• Breaking: Nigeria, 51 other Commonwealth countries to benefit as UK set to soften visa regime, amend border control system

    12/Feb/2017 // 62736 Viewers

     

    The United Kingdom is proposing to amend its border control system to give preference to citizens from 52 Commonwealth countries which includes Nigeria.

    According to forty-five members of the UK parliament, Commonwealth countries may get fast-tracked visas to the UK after Brexit if the proposal sails through.

    According to UK Telegraph, the suggestion was made in a letter addressed to Amber Rudd, home secretary.

    The letter said Commonwealth stood with Britain when it faced “existential threats”, but that UK has left its allies in the cold as it “pivoted to Europe”.

    “I am writing to urge you to extend the hand of friendship to our Commonwealth partners,” the letter read.

    “In the previous century, Commonwealth countries stood with Britain as we faced existential threats from abroad but as we pivoted to Europe, increasingly, our Commonwealth allies were left in the cold.

    “The lack of consideration for Commonwealth citizens is at its starkest at our border. While EU citizens are collecting their luggage or exchanging greetings with loved ones, our Commonwealth friends wait tirelessly in the ‘All other passports’ queue.

    “Firstly, signs at border control that class every non-EU national as ‘All other passports’ should be changed to ‘The Commonwealth and all other passports’. This is a small step but one that can be enacted quickly.

    “Secondly, the government must commit to examine ways to reduce wait times for Commonwealth citizens entering the UK, perhaps through the use of dedicated Commonwealth border control gates.

    “Entry processing may not be as quick as in the EU channel as several of the 52 Commonwealth nations require a visa for travel to the UK however, this would send out an important message about the value Britain places on its relationship with the Commonwealth.”

    They also suggested that Commonwealth citizens be allowed access to the registered traveller scheme, which would allow them access to use UK/EU lanes and reduce time spent waiting in line.

    “Finally, access to the Registered Traveller Scheme should be further expanded to include additional Commonwealth countries. This programmee, predominately aimed at the business traveler, allows some foreign nationals who meet specific requirements to register and use the UK/EU lanes and e-passport gates, dramatically reducing the time spent waiting in line,” they said.

    “Home secretary, you are in a position to effect real, positive change in our relations with our Commonwealth partners. It would be a shame to let this opportunity pass us by.”

     


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  • Tension as US military tanks storm POLAND, the largest US military reinforcement of Europe to counter a more aggressive RUSSIA

    12/Jan/2017 // 719 Viewers


    US tanks and armoured vehicles along with more than 3,000 US soldiers start arriving in Poland on Thursday.

    They are part of President Barack Obama's response to reassure Nato allies concerned about a more aggressive Russia.

    Their arrival comes just days before the inauguration of Donald Trump who has signalled he wants to improve relations with Moscow.

    It is the largest US military reinforcement of Europe in decades.
    More than 80 main battle tanks and hundreds of armoured vehicles have already arrived in Germany and are now being moved into Eastern Europe by road and rail.

    The US Armoured Brigade will also carry out military exercises in the Baltics, all part of President Obama's response to Russia's intervention in Ukraine and to reassure nervous Nato allies.

    The plan is to rotate forces every nine months.

    But the election of Donald Trump has raised questions as to whether this heightened US military posture will continue, BBC Defence Correspondent Jonathan Beale reports from Poland.

    Mr Trump's nomination for defence secretary - Gen James Mattis - is likely to be asked about the new administration's attitude to Russia in his Senate confirmation hearing later on Thursday.


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  • Italian police swoop on international 'jihadist network'

    12/Nov/2015 // 424 Viewers

     AFP/File | Investigators said the network was trying to free Norway-based fundamentalist preacher Najmuddin Ahmad Faraj -- also known as Mullah Krekar -- pictured here in 2007

     

    ROME (AFP) - 

    Italian police on Thursday announced a swoop on a European jihadist network that was allegedly planning to try to spring its leader out of detention in Norway.

    Seventeen people were targeted in the raids across Europe -- 16 Kurds and a Kosovan. Six of them have been arrested in Italy, four in Britain and three in Norway.

    Several members of the group have travelled to Iraq and Syria to fight for the Islamic State group, police said.

