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Rabu, 31 Juli 2019

China seeks to remove Arabic script and Islamic images from restaurants | TheHill - The Hill

China is reportedly telling restaurant owners to remove any images associated with Islam and messages written in Arabic from their stores.

Reuters reports employees from 11 various restaurants and shops in Beijing had been told by Chinese officials to remove the images and Arabic signs. The stores visited by the news outlet were all selling halal products.

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One shop owner, who along with the rest of them declined to give his name due to the sensitivity of the issue, said a government official told him to cover the “halal” in Arabic on his noodle shop sign and watched him do it before leaving.

“They said this is foreign culture and you should use more Chinese culture,” the noodle shop owner told Reuters.

Several shop owners visited by the news outlet simply covered the Arabic and Islamic imagery and others replaced it with the Chinese term for halal.

It is not immediately clear if all of the roughly 1,000 halal shops and restaurants in Beijing have been told to cover the Arabic script and Muslim symbols.

The move is the latest step in the Chinese government’s push to have religions conform with Chinese culture, as part of a process to "Sinicize" its Muslim population, according to Reuters.

The campaign has reportedly also included having several mosques in China remove Middle Eastern-style domes and replace them with Chinese-style pagodas.

While China has 20 million Muslim residents and freedom of religion in the country, the government still adheres to Communist Party ideology and is pushing to bring religions in line with it.

One shop owner took issue with “erasing” Muslim culture.

“They are always talking about national unity, they’re always talking about China being international. Is this national unity?” a halal butcher shop owner told Reuters.

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https://thehill.com/policy/international/china/455510-china-seeks-to-remove-arabic-script-and-islamic-images-from

2019-07-31 13:50:03Z
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Body of Missing Indian Coffee Shop Tycoon Found in River - TIME

Body of Indian Coffee Shop Chain Tycoon Found in River | Time

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https://time.com/5639883/indian-coffee-tycoon-body-found-river/

2019-07-31 11:51:19Z
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Body of India's coffee tycoon found floating in river by fishermen - Fox News

The body of V.G. Siddhartha, founder of India’s largest coffee chain, was found floating in a river Wednesday, two days after he was first reported missing.

Siddhartha, 60, was last seen by his driver Monday evening near a bridge in Dakshina Kannada district. He reportedly asked him to wait while he went for a walk along the bridge. After not hearing from the coffee tycoon for two hours, the driver contacted police.

His body was found by fishermen on Wednesday.

FOUNDER OF INDIA’S LARGEST COFFEE CHAIN DISAPPEARS AFTER LETTER TO EMPLOYEES: ‘I FOUGHT FOR A LONG TIME BUT TODAY I GAVE UP’ 

“I saw a body floating while I was fishing and then I informed the police. I participated in the rescue operation,” one of the men told the New Delhi Television news channel.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel carry the body of missing Indian coffee tycoon V.G. Siddhartha from the banks of Netravati river towards an ambulance after local fishermen found it floating in the coastal city of Mangalore in the southern state of Karnataka on July 31, 2019. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel carry the body of missing Indian coffee tycoon V.G. Siddhartha from the banks of Netravati river towards an ambulance after local fishermen found it floating in the coastal city of Mangalore in the southern state of Karnataka on July 31, 2019. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

An autopsy report will be conducted to confirm the official cause of death.

Police are continuing to investigate the circumstances around the Cafe Coffee Day founder’s death. Several days before his disappearance, Siddhartha sent a letter to employees that appeared to allude to mounting financial problems.

RISING INDIAN CRICKET STAR SAYS DOPING VIOLATION WAS OVER PROHIBITED SUBSTANCE IN COUGH MEDICINE 

FILE PHOTO: V.G. Siddhartha, chairman of Coffee Day Enterprises Ltd, speaks during a news conference in Mumbai, India, October 7, 2015. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade/File Photo - RC16E01454B0

FILE PHOTO: V.G. Siddhartha, chairman of Coffee Day Enterprises Ltd, speaks during a news conference in Mumbai, India, October 7, 2015. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade/File Photo - RC16E01454B0

“I would like to say I gave it my all. I am very sorry to let down all the people that put their trust in me,” the letter, obtained by the Times of India, read. “I fought for a long time but today I gave up as I could not take any more pressure from one of the private equity partners forcing me to buy back shares, a transaction I had partially completed six months ago by borrowing a large sum of money from a friend.”

He continued: “Tremendous pressure from other lenders nod to me succumbing to the situation.”

Siddhartha went on to say that he was “solely responsible for all mistakes” and that the company’s auditors and senior management were “totally unaware of all my transactions.”

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“The law should hold me and only me accountable, as I have withheld this information from everybody including my family," he said.

The body of missing Indian coffee tycoon V.G. Siddhartha is wheeled on a stretcher from an ambulance to a cold storage unit after local fishermen found it floating in the Netravati river in the coastal city of Mangalore in the southern state of Karnataka on July 31, 2019. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

The body of missing Indian coffee tycoon V.G. Siddhartha is wheeled on a stretcher from an ambulance to a cold storage unit after local fishermen found it floating in the Netravati river in the coastal city of Mangalore in the southern state of Karnataka on July 31, 2019. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Cafe Coffee Day was founded in 1996 and now has 1,750 locations throughout India, making it the largest coffee producer in the country, according to the Business Standard. It has also opened locations in Europe as well as in Malaysia and Nepal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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https://www.foxnews.com/world/body-of-indias-coffee-tycoon-found-floating-in-river-by-fishermen

2019-07-31 10:50:11Z
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India’s ‘Coffee King’ Found Dead Amid Financial Troubles - The New York Times

NEW DELHI — V.G. Siddhartha, a wealthy tycoon who beat Starbucks to dominate India’s retail coffee industry but faced personal financial troubles, was found dead on Wednesday, the police said.

The police had carried out an exhaustive search for Mr. Siddhartha, founder of the popular chain Cafe Coffee Day, who was last seen Monday evening on a waterfront bridge outside the coastal city of Mangaluru, in southern India. Fishermen spotted his body floating near the shoreline on Wednesday morning.

Hanumantharaya, a senior police official who goes by one name, said the police were still investigating the cause of death.

Mr. Siddhartha, whose family has been in the coffee business for 130 years, became one of the world’s biggest traders after opening Cafe Coffee Day in 1996, earning him the nickname “the coffee king of India.” The company and its subsidiaries, which recently expanded to other countries in Asia and Europe, employ more than 30,000 people.

But Cafe Coffee Day and its parent organization, Coffee Day Enterprises, were thrown into turmoil in 2017, when the Indian tax authorities raided company offices. They said they had found undisclosed transactions and illegal income, which Mr. Siddhartha denied.

