Wednesday, 29 March 2017

May triggers article 50 with warning of consequence for UK

The moment Britain's ambassador to the EU Tim Barrow delivered Mrs May's formal notice of the UK's intention to leave the bloc under Article 50.

The moment Britain's ambassador to the EU Tim Barrow delivered Mrs May's formal notice of the UK's intention to leave the bloc under Article 50. CREDIT: AFP

Britain is officially on its way out of the European Union after 44 years as a member after invoking a part of European law known as Article 50 on Wednesday.

What exactly happened?

Nine months after the UK voted to get out of the European Union in a referendum, Prime Minister Theresa May activated the official mechanism that will make it a reality - Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
On Tuesday night, she signed a letter triggering the process, which was handed over to the European Council's president Donald Tusk at around 12:20 BST.
This was followed by a statement from Mrs May to the House of Commons, where she said now was "the moment for the country to come together".

What happens next?

Talks will get under way with EU officials. But the real hard work will not start until May or June when negotiations with other EU countries are expected to start. These talks are expected to end in autumn next year - and then MPs at Westminster, the European Council in Brussels, and the European Parliament will each get a vote on any deal that has been agreed.

So when does the UK actually leave?

The time-frame allowed in Article 50 is two years - and this can only be extended by unanimous agreement from all EU countries.
If no agreement is reached in two years, and no extension is agreed, the UK automatically leaves the EU and all existing agreements - including access to the single market - would cease to apply to the UK.

What is Article 50?

Article 50 is the plan for any country that wishes to exit the EU. It was created as part of the Treaty of Lisbon - an agreement signed up to by all EU states which became law in 2009. Before that treaty, there was no formal mechanism for a country to leave the EU.
It's pretty short - just five paragraphs - which spell out that any EU member state may decide to quit the EU, that it must notify the European Council and negotiate its withdrawal with the EU, that there are two years to reach an agreement - unless everyone agrees to extend it - and that the exiting state cannot take part in EU internal discussions about its departure.
Any exit deal must be approved by a "qualified majority" (72% of the remaining 27 EU states, representing 65% of the population) but must also get the backing of MEPs. The fifth paragraph raises the possibility of a state wanting to rejoin the EU having left it - that will be considered under Article 49.
The full text can be found here.

Can it be reversed?

No country has ever left the EU and Article 50 does not explicitly say whether the process can be halted. The UK government has been unable to make any definitive legal statements on the issue.
However, in her speech to the House of Commons on Wednesday, Theresa May said "there can be no turning back" and in the recent UK Supreme Court case on Article 50, both sides assumed it was irrevocable.
But the European Council President Donald Tusk as said he believes Article 50 can be reversed.
On his side is veteran British diplomat Lord Kerr, who wrote Article 50. He told the BBC in November 2016 "you can change your mind while the process is going on". But he added he did not think any politician in Britain would allow such a U-turn.

Why was there such a long wait to trigger it?

May announced in October last year that she would formally notify the European Council by the end of March, arguing that she did not want to rush into the withdrawal process before UK objectives had been agreed.

29 March: Article 50 triggered, 30 March: Great Repeal Bill published, Late May/early June Start of formal face-to-face talks, Early 2018: Great Repeal Bill likely to receive royal assent, Late 2018 or early 2019: Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier wants to wrap up Brexit terms. March 2019: Two year negotiating window closes - the UK will leave the EU with or without an agreement.

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Monday, 6 February 2017


Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has extended his leave in Britain to complete medical tests recommended by doctors. The 74-year-old leader, who was expected to return to Nigeria today (6 February), informed the National Assembly he wanted to prolong his stay, further fanning ongoing rumours that his health had deteriorated.

