Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

China-Russia trade volume surges in 2018

Putin and Xi Jinping have cemented not only trade ties but found common ground on political issues as well [PPIO]


Trade between BRICS allies China and Russia has increased about 30 per cent in the first quarter of 2018, Chinese officials said.

The uptick in exchange between the two economic giants will take their trade to $100 billion in 2018, Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng told reporters on Thursday.

Gao said that this year’s trade volume would surpass last year’s which was $84 billion – a 21 per cent rise over 2016.

In the past few years, multi-sector ties have been strengthened between China and Russia.

Last week, Russian oil giant Gazprom said that the Power of Siberia natural gas pipeline is 75 per cent complete and runs over 1,600 kilometers.

In May 2014, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping singed a landmark $400 billion gas deal under which Gazprom will supply the China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) 38 billion cubic meters (BCM) of natural gas every year for 30 years.

The project will strengthen Russian-Chinese energy cooperation, and defines the main terms of the natural gas supply from Russia to China through the East-Route, including the cross-border section of the gas pipeline across the Amur River (the Heilongjiang River in China) near Blagoveshchensk (capital of the Amur region in the Russian Far East) and China’s border city of Heihe.

The pipeline has geopolitical and strategic value as it means Russia’s energy export targets are now eastward, and China can wean itself off the polluting coal as an energy supply.

The deal has brought both countries, BRICS members, closer and has been a massive boost to Sino-Russian ties even as Russia struggles with EU and US sanctions over Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Gao said that both countries are likely to benefit from the fifth China-Russia Expo in July and the China International Import Expo in November.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

News review – Tuesday 17 April 2018

News review – Tuesday 17 April 2018

Russia

Telegraph
Fears are growing that Russia, in retaliation for the missile strike on Syria over the weekend, is gearing up to conduct a major cyber assault on Britain.
Just days after the attack, the threat of a crippling attack from Russia is now at its “highest possible level” the National Cyber Security Centre has warned. There is already evidence that the Kremlin ramped up its bot-fuelled fake news campaign on the UK within hours of the military action in response to a chemical weapons strike by the regime of Bashar Al-Assad, according to Whitehall sources.

Mail
Britain was braced for a Russian cyber attack last night as officials warned of swift retaliation for the military strikes on Syria.
Intelligence officers at GCHQ and the Ministry of Defence are on standby to hit back if the Kremlin wages cyber warfare. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson acknowledged the threat yesterday, saying the UK had to take ‘every possible precaution’. It is feared vital transport systems, water supplies, gas networks, banks, hospitals and even air traffic control could be hacked by Russia in response to the assault on Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons facilities. Intelligence sources also fear the retaliation could involve the online release of so-called ‘kompromat’ – compromising information on MPs or other public figures.

Mirror
RUSSIA is hacking millions of computers, including home systems in Britain, to potentially pave the way for a crippling cyber attack, top spooks warned today.
Kremlin web hackers have targeted tens of thousands of computers in UK homes and also taken aim at British internet service providers. Once they have gained access, Moscow-backed agents could lurk silently until they want to wage a huge assault, senior security experts revealed. Moments of heightened tension could provide the trigger for Russia to strike, it was claimed. In an unprecedented alert issued alongside the US, National Cyber Security Centre boss Ciaran Martin said: “These are millions of machines being globally targeted. “They are around trying to seize control over connectivity.

Fox News
A Russian investigative journalist, who drew national fame for his stories on Russian mercenaries being killed in Syria, mysteriously fell from his balcony and died a day after camouflaged “security forces” reportedly surrounded his building.
Maxim Borodin, a 32-year-old reporter for Novy Den, was pronounced dead Thursday after plunging from the building in Yekaterinburg, nearly 900 miles east of Moscow. Police are not looking into the death and are ruling it a suicide or accident. But in a country where  vicious attacks against prominent journalists frequently go unsolved, some critics are calling for a full investigation. “Death of journalist Maxim Borodin in #Russia is of serious concern,” tweeted Harlem Désir, the representative on Freedom of the Media for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. “I call on the authorities for a swift and thorough investigation.”

Brexit

Guardian
Ireland has warned there will be no Brexit withdrawal treaty and no transition agreement unless Britain comes up with acceptable wording as a “backstop” solution to the Irish border question in the event of no deal. The Irish foreign minister, Simon Coveney, told reporters in Luxembourg that difficulties would arise as early as June if the wording was not agreed. Asked whether the transition agreement would be at risk if there was no deal in place by June, he said: “It puts everything at risk.  Michel Barnier [the EU chief negotiator] has been very clear there will be no withdrawal agreement if there is not a backstop relating to the Irish border consistent with paragraph 49 of the political agreement in December. “The British government have committed to doing [backstop] that. If that is not in the withdrawal agreement, then there will be no withdrawal agreement and there will be no transitional deal either.”

Sun
THERESA May is staring down the barrel of a series of damaging defeats on the flagship Brexit bill in the House of Lords this week.
The upper chamber is debating the legislation – which lays the legal ground for our withdrawal from the bloc – with peers set to back an amendment keeping the UK in the EU customs union. It would mean tariffs on goods traded with the continent would stay the same post-Brexit, but would hinder the Government from signing new deals with other countries. The Prime Minister has repeatedly said she wants to take Britain out of both the customs union and the single market. Her stance has been spelled out in the EU Withdrawal Bill, which has cleared its first hurdle in the House of Commons after being passed by MPs. But Ministers have reportedly resigned themselves to the fact the House of Lords will almost certainly pass amendments to try and force the PM to change her position. A government insider told The Independent: “Are we expecting a defeat? Yes, that’s about where we are.

Times
Ministers are braced for a series of defeats on the central Brexit legislation in the House of Lords this week. The withdrawal bill begins six days of votes there tomorrow. Peers are expected to open the parliamentary wrangling by defying the government on the customs union, one of the main prongs of Theresa May’s strategy. A cross-party amendment to the bill, which transfers European law to the British statute book, requires the government to negotiate a continuing customs union with the EU after Brexit. Its backers, who include Lord Patten of Barnes, the former Conservative Party chairman, and Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, the UK’s former chief diplomat, are bullish about the prospect of defeating the government by a large margin.

Express
REMOANER plots to overturn the vote to leave the European Union have been thwarted as it has emerged that UK businesses do not back a second Brexit referendum because of the “uncertainty” surrounding it. Despite business leaders being some of the most outspoken critics of Brexit, business leaders are worried about recent efforts to reverse the process. Chief executive officer of TheCityUK, Miles Celic, said: “Business likes certainty and I can’t see how discussion of a second referendum helps create that certainty when the negotiations are not even concluded.” A campaign called “People’s Vote” for the public to get a final say on the divorce Bill is gaining momentum. Also, two recent polls have suggested there may be popular support for a vote on the Brexit deal. But it is not clear if there would be a majority in Parliament to pass through such a measure. Speaking to Bloomberg, Allie Renison from Europe and trade policy at the Institute of Directors, said: “Calls for a second referendum, and indeed rehashing the debates we had in the run-up to the Brexit vote, now almost two years ago, will do little to move us forward.

Times
The BBC has scrapped a planned documentary about the campaign to block Brexit amid concerns that it could be seen to breach impartiality guidelines. The programme was to have focused on Remain leaders, including Lord Adonis, the Labour peer, and Anna Soubry, the Conservative MP, who are trying to prevent a hard Brexit. The BBC’s current affairs department funded project. Filming had begun but last week contributors were told that Patrick Holland, the BBC Two controller, had decided not to commission it. It is understood that senior BBC executives were sensitive to questions about balance as both sides of the Brexit debate scrutinise its output closely.

