COVID-19: Death toll in the UK passes 40,000

As the number of deaths fall for the third week running, 10,000 more people than average have died at home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The number of people in the UK who have lost their lives to coronavirus has now passed 40,000, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics.

But the true death toll could be much higher, as the number of excess deaths between the first week of March and May 8 has topped 53,000 in the UK.

Tuesday’s ONS figures show that 39,071 deaths involving Covid-19 had occurred in England and Wales up to May 8 and had been registered up to May 16.

When figures from Scotland and Northern Ireland are added, a total of 42,883 deaths have been registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, including suspected cases.

Added to this figure, a further 1,211 hospital patients in England who had tested positive for Covid-19 died between May 9 and May 17, according to figures published on Monday by NHS England, putting the overall death toll for the UK at just over 44,000.

Irobiko Chimezie

UK threatens to boycott trade negotiations with EU

Britain laid out its opening demands for upcomingtrade talks with the European Union on Thursday,including a blunt threat to walk away from the negotiating table if there is no progress within four months.

The two sides appear headed for a rocky first round of negotiations as they try to forge a new relationship following the U.K.’s departure from the now 27-nation bloc.

Britain and the EU both say they want to reach a free trade agreement, but have starkly divergent views on how it should be overseen and what constitutes fair competition between their two economies.

The EU says Britain must agree to follow the bloc’s rules in areas ranging from state aid to environmental protections, and give European boats access to U.K. fishing waters, if the two sides are to strike a good deal. But the U.K. is demanding the right to diverge from the bloc’s rules in order to strike new trade agreements around the world, and to give the British government a freer hand to intervene in the U.K. economy.

“In pursuit of a deal we will not trade away our sovereignty,” Michael Gove, the minister in charge of Brexit preparations, told lawmakers in the House of Commons. “We will not be seeking to dynamically alignwith EU rules on EU terms, governed by EU laws and EU institutions.”

That conflict will be one of the big hurdles in talks, which are due to begin Monday in Brussels. Fishing is likely to be another flashpoint. EU nations — especially France — want Britain to grant European boats long-term access to U.K. waters. Britain wants to negotiate fishing quotas annually.

Britain left the EU on Jan. 31 but remains bound by the bloc’s rules until a post-Brexit transition period ends on Dec. 31. A divorce agreement between the two sides allows for the transition to be extended for two more years, but British Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists he will not agree to that.

That leaves the two sides just months to seal a wide-ranging deal. Britain’s negotiating guidelines insist that there is “limited, but sufficient time” to get an agreement. The document says a “broad outline” of an agreement should be done by June. It warns that if there is not sufficient progress by then, the U.K. could walk away and focus on “domestic preparations to exit the transition period in an orderly fashion.”

Johnson’s Conservative government says that with or without a trade deal the U.K. will be leaving the bloc’s structures — including its single market for trade in goods and services — as of Jan. 1, 2021.

Britain hopes by then to have a trade agreement with the bloc similar to the one struck between the EU and Canada. Such a deal would eliminate tariffs and quotas on trade in goods, but it’s less clear what it would mean for the services sector that makes up four-fifths of Britain’s economy.The U.K. also aspires to strike side agreements in areas including fisheries, law enforcement and judicial cooperation.

The British government is warning businesses that no matter what happens there will be new barriers between Britain and the EU, which currently accounts for almost half of U.K. trade. Even with a free trade deal there will be new border checks and customs forms to fill out.

Allie Renison, head of Europe and Trade Policy at the Institute of Directors business group, expressed disappointment that “securing market access continuity seems to be less than a fundamental priority.”

She said that for most of the group’s members, “maintaining ease of trade with the single market is more important than being able to diverge from EU regulations.” Britain’s tough talk is unlikely to impress EU negotiators, who already accuse Johnson of trying to water down commitments Britain made in the divorce deal that paved the way for the country’s seamless departure on Jan. 31. That withdrawal agreement dealt with three broad issues — citizens’ rights after Brexit, Britain’s liabilities after 47 years of membership and the need to keep people and goods flowing freely across the border between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K.

