Displaying items by tag: Government
The US's overturning of women’s rights to abortion is reverberating globally, with activists on both sides of the debate responding. In 1978 Italy legalised abortion. The current rise of politics, closer to the Catholic church, has brought it back into focus, and the US decision is rumbling in Italy. A former foreign minister said it showed the risk in Italy of moving backwards and ‘losing achievements that seemed permanent’. But on the right, ‘A great victory’, declared Simone Pillon, hoping Italy and Europe would follow suit. In Ireland, America’s ruling triggered a swift, passionate response, stirring deep emotions where abortion was only recently decriminalised. Many vocal Irish campaign groups and activists still exist on both sides. A pro-abortion rights' activist in El Salvador, where abortion is banned in all cases said, ‘This will embolden the most conservative groups in our countries who consistently deny women rights.’ In Canada and India similar loud debates are being discussed in the media, Twitter and online.
In April a deadline of 7 July was set for a decision on whether to go ahead with a new coal mine in Cumbria. The proposed mine would remove coking coal, which is used for the production of steel in the UK and Europe, from beneath the Irish Sea. Around 40% of this type of coal needed by the UK is imported from Russia. Meanwhile, West Cumbria is crying out for skilled, long-term, well-paid private-sector jobs. ‘Digging down to level up’ is often quoted; it is the idea that geography should not be destiny, and regional inequalities should be lessened. In light of the war in Ukraine, boosting energy security and reducing the UK's dependence on Russia need to be considered. The Government may also be reconsidering the commitment to net-zero-carbon emissions by 2050. Coal is widely seen as one of the dirtiest and most polluting energy sources. See also
The Nigerian government is about to pass a bill that will punish those who pay ransoms with up to fifteen years in prison. It would also give a death sentence to those who commit abductions. Armed groups have kidnapped hundreds of people for ransom across Nigeria over the last two years. Most recently, a ransom of $240,000 was paid by the Nigerian Methodist Church after eight gunmen abducted its head, His Eminence Samuel Kanu, and two other pastors while they were on their way to the airport in Nigeria’s southeastern state of Abia. The clergymen’s driver and one other church member managed to escape. The 69-year-old recounted how the abductors showed them the rotted bodies of previous victims, threatening to do the same with him. Archbishop Chibuzo Opoko, who heads the Methodist church in Abia State, said paying the ransom was necessary.
10,057 migrants have now crossed from France to the UK since January. This time last year the figure for small boat arrivals with people fleeing wars and persecution was 4,200. They are desperate for sanctuary as they navigate dangerous and busy shipping lanes in dinghies and kayaks. They have no entry visas or permission to gain entry, yet they continue to come. There are fears of it being a record-breaking year for migrant crossings despite crackdowns and threats of deportation to Rwanda. There is concern that the Government’s flagship plan to end the people-smuggling risks failure. A hundred Home Office notices of removal to Uganda have been sent to migrants, and 17 failed asylum seekers at a detention centre staged a five-day hunger strike over the policy. The first flight will leave on 14 June, but last-minute legal challenges are expected. Pray for God to give compassion to negotiators helping anxious refugees, and for the Holy Spirit to comfort and heal victims of war and human rights abuses.
Two activists who successfully fought against mining on their ancestral lands have won an international environmental prize. Alex Lucitante, 29, and Alexandra Narváez, 32, led the Cofan indigenous community which used drones and camera traps to collect crucial evidence in securing a legal victory which resulted in 79,000 acres of rainforest being protected from gold mining. In 2017, they found out that the government had issued 20 mining licences, with 32 more waiting to be approved. After a legal battle which lasted almost a year, the community achieved a remarkable victory. A provincial court ruled that the authorities had failed to seek the consent of the Cofan, nullified both the existing and pending licences, and ordered that the mining activities be stopped.
The UK could be heading for a recession. The economy contracted by 0.1% in March, and higher prices are ‘really beginning to bite’, the Office for National Statistics said. People are spending less in shops and cutting down on car journeys; the impact of higher energy bills in April has also yet to be seen. Many price rises are just starting to hit households now. Last week the Bank of England forecast that inflation could reach more than 10% by the end of the year. It warned the UK faces a ‘sharp economic slowdown’. The chancellor has threatened to hit energy companies with a one-off ‘windfall’ tax if they don't invest enough in new projects. Opposition parties want to tax the soaring profits of oil and gas firms to help families grappling with rising bills. Treasury officials have been ordered to examine a potential tax, and Boris Johnson said the Government would have to look at the windfall proposal if not enough investment was made.
Addressing MPs after Easter and for the first time since being fined for breaking Covid laws, Boris Johnson apologised for his ‘mistake’ 35 times. He said he had not realised he was breaking the rules but he accepted the police's decisions. MPs want to vote on a Labour plan for a Commons committee to investigate his past comments about Whitehall gatherings, but ministers now want the vote to wait until probes by the police and Sue Gray have finished. A delay in this decision will not remove the threat of a censure motion - which allows MPs to criticise government policy, an individual minister, or the government as a whole. Any MP can table one, and it only takes a simple majority to pass. If it passes, it would not force Johnson to do anything but would put him under far greater political pressure. See also
Ministers have been ordered to send their civil servants back to the office after it emerged that up to three-quarters of staff are still working from home. Jacob Rees-Mogg, the minister for government efficiency, has written to all secretaries of state saying they must send a ‘clear message’ to officials to end the work from home culture and ensure that taxpayer-funded offices are at ‘full capacity’. He wrote, ‘Now that we are learning to live with Covid and have lifted legal restrictions in England, we must continue to accelerate the return of civil servants to office buildings to realise the benefits of face-to face, collaborative working and the wider benefits for the economy. Whitehall sources accused civil servants who refuse to return to the office of failing to ‘pull their weight’. Efforts to get civil servants back to the office have been hampered by unions pushing for further concessions on flexible working.
Justin Welby spoke against proposed plans for illegal migrants to be transported to Rwanda before being able to apply to live in the UK. He said, ‘The principle must stand the judgement of God. It cannot carry the weight of our national responsibility as a country formed by Christian values. Sub-contracting out our responsibilities, even to a country that seeks to do well like Rwanda, is the opposite of the nature of God, who himself took responsibility for our failures.’ Also Dr Rowan Williams said, ‘Is the policy sinful? In a word, yes.’ The Archbishop of York said, ‘We can do better than this.’ Priti Patel has fought back against the criticisms via an article in The Times. It reads, ‘We are taking bold and innovative steps and it's surprising that those institutions that criticise the plans fail to offer their own solutions.'
Last week we prayed for better laws and legislation to safeguard children from online sexual exploitation. This week the Christian charity CARE said that the legislation - as it stands - falls short of safeguarding children. They said many amendments must be made to the bill, such as the issue of age verification measures. Tim Cairns said, ‘Last year, they drafted a bill that didn't cover all pornography websites. They amended the bill and the second reading was on 19 April.’ CARE said that there are still issues to be ironed out. For example, websites with self-selecting tick boxes do not meet the requirements for age assurance, or age verification. CARE said, ‘There is a moral duty to do this, given its broken promise to usher in age checks in 2017. Ministers can’t afford to let children down a second time.’