Mr Femi Adesina, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President has said the period of extension of President Muhammadu Buhari’s vacation in London was not specified because ““there is no vacuum in government’’. Adesina, who stated this in an interview with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) on Sunday night, said the time was not stated so as enable the president to get clean bill of health from his doctors. Femi Adesina He said the president has already transmitted power to the Vice-President who had been performing his constitutional duties as acting president. According to Adesina, with the extension of his vacation, President Buhari now has adequate time to rest before he returns home. “”When he was leaving on Jan. 19 we announced that it was a vacation during which he would also do routine medical check-ups. “”Now, those check-ups have thrown up things that need to be further looked at and that is why he is asking for this extension of the vacation. ““The time is not stated and that reason is not far to seek because 

Mr President transmitted power to his vice, who is now the acting President. “”So, he does not need to be under that pressure of time again because there is no vacuum in government, there is an acting president. “”Therefore, the doctors can now exhaustively look at him and give him a clean bill of health before he returns home,’’ he said. 

On those spreading dangerous rumours on the president’s health conditions, the presidential aide urged them to desist from such ungodly acts. He charged them to always pray for the good health of the president and have goodwill toward their fellow human beings. “”My message will be what I also said before, goodwill, let us have goodwill towards our president. “”We as human beings must have goodwill towards one another. Any man can be sick; any man can get well; any man can even die, we are mortals. Anybody can die; anybody falls sick can also get well. “”Therefore, all those who peddle those evil, mischievous, malicious and malevolent rumours on social media need to have a rethink. 

Instead of all those evil wishes they should have goodwill towards the president,’’ he added. Adesina in an earlier statement disclosed that President Buhari had written the National Assembly, informing it of his desire to extend his leave in order to complete and receive the results of a series of tests recommended by his doctors. “The President had planned to return to Abuja this evening, but was advised to complete the test cycle before returning. The notice has since been dispatched to the Senate President, and Speaker, House of Representatives. “Mr. President expresses his sincere gratitude to Nigerians for their concern, prayers and kind wishes,” a statement earlier issued by Adesina on Sunday said. 

Newsmen report that President Muhammadu Buhari left Abuja for the United Kingdom on Jan. 19 on a short leave, which is part of his annual vacation. The President formally handed over mantle of leadership of the country to his Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.   

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Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world ..... Albert Einstein

Thursday, 12 January 2017

President Obama's A farewell address, a news conference and White House change

WASHINGTON (AP) — The outgoing president somberly ruminated about the fragility of democracy and earnestly implored Americans to reject corrosive political dialogue. Fourteen hours later, the incoming president staged a defiant and frenetic news conference at his gilded New York City tower, dismissing critics, insulting reporters and likening the country's intelligence officers to Nazis.

President Barack Obama's farewell address in his hometown of Chicago on Tuesday night and President-elect Donald Trump's news conference Wednesday morning offered a study in presidential whiplash, giving the country a striking look at how the White House will change next week.

"Historians are going to look at this period of Obama's farewell and Trump's press conference — they're almost companion pieces in different styles," said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University. "Everyone says that Obama and Trump are 180 degrees different and you can see why."

The difference in ideology, of course, has been no secret. Trump campaigned on undoing nearly all of Obama's major policies. But the back-to-back moments in the spotlight illuminated differences in tone and style that left little doubt Americans face a change unlike any in recent memory. It's a coming shift — from reserved to aggressive, from controlled to wildly unpredictable, from cautious to unfiltered — that left some Americans pining for the Obama era before it had officially ended, and others embracing as refreshing an incoming president far less concerned with conforming to past notions of what is "presidential."

"They say it's not presidential to call up these massive leaders of business," Trump told a crowd in Indianapolis in December after he negotiated a deal with an air-conditioning company to keep jobs in the state, a move many economists derided as unworkable national economic policy. "I think it's very presidential. And if it's not presidential, that's OK. That's OK. Because I actually like doing it."

For weeks, voters have wondered if Trump would adjust his improvisational style to conform to the rigid and weighty responsibilities of the White House. Past presidents have described walking into the Oval Office for the first time as president as a sobering experience that makes clear their role as caretakers of the country's historic legacy.