Westmonster
Today on Uncensored, Michael and Patrick led with some Brexit good news – there are wage rises for workers. Wehey!
The guys also discussed the figures released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, which revealed that mass migration has pushed house prices up by 21% since the 90’s. Also, they discussed the deplorable treatment of Windrush migrants who are now being deported despite contributing to Britain for years. You can catch all of that and more below. Uncensored returns on Wednesday at 13:00 on Facebook Twitter and YouTube.

EU

Guardian
The majority of British migrants living in Europe are of working age, even in Spain, the most popular EU country for UK citizens to settle in, new figures show.
The Office for National Statistics data contradicts the widely held belief that most Britons in Europe are pensioners sunning themselves in southern France or Spain. ONS figures  show two-thirds of the 784,900 British citizens recorded as long-term residents in the EU, excluding the UK and Ireland, are aged between 15 and 64 and more of them live in Spain than any other country. Estimates using data from the Labour Force Survey and the 2011 European censuses put the number of British people resident long-term in Spain at 293,500.

Labour Party

Express
JEREMY Corbyn has been openly criticised by his own MPs amid accusations he has sided with Presidents Assad and Vladimir Putin over military strikes in Syria. Following a series of airstrikes over the weekend by a joint force from the United States, UK and France, the Labour leader called for a “War Powers Act” which would require Commons approval for any future military intervention.
Theresa May has insisted the airstrikes, which targeted President Assad’s chemical weapons facilities, were legal and “in Britain’s national interest”. But Jeremy Corbyn  used an appearance on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show to question their legality and urge dialogue instead of military action. He has also refused to blame Russia for the suspected nerve agent attack in Salisbury, insisting he wants to see “inconvertible evidence” before Moscow can be blamed. However Labour MPs have now broken ranks with their leader over his stance and taken to social media to voice their frustration.

Air strikes

Sky News
Britons now narrowly support airstrikes in Syria, having been divided on the issue before the weekend’s military action, a Sky Data poll reveals.
The RAF were involved in strikes alongside forces from France and the USA against alleged chemical weapons facilities in Syria over the weekend, in response to an alleged chemical attack by the Syrian government on its own people. Half of Britons (49%) think Theresa May was right to take part in airstrikes in Syria, while 37% think it was the wrong thing to do – 6% say neither, 9% don’t know. Last week, before the airstrikes, public opinion was evenly split on British military action in response to the alleged chemical attack in Syria – 36% supported such as move, 37% opposed it. Opposition rose to 48%, with support down to 28%, if action in Syria meant conflict with Russia, which supports Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

Vauxhall

Telegraph
Vauxhall is terminating the contracts of all its 326 dealerships in Britain as the company battles to deal with plunging sales and a changing market.
The marque is ending all dealer contracts in the UK – a move also happening with sister brand Opel across Europe – as the entire sales network is reorganised. Some 1600 dealers across the pan-European network will be given two years’ notice from April 30 that the manufacturer is ending its relationship with them, and proposing a new contract with about two thirds of them. About 12,000 staff are employed in franchisees’ UK dealerships but Stephen Norman, Vauxhall’s UK boss, insisted that staff would not lose their jobs as a “direct result” of Vauxhall’s decision to refranchise the network. “Based on 42 years experience in the industry, and having been through four of these network refranchisings, I do not expect jobs to be threatened,” he said.

Mail
Vauxhall is set to axe one in three of its dealerships putting at risk 3,700 jobs – as it becomes the latest firm to be hit by a slowdown in car sales. The firm, which is owned by French giant PSA, will cancel contracts with all of its 326 dealers in the UK before striking new deals with only better performing branches. It is thought around 100 may close. The drastic cuts come just three days after Jaguar Land Rover announced it was axing more than 1,000 jobs after seeing a fall in sales which it blamed on the crackdown on diesel engines.
Vauxhall’s European sister company Opel is also shutting dealerships across the continent as the company tries to adapt to changing consumer habits which are seeing customers visit car dealers less and less.

‘Windrush’ generation

Telegraph
Amber Rudd has apologised to members of the Windrush generation who have been subjected to what she described as “appalling” treatment by the Government.
The Home Secretary announced the creation of a new task force in the Home Office to speed up the regularisation of the immigration status of people who arrived in the UK as long ago as the 1940s. Her announcement came after the immigration minister Caroline Nokes admitted “terrible mistakes” had been made over the Government’s treatment of the Windrush generation who came to the UK from the Commonwealth 70 years ago.

Times
Amber Rudd admitted today that she is not aware of any migrants from the “Windrush generation” who have been deported from the UK.
The home secretary was speaking just hours after the immigration minister said some had been removed from the country in error. Theresa May said she would hold talks with Caribbean leaders tomorrow over the treatment of the migrants. Downing Street said she had only become aware of their request for a meeting today. Earlier, Guy Hewitt, the high commissioner for Barbados, had been refused a meeting on the grounds that there was no time on Mrs May’s schedule.

BBC News
The home secretary has apologised for the treatment of the Windrush generation, saying it was “wrong” and “appalling” that some face deportation.
Many immigrants who arrived from the Commonwealth decades ago as children have been told they are here illegally. Amber Rudd said they would be helped to attain required documents for free and added she was concerned her department “sometimes loses sight” of individuals. Labour’s David Lammy said it was a “day of national shame”. The Tottenham MP said it was “inhumane and cruel” that it had taken the government so long to act.

Westmonster
The horrific shambles surrounding the migration status of the ‘Windrush generation’ of Brits who came to the UK decades ago has taken another soar turn, with Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes admitting that some Brits may have been deported in error.
Channel 4 News asked Nokes: “How many people, I’m sure you do have these records, who came here pre-1973 from the Commonwealth, have been deported, say to the Caribbean?” To which she replied: “What I know is that individual cases are heartbreaking and it’s really important to me that going forward we get this right.” When pressed specifically: “But people have been deported to the Caribbean, in error potentially?”

Independent
The plight of members of the Windrush generation  wrongly threatened with deportation was branded a “day of national shame”, after the home secretary apologised for their treatment.
Amber Rudd admitted to “appalling” cases of people denied health treatment, stripped of their jobs and faced with being sent to countries they left as children, decades ago, and have never returned to. Amid growing cross-party condemnation, she astonished MPs by saying the Home Office did not know if any Windrush immigrants had been wrongly deported under the crackdown. A limited U-turn will now see people offered help to prove their immigration status within two weeks – with their fees waived. Ms Rudd also made extraordinary criticism of Theresa May’s running of the Home Office, warning it became “too concerned with policy and strategy and sometimes loses sight of the individual”.

Plastics

Times
An enzyme that breaks down a common plastic that pollutes the oceans has been engineered by scientists. The discovery could reduce from centuries to days the time that it takes for plastic to decompose, making the material truly recyclable. One of the most common plastics is polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which can be recycled into items such as clothes and carpets that can then themselves be recycled. At each stage the material is degraded until it is useless and ends up as waste. Scientists from Britain and the United States believe that their work could result in an enzyme that would degrade PET and turn it into its original chemical chains, ready to be used again.

Sky News
A £61.4m war chest to fight the rising tide of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans has been announced by the Government. The fund was announced by Theresa May ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London next week. The Prime Minister is due to ask all the 52 leaders at the meeting to sign up to the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance set up to help developing Commonwealth countries research and improve waste management. So far four Commonwealth countries, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Vanuatu and Ghana, have joined the UK in the alliance.

