Volume 17 Issue 442 -Ramadan 14, 1438 AH June 9, 2017
   :: International News
::As Greens, NDP gear up in B.C., choosing a Speaker gets complicated

British Columbia’s New Democrats say they’re prepared to put forward a caucus member to serve as Speaker – a role that has taken on a new prominence in the minority legislature, where the position will be frequently called upon to break ties on confidence votes and legislation. Both the New Democrats and Greens are denying an assertion from a former consultant to the Green Party that the Speaker will be given a more partisan role. Green Leader Andrew Weaver rejected the idea as “nonsense.” The NDP and Greens are preparing to vote down Premier Christy Clark’s government as early as this month, after a provincial election that left the BC Liberals one seat short of a majority. The Greens agreed last week to support a minority NDP government. However, the issue of a Speaker has emerged as a potential roadblock, since one must be appointed before anything can happen in the legislature. The Liberals have already said none of their members plans to volunteer, and losing an NDP or Green to the position would leave both sides essentially tied with 43 seats. In addition, the selection of a deputy speaker could leave the NDP and Greens commanding a minority of seats in some situations. The New Democrats are considering changing the standing rules of the legislature to deal with that problem. Mike Farnworth, who has previously served as NDP house leader, acknowledged the job of Speaker would likely fall to a New Democrat. “Normally, it is the governing party that has to put forward a Speaker,” Mr. Farnworth said. The Speaker’s chair has been held by Liberal Linda Reid since 2013. While the Liberals have said their caucus members would not volunteer to be Speaker under an NDP government, it’s unclear whether Ms. Reid intends to remain in the job until a confidence vote inevitably brings down the current government. The Liberal Party declined to clear up that issue on Monday. The Speaker, who receives a substantial increase in pay, oversees decorum during debates and shepherds the passage of bills. It’s traditionally a non-partisan role and the Speaker does not sit in caucus. Adding to the uncertainty are assertions from Norman Spector, a former deputy minister to ex-premier Bill Bennett and former chief of staff to ex-prime minister Brian Mulroney. Mr. Spector claimed on Twitter that there was a plan in place to change the role. “The NDP plan would still be to turn its Speaker into a partisan member,” Mr. Spector said on Twitter on Sunday evening. Speakers are currently considered referees of the legislature who only vote in the case of a tie. Mr. Farnworth, who acknowledged he was not in the room as the parties negotiated the governance agreement, said there were no plans to change the Speaker. He noted there is nothing to that effect in the 10-page document that lays out his party’s agreement with the Greens. Mr. Weaver of the Greens was more blunt. “That’s nonsense,” Mr. Weaver said in an interview. “The Speaker has got a long traditional role. “It’s not a partisan position. … Nothing is changing.” Mr. Weaver questioned where Mr. Spector got his information, saying he “has nothing to do with the BC Green Party.” Mr. Weaver has said the job will not be filled by a Green member. There’s also the issue of a deputy speaker. When proposed legislation goes through one of its later stages of review, it is overseen by a deputy speaker, assistant deputy speaker or other chair who votes in the event of a tie. An NDP or Green in that position would give the Liberals a possible 43-42 majority, allowing them to amend bills as they wished. However, Mr. Farnworth said the party is considering changing the standing orders that govern the business of the legislature. It could be a temporary order that only applies to a single session of the legislature or a permanent change. He said it would be “presumptuous” to speculate on what those changes might be.
Source: Globe and Mail

::At least 12 killed in militant attack in Iran, Guards blame Saudi Arabia

Suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the Iranian parliament and the Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini in Tehran on Wednesday, killing at least 12 people in a twin assault which Iran’s Revolutionary Guards blamed on regional rival Saudi Arabia.
Islamic State claimed responsibility and released a video purporting to show gunmen inside the parliament building. It also threatened more attacks against Iran’s majority Shi’ite population, seen by the hardline Sunni militants as “heretics.”
Saudi Arabia denied any involvement, but the assault further fuels boiling tensions between Riyadh and Tehran as they vie for control of the Gulf and influence in the wider Islamic world. It comes days after Riyadh and other Sunni Muslim powers cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of backing Tehran and militant groups.They were the first attacks claimed by Islamic State inside the tightly controlled Shi’ite Muslim country, one of the powers leading the fight against IS forces in nearby Iraq and Syria.
Iranian police said they had arrested five suspects over the attacks and the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, struck a defiant tone.“These fireworks have no effect on Iran. They will soon be eliminated ... They are too small to affect the will of the Iranian nation and its officials,” state TV quoted him saying.
Khamenei added that Iran, which is helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fight rebels including Islamic State fighters, had prevented worse attacks through its foreign policy.
The powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps accused Riyadh of being behind the attacks and vowed to seek revenge.
“This terrorist attack happened only a week after the meeting between the U.S. president (Donald Trump) and the (Saudi) backward leaders who support terrorists. The fact that Islamic State has claimed responsibility proves that they were involved in the brutal attack,” a Guards statement said.
The deputy head of the Guards, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, was quoted later by Tasnim news agency as saying: “We will take revenge on terrorists and their supporters who martyred our people.”
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, speaking in Berlin, said he did not know who was responsible for the attacks and said there was no evidence Saudi extremists were involved.The U.S. State Department and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres both condemned the attacks.


