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3 UK Conservative MPs Resign From Party

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Three Conservative MPs resigned from their party to join The Independent Group of eight Labour MPs who earlier this week formed a breakaway centrist faction in parliament.

Three UK Conservative MPs resign from party
Theresa May
The three MPs — Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen and Anna Soubry — have been highly critical of Prime Minister Theresa May’s strategy on Brexit and have voted against the government on that issue.

In a joint letter to the prime minister they accuse May of a “shift to the right” and of being “firmly in the grip” of the Brexiteer group of backbenchers, the European Research Group, and the Democratic Unionist Party.

“Instead of seeking to heal the divisions or to tackle the underlying causes of Brexit, the priority was to draw up ‘red lines,’” they wrote. “The 48% were not only sidelined, they were alienated.

“The country deserves better. We believe there is a failure of politics in general, not just in the Conservative party but in both main parties as they move to the fringes, leaving millions of people with no representation. Our politics needs urgent and radical reform and we are determined to play our part.”

May’s conservatives do not have a majority in parliament and are only able to govern because of a confidence and supply deal with the DUP.

Source: Politico
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Huawei More Advanced Than the US, Says Founder

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The founder of Chinese telecom giant Huawei has hit back at US efforts to blacklist the company, saying defiantly that the world cannot do without Huawei and its “more advanced” technology.

Huawei’s founder said the world can’t do without the company
Huawei’s founder said the world can’t do without the company
“There’s no way the US can crush us,” Ren Zhengfei said in an interview with the BBC.

“The world cannot leave us because we are more advanced.”

Ren, 74, also denounced as “politically motivated” the December arrest of his daughter, Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, who is accused of violating US sanctions against Iran and faces an extradition hearing in Canada next month.

“We object to this,” he said. “But now that we’ve gone down this path, we’ll let the courts settle it.”

The normally media-shy Huawei founder has been forced to step into the limelight in recent months as the company has come under increasing pressure over espionage concerns and the US-led campaign to persuade other countries to ban its technology.

Last year, security concerns prompted Australia to ban Huawei equipment from its future 5G network.

New Zealand has also blocked its largest telecom carrier from using Huawei technology for the next generation network, while the Czech Republic has reportedly excluded it from a 20-million-euro ($22 million) tender to build a tax portal.

US prosecutors are also charging Huawei with stealing trade secrets, saying it offered rewards to employees for stealing technology from other rivals.

Ren shrugged off the growing pressure.

“If the lights go out in the West, the East will still shine,” he said. “America doesn’t represent the world.”

“Even if they persuade more countries not to use us temporarily, we can always downsize and become smaller.”

Signs that US efforts to convince its allies to shun Huawei technology could fall through are also growing.

British intelligence concluded that security risks posed by using Huawei’s 5G equipment can be managed, The Financial Times reported on Monday.

“Other nations can make the argument that if the British are confident of mitigation against national security threats then they can also reassure their publics and the US administration that they are acting in a prudent manner to allow their telecommunications service providers to use Chinese components,” an unnamed source told the newspaper.

New Zealand is also in talks to minimise the security risks posed by using Huawei equipment in 5G infrastructure instead of excluding it entirely.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Tuesday that New Zealand’s security bureau was discussing Huawei security concerns with Spark, the domestic telecoms carrier that had been barred from using the Chinese firm’s equipment last year.

She also added that the company had “never” been ruled out from potentially participating in the country’s 5G rollout.
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California, 15 Other States Sue Trump

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California and 15 other US states sued President Donald Trump’s administration Monday over his decision to declare a national emergency to fund a wall on the southern border with Mexico, saying the move violated the constitution.

President Trump: Border wall emergency challenged by California, 15 other states
President Trump: Border wall emergency challenged by California, 15 other states
Trump announced the emergency Friday in order to bypass Congress, which approved only a quarter of the $5.6 billion he wanted for the wall in a spending bill.

But the lawsuit, filed in a federal court in California, said the president’s order was contrary to the constitution’s presentment and appropriations clauses, which outline legislative procedures and define Congress as the final arbiter of public funds, respectively.

The move had already been announced by Xavier Becerra, the attorney general of California, who said Sunday his state and others had legal standing because they risked losing moneys intended for military projects, disaster assistance and other purposes.

Critics, including several senators from Trump’s Republican party, have warned that he has opened the door for future presidents to call on the act whenever they fail to get their way with Congress.

Should the states prevail, the case could work its way up to the Supreme Court, setting up a precedent-setting showdown on the separation of powers.

