Iraq Insurgency

The Guardian reports on the power moves between Washington, Baghdad and Tehran:

The United States and Iran are moving rapidly to defend Iraq from rampaging Sunni Islamist insurgents (ISIS), with Washington urgently considering air strikes on the jihadi militants and Tehran dispatching its foremost powerbroker to help arrange the defence of Baghdad.

Senior US officials told the Guardian that an air campaign was under serious discussion, possibly targeting fighters not just in Iraq but in Syria, where they have seized swaths of territory in the past two years. President Barack Obama said that decisions would be taken in the “days ahead”.

Iran, meanwhile, moved to defend its own interests in its western neighbour, sending Major General Qassem Suleimani, an éminence grise of the Iranian revolutionary guards, to Baghdad to meet militia leaders and tribal chiefs in control of the Iraqi capital’s vulnerable western approaches.

The Independent reports from Washington: “Iraq crisis: Obama says United States will not send in troops but will ‘play its part’”.   In their comment columns, The Guardian’s Toby Dodge says “Iraq doesn’t have to fall apart. It can be reformed”  Even The Mirror reports on it.

The Express issues words of warning: “It would be a major disaster for Britain and the US to intervene in Iraq” written by Major Charles Heyman:

BRITAIN and the US may abhor the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Iraq but they have played a major part in encouraging it. Whether we like it or not, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were serious strategic mistakes. We destroyed the repressive regime of Saddam Hussein but opened the door for Islamic fundamentalists.

Saddam was an evil man but he opposed fundamentalism and he kept it under control. After the invasion we destroyed the Iraqi army and Iraq’s security apparatus. This allowed Islamic fundamentalism to get in and make very serious inroads into the Iraqi Government architecture.

We sowed the wind and now we are reaping the whirlwind.

Scottish Independence

The Telegraph reports the Pope touching on this issue:

…Pope Francis appears to have suggested that breaking up Britain might not be all that it’s cracked up to be…

His words are more guarded, it is true, than some of the others you may have heard. And although he was referring, specifically, to the situation vis-à-vis Catalonia when he said that “ all division worries me”, he did send a shiver down the spine of Nats everywhere when he mentioned Scotland in almost the same breath.

The Pontiff said that many peoples in the former Yugoslavia were so different that they had little to connect them but his view was pretty clear that he didn’t think this was the case in the United Kingdom, where communities had been together for a long time.

The Guardian also reports on the papal words.  The Independent, reports on claims made by former SNP Deputy Leader, Jim Sillars, that: “Scottish independence campaigner claims MI5 is leading dirty tricks campaign”.

Housing

The Telegraph reports plans by the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, for brownfield building:

Britain must remain a “green and pleasant land”, with new housing development instead concentrated on brownfield sites, a Cabinet minister says today.

Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, says the Government’s push to increase housebuilding must be focused on land that has already been built on in and around towns, “preserving the best of our countryside”.

To encourage more urban living, the minister will soon unveil new proposals for converting former warehouses and factories into new homes for families

Economy

With all the talk of interest rate rises, The Telegraph reports on the pound reaching a new high against the dollar:

The pound came close to a five-year high against the dollar on Friday in the latest sign of growing confidence in Britain’s economic prospects. It came after George Osborne, the Chancellor, and Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, suggested that interest rates could rise this year.

Their comments sent the pound surging close to $1.70, a level not seen since 2009. The pound also reached a 19-month high against the euro. Britain’s economic growth for the first quarter also looks likely to be revised up to a near four-year high after official figures showed the construction sector performed much better than previously thought.

But why is it that most people still feel poorer than they were before? The Guardian reports on the expected interest rate rise as does the Daily Mail and the effect on mortgages.

European Parliament

Mats Persson of The Telegraph asks “Can the Tories lead this motley crew of Eurosceptics?

…Somehow, the result from this hotchpotch (the EP grouping system) is a Parliament that tends to vote for “more Europe”. I don’t blame the Tories for trying to break with this practice. Whatever the other consequences from the decision, forming the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) in 2009 was at least intellectually honest. On policy, cementing a strong and coherent unit for more free trade and less EU interference in the European Parliament, whose approval is needed for signing trade deals and scrapping regulation, makes perfect sense. The problem is, the ECR risks becoming something quite different.

Following the European elections, the ECR has voted to accept a series of new controversial parties including Germany’s anti-euro party Alternative für Deutschland (though most Tory MEPs voted against this), the Danish People’s Party and the Finns Party. David Cameron and many Tory MPs were against these parties joining but don’t have a veto.

We thought Cameron had been part of actively recruiting the Danes and Finns? And there are suggestions the Danes are having second thoughts?

Conservatives

The Guardian reports that “Tory minister says party is performing appallingly among ethnic minorities

A Conservative minister has admitted his party is performing “appallingly” among minority ethnic voters who he says are “completely disengaged” from the party.