::Pak Army responds to ‘unprovoked’ firing by Indian troops along LoC: ISPR

Indian border troops resorted to “unprovoked” firing along the Line of Control (LoC) late on Wednesday, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.
“Indian troops resorted to unprovoked ceasefire violation along LoC in Nakyal and Kayani sectors with heavy weapons and mortars,” said the ISPR statement.
The statement made no mention of any casualties.
“Pakistan army responded effectively on Indian posts to silent guns targeting civilians,” read the ISPR statement.
The latest incident of cross-border firing comes days after two individuals were killed and six others injured when Indian troops resorted to unprovoked firing along the LoC.
Tense relations
Incidents of cross-border firing have become a norm since the last months of 2016 as tensions simmer between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir issue. Exchanges of fire have been reported sporadically since the new year began.
Following the Uri army base attack in September, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stepped up a drive to ‘isolate’ Pakistan diplomatically.In the days following the attack, India claimed to have conducted a cross-border ‘surgical strike’ against ‘launch pads of terror’ in Azad Jammu and Kashmir — a claim Pakistan strongly rejected.
Pakistan maintains that India has been attempting to divert the world’s attention away from atrocities committed by government forces in India-held Kashmir.
Tensions between the two countries soared recently as India approached the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to secure consular access for Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, who has been sentenced to death by a Field General Court Martial (FGCM) in Pakistan over his involvement in espionage and terrorism.In a hearing of the case on May 18, a 10-member bench at The Hague restrained Pakistan from executing Jadhav, who India claims is a retired naval officer. Source: Dawn news

::Student death sparks new anti-India demos in held Kashmir

The death of a student killed by troops in held Kashmir sparked new anti-India demonstrations on Wednesday.
Hundreds of students and villagers joined a rally in the town of Shopian, south of Srinigar, during the funeral of Adil Farooq Magray.
The teenager suffered a fatal wound to the chest late Tuesday when security forces opened fire to disperse protesters trying to disrupt an anti-militant operation in Shopian, witnesses said. More than 100 students, men and women, have been killed around protests that have mounted in India-held Kashmir since July last year, when a leading rebel commander was killed. Rebel groups have since 1989 been fighting hundreds of thousands of Indian soldiers deployed in the region, demanding independence or a merger with Pakistan. Tens of thousands have been killed in the three decades of unrest. Source: Dawn news

:: MI5 to review handling of London Bridge attack, says Theresa May

MI5 will review its handling of the London Bridge terror attack to look at whether lessons can be learned, Theresa May has said, after it emerged that at least one of the attackers were known to the British security services. The prime minister was repeatedly challenged about how the Home Office, police and intelligence services dealt with the information relating to the attackers, after Boris Johnson, her foreign secretary, said MI5 had questions to answer. On the campaign trail, May tried to focus her remarks on Brexit and leadership, but she revealed that there would be a review into how the intelligence agencies dealt with the London Bridge attack after being pressed over whether she shared Johnson’s concerns. She also defended the performance of the intelligence agencies in foiling attacks at a time when the “tempo is increasing” in a way not seen before, after the devastating One of the attackers, Khuram Butt, 27, had been reported to the anti-terror hotline in 2015 Asked about Johnson’s comments, May told Sky News: “I absolutely recognise people’s concerns. MI5 and the police have already said they would be reviewing how they dealt with Manchester and I would expect them to do exactly the same in relation to London Bridge. “What government needs to do, and what the government that comes in after Thursday’s election needs to be willing to do, is to give more powers to the police and security service when they need them, needs to deal with this issue of terrorism and extremism online and also needs to be able to call out extremism here in the United Kingdom.” Speaking shortly afterwards at a general election campaign event with Conservative activists in Labour-held Stoke South, she said the government now “needs to ensure that MI5 and the police are able to get on with that investigation” into their own processes. “We need to look at how the terror threat is evolving, the way that terrorism is breeding terrorism and the increased tempo of attacks. We have had three horrific attacks and we have foiled five others. The tempo is there in a way we haven’t seen before. “We will look at how the processes were followed, what they did. They will want to be looking at that because they will want to learn lessons for the future, if there are those lessons to be learned.” She added: “The police and security service have done a good job in foiling a number of plots – just five in the last three months, and a significant number in the last few years as well.” May declined to say whether the third attacker was monitored or subject to an exclusion order when he returned to the UK after being stopped in Italy, and declined an opportunity to apologise for any failures by the intelligence agencies. Asked about the Channel 4 programme The Jihadis Next Door, which featured Bhutt, May said she had not seen it but was “aware of it but it comes back to the point I made earlier which is that we need to make sure we are properly calling out extremism in this country”. In a speech on Sunday on the steps of Downing Street, the prime minister set out a plan for combating terror and warned that difficult and embarrassing conversations would need to be held to deal with the growing threat. Pressed on whether she would hold tough conversations with Gulf allies, such as Saudi Arabia, over the funding of terror, she replied: “Tough conversations are required over this whole issue of financing of the terrorists and the financing of extremism.” She added: “We need to have tough conversations with whoever we need to have those conversations with.” The issue of security has dominated the last weeks of the election campaign after the two attacks by Islamic extremist terrorists at a Manchester concert and London Bridge overshadowed the campaign. May has tried to move the conversation on to Brexit and her leadership but has come under repeated pressure over the last few days about having overseen cuts to police and armed officers during her time as home secretary. During a tour of marginal seats, including four Labour-held targets, May insisted she was “enjoying the campaign” despite the narrowing of her lead in the polls against Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour. In a speech to Tory activists in Stoke-on-Trent, she spoke of wanting to “reignite the British spirit” as she leads the country into Brexit negotiations if she is re-elected.
Source: Guardian