Apart from California, other states seeking an injunction are Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Virginia.

The states “bring this action to protect their residents, natural resources, and economic interests from President Donald J. Trump’s flagrant disregard of fundamental separation of powers principles engrained in the United States Constitution,” the complaint said.

It added that Trump had veered the country toward a “constitutional crisis of his own making.”

“Congress has repeatedly rebuffed the president’s insistence to fund a border wall, recently resulting in a record 35-day partial government shutdown over the border wall dispute,” it said.

“After the government reopened, Congress approved, and the president signed into law, a $1.375 billion appropriation for fencing along the southern border, but Congress made clear that funding could not be used to build President Trump’s proposed border wall.”

The complaint also questioned Trump’s categorisation of illegal border crossings as a national emergency, saying data issued by his own administration refuted the notion.

“Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) data show that unlawful entries are near 45-year lows,” it said.

“The State Department recognises there is a lack of credible evidence that terrorists are using the southern border to enter the United States. Federal data confirm that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than are native-born Americans.”

The White House says the emergency order empowers it to pull around $6.6 billion from other sources, mostly already-allocated funds in the Defense Department budget.

But the lawsuit countered that tapping military funds would result in huge losses for the states’ national guard units which would otherwise use the money for domestic drug interdiction and counter-drug activities as well as for law enforcement programs.

The complaint added that the Department of Homeland Security had violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to evaluate the environmental impact of the wall in California and New Mexico, saying species such as the endangered Mexican gray wolf, and the jaguar would be at risk.
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Victims of Sex Abuse by Catholic Priests Seek Justice

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After years of struggling alone or finding support in national groups, survivors of sex abuse by priests have formed a new international alliance to pressure the Catholic Church to face up to its crimes.

Pope Francis: victims of sex abuse by Catholic priests worldwide seek justice
Pope Francis: victims of sex abuse by Catholic priests worldwide seek justice
The group, called Ending Clerical Abuse (ECA), brings together activists from dozens of countries on several continents, and will be mobilised in Rome this week when Pope Francis hosts a hotly awaited summit on tackling the wave of child sex abuse scandals shaking the Catholic Church.

“It’s a momentous and a historic movement… to bring a global and unified voice,” one of its co-founders, Peter Saunders, told AFP. “This is the first truly global initiative.”

Saunders’ personal story is among countless others suffered by people who grouped together to form ECA last June, including survivors from Chile, Poland, Switzerland, France, Italy, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other countries.

“I was abused at seven years old by a family member. I was also sexually abused by two Jesuit priests at my secondary school at about 12 years of age,” he said.

The same priest targeted his brother Michael at the same school six years before him, and died aged 55 after a lifelong battle with drug and alcohol abuse.

“I think the Church has been resisting change for many, many years and I think at long last the Church is beginning to bow to the pressure put on by survivors, by our media colleagues around the world, and by public opinion,” he added.

The group’s objectives include forcing the Church to take a “zero tolerance” approach to paedophilia, working to overturn the statute of limitations on abuse cases, and supporting victims in areas where speaking out remains difficult, such as in various African and Asian countries.

From Wednesday to Sunday, ECA will bring together victims in Rome to put new pressure on Pope Francis, who has spoken out strongly over the last two years about abuse in the Church after a string of scandals worldwide.

But on the ground, survivors say the fight against the culture of secrecy within the Catholic hierarchy and an instinct to cover up abuse cases remains entrenched.

“Either I committed suicide or I spoke out,” said a 70-year-old Swiss co-founder of ECA, who gives his name only as Jacques. “It was a long and painful fight.”

He said a priest raped him continually when he was aged 14 to 20. After years of therapy, in 2009 he contacted the priest who abused him and attempted to reach closure.

Only after a five-year struggle did senior Church figures “understand the gravity of the acts of their colleague and accept moral responsibility on behalf of the institution,” he said.

As he battled for justice, he also learned that the priest had been identified as a possible paedophile even before he was ordained and had been sent to France several times for “treatment”.

In 2010, Jacques founded SAPEC, a victims group in French-speaking Switzerland, which led to the creation of a commission to investigate abuse and oversee compensation.

In Poland, ECA co-founder Marek Lisinski, 50, said he had long dreamed of a new international organisation “to show Polish victims that they are not on their own.”

He said he was “assaulted for 10 months by a vicar” at age 13 and his search for justice led to a prosecution.

“I was forced to become an adult at age 13,” he said angrily.

Over several years he fought dependencies on alcohol and anti-depressants, made three suicide attempts and went through a divorce.

