Vice-president Biden Warns Russia will meddle in European Elections

Vice-president of the U.S. Joe Biden has warned that Russia will meddle in European elections.

In his last speech before leaving office he said that Vladimir Putin will try and impose a vision of “military might, corruption and criminality.”

Mr Biden was speaking in Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum.  He described Russia as the biggest threat to the liberal order, and called on America and Europe to stand up to Moscow but not “build walls.”

“Impose its will through military might, corruption and criminality”

He said, “Under President Putin, Russia is working with every tool available to them to whittle away at the edges of the European project, test the fault lines of western nations and return to a politics defined by spheres of influence.

“With many countries in Europe slated to hold elections this year, we should expect further attempts by Russia to meddle in the democratic process. It will occur again, I promise you. And again the purpose is clear to collapse the liberal international order.

“Simply put, Mr Putin has a different vision for the future, one which Russia is pursuing across the board. It seeks to return to a world where the strong impose its will through military might, corruption and criminality while weaker nations have to fall in line.”

So far most of the signs look like Trump will try to make deals with Russia rather than have a policy of confrontation.


Much of the speech made veiled references to Donald Trump, and he called on the incoming president to honour the U.S’ commitment to NATO.

He said, “Defending the liberal international order requires that we resist the forces of European disintegration and maintain our longstanding insistence on a Europe, whole, free and peaceful.

“It means fighting for the European Union, one of the most vibrant and consequential institutions on earth.”

Life Style

Despite White House Assurances LGBT Advocates Fearful

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality advocates on Tuesday said they were bracing for President Donald Trump to roll back their rights in the workplace despite White House Assurances that this was not going to happen.

The official line is that the 2014 executive order issued by President Barak Obama that barred discrimination against the LGBT community working for federal contractors remains intact.

A White House statement said, “The President is proud to have been the first ever GOP (Republican) nominee to mention the LGBTQ community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression.”

Advocates, however, fear that Trump will bring in a new set of executive orders that would allow discrimination on religious grounds undermining the executive order that protected them.

Trump at Odds with other Republicans over LGBT

Many of Trump’s fellow Republicans have often fought civil rights that protected sexual orientation and gender identity.  Enforcing the previous executive order does place Trump at odds with others in his own party.  During his presidential campaign, he had acknowledged gay rights and called for LGBT voters to vote for him.

The LGBT community, however, is hardly secure in having a President like Donald Trump.  His vice president Mike Pence is a conservative Christian and he, along with other senior Republicans oppose gay rights.

The president of Human Rights Campaign, Chad Griffin, felt the appointment of Pence showed Trump’s true views on LGBT.

He said that although Trump spoke a good game he has filled his cabinet with those who had spent careers demonising the community.

U.S Supreme Court

The death of Antonin Scalia has left a vacant position at the U.S Supreme Court with many in the LGBT community fearful of who Trump will nominate as a replacement.

In an MSNBC interview in 2015 Trump said the Supreme Court ruling allowing gay marriage should stand.


Police Make an Arrest in Quebec Mosque Shooting

A man has been arrested in connection with the Quebec Mosque shooting that happened on Sunday evening.  They have also detained a witness for questioning.

The attack left six people dead, and five people are in a critical condition.  Earlier, police had said they had two suspects in custody.  Now one appears to be a witness to the attack.

One of the men was arrested at the scene, while the other was picked up after he called 911.  According to authorities the two men are believed to be in their 20s and 30s and had no prior record.

Canadian authorities have stated they do not believe that there was anybody else involved in the attack and they have the situation “under control.”  They have not given a possible motive for the attack.

Fifty People at the Mosque at the Time of the Shooting

At the time of the incident there were 50 people at the mosque.  Twelve other people were injured in addition to the six dead and five critically injured.  The fatalities were aged between 35 and 65.

In the aftermath of the attack provincial police have increased police presence by seventy five officers, while investigation teams are looking for forensic evidence at the mosque.