The two sides have agreed to maintain an open border by keeping Northern Ireland aligned to EU rules even if the rest of the U.K. diverges. But recent comments by Johnson’s government seeming to downplay the significance of that agreement have set off alarm bells among EU leaders.

Behind the hard rhetoric, the two sides do have room for agreement. Britain has promised it won’t undercut the EU by lowering standards on environmental protection, food hygiene or workers’ rights. “We’re not going to engage in some race to the bottom,” Johnson said.

But Britain won’t agree to let the EU be the judge of whether it is living up to those commitments. The challenge for negotiators will be to find a way to make that commitment binding that both sides can agree on.

Former British trade negotiator David Henig said both Britain and the EU appeared “too optimistic” in their conflicting opening gambits. “Which is fine at this stage. As long as we’re aware we won’t in fact get all we want. As the EU won’t,” he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

In Brussels, EU spokeswoman Dana Spinant said she “wouldn’t want to jump to conclusions about the outcome” of talks. “However, the commission maintains its capacity to prepare for a no-deal (U.K. exit)” even as it prepares for “a positive result of those negotiations,” she said.

Article 50: Everything you should know about Brexit

Brexit has far-reaching consequences for the economy, the UK’s relations with Europe and the rest of the world and the integrity of the Union.

As UK politicians try to navigate their way through these troubled waters, its lawyers are trying to steer their way through the equally choppy waters of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. What is needed to trigger Article 50 and, perhaps more pertinently, who gets to decide?

Article 50 allows a member state to decide to withdraw from the EU, according to its own constitutional requirements. Once the decision is made, the member state is required to notify the European Council, triggering a two- year negotiation period which may be extended by agreement. The EU Treaties no longer apply to the UK once this period comes to an end, or once a withdrawal agreement has been reached and has entered into force. This may seem clear enough, but in a country with no codified constitution which draws its constitutional requirements from legislation, the common law and convention, it is difficult to know the UK’s constitutional requirements for determining a decision for the purposes of Article 50.

One certainty is that the referendum itself is not a decision; it is an expression of the wishes of the public. The European Union Referendum Act 2015 placed no legal requirement on the Government to respond to the referendum – although ignoring the referendum outcome would have political consequences.

This appears to be where the certainty ends. Government lawyers argue that all that is needed is an exercise of a prerogative power – i.e. a non-statutory power exercised by the executive on behalf of the Crown. However, others claim there is a need for legislation. There is a now a legal challenge, specifically asking the courts to determine whether an Act of Parliament is needed to trigger Article 50.

The argument for an Act of Parliament stems from the nature of the relationship between statutory and prerogative powers. The common law makes it clear that, to the extent that the two conflict, statutory provisions override prerogative powers. If, for example, legislation clearly stated that a decision to withdraw from the European Union could only be made by an Act of Parliament, the courts would strike down a triggering of Article 50 by prerogative as unlawful. However, there is no such legislative provision.

The argument in favour of an Act of Parliament is more subtle and rests on a series of steps, all of which are subject to potential objections. Firstly, some claim that the common law prevents ministers from exercising prerogative powers in a way that may remove or restrict rights. Second, Article 50, once triggered, cannot be reversed, leading to the inevitable removal of EU rights. Yet, these rights have become part of UK law, incorporated through legislation: the European Communities Act 1972. Thirdly, the European Union Act 2011 makes it clear that any rights in European Union law are only recognised in UK law by virtue of an Act of Parliament. Put these three stages together and there is the argument that just as we need an Act of Parliament to incorporate European Union law rights into UK law, so we also need an Act of Parliament to remove those rights.

Although it is arguable that the common law prevents ministers from exercising prerogative powers to remove rights found in legislation, there is no clear judicial decision definitively supporting this interpretation. While Article 50 does not expressly enable us to stop the negotiation procedures once triggered, there are nevertheless arguments that the UK could change its mind even after this has been done. Arguably, we could stop the process of leaving the EU before the negotiation period ends or a withdrawal agreement has been put into force.  The provisions of the European Union Act were enacted to make it clear that it was legislation, and by implication not the common law, which governed the relationship between UK law and European Union law. Its provisions outline how power is transferred from the UK to the European Union, not power travelling in the opposite direction.

