Displaying items by tag: controversy

Thursday, 17 November 2022 21:15

Israel: Netanyahu to form government

The veteran politician has the official mandate to form a new government, paving the way for his comeback as the head of what is widely expected to be the most right-wing coalition in the country’s history. However, the 73-year-old promised to serve all Israelis, ‘those who voted for us and those who did not - it is my responsibility’. After unprecedented political gridlock forced five elections in under four years, Netanyahu’s Likud party and its ultraorthodox and ultranationalist allies received a clear majority in parliament. He must now build a coalition with his allies and quickly wrap up the negotiations. His next moves will be closely scrutinised as unease mounts in some quarters over his policy plans and the goals of his controversial governing partners. Violence has soared between Israel and the Palestinians recently, causing the deadliest period in years in the West Bank, with near-daily army raids and increased attacks on Israelis.

Published in Worldwide
Friday, 07 October 2022 11:20

Energy: fracking challenges

When asked if he would allow fracking in the back garden of his home in Somerset, business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said, ‘Yes, of course I would, particularly if I get royalties’. Fracking has been a controversial subject within local communities and amongst MPs due to its association with minor earthquakes. In 2019, at oil and gas exploration company Cuadrilla's Lancashire fracking site, over 120 tremors were recorded. Most were too small to be felt. The government recently published a new review from the British Geological Survey, considering any changes to the science around the practice. The report concluded, ‘Forecasting the occurrence of large earthquakes remains a scientific challenge for the geoscience community.’ Mr Rees-Mogg also said that the UK would build a prototype nuclear fusion power plant - ‘the first of its kind’ - in Nottinghamshire by 2040.

Published in British Isles
Thursday, 03 February 2022 20:51

EU considering nuclear and gas as sustainable

Nuclear and natural gas energy plants could be counted as ‘green energy’ under new controversial EU plans. The European Commission has decided that both types of energy can classify as ‘sustainable investment’ if they meet certain targets. But the move has divided the EU and been fiercely opposed by some members. For instance Austria's chancellor said, ‘Nuclear power is neither green nor sustainable’. Spain also strongly objects, but objections are balanced by support from nuclear-using nations such as France. Classifying natural gas as ‘sustainable’ also has supporters in countries still relying on coal for energy (such as Poland) who would benefit from incentives to move to a relatively cleaner supply. Green parties are fiercely campaigning against the plan. But the European Commissioner said, ‘We need to use all the tools at our disposal’ to reach the climate-neutral target’.

Published in Europe
Thursday, 13 January 2022 20:06

Australia: Novak Djokovic visa challenges

Tennis player Novak Djokovic wears a wooden cross and is known for praying during his matches. He received a visa to visit Australia on 18 November and arrived in Melbourne on 5 January with a Covid exemption approved by Tennis Australia's chief medical officer and a Victorian government independent expert panel. Novak belongs to the Serbian Orthodox church and on 7 January (the Orthodox Christmas Day) he was held in detention for an invalid visa while lawyers fought for his freedom. Three days later a judge ruled he could remain in Australia. Djokovic wants to play in the Australian Open, which begins on 17 January: if he won he would become the most successful men's player in history. However, Australia's immigration minister insists his recent Covid infection does not exempt him from vaccine requirements and could still deport him. He admitted that there were mistakes on his immigration forms and that he had met a journalist after testing positive for Covid.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 26 August 2021 20:31

Taiwan: homegrown vaccine criticised

Taiwan is administering its domestically developed Covid-19 vaccine, amid criticism that its approval was rushed. The Medigen vaccine had not completed phase three trials when it was granted emergency approval by regulators. Medigen said there were no major safety concerns, and antibodies created were no worse than AstraZeneca's vaccine. It is expected to complete the final round of trials being held in Paraguay later this year. Taiwan's vaccination efforts have been hampered by delivery delays and hesitancy amongst its population. President Tsai Ing-wen led the way in receiving the Medigen jab on 23 August. The objections have mainly come from the opposite political party, the Kuomintang, who say it is unsafe. More than 700,000 people have already signed up for the vaccine, which requires two doses 28 days apart. Less than 5% of Taiwan's population is fully vaccinated: around 40% have received just one dose.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 18 March 2021 19:43

