Archive | March 9, 2016

Sunday Trading: Cameron Defeated by Rebels as Labour Calls for Bill to be Withdrawn*

Sunday Trading: Cameron Defeated by Rebels as Labour Calls for Bill to be Withdrawn*

By Nigel Morris

David Cameron has suffered a damaging Commons defeat after Conservative rebels teamed up with Labour and SNP MPs to throw out plans to allow supermarkets and large stores in England and Wales to open longer on Sundays.

The proposals were rejected by 317 votes to 286 – a majority of 31 – despite a last-minute attempt by the Prime Minister to win over Tory MPs who argued the moves would damage family life and threaten the viability of smaller shops.

Twenty-six Conservatives rebelled to inflict the defeat on Mr Cameron, underlining the fragility of his overall majority at the last election.

The vote was also a heavy blow for George Osborne, who had championed the relaxation of Sunday trading laws on the grounds that the move would boost the economy and create jobs. He also argued that liberalisation would help high street shops to compete with online retailers.

In a final attempt to avert defeat, the government floated the idea of giving powers to councils to authorise all-day trading on Sundays on a pilot basis.

However, the compromise failed to win over opponents and MPs of all parties cheered as the plans were rejected by an unexpectedly large majority.

The Government made no secret of its anger over the SNP’s decision to vote against the scheme although shops are already allowed to open all hours in Scotland.

The party justified the move by saying the Enterprise Bill, which contained the proposal, did not enshrine in legislation the premium rates of pay for Scots who work on Sunday.

Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, condemned the SNP’s “childish and hypocritical actions” and accused it of only being motivated by winning headlines.

The Communities minister, Brandon Lewis, tweeted: “Majority in English and Welsh MPs for Sunday trading. SNP stop rest of country have freedom Scotland has.”

Following the vote, Angela Eagle, the shadow Business Secretary, challenged ministers to abandon their “tawdry attempts” to force the plans through parliament.

The vote marked the second Commons defeat for Mr Cameron since the election. The first came over the “purdah” arrangements facing civil servants ahead of the EU referendum vote.

Larger retailers in England and Wales are currently allowed to trade for six consecutive hours between 10am and 6pm on Sundays, although shops with less than 3,000 sq ft of floor space can open all day.

Under the rejected proposals, councils would be given the power to allow shops to stay open longer if they think there is local demand.


Related Topics:

Bank Bail-outs Behind Behind U.K.’s Collapsing Public Services*

The Welsh Assembly Blocks Cameron’s Trade Union Bill*

E.U. Refuses to give Cameron the 4-year Ban on E.U. Migrant Benefits*

Cameron’s Mother and Aunt Protest against his Cruel Cuts to Children’s Services*

Cameron et al Vote against Law to Ensure Housing ‘fit for humans’*

U.K. Cuts to Social Services has Caused the ‘biggest rise in death rates’ since WWII*

Unfair Health Contract Sparks Exodus of U.K. Medical Professionals*

Merkel Tells Cameron Support E.U. Military in exchange for EU negotiation Talks*

Corbyn Turns PMQs into the People’s Question Time, and Cameron Flounders*

Corbyn Triumphs as Cameron Fears Failure to Achieve Mandate on Invading Syria*

No Confidence Vote in David Cameron Passes 170,000 Signatures*

Lord Rothschild ‘The Tide is Turning’*

Lord Rothschild ‘The Tide is Turning’*

As central bank policy-makers’ forecasts have become more pessimistic (i.e. more realistic), Lord Rothschild is unsurprised at the current malaise:

“not surprisingly, market conditions have deteriorated further…So much so that the wind is certainly not behind us; indeed we may well be in the eye of a storm.”

On this basis, Rothschild highlights a “daunting litany of problems,” warning those who are optimistically sanguine about the U.S. economy that “2016 is likely to turn out to be more difficult than the second half of 2015.”

Lord Rothschild Letter to Investors (via RIT Capital):

In my half-yearly statement I sounded a note of caution, ending up by writing that “the climate is one where the wind may well not be behind us”; indeed we became increasingly concerned about global equity markets during the last quarter of 2015, reducing our exposure to equities as the economic outlook darkened and many companies reported disappointing earnings. Meanwhile central banks’ policy makers became more pessimistic in their economic forecasts for, despite unprecedented monetary stimulus, growth remained anaemic.

Not surprisingly, market conditions have deteriorated further. So much so that the wind is certainly not behind us; indeed we may well be in the eye of a storm.

