Category Archives: Home and Politics

Tim Peake’s space capsule to arrive in the UK in 2017

The United Kingdom has bought the space craft which sent Yuri Malenchenko (Commander, Russia), Tim Kopra (Flight Engineer, USA) and Tim Peake (Flight Engineer, UK) to the International Space Station on 15 December 2015. The three landed on Earth in June 2016.

The craft will be displayed in the Science Museum, London in early 2017. Peake is reportedly ‘delighted’ that the space capsule will be on display in his home country.

Source: Tim Peake via Twitter

He explained: “Hopefully it may act as an inspiration for the next generation of scientists and engineers,”

 “Flying into space is a huge privilege but it also comes with risk and one of the highest risk areas are launch into space and re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

“The Soyuz spacecraft is designed to protect the crew from these harsh conditions. So you get very attached to your spacecraft because it definitely does save your life.”

Helen Sharman, Britain’s first astronaut, welcomes the arrival of the space capsule with open arms. She said:

“I think it is a tremendous thing to have Tim’s capsule.  The fact that we know that our astronaut was actually inside it – he physically sweated inside that suit, he looked outside of that window and saw what it was like to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere – it really provides us with the link to our own astronauts.”

 

Above: Science Museum expresses their excitement – via Twitter

Since his return to Earth, Peake has published his autobiography: ‘Hello: is this planet Earth?’ about his time in space and has carried out many book signings across the UK.

 

What does Renzi’s defeat mean for Italy?

Matteo Renzi press conference, Rome

The results of last night’s Italian Referendum are out and the ballots show that the No vote leads with 60%, whereas the Yes vote is only at 40%. The turnout was at 70%. The Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, has announced his resignation after his heavy referendum defeat concerning his proposal to reform the Constitution. It is now up to the Italian President, Sergio Mattarella, whether he will appoint a new replacement or hold elections.

What was the referendum about?

The Italian voters were asked if they approved the constitutional law calling to alter the Italian Constitution that would reform the complex political system. It would reduce the size of the Senate from 315 to 100 and would have made law-making a more speedy process. The former Prime Minister, Renzi, claimed it would improve Italy’s reorganisation and economic growth.

Why did Renzi lose?

Addressing his loss, Matteo Renzi said, “My experience of government finishes here”. “We tried, we gave Italians a chance to change but we didn’t make it,” he said. “I lost. I can admit it and I am sorry. I was not able to lead you to the victory. Good luck to us all,” he concluded.

Renzi’s opponents not only included members of other parties, but also people within his own party. They all believed that the referendum would mean that the Prime Minister would end up with too much power in his hands. The voters agreed. An opposition leader, Matteo Salvini, called the referendum “a victory of the people against the strong powers of three quarters of the world”.

The referendum was not only calling for a change in the Parliament, but also regarded as a chance to reject establishment politics.

How is the rest of the world reacting?

The Italian Referendum comes in hot pursuit of the victories of the UK’s Brexit and the US’s Presidential Elections. Across the globe, far-right parties are beginning to take the upper hand. Despite Norbert Hofer’s defeat in the recent Austrian Presidential election, other far-right wing leaders in Germany, France and Greece have secured great advantages.

The result is being viewed as yet another blow to the EU (after Brexit), however, it is not an indication that Italy will be following the UK’s outside the EU. The Northern League and Five Star may be opposed to the Eurozone, but not for the Italy’s EU membership.

German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, said that “there was no reason for a Euro crisis but that Italy urgently needed a functioning government”. However, Marine Le Pen, the leader of the Front National in France, tweeted: “The Italians have disavowed the EU and Renzi. We must listen to this thirst for freedom of nations.”

What has happened to the economy?

Overnight, the currency has toppled to a 21 month low, following the departure of Renzi. Both stocks and the euro dropped last night, but were raised by the morning. Nevertheless, the referendum could have more long term effects, as there have been growing concerns over the financial stability of the country.

What will happen now?

As Renzi announced his resignation after the final cabinet meeting, he will hand his position to the President Mattarella, who could ask him to remain in his position until Parliament has passed a bill due later in the month.

Early elections are thought to be quite unlikely, therefore it is possible that Mattarella may appoint a caretaker administration led by the former PM’s party until the next elections due in the spring of 2018. Pier Carlo Padoan, the Finance Minister is the favourite to succeed Renzi’s position of Prime Minister.

Theresa May vows to ‘work closely’ with Italy after Renzi steps down

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Theresa May speaking at a press conference with Matteo Renzi this summer [FLICKR]
Britain will “work closely” with Italy’s next leader after the dramatic resignation of Matteo Renzi, Downing Street has said.

Renzi stepped down this morning after Italians rejected his plans for constitutional reform in a referendum.

Theresa May’s spokesman said the Prime Minister would seek to speak with Mr Renzi over the coming days.

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The Italian prime minister stepped down this morning [CREATIVE COMMONS]
But she stressed the outcome of the vote was “a decision for the Italian people”.

Mrs May visited Rome just days after entering Downing Street in May.

Her spokesman said: “The Prime Minister has had good relations with Matteo Renzi since she took office.

Her spokesman said: “The Prime Minister has had good relations with Matteo Renzi since she took office.

“She was appreciative of the way she was welcomed in Rome and the work we have done together in previous years on an ambitious programme of reform.

“Now we look to the future and we will want to work closely with the Italian government.”

In an emotional televised address last night, Renzi accepted full responsibility for the “extraordinarily clear” defeat.