This year, the company’s stock took another hit as Mr. Siddhartha struggled to pay various lenders, leading to a liquidity crunch.

Mr. Siddhartha, his wife, Malavika Hegde, and companies affiliated with them held over 50 percent of the equity in Coffee Day Enterprises.

On Tuesday, the company released a copy of a letter, purportedly written by Mr. Siddhartha, that was addressed to the board of directors. The letter, which appears on Mr. Siddhartha’s letterhead and bears his signature, said that he was facing “a lot of harassment” from the tax authorities, and that he took responsibility for “all mistakes.”

“The law should hold me and only me accountable,” the letter says. “My intention was never to cheat or mislead anybody. I have failed as an entrepreneur.”

Image
CreditSam Panthaky/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Business owners in India have long had a tense relationship with the tax authorities. High-profile cases of corruption and fraud by tycoons have engendered public distrust toward entrepreneurs. But critics say that in the name of getting tough on cheats, the authorities sometimes resort to harassment to collect on tax demands, including from honest citizens.

The result is frustration on all sides. The government struggles to collect the tax revenue it needs to fund social programs and build roads and power lines. Businesses struggle to comply with vague tax rules and burdensome enforcement practices. And multinational companies shy away from investing in India, fearful of becoming embroiled in lengthy disputes.

The country’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, has for years promised to untangle the knot. Campaigning for election ahead of his first term in office in 2014, Mr. Modi’s party inveighed against the “tax terrorism” that it said had soured India’s image in the eyes of big foreign companies.

Since taking power, the Modi government has enacted a national value-added tax that was meant to ease the compliance burden for businesses. Mr. Modi’s surprise decision in 2016 to cancel high-denomination currency notes was intended to force tax dodgers to turn over the cash they had squirreled away to avoid taxes.

But many of the root problems remain, even as institutions such as the World Bank have acknowledged the steps India has taken to make it easier to do business.

The police said that Mr. Siddhartha, who was in his late 50s or early 60s, had told his family he was going to a holiday resort on Monday. But he then asked his driver to take him to Mangaluru, about 200 miles from the company’s headquarters in Bangalore.

As evening set in, Mr. Siddhartha asked the driver to stop near the 30-foot Netravati River bridge outside the city, saying he wanted to walk.

According to local news reports, Mr. Siddhartha asked the driver to meet him on the other side of the bridge and then got on a call. When Mr. Siddhartha did not show up or answer his phone, which was switched off, the driver filed a police report.

After Mr. Siddhartha’s body was recovered, shares in Coffee Day Enterprises fell nearly 20 percent. Calls to the company’s headquarters in Bangalore were not answered on Wednesday, and its stores were ordered closed for the day.

In a statement on Tuesday, Sadananda Poojary, the company secretary and compliance officer, said that Coffee Day Enterprises was cooperating with the Indian authorities and that the company was “professionally managed and led by competent leadership.”

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https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/31/business/india-vg-siddhartha-dead-cafe-coffee-day.html

2019-07-31 10:26:53Z
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The body of Indian coffee tycoon V.G. Siddhartha has been found - CNN

Police confirmed on Wednesday that they had recovered the body of V.G. Siddhartha, founder of Café Coffee Day, from a river in the coastal city of Mangalore.
Coffee Day Enterprises — the chain's parent company — issued a statement expressing its condolences to Siddhartha's family and hailing his "matchless energy, vision and business acumen."
In a letter purportedly written and signed by Siddhartha, which Coffee Day released on Tuesday evening, the coffee tycoon said he was facing "tremendous pressure" from lenders that led to him "succumbing to the situation." The letter was dated July 27.
"I would like to say I gave it my all," the letter says. "I am very sorry to let down all the people that put their trust in me."
Siddhartha, 59, had "not been reachable" since Monday evening, Coffee Day said Tuesday. He is believed to have disappeared from a bridge over the Netravati river, where he got out of his car to take a walk, Mangalore police commissioner Sandeep Patil told CNN Business.
Siddhartha founded Coffee Day in 1993, and opened the first Café Coffee Day in the southern city of Bangalore three years later. The company has since grown into India's biggest coffee chain, with over 1,700 outlets across 245 Indian cities as of last year. By comparison, global rival Starbucks (SBUX) currently has 146 outlets in India.
Café Coffee Day has more than 1,700 outlets across India.
In the letter, Siddhartha urged Coffee Day to continue running the business with new management.
"I am solely responsible for all mistakes. Every financial transaction is my responsibility," he wrote.
Coffee Day said it could not verify the authenticity of the letter, but added it would thoroughly investigate. It named S.V. Ranganath, an independent director, as interim chairman on Wednesday.
The company's shares fell by the maximum daily limit of 20% for a second consecutive day on Wednesday, hitting a new all-time low.
Siddhartha owned 33% of Coffee Day Enterprises, according to a stock exchange filing last month, while his wife and family-owned entities hold another 21%. The company went public in 2015.
China's Luckin Coffee is taking on Starbucks in more big markets
Coffee Day also has retail outlets in Austria, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Malaysia and Nepal, and exports coffee to several markets including North America, Europe and the Middle East.
In the letter, Siddhartha listed the coffee chain as well as several other assets — including stakes in multiple tech companies and logistics firm Sical — that he said "can help repay everybody."
"My intention was never to cheat or mislead anybody, I have failed as an entrepreneur," he added. "I hope someday you will understand, forgive and pardon me."

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https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/31/business/ccd-founder-body-found-siddhartha/index.html

2019-07-31 08:06:00Z
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Bus strikes roadside bomb in Afghanistan, 32 killed, including children - Fox News

A roadside bomb tore through a bus in western Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing at least 32 people, including women and children, a provincial official said.

Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani, said on Twitter that the Taliban planted the mine. He said all of the victims were civilians.

Mohibullah Mohib, spokesman for the police chief in Farah province, said 15 other people were wounded, with most in critical condition. The bus was traveling on a main highway between the western city of Herat and the southern city of Kandahar.

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No one immediately claimed responsibility, but Taliban insurgents operate in the region and frequently use roadside bombs to target government officials and security forces. The Taliban have kept up a steady tempo of attacks even as they have held several rounds of peace talks with the United States aimed at ending the 18-year war.

The U.N. report said 403 civilians were killed by Afghan forces in the first six months of the year and another 314 by international forces, a total of 717. That's compared to 531 killed by the Taliban, an Islamic State affiliate and other militants during the same period. It said 300 of those killed by militants were directly targeted.