The litany of problems which confronts investors is daunting:

  • The QE tap is in the course of being turned off and in any event its impact in stimulating asset prices is coming to an end.
  • There’s the slowing down to an unknown extent in China.
  • The situation in the Middle East is likely to be irresolvable at least for some time ahead.
  • Progress of the U.S. and European economies is disappointing.
  • The Greek situation remains fraught with the country now having to cope with the challenge of unprecedented immigration.
  • Over the last few years we have witnessed an explosion in debt, much of it repayable in re-valued dollars by emerging market countries at the time of a collapse in commodity prices. Countries like Brazil, Russia, Nigeria, Ukraine and Kazakhstan are, as a result, deeply troubled.
  • In the U.K. we have an unsettled political situation as we attempt to deal with the possibility of Brexit in the coming months.

The risks that confront investors are clearly considerable at a time when stock market valuations remain relatively high.

There are, however, some influential and thoughtful investment managers who remain sanguine about markets in 2016 on the grounds that the U.S. economy is in decent shape – outside of manufacturing – while they feel that economic conditions may be improving. To them, the decline in these markets may have more to do with sentiment than substance. Others are less optimistic but feel that the odds remain against these potential difficulties materialising in a form which would undermine global equity markets.

However our view is that 2016 is likely to turn out to be more difficult than the second half of 2015. Our policy will be towards a greater emphasis on seeking absolute returns. We will remain highly selective when considering public and private investment opportunities. Reflecting this policy, our quoted equity exposure has been reduced to 43% of net asset value.

There’s an old saying that in difficult times the return of capital takes precedence over the return on capital. Our principle will therefore be to exercise caution in all things in the current year, while remaining agile where opportunities present themselves. Problems have a habit of creating opportunities and I remain confident of our ability to identify and profit from them during 2016.

Perhaps Lord Rothschild is on to something…




End Rothschild




Related Topics:

Rothschild Establishes Billionaire Tax Haven Inside America*

Rothschild Bank Now Under Criminal Investigation*

Former Bush Official ‘The Ship Is Sinking’*

Bank Bail-outs Behind Behind U.K.’s Collapsing Public Services*

Clinton Case ‘criminal,’ Grand Jury Convened*

Scalia Murdered After Obama Meeting*

Pope Francis Found Guilty Of Child Trafficking, Rape, Murder*

Cameron’s Mother and Aunt Protest against his Cruel Cuts to Children’s Services*

E.U. Refuses to give Cameron the 4-year Ban on E.U. Migrant Benefits*

The Welsh Assembly Blocks Cameron’s Trade Union Bill*

Shell Oil Faces Second Lawsuit in Five Years over Spills in Nigeria*

French Journalist Arrested for Exposing Israeli Connection to Paris False Flag*

Pegida-U.K. — Smoke, Mirrors and Zionism*

Beware of the Fake ‘Alien Invasion’

Vladimir Putin’s Address on the Cessation of Hostilities in Syria*

The U.S. Military Court Recent Decisions, and the Black Vote*

Johnson and Johnson Ordered to Pay $72M for Knowingly Causing Cancer with Product*

U.S. Sends 5,000 Tons of Ammunition to Germany ‘to help NATO alliance’*

Thousands of Boston Students Walked Out Of Class to Save Schools*

Thousands of Boston Students Walked Out Of Class to Save Schools*

By Tom Cahill

Thousands of Boston high school students have descended onto the Boston Common and the Massachusetts State House in an unprecedented citywide walkout. Students are demanding the city rescind a controversial property tax break to General Electric and cease all budget cuts.

The Boston Public School District (BPS) is facing a budget deficit ranging from anywhere between $10 and $50 million for 2016. BPS students are calling out Mayor Marty Walsh for granting huge corporate tax giveaways while forcing schools to cut important curriculum and lay off faculty and staff. BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang estimates the budget deficit is approximately $50 million, but Mayor Walsh estimates the figure to be $10 million.

$18.6 million of the budget deficit comes from the district being forced to pay for charter schools that enrol BPS students. While the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is supposed to reimburse BPS for the charter school costs, it didn’t even cover half of the expenses last year.

A recent city-approved property tax break for General Electric is to blame for another $25 million that could’ve gone toward plugging the BPS budget gap. GE also receives an additional $151 million in city and state tax incentives. In return for all of these tax breaks, GE is only directly employing 600 people, which the commonwealth estimates will result in an additional 590 indirect jobs.

Boston city councillor Tito Jackson said the entire reason for GE choosing Boston’s workforce is due to its excellent schools, which are being sacrificed for corporate handouts.

“If we don’t invest in our talent and our talent pipeline, a company like GE will come and go and will not stay here,” Jackson told BostInno.

Boston students self-organized the walkout, handing out a flyer at their schools educating their fellow students about the budget cuts and encouraging them to join the walkout.