ITV News
Recycling could be changed forever by an engineered enzyme which eats plastic, scientists hope. The findings have come about by accident after British researchers created the plastic-digesting protein inadvertently while investigating its natural counterpart. The lab-made mutant has a supercharged ability to break down polyethylene terephthalate (PET), one of the most popular forms of plastic used in food and drinks packaging, tests have found. Around 70% of soft drinks, fruit juices and mineral water are packaged in bottles made from PET, according to the British Plastics Federation.
Despite claims it is highly recyclable, it is often discarded and can take hundreds of years to degrade. The discovery of a bacteria in a Japanese recycling centre that evolved the ability to feed on plastic initiate the research.

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Russian reporter who investigated Syria mercenaries dies in ‘balcony fall’

A Russian journalist who wrote on Moscow's "shadow army" in Syria has died after falling from the balcony of his fifth-floor flat, but investigators said Monday they were not treating the death as suspicious.

News review – Monday 16 April 2018

News review – Monday 16 April 2018

Brexit

Express
PRO-BRUSSELS campaigners faced ridicule last night after launching a new cross-party push dedicated to triggering a fresh referendum on Theresa May’s Brexit plans. Former Tory minister Anna Soubry and senior Labour MP Chuka Umunna were among politicians uniting yesterday for the People’s Vote campaign.
And they faced jibes from Brexit supporters after recruiting Star Trek actor Sir Patrick Stewart to be a leading spokesman for the group. Tory MP Peter Bone, a leading Leave supporter, said: “This call for a second referendum is so off the planet that I suppose it is appropriate to have someone from Star Trek involved. “These people just want to keep re-running the referendum until they get the answer they want.

BBC News
MPs, celebrities and business leaders have launched a campaign calling for a public vote on the final Brexit deal between the UK and the European Union.
The People’s Vote – which held a rally in Camden, north London, on Sunday – aims to unite anti-Brexit groups. Organisers said some 1,200 people were at the event, including MPs from all leading parties. Pro-Brexit campaigners also gathered outside. Both the Conservatives and Labour have ruled out a second referendum. Actor Sir Patrick Stewart, who played Charles Xavier in the X-Men films based on the comic books, said the famous character would have voted Remain. He told the rally: “Unity, common cause, wellbeing of society and debate were paramount to the belief of this fictional character.

Breitbart
Cross-party Remainers have launched a campaign thinly disguised as a democratic movement which seeks a second referendum on the Brexit deal.
Supported by many of the key players in the Tony Blair-backed Remain continuity campaign Open Britain, the People’s Vote is  pushing for a “public vote” on the final Brexit deal. The movement was launched Sunday by Labour’s Chuka Umunna and Tory MP Anna Soubry as well as members of the entertainment industry, youth movements, and pro-EU academics. Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, Umunna and Soubry said they wanted to stop a “hard Brexit” – otherwise known as a full, proper Brexit which would free the UK from the restrictive Customs Union and Single Market that prevent the country from making her own trade deals and controlling immigration.

Westmonster
Arch-Remoaners Anna Soubry and Chuka Umunna have launched a push to have a public vote on whether or not to accept the final terms of the Brexit deal.
It’s called  ‘People’s Vote’ – basically it’s a second referendum in disguise. Soubry and Umunna insist this isn’t about blocking Brexit, which is pretty hard to justify! Soubry said: “If Theresa May gets a good deal, what better validation for it than if the people vote for it?” Umunna added: “It’s like putting an offer in on a house and the survey says the foundations are terrible. Anyone with any sense would withdraw from the transaction.” This is bonkers, what would a vote actually achieve? It seems to be based on the premise that if people aren’t happy with the deal, they’d tell the government to go back to Brussels and renegotiate – well that’s just not going to happen, is it? It’s a not so subtle way of hoping to stifle Brexit and ultimately overturn it altogether – a shameless disregard for democracy.

House of Commons

Times
Theresa May will argue today that she struck against the Assad regime “in the national interest” as she awaits the verdict of the Commons on her handling of the military action in Syria.
After coming under intensifying pressure during the weekend for refusing to give parliament a vote before launching the strikes, the prime minister will ask for an emergency debate to give MPs the ability to discuss the military action at length. Labour will demand that the Commons is also given a vote at the end of the debate. The decision on whether to offer a vote will be taken by the Speaker, John Bercow.

Mail
The Prime Minister will today insist that the UK had to strike Syria ‘in our national interest’ to deter chemical weapon attacks on British streets.
Facing the threat of a knife-edge Commons vote, Theresa May will invoke the Salisbury poisonings in her defence of the military action. In a statement to MPs, she will point to the need to ensure the use of chemical weapons does not become normalised – ‘either within Syria, on the streets of the UK or elsewhere’. She will ask Speaker John Bercow for an emergency six-hour debate on the action, giving MPs from both sides of the House the chance to have a say. But Labour will try to force a vote after the debate – raising the prospect of a humiliating, retrospective defeat.

Sun
THERESA May today gives MPs an ultimatum: Back military action in Syria or face more at­tacks on innocent victims.
The PM will call for an emergency debate in Parliament — and has ordered all Tory MPs to be ready to support her. Writing exclusively in The Sun today, she tells of her horror at tyrant Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons attack that killed at least 75 people. In an emotional plea to her critics, Mrs May writes in detail about the “despicable” way in which Assad targeted his own people with chlorine bombs. She will today hit back at Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition to action by declaring the 105-missile blitz on Syria’s chemical weapons sites over the weekend was in Britain’s “national interest”.

Sky News
The Prime Minister will tell MPs she acted “in Britain’s national interest” by ordering airstrikes on Syria as the Government calls for an emergency debate on the issue.
Theresa May will pre-empt planned opposition motions by applying to the Speaker for a debate herself “to give the House an extended opportunity to discuss the military action”. In a statement to the Commons, she will also set out her justification for the decision – arguing that it was done to alleviate further humanitarian suffering in Syria caused by chemical weapons attacks. The PM will say: “UNSC-mandated inspectors have investigated previous attacks and on four occasions decided that the regime was indeed responsible.

Independent
Theresa May is braced for a Commons showdown after bowing to pressure and allowing a debate in parliament on the UK’s role in air strikes against the Syrian regime.
She will make a statement on the British, French and US operation that saw more than 100 missiles fired at Syria, before being grilled by MPs who were denied a vote ahead of the action. Ministers hope the six-hour emergency debate will pacify concerns that parliament is being sidelined, but are desperate to avoid allowing any substantive vote that risks stripping the operation of legitimacy. It sets the stage for an opposition-party drive to force a more meaningful retrospective vote on Saturday’s action in the coming days, with Conservative MPs given strict orders to be available for voting on both Monday and Tuesday.

Guardian
Theresa May will hit back at critics of military action in Syria by insisting the
decision to launch airstrikes was aimed at preventing human suffering, and was in Britain’s national interest, as she is questioned by MPs about the attacks for the first time. With the government braced for highly charged exchanges in the Commons as MPs return from their Easter recess, the prime minister will emphasise the international support for the bombing raids. May will tell MPs: “Let me be absolutely clear: we have acted because it is in our national interest to do so. It is in our national interest to prevent the further use of chemical weapons in Syria and to uphold and defend the global consensus that these weapons should not be used.” She is expected to add: “We have done it because we believed it was the right thing to do. And we are not alone.

Morning Star
LABOUR demanded the introduction of a “War Powers Act” today to force a parliamentary vote before military actions are launched, as the row over Theresa May’s illegal bombing of Syria continued to escalate.
The call by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn comes as thousands mobilised for nationwide protests against the attack, including an emergency demonstration in London, where MPs are returning to Parliament after their Easter break. A poll showed only 30 per cent of people in Britain supported the attack, which was directly authorised by Prime Minister Theresa May without consulting MPs. Mr Corbyn said: “Theresa May should have sought parliamentary approval, not trailed after Donald Trump.”

