North Korea launches new intercontinental ballistic missile

The DPRK confirmed in an announcement on state broadcaster Korean Central Television that it launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Tuesday.

The missile was launched at around 9:10 a.m. local time (0040 GMT) Tuesday from Banghyon, a western area of the DPRK near the border with China, into the Sea of Japan.

The DPRK’s leader Kim Jong Un signed an order for the test-fire and observed the launch at the scene.

DPRK’s leader Kim Jong Un signed an order for the test-fire. /Screenshot of Korean Central Television

It was first reported by Republic of Korea (ROK) sources earlier in the day.

The missile reached an altitude of 2,802 kilometers and flew 933 kilometers, said Yonhap.

Read also: Japan, U.S. condemn North Korea’s reported missile launch

The missile was launched at a maximum angle and didn’t lay negative effect on the security of surrounding countries, the DPRK claimed.

This was the fourth ballistic missile launched by the DPRK since ROK President Moon Jae-in took office in May.

The DPRK has been “a strong nuclear power state” and had “a very powerful ICBM that can strike any place in the world,” according to AFP citing a DPRK’s female announcer, adding it will fundamentally terminate the threat and intimidation of nuclear war from the US and secure the peace and security of the Korean Peninsula and the region.

Source: CGTN Global


Queen delivers speech in UK parliament, pledging successful Brexit

A host of proposed new laws designed to prepare the UK for a “smooth and orderly” departure from the EU have been announced in the Queen’s Speech.

Of 27 bills, eight relate to Brexit and its implications for key industries.

As well as a bill to convert EU rules into UK law, there are measures on trade, immigration, fisheries, nuclear safety, agriculture and sanctions.

But other key manifesto plans have either been axed or delayed after the Conservatives lost their majority.

Proposals to axe the winter fuel allowance for well-off pensioners, scrap the triple lock on pensions, expand grammar schools and end free school lunches for infants have been dropped while other proposals, such as a cap on energy bills and reforms to social care funding, will be put out to consultation.

Amid continuing talks with the Democratic Unionists about them supporting Theresa May’s government, a Downing Street spokesman said it was confident the Queen’s Speech could “command the confidence” of the House of Commons in a vote next week.

The main non-Brexit proposals include:

  • a Civil Liability Bill, designed to address the “compensation culture” around motoring insurance claims
  • a Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill, establishing a Domestic Violence and Abuse Commissioner to stand up for victims and survivors and monitor the response of the authorities
  • a Tenant’s Fees Bill, banning landlords from charging “letting fees”
  • a High-Speed Two Bill to authorise the second leg of the rail link from Birmingham to Crewe
  • A Data Protection Bill to strengthen individuals’ rights and introduce a “right to be forgotten”.
  • An Armed Forces Bill allowing people to serve on a part-time and flexible basis

There was no mention of US President Donald Trump’s proposed state visit to the UK later this year, appearing to confirm suggestions it has been delayed. Ministers said the reason it was not included was purely because no date had been set.

The Queen announced the government’s legislative programme for the next two years at the State Opening of Parliament.

She was accompanied by the Prince of Wales, rather than the Duke of Edinburgh, after Prince Philip was admitted to hospital on Tuesday night.

Buckingham Palace said it was a “precautionary measure” for treatment of an infection arising from a pre-existing condition.

A dressed-down Queen’s Speech

The Queen
  • The Queen arrived at Parliament in a car, rather than horse-drawn carriage
  • There was no royal procession into the House of Lords chamber and the Queen wore “day dress” rather than robes
  • Her crown was driven to the Lords in its own car
  • It was the first state opening with “reduced ceremonial elements” since 1974
  • This was agreed because of timing issues caused by the snap election – rehearsals clashed with Saturday’s Trooping the Colour event.

After failing to win the general election outright, the PM has promised to work with “humility and resolve”.

With Brexit talks now under way, the government has set out the laws needed to leave the EU – irrespective of the final deal agreed with Brussels.