U.S. Uncut reached out to the office of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh but we received no response. The mayor has no official statement yet, but a city spokesperson said one will be issued shortly.


Related Topics:

Obama and GOP Unleash “Community Schools” to Replace Parents*

Parents Now Being Thrown in Jail in America for Homeschooling Their Children*

Public School Students Taught To ‘Pledge Allegiance To International Flag’…*

U.K. Secretively Scraps Free Meal Grants for Poorest Primary School Children*

Muslim Schools Continue to Surpass National GCSE Average*

Outrage as U.K.School Calls Police after Pupil Looks at Ukip Website in Class*

U.S. Airstrikes on ISIS Chemical Weapon Facilities to Cover-up their Tracks*

U.S. Airstrikes on ISIS Chemical Weapon Facilities to Cover-up their Tracks*

By Barbara Starr

The U.S. military has conducted airstrikes against targets it believes are crucial to ISIS’ chemical weapons program based on information provided by a senior ISIS operative involved in chemical weapons, several U.S. officials told CNN.

The U.S. captured the operative in Iraq three weeks ago, the first since a team of Special Operations forces recently began operating in northern Iraq. One official called him “the key leader,” but others could not say if he runs the entire chemical weapons program for ISIS.

The information he provided to interrogators has given the U.S. enough information to begin striking ISIS areas in Iraq associated with the group’s chemical weapons program. One U.S. official said the goal is to locate, target and carry out strikes that will result in the destruction of ISIS’s entire chemical weapons enterprise — mainly mustard agent ISIS produces itself.

It was not immediately clear if the U.S. was able to strike all of the necessary targets. Intelligence and surveillance of the targets had indicated in some Iraqi locations that civilians were present at prospective sites, officials told CNN.

While the goal is to end ISIS’ capability to manufacture and use mustard agent, the actual targets being struck include people, facilities and vehicles. The agent itself is made in relatively small quantities and has a fairly short shelf life, the U.S. government believes.

The program is one the U.S. military has been tracking, with Defense Secretary Ash Carter saying last month the Pentagon was prepared to strike against it.

“It’s something we watch very closely and it’s something we take action against,” Carter said in an interview that aired on PBS.

Since the weekend, the U.S. has struck what it is calling “improvised weapons facilities” and other targets near Mosul, Iraq, but officials would not say if these were chemical weapons sites.

At the request of the Pentagon, CNN initially withheld publishing the detainee’s connection to ISIS’ chemical weapons program because defense officials said disclosing that would risk alerting ISIS to potential airstrike targets. With the chemical weapons program undisturbed, it would allow ISIS to use the weapons to strike civilians, troops the U.S. supports, and possibly even U.S. troops.

Officials would not explain why they believed the detention itself hadn’t jeopardized the airstrikes, or why the U.S. military believes ISIS had not noticed the captured operative had gone missing from its ranks. However, the operative is said to have regularly moved around in Iraq, and officials said they still believe his capture was unknown to ISIS.

U.S. Special Operations forces captured the operative more than three weeks ago. He has been held and interrogated in Irbil, Iraq, for any information he has about the chemical weapons program and the location of other key ISIS personnel or weapons stocks. While there are other ISIS operatives involved in the program, the U.S. believes at this point that the captured man is crucial to understanding this dangerous wing of the organization.

The U.S. has long said any ISIS operatives captured by U.S. troops would only be held for a short time and then turned over to either the Iraqis or the Kurds.

The operative was captured in one of the first missions of the so-called Expeditionary Targeting Forces. It is a group of some 200 Special Operations troops assembled in northern Iraq to gather intelligence and pursue ISIS operatives on the ground by either capturing or killing them in Iraq, and eventually in Syria. Carter recently acknowledged the ETF is “having an effect and operating.

“It’s a tool that we introduced as part of our — the accelerated operations to conduct raids of various kinds, seizing places and people, freeing hostages and prisoners of ISIL, and making it such that ISIL has to fear that anywhere, anytime, it may be struck,” he said in late February, using a different name for ISIS.

The U.S. went after this particular individual due to concerns about the “skills and intent” he has, one of the officials said. The mission to capture him was specifically tailored to the location where he was, and was designed to allow troops to be able to seize him. U.S. Special Operations forces were certain he was at the location in Iraq after covertly surveying it for some days.

The U.S. intelligence community has been tracking a number of confirmed chemical attacks by ISIS where powdered mustard agent was used in artillery shells, the official said. The most recent attack was a month ago.

The U.S. intelligence community has confirmed 12 cases of the use of mustard agent. Three other cases are suspected. They include locations in both Syria and Iraq. The majority of the cases have been in Syria, some as far west as the Maraa line where fighting has raged. Other attacks have occurred across Iraq, including Sinjar Mountain and the area around Mosul, as well as locations further south towards Baghdad.