Russia

Telegraph
Russia has launched a “dirty tricks” campaign against Britain and the US in the wake of the Syria airstrikes as Boris Johnson warned of the need to be prepared for retaliatory attacks.
Whitehall sources on Sunday night confirmed a Pentagon analysis that showed a 20-fold increase in Russian-sourced “disinformation” being spread online since the cruise missile attacks on Syria in the early hours of Saturday. There are fears that it could be a precursor to a campaign of cyber attacks by the Kremlin, and the Foreign Secretary said Britain must take “every possible precaution” to guard against it.

Times
Britain’s intelligence agencies are on the alert for possible revenge attacks by the Kremlin in response to the Syria airstrikes, after reports that a disinformation operation linked to Russia was increasing its output.
Boris Johnson warned yesterday that Russia could retaliate through cyberattacks on the NHS or power networks. “You have to take every possible precaution, and when you look at what Russia has done, not just in this country, in Salisbury, attacks on TV stations, on the democratic processes, on critical national infrastructure, of course we have to be very, very cautious indeed,” the foreign secretary told The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One. US officials say that they have seen a 20-fold increase in Russia-linked disinformation pushed out online after Saturday’s strikes.

Mail
Britain was braced for a Russian cyber attack last night as officials warned of swift retaliation for the military strikes on Syria.
Intelligence officers at GCHQ and the Ministry of Defence are on standby to hit back if the Kremlin wages cyber warfare. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson acknowledged the threat yesterday, saying the UK had to take ‘every possible precaution’. It is feared vital transport systems, water supplies, gas networks, banks, hospitals and even air traffic control could be hacked by Russia in response to the assault on Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons facilities. Intelligence sources also fear the retaliation could involve the online release of so-called ‘kompromat’ – compromising information on MPs or other public figures. Last night, the Pentagon said there was a 2,000 per cent increase in the number of Russian trolls spreading Kremlin propaganda in the hours after the air strikes.

Independent
Boris Johnson has warned that the UK must take “every possible precaution” to protect itself from Russian retaliation following the coalition air strikes on Syria.
The Foreign Secretary said Moscow had a track record of launching cyberattacks on infrastructure and interfering in the democratic processes of other countries. His comments come amid concern that Russia may start a clandestine campaign of retribution, following the strikes by the US, UK and France on targets of the Moscow-backed Syrian regime. Mr Johnson also revealed that contact between himself and Russian foreign minister  Sergei Lavrov had gone cold amid the military operation, in which the Western coalition partners fired more than 100 missiles at facilities around Damascus. The Cabinet minister said the operation would not make a material difference to the Syrian civil war and he could not say it would definitely stop the Assad regime from using chemical weapons again, but he argued that the strikes had sent a strong message that their use would not be tolerated.

Telegraph
The UK spy agency is working with phone networks to patch flaws that have left communication lines open to intrusion from hostile ­nation states.
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), an arm of the Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ), said it would work closely with companies such as BT and Vodafone to ensure that a flaw in the software used to service 4G networks will be patched in the coming months. Paul Chichester, NCSC operations chief, said: “We assume that every piece of equipment in the telecoms networks has vulnerabilities.” Currently, mobile networks allow someone to connect using another person’s identity, intercept and even send messages on behalf of that user.

Mail
Two Russian warships laden with military vehicles have been spotted en route to Syria after Friday’s US-led airstrikes obliterated three suspected chemical weapons sites.
An Alligator-landing ship was pictured cruising down The Bosphorus on Sunday as the world awaits Vladimir Putin’s response to this week’s co-ordinated military action against Syria.  The vessel was spotted on its way to the Russian naval base at Tartus on the north Syrian coast. On its fourth deployment of Russian military equipment to the war-torn country the ship was seen laden with tanks, trucks, ambulances and an IED radar.  A yellow RoRo Alexandr Tkachenko was also pictured heading for Tartus carrying high-speed patrol boats, a temporary bridge structure and several trucks. 

NHS

Times
Hundreds of thousands of people will receive personal allowances of NHS cash to organise their own care as ministers seek to “put power back into the hands of patients”.
Far more people with mental health problems, dementia and physical and learning disabilities will have the right to select and pay for treatments they want. The money will be paid directly to them and can be spent on whatever that they think best helps to manage their condition, as long as a doctor agrees. Veterans leaving the army and wheelchair users have also been promised the “personal health budgets” after complaints that care provided to these groups by the NHS is not good enough. Some such budgets run to tens of thousands of pounds.

Mail
Patients are to receive personal allowances of NHS money to organise the care option they feel best suits them.
The health service will hand money to hundreds of thousands of patients with mental health problems, dementia and physical learning difficulties and allow them to choose the treatment they want. The move is part of an effort by ministers to ‘put power back into the hands of patients’. The money will be paid directly to patients and they will be allowed to spend it on whatever treatment they feel is the best for their condition, although they will need a doctor’s approval. The ‘personal health budgets’ could be handed to the likes of veterans leaving the Army and wheelchair users after complaints about the service received by some groups. It is thought some of the budgets could be in the tens of thousands of pounds.

Sun
HUNDREDS of thousands of Brits will be handed wads of NHS cash to spend on their own care – even though past patients have blown it on horse-riding lessons and holidays.
Dementia sufferers, army veterans and wheelchair users have all been earmarked to receive ‘personal care budgets’. The money is paid directly to them and can be spent on whatever they think will help their condition – as long as their doctor agrees. The reforms are expected to let recipients employ relatives as carers, buy specific pieces of equipment, and enrol in exercise classes. Such budgets have previously been spent on horse-riding, holidays, and aromatherapy. An estimated 23,000 people are currently part of the scheme – but ministers want to expand it to 350,000. The reforms are expected to help merge the health and social care budgets.

Huffington Post
The NHS is unable to keep confidential patient data safe from immigration enforcers thanks to an information-sharing agreement with the government, MPs have ruled. Members of the health select committee have called for a second time for an end to a Memorandum of Understanding between the Home Office and NHS Digital, which allows officials to request information from medical records as part of their investigations. 
Experts have warned it is putting many migrants off seeking urgent treatment for fear of deportation and has even cost lives.  NHS Digital chiefs appeared before the select committee last month and said the organisation’s practices had been put through a “rigorous public interest test”.

Education

Telegraph
Parents are now faking marriage breakdowns to get their children into a top school amid a rise in admission fraud, an expert has warned.  
As competition to secure places at the most sought after schools has intensified, parents are increasingly resorting to fraudulent means to boost their chances, according to The Good Schools Guide’s state school specialist Elizabeth Coatman. The warning comes as over half a million families in England learn which primary school their child will attend in September, on what is known as “national offer day”.  Local councils have become more vigilant in recent years, Ms Coatman said.

Sun
NINE in ten children got their first choice of primary school last year, new figures have revealed.
As parents find out today where their children will start primary school in September, data from last year showed that 97.2 per cent of pupils were awarded one of their top three preferences last year. This figure was up on the 96.3 per cent offered one of their top three preferences in 2016. And the number getting their top choice also increased – from 88.4 per cent in 2016 to 90 per cent last year. But experts warned that the ratio will vary massively across the country. Ministers said the increase in the ratio of pupils being awarded their top choice was a result of government reforms brought in since 2010.