But in the weeks since his surprise victory, Trump has shown few signs of that transformation. Already, his early actions have broken decades of diplomatic protocol, tested long-standing ethics rules, flouted convention on press access, and continued his combative, deeply personal style of attack on Twitter and in person.

On Wednesday, he suggested leaks from the country's intelligence agencies were "disgraceful" and likened the behavior to actions by "Nazi Germany." He also battled with individual reporters — calling a CNN correspondent "rude" and "terrible," and derided the network as "fake news."

Obama included media criticism in his speech as well, though in his own way.

"Increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we start accepting only information, whether it's true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that is out there," Obama said.

Brinkley, the presidential historian, noted that the shift from Obama to Trump isn't the first time Americans have faced a major change in the presidency. President Dwight D. Eisenhower's farewell address in January 1961 was aired on television in black-and-white while the inaugural parade of President John F. Kennedy a few days later was broadcast in color for the first time by NBC, providing a symbolic generational shift from the black-and-white 1950s to the technicolor 1960s.

"That is child's play compared to the stark differences of the cerebral Obama being replaced by the in-your-face Trump," he said.

Trump's eagerness to shred the unwritten rules of presidential communication makes his news conferences more lively, if somewhat chaotic. Trump dropped a series of personnel and policy news almost in passing, naming his nominee for the Department of Veterans Affairs, revealing the timing of the announcement of his Supreme Court nominee and offering half-formed plans for repealing the health care law.

In another break from protocol, Trump refused to release his tax returns and argued that his victory showed that Americans don't care about the issue. "You know, the only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters, OK? They're the only ones who ask," he said.

Trump is betting both that Americans are craving that sort of change and that there are few political drawbacks to his disrupter approach to the presidency. It's far too soon to test that theory.

On Wednesday, he spoke dismissively about South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a former Republican primary rival who is now in position to hold up Trump's legislative plans in Congress.

Obama, in his farewell address in Chicago, was true to his calibrated approach. He thanked Americans for making him "a better president" and a "better man" and included his trademark oratory that clearly aimed for history.

He made only one reference to Trump and gently pushed back when the crowd began to boo at the mention of the incoming president. "No, no, no, no, no," Obama said. The "hallmark" of the nation's democracy was "the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next," he said.

Credit to AP: Associated Press.

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Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world ..... Albert Einstein

Friday, 11 November 2016

Trump assails U.S. protesters, then praises their 'passion'

The contradictory tweets were further evidence of Trump's mixed messages since he announced his candidacy 17 months ago. 
After Clinton conceded defeat early on Wednesday, he took a far more conciliatory tone than he had often displayed during his campaign and promised to be a president for all Americans.
Anti-Trump demonstrators voiced concerns his presidency, due to start on Jan. 20, would infringe on Americans' civil and human rights. They cited his campaign promises to restrict immigration and register Muslims, as well as allegations the Republican Trump, a former reality-TV star, sexually abused women.
In various cities, marchers chanted slogans including, "No hate! No fear! Immigrants are welcome here!" and carried signs reading, "Impeach Trump."
White supremacist groups including the Ku Klux Klan have praised Trump's election and some civil rights advocacy groups have reported a spike of attacks on minorities following Trump's Tuesday victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton. Trump has rejected the KKK's support.
The crowds on the streets of eight cities including New York, Washington, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon, on Thursday were diverse in their ethnic makeup and largely made up of young adults and college students.
One measure of young Americans' feeling for Trump: A poll by the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion prior to the election showed that some 66 percent of young U.S. adults aged 18 to 35 thought Trump should have dropped out of the race following the October release of a 2005 video in which he was seen talking about groping women.
"This antipathy towards Trump is very real and very deep-seated," said Joshua Dyck, an associate professor of political science at the school. "I suspect that protests, especially on college campuses, will be a more or less permanent feature of his presidency."
With the country evenly divided, many voters were shocked by the result given that opinion polls failed to predict Trump's triumph. The Republican Party also managed to maintain its majorities in both houses of Congress in Tuesday's vote.
More anti-Trump demonstrations were planned for the weekend in cities including New York and Los Angeles, and a group calling itself "#NotMyPresident" scheduled an anti-Trump rally for Washington on Jan. 20, Inauguration Day, when the New York real-estate developer formally succeeds President Barack Obama.