::No room for an extension, Supreme Court reminds Panama Papers JIT

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing the prime minister’s family’s business dealings abroad submitted its second report before the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
After reviewing the report, the three-member special bench of the apex court, formed to monitor the JIT’s proceedings, reiterated that the JIT will not be allowed extra time to complete the task assigned to it.
In a previous hearing, Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan had warned Additional Director General Wajid Zia, head of the JIT, that the tasks assigned to the investigative body should be completed within the 60-day timeframe provided to the team.
“We will not allow extra time under any circumstances,” Justice Shiekh Azmat, a member of the bench, had said. During Wednesday’s hearing, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who heads the bench, observed that the first half of the JIT’s report contained a list of difficulties faced by the team.
He advised the JIT to submit a separate application listing the “problems, obstacles and difficulties” being faced in completing the assigned task.
“Based on the application, we will issue directions to the attorney general,” the judge said, adding that he hoped the team would complete the task in the allotted time.
The JIT told the court that investigations into the Sharif family’s business abroad were proceeding in the right direction.During the hearing, the lawyer representing Hussain Nawaz, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s eldest son, asked the bench to hear yet another petition filed on behalf of his client as soon as possible.
The application, filed before the apex court on Wednesday, seeks the formation of a commission to investigate the ‘leaking’ of a CCTV image of Hussain’s appearance before the JIT. It also seeks the court to prohibit the JIT from recording videos of the proceedings.The court asked the JIT to file its response to Hussain Nawaz’s request and scheduled a hearing for June 12.Hussain has appeared before the JIT for questioning four times. Speaking to the media after his last appearance on Saturday, Hussain said, “There is no evidence against us; no proof that can be brought forward.”
In his first appearance before the JIT, the premier’s elder son had refused to answer questions put forth by the investigative body, saying that the JIT’s status was ‘sub judice’ as he had already filed a petition before the apex court seeking the removal two of its constituents.
The apex court had, however, terminated his plea, and after each of the next two hearings, Hussain had told reporters that he had answered all questions put forward by the JIT.
‘Sharif family
reserves right to boycott JIT’
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah on Wednesday said that the Sharif family reserves the right to boycott the JIT, DawnNews reported
“The members of the JIT do not enjoy the same privileges as the judges of the apex court do,” he added while speaking to reporters in Lahore.
Although, the SC has constituted the JIT, the team members themselves are not the apex court, he said adding that the objections raised by Hussain Nawaz regarding two members of the JIT were not addressed.
“The objections should have been responded to,” he said.
Source: Dawn news

::German FM blasts ‘Trumpification’ of Qatar-GCC dispute

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel accused US President Donald Trump of stirring up conflicts in the Middle East and risking a new arms race as Qatar’s neighbours cut ties with Doha. Saudi Arabia and allies including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain announced Monday they were severing diplomatic relations and closing air, sea and land links with Qatar. The dispute comes less than a month after Trump visited Saudi Arabia and called for Muslim nations to unite against “extremism”. “US President Trump’s recent giant military contracts which Gulf monarchies raise the risk of a new spiral in arms sales,” Gabriel warned in an interview with the Handelsblatt daily to appear on Wednesday. “This policy is completely wrong and is certainly not Germany’s policy,” he added, in extracts of his interview released Tuesday. “I am very concerned with the dramatic escalation and the consequences for the whole region.” Trump on Tuesday backed the regional efforts to isolate Qatar, supporting Saudi Arabia and its allies and suggesting the key US ally - home to the largest American airbase in the Middle East - has been funding extremism. During his recent visit to Saudi Arabia, Trump signed arms contracts worth $110bn with Riyadh. Gabriel warned against completely isolating Qatar and said the move is an attack on the Gulf state’s very existence. “Apparently, Qatar is to be isolated more or less completely and hit existentially. Such a ‘Trumpification’ of relations in a region already susceptible to crises is particularly dangerous,” Gabriel said. He added the nuclear deal agreed with Iran in 2015 had allowed just such an escalation to be avoided. “A toxic conflict between neighbours is that last thing we need,” Gabriel warned. He will meet his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir in Berlin on Wednesday.
Source: Al-Jazeera




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