The Taliban, who effectively control half the country, have been meeting with U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad since late last year. They appear to be closing in on an agreement whereby American forces would withdraw from Afghanistan in return for guarantees that it would not be used as a launch-pad for international terror attacks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report 

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https://www.foxnews.com/world/bus-strikes-roadside-bomb-in-afghanistan-32-killed-including-children

2019-07-31 05:56:41Z
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Sign of the times: China's capital orders Arabic, Muslim symbols taken down - Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) - Authorities in the Chinese capital have ordered halal restaurants and food stalls to remove Arabic script and symbols associated with Islam from their signs, part of an expanding national effort to “Sinicize” its Muslim population.

The Arabic script on the signboard of a halal food store is seen covered, at Niujie area in Beijing, China, July 19, 2019. Picture taken July 19, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

Employees at 11 restaurants and shops in Beijing selling halal products and visited by Reuters in recent days said officials had told them to remove images associated with Islam, such as the crescent moon and the word “halal” written in Arabic, from signs.

Government workers from various offices told one manager of a Beijing noodle shop to cover up the “halal” in Arabic on his shop’s sign, and then watched him do it.

“They said this is foreign culture and you should use more Chinese culture,” said the manager, who, like all restaurant owners and employees who spoke to Reuters, declined to give his name due to the sensitivity of the issue.

The campaign against Arabic script and Islamic images marks a new phase of a drive that has gained momentum since 2016, aimed at ensuring religions conform with mainstream Chinese culture.

The campaign has included the removal of Middle Eastern-style domes on many mosques around the country in favor of Chinese-style pagodas.

China, home to 20 million Muslims, officially guarantees freedom of religion, but the government has campaigned to bring the faithful into line with Communist Party ideology.

It’s not just Muslims who have come under scrutiny. Authorities have shut down many underground Christian churches, and torn down crosses of some churches deemed illegal by the government.

But Muslims have come in for particular attention since a riot in 2009 between mostly Muslim Uighur people and majority Han Chinese in the far western region of Xinjiang, home to the Uighur minority.

Spasms of ethnic violence followed, and some Uighurs, chafing at government controls, carried out knife and crude bomb attacks in public areas and against the police and other authorities.

In response, China launched what it described as a crackdown on terrorism in Xinjiang.

Now, it is facing intense criticism from Western nations and rights groups over its policies, in particular mass detentions and surveillance of Uighurs and other Muslims there.

The government says its actions in Xinjiang are necessary to stamp out religious extremism. Officials have warned about creeping Islamisation, and have extended tighter controls over other Muslim minorities.

‘NEW NORMAL’

Analysts say the ruling Communist Party is concerned that foreign influences can make religious groups difficult to control.

“Arabic is seen as a foreign language and knowledge of it is now seen as something outside of the control of the state,” said Darren Byler, an anthropologist at the University of Washington who studies Xinjiang.

“It is also seen as connected to international forms of piety, or in the eyes of state authorities, religious extremism. They want Islam in China to operate primarily through Chinese language,” he said.

Kelly Hammond, an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas who studies Muslims of the Hui minority in China, said the measures were part of a “drive to create a new normal”.

Beijing is home to at least 1,000 halal shops and restaurants, according to the Meituan Dianping food delivery app, spread across the city’s historic Muslim quarter as well as in other neighborhoods.

It was not clear if every such restaurant in Beijing has been told to cover Arabic script and Muslim symbols. One manager at a restaurant still displaying Arabic said he’d been ordered to remove it but was waiting for his new signs.

Several bigger shops visited by Reuters replaced their signs with the Chinese term for halal - “qing zhen” - while others merely covered up the Arabic and Islamic imagery with tape or stickers.

The Beijing government’s Committee on Ethnicity and Religious affairs declined to comment, saying the order regarding halal restaurants was a national directive.

Slideshow (7 Images)

The National Ethnic Affairs Commission did not respond to a faxed request for comment.

While most shopkeepers interviewed by Reuters said they did not mind replacing their signs, some said it confused their customers and an employee at a halal butcher shop accused authorities of “erasing” Muslim culture.

“They are always talking about national unity, they’re always talking about China being international. Is this national unity?”

Reporting by Huizhong Wu; Additional reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Se Young Lee and Tony Munroe

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https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-religion-islam/sign-of-the-times-chinas-capital-orders-arabic-muslim-symbols-taken-down-idUSKCN1UQ0JF

2019-07-31 05:56:00Z
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Selasa, 30 Juli 2019

Murder in Italy: Rome police say officers "attacked immediately" by American teens Finnegan Lee Elder and Gabriel Christian Natale-Hjorth - CBS News

Last Updated Jul 30, 2019 7:47 AM EDT

Rome -- A commander of Italy's Carabinieri police force said Tuesday that two American teens accused of murdering an Italian officer set upon the officer and his partner as soon as they approached the pair and identified themselves as law enforcement. Finnegan Lee Elder and Gabriel Christian Natale-Hjorth are facing charges of murder and extortion in the stabbing death of Mario Cerciello Rega. The murder charges carry possible life prison sentences.

Providing further detail of the events that unfolded in the Friday killing last week, Carabinieri Commander Francesco Gargano said officers Mario Cerciello Rega and Andrea Varriale "were attacked immediately" by the two Americans.

"They did not have the possibility to use weapons and react," Gargano said, adding that the officers were attacked as soon as they identified themselves as Carabinieri police officers. That claim contradicts the Americans' own accounts to investigators. They say they didn't know the two officers were police, as they were in plain clothes.

CBS News correspondent Seth Doane reports the suspects were visited in a Rome prison by U.S. Embassy officials on Monday.

Documents released on Monday, in which investigating judge Chiara Gallo explains her decision to allow the continued detention of the pair, provided context of the fatal encounter. The document revealed that the teenagers had been drinking alcohol and that the judge believed they had shown a "total absence of self-control and critical capacity." She said they had "demonstrated an excessive immaturity."

Thousands mourn Italian cop allegedly murdered by U.S. teens

Surveillance video shown by Italian media, though not independently confirmed, purportedly shows the teenagers at the scene in Rome where they allegedly tried to buy about $90 worth of cocaine just before midnight last Friday. They are seen fleeing with a bag they stole after the drug deal went wrong.

An eyewitness said he saw them running away from the scene.

Two plainclothes officers from the Carabinieiri police force were called, including Mario Cerciello Rega, whom Elder has admitted to stabbing. He claims it was self-defense because he believed he was being strangled.

In the court documents released on Monday, however, judge Gallo noted that there were no signs of strangulation found on Elder, and said the multiple stab wounds inflicted on the officer were not indicative of "legitimate defense."

The teens also told interrogators they hadn't realized they were fighting police officers, but Gallo dismissed that as "impossible," saying the officers had identified themselves repeatedly verbally, and shown their badges.