Finally, after nine years of legal proceedings, the vicar was suspended — but just for three years.

“In 2018, the court ordered him to apologise to me, but did not award damages,” he said. “I have never had the apology.”

Lisinsky added: “The Church has ignored victims, moves the perpetrators around (from one parish to another) and refuses to meet with us despite the instructions from the pope. Officially it has apologised… but as an institution it has never accepted its responsibility.”

In 2013, Lisinsky created the Don’t Be Afraid Foundation, which gathered testimony from 700 victims.

He published a shocking map online in October showing among other things all the parishes where abuse had been reported.

“There is barely a day without a victim coming forward to our Foundation. The youngest is a boy of 11,” he said.

Chilean activist Jose Andres Murillo, 43, struggled for 20 years before getting a measure of justice.

Also a founding member of ECA, Murillo was instrumental in bringing to light a huge scandal in Chile that led to 88-year-old priest Fernando Karadima being defrocked and prosecuted.

He said ECA needs to act “to create secure spaces within the Church”, safe from abuse.

“Faith is something positive for a lot of people, which helps them get through difficult moments, but that does not give the Church the right to create trauma in people’s lives,” he said. (AFP)
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Nigeria’s Equity Market Loses N196 bn

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The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on Monday reacted negatively to sudden election postponement, dropping by N196 billion as predicted by financial experts.

Nigeria’s equity market loses N196 bn
Nigerian stock exchange
Specifically, the market capitalisation shed N196 billion or 1.61 per cent to close at N12.004 trillion against N12.200 trillion on Friday, due to the postponement.

Also, the All-Share Index which opened at 32,715.50 lost 525.43 points or 1.61 per cent to close at 32,190.07, amid loses by blue chips.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the equity market which climbed past a three-month high on Feb. 15 reversed growth, following last minute postponement of the general elections.

NAN reports that INEC announced the shift of the Feb. 16 Presidential and National Assembly elections to Feb. 23.

The Governorship and State House of Assembly as well as FCT area council elections have also been shifted from March 2 to March 9.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, at a news conference attributed the postponement of elections to logistics and operational problems.

Mr Sola Oni, a chartered stockbroker and Chief Executive Officer, Sofunix Investment and Communications, Lagos, said: “The sudden postponement, few hours to election period, was a sad commentary.

“It has deepened Nigeria’s political risk with dire consequences on investment decision,” Oni said.

He said that the shock caused by the announcement might jolt foreign portfolio investors who had been apprehensive of the presidential election.

“It is not unlikely that trading on the stock may be moderated by this development as it is capable of further eroding investor confidence in our market.

“Every political decision has direct or indirect impact on the financial market,“he stated.

Mr Ambrose Omordion, the Chief Operating Officer, InvestData Ltd, had earlier told NAN that the postponement, few minutes to the Election Day would further slow down economic activities.

According to the expert, it will also cause cautious trading in the nation’s bourse.

Omordion said that investors’ confidence on the recent stock market rebound would be dampened with the development.

He said that the development had heightened uncertainty in the market arena and economy.

Omordion said that investors who had started to pick up shares to position for a post-election rally were now dumping their shares due to INEC’s sudden decision to shift the polls.

An analysis of the price movement chart shows that Total recorded the highest loss, dropping by N15 to close at N190 per share.

Mobil Oil trailed with a loss of N8 to close at N75, while Guaranty Trust Bank was down by N1.45 to close at N36.50 per share.

Cement Company of Northern Nigeria declined by N1 to close at N20 per share.

Conversely, Nestle led the gainers’ table with a growth of N35 to close at N1, 800 per share.

Betaglass followed with a gain of N6.70 to close at N79, while Presco gained N6.60 to close at N72.60 per share.

Cap added N2.20 to close at N34, while Dangote Flour increased by 45k to close at N9.60 per share.

Also, the volume of shares transacted dipped by 71.13 per cent, while value of shares traded dropped by 48.23 per cent.

Consequently, investors bought and sold 233.42 million shares valued at N3.36 billion in 4,134 deals.

This was in contrast with a turnover of 808.65 million shares worth N6.49 billion traded in 6,177 deals on Friday.

Access Bank dominated trading activities accounting for 25.32 million shares worth N160.16 million.

Chams followed with an exchange of 21.70 million shares valued at N4.34 million, while United Bank for Africa traded 20.45 million shares worth N157.19 million.

Zenith Bank exchanged 15.68 million shares valued at N375.32 million, while Guaranty Trust Bank traded a total of 13.86 million shares worth N519.12 million.
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