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Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world ..... Albert Einstein

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Chibok leader: 100-plus girls unwilling to leave Boko Haram

Nigeria's government is negotiating the release of another 83 of the Chibok schoolgirls taken in a mass abduction two-and-a-half years ago, but more than 100 others appear unwilling to leave their Boko Haram Islamic extremist captors, a community leader said Tuesday.

The unwilling girls may have been radicalized by Boko Haram or are ashamed to return home because they were forced to marry extremists and have babies, chairman Pogu Bitrus of the Chibok Development Association told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
Bitrus said the 21 Chibok girls freed last week in the first negotiated release between Nigeria's government and Boko Haram should be educated abroad, because they will probably face stigma in Nigeria.

The girls and their parents were reunited Sunday and are expected to meet with Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday or Wednesday, Bitrus said. Buhari flew to Germany on an official visit the day of the girls' release.

President Buhari said Monday that his government is prepared to talk with Boko Haram as long as the extremists agree to involve organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross, which was an intermediary in last week's release.

Some 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped from a school in northeastern Chibok in April 2014. Dozens escaped early on and at least half a dozen have died in captivity, according to the newly freed girls, Bitrus said.
All those who escaped on their own have left Chibok because, even though they were held only a few hours, they were labelled "Boko Haram wives" and taunted, he said. At least 20 of the girls are being educated in the United States.

"We would prefer that they are taken away from the community and this country because the stigmatization is going to affect them for the rest of their lives," Bitrus said. "Even someone believed to have been abused by Boko Haram would be seen in a bad light."
All Nigerian institutions and the freed girls' communities and families must "stand strong" to "protect them from stigma, ostracization and rejection," the U.N. special rapporteurs on the sale of children, on slavery and on the right to health said in a statement Tuesday.

One Chibok girl, Amina Ali Nkeki, escaped in May. Chibok Parents' Association chairman Yakubu Nkeki said the young woman has been reunited with her freed classmates, all of whom are being treated by doctors, psychologists and trauma counselors at a hospital in Abuja, Nigeria's capital, run by the Department of State Security, Nigeria's secret service.
Human rights advocates and the Bring Back Our Girls Movement have been asking if the girl is a detainee of the government and have been demanding she be allowed to return home, as she has requested.

One father of a newly freed girl, Emos Lawal, said his daughter was "praying that they let the rest of them have the chance to come out."
The freed girls have told their parents they were separated into two groups early on in their captivity, when Boko Haram commanders gave them the choice of joining the extremists and embracing Islam, or becoming their slaves, Bitrus said.

The girls freed and those whose release is being negotiated, numbering 104, are believed to be in the group that rejected Islam and Boko Haram, he explained. The freed girls said they never saw the other girls again.
Bitrus said the freed girls were used as domestic workers and porters but were not sexually abused. 
He said that was why only one girl in the freed group is carrying a baby, and her parents have confirmed that she was pregnant when she was kidnapped. An aid worker had told The Associated Press that he had seen the girls on their release and that all but three carried babies. Bitrus said that report was incorrect.

Previous negotiators in talks that failed also had corroborated that more than 100 of the girls did not want to return to their parents, Bitrus said. 

Chibok is a small and conservative Christian enclave in mainly Muslim northern Nigeria, where many parents are involved in translating the Bible into local languages and belong to the Nigerian branch of the Elgin, Illinois-based Church of the Brethren.

Nigeria's government has denied reports that the girls were swapped for four Boko Haram commanders, or that a large ransom was paid.

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Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world ..... Albert Einstein