Natale-Hjorth claimed during questioning that he did not know about the stabbing until after he and Elder had returned to their hotel room and had a nap. The teens have offered contradictory accounts as to who hid the murder weapon behind a ceiling panel in their hotel room.

Photo released of blindfolded teen suspected of fatally stabbing officer in Rome

A photo that surfaced of Natale-Hjorth blindfolded in police custody sparked cries of mistreatment earlier this week, especially as it emerged shortly after the police said he had confessed to involvement in the killing.

Italian officials were quick to call the blindfolding of the suspect a mistake by a single officer, who had been moved to a different post amid an investigation into their actions.

On Tuesday,  Rome prosecutor Michele Prestipino said stressed that the suspects were questioned by magistrates in a lawful manner, in the presence of lawyers and an interpreter. He said the questioning was recorded.

Prestipino said investigations were still underway to determine why Natale-Hjorth was blindfolded.

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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https://www.cbsnews.com/news/murder-in-italy-rome-police-say-officers-attacked-immediately-american-teens-2019-07-30/

2019-07-30 11:39:00Z
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Pound hits a fresh two-year low as Brexit fears spook investors - CNN

Boris Johnson has used his first days as prime minister to double down on his threat to leave the European Union on October 31, even without an exit agreement in place to protect trade.
That's driven the pound to lows against the dollar not seen since March 2017. The pound nearly broke below $1.21 on Tuesday before recovering slightly.
Brexit is becoming the nightmare business has long feared
The currency has weakened dramatically since Brits voted to leave the European Union in 2016.
After trading near $1.49 ahead of the referendum, it had slumped to $1.20 by January 2017 on fears that former Prime Minister Theresa May would take Britain out of the EU's huge unified market and customs union.
Analysts think the pound could be poised to test that level again, given the standoff between the United Kingdom and the European Union.
"[Johnson] is committed to a hard-line stance towards the EU that will, of course, be rebuffed aggressively. In the process, sterling moves to the bottom of its post-referendum ranges," Societe Generale strategist Kit Juckes wrote in a note.
A sharp decline in the value of the pound could cause inflation to spike, hurting consumers. And while it might help exporters, a collapsing currency could scare off foreign investors and make life difficult for UK companies that have to make payments in dollars.

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https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/30/investing/pound-brexit/index.html

2019-07-30 11:37:00Z
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Americans Jailed for Stabbing Italian Cop Turn on Each Other - The Daily Beast

ROME, Italy—When 19-year-old Finnegan Elder and 18-year-old Gabe Natale Hjorth were first met by two undercover police officers with Italy’s military Carabinieri police force on a dark street near the Vatican in Rome, they thought they were about to get jumped. 

According to a 14-page document from the investigating judge, which was reviewed by The Daily Beast, the two Americans had earlier approached Sergio Brugiatelli, a layabout who can always be found on Piazza Mastei in Rome's Trastevere district, for cocaine. Brugiatelli pointed them to a pusher.

The Americans allegedly thought they were buying cocaine, but when their €100 purchase ended up being crushed aspirin, they returned and stole Brugiatelli's backpack in revenge. Brugiatelli called his phone, which rang from inside the stolen backpack, and they set up a plan to meet and exchange the bag for €100 and a gram of cocaine. 

The document states that Elder’s and Natale Hjorth’s stories sync about the drug deal, the stolen backpack, and the plan to meet Brugiatelli. Then, things diverge.

Natale Hjorth, who is a dual American-Italian citizen, though he has never lived in Italy, says he had no idea Elder was carrying a knife when they went to meet who they thought would be Brugiatelli. But Elder says they had both agreed to take it with them "just in case."

Police say that given the size of the weapon they doubt that Natale Hjorth could have missed the fact his friend had it on him. Elder also accuses his friend of finding the drug connection based on friends he knows from Natale Hjorth’s summers visiting his grandfather in Italy. Natale Hjorth instead claims the drug buy was all his friend’s idea. 

After the Americans stole the backpack and arrived at the meeting place, just half a block from the hotel near the Vatican where they were staying, they were met by Mario Cerciello Rega and Andrea Varriale, two undercover police officers with Italy's elite military Carabinieri who were both unarmed and without backup.

The Americans tell police they thought Brugiatelli sent someone to beat them up, so a scuffle broke out and Rega ended up dead from 11 stab wounds, allegedly from Elder’s military grade trench knife that he brought with him from the U.S. Police have confirmed to The Daily Beast that when Elder was shown the murder weapon, he allegedly said it was his. 

Rega was fatally stabbed, allegedly by Elder, and Varriale suffered minor wounds, allegedly inflicted by Natale Hjorth. The two were arrested in their hotel room on Friday, after police say they found the hidden weapon and their bloody clothes behind a ceiling tile. 

According to the investigating judge's report, Varriale says that he and his partner identified themselves as "carabinieri," a term for military police in civil law enforcement, or gendarmes, that it is unlikely either American understood. Elder told police that the plainclothes men did not show a badge, and that he had no idea they were cops. The police were also unarmed and did not have back-up, which has raised eyebrows in Rome and questions about whether the cops were on official duty or not.  

Elder says Rega put his hands on his neck, and he acted in self defense, fearful he was about to be attacked. 

Varriale says the last words his partner said were, “Help! They are killing me.” He died a short time later in the emergency room. 

The Americans tell police they thought Brugiatelli sent someone to beat them up, so a scuffle broke out and Rega ended up dead from 11 stab wounds.

Photos leaked to Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera show Natale Hjorth blindfolded in police custody, which is against Italian law. The local police have opened an internal investigation not only into why the young American was blindfolded, but who leaked the photo. Preliminary reports from that internal investigation are that nothing improper happened and that the officer who placed the blindfold on Natale Hjorth has been reassigned. It is yet unclear who took the photo. 

But new information reported late Monday in Rome suggests that while the heinous crime is inexcusable, there are extenuating factors. Brugiatelli, it is now known, called the police about his stolen bag an hour after he had already met Varriale in Piazza Mastei. In audio of the emergency call, heard by The Daily Beast, Brugiatelli does not identify the alleged thieves at all, neither to call them foreigners, nor to say they were not Italian speakers, nor to describe what they were wearing. The police instead are thought to have sent high-level officers to the scene, which is curious indeed, since the standard practice for stolen personal items is to go to the nearest police office to file a report in person. 

Nonetheless, the two undercover officers arrived at the meeting point with the Americans to get Brugiatelli's bag back. Carabinieri officials did not answer a Daily Beast question about proof that they were dispatched officially. A number of sources have suggested to The Daily Beast that Brugiatelli was perhaps a police informant and the officers may have said they would rough up the Americans to get the bag back as a favor. 

