2019, March, Newsletter

World Newsletter Mar 30, 2019

World News March 30


British Prime Minister Theresa May will press on with talks to secure support for her Brexit deal, her spokesman said on Friday, just minutes after Parliament rejected it for a third time.
Britain is now due to leave the EU on April 12, but her political spokesman said the smaller margin of defeat showed that things were moving in the right direction and that a number of senior Conservatives had voted with the government.
“Clearly it wasn’t the result we wanted,” the spokesman told reporters. “But, that said, we have had a number of senior Conservative colleagues who have felt able to vote with the government today… clearly there’s also more work to do but in point of fact, we are at least going in the right direction.”
After a special sitting of Parliament, lawmakers voted 344-286 against Ms. May’s 585-page EU Withdrawal Agreement, agreed after two years of tortuous negotiations with the bloc.
The defeat means that Britain now has until April 12 to convince the 27 capitals of the EU that it has an alternative path out of the impasse, or see itself cast out of the bloc from that date with no deal on post-Brexit ties with its largest trading ally.


President Donald Trump on Friday called on Mexico to stop all illegal immigration, escalating a repeated threat by adding a timeline: Trump said he would close large swaths or all of the southern border as early as “next week” if the Mexican government did “immediately” stop all undocumented migrants.
The threat to close the border is one that Trump has made and not followed through on before — he suggested closing it during the December government shutdown, and also earlier this week in accusing Central American governments of squandering U.S. aid. But he has not yet attached a short time frame to taking such a drastic measure.
“This would be so easy for Mexico to do,” Trump said in a string of Twitter posts. “Besides, we lose so much money with them, especially when you add in drug trafficking etc.), that the Border closing would be a good thing!”
The president has also attached this round of threats to increasingly harsher language about the thousands of people have tried to flee violence and poverty on their way to the United States.
The evening before Trump threatened to close the border, he appeared at a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he went on an extensive and angry screed about immigration, calling the problem an “invasion” and referring to the plight of asylum-seekers as a “big fat con job.”


Iran’s President said on Friday that his country will resist the Trump administration’s acceptance of Israel’s control over the Golan Heights.
Hassan Rouhani said Iranians too “should resist and that way gain victory” over the U.S. and Israel.
Israel seized the Golan in the 1967 Mideast war after Syria had for years used the strategic plateau to shell northern Israel. Syria and many Arab states have denounced U.S. President Donald Trump’s move.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Thursday the U.S. decision is a reminder to Arab and Muslim countries that U.S. and Israel “will steal your lands.”
Iran doesn’t recognise Israel and supports Syria and anti-Israeli militant groups like Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.


Robert Mueller’s report into Russian interference in the 2016 US election will be made public “by mid-April”.
Attorney General William Barr says he is now redacting the 400-page document.
In a letter to the heads of the House and Senate judiciary committees, he says he expects to be able to publish by mid-April, “if not sooner”.
It comes a week after he published a four-page note summarising its conclusions – sparking demands for the report to be released in its entirety.
On Monday, six Democratic congressional committee chairs sent a letter to Mr Barr demanding the release of the full, “complete and unredacted” report by 2 April.
“Everyone will soon be able to read it on their own,” Mr Barr wrote in his letter to congressional committee chiefs – although it will be redacted to remove legally sensitive material.


UN chief Antonio Guterres has told world leaders to come up with concrete, realistic plans to boost climate action as greenhouse gas concentrations are driving global temperatures towards increasingly dangerous levels impacting millions of people.
‘The State of the Global Climate’ report was launched Thursday by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and presents a grim picture of the accelerating physical signs and socio-economic impacts of the climate change across the world.
Secretary-General Guterres reiterated his call for action, underlining that the alarming conclusion of the report that climate change is accelerating, “proves what we have been saying: climate change is moving faster than our efforts to address it.”
The UN chief said he has convened the ‘Climate Action Summit’ on September 23 and he is telling leaders, “in September, please do not come with a speech; come with a plan.”
He said he is calling on leaders to come with concrete, realistic plans to put nations on a sustainable path once and for all.
“These plans must show how to enhance nationally determined contributions by 2020,” he said.


