Theresa May wins Parliament’s backing
to hold snap polls on June 8
London, Apr 19: British Prime Minister Theresa May
on Wednesday won the overwhelming backing of MPs to hold a
snap election on June 8, which she said is in the country’s
“national interest” and will strengthen her hand in the
complex Brexit negotiations.
After debating the motion put forward by May in the House of
Commons, 522 of the 650 sitting MPs voted in favour of the
June 8 election, passing the threshold of two-thirds needed
to approve the plan.
Thirteen voted against the motion.
The Parliament’s backing for snap polls plunged Britain back
into political uncertainty weeks before the start of
negotiations on leaving the European Union.
May, 60, had stunned her allies as well as opponents when
she called for a snap poll on Tuesday.
There was a short debate on the motion in the House of
Commons to over-ride the Fixed Terms Parliaments Act, which
would have seen an election being held only in 2020.
Opening the debate, May said a snap general election was “in
our country’s national interest” and urged MPs to do the
“right and responsible thing” and back an early poll.
She told MPs: “There are three things a country needs, a
strong economy, strong defence and strong, stable
leadership. That is what our plans for Brexit and our plan
for Britain will deliver, and that is what the Conservative
Party will be offering at this election.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “We welcome the general
election but this is a Prime Minister who promised there
wouldn’t be one, a Prime Minister who cannot be trusted. She
says it’s about leadership, yet is refusing to defend her
record in television debates and it’s not hard to see why.”
The vote came soon after former UK Chancellor George Osborne
announced that he intends to quit as an MP. He had come
under fire for taking on a role at the ‘Evening Standard’
newspaper while still being an MP for Tatton.
“I am stepping down from the House of Commons – for now. But
I will remain active in the debate about our country’s
future and on the issues I care about,” he said. Earlier,
May had called on the electorate to trust her on her
decision to call an early general election on June 8 as it
will strengthen her hand in the complex Brexit negotiations.
Chinese President Xi Jinping asks new People's
Liberation Army units to be ready for combat, modern warfare
BEIJING, Apr 19: Chinese President Xi Jinping has
asked the PLA's newly-formed 84 large military units to
prepare themselves for combat and give priority to building
"new-type" fighting capabilities in electronic, information
and space warfare. Xi, also the Chairman of the Central
Military Commission (CMC), the overall high command of the
2.3 million-strong military, spoke to the commanders of the
new units on Tuesday and asked them to improve their joint
operation capabilities and technology level. He said the new
units of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) must prepare
themselves for combat and study wars. The President told the
new forces to conduct more combat exercises and give
priority to building "new-type" fighting capabilities,
state-run China Daily reported. In PLA terminology,
"new-type" fighting capabilities generally refers to
capabilities of engaging in electronic, information and
Xi's call for building "new-type" fighting capabilities of
the world's largest military came as Beijing prepares to
counter the US deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area
Defence (THAAD) interceptor missiles in South Korea, whose
powerful radars could see through most of the part of China
including its missile development programme. As it expanded
strategic influence, China is also flexing its military
might especially in the neighbourhood over the territorial
disputes with India, Japan and countries in the South China
Sea. All 84 of the new units are at combined corps level,
which means their commanders have or soon will be promoted
to a rank of either major general in the Ground Force, Air
Force and Rocket Force or rear admiral in the Navy.
Donald Trump is
considering military options for North Korea and they are
London, Apr 19: Three weeks before becoming president, Donald
Trump weighed in on the threat of North Korea developing a
nuclear warhead capable of reaching the US: “It won’t happen,”
he vowed on Twitter. Now planners are contemplating what a US
strike to prevent that development might look like, and the
options are grim.
Analysts estimate North Korea may now possess between 10 and 25
nuclear weapons, with launch vehicles, air force jets, troops
and artillery scattered across the country, hidden in caves and
massed along the border with South Korea. That’s on top of what
the US estimates to be one of the world’s largest chemical
weapons stockpiles, a biological weapons research program and an
active cyberwarfare capability. And with Seoul and its 10
million residents just 35 miles (56 kilometers) south of the
border -- well within North Korea’s artillery range -- any
eruption of hostilities could have devastating human and
economic costs. That’s why the North Korean dynasty founded by
Kim Il Sung has long hinged its survival, in part, on a warning
that any attack could provoke all-out war.
“Unless you were in a crisis situation where we thought the
North Koreans were getting ready to attack us, a preemptive
strike against the North Korean nuclear and missile program is
simply not a practical option,” said Gary Samore, a former White
House coordinator for weapons of mass destruction, proliferation
and terrorism, who’s now at Harvard University’s Belfer Center.