However, U.S. officials are somewhat downplaying the attacks, saying they believe any deaths were a result of being hit by artillery, not the agent itself.

Since interrogations of the detainee began, U.S. Special Operations forces have been using the information he has provided to begin to locate targets.

Under the rules of engagement, U.S. Special Operations forces must have continuous surveillance of a target for a period of time to ensure they know who is there and the locations of any potential nearby civilians before they strike.

The U.S. has said all Special Operations missions are coordinated with the Iraqi government.

Vice President Joe Biden has spoken to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi twice in the last week, though White House readouts of the call did not mention the detainee.

It could not immediately be learned if there were Iraqi forces took part in the raid to capture the man, or whether Iraqis were involved in the airstrikes.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper recently hinted at the confirmation of chemical attacks by ISIS in congressional testimony.

“Chemical weapons continue to pose a threat in Syria and Iraq,” Clapper told the House intelligence committee. “ISIL has also used toxic chemicals in Iraq and Syria, including the blister agent Sulfur Mustard. (It’s) the first time an extremist group has produced and used a chemical warfare agent in an attack since Aum Shinrikyo used sarin in Japan in 1995.”

Defence officials said this was the first public confirmation by the U.S. government of mustard agent attacks.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons also continues to track reports of the use of mustard agent and is talking with the U.S. about other possible attacks, U.S. officials said.

Investigators will also want to know whether ISIS has any plans to use chemical agents in attacks against the West. It’s unclear whether the captured operative has that knowledge.


Related Topics:

Former Bush Official ‘The Ship Is Sinking’*

Water Returns to Syria’s Aleppo after Daesh (ISIS) Stoppage*

Turkey Caught on Camera Protecting and Aiding Al-Nusra Rebels*

U.S.-backed Proxies Use Ceasefire in Syria to ‘Regroup, Rearm and Prepare’*

Saudi Arabia Unleashes Frenzy of Attacks on Syrians*

20 Countries Involved in IS Bomb supply Chain*

DynCorp Mercenaries Replace Blackwater Mercenaries in Yemen*

Libya’s Interim Government Blasts U.S. Aggression*

Lawsuit Seeks Billions in Damages from Americans Who Fund Israeli Settlements*

Lawsuit Seeks Billions in Damages from Americans Who Fund Israeli Settlements*

The lawsuit names Washington lobbyist and multi-millionaire Sheldon Adelson, investor Irving Moskowitz, right-wing mega-church pastor John Hagee and other individuals who have funnelled millions of dollars into Israeli colonial settlement construction.

An Israeli flag is seen in front of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maaleh Adumim on the outskirts of Jerusalem. (AP/Bernat Armangue)

A group of Palestinians and Palestinian-Americans who have been victims of Israeli settlement construction filed a lawsuit this week to demand financial compensation from some of the companies, individuals and organizations responsible for funding the construction.

Israeli settlement construction takes place on illegally seized Palestinian land, and is considered a flagrant violation of international law and Israel’s responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention as an occupying power.

The U.S. Government has also condemned Israeli settlement construction – although a bill being considered by the U.S. Congress right now would make it illegal to boycott Israeli products that come from these illegal settlements.

In fact, U.S. Law currently allows U.S. Citizens to donate to the Israeli military directly – the only military on earth that U.S. Citizens are allowed to directly donate to. In addition, U.S. Citizens and groups are permitted to give tax-deductible donations to Israeli settlement construction project – despite the fact that doing so directly violates U.S. Stated policy.

The lawsuit launched this week names Washington lobbyist and multi-millionaire Sheldon Adelson, investor Irving Moskowitz, right-wing mega-church pastor John Hagee and other individuals who have funnelled millions of dollars into Israeli colonial settlement construction.

In addition, a number of organizations are named in the lawsuit, including ‘Christian Friends of Israeli Communities’, Israel Chemicals Limited, the controversial Dead Sea cosmetics company Ahava, and security firm G4S.

Martin McMahon, one of the lawyers representing the complainants in the lawsuit, told reporters from Al Jazeera,

“It’s about time that the world woke up to the fact that Palestinians are being murdered every day with U.S. taxpayer dollars.”

In addition to charging the defendants with funding illegal settlement construction, the lawsuit also charges five counts of conspiracy, war crimes, aggravated trespass, pillage and racketeering.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court in Washington DC.


Related Topics:

The Brothers who Funded Blair, Israeli Settlements and Islamophobia*

Israel Anger over E.U. to Label Settlement Goods*

U.S. Sued over $280bn Tax-deductible Aid Sent to Israel*

Palestine Before Israel*