    Investigators said the network was trying to free Norway-based fundamentalist preacher Najmuddin Ahmad Faraj -- also known as Mullah Krekar -- who is listed as a terrorist by the United States and United Nations.

    Giovanni Governale of the Italian police's Special Operations Group told journalists the operation had "dismantled an integrated cell that included -- in addition to Italy -- Britain, Norway, Finland, Switzerland and Germany".

    The network developed "on the 'dark web', little-known (Internet) platforms that we have managed to penetrate," Governale said, adding that the swoop has allowed police to scupper "a process of recruitment, of sending (fighters) into combat abroad".

    Governale said the network "was about to continue sending many other jihadists abroad; it was about to carry out attacks, including suicide bombings, to try to free their chief, Mullah Krekar".

    The 59-year-old, a Kurdish Iraqi, has been living in Norway since 1991.

    He has been at risk of deportation since 2003 after Norwegian authorities ordered him to be expelled as a threat to national security.

    While courts have upheld the ruling, Norwegian law bars him from being deported to Iraq, where he risks the death penalty.

    Krekar also founded the radical Islamist group Ansar al-Islam, but insists he has not led it since 2002.

    Source: AFP


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  • EU leaders pledge €1.8 billion in aid to tackle Africa migration

    12/Nov/2015 // 279 Viewers

    EU leaders attending a summit with their African counterparts on Thursday approved a 1.8-billion-euro trust fund for Africa aimed at tackling the root causes of mass migration to Europe.

     
    "For the Africa Trust Fund and our response to be credible, I want to see more member states contributing and matching the 1.8 billion euros ($1.9 billion) the EU has put forward," European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said as EU leaders signed the deal in Malta.
     
    The commission said so far 25 of the 28 EU member states and two non-EU donors Norway and Switzerland had pledged a total of around 78.2 million euros in matching funds, far short of the 1.8 billion euros Juncker has called for.
     
    EU officials have not ruled out more pledges at the EU-Africa summit that ends later Thursday in Valletta and said they could also come over the coming weeks.
     
    Senegal's President Macky Sall, who also chairs the Economic Community of West African States, and other African leaders told reporters the fund, as it currently stood, was not enough.
     
    The fund is designed to tackle root causes of migration, such as poverty and violence, by creating jobs and intensifying diplomatic efforts to reduce or end armed conflicts in parts of Africa.
     
    In return, the EU hopes to sign later Thursday a five-point action plan with the African leaders aimed at obtaining their cooperation to readmit more irregular migrants sent back from Europe and clamp down on people smugglers, while offering Africans expanded but limited legal channels of migration.
     
    "This Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, set up at a record speed, shows once more the EU's commitment to swiftly reply to the large challenges we are facing in the region," Juncker said.
     
    "To succeed, we need to work together with other European countries and our partner countries in Africa in addressing the root causes of irregular migration and promoting economic and equal opportunities, security and development," he said.
     
    The EU-Africa summit was first called months ago when the Mediterranean route from lawless Libya was still the main springboard for migrants travelling to the EU in battered fishing boats and flimsy dinghies.
     
    Nearly 800 migrants died in a single shipwreck off the Libyan coast in April.
     
    Turkey has overtaken North Africa as the main launching point for migrants coming to Europe, and currently hosts two million Syrian refugees.
     
    (AFP)


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  • Snow comes to Europe

    12/Nov/2016 // 406 Viewers

    Scandinavians: Heavy snow in Helsinki, Finland

    PARIS, NOVEMBER 12, 2016: (DGW)  HEAVY snowfalls have continued to fall in many parts of Europe thus sending a wave of freezing cold air in a southward push.

    Hard hit  for many days now is many parts of Eastern Europe extending to parts of Belarus and western Russia with accumulations of up to half a metre punctuated with cold air with active weather systems bringing snow to more western areas and the Alps which are likely to see heavy snowfalls in the coming days and this is also likely to raise the risk of  avalanches, Al Jazeera also reported.

    In the meantime, milder air is expected to make some inroads into western areas.