The 41-year-old added:

The experience of my government ends here.

It is not yet clear who will replace him, but his departure has plunged the European Union into further turmoil following June’s Brexit vote.

Trump uses Twitter to take aim at China

President-elect Donald Trump used Twitter to suggest further tensions with China, just days after he seemingly re-ignited relations with Taiwan.

Trump criticised China for devaluing it’s own currency and for taxing American products entering the US.

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This comes just days after Trump was criticised for contacting Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-Wen.

US severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan back in 1979, after tactically pledging diplomatic support to the People’s Republic of China. Officially, the US supports the idea of one China and that Tawain is part of China.

Vice-president elect Mike Pence denies that the call signifies a shift in US-China relations, suggesting it was merely a “courtesy” call.

However, Trumps latest tweets suggest there could be yet more tension between the two nations.

Both China and Taiwan claim to be owner of some or all of the key trade route of the Chinese red sea and will be keen to protect their rights there.

Floods near Angel Station after water main burst

In the early morning hours of Monday, a water burst caused flooding in Charlton Place and surrounding streets. Firefighters from Islington, Dowgate and several other stations across London are at the scenery evacuating  residents and leading the water into nearby canals.

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Firefighter at the scenery

At about 5:30 am homeowners were woken up by the masses running down their street and several had to leave their home. Trevor Turner, who lives close to the flooded area, told the BBC: “I woke up at 05:30 with essentially a river flowing down Charlton Place”.

He was not the only one who woke up to a surprise this morning. Mary, another resident, reported to the BBC: “I thought it was torrential rain so I put my head out the window and saw it was a torrential flood instead and then several policemen who were knocking on doors on the other side and said to evacuate.”

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Water pouring out of a sewer

The floods caused some severe damages to home and properties owned by residents. The flow of water has been stopped by now and a spokesperson for Thames Water said that they are now “planning how best to repair it with as little disruption as possible.”

The usually busy roads are to be avoided by motorists and nine bus routes had to be diverted.

 

More updates to follow…

Segregation in Britain reaching “worrying levels”

Segregation has reached very high levels, a review into opportunity and integration shows.

The Casey Review shows that women in some communities are denied “even their basic rights as British residents”.

This 18-month review was commissioned by former prime minister David Cameron as a way for government to tackle extremism.

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The report further reveals that people from different backgrounds got on well with each other in general, but true community cohesion is generally missing.

Dame Louise Casey’s review also shows “high levels of social and economic isolation in some places, and cultural and religious practices in communities that are not only holding some of our citizens back but run contrary to British values and sometimes our laws.”

The official review warns that Muslims increasingly do not identify themselves as being British.

It warns that ethnic isolation is being experienced at a young age, and identifies 511 schools where more than half of students are from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds.

In order to improve the situation, the reports makes 12 recommendations.

  1. A programme of projects to boost cohesion, such as local IT courses and sport activities for children;
  2. Councils should regularly collect statistics on hate crime or deficiencies in English;
  3. Government and councils should share their approaches to tackling segregation;
  4. Schools should promote British values to help build integration, tolerance and citizenship;
  5. A review of the “rights and obligations” of immigrants likely to settle in the UK;
  6. New immigrants could have to swear “an oath of integration with British values and society”;
  7. Funding for school projects that encourage children of different backgrounds to mix;
  8. On top of English language classes for adults, special classes to tackle any “cultural barriers” to a person’s employment prospects;
  9. More funding for local English language classes and a review of whether courses are reaching people who need them;
  10. Councils should investigate whether their housing policies help or hinder integration;
  11. Better checks when children are removed from mainstream education;
  12. New oath for public office-holders pledging “tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs”…

Here you can listen to more points which the review highlights:

“We need to talk about the impacts of immigration in a level-headed way, as well as to provide more help for new migrants to integrate and more help for local people to adapt to changes and new pressures in their communities,” the report suggests. The review also shows that the Government should consider new standards to ensure there are no divisions.

 

Government appeal over Brexit powers to be heard by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court will be hearing from government officials on Monday their appeal over last month’s ruling which made it compulsory for there to be a parliamentary vote on the triggering of Article 50 in the Brexit process.

The hearing is expected to play out over the course of four days, with the final judgement to be announced in January 2017. The case has generated a lot of public interest, and in response, extra seating is being provided for 115 members of the public as well as 70 journalists from around the world.  In a statement on the Supreme Court website, the justices said they were “aware of the public interest in this case and the strong feelings associated with the wider political questions of the UK’s departure from the EU, which we stress are not the subject of this appeal”.

It is hoped by the government that the appeal will be successful. However, in the case that the court continues to reject Mrs May’s appeal to “prerogative powers”, the Conservatives do have a back up plan. A 16-word bill is being prepared which could be fast-tracked though Parliament, asking MPs and peers “to give permission” to the government to trigger Article 50 in time to meet the March deadline.

It seems that all signs are pointing towards a Brexit after all. As the Labour Party has similarly announced it has no plans to atop the Brexit process. Rather they propose a soft Brexit instead of a hard one, with the UK maintaining access to the single market and the protection of worker’s rights. Shadow Attorney General Baroness Chakrabarti stated:

“We have been completely clear that we are democrats and respect the outcome of the referendum, even though many of us – myself included – campaigned in the opposite direction.

“So this will happen, pursuant to the will of the people. But there is not a simple question of ‘in and out of the European Union’, there are many questions that Parliament has to scrutinise about what happens next.”

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