Pope Francis on Friday issued a sweeping new sex abuse legislation for Vatican personnel and Holy See diplomats that requires the immediate reporting of abuse allegations to Vatican prosecutors, a policy shift aimed at being a model for the Catholic Church worldwide.
The mandatory reporting provision of the legislation marks the first time the Vatican has put into law requirements for Catholic officials to report allegations of sex crimes to police or face fines and possible jail time.
Pope Francis also issued child protection guidelines for Vatican City State and its youth seminary, acting after the global sex abuse scandal exploded anew last year and reported that the headquarters of the Catholic Church had no policy to protect children from predator priests.
The law for the first time provides an explicit Vatican definition for “vulnerable people” who are entitled to the same protections as minors under church law. The Vatican amended its canon law covering sex abuse to include “vulnerable adults” several years ago, but never defined it.
According to the new Vatican definition, a vulnerable person is anyone who is sick or suffering from a physical or psychiatric deficiency, isn’t able to exercise personal freedom even on occasion and has a limited capacity to understand or resist the crime.
The law now requires any Vatican public official who learns of an allegation of abuse to report it to Vatican prosecutors “without delay.” Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to €5,000 or, in the case of a Vatican gendarme, up to six months of prison.
The legislation requires that victims be welcomed, listened to and provided with medical, psychological and legal assistance, and sets the statute of limitations at 20 years past the victim’s 18th birthday.
The new law covers all personnel who live and work in the Vatican.


Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido will be barred from public office for 15 years, the government comptroller said on Thursday, as it seeks to crack down on the US-backed rival to President Nicolas Maduro.
Guaido has been recognised as the head of state by most Western countries after invoking the constitution to assume the interim presidency, arguing Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate and that he became a usurper when his second term began in January.
Maduro dismisses Guaido’s claim to the presidency as a Washington-backed effort to seize power in Venezuela, which is struggling under hyperinflation and crippling blackouts that have left millions of citizens without power this month. Venezuela’s comptroller, Elvis Amoroso, said Guaido had failed to explain how he paid for foreign trips since joining the opposition-run legislature. Last month, Guaido toured South American nations to drum up diplomatic support for pushing Maduro from power. Amoroso in February had launched an audit of Guaido for alleged lies in his personal financial disclosures and receiving funds from unauthorised sources. Guaido at a rally called Amoroso’s announcement void, saying he lacks legitimacy. “The only body that can appoint a comptroller is the legitimate parliament,” he said. The US government, which has backed Guaido and disavowed Maduro, also dismissed the decision. “That’s rich and that’s ridiculous,” said State Department spokesman Robert Palladino


Canada’s Quebec province on Thursday unveiled controversial draft legislation that would ban a significant section of public servants from wearing religious symbols such as a crucifix, yarmulke or hijab.
The measure — which applies to police, teachers and others in positions of authority — is expected to become law by June with Premier Francois Legault’s government holding a majority of seats in the Quebec legislature.
But it was swiftly panned by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who said:”For me, it’s unthinkable (that) a free society would legitimise discrimination against anyone based on religion.”
Montreal mayor Valerie Plante voiced “serious concern about the message that this bill sends to minorities about their fundamental rights.”
The important thing, she said, was that the process of making laws was secular, not that people divested themselves of religious attire and symbols.
Teachers unions said they would not enforce the law, while pundits and the government’s own lawyers, according to reports, anticipate a court challenge for contravening Canadians’ Charter right to personal religious freedom.
The Quebec government, however, has already made it clear that it would invoke a rarely-used constitutional clause to quash any rights challenges.


The Maldivian High Court has ordered the release of former President Abdulla Yameen from detention citing lack of evidence to hold him on allegations of witness tampering, the media reported on Friday.
Yameen was detained in February after a criminal court ordered authorities to take him into custody until a money-laundering case against him was concluded in court, Xinhua news agency reported.
The prosecution asked the court to take Yameen into custody to prevent him from influencing the evidence against him.
However, the Maldivian High Court on Thursday said Yameen could not be held in detention for over a month and the prosecution had not provided any reason to extend his remand in custody.
Yameen was being held under house arrest and not in jail due to ill health, the report said.
The former President is facing allegations of money laundering and the criminal court has already frozen his local bank account holding nearly $6.5 million. He has denied any wrongdoing and appealed against the allegations.

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