Displaying items by tag: Politics

Thursday, 24 November 2022 20:51

Iraq / Lebanon: headed down a chaotic path

Governments in both Iraq and Lebanon struggle to function and pass legislation. Political parties tied to ethnic and religious groups vie for control. Iran-backed militias hold more power than the military. There are many parallels between Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq because the nation-state borders were drawn around them by colonial nations around a hundred years ago. Ethnic groups thrown together by these borders often find it difficult to make their own voices heard and cooperate. It is an ongoing process that is only successful if there has been a dictator or authoritarian government. There is government corruption. Young Iraqis are dissatisfied and  are opening their eyes to opportunities for truth. South Iraq is seeing a time of harvest among the Shia community.  Even though they face persecution by larger religious groups, they are boldly proclaiming the Gospel repeatedly to all peoples and all backgrounds or ethnic minorities or majorities in their communities. God is doing amazing things in the south.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 17 November 2022 21:20

France / UK: English Channel crossings

Britain and France have now agreed to unite to stop illegal migrants from crossing the Channel. Interior minister Suella Braverman said Britain faced an ‘invasion’ from people in small boats, saying, ‘It is in the interests of the UK and French governments to solve this problem together. There are no quick fixes, but this arrangement means we can have more gendarmes patrolling French beaches and ensure UK and French officers work hand in hand to stop people smugglers.’ There will be 40% more UK-funded officers patrolling French beaches in the next five months. A task force will focus on reversing the rise in Albanian nationals and organised crime groups exploiting illegal routes. British officers will work in French-led control rooms and on the ground to improve coordination and intelligence sharing. There will be drones, detection dog teams, CCTV, and helicopters to help discover and prevent crossings, plus reception and removal centres in France to prevent journeys to the UK of economic migrants.

Published in Europe
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
Thursday, 10 November 2022 22:03

NHS delays and strikes

At the end of September, 401,537 patients had waited over 52 weeks to start treatment. The total number of people waiting for routine hospital treatment is a record high 7.1 million. NHS England and the government have set a goal of eliminating all waits of more than a year by March 2025. Meanwhile nurses are about to strike nationally, for the first time ever, sending up distress flares about the state of their service. The majority of NHS members voted to strike for fair pay and safe staffing. Strikes will be at NHS trusts or health boards which meet relevant legal requirements. Many of the biggest hospitals in England will see strike action by RCN members, but others narrowly missed the legal turnout thresholds to qualify for action. Nurses worry they cannot care as they should.

Published in British Isles
Thursday, 10 November 2022 21:24

Pakistan: political dangers

After an assassination attempt on ex-PM Imran Khan, the born-again Muslim, a political battle between him, the civilian government, and its military backers is spilling onto the streets. Khan is campaigning for snap elections and his return to power. The flurry of accusations, questions, and investigations after he had been shot in the leg does not bode well for political and social stability in the world’s fifth most populous country, the only nuclear-armed Islamic republic. Within 24 hours of being shot, the physically fit 70-year-old went on camera to deny that he was the target of a lone-wolf attack; rather, he blamed it on a plot hatched by PM Shehbaz Sharif, the internal security minister, and a senior military intelligence officer. Without offering any proof, he demanded they all resign and encouraged his supporters to keep protesting. Pakistan has lost many leaders whose killings have never been properly investigated.

Published in Worldwide
Friday, 04 November 2022 04:14

300,000 new homes target

Housing Secretary Michael Gove has said the government is still committed to a manifesto pledge of building 300,000 homes every year by the mid-2020s. Former PM Liz Truss had cast doubt on the aim, saying she wanted to scrap ‘Stalinist’ housing targets. But Mr Gove - who returned to cabinet after Ms Truss's resignation said he wanted to build more homes, both for ownership and to rent, and that new developments should have the consent of local communities. He also warned meeting the target would be ‘difficult’ due to the economic circumstances. ‘We need to be straight with people: the cost of materials has increased because of the problems with global supply chains and also a very tight labour market means that the capacity to build those homes at the rate we want is constrained,’ he said.

Published in British Isles

Rishi Sunak’s rise to Prime Minister was on the front pages of most of India’s newspapers. The Evangelical Alliance said his appointment would reflect Britain's religious diversity. ‘As a nation, we celebrate freedom of religion and belief and it's important that we're able to recognise different people's religious beliefs and how they practise it. We should be encouraged that people are free to practise different beliefs, but in the same way, that we should stand for the freedom to practise our own religion.’ There are calls for a period of a ‘quiet, stable government’ under Rishi Sunak. Christian Conservative MP John Glen who has known Mr Sunak since 2014, said he believes Sunak has the integrity, drive and intelligence to restore the UK's reputation after the political and financial turmoil of recent weeks.

Published in British Isles
Friday, 28 October 2022 12:26

Call for free school meals

Teaching organisations have asked the prime minister for free school meals to be given to children in households on universal credit. Jamie Oliver said the rule change would help 800,000 of the ‘most vulnerable’ children. However the call comes as government departments prepare for spending cuts, saying they had already expanded access to free school meals more than any other government in recent decades. A letter signed by leaders of 12 unions representing a million teaching staff, governors and school trustees across the UK warns the prime minister, the chancellor and the education secretary that ‘hunger is a real issue in our schools, too many families are struggling to afford school meals. Families receiving universal credit, or any equivalent benefit should be eligible as an immediate first step. Not doing so would undermine all the education workforce efforts to tackle inequalities’.

Published in British Isles

The Czech EU presidency is proposing an annual minimum on the number of asylum seekers EU states are willing to relocate. The idea is part of bigger discussions on solidarity sharing, a concept eluding member states when it comes to EU-wide migration and asylum reforms. A Czech presidency paper is proposing either 5,000 or 10,000 voluntary relocations annually as suggestions to gauge what EU states are willing to accept. That debate feeds into an overhaul of the EU's asylum and migration laws proposed by the 2020 European Commission. The solidarity ideas are among many that have sought to create some sort of balance with what the EU has coined flexible responsibility. It is not immediately clear if EU states will agree to the Czech presidency idea. Should they fall short, it will be up to the next EU presidency under Sweden to try to find a solution.

Published in Europe
Thursday, 20 October 2022 23:37

Prime minister resigns

Plymouth Christian MP Sir Gary Streeter called on the Conservative party to replace Liz Truss, saying the party should ‘swiftly’ change the leader to someone who can gather more respect in the parliamentary party. ‘IWe are witnessing what happens when authority breaks down’, he said. ‘My message to my colleagues is, even if the Archangel Gabriel were to lead us this week and rediscover a sense of teamwork, mutual respect and discipline, you know this is going to happen again and again unless we sort ourselves out.’ Shortly after he said this Liz Truss resigned, saying she could not deliver the mandate on which she was elected. This kickstarts a contest to find the next Tory leader and PM, which should produce a result by 28 October. Tory party members will have a say unless MPs unite around one candidate. Truss's departure after 45 days in office makes her the shortest-serving PM in UK history. See next article, on Conservative chaos.

Published in British Isles
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