Drugs

Mail
The competition between rival gangs to sell cocaine to wealthy clients will result in the drug’s purity rising to dangerous levels, experts have warned.
Dealers are also likely to begin dropping their prices to attract more customers as the market becomes saturated with the Class A drug. Other gangs are using alternative methods including loyalty cards more commonly seen in high street chain stores, reports the Telegraph.   Deaths from cocaine in England and Wales have more than doubled in the past four years according to the Office for National Statistics – with 371 cocaine related deaths in 2016, compared to just 139 in 2012. In 2016-17, 12,000 people were admitted to hospital with cocaine related disorders, but in 2007-08 this number was just 5,148.

The post News review – Monday 16 April 2018 appeared first on UKIP Daily | UKIP News | UKIP Debate.

Sunday papers – 15 April 2018

Sunday papers – 15 April 2018

Brexit

Yet another anti-Brexit campaign gets under way today, says the Times.

Nine anti-Brexit groups will join together today to launch a campaign for a new referendum to give the public the final say on Theresa May’s eventual deal with Brussels.
MPs from all the main parties, including the high-profile “remainers” Chuka Umunna and Anna Soubry, will escalate their attempt to derail the prime minister’s plans under the banner of “the people’s vote”.
They are due to attend a rally in London alongside Caroline Lucas of the Green Party and celebrities such as the Star Trek actor Sir Patrick Stewart and the comedian Andy Parsons.
Mariana Mazzucato, the favourite economist of the shadow chancellor John McDonnell, will address the meeting of more than 1,000 supporters.

And the Mail claims the campaign is to press for a second referendum.

A new cross-party campaign to give the nation a chance to accept or reject Theresa May’s final  Brexit deal will be launched by Labour’s Chuka Umunna and Tory Anna Soubry today.
They will team up with fellow pro-Europe supporters at a rally in London aimed at stopping what they say is the threat of a disastrous ‘hard Brexit’ being forced on the people of the UK.
Umunna and Soubry’s shared opposition to Brexit has seen them emerge as an unlikely Labour-Conservative double act.
In an interview with The Mail on Sunday at the Commons, they said they were adamant that their campaign for a ‘People’s Vote’ (they refuse to call it a second referendum, presumably to avoid cries of ‘not another one’) is not just another attempt to stop Brexit altogether.
‘Going round shouting “Stop Brexit!” won’t achieve anything,’ says Umunna. But isn’t that exactly what they will be doing today?
‘No,’ they reply as one.

The Express claims there will definitely not be a second referendum.

A SECOND EU referendum will almost certainly never happen, it has been claimed, as even diehard Remainers lose faith in the campaign and the clock ticks down towards Britain’s exit date.
Ever since the historic vote to leave the EU, some Europhiles in the UK have insisted there should be another national poll on the final deal.
But repeated legal challenges have failed to halt the process and, so far, only the flagging Lib Dems under Vince Cable have formally backed the idea.
And King’s College London’s Professor Anand Menon, director of The UK in a Changing Europe research group, said a second Brexit referendum was now highly unlikely.
He told Express.co.uk: “It’s very, very hard to see how we get from where we are now to a second referendum.
“There are always fixes but whether or not that a political will to do this, on the basis of the way Parliament has been voting, then no there isn’t.”

Breitbart has a story about the refusal of the European Union to discuss trade.

The European Union (EU) has rebuffed the UK’s Brexit secretary and insisted there will be no ambitious trade talks with the bloc before the Brexit date in less than a year.
“There will be no negotiation strands, no ‘hundreds’ of British negotiators,” a diplomat for the bloc told 
The Telegraph, referring to David Davis’s proposal for intensive talks in the near future.
The source added: “Trade negotiations will not start properly until after 29 March 2019. Before that we must get the fundamentals right.”
The report comes as a leading London Accountancy firm, PwC, predicts that a so-called “hard Brexit” outside the bloc’s Single Market is the most likely outcome of Brexit talks.
Mr. Davis had been pushing a large British trade delegation, in an attempt to make quick progress in trade talks.

The Independent claims the Prime Minister will be facing a battle in Parliament this week.

The government is bracing itself for defeats in parliament on Brexit this week, including over its plans to take the UK out of a customs union with the EU.
Ministers have resigned themselves to the fact that the House of Lords will almost certainly pass amendments backed by Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat peers aimed at forcing Theresa May
to rethink her position.
Sources in the upper house told 
The Independent  the only way she can realistically avoid a defeat is by making significant concessions, including one softening her approach to an EU customs union that is likely to enrage Tory Brexiteer MPs.
It comes as a new broad campaign for a “people’s vote” referendum on the final Brexit deal holds a rally in London on Sunday, following a day of action on Saturday involving thousands of activists across the country.

Europe

And a new EU movement is looking to reform the bloc says the Express.

A NEW pan-European movement led by radical ex-Greece finance minister Yanis Varoufakis plans to campaign in post-Brexit Britain alongside Labour, despite the fact the country will no longer be in the EU.
Mr Varoufakis caused huge controversy during his brief six-month tenure in Athens during which he raged against the heavily indebted nation’s creditors.
And he now heads up a fresh political movement, named DiEM25, with the intention of reforming the EU.
Supporters of the group include ambient music leftie Brian Eno, embassy-bound Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and UK Green Party co-leader Carline Lucas.
And the movement has ambitious aims to set up new parties across the continent, while supporting others that are sympathetic to its aims and fielding candidates in next year’s European elections.

Russia

Russia is planning to retaliate against the UK over the air strikes says the Times.

Spy chiefs are braced for a Russian revenge attack in which Kremlin-backed hackers release embarrassing information on ministers, MPs and other high-profile people.
Theresa May has received intelligence risk assessments since the nerve-agent attack in Salisbury that the Putin regime could hit back with “kompromat” (compromising material) on members of her cabinet.
The warning comes after the UK’s military strike in Syria yesterday. British, American and French aircraft and warships fired a salvo of 105 missiles in less than 10 minutes at about 2am British time after up to 75 people were killed in last weekend’s chemical attack on Douma.

The Star claims the retaliation could be in the form of a cyber attack.

FEARS of a Russian cyber backlash targeting vital services in Britain have grown, following the joint assault on Syria on Friday night.
Transport links, water supplies, gas networks, banks, hospitals and air traffic control could be crippled by the Kremlin it a terrifying retaliation for the missile strikes, according to reports.  
Experts believe hackers in Moscow are already trying to break into key computer networks that could bring the UK’s infrastructure to a halt.
British academic Michael Clarke, who specialises in defence studies, has warned of an imminent “cyber warfare” in the next two or three weeks.
Speaking to the Sunday Mirror, he said: “I suspect Russia will choose not to respond in military terms. But cyber warfare is highly likely.

Anti-Muslim campaigners

Is it right that campaigners should be refused entry into the UK because of their views? The Guardian reports.

Two prominent anti-Muslim campaigners have been denied entry into the UK ahead of a conference held by Britain’s newest and most active far-right group.
Martin Sellner, from Austria, and the Hungarian Abel Bodi were due to attend the private Generation Identity conference in London on Saturday. They were detained at Stansted airport – the second time in a month that Sellner, the leader of Generation Identity, has been prevented from entering the UK by border officials.
Sellner, 29, was also the ringleader behind a controversial “Defend Europe” campaign last summer, responsible for targeting boats  attempting to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean.
Lauren Southern, a prominent Generation Identity activist who was refused entry to the UK at the border last month, confirmed the latest developments. She tweeted: “Martin Sellner has been detained as well as Hungarian identitarian Abel Bodi who were scheduled to attend a private conference in the UK.”
The event, being held at a closely guarded location, was arranged by Generation Identity United Kingdom and Ireland (GI UK), which has emerged over the past few months as the domestic branch of an expanding far-right network active in 13 countries.

