‘Fort Trump’: Trump says US considering opening a military base in Poland

Polish President Andrzej Duda suggests ‘Fort Trump’ as a name for US military base

Donald Trump
Donald Trump ( AP )

Kimberley Richards New York//Donald Trump said the US is considering Poland’s request to have a permanent American military base in the country, which Polish President Andrzej Duda suggested could be named “Fort Trump”.

“I invite you to post more American military troops in Poland,” Mr Duda said during a joint news conference at the White House. He added that such a presence would be a “guarantor of security”.

Poland has repeatedly requested to host a permanent US military base and has offered up to $2bn for it.

The military presence reflects the nation’s desire to build a defence against a perceived threat from Russia.

The US president shared Mr Duda’s concern during the conference and said that Russia has “acted aggressively”.

Poland joined NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) in 1999 despite Russia’s opposition.

“I am with the president,” he said. “I feel that he is right”. Mr Trump also stated that he believes Russians “respect force” and “respect strength.”

“We have the greatest strength in the world, especially now,” he added.


British Government’s ‘fruit picker visa’ is low-hanging fruit in tackling post-Brexit migration challenges

Cities will be hit hardest by shortfalls in EU migration – the Government’s new immigration system needs to reflect this

Gabriele Piazza, Researcher//Last week the Government announced a new temporary visa scheme to help fruit farmers avoid labour shortages, by enabling them to recruit up to 2,500 agricultural workers from outside the EU each year.

Given that the seasonal workforce of British farms is almost entirely made of workers from Eastern Europe, the scheme suggests a recognition by the Government of the need to prepare for the fall in EU migration to the UK as we prepare for Brexit.

However, as the findings of our recent report With or Without EU suggest, this initiative will do very little to address the most pressing post-Brexit labour challenges that places and businesses face as we leave the EU.

In particular, the report highlights three issues which should be key considerations of the Government as it designs it’s post-Brexit immigration system:

1. EU migration to the UK is largely an urban phenomenon

While rural firms such as fruit-farms will be severely affected by a fall in EU migration, in aggregate it is businesses in cities that will face the greatest challenges when it comes to post-Brexit recruitment. As our report showed, more than two thirds of EU migrants are located in cities, with London alone accounting for 37 per cent of all EU migrants in England and Wales.

Migrants tend to come to our cities because of the economic opportunities these places provide. And if the numbers of EU migrants coming to the UK continues to fall, urban employers will face particularly severe labour shortages. For example, in cities, one in every ten workers in the hospitality sector comes from the EU and this is much higher in Cardiff, Cambridge and London.

2. A sectoral approach to migration does not take into consideration the variation across places

While nationally some industries rely on EU workers more than others, a sectorial approach does not take into consideration how the reliance on migrant labour varies across places. For example, in Cardiff, the hospitality sector is the most reliant on the EU workforce, which account for one every three jobs in the sector, while in Northampton it was logistics (one every six).Pickers gather grapes at a vineyard (John Giles/PA)

Urgent action is required to ensure foreign fruit and vegetable pickers can continue to work in the UK post Brexit, ministers have been warned. The farming industry and MPs have called for clarity on the rules that will apply to seasonal migrants after March 2019. An estimated 80,000 seasonal pickers came to work in the UK last year and the industry expects that figure to rise to around 95,000 by 2019.

Tory MP Kirstene Hair, during a Commons debate, called for the introduction of a seasonal visa scheme as a matter of urgency, warning ministers that the industry could spiral into “turmoil”.

In certain places, reliance on EU workers is spread more equally across sectors. In Cambridge, EU migrants account for more than 15 per cent of workers in four sectors: hospitality (22 per cent), finance (19 per cent), admin and support activities (17 per cent) and professional services (16 per cent). Similarly in London, three sectors — hospitality (20 per cent), admin and support activities (16 per cent) and construction (16 per cent) — rely heavily on the EU workforce.  These factors illustrate the inadequacy of a sectoral-focused approach to addressing the EU labour shortages that places could face post-Brexit.

3. EU migrants do not only work in low-skilled industries

It is not just predominantly low-skilled industries like farming that rely on EU workers. In London and Cambridge, one every ten workers in professional services come from the rest of the European Union and these tend to be high-skilled jobs. And this means that the new migration system after Brexit should recognize the economic importance of both high-skilled and low-skilled migrants.

It’s great that the Government has recognised the impact that immigration restrictions will have on fruit picking and has moved to address this. But the much bigger challenge is for businesses in UK cities.

Having acknowledged the role that migrants play, it needs to move to mitigate the impact of restrictions on economies of our cities too. Our report offers ideas on how to do this – from extending Freedom of Movement for the next two years at least, to removing current caps on both high-skilled and low-skilled workers. These factors need to be key considerations for the Government in its upcoming white paper on post-Brexit immigration.



South Africa’s Constitutional Court Legalises Private Use Of Cannabis

South Africa’s top court legalises private use of cannabis

The Constitutional Court has ordered the parliament to draft new laws within 24 months to reflect the order.

