LONDON, June 14 -- The UK home secretary, Sajid Javid, has revealed he has signed a request for Julian Assange to be extradited to the U.S. where he faces charges of computer hacking, The Guardian reports.
Speaking on the Today Programme on Thursday, June 13, Javid said: “He’s rightly behind bars. There’s an extradition request from the U.S. that is before the courts tomorrow but yesterday I signed the extradition order and certified it and that will be going in front of the courts tomorrow.” Javid’s decision opens the way to the court sending the WikiLeaks founder to America. Assange faces an 18-count indictment, issued by the U.S. Justice Department, that includes charges under the Espionage Act. He is accused of soliciting and publishing classified information and conspiring to hack into a government computer. Javid said: “It is a decision ultimately for the courts, but there is a very important part of it for the home secretary and I want to see justice done at all times and we’ve got a legitimate extradition request, so I’ve signed it, but the final decision is now with the courts.”
Javid’s decision follows news last week that an attempt to extradite Assange to Sweden had suffered a setback when a court in Uppsala said he did not need to be detained. The ruling by the district court prevented Swedish prosecutors from applying immediately for an extradition warrant for Assange to face an allegation of rape dating back to 2010. Assange denies the accusation. Assange is serving a 50-week sentence in Britain for skipping bail after he spent seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London attempting to avoid extradition to Sweden. Swedish prosecutors dropped their rape investigation in 2017 but reopened it after Ecuador rescinded its offer of asylum to Assange in April this year and allowed British police to arrest him.
LONDON, June 13 -- Former colonial ruler Britain urged the Hong Kong government to "listen to the concerns of its people" amid violent protests on Wednesday (June 12) against plans to allow extraditions to mainland China.
"The ongoing protests in Hong Kong are a clear sign of significant public concern about the proposed changes to extradition laws. I call on all sides to remain calm and peaceful," Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a statement. "I urge the Hong Kong government to listen to the concerns of its people and its friends in the international community and to pause and reflect on these controversial measures."
"It is essential that the authorities engage in meaningful dialogue and take steps to preserve Hong Kong's rights and freedoms and high degree of autonomy, which underpin its international reputation." "Upholding the principle of 'One Country, Two Systems', provided for in the legally binding Sino-British Joint Declaration, is vital to Hong Kong's future success." Britain handed control of Hong Kong back to China in 1997 on the basis of the Joint Declaration it signed with Beijing, which guarantees freedoms in the semi-autonomous city until 2047.
Violent clashes broke out in Hong Kong on Wednesday as police tried to stop protesters storming the city's Parliament, while tens of thousands of people blocked key arteries in a show of strength against government plans to allow extraditions to China. Police used tear gas, rubber bullets and batons to disperse crowds of black-clad demonstrators - most of them young people and students - calling on the authorities to scrap the Beijing-backed law. Speaking in Parliament, British Prime Minister Theresa May said London was concerned about the potential effect of the proposals, particularly given the large number of UK citizens in Hong Kong.
"We have been unequivocal in our views," she told MPs. "It is vital that those extradition arrangements are in line with the rights and freedoms that were set down in that... Joint Declaration." Foreign Office Asia minister Mark Field told Parliament on Monday that Britain fears a "chilling effect" on Hong Kong freedoms if the extradition laws are approved. He said Britain "remains acutely aware" of its enduring responsibilities towards Hong Kong through the Joint Declaration. "Many fear, above all, that Hong Kong nationals and residents risk being pulled into China's legal system, which can involve lengthy pre-trial detentions, television confessions and an absence of many of the judicial safeguards that we see in Hong Kong," Mr Field said. "The changes that they have proposed fail to address fully a number of the core issues that we and others have raised."
LONDON, June 12 -- The UK’s former Secretary of State Boris Johnson has started his election campaign for the post of the Conservative Party’s leader and the Prime Minister.
The politician, who delivered his program speech in London on Wednesday, pledged that the country would leave the European Union on October 31. "After three years and two missed deadlines, we must leave the EU on October 31," said Johnson, who is considered as the front runner to replace Theresa May as the Tory leader and the head of the government. "Now is the time to unite this country and unite this society," he said, stressing that this task can be only achieved after leaving the EU. Britain’s next prime minister is due to be announced by the end of July.
LONDON, June 11 -- The British unemployment rate remained stable at 3.8 percent in the three months to April 2019, the lowest since December 1974, according to figures released Tuesday by the Office for National Statistics.
The data showed the employment figure across Britain increased by 32,000 in the three months to April 2019 to a record high of 32.75 million, with the employment rate being unchanged at 76.1 percent. The female unemployment rate fell to a record low of 3.7 percent. Figures revealed that the average weekly wage continued to grow, including bonus payments. "The labor market remains in fine fettle, and continues to break new ground," Tej Parikh, a senior economist at the Institute of Directors, said. "Businesses have steadfastly expanded their workforce while the fog of uncertainty clouds longer-term investment decisions," Parikh said.