If that was not complicated enough, there is the issue of who decides whether an Act of Parliament is needed and makes the declaratory order. Once issued, the government would also have to decide how to respond. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that the UK courts would refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union to determine whether the Article 50 process could be reversed once triggered. The UK courts would then have to apply this court’s interpretation of Article 50. Even if the court concludes that an Act of Parliament is not needed, there is still the issue of whether Article 50 can be triggered by the Prime Minister alone, or whether it needs an Order in Council, requiring the approval of the Privy Council.

Although much of this confusion is due, in part, to the UK’s lack of a codified constitution, even if we had one it could not provide for every eventuality. A codified constitution would also probably have had debates on the meaning of legal terms, interpreted either according to the intentions of its enactors or adapted to reflect current values.

Hopefully, the fact that UK has a more flexible constitution means it can resolve some of the issues not just by interpreting legal terms but also by paying attention to what best serves the UK’s parliamentary democracy. We live in interesting constitutional times, and only time will tell whether Britons can navigate their way smoothly through these difficulties.

Doing Business in the United Kingdom

The UK’s position, both geographically and in respect of business culture, puts it at the center of a diverse collection of markets and sectors. Its open market and diversified economy present opportunities for new investors to access a domestic market and to use the location as a gateway to the rest of the world.

Based on the World Bank Doing Business survey, the UK is ranked top in Europe in terms of ease of doing business and fourth in the world. It offers a number of competitive advantages as a hub for investors to conduct their business, which can be summarized as follows:

• The UK is culturally a highly efficient place from which to access world markets. It boasts a central time zone position, being ideally placed between the markets of the East and West, good transport infrastructure, accessibility
of language and familiarity of business culture for many new investors.

• The UK is a flexible and business-minded location, historically recognized as a well-established and reputable jurisdiction in which to conduct business.

• A company can be incorporated in the UK with same day formation.

• It attracts an internationally mobile and highly-skilled workforce.

• The headline tax rate from 1 April 2013 for companies is 23% but reduced to 21% by the government in 2014.

• Foreign businesses coming to the UK should be aware that the accounts of all UK companies are subject to public disclosure through the Registrar of Companies.

• It has one of the largest treaty networks.

• The scope of personal taxation varies according to the length of the individual’s stay in the UK and whether they are domiciled in the UK, allowing foreign nationals to arrange their tax affairs efficiently. With effect from 6 April 2013 a new statutory residence test was introduced, providing certainty to individuals regarding their UK tax residence status. The government is also introducing a number of measures designed to prevent tax avoidance and
make the reporting in the UK more transparent.

• New immigration rules introduced in 2008 mean that procedures for visiting and working in the UK have changed recently and companies should ensure that they are addressing these. Special rules are in existence for high net worth individuals and entrepreneurs investing in the UK. The government in the UK is actively addressing opportunities for investors to come to the UK through fiscal reforms. Whilst there is a genuine drive to ensure that the UK has a simple and easy to understand legal environment in which to do business, investors still need to be aware of regulatory aspects relating to their specific sector, where appropriate.

UK food and beverage manufacturers warn government against “no-deal” Brexit

With the threat of the UK crashing out of the EU, Greencore chief executive Patrick Coveney has urged food and drink manufacturers to act on no-deal Brexit scenario contingency plans.

In the first part of this exclusive video interview – filmed at the Food Manufacture​ Business Leaders’ Forum, sponsored by law firm DWF​​ – Coveney called on politicians to prevent the UK crashing out of the EU at the end of March.

“I think that ​[a Brexit deal] is likely and I’m encouraged by the sentiment and engagement within the House of Commons around the need to avoid​ [a no-deal Brexit],” said Coveney.