Health

The cost of private medical insurance is examined in the Times.

Private medical insurance customers face a postcode lottery with Londoners paying nearly twice as much as those who live in Newcastle, research reveals today.
A 50-year-old non-smoker who lives in the capital is being charged an average of £128 for a monthly premium. Those in Newcastle typically pay £69, while customers in Edinburgh pay £70 and Glas­wegians £74, according to the report from the broker Regency Health.
James Walker, founder of the complaints service Resolver, said it was “deeply unfair” that the costs varied so hugely: “Private medical insurance can be incredibly expensive, so it seems deeply unfair that bills can be twice as high for people living in London.”

And the Times also warns that if you sign up for a private GP consultation your family doctor may strike you off his list.

Patients who sign up for a new service that promises an NHS doctor “in minutes” on their smartphone day or night are being cut off from their usual family doctor.
Tens of thousands of people have downloaded the GP at Hand app, which offers remote consultations with doctors. It is part of a new wave of online services backed by the NHS.
When users sign up in an online process that takes three minutes, they are removed from their GP’s books and registered to a practice in west London.
Babylon Health, the company behind the app, says users are notified of the move in a “prominent disclaimer” during sign-up.

Genetically modified PEOPLE could be on the cards, says the Telegraph.

Europe will see its first genetically engineered patients using a groundbreaking gene-splicing therapy this year after regulators approved trials.
The biotech company Crispr Therapeutics is hoping to cure the disease beta thalassaemia, a devastating blood disorder which reduces the production of haemoglobin, the protein which carries oxygen to cells.
Without sufficient oxygen, sufferers can be left with bone deformities, severe anaemia, slow growth, fatigue and shortness of breath.
The disease is caused by a genetic mutation in the HBB gene, but scientists are confident that they can alter the body’s code to fix the problem and restore healthy levels of haemoglobin.

The Times reports that children are being given contraceptives.

Girls as young as 12 are among more than 10,000 children being given contraceptive implants on the NHS.
Figures from NHS Digital — the information and technology arm of the NHS — show 10,600 girls aged 16 or under had implants fitted in 2015-16 and 2016-17; 39 were aged 12 or under.
The devices, implanted in the upper arm for up to three years, provide a supply of the hormone progesterone to block egg release. Patient confidentiality rules mean no parental consent is needed.
In some areas of the country the devices are being fitted in schools. This has sparked criticism that the NHS is enabling young girls to have illegal, underage sex without their parents’ knowledge, exposing them to the risk of exploitation.

UKIP

Several of the media report the unopposed election of Gerard Batten as the UKIP leader. Sky News says:

UKIP has confirmed it has a new leader – its fifth since Nigel Farage stepped down in late 2016.
Gerard Batten, who ran unopposed in the election to replace Henry Bolton, announced he had taken over the role officially on Saturday.
Mr Bolton, 55, was ousted from the leadership following 
a scandal over his affair with 25-year-old model Jo Marney.
Mr Batten, who is also UKIP’s MEP for London, said he would now concentrate on restoring the “party’s fortunes” after it saw its vote share in the polls slip from a high of more than 25% in the European elections in 2014 to less than 2% in 2017.

But ITV News finds a negative aspect in the news.

Ukip’s new leader announced he intends to resign in 12 months as he was installed in the post after an uncontested election.
Gerard Batten said he will spend the next year trying to restore the party’s fortunes after a tumultuous period that has seen it implode with bitter infighting and stretched by financial struggles.
The London MEP warned that the Eurosceptic party needs to get “back into the political fight” as the local elections in England approach.
Mr Batten said: “As I said at the start of the contest, if the election were to be uncontested, I would hold office for 12 months.
“Therefore, I intend to resign on 13th April 2019 so that a full leadership contest may take place. By then I will have decided if I wish to contest that election or not.

As does the Express.

UKIP’s fourth leader in 12 months has announced his plans to quit moments after being elected unopposed.
Gerard Batten, who has been acting UKIP leader since February, said he will resign after spending a year restoring the party’s fortunes following a disastrous period riddled by bitter feuds and money issues.
The London MEP warned that the Eurosceptic party needs to get “back into the political fight” as the local elections in England approach.
He added: “As I said at the start of the contest, if the election were to be uncontested, I would hold office for 12 months.
“Therefore, I intend to resign on 13th April 2019 so that a full leadership contest may take place. By then I will have decided if I wish to contest that election or not.

And BBC News.

UKIP has confirmed Gerard Batten as its new leader – and he has said he will resign in 12 months’ time.
The MEP, who had been interim leader since February. said that as he was elected unopposed he would step down so a full contest can take place.
Mr Batten said he will “concentrate on doing all I can to restore the party’s fortunes.”
He is the fourth person to lead UKIP in 19 months, as the party’s popularity has crumbled since the EU referendum.
He took over from Henry Bolton in February after a racism row saw Mr Bolton ousted from the party.
Mr Batten, who has been an MEP since 2004, said he was “pleased” to have been confirmed as leader.
“UKIP is the only real opposition to our political establishment, and we are needed now as much as ever,” he said.
He added that the party needs to get “back into the political fight” with the upcoming local elections.

The Independent reminds us the election was unopposed.

Ukip‘s new leader announced he intends to resign in 12 months as he was installed in the post after an uncontested election.
Gerard Batten said he will spend the next year trying to restore the party’s fortunes after a tumultuous period that has seen it implode with bitter infighting and stretched by financial struggles.
The London MEP warned that the Eurosceptic party needs to get “back into the political fight” as the local elections in England approach.
Mr Batten said: “As I said at the start of the contest, if the election were to be uncontested, I would hold office for 12 months.
“Therefore, I intend to resign on 13th April 2019 so that a full leadership contest may take place. By then I will have decided if I wish to contest that election or not. For the next 12 months, I will concentrate on doing all I can to restore the party’s fortunes. A very good start has been made and the party is now on a sound financial footing.”

The sea

The Telegraph has a story of what our island nation may be able to do after Brexit.

In the waters of the United Kingdom, centuries of maritime history ebb and flow around almost 8,000 miles of coastline, carefully carving out modern Britain.
From these waves swirled the beginnings of trade, prosperity and empire stretching back into the first decades AD. But from British shores today an economic future beckons that could be just as promising. The economic sea change of Brexit has ushered in the need for new vision that brings together traditional maritime sectors, from oil to shipping and fisheries, with burgeoning renewable energy developers and innovative aquaculture.
Britain’s maritime heritage is quietly being reimagined as the “blue economy”.

The post Sunday papers – 15 April 2018 appeared first on UKIP Daily | UKIP News | UKIP Debate.

Saturday papers – 14 April 2018

Saturday papers – 14 April 2018

Air strikes

The later editions of the papers cover the overnight bombing of targets in Syria. The Telegraph says:

America, Britain and France have launched a coordinated airstrike in Syria to punish the regime for a chemical weapons attack that killed more than 70 people.
Donald Trump announced he had ordered the strike at 9pm on Friday in Washington DC with Theresa May issuing her own statement minutes later.
Three Syrian sites involved in the use of chemical weapons were targeted in the attack – one scientific facility near Damascus and two storage facilities near Homs.
More than a hundred missiles were launched and the strikes lasted no longer than 70 minutes. America, British and French naval and air force units were involved.
Addressing the nation in a televised statement, Mr Trump said it was a response to the “evil and despicable” chemical attack by the Syrian regime last Saturday. 