MADRID, June 8 -- Eden Hazard completed his long-awaited move from Chelsea to Real Madrid on Friday (June 7) and could become the Spanish club's most expensive signing in their history.
Real said Hazard, 28, had signed a five-year contract. His contract at the Premier League club was due to expire next year but the Blues drove a hard bargain for the forward, who will reportedly cost Madrid an initial €100 million (S$154 million), with another 45 million in potential add-ons. The full amount would trump the €101 million Madrid paid Tottenham for Gareth Bale and the €91 million they spent to sign Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United. An unveiling at the Santiago Bernabeu is expected next week, once Hazard returns from international duty with Belgium, who play Euro 2020 qualifiers against Kazakhstan on Saturday and Scotland on Tuesday. It means Madrid's spending spree is picking up pace following the arrivals of defender Eder Militao and striker Luka Jovic from Porto and Eintracht Frankfurt respectively. But Hazard is the gem Zinedine Zidane can build his new team around and brings the kind of stardust Madrid fans have craved ever since the sale of Ronaldo to Juventus last summer. Ronaldo's departure created a void up front that Madrid failed to fill last season, the team struggling for goals en route to finishing 19 points behind Barcelona in La Liga and crashing out to Ajax in the last 16 of the Champions League. Hazard, who scored 110 goals in seven seasons at Chelsea, will be expected to help plug the gap has long-been admired by Zidane and Madrid president Florentino Perez. "We have wanted to sign Hazard for several years and I hope he will come this year," Perez told Spanish radio station Onda Cero last month. Less clear is where Hazard will fit into Zidane's starting line-up. Assuming he plays in his favoured position on the left of a front three, it would mean displacing the 18-year-old Brazilian, Vinicius Junior, who enjoyed a brilliant breakthrough year last season. Chelsea said the club had tried to persuade Hazard to stay. "Although it is with sadness we say goodbye to Eden - and we made it absolutely clear to him the club wished him to stay - we respect the decision he has made to take on a new challenge in a different country and follow his childhood dream of playing for Real Madrid," Chelsea club director Marina Granovskaia said in a statement.
Hazard's arrival also adds more uncertainty around the future of Gareth Bale, who has played both on the left and right of the attacking trio in recent months but is clearly not part of Zidane's plans. Madrid want to sell Bale to raise money for more signings, with French left-back Ferland Mendy the next player expected to arrive, from Lyon. But the Wales international will not be forced out and has so far shown no interest in the handful of clubs that have shown interest. Neither Bale nor his agent Jonathan Barnett have spoken to the club since the end of the season. Hazard though would do well to match Bale's record in Madrid as he looks to add to the trophies he won at Chelsea, which included two Premier League and two Europa League titles, as well as one FA Cup and one League Cup. At the end of the 2014-15 season, in which Chelsea won the league, Hazard was awarded both the PFA Players' Player of the Year and the Premier League Player of the Season. He was named in the PFA Premier League team of the year four times, in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017. If Madrid pay the full amount, Chelsea stand to make a profit of more than €100 million, having signed Hazard for close to €40 million from Lille in 2012. Chelsea had just won the Champions League when Hazard chose them over several other clubs but they have failed to replicate the success in the competition. After reaching the semi-finals in 2014, Chelsea have not gone past the last 16 in the last five seasons.
LONDON, June 7 -- The former Top Gear presenter has cultivated his petrolhead image for years, but a recent interview lifts the lid on his Earth-loving side.
Name: Farmer Clarkson.
Appearance: Ruddy-faced, weirdly dressed, fond of a massive engine.
Is this the “Farmer” part or the “Clarkson” part? It is both, my friend, for the former Top Gear presenter has become an arable agriculture worker and is making an Amazon TV series all about doing so.
Jeremy Clarkson has a farm? You’re slow on the uptake today. Yes, Jeremy Clarkson has a 400-hectare (1,000 acre) arable farm near Chipping Norton called Diddly Squat, upon which he grows wheat, barley and oilseed rape.
Watching a man grow barley doesn’t sound like particularly gripping television. Ah, but it might be. Clarkson’s show – I Bought the Farm – is apparently going to be an unvarnished look at the ecological damage wrought by humankind’s reliance on agriculture.
Really? Kind of. Clarkson told the Sunday Times: “When you till the soil or plough in weeds, it releases carbon into the atmosphere. So you think: ‘OK, I won’t plough, I’ll just spray the weeds.’ But that’s bad for the bees. Every decision you make as a farmer is bad for some reason or another.”
And this is Jeremy Clarkson? Yes.