“I think businesses increasingly across multiple sectors are speaking as one around the imperative to avoid​ [a no-deal], regardless of what the long-term trading relationship between Britain and the EU ends up being.”​

Not protected from no-deal​

However, he warned that the support of a Brexit deal in parliament did not necessarily mean the UK was protected from crashing out of the EU.

“I don’t think we can take it for granted that it’s going to be successful,”​ said Coveney. “There is certainly a possibility that Britain will come out of the EU without a deal at the end of March. ​

“As food companies, we need to prepare and take action now – including making some decisions that incur cost either directly or indirectly with our customers – in order to give us the best possible chance to be able to stay in supply with a range that works for UK shoppers.” 

Durham University student arrested for espionage in the UAE

 

 

A British student from Durham University has been held in solitary confinement for spying in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Capture

This undated image shows Matthew Hedges and his wife Daniela Tejada

The accused person, Matthew Hedges, was detained “without explanation” five months ago. He was on a research trip in the UAE, the UK Telegraph confirmed.

Hedges, 31, was studying for his doctorate degree before the arrest. He was reportedly taken into custody at Dubai airport on May 5 after travelling to the UAE to interview sources about the country’s foreign policy and security strategy.

The PhD student has been held without charge ever since and his rights are being “violated on a daily basis”, his wife Daniela Tejada said. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is understood to have personally raised Mr Hedges’s case with his UAE counterpart amid concerns over his mental health and well-being.

British officials have visited Mr Hedges twice, although he is said to have been prevented from discussing his case with them.

In the first month he was held, Ms Tejada he was not allowed to shower and was made to sleep on the floor. After that, he was only granted a shower every two weeks, and finally after three months of solitary confinement he was given a foam mattress.

He was allowed to see a doctor who prescribed a cocktail of medication to treat his mental health with little to no success.

In one conversation with his wife, Mr Hedges expressed that he was having suicidal thoughts.  The conditions in which he is being kept are inhumane and degrading.

Mr Hedges’s case was heard by a court in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, but was adjourned until another hearing on October 24. Ms Tejada said all she wants “is for Matt to come home safely”.

“We cannot believe this has happened. We have been patient and done everything that has been advised, supposedly in Matt’s best interest, but we can no longer go on like this.

“Matt is a brilliant researcher, a man of integrity, and he has been punished in the most unjust and unfair way. His rights are violated on a daily basis and I am shocked that more has not been done to get him out,” she said in a statement.

“Matt is a British citizen; he visited the UAE exclusively for academic research purposes and has been detained without charge for over five months in an undisclosed location. This is appalling and more must be done to ensure he is safely brought home.”

According to a profile on the Durham University website, Mr Hedges’s research includes Middle Eastern politics, the changing nature of war, civil-military relations and tribalism.

Ms Tejada said the UK should review its educational ties with the UAE in light of Mr Hedges’s detention, warning academic researchers like him “face great risks in the UAE”.

She said: “All I want is for Matt to come home safely. The longer this goes on, the longer the recovery from this traumatic experience will take.

“I am extremely worried about Matt’s mental health and general wellbeing. I am shocked and confused by the whole situation and will do everything I can to make sure he comes home soon.”

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “Our staff are supporting a British man following his detention in the UAE. We are assisting his family and remain in close contact with authorities.

“The Foreign Secretary has also personally raised his case with his Emirati counterpart.”

Can there be a Brexit deal by November?

 

Brexit.jpg

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he thinks a Brexit deal can be done by November.

The Irish border is the most vexed issue still facing UK and EU negotiators.

The Republic’s premier warned the damage caused by talks failure to Britain and Ireland would be “immense”.

A special meeting of European leaders in Brussels has been mooted for November if the two sides are close to reaching agreement.

Mr Varadkar said: “I do think we’ll get there.

“I think we’ll get there in November because nobody wants us to end up with a no-deal scenario because the damage for the UK would be immense.

“The damage for Ireland would also be immense and it would have a serious impact on other countries like Belgium, Holland, and France and Denmark.

“So I believe we will get there in November but we are in unchartered territory.”

