World News Jan 30
BREXIT: MPS BACK MAY’S BID TO CHANGE DEAL
MPs have backed seeking “alternative arrangements” to replace the Irish
backstop in Theresa May’s Brexit plan.
The proposal – put forward by Tory MP Sir Graham Brady – had the support of
the government and won by 16 votes.
Theresa May had urged MPs to vote in favour of it, to give her a mandate to
return to Brussels and re-open negotiations in order to secure a “legally
But the EU has said it will not change the legal text agreed with the UK PM.
MPs voted on a string of amendments to Mrs May’s plan to change the
direction of Brexit.
Mrs May said that, after taking the votes into account and talking to the
EU, her revised deal would be brought back to the Commons “as soon as
possible” for a second “meaningful vote”.
Another amendment, rejecting a no-deal Brexit, also won the support of
Parliament on Tuesday, but the vote was not binding – meaning the date for
exit remains 29 March.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said as a result of the message from MPs
rejecting no deal, he would now meet the prime minister to discuss the next
VENEZUELA BARS SELF-DECLARED PRESIDENT GUAIDO FROM LEAVING COUNTRY
CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela’s Supreme Tribunal of Justice barred
self-declared president Juan Guaido from leaving the country and froze his
bank accounts Tuesday, as leader Nicolas Maduro seeks to neutralize the
American-backed opposition chief.
The 35-year-old head of the National Assembly legislature “is prohibited
from leaving the country until the end of the (preliminary) investigation”
for having “caused harm to peace in the republic,” high court president
Maikel Moreno said.
The court is stacked with Maduro loyalists.
The move came after the State Department revealed that Guaido-the National
Assembly head and self-proclaimed interim president-has been handed control
of Venezuela’s US bank accounts.
“This certification will help Venezuela’s legitimate government safeguard
those assets for the benefit of the Venezuelan people,” State Department
spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement.
Guaido shrugged off Maduro’s efforts to choke his progress as “nothing new.”
“I’m not dismissing the threats, the persecution at this time, but we’re
here, we’re continuing to do our jobs,” he told reporters as he arrived at
the National Assembly.
NORTH KOREA ASKS U.S. TO TAKE ‘PRACTICAL ACTION’
North Korea said on Tuesday that relations with the U.S. will develop
“wonderfully at a fast pace” if Washington responds to its efforts on
denuclearisation with trustworthy measures and practical actions.
North Korea’s Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Han Tae-song, told
the UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament that Pyongyang would continue
working to establish a “permanent and durable peace mechanism on the Korean
He referred to the joint statement issued after the Donald Trump-Kim Jong-un
meeting in Singapore last year and Mr. Kim’s New Year address, adding:
“Accordingly we declared that we would neither make and test nuclear weapons
any longer nor use and proliferate them and we have taken various practical
“If the U.S. responds to our efforts with trustworthy measures and
corresponding practical actions, bilateral relations will develop
wonderfully at a fast pace through the process of taking more definite and
epoch-making steps,” he said.
PAKISTAN SC DISMISSES REVIEW PLEA AGAINST ASIA BIBI’S ACQUITTAL
The Supreme Court of Pakistan Tuesday dismissed a petition challenging the
acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was convicted and sentenced to
death under charges of blasphemy.
A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, dismissed
the review petition filed by Qari Muhammad Salaam, Dawn reported. Bibi, who
faces threats from Pakistan hardliners, is now free to leave the country.
Security was tightened in Islamabad where the court is located. Paramilitary
Rangers were deployed in addition to the regular police to deal with any
unsavoury situation. Bibi’s lawyer, who fled to the Netherlands after
receiving death threats for defending her, returned home last week to
represent her in the case. Bibi has been in hiding since the Supreme Court
acquitted her in October.
In the petition, it has been argued that the Supreme Court’s acquittal of
Bibi did not meet the standards of jurisprudence as well as Islamic
provisions and the “normal principle of justice with reference to
application in blasphemy laws”.
The lawyer of the complainant Qari Muhammad Salaam argued that Bibi’s
acquittal is a matter concerning the Muslim clergy and religious scholars
should also be called to present their point of view to which the chief
justice retorted, “The verdict was given on the basis of testimonies; does
Islam say that one should be punished even if they are found not guilty?”