At the heart of this is the so-called Repeal Bill – which will repeal the 1972 European Communities Act and end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. It will also copy over all EU laws into UK law, with Parliament then deciding which bits to retain.

The government says “wherever practical the same rules and laws will apply after exit, therefore maximising certainty for individuals and businesses”.

The bill would give the Parliament temporary authority, via secondary legislation, to amend laws that do not “operate appropriately” after Brexit while existing decision-making powers devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be maintained pending further discussion on a permanent solution.

As an indication of the scale of change which Brexit will bring, seven separate pieces of legislation are proposed to anticipate the end of EU jurisdiction and introduce national policies in key sectors.

The Queen accompanied by Prince Charles
The Queen was accompanied by the Prince of Wales – with the Duke of Edinburgh in hospital
The Imperial State Crown being carried into Parliament
The ceremonial elements were scaled back – as the Queen did not wear the Imperial state crown
Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Party leaders will debate the Queen’s Speech later on Wednesday

On immigration, a bill will legislate for the end of free movement from the EU and make the status of EU nationals and family members subject to UK law. Although there are no specific details about a new system, ministers say they will be able to “control” numbers while attracting the “brightest and the best”.

A Fisheries bill will allow the UK to take on responsibility for “access to fisheries and management of its waters” while an Agriculture Bill will “provide stability” for farmers and ensure an “effective system” of support to replace the Common Agricultural Policy.

A new nuclear safeguards regime will be required after the UK leaves the EU and its nuclear agency Euratom, with new powers for the Office for Nuclear regulation.

Other measures will allow for a standalone domestic customs regime, giving the UK the scope to make changes to VAT and excise rates currently determined by the EU, to pave the way for an “independent trade policy” and to enable the UK to implement non-UN sanctions on its own or in conjunction with allies.

The PM’s ambitions culled

Theresa May

By political editor Laura Kuenssberg

It was meant to be Theresa May’s political coronation, but the Queen’s Speech has confirmed the reality of her fall from grace.

The prime minister’s ambitions for significant change at home have been culled, disappearing with her majority.

But the complexity of all the work the government has ahead administratively, as the UK prepares to leave the EU, is plain to see.

Eight bills on Brexit – whether on customs, agriculture, fisheries, or immigration – and each requires no less than a redesign of systems that have been in place for decades.

Each will require careful political handling, at a time when the government cannot be sure of its majority and a Labour Party with wind in its sails is determined to be a guerrilla opposition, putting down amendments wherever it can, stirring political trouble because it believes power could be in reach. Read more

The government has cancelled next year’s Queen’s Speech, so this one will cover a two-year period to give MPs more time to debate all the Brexit legislation.

In the preface to the Queen’s Speech, Mrs May said the programme was all about “grasping the opportunities that lie ahead for the UK as we leave the EU”. While pledging to consult and listen to ensure the final deal had the “maximum support possible”, she said she was determined to “see Brexit through”.

The remaining 19 bills – including three in draft form and three finance bills – are a mixture of new proposals and legislation carried over from the last Parliament, which was cut short by the snap election.

Among proposals that will not require immediate legislation, the government is to review its counter-terrorism strategy in the wake of recent attacks in London and Manchester and establish a new Commission for Countering Extremism to “stamp out ideology in all its forms”.

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In response to the Grenfell fire, a new role of independent public advocate will be created to represent bereaved families in the aftermath of disasters while a Civil Disaster Reaction Taskforce could be created to increase national resilience.

While there are no proposed full laws on health and education, a review of mental health legislation is planned while a “digital charter” will seek to boost online safety and digital commerce.

The Queen’s Speech – a beginner’s guide

Ministers have denied that, Brexit apart, it is a “thin” programme although large parts of the Tory manifesto have disappeared following the election result.

Labour is putting forward an alternative version of the Queen’s Speech, suggesting the Tories’ programme was a sign of a “weak and wobbly” government.

The Lib Dems said the Queen’s Speech was “bereft” of ideas to support the public services while the Green Party said it was a “shell of a Queen’s Speech from a hollowed out government”.