    Photographs, courtesy of Al Jazeera


    Snow formed down the spine of northern England


    Scandinavians: At least 10cm of snow fell in the Swedish capital


    The Russian capital has seen many days of snowfall


    Heavy snow has also been reported in the Spanish Pyrenees



    Snow has affected transportation across Europe including Eastern Germany 


    Snow has penetrated a long way south, including vineyards, just north of Lyon , France




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  • Oil glut not in best interest of member countries - OPEC

    13/Apr/2016 // 268 Viewers

     

    PARIS, APRIL 13, 2016: (DGW) - A meeting between cartel members and other major oil producers has been scheduled for Doha to discuss production freeze as  the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, (OPEC) raises an alarm.

    OPEC warned that oil glut on the market  would spell danger for members adding that a freeze in production will help to boost oil price, hence a crunch meeting in Doha becomes absolutely necessary.

    In a press release in its monthly report, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, (OPEC) was quoted as saying in the report that, ''hurdles prevail as oversupply persists and inventories remain high''.


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  • Russian destroyer 'fires warning shots' at Turkish ship

    13/Dec/2015 // 301 Viewers

     © Sergei Karpukhin, AFP | File photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow



    A Russian destroyer in the Aegean Sea on Sunday used small arms fire to prevent a collision with a Turkish vessel, Moscow said, adding it had summoned Ankara's military attache over the incident.

    "The crew of the Russian patrol ship Smetlivy which was located 22 kilometres (13.7 miles) from the Greek island of Lemnos in the northern part of the Aegean Sea avoided collision with a Turkish seiner," the defence ministry said, adding that the crew had fired small arms to warn the boat.

    At 0603 GMT the Russian warship, which was at anchor, spotted a Turkish fishing boat some 1,000 metres away, the defence ministry said, adding the boat had been approaching it from the right.

    "Despite numerous attempts by the Smetlivy, the crew of the Turkish seiner would not engage in radio contact and did not respond to special visual signals," the ministry added.

    Moscow said the crew had to fire small arms in the direction of the boat at "a guaranteed survivability distance" when there were some 600 metres between the two vessels "to prevent the collision of the ships."

    "Immediately after that the Turkish vessel drastically changed course and continued its movement past the Smetlivy at the distance of 540 metres without engaging in contact with the Russian crew," the ministry said.

    Deputy defence minister Anatoly Antonov summoned a Turkish military attache, it added.

    The latest incident came after Turkey downed a Russian bomber at the Syrian border in November, leading to the biggest crisis in ties between the two countries since the end of the Cold War.

    After the downing of the warplane, which led to the deaths of a pilot and another serviceman who attempted to rescue him, Russia introduced economic sanctions against Turkey and beefed up its firepower at its airbase in Syria.

    President Vladimir Putin on Friday delivered a thinly veiled warning to Ankara and told his forces in Syria to take tough action against any threats.

    "I would like to warn those who would once again try to organise some sort of provocations against our servicemen," Putin said.

    Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday that Ankara's patience with Moscow after the downing of the warplane was "not unlimited", urging Moscow to react calmly. 

     

     

     

     

    (AFP)


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  • Major attacks in Europe 'a certainty', says French PM Valls

    13/Feb/2016 // 243 Viewers

     

    More major attacks in Europe are a "certainty", French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told an audience at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.
    "We have entered -- we all feel it -- in a new era characterised by the lasting presence of 'hyper-terrorism'," said Valls, whose country was hit by two Islamist attacks last year.
    "We must be fully conscious of the threat, and react with a very great force and great lucidity. There will be attacks. Large-scale attacks. It's a certainty. This hyper-terrorism is here to stay," he said.
    Valls was speaking at the three-day security conference in the southern German city, speaking alongside Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
    "The force of the ideological fascination is formidable, and if we have changed era it is because this hyper-terrorism is in the heart of our societies."
    Islamic State jihadists wrought havoc on the streets of Paris on November 13, killing 130 in a series of attacks on bars, a football stadium and the Bataclan concert hall.
    That came after 12 people were killed in a January attack on the Charlie Hebdo satirical news weekly, which had been in the jihadists' sights since publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2006. - AFP
     
     


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  • No longer at ease, ITALIAN AUTHORITIES confront NIGERIAN GOVT, release damning report on migrants, BUHARI says he's EMBARRASSED

    13/Jan/2017 // 6436 Viewers

     

    PARIS, JANUARY 12, 2016: (DGW) No fewer than 36,000 illegal immigrants from Nigeria reportedly braved the Mediterranean odds to arrive Italy in 2016, official figures from the Italian Interior Ministry show.