The EU has interpreted a backstop, agreed in principle between the UK and Europe in December, to mean that, in the absence of a trade deal, Northern Ireland would continue to follow EU rules relating to commerce and thus prevent the imposition of a hard Irish land border.

International bank to “free” over 4,000 workers in the UK for unfavorable Brexit laws

With expectations of unfavorable banking rules and regulations in post-Brexit UK, JPMorgan has warned that nearly 4,000 workers would be downsized.

Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of the world-famous bank, said in an official statement that “heads will role” if the United Kingdom and European Union (EU) fail to agree on common banking rules.

JPMorgan.jpg

Speaking in an interview with the BBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Dimon said he hopes to secure a Brexit deal that’s up to the status quo but stressed that more than a quarter of its entire workforce in the UK would be affected if expectations are not met.

JPMorgan is set to cut down an estimated 16,000 UK staff .

The giant American bank has thousands of staff working its Canary Wharf office, Glasgow, as well as in Bournemouth.

“If we can’t find reciprocal recognition of rules, and there are a lot of people who are mad with the Brits for leaving and want their pound of flesh, then it could be bad.

“…It could be more than 4,000,” Mr Davos added.

“We love London, we love working there. We’ve got, as you point out, huge efficiencies for us.

“Huge efficiencies for the eurozone too. But if they determine that you can’t have reciprocal trade practices and reciprocal regulations, it would be a lot.”

In the CEO’s explanation, JPMorgan is facing a challenge of reducing cost through staff reduction if the EU decides that Britain’s post-Brexit regulations are not “reciprocal.”

There are speculations that Britain’s financial services industry might not be able to stay in business within EU thanks to so-called regulatory equivalence, which also implies that rules in the UK’ are not less stringent or comprehensive compared to that of the EU.

The issue of employment around EU, and Britain retaining passporting rights after leaving the union, remains a quagmire for most Londoners, some of who now hope for some sort of favorable regulatory equivalence between the UK and the continent

According to The Independent, “equivalence” would effectively mean the UK transferring existing EU financial regulations onto its own statute book allowing banks and financial services companies to continue operations on both sides of the channel without breaking any rules.

However, trouble started during the interview when Dimon told BBC’s Simon Jack that JPMorgan would take drastic measure if the UK and EU can’t agree on a better arrangement.

“When asked if that outcome would represent a real threat to the future success of London as a financial center,” the BBC’s Simon Jack writes: “He gave a single word answer: ‘Yep.'”

While some companies in the financial services industry have said they will have to begin moving jobs imminently if the Government cannot give clarity on the post-Brexit situation, JPMorgan, which counts London as the center of its European hub, says it has also considered relocation.

The bank is currently making plans to expand into other financial centers, particularly Dublin, where it announced its readiness in May to buy a building with the capacity to accommodate 1,000 staff .

JPMorgan announced in November 2017 that it was gearing to employ over 60 new staff in Paris.

UK Lawmakers present a new Bill to authoritatively snoop of citizens’ internet history

A new bill nicknamed the “Snooper’s Charter” has been presented by lawmakers in the United Kingdom. If passed into law, all internet providers in the country will be mandated to keep a comprehensive list of websites visited by citizens.

Internet providers will be required to make a yearly presentation of such records to about 50 government agencies, if requested.

Media reports confirm that Internet Connection Records (ICRs) will not display pages which users visited on individual websites or if any action is performed on them.

However, the Investigatory Powers Bill will have the legal authority to demand from internet providers, every site visited by users as well as the actual time they were accessed.

The Food Standards Agency, Department of Transport, Gambling Commission, Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, and the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Board are among the agencies that will be privy to citizen’s online information, along with several other law enforcement entities.

The 60-year-old UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, is said to be championing the cause of this bill after a previous attempt was denied by the Liberal Democrats, reports confirm.

Image shows Theresa May, the UK Prime Minister.

US whistleblower Edward Snowden took to Twitter to air his opinion on this “Snooper’s Charter”, saying that May is spearheading the bill so her government can expand its “powers of mass surveillance.”