The CBI said there had been a “welcome change of tone” towards business but ministers should put “pragmatism before politics” over Brexit. The TUC said promises to help working people were “vague”.

Source: BBC

French President Macron wins strong parliamentary majority

President Emmanuel Macron won a commanding majority in France’s parliamentary election on Sunday, sweeping aside traditional parties and securing a powerful mandate for pro-business reforms.

The result, based on official figures and pollster projections, redraws France’s political landscape, humiliating the Socialist and conservative parties that alternated in power for decades until Macron’s election in May.

Three pollsters projected that Macron’s Republic on the Move (LREM) and its Modem allies would win 355 to 365 seats in the 577-seat lower house, fewer than previously forecast.

French President Emmanuel Macron votes in the second round of the French parliamentary elections, June 18, 2017. /VCG Photo

They predicted the conservative Republicans and their allies would form the largest opposition bloc with 125 to 131 seats, while the Socialist Party, in power for the past five years, and its partners would secure 41 to 49 seats, their lowest ever in the postwar Fifth Republic.

Official figures with 90 seats still left to be decided showed LREM had already won its majority.

“This is an opportunity for France. One year ago no one would have imagined such a political renewal,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said in a statement.

Voter turnout was projected to be a record low at about 42 percent.

The high abstention rate underlines that Macron will have to tread carefully with reforms in a country with muscular trade unions and a history of street protests that have forced many a past government to dilute new legislation.

Government spokesman Christophe Castaner said it signaled voters “had not wanted to hand Macron a blank check.”

Nevertheless, the scale of victory gives the president, a pro-European Union centrist, a strong platform from which to make good on campaign promises to revive France’s fortunes by cleaning up politics and relaxing regulations that investors say shackle the euro zone’s second-biggest economy.

French President Emmanuel Macron greets supporters before voting in the second round of the French parliamentary elections on June 18, 2017. /VCG

Political routing

Victory for Macron, France’s youngest leader since Napoleon, marks the routing of the old political class.

Having never held elected office, he seized on the growing resentment towards a political elite perceived as out of touch, and on public frustration at its failure to create jobs and spur stronger growth, to win the presidency.

His year-old party then filled the political space created by the disarray within the Socialist Party and the Republicans, with Sunday night capping a sequence of events that a year ago looked improbable.

“Tonight, the collapse of the Socialist Party is beyond doubt. The president of the Republic has all the powers,” Jean-Christophe Cambadelis said after announcing he would step down as Socialist Party chief.

He said the party would have to rebuild itself from the top down. Cambadelis was knocked out of the running for parliament in last week’s first round of voting.

French Socialist Party First Secretary Jean-Christophe Cambadelis delivers a speech after the polls closed during the second round of the French parliamentary elections in Paris on June 18, 2017. /VCG Photo

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen won a seat in the National Assembly for the first time. Her National Front party clinched at least eight seats in total, a result she celebrated but which may disappoint supporters who a month ago dreamed of entering the Elysee.

“We are the only force of resistance to the dilution of France, its social model and identity,” Le Pen said in a televised address in her northern fiefdom of Henin-Beaumont.

“We shall fight with all our strength the harmful projects of the government, which is only in place to implement the road map sent by Brussels.”

Francois Baroin, who led the Republicans’ campaign, said the conservatives would emphasize their differences with Macron, especially on taxes.

Gilbert Collard, French lawyer and far-right Front National party’s candidate in the second constituency of Gard department for the French parliamentary elections, celebrates after winning in the second round in Gallician, southern France on June 18, 2017. /VCG Photo

Social resistance

The scale of LREM’s projected win means Macron will enjoy an absolute majority even without the support of alliance partner Francois Bayrou and Modem, lending him a freer hand for reforms and room for a government reshuffle should he choose to carry one out. Modem currently has two ministers in the Cabinet.

