Politics

Brian Burns / January 10,2023

Iran and Britain’s history of strained relations

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DUBAI (Reuters) - British-Iranian relations, which have been strained for decades, were back in the spotlight after Iranian authorities sentenced to death British-Iranian national Alireza Akbari for spying, charges he denies.

Here is a timeline of main developments since the 1950s:

1953 - Britain and the United States help orchestrate the overthrow of popular Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and restore Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi to power.

1979 - Islamic Revolution overthrows the U.S.-backed Shah.

1980 - Britain closes its embassy in Tehran.

1988 - Britain restores full diplomatic relations with Iran.

February 1989 - Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini calls on Muslims to kill British author Salman Rushdie for blasphemy against Islam in his book "The Satanic Verses", prompting Britain to break diplomatic relations in March.

1990 - Partial diplomatic relations are restored.

1994 - Britain accuses Iran of contacts with the outlawed Irish Republican Army, a charge Iran denies but relations worsen. Iran and Britain expel each others' diplomats over the IRA issue.

1998 - Iran formally dissociates itself from the call to kill Rushdie.

1999 - Iran says relations between Tehran and Britain have been upgraded to ambassadorial level.

September 2001 - British Foreign Minister Jack Straw visits Iran to strengthen an international "anti-terror" coalition after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

2004 - Iran arrests eight British military personnel for straying into its waters from Iraq. They are later freed.

Brian Burns / December 31,2022

Lords will delay Rishi Sunak’s bonfire of EU laws

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Lords will delay Rishi Sunak’s bonfire of EU laws
  • Rishi Sunak will be forced by the House of Lords to abandon plans for a bonfire of European Union laws by the end of the year.
  • Lords will delay Rishi Sunak’s bonfire of EU laws

     

    Rishi Sunak will be forced by the House of Lords to abandon plans for a bonfire of European Union laws by the end of the year.

    The government has committed itself to removing about 4,000 pieces of EU-derived laws from the British statute book by December. Ministers will have to decide which they want to retain, which to scrap and which to change.

    However, the scale of the task means that it is increasingly seen in Whitehall as an impossible deadline, with internal estimates that thousands of officials will have to be diverted to review legislation full time.

    A senior government source told media that it was “inevitable” that the government would have to abandon its plans when the legislation reaches the Lords, which is expected to be next month. Peers have raised significant concerns about them.

    “I can’t see it [the deadline] surviving,” the source said. “We’ll have to compromise when it gets to the Lords. If the object is to review all these regulations properly rather than just cut and paste them into UK law then we’ll need more time. It’s an entirely arbitrary deadline. We’re going to have to make a concession to get it through.”

Brian Burns / December 06,2022

How the ‘Twitter Files’ have exposed a senior FBI official’s role in manipulating the outcome of the 2020 US election

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The publication of classified documents reveals the scale of the Bureau’s involvement in US politics

Internal Twitter documents and communications published by the journalist Matt Taibbi have provided devastating detail on a sweeping censorship operation conducted by the social network. They expose the central role played by a senior FBI agent in potentially influencing the outcome of the 2020 US election. 

Immediate reaction to the Twitter Files was mixed, but overwhelmingly the mainstream American media has rushed to pour cold water on Taibbi’s bombshell disclosures, with, for example, The Washington Post branding them a “dud” and CNN claiming they “largely corroborated what was already known.”

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Such responses are quite extraordinary given that the Twitter Files offers incontrovertible evidence of one of the largest, most influential global social networks taking extraordinary measures – usually reserved to prevent the dissemination of child pornography – to block information on its platform.

In particular, Twitter banned, both publicly and privately, the sharing of a New York Post article, based on the contents of a laptop owned by Hunter Biden, pointing to possible corruption on the part of his father, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden. The report reinforced existing concerns about Hunter’s role with Burisma, for which he received up to $50,000 per month from the Ukrainian energy giant over a five-year period for attending a handful of corporate events.

Brian Burns / December 04,2022

“Freedom is on the ballot right now,” says Planned Parenthood CEO

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The Atlanta Voice sits down with Planned Parenthood Action Fund CEO Alexis McGill Johnson. Johnson was appointed as President and CEO of Planned Parenthood in June 2020. Johnson is in Atlanta stumping for incumbent Raphael Warnock in advance of today’s runoff. She is the second Black president in the history of the organization after the 14-year tenure of Faye Wattleton from 1978-1992. 

Planned Parenthood is one of the largest providers of women’s healthcare in America and a recent 6-week abortion ban signed into law by Governor Kemp and supported by US Senator Warnock’s challenger, Herschel Walker is the impetus for the campaigning. 

