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Coronavirus is revealing how badly the UK has failed its most vulnerable

Coronavirus is revealing how badly the UK has failed its most vulnerable

As the novel coronavirus rips through a stunned global population, it’s becoming clear that no one can escape the impact it’s having on society.
The past few weeks have shown that even the world’s wealthiest and most powerful are as likely to contract the virus as anyone else. However, less attention is being paid to the most vulnerable members of society — those in poverty, people living on the breadline and the homeless.

The problem reached a crunch point in the UK, which has dramatically increased its response to the virus outbreak this week. Food banks that provide a lifeline for some of the estimated 14 million in poverty are running low on volunteers, many of whom have been forced to self-isolate, as well as food itself, which is in short supply following panic-buying.
The situation is equally bleak for the UK’s homeless population, estimated to be around 320,000. Unable to follow government advice to self-isolate, they face a double blow as life-saving services close just as they become most needed.

People working on the frontline in homeless shelters told CNN their worst nightmares were already coming true, with at least one facility forced to close after one of its users died from COVID-19. Most of the people in that shelter are now sleeping rough and may have come into contact with virus carriers.

Shelter, a non-profit that provides support for the UK’s homeless population, estimates that the number of people sleeping on the streets has risen 165% since 2010.

That date is important. It’s the year the UK went from having a center-left Labour government to a center-right Conservative-led administration. And in the wake of the 2007-2008 global financial crisis, it embarked on policies that radically cut state spending. “The message was clear… we need to cut back to balance the books,” says Garry Lemon, director of policy at the Trussell Trust, a non-profit that supports food banks in the UK.

“It took a lot of forms, but billions of pounds were taken out of our social security system — and it was done with widespread public support.”

Critics believe that government policies over the past decade have left the social security system severely compromised. “Our research shows that combined impact of those policies amount to average £3,000 a year ($3,560) for the poorest,” says Clare McNeil from the left-of-center IPPR think tank.

Lemon adds that his organization’s research has shown a link between these policies and a rise in “homelessness and food bank usage.”

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The subject of food banks is a good place to return to coronavirus, and especially how it affects the vulnerable. “The majority of our volunteers are retired. Some are not in good health because it’s hard to be when you’re over 70,” says Allison, one of seven volunteers at an independent food bank in the UK. (She preferred to withhold her last name in order to be able to speak more freely.

“We’ve given them the option of dropping out and obeying the government guidelines. But it does leave a hole. Now, if a family member coughs, people are gone at the drop of a hat.”

The challenges facing these vulnerable members of society are nothing new. Campaigners hope that this crisis will at least shine a light on the plight of those in poverty and without homes. “This coronavirus exposes the cracks in society — those who have mortgages and regular income could suddenly find themselves facing the same problems as people who are on benefits.

It might be that when all is said and done, previously comfortable people, suddenly forced to stare into the eyes of destitution, will agree with Sahota and be unable to accept that economic prudence is more important than looking after the livelihoods of fellow citizens.

This outbreak will change many things, and it’s not clear how many of those will be undone when it’s all over. Just how the world moves on from this is still anyone’s guess. But, if current projections are right, we in the West are still only in the early stages of this thing.

UK announced a review of priorities of foreign policy, defense and security

UK announced a review of priorities of foreign policy, defense and security

The UK government has announced the largest review of its priorities in foreign policy, defense, security and international cooperation since the end of the Cold War. This is stated in a statement released on Tuesday by the Office of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson.

A comprehensive review is conducted following the country’s withdrawal from the EU, which occurred on the night of February 1. Until December 31 of this year, a transitional period between Great Britain and the European Union will act, as if there was no Brexit. Starting January 1, 2021, the kingdom intends to independently determine priorities in these areas.

“A comprehensive review will cover all aspects of Britain’s place in the world – from the role of our diplomatic service and development approach to the capabilities of our Armed Forces and security agencies,” the communiqué says. It emphasizes that this analytical work will go beyond the scope of biennial reviews of the state of affairs in various fields and will take into account “the totality of global opportunities and challenges that Britain is facing.”

Among the mentioned aspects that will be considered are the procurement process conducted by the Armed Forces and security services, the fight against organized crime, the more efficient use of technologies to adapt to the changing threats that the country faces, “from countering hostile activities of states to strengthening the Armed Forces “

“As the world changes, we must move with it, bringing in new technologies and ways of thinking, to ensure that British foreign policy is at the core of our national interests now and in the coming decades,” Johnson said in this regard.

The review will involve key ministries, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and the Ministry for International Development. The final decision on the adoption of updated priorities should be made by the National Security Council, chaired by the Prime Minister, during this year.

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Brexit: green light of the 27 EU countries negotiating mandate with London

Brexit: green light of the 27 EU countries negotiating mandate with London

According to European diplomatic sources, there is the ok from the 27 EU countries to negotiate with the United Kingdom the after Brexit as tomorrow the mandate should be adopted by the EU General Affairs Council. “Tomorrow the EU negotiating mandate should be formalized at the EU General Affairs Council”, chief negotiator for the Union Michel Barnier said, adding that the conditions for post-Brexit trade talks will also be established, effectively laying the foundations for future ties between Brussels and London.