“Prove to us what [you believe] is wrong with the verdict,” he said.
Acquitting her of all charges in October last year, then chief justice of
Pakistan, Mian Saqib Nisar, had said,”Tolerance is the basic principle of
“If our religion of Islam comes down heavily upon commission of blasphemy,
then Islam is also very tough against those who level false allegations of a
crime,” the judgement said. The Supreme Court, while overturning the death
sentence handed to Bibi by The Lahore High Court, had said that the
prosecution has “failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.”
Hours before the Supreme Court announced its decision today, Shafeeq Ameeni,
acting head of the hardline Tehreek-e Labaik movement, which led the
protests last year, issued a new warning to the court not to rule in favour
of the “blasphemer”.
EX-ISRAELI ARMY CHIEF LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN TO REPLACE NETANYAHU
Retired Israeli military chief Benny Gantz is launching his long-awaited
political campaign, seeking to position himself as the first serious
challenger to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decade-long rule.
Gantz is flaunting a tough military pedigree and emerging in the polls as
Netanyahu’s top rival. This highlights how security rules supreme in the
minds of most Israeli voters.
The tall, telegenic ex-general with salty hair is still untarnished by
partisan politics and has been riding a wave of popularity, even while
saying little and presenting a vague ideological platform.
But the shine could quickly wear off following his speech later on Tuesday,
when he is expected to finally lay out his agenda. Netanyahu’s allies are
sure to brand Gantz as a “leftist” should he show any signs of moderation.
PALESTINIANS ASK UN TO DEPLOY OBSERVER FORCE IN WEST BANK
The Palestinians are asking the United Nations to deploy a permanent
international force in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Tuesday’s request comes a day after Israel said it was suspending operations
of an observer force in the city of Hebron, after 20 years.
Palestinian official Saeb Erekat says the UN should “guarantee the safety
and protection of the people of Palestine” until “the end of Israel’s
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said it would not extend the
mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, saying “we will
not allow the continuation of an international force that acts against us.”
TIPH has deployed unarmed civilian observers since 1997. Hundreds of
hard-line Jewish settlers guarded by soldiers live in the heart of Hebron,
which has over 200,000 Palestinians.
TIPH said it has yet to get an official request to leave, but the mayor of
Hebron warned of dire consequences if they do.
LGBT+ PEOPLE IN SINGAPORE ‘MORE FEARFUL’ AFTER HIV DATA LEAK
A major leak of the confidential data of 14,200 people with HIV in Singapore
could hamper a fight against new infections among LGBT+ people in the
city-state, campaigners said on Tuesday.
The health ministry said on Monday that an American, who lived in the
country previously, disclosed online the details of 5,400 Singaporeans and
8,800 foreigners who were diagnosed with HIV in Singapore.
About half of the 434 new HIV cases reported in 2017 were transmitted
through same-sex intercourse, official data shows. Gay sex remains a crime
in Singapore under a British colonial-era law.
LGBT+ groups have set up support services following the breach, but
campaigners said it would discourage LGBT+ people living with HIV from
seeking help, fearing that their details will be compromised.
“The first hurdle for them to get tested or to approach social services is
the issue of coming out. A lot of them are extremely afraid to be outed,”
said Jean Chong, founder of Singapore-based LGBT+ rights group Sayoni.
“A lot of LGBT people will be even more fearful to get tested and to believe
in Singapore’s healthcare system . it might drive more people underground,”
she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
SEA OF WHITE: ‘HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS’ OF FISH DEAD IN AUSTRALIA
SYDNEY, Australia – “Hundreds of thousands” of fish have died in
drought-stricken Australia in the last few days and more mass deaths are
likely to occur, the authorities warned Tuesday.
Locals around the Darling River were confronted with a sea of white, as dead
fish carpeted the waters near the southeastern Outback town of Menindee.
Just weeks after up to a million were killed — with scientists pointing to
low water and oxygen levels as well as possibly toxic algae — another mass
death occurred in the key agricultural region.
Inspectors from the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries have
visited the site and said they found that “hundreds of thousands of fish
“Further fish deaths in the Darling River are anticipated as a significant
number of fish have been observed under stress,” the department said in a
Some 700 kilos (1,543 pounds) of dead fish were removed from the river
Monday, with similar amounts expected to be collected Tuesday, it added.