Atlanta Voice: Just for the record, what’s your name?

Alexis McGill Johnson: Alexis McGill Johnson and I’m president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

AV: What are you doing here in Atlanta today?

AMJ: I am here to ensure that people understand that freedom is on the ballot right now, and democracy is on the ballot. And while Georgians voted very clearly, on November 8, is critically important for them to show up again today, to reinforce their vote for Senator Warnock.

AV: What do you want to say to people who feel like the election has already been decided?

 

AMJ: I think that’s a function of voter suppression. The fact that Georgia is in a runoff race that is compressed into a week, is going to impact the ability of people to turn out. But what I’ve seen and consistently heard here from voters across the state is that they are continuing to show up and show out because they understand how important it is to send Rev. Warnock back to the Senate.

Brian Burns / December 03,2022

Sudan’s political strife

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(Reuters) - Sudan's military and a coalition of civilian parties have signed a framework deal aimed at ending a political standoff created by a military coup in October 2021. The deal could revive a transition that began with the 2019 overthrow of autocratic former leader Omar al-Bashir.

Below is a timeline of Sudan's political upheavals:

Dec 19, 2018 - Hundreds protest in the northern city of Atbara against soaring bread prices. Demonstrations spurred by a broader economic crisis quickly spread to Khartoum and other cities. Security services respond with tear gas and gunfire.

April 11, 2019 - The army overthrows and detains Bashir, ending his three decades in power. Hundreds of thousands demonstrate to demand a handover of power to civilians.

June 3, 2019 - Security forces raid a sit-in protest outside the defence ministry in Khartoum. Opposition-linked medics say more than 100 people are killed in the assault.

Aug 17, 2019 - Civilian groups that backed the uprising sign a deal to share power with the military during a transitional period leading to elections. Later in the month Abdalla Hamdok, an economist and former U.N. official, is appointed to head a government.

Aug 31, 2020 - Transitional authorities strike a peace agreement with some rebel groups from the restive, western Darfur region and from the southern regions of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, but two key groups don't join the deal.

Oct 23, 2020 - Sudan joins other Arab states in agreeing to take steps to normalise ties with Israel in a U.S.-brokered deal. Less than two months later, the United States removes Sudan from the list of countries that it considers sponsors of terrorism.

Brian Burns / December 03,2022

China’s COVID-19 policy in flux

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China is set to announce new measures to further ease some of the world's toughest COVID-19 curbs as early as Wednesday, sources told Reuters, with investors cheering the prospect of changes after widespread protests and mounting economic damage.

The zero-COVID policy to stamp out transmission has become a global outlier as most countries seek to live with the disease, but 20 new measures to streamline controls came last month, amid rising public frustration.

After November's rare widespread protests across more than 20 cities, crucial planks of the policy, such as some compulsory tests, and even messaging on the deadliness of the virus, are changing.

Here are questions and answers about a key turning point in President Xi Jinping's signature policy:

IS CHINA ABANDONING ZERO-COVID?

Not yet, but it is making incremental adjustments, easing testing requirements and quarantine rules.

Changes varying by location have taken place even in cities such as southern Guangzhou and Beijing, the capital, despite recent record infections.

Officials told local governments not to use an earlier "one-size-fits-all" approach. Rather, cities have been closing off apartment buildings and single compounds after cases were found, instead of portions of city blocks.

More changes could come as early as Wednesday, Reuters has reported.

WHY MAKE CHANGES NOW?

Public fatigue with zero-COVID is growing, and a surge that triggered lockdowns in numerous cities last month, often unannounced, saw the anger boil over.

At the same time, the world's second-largest economy is being hammered by curbs that have squeezed consumption and travel and disrupted factory output and global supply chains.

Brian Burns / November 22,2022

Victoria election: Daniel Andrews and Matthew Guy’s promises include health, transport and education

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  • The major parties’ key election promises
  • Daniel Andrews sparks criticism for breaking tradition days out from Victoria’s election
  • How and where to vote in Victoria’s state election if you have COVID
  • The major parties have gone on a spending spree in the battle for Victorians’ hearts and minds this election.

    According to the parliamentary budget office, Labor is promising $12 billion and the Coalition $28 billion in health, transport, energy and education policies ahead of the November 26 poll.

    On Friday, Victorian Liberal leader Matthew Guy stood by his would-be treasurer David Davis after he was initially unable to provide a total cost for the Coalition’s election commitments.