Macron’s rivals went into the second round trying only to limit the scale of the newcomer’s win. They urged voters not to allow too much power to be concentrated in the hands of one party and warned Macron’s MPs would be mere yes-men who would rubber-stamp legislation.

It appeared the message had some impact. Opinion polls before the vote had projected Macron could win as many as 470 seats.

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who won his Marseille seat, promised “social resistance” to Macron’s reform agenda and said the high abstention rate meant the president lacked the legitimacy to destroy the labor code.

French far-left coalition La France Insoumise leader Jean-Luc Melenchon delivers a speech after the polls closed during the second round of the French parliamentary elections in Marseille, southern France on June 18, 2017. /VCG Photo

Melenchon’s resurgent France Unbowed and the Communist Party were on course to win 26 to 30 seats. In a combative speech, which contrasted sharply with the defeated tone of the Socialist Party, Melenchon reached out to disappointed left-wingers.

“It is France Unbowed which will call the country, when the moment comes, to social resistance,” Melenchon said. “I hereby inform the new powers that not a foot of ground will be given up in the labor law struggle.”

Source: Reuters

US approves new sanctions against Russia for election interference

In a resoundingly bipartisan vote, the US Senate has approved an amendment bringing further sanctions against Russia for alleged attempts to interfere in the recent presidential election.

With the US Congress’s current divided appearance, the 97 – 2 vote in favour of the sanctions show the broad support for punishing Russian individuals and it’s economy in retaliation for election interference, that US intelligence agencies have said came from the highest levels of the Russian government.

As the White House looks to improve relations with Russia, the Senate has made it difficult for the administration to reject the new sanctions. The amendment is being added to a bill looking to penalise Iran which would be politically harmful for the White House to block.

Speaking before the vote, Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, said: “Over the past several years… President Putin and his allies in the Russian oligarchy, have committed several sanction-able offenses. President Putin has violated the sovereignty of its neighbor, Ukraine, by annexing Crimea, he is guilty of human rights abuses, including propping up the brutal Assad regime in Syria; and of stifling political dissent and the human rights of his own people.

“In Mr. Putin’s Russia, elections are neither fair nor free, the media is controlled by the state, and political opposition hardly tolerated.”

Schumer accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of “a high-level campaign to interfere in the American election” before adding: “with the upcoming vote, the United States Senate is saying to President Putin: “you will be held accountable for your actions.”

The measure also limits any executive power to lift the sanctions by adding a congressional review should any changes be attempted.

Congress and US intelligence agencies currently have several investigations looking into the alleged interference, with some reports suggesting that members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign are being investigated for possible collusion.

Chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee, Senator John McCain said in a statement after the amendment’s passage: “This amendment incorporates some of the best ideas from different pieces of legislation already introduced in the Senate to impose new sanctions, strengthen existing sanctions, and require congressional oversight of any attempt to ease sanctions on Russia.

“There is no greater threat to our freedoms than interference in our ability to choose our own leaders, and this amendment sends a message that we will not tolerate attacks on our democracy.”


UK records highest number of female MPs in 2017 general election

Following the record-breaking number of women who were elected to parliament in 2015, that figure has been beaten again.

In the last parliament, 191 women were voted in, which became 196 after various by-elections, but this time around a total of 201 women look set to enter the House of Commons.

Amber Rudd is thought the be the candidate who took the number to 192, surpassing the 2015 election night figure. She managed to defend her Hastings and Rye seat after a strong Labour challenge.

Green MP Caroline Lucas is thought to have been the woman who took the tally to 201 after holding her seat in Brighton Pavilion.

Several other diversity milestones were also reached when Labour’s Preet Kaur Gill won the Birmingham Edgbaston seat, becoming the first female Sikh MP. Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi became the first turban-wearing Sikh MP when he won for Labour in Slough.

It took until 2015 for the total number of female MPs ever to surpass the number of male MPs in a single parliament, which was 454.

The very first woman elected was back in 1918, however Constance Markievicz didn’t take her seat as she was a member of Sinn Fein.

The first sitting female MP was Conservative Nancy Astor, after winning the 1919 Plymouth Sutton by-election.