Donald Trump’s H-1B hacking
gets hammered by critics, but supporters gush over 'America First'
WASHINGTON, Apr 19: US President Donald Trump is getting hammered by
critics for what they say is his dubious commitment to the ''Buy
American, Hire American'' policy that he is promoting on faulty
premise, even as his hardline nationalist supporters are in raptures
that he is putting ''America First.''
From pointing out that the product line from his own companies are
made abroad (including Made in India sports coats) to taunting that
his properties, estates, and businesses employ a large number of
immigrants, detractors eviscerated the US President for double
standards after he went on a blue-collar road show on Tuesday to
expound American First vision. He promoted it with an executive
diktat aimed, among other things, at reforming the H-1B visa
programme that has helped grow the Indian IT industry.
That vision is faulty, industry leaders both in manufacturing and
services said, echoing similar views from Trump's political
opponents and academics with expertise in the matter, all of whom
argued that foreign workers actually contributed to the US economy
and rejected the claim that they took over ''American jobs.'' While
industry leaders said Trump's executive order to ''Buy American''
will simply bump up the cost of the $1 trillion infrastructure
spending (or yield less from it) that he has proposed, analysts such
as Linda Lim, a University of Michigan scholar who studies political
economy, warned that it will also result in foreign governments
enacting similar strictures against American products, throwing sand
in the global trade engine. (Agencies)
Panamagate verdict to decide
Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif’s future
Islamabad, Apr 19: Pakistan is awaiting with growing suspense the
Supreme Court’s verdict in the Panama Papers case on Thursday, with
talk in Islamabad even suggesting the ruling could force Prime
Minister Nawaz Sharif to step down and make way for an interim
premier from his party.
At a meeting of the PML-N party held in Islamabad on Wednesday and
chaired by Sharif, leaders debated whether the party should go for
early elections or for an interim prime minister, in which case the
choice of candidate would have to be finalised.
The two favourites for the position are finance minister Ishaq Dar,
related to the Sharif family through marriage, and Nawaz Sharif's
younger brother, Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif. Other
candidates are also being considered, PML-N officials said.
The case pertains to leaked documents from the Panamanian law firm
of Mossack Fonseca that showed Sharif’s children, including heir
apparent Maryam Nawaz, owned offshore assets worth millions of
dollars. The Supreme Court has raised questions about Maryam’s
Anticipating an adverse verdict, the Karachi Stock Exchange, the
premier bourse, continued to fall. At the end of trading on Tuesday,
the Pakistan Stock Exchange’s (PSX) benchmark index recorded a fall
of 250.75 points to end at 46,874.37. The market also registered a
fall when it reopened on Wednesday morning. (Agencies)
Australia, New Zealand step
up nationalist rhetoric with visa curbs on skilled workers
Sydney, Apr 19: Australia and New Zealand have
tightened visa conditions for skilled migrants in a bid to woo
nationalist-leaning voters, echoing the United States’ “America
First” policy, but critics have decried the move as mostly political
posturing. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday
abolished a temporary work visa popular with foreigners, replacing
it with a new programme. New Zealand also tightened access to
skilled work visas, taking a “Kiwis-first approach.”
The changes are likely to hurt small businesses and Australian tech
start-ups, industry officials said, but both countries will continue
to see a surge in foreigners. Recent population growth in Australia
has been driven by student visas, which offer a path for people to
study, work and eventually become permanent residents. In the six
months to December, the country granted 156,453 student visas. This
compares with just 12,866 of the so-called 457 skilled work visas
approved in the year to September 2016.
More than 95,000 foreigners are now employed under the 457 visa,
making up a mere 0.8 percent of Australia’s labour force. “This is
just a change of name, nothing else,” said Shamim Ahmed, a
Sydney-based migration agent at AIC Education Services. “They cannot
really abolish this visa, because it is demanded by employers.”
The 457 visa has been axed with immediate effect, and replaced by
two new visas with a shorter skills shortage list and a tougher
English language requirement, Turnbull announced on Tuesday.
Additional details are still awaited.
Turnbull, who broke the news on social media site Facebook, expects
fewer entrants to Australia under the new scheme, he said in a radio
interview on Wednesday. “There will be a short-term skills visa for
two years and it can only be renewed once. And then the person
holding it has to go back to their home country,” Turnbull said,
repeating the “Australian jobs for Australians” rhetoric 16 times.
Another 4-year visa will have stricter eligibility criteria.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten has labelled the announcement
“cosmetic” and a “con job” that will make no real difference.