A July report from The Independent quotes Privacy International campaign director Harmit Kambo as saying: “Instead of responding to public alarm about the Edward Snowden disclosures by rolling back state surveillance powers, [May] has instead ratcheted it up with the Investigatory Powers Bill, the most intrusive surveillance legislation of any democratic country.” 

A draft version of a code of practice for the law indicates that when agencies apply to obtain a user’s records they must clarify what they are investigating, the person they are investigating, why that person is linked to the event in question, and why the data is pertinent to the investigation.

Matt Burgess, a writer with Wired UK, said: “For the first time, security services will be able to hack into computers, networks, mobile devices, servers and more under the proposed plans.

“The practice is known as equipment interference and is set out in part 5, chapter 2, of the IP Bill.

“This could include downloading data from a mobile phone that is stolen or left unattended, or software that tracks every keyboard letter pressed being installed on a laptop.”

Lesbian UK celebrity Samantha Fox says she struggled to talk about her sexual orientation

Samantha Karen Fox, one of U.K.’s gay celebrities, has revealed that she still finds it difficult to discuss her sexuality with people. She says it’s very difficult identifying herself as a lesbian.

The English dance-pop singer, actress, and songwriter, had a steamy longterm relationship with late Myra Stratton, whose death left an indelible mark on Samantha’s life.

She spoke with a panel of interviewers on Loose Women. During the candid interview session, Sam was quoted as saying:

“I don’t believe in labels.” 

The former Glamour model who posed topless for a British tabloid [The Sun] in 1983, said: “I guess for a long time I was a bit scared. I did feel maybe, I’ve got male fans – and since being a singer I’ve got a lot of female fans too – but I was scared that I’d lose that fanbase.”

Image: Samantha Fox

Samamntha, one of the 80s most photographed women was asked if she can boldly identify herself in public as “gay”.

The former pin-up girl replied: “A little bit, because it is a label, isn’t it. I always believe in love, you can’t help who you fall in love with, but I can’t really see myself ever marrying a guy. 

“I love guys, I work with them all the time. They’re in my band, they’re in my business… I would say the fact I was with Myra for 16 years, and now I’m in love again now with a woman, I guess I would say I prefer to be with a woman, that’s what I can say now.”

The 50-year-old star continues with a piece of advise to women who lack self confidence.

In her words: “Don’t be scared about coming out like I was, and worrying about what people think as love is a great thing, and you’ve got to live life today.”

Image: Samantha Fox

Samantha, who shot to limelight in 1986 with her debut single “Touch Me (I Want Your Body)”– a number one hit in 17 countries, was said to be heartbroken after her former lover, Myra, lost the battle to cancer at the age of 60.

Following Myra’s death last year, Samantha is now dating a Norwegian mother-of-two Linda Birgitte Olsen.

“I’ve now fallen in love with another woman. I met somebody a couple of months ago and I’m very happy. As you get older, life goes so quick.” Sam told an audience [fellow housemates] during her appearance on Celebrity Big Brother last August, according to a report from Hello Magazine confirms.

Image: Samantha Fox

North Korea to UK: Learn from the past and stay of of Military Drills

North Korea has warned the United Kingdom to learn from the past and stay out of aggressive military drills.

The DPRK added that “its on the brink of war” with their South Korean neighbors.

Image shows DPRK’s leader Kim Jong Un.

The warning from Kim Jong-Un’s leadership came in the aftermath of Britain’s declaration that it would take part in joint military drills with South Korea and the US.

North Korea’s foreign affairs representative for northern Europe, Pak Yun Sik, dished out the warning on behalf of his government as the UK prepare for a November military exercise with their allies.

However, the DPRK maintains its not fazed by whatever form of military training has been scheduled but the early warning is only a reminder that any interference shall not be taken lightly “in case there is ever a need for real thing in the region”, SkyNews.com wrote.

Mr Pak, who lost his temper during the speech, said: “The situation on the Korean peninsula is close to the brink of war because of endless military exercises by American and South Korean forces targeting us.