With the mandate Brussels sets its red lines on future relations with London after the UK decision to leave EU. According to the Italian news agency “ANSA”, today on the eve of the EU Council, the European ambassadors meet to finalize the negotiating mandate.
French President Emmanuel Macron expressed doubts on Saturday that there could be a global deal later this year. The discussions will be focused on where the British financial services will be located and the role of the European Court of Justice with the EU which wants it to keep the last word to interpret EU law.

A firm stand is expected from the British chief negotiator David Frost. Days ago, Frost warned that “those who think that UK will accept EU supervision over the so-called ‘level playing field’ are wrong”, stressing that the UK position will not change if the British are put under pressure. Europeans remain open to a broad partnership, including a trade agreement without quotas or customs duties, fearing unfair competition from London. Seems that UK is ready to accept just a basic trade deal, such as those negotiated by EU with Canada or Japan. The negotiations therefore are expected to be tense.

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Tokyo Unhappy With London Indication To Host Olympics 2020
Asia Pacific Focus

Tokyo Unhappy With London Indication To Host Olympics 2020

The coronavirus outbreak might be giving Olympic organizers second thoughts about Tokyo as the venue. This has indeed left the governor of Tokyo feeling upset that he made a public statement stating that it was inappropriate for candidates in London’s mayoral election to push for their city as venue instead.

It seems that talks are doing rounds that London could be considered a more appropriate host for the 2020 Olympic Games if the coronavirus outbreak could not be contained.

This thought has been floated by Shaun Bailey, a Conservative candidate for mayor of the British capital. Further, the International Olympic Committee has already received a note from the World Health Organization that says that there was no case for contingency plans to cancel or relocate the Games from Tokyo.

On the other side of the globe, Australian Olympic boss John Coates has already reassured athletes and spectators that they will be safe to attend the Tokyo Games amid the coronavirus outbreak in neighbouring China.

There is no news of any players pulling out from the Olympics in the wake of the outbreak. However, confirmed reports claim that the virus has already hit a number of international sports events within China. It has led to either cancelation or postponement. These include events like Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai and indoor world track and field championships in Nanjing and rescheduling of women’s Olympic football qualifiers from disease epicentre Wuhan to Sydney.

The coronavirus situation of 2020 does resembles the 2016 Rio Olympics when the IOC relied on WHO guidance about the dangers of the mosquito-borne Zika virus. At that time, many high profile sportsmen had withdrawn participation. This included Australian golfers Jason Day and Marc Leishman. But, up to this point, Coates has no knowledge of coronavirus scaring Australian athletes away from the Tokyo Games.

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Wikileaks Founder Might Receive Pardon  For Trump

Wikileaks Founder Might Receive Pardon For Trump

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange could save his life if he would just deny that Russia had anything to do with WikiLeaks’ publication of Democratic Party emails in 2016, the Trump government has said. This has been confirmed by his lawyer in London who is now considering releasing the Australian editor-journalist.

This announcement could actually lead to his extradition to the U.S. His lawyers have proven the fact that the former Republican U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher had been sent by the president to visit Assange in 2017 to offer him a pardon. However Rohrabacher has denied ever having spoken to the president about Assange.

Assange is wanted in the US on 18 counts of including conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law. He could spend decades behind bars if convicted.

The Australian-born Assange made global headlines in early 2010 when WikiLeaks published a classified U.S. military video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters in Baghdad that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters news staff. In 2010, his website is said to have enraged Washington by leaking secret U.S. documents making them easy for public consumption.

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Terroristic attack in London

Terroristic attack in London

A man who has recently been released from the prison for terrorist offenses, Sudesh Amman, was shot dead by British police after stabbing two people in southern London’s neighbourhood. Sudesh Amman, 20-year-old, had been in prison for distributing terrorism-related material after he stabbed several passers-by wearing a fake explosive vest, London Metropolitan Police said.

It is the second time in a few months that a convicted and recently released terrorist attacks people on the streets of the British capital. In November, a man was shot by police after he stabbed two people to death in central London.

Amman had been jailed for sharing terrorist material in 2018 and was released after a three-year prison sentence. British police continued to monitor him after exiting prison and incognito agents moved quickly to stop the attack yesterday in Streatham. “We are confident this is an isolated accident” said Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Lucy D’Orsi, adding that none of the stabbed people suffered life-threatening injuries.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said yesterday that the country will review the rules that allow people convicted of terrorism to get out of prison early. The incident, the latest in a series of terrorist attacks in London in recent years, highlights the problems facing the country’s judicial system.

The question of how to monitor convicted terrorists who are reintegrated into society is an increasing problem for counter-terrorism police and security agencies in UK and across Europe. Last year Johnson said there were around 74 convicted terrorists who have been early release from prison. “Terrorists try to divide us and destroy our lifestyle. Here in London we will never let them be successful”, the mayor of London Sadiq Khan stated.

A similar attack also in Belgium. A woman in Ghent attacked two people with a knife in the street. The woman was then shot in the hand by the police who opened fire to stop her. The victims have been transferred to the hospital; according to local authorities they are in good conditions.To read more News From Europe

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China's wet markets have, reportedly, started to open up. Notably, it has been suspected by the experts that the #COVID2019 virus resulting in the deaths of thousands of people across the world emerged from wild animals from the wet markets in China's Wuhan city.

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