The policing minister Damian Green told a Tory Reform Group conference that the party could have won a majority of up to 70 at the last general election if black and Asian voters had supported it on the same scale as “Anglo-Saxon whites”.

The unusually forthright comments, a recording of which has been obtained by the Guardian, demonstrate the growing concerns among Conservatives, particularly among One Nation Tories, at their failure to win over minority ethnic people whose votes have become crucial to winning marginal seats in large towns and cities.

UKIP Daily has published our very own article on appealing to ethnic minorities, penned for us by Morpheus Magnus.

NHS – A&E Waiting Times

The Independent reports an exclusive: “NHS crisis looms as A&Es miss waiting time targets

Accident and emergency departments in England have experienced an unprecedented “spring crisis”, missing a key performance target for five weeks in a row and leaving 20,000 patients waiting for four hours or more in the first week of June alone. The performance of A&E departments, regarded as a barometer for the health of the entire NHS, typically improves in spring as the demand caused by cold weather affecting the elderly subsides.

But the seasonal pattern has been broken, with latest figures revealing that A&Es failed to hit their target of treating or admitting 95 per cent of patients in four hours, for the whole of May and the beginning of June. Health experts called the target breaches “odd” and “worrying”.

Um, “odd”? With the reduction in GP out of hour’s services, mass immigration, and flat hospital funding…

UKIP

The Independent puts the worst possible gloss on the Nigel Farage allowances story with a claim that: “Nigel Farage broke electoral law over £205,000 donations that were not declared to electoral watchdog

“Further action” is being considered against Nigel Farage after he failed to declare £205,000 of donations over the past decade including the rent-free use of a constituency office. The belated disclosure of a number of donations from party supporter John Longhurst, which date back to 2001, could result in the leader receiving a fine or at worst a jail sentence.

The Ukip leader’s barn-turned-office in Littlehampton was subject to scrutiny earlier this year when it was revealed £17,000 had been spent on it in one year, not including rent, staff costs, equipment or telephone bills. Mr Farage denied misusing or profiting from his MEP allowances and said a fair portion was spent on electricity.

Elsewhere, it has been reported that Nigel Farage took advice and the donation-in-kind was reported to the EU’s Electoral Commission.

Immigration

The Daily Mail reports that: “208,000 passports handed to migrants in one year: One reason there’s a massive backlog…

A surge in applications from migrants is fuelling the Passport Office crisis, it emerged last night. A record 207,989 foreigners were handed citizenship last year – a huge rise on the 82,000 seen in the year 2000.  Their requests for papers are contributing to the delays at the Passport Office, which is struggling to clear a backlog of 500,000 applications.

The holiday plans of thousands of families are being wrecked by the failure of their passports to arrive on time. Last year only 3 per cent of those who asked for citizenship were rejected and two million migrants have been awarded it since 2000.

Once citizenship is granted, a first passport application usually follows – a time-consuming bureaucratic exercise that involves a face-to-face interview. Whistleblowers say these first-time applicants are being pushed to the back of the queue as Passport Office staff try to get to grip on the crisis.

Benefits

The Daily Mail reports that “Feckless parents may be stripped of their benefits … unless they take lessons in raising family

Benefits will be docked from feckless parents who refuse to take classes on how to improve their children’s discipline, diet and exercise under plans being discussed by senior Tories. A secret party document photographed in Downing Street reveals MPs preparing the Conservative election manifesto are considering attaching new conditions to welfare.

Carried by MP Margot James, who sits on a policy advisory board which is drawing up proposals for Prime Minister David Cameron, it reads: ‘Apply conditions for parents on benefits (training or parenting classes)’.

Labour

Here we go, Labour proposing more benefits, more loading of employers with commitments, with the Daily Mail reporting that “New fathers need more supportive bosses and maybe higher paternity pay, says Labour’s childcare guru (who admits her own husband refused to take extra leave)

Young fathers have the ‘worst of all worlds’ because they are expected to help with childcare but their bosses won’t let them have time off, Labour’s childcare guru has claimed.

In an interview with MailOnline, Miss Powell suggests paternity pay could have to rise unless there is a culture change for it to become more acceptable to men – and their employers – to share the burden of raising their children.

Pensions

The Express reports that “‘Face-to-face’ pensions advice pledge is watered down by minister Steve Webb

A PROMISE to offer “face-to-face” pensions advice for workers nearing retirement has been watered down. Pension minister Steve Webb has admitted a Budget pledge to have experts give individual guidance could involve “groups” of people.

In March, Chancellor George Osborne announced he was scrapping rules that forced most Britons to use their pension savings to buy an annuity.  He also said he was committed to providing “a right to impartial face-to-face advice so they can make informed choices”.

But Mr Webb has now said: “If face-to-face means individuals sitting down for an hour with someone every­where in the country, that would be very, very expensive.  “Face-to-face could in­volve groups.”

 

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