Terrorist Attack

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard have described the shooting on the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre as a terrorist act.

The attacks come as U.S President Trump’s executive orders ban Muslims and people from seven countries from the Middle East and Africa.

The president of the mosque, Mohamed Yangui said the shooting happened where men were worshipping and was dismayed by the incident.  He was not inside at the time.  He thanked the public for the support shown on the mosque’s Facebook Page.

In June last year the same mosque was targeted by an Islamophobic group who put a pig’s head on the steps of the mosque during Ramadan.   Pork is forbidden to be eaten in Islam.


Petition to Cancel Trump’s UK Visit Reaches 100,000 Signatures

Less than five hours after its launch, 100,000 people have signed a petition in favour of banning Donald Trump from a state visit to Britain.  The matter will now be debated in parliament.

The petition cites Mr Trump’s “well documented misogyny and vulgarity” and calls for him to be allowed into the country but to meet The Queen.

As the petition has over 10,000 signatures it will be debated in parliament.  The petition reached the 100,000 figure in just under five hours after being launched at 8am.  It earned 56,000 signatures within the last sixty minutes.

Data shows that signatures came from North, South, and Central London with high signing rates in Edinburgh, Bristol, Brighton, and Manchester.

The petition states, “Donald Trump should be allowed to enter the UK in his capacity as head of the US Government, but he should not be invited to make an official State Visit because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen.

“Donald Trump’s well documented misogyny and vulgarity disqualifies him from being received by Her Majesty the Queen or the Prince of Wales. Therefore during the term of his presidency Donald Trump should not be invited to the United Kingdom for an official State Visit.”

May Under Fire

The petition and subsequent debate will further apply the pressure to Theresa May.  She has been constantly under fire over a range of issues, when in each case she has failed to answer pressing questions of the day, either avoiding the question or choosing to answer a different question to the one put.

In relation to the Trump travel ban, Theresa May is being criticised in her own party as more divisions erupt within it.  Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi, a Muslim, said the U.S travel ban would stop him entering the country and for the first time in his life he feels discriminated against.

A decision on when the parliamentary debate will occur will be decided at a later date.


Doomsday Clock Hits two and a half minutes to Midnight

The clock that symbolises the end of the world, The Doomsday Clock, has moved to two and a half minutes to midnight.  This is the closest the clock has come to the end of the world since 1953.

The clock which gauges world tensions was moved to the new time via live stream.  Researchers took the decision to move the hands due to climate change and nuclear war concerns.

Lawrence Krauss and David Titley, of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists which sets The Doomsday Clock said they took the decision as the international community have failed to deal with nuclear weapons and climate change.  In part, the movement of the hands is due to Donald Trump who does not believe in climate change.

Other issues included nuclear weapons being built by India, Pakistan, Russia, North Korea, and China.

In a statement, the group wrote, “A rise in strident nationalism worldwide, President Donald Trump’s comments on nuclear arms and climate issues, a darkening global security landscape that is colored by increasingly sophisticated technology, and a growing disregard for scientific expertise.”

One of the researchers said the fact that 2016 was the hottest on record showed there was nothing wrong with the science behind climate change.  They also said that they hoped the clock hands moving so close to midnight raises the level of conversation and prompts calls to action of people around the world.

Earth Closer to Oblivion than 1984

According to the researchers, this is the closest the world has come to ending than in 1984, when east – west relations were at their iciest.

The clock hands move backwards and forward in line with world events and developments.   Initially, it only took into account the risk of global nuclear war, but now takes into account the risk of climate change, biotechnology advances, and artificial intelligence.


Four more Journalists Charged after Covering Inauguration Riot

Four more journalists have been charged with felony charges after covering riots during President Trump’s inauguration.

The total number of journalists that have been arrested totals six.  If they are found guilty they could face 10-year prison sentences and face fines up to $25,000.