The same Jeremy Clarkson who once angered environmentalists by emitting 1.7 tonnes of carbon during a Top Gear episode in which he drove in the Arctic? Yes.
The same Jeremy Clarkson who only recently called Extinction Rebellion “happy clappy eco vicars”? Yes. His farm is carbon neutral, too.
What? He’s pretty much flexitarian these days.
WHAT?? In fairness, this isn’t the most drastic development. Between being sacked by the BBC and signing with Amazon four years ago, Clarkson publicly mooted the idea of making a Countryfile rival for ITV “where there was death and blood and opinion”. This has clearly been on his mind for some time.
Is this all for show, just to get him back on TV? Unlikely. He has owned the farm for a decade and is committed to reintroducing native plants and animals. He has replanted hawthorn, beech, maize, sunflower and mustard, and cleared streams, and it has apparently become a haven for endangered wild birds.
And, just to be absolutely clear, we are talking about the same Jeremy Clarkson here? Yes. Horrible denim, a bit violent sometimes. Same one.
But he sounds so great now. Pardon?
Everyone thought Jeremy Clarkson was a straight-talking carbon-emitting man-of-the-people petrolhead, but he’s really a happy-clappy hedge-planting flexitarian maize-hugger. Does the Guardian now love Jeremy Clarkson? He’ll be thrilled when he hears.
Do say: “I can’t wait to watch Clarkson’s farming show.”
Don’t say: “Until he’s sacked for punching a scarecrow.”
LONDON, June 6 -- Fresh from its victory in European polls, Mr Nigel Farage's Brexit Party is hoping to win its first seat in Britain's Parliament on Thursday (June 6) in a by-election in Peterborough.
The poll in the eastern English cathedral city was triggered after the sitting MP, Fiona Onasanya, was dumped by voters after being jailed for lying over a speeding offence. The Brexit Party, formed by eurosceptic figurehead Farage only a few months ago, secured 38 per cent of the vote in Peterborough in May 23 elections for the European Parliament. It is hoping to capitalise on that momentum as well as voter disillusionment with the main Conservative and Labour parties, who have historically shared the seat. Both parties were punished by voters in the European polls for the political chaos over Brexit, which has forced out Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May. Onasanya was a Labour MP, but was expelled following her conviction and the party is fighting to keep the seat. It got 17 per cent of the vote in Peterborough in the European polls, while the Conservatives secured just 11 per cent, level with the Greens. The pro-European Liberal Democrats got 15 per cent.
Mrs May is stepping down after delaying Brexit twice as she tried and failed to get her EU divorce deal through Parliament. Mr Farage, who has called for Britain to leave the bloc without a deal, said the by-election outcome could top the European result. "Our political establishment were absolutely mortified by what happened," he said while campaigning in Peterborough last weekend. "But in some ways what happens here on Thursday is even bigger... the opportunity for the next chapter in this great story." The Brexit Party's candidate is Mr Mike Greene, a local businessman. The Labour candidate is the Unite trade union activist Lisa Forbes. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has visited the city, saying the party's campaign was about local issues and climate change. "We take that core Labour message out to all the doors of bringing our society and our community together... to ensure we maintain that trading relationship with our nearest neighbours in Europe and to ensure that we get a Labour government at the end of this," he said. Fifteen candidates are standing. Four pro-EU parties were planning to stand a joint 'Remain' candidate - Mr Femi Oluwole, a campaigner for a new Brexit referendum.
During the 2016 Brexit referendum, 62 per cent in the wider Peterborough area voted to leave the EU.
In the 2017 general election, Onasanya narrowly won the seat for Labour by 607 votes, or a 1.3 per cent margin, from the Conservative Stewart Jackson, who had been the MP since 2005. The 35-year-old lawyer was sentenced in January to three months in prison for perverting the course of justice. She was released on licence after four weeks and returned to sit in Parliament as an independent MP, wearing an electronic surveillance tag. Under a new law introduced in 2015, her conviction triggered a recall petition which was backed by 28 per cent of eligible voters. The polls close at 10pm and the by-election result is expected early on Friday.
LONDON, June 5 -- Boris Johnson, the front-runner to replace Theresa May as British prime minister, warned Conservative Party colleagues that they face "extinction" if they didn't deliver Brexit by the current deadline of Oct 31.
"We are facing an existential crisis and will not be forgiven if we do not deliver," Johnson told a private meeting of Tory members of Parliament, according to his office. "There is a very real choice between getting Brexit done and the potential extinction of this great party." He was speaking after the Conservatives set out an an accelerated procedure for selecting a new leader that will see a prime minister in place by July 26. The party has raised the bar for MPs who wish to run for the job, and two dropped out Tuesday, narrowing the field slightly to 11. The first hustings of the election was held behind closed doors in Parliament on Tuesday (June 4) evening, as four of the candidates - Sajid Javid, Rory Stewart, Boris Johnson and Andrea Leadsom - addressed the "One Nation" caucus of Conservatives, who want the party to focus on unifying issues of social policy, rather then Brexit.