    Most of them cite Boko Haram insurgency or Niger Delta crisis as reasons for leaving Nigeria.

    The estimate was as of November 2016 with many more swelling the number in 2017.

    The Nigerian government was briefed by Italian authorities on this development late last year.

    Sources said the Nigerian government regarded the high number of Nigerians seeking asylum abroad as ‘’mind boggling and embarrassing”.

    Government is of the view that only a few of the migrants could genuinely claim they were fleeing from Boko Haram insurgency and Niger Delta crisis.

    “Most Nigerian migrants pictured in this milieu, are motivated by economic and pecuniary interests”, said a spokesman for Engineer Babachir David Lawal, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

    From all indications, government may soon begin a campaign to dissuade the young Nigerian ‘‘opportunity seekers” from embarking on the “perilous Mediterranean crossings in their bid to emigrate to Europe”.

    “The dangers and rigours of the expeditions entail extreme negative prospects compared to the vibrant opportunities that Nigeria as a nation is still blessed it”, said the statement, signed by U. Onwuanukwo, on behalf of David Lawal.

    According to Frontex, the European Union border agency, some 181,000 migrants eventually arrived in Italy last year from North Africa, the highest number ever recorded. It was 20% more than last year.

    The largest group of migrants arriving were Nigerians, Eritreans and Guineans, the agency added.

    Nigerians, along with Guineans also formed the bulk of migrants rescued at sea, especially in November, said Frontex in a report published 9 December.

    The flow of Nigerian immigrants to Italy via the Mediterranean backdoor began in 2008 and declined for five years. From 2013, the number jumped.

    In sorting out the migrants, Italian and European authorities have been able to distinguish between migrants from war torn states such as Syria from the hordes of economic refugees from Africa.

    “The flow from Syria and Iraq is somewhat contingent while that from Africa is structural. Some European citizens support welcoming refugees from Syria while support for African economic migrants among public opinion is extremely low,” Mattia Toaldo, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations,
    said.

    Italy, meanwhile, has reopened its embassy in Libya to enable its officials work with Libyan government to stem the flow of immigrants, through the Libyan route, the most popularly used by Nigerian migrants.

    The Italian Interior Minister, Marco Minniti , announced the decision on Monday.

    The embassy closed in 2015 along with all other Western embassies as the North African country descended into violence.


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  • Theresa May Is Britain’s New Prime Minister After David Cameron’s Resignation

    13/Jul/2016 // 534 Viewers

     

    LONDON — After a transfer of power of startling speed, Theresa May took office as Britain’s prime minister on Wednesday afternoon, promising to honor last month’s referendum to leave the European Union, but also to heal some of the divisions that the vote exposed, and to create an economy that works for everyone, not just the “privileged few.”

    Speaking as she arrived at the prime minister’s office at 10 Downing Street, Ms. May, who had served for six years as home secretary, sought to position herself firmly in the tradition of “one nation” Conservatism, stressing her commitment to helping the underprivileged and pledging to fight “burning injustice.”

    “We are living through an important moment in our country’s history; following the referendum, we face a time of great national change,” Ms. May said, as her husband, Philip, stood nearby.

    Ms. May had supported Britain’s remaining in the European Union, but tepidly, and she promised to respect the outcome of the June 23 vote. “As we leave the European Union we will forge a bold new positive role for ourselves in the world, and we will make Britain a country that works not just for a privileged few but for every one of us,” she said.

    In a surprise appointment, Ms. May named Boris Johnson, the former London mayor, foreign secretary, thereby giving one of those who argued for British withdrawal from the European Union a role in negotiating it.

    After the fast-paced events of recent weeks, a day of political ritual saw David Cameron address lawmakers for the last time as prime minister, before tendering his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II, to make way for Ms. May, 59, who takes over at a time of flux and uncertainty not seen in decades.