BBC News reports:

The US, UK and France have bombed multiple government targets in Syria in an early morning operation targeting alleged chemical weapons sites.
The strikes are in response to a suspected chemical attack on the Syrian town of Douma last week.
Explosions hit the capital, Damascus, as well as two locations near the city of Homs, the Pentagon said.
Russia’s ambassador to the US responded by saying the attack on its ally “will not be left without consequences”.
“The nations of Britain, France, and the United States of America have marshalled their righteous power against barbarism and brutality,” President Trump said in an address to the nation from the White House at about 21:00 local time (02:00 BST).
“The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread, and use of chemical weapons,” he added.
The wave of strikes is the most significant attack against President Bashar al-Assad’s government by Western powers in seven years of Syria’s civil war.

The Times claims the strike is a one-off.

Britain, the United States and France launched more than 100 airstrikes in a “one time shot” against Syria early this morning to stop President Assad from using chemical weapons.
It was double the firepower of a US attack against a single Syrian air base a year ago, James Mattis, the US defence secretary said.
The bombardment, which included US Tomahawk and British Storm Shadow cruise missiles, was fired at three targets linked to Syrian chemical and biological warfare operations, one on the outskirts of Damascus and the other two close to the western city of Homs.
It took place at 2am UK time despite warnings by Russia, a close ally of Syria, that its armed forces might shoot down incoming missiles.

The Star reports the explosions.

LOUD explosions were heard tonight as co-ordinated strikes by UK, US and French forces battered key areas in Damascus today.
The Pentagon said the air strikes, which began at 4am Syrian time, involved planes and ship-launched missiles, more than a hundred weapons in all.
Officials named three targets: a scientific research centre in Damascus, a chemical weapons storage facility west of Homs, and another storage site and command post nearby.
Explosions were reported in Damascus moments after Trump’s seven-minute address.
Raw footage and images from Syria are pouring in of the coordinated strikes with the United Kingdom and France
.
Trump said the strikes were intended to deter the use of chemical weapons like the attack on civilians in the Syrian town of Douma last week, and that the U.S. was prepared to continue the attacks until the Syrian regime stops using chemical weapons.
An US official confirmed the strikes involved the use of deadly Tomahawk missiles.

Breitbart reports on the tie up between three countries.

The British government has joined with the American and French militaries to strike targets in Assad’s Syria following an alleged chemical weapons attack in the country.
“These are not the actions of a man. They are crimes of a monster instead,” President Trump said in an address from the White House late on Friday evening.
The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons,” he wrote. “Establishing this deterrent is a vital interest of the United States.”

Sky News has the Prime Minister’s statement.

Theresa May confirms British armed forces were involved in a combined operation with the US and France to strike Syria.
Here is the Prime Minister’s full statement:
This evening I have authorised British armed forces to conduct co-ordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian Regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their use.
We are acting together with our American and French allies.
In Douma, last Saturday a chemical weapons attack killed up to 75 people, including young children, in circumstances of pure horror.
The fact of this attack should surprise no-one.
The Syrian Regime has a history of using chemical weapons against its own people in the most cruel and abhorrent way.
And a significant body of information including intelligence indicates the Syrian Regime is responsible for this latest attack.

ITV News quotes the US president.

Donald Trump said Friday air strikes against Syria are “underway” alongside military forces from the UK and France.
Speaking at the White House, Mr Trump said the strikes were in response to the alleged chemical weapons attack in the town of Douma last Saturday.
“This evil and despicable act left mothers and fathers and children thrashing in pain and gasping for air,” he said.
“The combined American, British and French response will integrate all instruments of our national power.”

Skripal

In associated news, the Times covers new intelligence on the Russian poisoning.

Theresa May released new intelligence on the Salisbury poisoning yesterday as she prepared to justify military action to prevent the collapse of a 100-year-old taboo on the use of chemical weapons.
Britain’s security chief revealed that Russia spied on the former double agent Sergei Skripal in the five years before he and his daughter were attacked with novichok, a type of nerve agent, last month. This included the hacking of Yulia Skripal’s email accounts.
In a letter to the head of Nato, Sir Mark Sedwill also said that Moscow had an assassination programme based around nerve agents that included attacking a victim by smearing poison on a door handle.

The Telegraph claims the Russians had been observing the Skripals for some time.

Russian intelligence agents hacked Yulia Skripal’s emails for at least five years before she and her father Sergei were poisoned in Salisbury, newly-declassified Government intelligence has revealed.
Cyber specialists from the GRU – Moscow’s Main Intelligence Directorate – targeted email accounts belonging to Miss Skripal as long ago as 2013, and possibly even before that, according to the British security services, in an apparent attempt to track the Skripals’ movements.
Theresa May took the highly unusual decision to release previously classified intelligence in order to quash weeks of Russian “disinformation” about the source of the attack.

And the Mail reports that Russia has issued its own report into the incident.

The Russian Embassy have published their own 8,000-word report into the Skripal poisoning row.
It comes as Britain dramatically moved to counter  Russian propaganda on Salisbury today by releasing new evidence.
The UK authorities disclosed that Moscow security services were spying on the Skripals for at least five years, and hacked the email of Yulia, who was poisoned along with her ex-spy father Sergei last month.
Russia’s report sets out a timeline of events, the British response and the lack of information it claims to have received following official requests.
It concludes that ‘the situation around the Skripals looks more and more like a forcible detention or imprisonment,’ adding ‘if British authorities are interested in assuring the public that this is not the case, they must urgently provide tangible evidence.’

The Mirror quotes a security boss.

Britain’s top National Security chief has revealed further evidence that Russia was behind the nerve agent attack in Salisbury.
In a letter to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, National Security Advisor Mark Sedwill said Sergei and Yulia Skripal had been under scrutiny from Russian intelligence services in recent years.
Yulia Skripal’s email account, he said, was targeted by Russian intelligence cyber experts as far back as 2013.
The letter, shared with NATO allies, set out the government’s case for Russia being the only state with “the technical means, operational experience and the motive” to carry out the attack.
Mr Sedwill wrote: “There is no plausible alternative explanation”.

Reuters also claims the Skripals were spied on.

Russia’s intelligence agencies spied on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia for at least five years before they were attacked with a nerve agent in March, the national security adviser to Britain’s prime minister said.
Mark Sedwill said in a letter to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday that email accounts of Yulia had been targeted in 2013 by cyber specialists from Russia’s GRU military intelligence service.
Sedwill also said in the letter, which was published by the government, that it was “highly likely that the Russian intelligence services view at least some of its defectors as legitimate targets for assassination.”

Brexit

Closer to home, the Sun claims Gibraltar could come under Spanish rule.

BRITAIN is ready to cave into Spain’s demands for more control over Gibraltar, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has claimed.
In incendiary comments, Michel Barnier said Britain was already in talks with Madrid over Spain’s wish to have joint control of Gibraltar’s airport, greater co-operation on smuggling and tax rates on the Rock.
The French bureaucrat added that he believed Spain’s demands were “reasonable”.
Speaking to Spanish newspaper El Espanol he claimed Britain had entered into talks as ministers knew the EU stood behind Spain – and Gibraltar would be left out of the post-Brexit transition deal unless an agreement could be reached between London and Madrid.
He said: “That lever is there and the British know it well.

And fisheries are also in the spotlight in the Sun.

BORIS JOHNSON has been accused of “betraying Britain” after foreign companies were picked for six new lucrative fishing licences.
UK bidders for rights to fish waters around the Falkland Islands ripped into the Government after being snubbed.
Of the six contracts, four went to a Norwegian company, one to a New Zealand business and one to a Chilean vessel.
Documents seen by The Sun reveal that Foreign Secretary ordered that one licence was kept for a Chilean-registered boat.
The four-year contracts to fish Chilean seabass or Patagonian toothfish – said to be Prince Charles’ favourite catch – are thought to be valued at more than £75 million.