“Now, Britain has decided to send its Typhoon fighter jets to take part in joint US-South Korean military drills, in the south of Korea, from 4 to 10 November.

“This is a hostile act, openly joining the US and South Korean forces in moves for a new war against us.

“Britain claims that this military exercise is not targeting us, but the US and South Korea openly say that these military exercises are aimed at launching a strike against our military facilities and our command structure.”

He continues: “Britain should draw a serious lesson from its past when it took part in the Korean War, and suffered losses, and then when it took part in wars led by the US in Iraq and other countries, which resulted in a refugee crisis in Europe, and terrorism.

“Britain should immediately withdraw its decision to take part in these aggressive military drills.”

North and South Korea remain technically at war since their 1953 fight ended with an armistice but no peace treaty.

Meanwhile, the New York Post quoted Lee Yong Pil, director of the Foreign Ministry’s Institute for American Studies in a statement to NBC News. He said: “The US has nuclear weapons off our coast, targeting our country, our capital and our dear leader, Kim Jong Un.

“We will not step back as long as there’s a nuclear threat to us from the United States.”

Mr Lee added that there’s balance of terror as the US does not have a monopoly on preemptive nuclear strikes.

In his words: “If we see that the US would do it to us, we would do it first,” Lee said. “We have the technology.”

He concluded: “We have to have nuclear weapons to protect our country, and it’s our policy to go nuclear.”

Russia’s state broadcaster confirms UK bank account was frozen

An official with Russia’s state-owned news outlet has confirmed that its NatWest bank account was frozen by the UK government.

Image shows Russia’s president Vladimir Putin.

According to the editor-in-chief of Russia Today, NatWest gave no explanation for their action but there are speculations this could be one of the many sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s country.

Margarita Simonyan tweeted: “Our accounts in Britain have been blocked. All of them. ‘Decision not to be discussed’. Hail to freedom of speech!”

RT, formerly known as Russia Today, confirms it received a letter from the bank which reads: “We have recently undertaken a review of your banking arrangements with us and reached the conclusion that we will no longer provide these facilities.”

City A.M. quotes RT as reporting that the Royal Bank of Scotland Group as a whole has severed partnership with the company. And NatWest is part of the RBS Group.

The editor-in-chief is quoted as saying:

We have no idea why it happened, because neither yesterday nor the day before yesterday, nor a month ago, nothing special happened to us, nobody threatened us in any way.

Hypothetically, this may have something to do with new British and American sanctions against Russia, which may be announced soon. It may not. Our legal department is dealing with the issue now.

Russia Today has been accused of biased reporting, an allegation spearheaded by the country’s broadcast regulator Ofcom, City A.M. wrote.

A Brit who worked for the state-owned news outlet resigned in 2014, claiming she couldn’t cope with the biased reporting on news around Russia and Ukraine.

A British model investigated for ISIS links

Kimberly Miners, a British glamour model, has been arrested by police on an alleged involvement with ISIS. The 27-year-old model was previously warned to desist from any communication with the terror group after British secret service MI5 suspected she was serving the group as a recruiter.

Image: Kimberly Miners

Miners was arrested by the police for interrogations after pictures which showed her in burka, was released online.

The star who shot to limelight after posing topless for The Sun, was taken in for questioning on Friday.

Policemen from the North East Counter Terrorism Unit carried out the arrest, reports confirm.

According to reports from local news sources, the model is known by her new names Aisha Lauren al-Britaniya following her conversion to Islam after her father died in 2010. She has been wearing conservative Muslim clothes since then.

She once said: “I’ve gone from glamour model to something completely different. But that again makes me wonder.

“You don’t get shit for wearing nowt, but the second you start wearing [Islamic attire] you get accused [of extremism] and stuff.”

kimberly-miners.jpg

Photos of a woman, presumed to be Ms Miners, were posted to one account showing her in a full veil which covers her eyes. 

Miners allegedly used Facebook to communicate with someone who’s believed to be an ISIS recruiter in Syria. She had regular conversations with him.

According to The Independent, police in UK accessed some social media accounts thought to be used by Ms Miners. The profiles showed she has links to suspected extremists.