    Only on Monday did Ms. May learn that she would become prime minister, when the last remaining contender to lead the ruling Conservative Party, Andrea Leadsom, quit the race.

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    Ms. May is the 13th prime minister to serve this queen — the first was Winston Churchill — and her task is more formidable than that of most of her predecessors. Ms. May must chart a course that unites her Conservative Party and takes Britain out of the European Union, while limiting the effect of withdrawal on an economy already heading for a downturn and bruised by a slump in the value of its currency.

    Her first responsibility is to start constructing a new cabinet, and Ms. May quickly put her stamp on the new government by replacing the chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, with Philip Hammond, who had been foreign secretary. Mr. Osborne resigned from the government. She seems intent on using such appointments to help chart a different course than that of Mr. Cameron.
    Ms. May is also expected to promote several women to powerful jobs and, because she argued for Britain to remain inside the European Union, to give key positions to several of those who took the opposing view, to create a political balance.

    That referendum divided the nation, with the majority of voters in a number of less affluent areas opting to quit the bloc, while most of those in London, Scotland and Northern Ireland took the opposite view. On Monday, Ms. May outlined some of the economic changes she hopes to make, speaking about taming excessive executive pay, and arguing that big multinational companies must pay their fair share of tax.

    Just an hour or so before Ms. May spoke on Wednesday, Mr. Cameron had stood in the same spot, flanked by his wife, Samantha and their three children, paying tribute to his family and his key staff members who had supported him.

    “It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve our country as prime minister over these last six years, and to serve as the leader of my party for almost 11 years,” Mr. Cameron said. “My only wish is continued success for this great country that I love so very much.”

    Mr. Cameron cited the nation’s economic recovery as his top legacy. “With the deficit cut by two-thirds, two and a half million more people in work and one million more businesses, there can be no doubt that our economy is immeasurably stronger,” he said.

    He also cited among his accomplishments the legalization of same-sex marriage, in 2013; changes to the education system; and reduced wait times for operations in Britain’s much loved National Health Service.

    Hours earlier, in his final parliamentary duty, Mr. Cameron took part for the last time in prime minister’s questions, the weekly ritual in which lawmakers interrogate the leader in often combative exchanges.

    On Wednesday, the discussion was more respectful — and lighthearted — than usual, as Mr. Cameron’s political adversaries and allies paid tribute to him as he prepared to leave his office in 10 Downing Street for the last time as prime minister.

    Though Mr. Cameron won a general election only last year, he finds himself out of power at age 49. Mr. Cameron is the youngest prime minister to relinquish the job since Archibald Primrose, the Earl of Rosebery, in 1895.

    Before leaving Parliament on Wednesday, to laughter and applause, Mr. Cameron appeared to reflect on the transience of power, telling lawmakers: “I was the future once.”

    More than a decade ago, when his party was in opposition, he had notably taunted the Labour prime minister, Tony Blair, telling him that Mr. Blair had been the future once.

    Yet Mr. Cameron will mainly be remembered as the prime minister who gambled — and lost — by holding a referendum in which he called on Britons to continue more than four decades of European integration.

    When 52 percent of voters decided they wanted to leave the bloc in last month’s referendum, Mr. Cameron was left with little alternative but to resign.

    While the power struggle in the Conservative Party is over for now, the one in the opposition Labour Party is just getting underway.

    On Wednesday, Owen Smith, a Labour lawmaker who used to speak for the party on work and pensions issues, said he would run for the leadership. Angela Eagle, who used to speak for the party on business issues, announced on Monday that she would challenge Mr. Corbyn, who has refused to stand down despite the resignation of most of his leadership team in Parliament.

    The Labour Party’s ruling body — the National Executive Committee — decided that Mr. Corbyn would automatically be on the ballot, without needing to collect the necessary nominations from lawmakers, a task he would have struggled to accomplish.

    The committee also decided to suspend local party meetings for the duration of the leadership contest, in a move apparently prompted by allegations of intimidation of lawmakers and party members. The timetable for the leadership vote is expected to be announced on Thursday; the contest will probably conclude by the end of September. - New York Times


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