The Brexit secretary’s plans to accelerate talks could be under threat, says the Times.

The EU is to rebuff David Davis’s plans to establish up to 50 Brexit negotiating groups to start work on a trade and security treaty with the bloc.
The Brexit secretary claimed this week that there would be “about 40 to 50 negotiating strands starting shortly”.
His remarks, at a conference in London, come after a letter was sent to Whitehall departments calling for officials across government to take part in the next phase of the negotiations.
Senior figures in the European Council and Commission said that Britain had not put forward proposals for such working groups and any attempt to do so be would be rejected. “There will be no ‘50 negotiation strands’, no hundreds of negotiators.

And the Telegraph claims India will demand more visas for its people.

India is using immigration as a “stick with which to beat us” in early talks on a post-Brexit trade deal by exaggerating the UK’s resistance to handing out more visas, business leaders have warned.
Richard Heald, the head of the UK-India Business Council, said the situation was “not as bad as it is portrayed by the Indians,” pointing out that the number of visas handed out last year had increased “significantly”.
It comes after high-ranking Indian officials warned that  Britain must be prepared to allow higher levels of immigration if it wants to secure a comprehensive free trade agreement.
YK Sinha, India’s high commissioner to the UK, said in November that any future deal could not be a “one-way.

‘Rivers of blood’ speech

Enoch Powell’s famous speech was scheduled to be broadcast by the BBC but may have to be pulled, says the Telegraph.

A controversial BBC broadcast of Enoch Powell’s notorious Rivers of Blood speech has been abandoned by its contributors amid a growing backlash.
The 50th anniversary broadcast, due to be read by actor Ian McDiarmid on Saturday, will mark the first time in British radio history that the infamous 45 minute anti-immigration speech will be transmitted  in full.
During the 1968 speech,  Enoch Powell,  the Conservative MP for Wolverhampton South West, attacked the anti-discrimination Race Relations Bill and warned that “in 15 or 20 years time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man”.
Politicians and expert guests to the programme have claimed that rebroadcasting this speech may stoke racial tensions.
The BBC has responded to the criticism by urging people to “wait to hear the programme before they judge it.”

The Times claims the decision not to broadcast it has already been made.

The BBC has had to remove an interview with an academic about Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech.
The speech is scheduled to be broadcast in full for the first time tonight to mark its 50th anniversary. It is due to be read by Ian McDiarmid, the actor, on Radio 4 but has led to the BBC being criticised for allowing the broadcast and the risk of stirring racial tensions.
Shirin Hirsch, an academic at the University of Wolverhampton, said she was “disgusted by the way the BBC are promoting this” and had “made a mistake” by being interviewed for the show. She wrote on Twitter yesterday: “I’m not going to be included in [the] BBC programme, thanks all.”

Housing

The correlation between housing and immigration is examined by Westmonster.

New research out from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has shown that between 1991 and 2016, mass migration increased house prices by 21%.
Essentially, it sets out how population growth between 1991 – 2016 led to a 32% overall increase in house prices, with two-thirds of population growth driven by non-UK born people, thus accounting for a 21% increase.
As the report sets out: “In 1991, the population of England was 47.1 million. In 2016, the population of England was 54.5 million. This is equivalent to an increase of 16 per cent over this period (1991 to 2016).
“Applying the relationship from the University of Reading model set out in the methodology section above (a 1 per cent increase in the number of households leads to a 2 per cent increase in house prices) 7, this increase in the population is expected to have led to a 32 per cent increase in house prices.”

Education

Schools’ catchment areas are examined in the Times.

Sixty primary schools are turning down pupils who live more than 350 metres away from the front gate as competition for places at the best ones shows no signs of abating.
The smallest catchment area for a primary in England is now 93 metres.
London has the most schools where parents need to live within a stone’s throw of the front gate to get a place for their child.
The data, compiled by Findaschool, the online service, excluded religious schools, which are often even harder to get into, requiring parents and children to be certified, regular churchgoers.
The data covers this academic year. It comes before parents learn on Monday whether their children will get into their first choice of school.

Breitbart considers a call by teachers about religious education in schools.

The government should take measures to stop parents withdrawing their children from some lessons where they have to study Islam or visit mosques, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has said.
Parents are allowed to pull their children from some Religious Education (RE) lessons that conflict with their personal views. However, a motion passed by the ATL claims the power is being abused by “prejudiced” parents.
The teachers argued that studying Islam, as well as other religions, is key to preparing pupils for adult life in the UK.
The motion at the union’s conference was proposed by London teacher Richard Griffiths, who said removing children because of genuine religious beliefs was “very rare”, according to 
The Times.

Tidal power

Power from the waves comes under the spotlight in the Guardian.

MPs are to press ministers on why they have left investors hanging in limbo over taxpayer support for a pioneering £1.3bn tidal lagoon in Swansea.
The business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) committee and Welsh affairs committee will call on government to explain why no decision has been forthcoming on the flagship scheme. The government has still not indicated whether it is minded to support the lagoon, 15 months since  an independent review told ministers to back the clean energy project.
Tidal Lagoon Power, a Gloucester-based company, has been pushing for years to build the first of five lagoons at Swansea, to harness power from the ebb and flow of the tides.
But the company needs an indication the government is prepared to negotiate a guaranteed price of power for the renewable energy it produces, akin to the ones awarded to windfarm and nuclear power station developers.

Rubbish collections

A plan to charge homes to collect rubbish by weight is covered by the Sun.

FAMILIES could be left shelling out more to have their rubbish collected under new plans to boost recycling.
The scheme, dubbed “pay-as-you-throw”, would charge households for bin collection by weight which could see large families paying more than singletons or couples.
However, waste put in the recycling bin would be collected for free or at a reduced fee, but tougher rules would be enforced to stop people dodging the bin levy and contaminating recycling.
The plans from the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC), which represents waste collection officers at about 70 per cent of councils, would essentially penalise people who don’t recycle.

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Learn from Iraq, Libya Lavrov warns US

Russian FM Serge Lavrov does not want Syria to go the way of Iraq and Libya [PPIO]


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has once again pointed to the US debacle in Iraq and Libya as likely fallout if Washington repeats its former foreign policies in Syria.

“God forbid anything adventurous will be done in Syria following the Libyan and Iraqi experience,” Lavrov told a press conference on Friday.

Russia has previously pointed to these two Middle Eastern and North African states as the aftermath of US interventionism in the region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as his Turkish counterpart, has blamed the refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East on the wars there supported by France, the UK and the US.

The three Western allies are currently consulting on what military measures they should take against the Syrian government in Damascus for its alleged involvement in a chemical weapons attack in the besieged city of Douma.

In February, Lavrov said that US actions in Syria could lead to the country’s disintegration.

Four years ago, Lavrov accused the US and its invasion of Iraq of plunging the entire Middle East into chaos.

“We warned long ago that the adventurism the Americans and the British started there would not end well,” he said at the time.

Now, the Russian foreign minister is accusing the Americans of using the Kurds to partition Syria, which would be tantamount to playing with fire.

He said that he feared that Washington was not looking at the long-term effects of their meddling in Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In 2017, the US maintained its influence on the Al-Tanf region which borders Jordan and Iraq currently houses a large refugee camp, but Russian officials have charged that some hostile factions, such as the terrorist Al Nusra Front, slip in and out of the area.

Lavrov has called on the US to “shut down” this area.

He also warned Israel and Iran not to use Syria for their proxy conflict saying that a de-escalation zone in the southwest was being violated.

He called on both Israel and Iran to back down from their increased war footing in the area.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

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