China: dangerous influence on Myanmar

Myanmar protesters burned down and looted Chinese-owned businesses in Yangon. When China's embassy asked the junta to restore order, they obliged and killed scores of demonstrators. The anti-China riots add a fresh international dimension to Myanmar's political crisis. The protesters are angry at China's thinly veiled support for Myanmar’s junta. This backlash is a big test for Beijing, a rising global power and regional heavyweight. Many believe China will not look the other way while its interests in Myanmar literally go up in flames. China has always wanted a piece of Myanmar’s earth metals and waterways. Beijing wants the generals to restart long-shelved plans for a controversial hydropower dam to generate electricity for China, which locals fear will damage the environment and force thousands to relocate. China also needs Myanmar to continue building a natural gas pipeline which will give them access to the Indian Ocean, where China is competing for maritime supremacy with India.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 11 February 2021 21:03

Songs of Praise controversy

Christian MP Gregory Campbell has defended his claim that the BBC's Songs of Praise Gospel Singer of the Year Competition was ‘the BBC at its Black Lives Matter worst’. The semi-final featured five black singers and three black judges. He believes the singers were not representative of the best gospel singers in the country, the BBC is not diverse, and the show had ‘one colour scheme’. The presenter of the competition said very few white people applied, and the best singers were chosen. The MP then asked him if he was trying to make him believe there wasn't a single white person good enough when both black and white sing gospel. The presenter said the show celebrated a style of music that came out of black communities and black experience in this country; Campbell's comments show a lack of understanding and ignorance about gospel music.

Published in British Isles
Thursday, 12 November 2020 21:14

Brexit border concerns


The ‘Haulier Handbook’ (to prevent Brexit border meltdown) is a guide to the mountain of new red tape required to transport goods across borders. It was promised in early September but will now not be fully available until 7 December, three weeks before it is needed. Logistics UK, representing freight groups, warned that time is running out to prevent ‘lorry queues at Dover and empty shelves in Northern Ireland’ when the transition period ends in 50 days’ time. ‘With the economy still reeling from handling the impact of Covid-19, the last thing UK plc needs is another major shock of our own making,’ said the Logistics director of policy. Construction of border inspection posts for checks on animal products crossing the Irish Sea has not yet started, and will take up to six months to complete.

Published in British Isles
Thursday, 17 September 2020 22:33

Covid marshals controversy

The Government wants stronger enforcement of pandemic rules and proposed a register of environmental health officers to support councils and marshals to enforce social distancing, group gatherings and wearing masks. But a lack of detail has been criticised by councils who say rules have caused confusion. Hospitality venues’ records of contact details must be held for 21 days. Venues not following Covid-secure guidelines will be fined. Local authorities will be supported to use existing powers to close venues while police break up and fine large groups. Employers have a legal duty to ensure health, safety and welfare of employees. Marshals will help employers to meet their legal duties and the ongoing management of keeping the workplace Covid-secure). The Government’s reaction to medical advice and its attempt to stop a second wave brings the problem of people understanding and hearing. 

Published in British Isles

The arrest and subsequent release of street preacher Oluwole Ilesanmi in Enfield on 23 February (see) prompted outrage on social media, and prompted questions in parliament. Theresa Villiers MP asked the Home Office what guidance is provided to the police on street preachers, what lessons have been learned from this incident, and what steps are being taken to ensure that church groups can preach on the street. The Government replied that freedom of expression is a vital part of a democratic society, and it is a long-standing tradition that people are free to share their views with others. On 21 March Christian Concern reported that London mayor Sadiq Khan is to face questions over the incident, especially since the the police have changed their story on Olu's 'de-arrest'. See

Published in British Isles
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