The journalists include a documentary producer, photojournalist, live – streamer, and a freelance reporter.  All four have been charged with the most serious level of laws against rioting.  All four were caught up in the violence that occurred during the inauguration.

On Monday, it transpired that two journalists were charged with the same offence.  Evan Engel of Vocativ, and Alex Rubinstein of RT America were arrested while covering the riots.

According to court filings, all six were arraigned in superior court on Saturday and will face further hearings in February and March.  The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) stated that the charges against the journalists who were covering the riots should be dropped.

Carlos Lauria of the CPJ said, “These charges are clearly inappropriate, and we are concerned that they could send a chilling message to journalists covering future protests.  We call on authorities in Washington to drop these charges immediately.”

One of the arrested journalists, Jack Kelly a documentary filmmaker for Story of America, said he was detained for 36 hours after being arrested by police.  They arrested him despite telling officers he was press.

While Matt Hopard who is an independent journalist was live-streaming the riots was arrested on Friday.  He denies the charges against him as well.

Aaron Cantu, a freelance journalist, and Shay Horse, a freelance photographer were also arrested and deny doing anything wrong.

None of the arrest reports for the journalists cite specific charges.

On Friday around two hundred people were arrested as the riot caused property damage to some areas of Washington.  Police say that six officers suffered minor injuries.



Granit Xhaka Arsenal Midfielder to face Racial Abuse Probe

Arsenal midfielder, Granit Xhaka, 24, is at the centre of a racial abuse probe after it is alleged he called a member of British Airways staff a “f*****g white b***h”.  He was interviewed under caution on Monday night.

Xhaka, is a Swiss international and has an appalling disciplinary record.  It is believed that the player will sit down for serious talks over his conduct with manager Arsene Wenger over this issue.

Xhaka is believed to have been at Heathrow Terminal 5 when he saw a friend off from the airport.  His friend Leonard Lekaj, 26, plays for German six division side, FC Monchengladback and it is believed he is related to Xhaka’s fiancée Leonita Lekaj.

Late for Flight

It is reported that Mr Lekaj was late for his flight and was stopped from boarding it.  At this point, Xhaka became angry and shouted a stream of abuse at airline staff.

The accusation has been backed up by more than one British Airways staff.  Xhaka is denying that he made the comment.

Police officers were called to the scene and witness statements were taken.

A spokesman for the police said, “Police were called at 19:29hrs on Monday, 23 January following an allegation that a member of staff had been racially abused at Heathrow Airport, Terminal Five.

“The allegation was made by a third party.  Officers attended and spoke with a man in his 20s. He was not arrested. He voluntarily attended a west London police station where he was interviewed under caution. Enquiries continue.”

A spokesman for the airline declined to comment.

Xhaka is of Albanian descent but grew up in Switzerland has had a poor disciplinary record while playing for Arsenal in the English Premiership.

He was dismissed during his last international appearance and was sent off last Sunday for a two-footed tackle.  This was his second red card in 20 appearances.

Xhaka may face racial abuse charges as a result of the police investigation.


Syrian Peace Talks Get off to Bad Start

The Syria peace talks held in Astana, Kazakhstan, got off to a bad start when rebels refused to negotiate with Bashar al Jaafari of the Syrian government face to face.  The Syrian delegation branded this as insolent and provocative.

The negotiations are sponsored by Turkey, Iran, and Russia and aim to end the five-year long Syrian conflict.  Some are saying this is a test of Russia’s influence in the Middle East.

A leaked document shows that broadly speaking the talks support the U.N process.  It calls for joint action to defeat terrorist groups such as Islamic State, and it wants to implement a trilateral process to monitor the ceasefire.

These talks to bring peace in Syria are unique as for the first time opposition delegation is not drawn from political representatives, but the armed rebel groups themselves.  A move designed to build trust between the parties.