Elder’s mother, Leah Elder, has spoken to The Daily Beast by phone. Most of what she has shared to date is off the record, but she did say she is concerned that her son is not getting the medical attention he needs. He was on prescription Xanax, and police say the medication was found in his room. 

His funeral was held in the same church where he was married just 40 days earlier.

Elder also says her son was denied access to U.S. consulate officials for the first 48 hours and given a court-appointed lawyer who did not speak English, possibly hindering his defense. One might not be surprised at such treatment of suspects thought to be cop killers, though such treatment is illegal.

Late Monday, the Elder family confirmed to The Daily Beast that their son had finally been able to talk to American officials who are now working to change their son's lawyer to one selected by his family. They also say he is finally getting medical care. 

Meanwhile Emiliano Sisinni, the lawyer for Natale Hjorth, issued his own statement, accusing the police of maltreatment for the blindfolding of his client. “I can only express strong regret and concern, both as a lawyer and as a citizen, about what occurred in the Carabinieri barracks to the detriment of my client,” he said, setting up an obvious defense for a coerced confession. “That a suspect is subjected to such treatment in the phase preceding the interrogation must seriously reflect on the implications that this could have on the free self-determination of a suspect in making statements.”

He also goes on to say that his client cannot be blamed for the actions of his friend. “As noted during his interrogation Mr. Natale has clarified his position, which is completely extraneous to the unpredictable conduct of others which led to the death of a servant of the state.”

On Monday, Rega was laid to rest in the town of Somma Vesuviana on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius near Naples. His funeral was held in the same church where he was married just 40 days earlier. The same people who came to the church to celebrate his wedding were there on Monday to bid their final farewell. 

Matteo Salvini, Italy's interior minister and head of the country's security forces, has called for life sentences and hard labor for the Americans. He said that the photo of the blindfolded suspect should not be a distraction and that the only victim is Rega. When Salvini left the church behind Rega's flower-laden coffin, townspeople chanted “Justice for Mario” in support. 

Elder’s mother says her son had been on a European holiday in Germany and Spain before flying to Rome to catch up with his high-school friend Natale Hjorth, who was visiting his paternal grandfather in the city of Fiumicino near Rome. The two came to Rome for a few days of fun. But they may end up staying the rest of their lives. 

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https://www.thedailybeast.com/americans-finnegan-elder-and-gabe-natale-hjorth-jailed-for-stabbing-italian-cop-turn-on-each-other

2019-07-30 11:31:00Z
CAIiEA6PUB2zkXUhaon4u96_9JwqFQgEKg0IACoGCAow7s8BMNBIMPGMAg

Brazil prison riot leaves dozens dead and almost 20 decapitated at Alatmira prison in Para state - CBS News

brazil-prison-riot-altamira.jpg
Prisoners armed with homemade knives are seen on the roof of a building inside the Alatmira prison compound during a riot at the facility in northern Brazil's Para state, July 29, 2019. TV RECORD/Reuters

Rio De Janeiro -- At least 57 prisoners were killed by other inmates during clashes between organized crime groups in the Altamira prison in northern Brazil Monday. Sixteen of the victims were decapitated, according to prison officials.

Para state prison authorities said a fight erupted around 7 a.m. between the Rio de Janeiro-based Comando Vermelho and a local criminal group known as Comando Classe A.

"Leaders of the (Comando Classe A) set fire to a cell belonging to one of the prison's pavilions, where members of the (Comando Vermelho) were located," the statement read.

Trending News

State prisons chief Jarbas Vasconcelos said the fire had spread rapidly with inmates held in old container units that had been adapted for the prison while another building is under construction.

The fire prevented police forces from entering the building for several hours, he told a news conference.

Policemen and soldiers are seen in front of a prison after a riot, in the city of Altamira
Policemen and soldiers are seen in front of a prison after a riot, in the city of Altamira, Brazil, July 29, 2019. REUTERS

Two prison staff members were held hostage, but eventually released.

"It was a targeted attack. The aim was to show that it was a settling of accounts between the two groups, not a protest or rebellion against the prison system," Vasconcelos said.

Authorities have not found any firearms following the riot, only makeshift knives.

Prison authorities said 46 inmates will be transferred to other prisons, 10 of which will go to stricter federal facilities.

Brazil's over-packed prisons 

President Jair Bolsonaro was elected on the promise of curbing widespread violence in Brazil, including in the country's often overcrowded, out-of-control prisons. 

The Associated Press obtained a July 2019 report from the National Justice Council that it says was filed by a local judge in charge of the facility, showing that the prison had 343 detainees. It is intended to house a maximum of 163.

Yet Vasconcelos said the situation did not meet the official requirements to be considered overcrowded. "It is not a unit that has a prison overcrowding, we consider overcrowding when it exceeds 210%," Vasconcelos said during the press conference.

The judge who filed the report described the overall state of the prison in the city of Altamira as "terrible."

History of prison riots 

In many of Brazil's prisons, badly outnumbered guards struggle to retain power over an ever-growing population of inmates who are able to run criminal activities from behind bars.

The killings echoed those of 55 inmates who died in a series of riots in May in several prisons in the neighboring state of Amazonas.

In early 2017, more than 120 inmates died in prisons across several northern states when rival gangs clashed over control of drug-trafficking routes in the region. The violence lasted several weeks, spreading to various states.

Para state authorities spent the afternoon in Altamira, drafting a security plan to avoid possible retaliations in the region. Police forces from the nearby municipality of Santerem were sent as reinforcement in the coming weeks.

A woman cries after receiving information that her brother was one of the inmates who died during a prison riot, in front of a prison in Altamira
A woman cries after receiving information that her brother was one of the inmates who died during a prison riot, in front of a prison in the city of Altamira, Brazil, July 29, 2019. REUTERS

Prison authorities said they had not received any prior intelligence reports of an upcoming attack.

The prison is run directly by the state, not a third-party private operator as in the Manaus prisons where the riots took place in May.

Last year, inmates had already set fire to another wing inside the same prison unit, according to the state prosecutors' office.

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2019-07-30 09:59:00Z
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UK PM Johnson's no-deal Brexit gamble hammers sterling - Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - The British pound GBP= tumbled on Tuesday as investors bet Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit brinkmanship with the European Union could trigger a messy divorce that would sow chaos through the world economy and financial markets.

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures during a speech on domestic priorities at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, Britain July 27, 2019. Lorne Campbell/Pool via REUTERS

Sterling crashed through trading barriers, falling to an intraday low of $1.2120 in shallower overnight Asian trade, the lowest since March 2017. The pound has lost 3.6 cents since Johnson was named Britain’s new prime minister a week ago.