Theresa May accused of being in denial as she delivers defiant speech

Theresa May has confirmed that she will remain as prime minister and lead a government with the assistance of the DUP.

Speaking on the steps of Downing Street seven weeks after announcing the snap election and flanked by her husband Philip, she said: “I will lead a government that can provide certainty and lead Britain forward at this critical time for our country.”

She also spoke about cracking down on the radical Islamist ideology behind the London attacks and fulfilling the promise of Brexit together.

May said that “the country needs certainty” and for that reason she would lead a government by working with “our friends in the DUP.”

It is unknown what sort of deal the prime minister may have struck with the DUP to get their support.

After speaking to the Queen in Buckingham Palace, Theresa May notably used the full name of her party the ‘Conservative and unionist party’ while making her statement, emphasising the need for unity after a divisive election campaign.

The Conservatives were left shocked after they lost 12 seats, bringing in a hung parliament while Labour made gains of 29 seats.

The Tories lost out in England but were able to compensate for some of the losses by taking seats off the SNP in Scotland.

On social media, people accused Theresa May of “denial” after her refusal to resign and her plasn to forge a government with an alliance with the DUP.

Read Theresa May’s full speech here.

The state opening of parliament which sees the unveiling of the Queen’s speech is currently billed to take place on the 19 June.

Brexit negotiations are also set to start on the same day.

The Tories are expected to end up with 319 seats ahead of Labour on 261, the SNP 35 and the Lib Dems on 12. The DUP won 10 seats.

Together the Tories and the DUP would have 329 MPs, which would be enough to govern and pass the Queen’s Speech.

Trump Impeachment Process Set to Begin As Democrats File Articles

Democratic Representative Al Green of Texas is expected to submit articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump Wednesday in the first legislative step for any congressional bid to force a sitting president from office.

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“Obstruction of justice by the president is the problem,” Green said Tuesday. “Impeachment by Congress is the solution.”

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Green first officially called for Trump’s impeachment during a fiery speech on the House floor last month. He contends that the president deserves to be removed for allegedly engaging in obstruction of justice by firing former FBI Director James Comey during the agency’s investigation into Russia’s possible meddling in the 2016 election. His appeal came amid revelations of a Comey memo that claimed Trump had asked him to drop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.


President Donald Trump sits during a meeting with Republican congressional leadership at the White House on June 6. Texas Democratic Representative Al Green’s official call for Trump’s impeachment is set for Wednesday. 

Joshua Roberts/Reuters

“This is not about the president and firing someone else. It’s about him firing the FBI director,” Green told NBC News after his speech. Since that congressional address, Green has said he has received racially charged death threats.

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His official announcement is set to come a day before Comey himself will testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee on the Russia investigation and his interactions with Trump over the last few months. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appeared Wednesday before the same panel.

A handful of other rank-and-file Democratic lawmakers have floated the idea of impeaching Trump. But top Democratic leaders have urged their party members to refrain from discussing impeachment until they see if ongoing investigations uncover more details about the actions of the president’s team.

Meanwhile, Republicans have mostly rallied behind the president, despite tumultuous weeks for the White House, even as Trump faces accusations, among others, that he shared sensitive national security information with Russian officials and that his administration hired Flynn despite knowing he was under investigation.

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For Congress to remove a sitting president from office, a majority of members of the House—which is now controlled by Republicans—must vote for the charges of misconduct. Then, the Senate, which the GOP also controls, has the power to try impeachment cases like a court. Two-thirds of senators must vote for conviction. Two U.S. presidents have been impeached by the House: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Both were later acquitted at trials held by the Senate.

Green’s call for impeachment comes as support to remove Trump from office is higher than his approval rating. A Politico/Morning Consult poll published this week found that nearly 43 percent of American voters support the idea of beginning the official impeachment process for Trump. Meanwhile, his approval rating dipped about six percentage points to just 36 percent over the weekend, according to a Gallup poll.

Source: Newsweek