    Watch the latest news on Channel 7 or stream for free on 7plus >>

    A Liberal spokesperson later confirmed they would cost about $28 billion but stressed the budget would be roughly $10 billion better off in net terms under the party’s plans.

    Labor’s financial statement shows its election initiatives tally about $11.7 billion but at least $5.86 billion of those have no start date for the allocation of funding over the forward estimates to 2026/27.

    Here is what they’re promising.

Brian Burns / November 10,2022

New generation of candidates stakes claim to Democratic party’s future |

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We are in the early hours of Wednesday morning, 6 November 2024, and after a nail-biting night two men are preparing to give their respective victory and concession speeches in the US presidential election. One of the men is days away from his 82nd birthday, the other is 78.

The prospect of a possible rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump in two years’ time is instilling trepidation in both main parties. It is not just the political perils that go with either individual, it’s also the simple matter of their age.

What happened to the America of the new world, the young country?

But in the wake of this week’s midterm elections there is a stirring in the air. The Democratic party may remain heavily dominated by the old guard – the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, is 82 and the top senator, Chuck Schumer, is 69 – yet there are strong signs of fresh beginnings.

From the first openly lesbian governors in the US and first Black governor of Maryland, to the first Gen Z member of Congress, as well as battle-hardened young politicians in critical swing states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, a new slate of Democratic leaders is coming into view after Tuesday’s elections. They may be too new to reshape the 2024 presidential race, but they carry much promise for the years to come.

“There’s a generational change happening of the kind you see every few decades,” said Joe Trippi, a Democratic strategist who has worked on state and congressional campaigns. “A younger generation is emerging with different ideas who aren’t necessarily wedded to the old way of doing things.”

Brian Burns / November 10,2022

“You Will Win If…” Ex-Captain Imran Khan’s Message To Pakistan Ahead Of T20 World Cup Final

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“You Will Win If…” Ex-Captain Imran Khan’s Message To Pakistan Ahead Of T20 World Cup Final

 
“You Will Win If…” Ex-Captain Imran Khan’s Message To Pakistan Ahead Of T20 World Cup Final

File image of Imran Khan© AFP

In what has been a roller-coaster of a ride in the T20 World Cup 2022, Pakistan find themselves facing England in the final of the tournament. Defeats against India and Zimbabwe had all but eliminated Pakistan from the tournament a dramatic turn of events saw them qualify for the final where they defeated New Zealand. Ahead of the summit clash, former Pakistan captain Imran Khan, who famously led his troops to the ODI World Cup triumph in 1992, has a message for Babar Azam & Co.

The run-in of the Pakistan team in the T20 World Cup has seen stunning similarities between the current campaign and the one Pakistan had in the 1992 ODI World Cup. Entire Pakistan is hoping for Babar to pull off what Imran did. And now, the iconic captain himself has given Babar’s men an important message.

In a tweet on Sunday, ahead of the start of the match, Imran said: “My msg to Pak cricket team today is the same I gave our team in the 1992 World Cup Final. First: enjoy the day as one rarely gets to play in a World Cup final & don’t get overawed by it. Second: you will win if you are willing to take risks & can cash in on mistakes by opponents. That means playing with an attacking mindset. Good luck; the whole nation is praying for your success.”

Brian Burns / October 19,2022

How Australian Governments Got COVID So Wrong?

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How Australian Governments Got COVID So Wrong?

The review of Australia’s COVID response reveals the cost of lockdowns and border closures. But don’t expect premiers or the former prime minister to concede errors.

In late 2022, the era of prolonged shutdowns, rigid border closures, unnecessary panics, social distancing and strict curfews seems more like a nightmare most people prefer to forget. But a scathing independent review of Australia’s COVID response is an awkward reminder of how governments made some very bad choices and why acknowledging this is the best way to avoid similar errors in a future crisis.

Not that humility or a willingness to concede errors is apparent among COVID’s political leadership group. As leader of the Opposition at the time, Anthony Albanese can afford to say it’s a “serious piece of work” which raises concerns and will feed into the government’s promised national investigation.

How Australian Governments Got COVID So Wrong?

Peter Shergold (foreground) and David Gonski during a press conference at NSW parliament on Tuesday.

But Scott Morrison has been stonily silent since his defeat, while some premiers have left office, voluntarily or otherwise. It’s hard to imagine Mark McGowan in Western Australia or Annastacia Palaszczuk in Queensland accepting blame for anything at all. And there’s certainly no concessions from the man who presided over the longest COVID lockdown of any city in the world.

 

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