Johnson, who has kept a low profile in recent weeks, has yet to set out how he would achieve his goal, but according to Nicky Morgan, one of the MPs who organised the event, he said the existing deal negotiated by May didn't work. He also said that while he didn't want a no-deal Brexit, the country should prepare for one. He ruled out a second referendum or a general election. "Sajid was very responsible, Rory was a direct pitch to colleagues, Boris was more subdued, and Andrea was more optimistic," Morgan said. Morgan said Johnson had told the room that if the UK delayed its departure from the European Union past Oct 31, the current deadline, "the relevance of the referendum starts to wane." That is a comment that could come back to haunt him if Britain does end up seeking a further delay. His office didn't deny he'd made it.
PORTSMOUTH, June 5 -- World leaders gathered on the coast of southern England on Wednesday (June 5) to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the largest seaborne invasion in history and a feat that helped bring World War Two to an end.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Theresa May will be joined for the commemorative events in Portsmouth by veterans and by US President Donald Trump, who is on the final day of a state visit to Britain. French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and leaders and senior figures from 10 other countries are also due to attend. "As we unite to pay tribute to those whose bravery and sacrifice on the beaches of Normandy marked a turning point in the Second World War, we will vow never to forget the debt we owe them," Mrs May said. "Their solidarity and determination in the defense of our freedom remains a lesson to us all."
In the early hours of June 6, 1944, more than 150,000 allied troops set off from Portsmouth and the surrounding area to begin the air, sea and land attack on Normandy that ultimately led to the liberation of western Europe from the Nazi regime. By the time of the Normandy landings, Soviet forces had been fighting Germany in the east for almost three years and Kremlin chief Josef Stalin had urged British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to open a second front as far back as August 1942. The invasion, codenamed Operation Overlord and commanded by US General Dwight D. Eisenhower, remains the largest amphibious assault in history and involved almost 7,000 ships and landing craft along a 80km stretch of the French coast.
Shortly after midnight, thousands of paratroopers were dropped. Then came the naval bombardment of German positions overlooking the shore. Then the infantry arrived on the beaches. Mostly American, British and Canadian men, some just boys, waded ashore as German soldiers tried to kill them with machine guns and artillery. Survivors say the sea was red with blood and the air boiling with the thunder of explosions. Thousands were killed on both sides. Line upon line of white crosses honor the dead in cemeteries across northern France. Even the code names of the sectors of the invasion - Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword - can draw tears from veterans.
Trump’s tweet came following Khan’s criticism on him in a weekend daily. Khan described Trump as "just one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat" and compared the language he had used to that of the "fascists of the 20th century". He said the U.K. “should not be rolling out a red carpet” for Trump, reiterating his objection to a visit from the US president. Sadiq Khan’s office responded shortly after to insulting messages from Trump. “This is much more serious than childish insults which should be beneath the President of the United States,” a spokesperson for Khan said. “Sadiq is representing the progressive values of London and our country warning that Donald Trump is the most egregious example of a growing far-right threat around the globe, which is putting at risk the basic values that have defined our liberal democracies for more than 70 years,” the spokesperson added. The bad blood between Trump and Khan goes back to 2017 after exchanging remarks on security in London as the president said some of London city were no go areas due to extremism -- a claim which was dismissed by British police.
Trump’s visit has been described as the most controversial visit by a U.S. president to the U.K. Protests have been organized for Tuesday in central London where tens of thousands of people are expected to join a rally in Trafalgar Square. Trump has already caused controversy prior to his visit after making comments on Brexit -- the U.K.’s top agenda item for the past three years -- and on country’s domestic politics after giving an open support to former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson who is running for Conservative Party leadership. Trump also angered pro-EU camp as he said Brexit party leader Nigel Farage should be holding the Brexit negotiations with the EU. Also being criticized for calling the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle as “nasty” in an interview with a tabloid after learning she was critical about his leadership during his presidential election campaign, Trump is expected to see thousands of people protesting his visit. Trump had been criticized previously after retweeting anti-Muslim videos from a far-right group called Britain First, a move described by Theresa May as “wrong.” The invitation by May was extended to Trump during her visit to the U.S. on Jan. 27, 2017, sparking criticism in the U.K. due to the president’s controversial travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries.
A petition calling on the British government to cancel the invitation was signed by over 1.85 million people last year. It said any official state visit should be axed "because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty, the Queen". It also said Trump's "well documented misogyny and vulgarity" disqualified him from meeting the Queen or other British royals. The government responded to the parliamentary petition, saying it believed the American leader should "be extended the full courtesy" of an official reception.