The suspect also shared numerous videos depicting scenes of war and bombings, including a video of children being trained by an ISIS militant. A group of child soldiers were seen in one of the video clips, performing boxing drills and holding weapons.

Among the things that led to her arrest were regular Facebook posts of women brandishing weapons and — by her own admission — “a lot of bombs and stuff.”

Miners has twice visited Turkey for unknown reasons, which doesn’t seem to help her case.

Muslim Family On A UK Trip Suffered Islamophobia.

Islamophobia is not a myth. Many innocent Muslims have suffered discrimination, hate and unwarranted attacks around the world, in the aftermath of some deadly terrorist attacks by some radicalized Muslims or a group that can be referred to as “co-religionists”.

A Muslim family said they were accused of being terrorists while on a holiday trip to the United Kingdom, adding that they were stared at, like “some kind of aliens” at the Lincolnshire seaside town of Skegness.

One of the victims spoke with Tell Mama [an organisation that records Islamophobic hate crimes in the UK], saying: “Once we reached the main area where there were shops, we noticed a lot of people just staring at us as if we were some kind of aliens.

“It didn’t really bother us until we walked past the pub and a man shouted terrorists.”

“As we went to the beach again, a lot of people continuously stared at us. We just smiled back, but it made us think how ignorant these people are,” the woman said.

The family went to a shop to see if they could buy some seaside “rocks”, and the seller questioned if they don’t feel hot in hijabs.

One answered in the negative and had to display the fabric in confirmation. The women left her shop afterwards.

“It really made us sad and made us miss the area we are from and also made us reflect on how different people are in England. It opened my eyes to the nasty comments Muslims get,” she explained to Tell Mama.

The group of 12 women, out of which 7 wore hijabs, said in their statement that they visited the town for the first time and never knew people around there are halfsighted, adding that they won’t be returning to that location.

Tell MAMA told local media it is concerned about the way the family had been treated.

“The family will not be returning back to Skegness and such incidents will no doubt impact on wider perceptions within Muslim communities around areas,” the organisation said.

“This is also worrying since communities need to feel comfortable around each other in our country, rather than feeling polarized  We are sure that the people of Skegness are not reflected through the actions of a few,” it added.

The organisation says the effect of Islamophobic abuse on Muslim women, especially those wearing a hijab, had become so bad that many women could no longer conduct day-to-day activities.

According to the organisation, a 326 per cent rise in incidents of anti-Muslim hate crime has been recorded since last year, from 146 incidents to 437.

Lincolnshire police said they had not received any reports of the incident.

A spokesperson for the police said: “We would encourage anybody who feels they have been a victim of a hate crime to report it to us.”

iTV Shuts Down, Asks Viewers To Go Exercise For “I Am Team GB”.

ITV, one of the most popular broadcasters in the United Kingdom reportedly closed down, advising people to go on and exercise for their lives. The company blacked out its programs for an hour with the hope of getting viewers up on their feet for good health.

As part of a national event held this weekend with the slogan “I Am Team GB”, several sports clubs were opened for free to UK citizens, and ITV expressed support for the program by shutting down broadcasts on several of its channels Saturday morning.

Many Britons took up the challenge, tweeting their activities during the hour.

Most viewers also lauded ITV‘s challenge to couch potatoes, describing on social media the activities they’d been inspired to do.

Others, predictably, stuck to their sofas and poked fun at the gesture, describing the blank screens as the best entertainment they’d ever seen on ITV.

One viewer said his remote-control thumb had a good workout.

ITV is sponsoring the weekend’s sports-promotion activities alongside the National Lottery.

I Am Team GB‘s website says:

Today’s the day!

Are you ready to make some history? On Saturday 27 August, we’re teaming up with our returning lottery-funded Olympic heroes to create the nation’s biggest ever sports day, I Am Team GB – and you’re invited!

Brought to you by The National Lottery and ITV, there are STILL lots of great ways to get involved, including thousands of fun, free events across the country.

Say you’re in today – and see what’s happening near you!