Opposition Demands

Leader of the opposition delegation, Mohammed Alloush, stated that peace talks were more difficult as Iranian-sponsored militia were fighting alongside Syrian troops.  He called for them to leave the country and for the release of prisoners from government jails, citing 13,000 women were being held in arbitration.

The opposition’s demand of the departure of Assad and Iranian militias before the peace process can begin puts them at odds with the regime.

A spokesman for the rebels said the first talks were not held face to face due to continued bombardment by the Syrian regime on an area near Damascus.

Russia’s Great Hope

Russia has placed a lot of hope in these peace talks.  They believe as the Obama administration is no longer involved and the opposition defeat in Aleppo the talks stand a chance of succeeding.  This has been strengthened by the fact that Turkey, once an opponent of Assad no longer sees him as an obstacle to reaching a lasting agreement.



British Prime Minster Theresa May Denies Fawning at President Trump

British Prime Minister Theresa May as said she won’t be afraid to tell President Trump should he say something that she feels is unacceptable.

The two are due to meet on Friday.

Former Scottish National Party Leader, Alex Salmond has said May appears to be “fawning” in relation to the US administration.

In an interview, she told the BBC that the special relationship between Britain and the U.S. will enable her to say what she feels.

Protestors against Trump numbered in their millions on Sunday, and marched in key cities around the world, most protesting his comments on women and race.

May said she was looking forward to meeting President Trump and building strong relations between the two countries.  When asked if she would raise issues highlighted in protests, she replied,  “I have already said that some of the comments Donald Trump has made in relation to women were unacceptable.  Some of those he himself has apologised for.”

She cited laws around modern slavery and domestic violence, stating she had a record of defending women’s interests.

She added, “I will be talking to Donald Trump about the issues we share and how we can build on the special relationship.  It is the special relationship that allows us to say when something is unacceptable.  Whenever there is something I find unacceptable, I won’t be afraid to say that to Donald Trump.”

She continued to say that she was not too worried about his America first rhetoric saying that all leaders prioritised their own nation first, “He and people around him have also spoken of the importance of a trade arrangement with the United Kingdom and that is something they are looking to talk to us about at an early stage.

“There are issue, that we will work on together in the future – the importance of Nato and defeating terrorism.  These are issues where we share the challenges and see the threats, where we have worked together in the past and will do so in the future.”

The two meet on Friday.





Undercover Investigation by Which? Reveals Massive Sharing of Personal Data

An undercover investigation by consumer group Which? has revealed that personal and financial information is being bought and sold “on a huge scale.”

The investigation by the consumer watchdog group Which? who posed as a dodgy pension advice company, approached fourteen list brokers gaining easy access to over a half a million names, telephone numbers, and pension details.

No Consumer Consent to Sell Data

According to Which? they were offered data for as little as four pence a record.  Many companies were operating illegally.

Only four companies who were contacted by Which? carried out any kind of due diligence or background checks on the company Which? posed as.  The data they obtained is often used in unsolicited contact to sell pension products to consumers.  Some of the information sold had not been given consent to be so by consumers.

Widespread Irresponsible Behaviour

The group has said that many companies were in breach of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guidelines, and that the investigation showed widespread “irresponsible behaviour.”

Which? said they were offered 500,000 details of people aged 50 and over.  This included homes, jobs, pensions, and income information.

Pensioners and those approaching retirement were targeted the most.

Money editor at Which? Harry Rose said, ”Our investigation highlights that sensitive personal and financial data is being traded on a huge scale, with unscrupulous companies selling to anyone who comes calling.

“Millions are already pestered by nuisance callers and targeted by scammers. To avoid ending up on a list, never give permission for your data to be shared by third parties and if you are called out of the blue about a financial opportunity, hang up and report it.”

The government said it was going to crackdown on nuisance calls in its Autumn statement.  The regulations are set to go live in the spring and could see fines as much as £500,000 levelled on the bosses of companies that make harassing calls to the public.