Ever since the 2016 EU referendum, the pound has gyrated to the rhetoric of the Brexit divorce: after the result was announced, it had the biggest one-day fall since the era of free-floating exchange rates was introduced in the early 1970s.

Since the 2016 vote, sterling has now lost 28 cents, one of the most significant falls for the currency in recent decades.

“We see more GBP weakness to come,” ING said in a note to clients. “The current sterling meltdown is in line with our view that GBP risks are heavily skewed to the downside given the Brexit uncertainty and rising odds of an early election (our base case).”

Johnson, who was hailed by U.S. President Donald Trump as Britain’s Trump, has promised to strike a new divorce deal with the European Union and to energize the world’s fifth-largest economy after what he casts as the gloom of Theresa May’s premiership.

On entering Downing Street on Wednesday, Johnson set up a showdown with the EU by vowing to negotiate a new deal and threatening that, if the bloc refused, he would take Britain out on Oct. 31 without a deal to limit economic dislocation.

TOUR OF THE UNION

He told reporters in Scotland on Monday that he wanted to get a new deal but that the government had to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

When asked about his remark during the campaign for the party leadership that the odds on a no-deal Brexit were a million to one, he said: “Provided there is sufficient goodwill and common sense on the part of our partners, that is exactly where I would put the odds.”

Many investors say a no-deal Brexit would send shock waves through the world economy, tip Britain’s economy into a recession, roil financial markets and weaken London’s position as the pre-eminent international financial center.

Supporters of Brexit say that while there would be some short-term difficulties, the disruption of a no-deal Brexit has been overplayed and that in the long-term, the United Kingdom would thrive if it left the European Union.

Johnson’s ascent has placed an avowed Brexiteer in charge of the British government for the first time since the 2016 EU Brexit referendum.

Johnson will tell Welsh farmers on Tuesday they will get a better deal after Brexit, part of a countrywide tour to win support for his “do or die” pledge to leave the European Union by Oct. 31.

“I will always back Britain’s great farmers and as we leave the EU we need to make sure that Brexit works for them,” Johnson said before arriving in Wales.

“Once we leave the EU on the 31st of October, we will have a historic opportunity to introduce new schemes to support farming – and we will make sure that farmers get a better deal. Brexit presents enormous opportunities for our country and it’s time we looked to the future with pride and optimism.”

Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Additional reporting by Andy Bruce, Elizabeth Piper and William James; Editing by Jon Boyle

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https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-eu/uk-pm-johnsons-no-deal-brexit-gamble-hammers-sterling-idUSKCN1UP0O1

2019-07-30 07:43:00Z
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Deadly Prison Riot in Northern Brazil Result Of Gang Turf War - NPR

A police officer patrols the surroundings of the Altamira Regional Recovery Centre after at least 52 inmates were killed in a prison riot, in the Brazilian northern city of Altamira, Pará state, on Monday. Bruno Santos/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Bruno Santos/AFP/Getty Images

At least 57 prisoners were killed by fellow inmates during a prison riot in northern Brazil in what authorities have described as a "targeted act" by gang members directed at a rival group.

The riot at Altamira prison began early Monday and lasted throughout the morning, according to authorities. Two prison officials were reportedly taken hostage, but later released after negotiations.

In a statement put out by Pará state, where the prison is located, officials said that the riot was triggered when members of the Comando Class A gang set fire to a cell where rival gang members from Comando Vermelho (Red Command) were kept.

Most of the inmates that died were killed in the fire, officials said, but at least 16 of them were decapitated.

"It was a targeted act," state prison director Jarbas Vasconcelos said in a statement, according to Reuters. "The aim was to show that it was a settling of accounts between two gangs."

Vasconcelos said the fire spread through an old wing of the prison where prisoners were being held while a new building was under construction. According to The Associated Press, Altamira houses more than twice as many inmates as its maximum capacity.

Vasconcelos said the fire prevented police from entering the building for several hours.

As NPR's Philip Reeves reports from Rio De Janeiro, in some penitentiaries, criminal gangs have de facto control, and can easily access weapons; however, in this case, the number of dead is unusually high.

President Jair Bolsonaro was elected last year on a campaign promise to crackdown on crime, including in the country's overcrowded and often violent prisons.

As we reported in May, violent clashes at four prisons in the same general area of Brazil killed 55 people in violence that was also blamed on gangs.

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https://www.npr.org/2019/07/30/746482383/prison-riot-in-northern-brazil-leaves-at-least-57-inmates-dead

2019-07-30 07:33:00Z
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Senin, 29 Juli 2019

Prison riot in Brazil leaves 16 inmates decapitated and dozens more killed - CNN

Jarbas Vasconcelos, the superintendent of the penitentiary system in the state of Para, said 16 of the 52 inmates that died in the Altamira prison on Monday were decapitated.
The incident is the latest in a string of deadly violence that has plagued Brazil's prisons in recent months.
In May, 55 inmates were killed in gang-related riots at four prisons in western Brazil.
The local prison authorities said at the time the deaths were a result of violent clashes among rival factions within the same drug gang, known as the Family of the North.
55 inmates killed in spate of prison riots in Brazil
Human rights groups have accused the government of doing too little to prevent the violence at prisons that have become recruitment centers for gangs -- and even facilitating clashes by allowing the cells to become overcrowded.
The clashes pose a challenge to the new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, but could also end up giving his approval rating a boost as he is seen as tough on crime and has previously vowed to crack down on criminal gangs and prison violence.

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https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/29/americas/brazil-prison-riots-intl/index.html

2019-07-29 18:00:00Z
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Could Boris Johnson’s ‘no-deal’ Brexit crack up the United Kingdom? - The Washington Post

LONDON — On Boris Johnson’s first day as Britain’s head of government, the loquacious Ian Blackford stood in the House of Commons and welcomed “the last prime minister of the United Kingdom.”

Blackford, the Scottish National Party’s leader in Parliament, was not being subtle. He was suggesting that with Johnson as prime minister, the United Kingdom might soon crack up, beginning with Scotland.

Scotland voted against independence in 2014, but there is much animosity toward Johnson north of the border, and a palpable dread over leaving the European Union — especially the hard, “no-deal Brexit” that the new prime minister says Britain must prepare for.

In the country’s 2016 Brexit referendum, Scotland voted to remain in the E.U. by a wide margin, 62 percent to 38 percent.

Johnson dashed up to Scotland on Monday, making a stop at a Royal Navy base before a scheduled speech.

Johnson defended his assertion that the former Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement was “dead” and that a new, better deal could be struck — despite assertions by European leaders that there will be no renegotiation.

“We are not aiming for a no-deal Brexit at all,” Johnson told reporters. But he has said Britain needs to be prepared to leave without a deal to manage the transition.

