia ended their innings on 284. Meanwhile for England, Stuart broad bowled a brilliant spell to take another five-wicket-haul.

England came back with a solid reply to Australia’s 284 and scored 374 runs, taking a crucial 90 run lead; ahead of the second innings. For the ODI world Champions, Rory Joseph Burns scored 133 runs, with handy half-centuries from Joe Root and Ben stokes. Australia’s star bowlers Lyon and pat Cummins bagged 3 wickets each.

The lead meant that Australia had to come up with a solid reply in their 2nd innings. However, the kangaroos found themselves reeling once again, with only 27 runs for the loss of 2 wickets.

Nonetheless, just like the first innings, Smith once again rose to the occasion and registered another century against his name. He was well supported by Matthew Wade, who also scored an impressive 110 runs. The knocks took Australia’s score well past 450, before they finally declared on 487 for the loss of seven wickets; setting hosts a target of 398 runs.

Chasing the second-highest successful run chase in Ashes history, England resumed playing on the last day of the match, with all ten wickets in hand. However, four wickets before lunch meant their party was due to be spoiled later in the day.

Indeed, the wickets fell like nine pins for the home side, who fell from 85 for the loss of 4 wickets to 146 all out. Lyon pickets 6 English wickets, while speedster Cummins took the remaining four.

England will now need to pick themselves up from the early loss in the series, and focus on second Test in Lord’s, Wednesday. Nonetheless, for the home side, who just became the world champions, the loss will taste utterly bitter.

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Johnson Sparks Criticism with £1.8 Billion NHS Funding Announcement



nhs funding

New Tory leader and successor of Theresa May, Boris Johnson, has once again come under the radar for his NHS funding announcement of £1.8 billion.

The analysts across the country have welcomed the announcement to improve the worsening state of the NHS buildings, yet they believe that the amount will prove insubstantial.

Johnson made the announcement on Sunday, his first day in the office as the Prime Minister, honouring the promise made during his speech as the Prime Minister. Following the announcement, Downing Street released the list of 20 hospitals that will receive the benefits of the funding of £850 million.

The Luton and Dunstable University hospital NHS Foundation Trust in East of England will be receiving a funding of £99.5 million. On the other hand, the University Hospitals Birmingham in the Midlands is bound to receive a funding of £97.1 million. Similarly, across whole of Britain another 18 NHS facilities will be receiving various provisions. 

Out of the remaining NHS funding of £1.8 billion, health care institutes and organisations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive £180 million, £110 million and £60 million respectively.

The announcement has further led to various politicians alerting the Prime Minister that leaving the EU with no-deal might limit and hamper his ability to spend the promised amount on the funding.

Many have also brought attention to the fact that if there is a no-deal Brexit, then the country might take a hit on the finances and that may further endanger the NHS funding.

While the opposition Labour Party claims that a no-deal Brexit will “put lives at risk”, workers of health department, charitable organisations and health think-tanks urged the Prime Minister for more funding after his announcement.

Ben Gershlick of the Health Foundation charity said, “years of under-investment in the NHS’s infrastructure means the £1.8bn injection risks being little more than a drop in the ocean.”

While Johnson has said, “It is thanks to this country’s strong economic performance that we are now able to announce £1.8bn more for the NHS to buy vital new kit and confirm new upgrades for 20 hospitals across the country.”

Even though the NHS funding is a meagre amount to fully upgrade the NHS facilities across the country, the amount might provide timely and necessary help to the hospitals in dire need of an upgrade. Also, with the impending Brexit deadline, it would certainly be interesting to see if the new prime minister is able to deliver the funding, even if no-deal Brexit occurs.

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Heathrow Airport Cancels 172 Flights amid Strike Fear



Heathrow Airport

As the pay dispute between British Airways and the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) continues to escalate, Heathrow Airport has cancelled 172 flights scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. According to the announcement, the two day strike will commence on Monday and the tourists have been asked to prepare for the strikes spoiling many plans.

Amidst the ongoing pay dispute, the union group Unite claimed that 4,000 members of the group comprising of security guards, firefighters and engineers had rejected the re-evaluated pay offer suggested by the airport.

The union has also notified about two more strikes that might happen on August 23 and 24, due to another pay dispute between British Airways and its pilots.

Amidst the escalating situation, Heathrow Airport also notified the passengers about the possibility of longer security queues on August 5 and 6. Following the alert, passengers have been counselled to check for details related to their arrival and departure of flights.

The airport authorities have promised for contingency plans and that they would mitigate the impact, caused mainly due to the cancellation of planes.

Regarding the strikes, a spokesperson from the airport said, “We are disappointed that Unite has rejected the latest pay offer and will continue to seek an agreement at [conciliation service] Acas. Unite is proceeding with its unnecessary strike action […] and we regret that passengers looking to get away on well-earned breaks will be impacted by this.”

The probability for the cancellation of the flights at the Heathrow Airport is expected to be one in five flights. The cancellation is expected to impact a minimum of 88,000 passengers.

According to the union authorities, if the strikes take place, almost 2,500 staff is likely to miss their shifts.

Unite’s regional officer said, “Heathrow faces a compensation bill in the region of £4.6m from airlines if the planned strikes go ahead. This latest vote for strike action points to growing anger among the airport’s workers in a whole range of vital jobs which are essential to the smooth and safe running of Heathrow.”

Although, the last minute talks are under development, the announcement for the cancellation of flights was made prior to the voting in which 88 percent of the members voted against the revised pay offer.

The large scale strikes and cancellation of flights might force the Heathrow Airport authorities to play right into the hands of the union group Unite, even though the chances of that happening seem bleak.

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