The new prime minister is a divisive character — loved and very much disliked — across the United Kingdom, a political union comprising four nations: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Or as Johnson called it on the steps of Downing Street last week, “the awesome foursome that are incarnated in that red, white and blue flag,” the Union Jack.

In more extended remarks in Scotland Monday afternoon, Johnson is expected to praise “the most successful political and economic union in history” and to assure the north that “we are a global brand, and together we are safer, stronger and more prosperous.”

It has become something of a ritual for British leaders to visit each of the nations early on as a way to demonstrate their commitment to the union — and their understanding of the devolved, power-sharing governments, which allow Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to maintain their own parliaments with some power over regional spending and decision-making.

But some are concerned that the “awesome foursome” could get wobbly, especially without an E.U. withdrawal agreement. Johnson says he wants a new better Brexit deal with Europe but has promised to leave the E.U. at the end of October “no ifs, no buts.” The current legal position is that Britain will leave without a deal, something many economists think could hurt the country.

In a rare intervention into domestic British politics, Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, warned that a hard Brexit could undermine U.K. unity. 

“One of the things, ironically, that could really undermine the union, the United Kingdom union, is a hard Brexit,” Varadkar said Friday. The leader of the Republic of Ireland, which will remain in the European Union, warned that Northern Ireland could seek to exit the United Kingdom.

“People who you might describe as moderate nationalists or moderate Catholics, who were more or less happy with the status quo, will look more towards a united Ireland,” Varadkar said.

Some in Britain have sounded similar alarm bells. May’s de facto deputy prime minister, David Lidington, told the BBC this month that the union “would be under much greater strain in the event of a no deal.”

He added: “My view comes not just from Scottish nationalism and pressure for Irish unification — it comes from indifference among English opinion to the value of the union.”

Gordon Brown, a former Labour Party prime minister, said at an event in London last week that Johnson could be remembered “not as the 55th prime minister of the UK but as the first prime minister of England.”

[Want to understand Boris Johnson? Read his incendiary journalism]

Nationalists in Scotland who want the U.K. to split are hoping that Johnson’s premiership is equivalent to Christmas coming early. Blackford has called Johnson a “recruiting tool” for the cause.

Johnson certainly attracts attention.

Within hours of his winning the Conservative Party leadership race, hundreds of protesters gathered in central Glasgow for an “anti-Boris, pro-independence” rally, some carrying placards that read “Boris No! Independence Yes!” and “Eton mess.”

Gary Kelly, 44, started planning the protest a week before when he said it became clear that Johnson was likely to be selected as Conservative leader by the party’s 160,000 dues-paying members — about 0.25 percent of the British electorate — who largely live in the southern half of England. Johnson bested his rival, drawing 92,153 votes. 

“Not exactly a stonewalled mandate, is it? It’s an English vote, an English prime minister,” said Kelly, who predicted that a Johnson government would be a boost for Scottish independence, which he supports. “Boris is a racist, a homophobe. He’s a bigot. He’s not the kind of person Scotland wants representing them.”

poll last month found that 49 percent of Scots favored independence but that the number would rise to 53 percent in the event Johnson became prime minister. 

It’s far from clear whether a Johnson administration could continue to tip the scales in favor of independence, or whether the new prime minister may yet win over Scots with his shiny optimism and numerous public-spending pledges. But a chaotic no-deal Brexit could help the Scottish National Party (SNP) to make its case. 

John Curtice, a politics professor at the University of Strathclyde, said that if a Johnson government leaves the bloc without a deal, “and if it’s as bad as some claim it will be, then obviously it’s easier for the SNP to pursue the independence argument.” 

Since the independence referendum five years ago, support for independence has generally hovered around the mid-40 percent range.

He also added that Johnson — who was a leader of Brexit campaign in 2016 — is deeply unpopular across the United Kingdom with people who voted against Brexit. Of the four nations, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted against Brexit; England and Wales voted for it. 

Johnson has dismissed accusations that he is unpopular in Scotland. When asked about it in Parliament last week, he responded by explaining “why I seem to get a good reception in Scotland.”

“It may be because the people of Scotland recognize that they have a common-sensical Conservative approach, which would not hand back control of their fisheries to Brussels just as Scotland has regained control of its fantastic fish,” he said.

A YouGov survey last week showed that 65 percent of Scots thought that Johnson would be a “poor” or “terrible” prime minister.

Leafing through different regional editions of the same newspaper does seem to suggest that there are varying views on Johnson across the British Isles.

Roy Greenslade, a media commentator, said in an interview with The Washington Post that the news coverage of Johnson has been negative in Scotland, where Johnson’s background — he studied at the elite Eton College before going on to Oxford — does him no favors.

“Boris embodies all that the average working-class Scots person finds disagreeable,” he said. “Eton, Oxford, being a Westminster person — it all conjures up for the Scots English privilege.”

And it’s not just Johnson. Scotland is largely an anti-Conservative part of the world. The Scottish National Party has dominated the landscape for about a decade. For half a century before that, Scotland was a Labour Party stronghold.

But Ruth Davidson, the charismatic leader of the Scottish Conservatives, has helped to transform her party’s fortunes north of the border, winning 13 seats in Parliament in the last election — not an insignificant number for the Tories, who have a paper-thin working majority of just two.

Davidson has been notably lukewarm on Johnson.

“He’s a disaster for her,” said Thomas Lundberg, a lecturer in politics at the University of Glasgow. Johnson, he told The Post, represents the “quintessentially English posh person who has made it through privilege and contacts, rather than merit.”

Davidson is not Johnson’s biggest fan. She reportedly banned him from attending the recent Scottish Tory conference. She backed his rivals in the leadership contest. During the 2016 E.U. referendum, she fired up the pro-E.U. side during a televised debate by saying that Johnson’s side had told a series of lies.

After Johnson became prime minister, Davidson told BBC Scotland, “I’ve been a critic of Boris Johnson when our ideas have differed and when I thought he merited it, and I will continue to be so.”

But now that he is leader, she said, she would judge him “by his actions in office.”

Read more

Scotland dreads Brexit. But is it enough to boost sentiment for Scottish independence?

Trump to stay at Doonbeg, his money-losing golf course threatened by climate change

This U.K. hike is sublime. Just avoid the bombs, tides and quicksand.

Today’s coverage from Post correspondents around the world

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2019-07-29 13:19:53Z
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Could Boris Johnson’s ‘no-deal’ Brexit crack up the United Kingdom? - The Washington Post

LONDON — In the House of Commons on Boris Johnson’s first day as Britain’s head of government, the loquacious Ian Blackford stood in the chamber and welcomed “the last prime minister of the United Kingdom.”

Blackford, the Scottish National Party’s leader in Parliament, was not being subtle. He was suggesting that with Johnson as prime minister, the United Kingdom might soon crack up, beginning with Scotland.

Scotland voted against independence in 2014, but there is much animosity toward Johnson north of the border, and a palpable dread over leaving the European Union — especially the hard, “no-deal Brexit” that the new prime minister says Britain must prepare for.

In the country’s 2016 Brexit referendum, Scotland voted to remain in the E.U. by a wide margin, 62 percent to 38 percent.

Johnson dashed up to Scotland on Monday, with a scheduled stop at a military base and a speech in the afternoon. 

The new prime minister is a divisive character — loved and very much disliked — across the United Kingdom, a political union comprising four nations: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Or as Johnson called it on the steps of Downing Street last week, “the awesome foursome that are incarnated in that red, white and blue flag,” the Union Jack.

In Scotland, Johnson is expected to praise “the most successful political and economic union in history” and to assure the north that “we are a global brand, and together we are safer, stronger and more prosperous.”

It has become something of a ritual for British leaders to visit each of the nations early on as a way to demonstrate their commitment to the union — and their understanding of the devolved, power-sharing governments, which allow Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to maintain their own parliaments with some power over regional spending and decision-making.

But some are concerned that the “awesome foursome” could get wobbly, especially without an E.U. withdrawal agreement. Johnson says he wants a new better Brexit deal with Europe but has promised to leave the E.U. at the end of October “no ifs, no buts.” The current legal position is that Britain will leave without a deal, something many economists think could hurt the country.

In a rare intervention into domestic British politics, Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, recently warned that a hard Brexit could undermine U.K. unity. 

“One of the things, ironically, that could really undermine the union, the United Kingdom union, is a hard Brexit,” Varadkar said Friday. The leader of the Republic of Ireland, which will remain in the European Union, warned that Northern Ireland could seek to exit the United Kingdom.

“People who you might describe as moderate nationalists or moderate Catholics, who were more or less happy with the status quo, will look more towards a united Ireland,” Varadkar said.

Some in government sounded similar alarm bells. Theresa May’s de facto deputy prime minister, David Lidington, told the BBC earlier this month that the union “would be under much greater strain in the event of a no deal.”

He added: “My view comes not just from Scottish nationalism and pressure for Irish unification — it comes from indifference among English opinion to the value of the union.”

Gordon Brown, a former Labour Party prime minister, said at an event in London last week that Johnson could be remembered “not as the 55th prime minister of the UK but as the first prime minister of England.”

Nationalists in Scotland who want the U.K. to split are hoping that Johnson’s premiership is equivalent to Christmas coming early. Blackford has called Johnson a “recruiting tool” for the cause.

Johnson certainly attracts attention.

Within hours of his winning the Conservative Party leadership race, hundreds of protesters gathered in central Glasgow for an “anti-Boris, pro-independence” rally, some carrying placards that read “Boris No! Independence Yes!” and “Eton mess.”

Gary Kelly, 44, started planning the protest a week before when he said it became clear that Johnson was likely to be selected as Conservative leader by the party’s 160,000 dues-paying members — about 0.25 percent of the British electorate — who largely live in the southern half of England. Johnson bested his rival, drawing 92,153 votes.

“Not exactly a stonewalled mandate, is it? It’s an English vote, an English prime minister,” said Kelly, who predicted that a Johnson government would be a boost for Scottish independence, which he supports. “Boris is a racist, a homophobe. He’s a bigot. He’s not the kind of person Scotland wants representing them.”

poll last month found that 49 percent of Scots favored independence but that the number would rise to 53 percent in the event Johnson became prime minister. 

It's far from clear whether a Johnson administration could continue to tip the scales in favor of independence, or whether the new prime minister may yet win over Scots with his shiny optimism and numerous public-spending pledges. But a chaotic no-deal Brexit could help the Scottish National Party (SNP) to make its case. 

John Curtice, a politics professor at the University of Strathclyde, said that if a Johnson government leaves the bloc without a deal, “and if it’s as bad as some claim it will be, then obviously it’s easier for the SNP to pursue the independence argument.” 

Since the independence referendum five years ago, support for independence has generally hovered around the mid-40 percent range.

He also added that Johnson — who was the leader of Brexit campaign in 2016 — is deeply unpopular across the United Kingdom with people who voted against Brexit. Of the four nations, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted against Brexit; England and Wales voted for it. 

Johnson has dismissed accusations that he is unpopular in Scotland. When asked about it in Parliament last week, he responded by explaining “why I seem to get a good reception in Scotland.”

“It may be because the people of Scotland recognize that they have a common-sensical Conservative approach, which would not hand back control of their fisheries to Brussels just as Scotland has regained control of its fantastic fish,” he said.

A YouGov survey last week showed that 65 percent of Scots thought that Johnson would be a “poor” or “terrible” prime minister.

Leafing through different regional editions of the same newspaper does seem to suggest that there are varying views on Johnson across the British Isles.

Roy Greenslade, a media commentator, said in an interview with The Washington Post that the news coverage of Johnson has been negative in Scotland, where Johnson’s background — he studied at the elite Eton College before going on to Oxford — does him no favors.

“Boris embodies all that the average working-class Scots person finds disagreeable,” he said. “Eton, Oxford, being a Westminster person — it all conjures up for the Scots English privilege.”

And it’s not just Johnson. Scotland is largely an anti-Conservative part of the world. The Scottish National Party has dominated the landscape for about a decade. For half a century before that, Scotland was a Labour Party stronghold.

But Ruth Davidson, the charismatic leader of the Scottish Conservatives, has helped to transform her party’s fortunes north of the border, winning 13 seats in Parliament in the last election — not an insignificant number for the Tories, who have a paper-thin working majority of just two.

Davidson has been notably lukewarm on Johnson.

“He’s a disaster for her,” said Thomas Lundberg, a lecturer in politics at the University of Glasgow. Johnson, he told The Post, represents the “quintessentially English posh person who has made it through privilege and contacts, rather than merit.”

Davidson is not Johnson’s biggest fan. She reportedly banned him from attending the recent Scottish Tory conference. She backed his rivals in the leadership contest. During the 2016 E.U. referendum, she fired up the pro-E.U. side during a televised debate by saying that Johnson’s side had told a series of lies.

After Johnson became prime minister, Davidson told BBC Scotland, “I’ve been a critic of Boris Johnson when our ideas have differed and when I thought he merited it, and I will continue to be so.”

But now that he is leader, she said, she would judge him “by his actions in office.”

Read more

Today’s coverage from Post correspondents around the world

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2019-07-29 12:35:53Z
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