South Africa's top court legalises private use of cannabis
Members of the Rastafarian movement and traditional healers greeted the ruling with loud applause [File: Reuters]

CRIMSON TAZVINZWA//South Africa’s highest court has legalised the private use of marijuana, upholding a lower court’s ruling that found the criminalisation of cannabis was unconstitutional.

In delivering the Constitutional Court’s unanimous verdict, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Tuesday declared the law banning marijuana use in private by adults “is unconstitutional and therefore invalid”.

“It will not be a criminal offence for an adult person to use or be in possession of cannabis in private for his or her personal consumption,” he said in Johannesburg.

The court also ordered parliament to draft new laws within 24 months to reflect the order.

However, the judgement did not specify the amount that can be used by an adult in private use.

Activists, including members of the Rastafarian movement and traditional healers, greeted the ruling with loud applause.

Outside, pro-cannabis campaigners lit pipes and rolled joints to celebrate the news, filling the air with the distinctive aroma of marijuana.

“I’m happy I won’t be getting any more criminal records for possession,” Ruaan Wilson, 29, told AFP before pausing for a puff.

“Now, we can get police to focus on real drugs and thugs,” he added.

Activists held marches over the years to demand that the law be changed [File: Reuters]

A court in Western Cape had ruled in March 2017 that a ban on cannabis use by adults at home was unconstitutional, a move that effectively decriminalised it in the province, which includes Cape Town.

But the ministers of justice, police, health and trade challenged that finding, arguing that there was “objective proof of the harmful effects of cannabis”.

Activists have held marches over the years to demand that the law be changed to allow people to smoke “weed”, which is called “dagga” in South Africa.

But opponents fear crime connected to drug abuse and users graduating to harder drugs.

File: Results from the latest NOI Poll showed that 9 in 10 Nigerians believe the highest abusers of drugs and substance are teenagers and young adults aged between 15 and 29 years old.It has also emerged true from this poll that the most abused substance in Nigeria is marijuana.
Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/09/s-africas-top-court-legalises-personal-private-cannabis-use/

They also cite medical research which suggests a link between heavy use of marijuana and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

The country’s Medical Research Council has already launched trials to help guarantee quality, consistency and standards, according to local media.

“We have used cannabis to treat anxiety, colic in children and as an antiseptic in secret for many years,” said Phephsile Maseko, of the Traditional Healers Organisation.

“Now we will be able to develop the plant even further.”

Previously, possessing, growing or using marijuana for personal use – even in small quantities – exposed users to fines of up to hundreds of dollars as well as jail time. Penalties for selling it were far higher.

U.K. Migration Advisory Committee Report: Three Reflections And Implications For Cities

The report’s rightly highlights the importance of high-skilled migrants, but underplays the role of low-skilled workers in cities

By Gabriele Piazza//Researcher//The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has today published its final report on the impact of European Economic Area migration to the UK – analysis first commissioned in 2017 by the then home secretary Amber Rudd, with the aim of informing the post-Brexit migration system.  The report offers more evidence on the important role that EEA migrants play in the UK economy, and also makes a number of significant policy recommendations for the Government’s upcoming white paper on migration.

Here are three reflections on the MAC report’s recommendations, and the implications they might have for the UK’s post-Brexit migration system:

  1. The MAC is right to highlight the importance of high-skilled and medium-skilled migration

The report shows that there are more benefits from high-skilled migration than low-skilled migration and it suggests that the new system should reflect this. As we show in our recent report on EU migration to UK cities, EU workers play an important role in high-skilled industries in a number of places: for example, in Cambridge, one in every ten workers in the professional services, a predominantly high-skilled sector, come from the rest of the EU.

And this means that if the freedom of movement ends – which is the premise of the MAC report–cities like Cambridge would face serious issues in meeting the demand for highly-skilled workers that is currently met by EU workers. For this reason, the commission is right in proposing the removal the cap on Tier 2 Visas –the main route through which non-EEA high-skilled migrants can come to work in the UK.

The report also recognises that it is not just the high-skilled parts of the economy that will suffer from a fall in EU migration. For example, in London, the construction industry heavily relies on EU workers. And this sector has an important medium-skilled element. To fill this gap, the MAC suggests including medium-skilled occupations too in the Tier 2 Visa list. 

  1. But the report’s proposals would lead to significant shortages of low-skilled workers in UK cities

Low-skilled industries are the most reliant on EU workers. As our research shows, one in every ten workers in the hospitality sector in cities – a predominantly low-skilled industry – came from the EU. But the Commission thinks that there is no need for a legal work route for this group of workers, on the basis that these vacancies could be filled by lower-skilled migrants coming to the UK through the family route (i.e. on a family visa).

Alternatively, the MAC suggests that the Government could implement a Youth Mobility Visa that allows people aged 18-30 to work and study in the UK for two years (without being able to bring dependants).

But these proposals would significantly restrict the flow of low-skilled workers to UK cities, which could result in serious labour shortages. As such, to avoid a cliff-edge scenario, Centre for Cities suggests that the Government should continue the freedom of movement until the new migration system is in place and this should go beyond early 2021, if necessary.

  1. Questions remain as to whether the Government will listen to the MAC’s recommendations

Notwithstanding our differences with the MAC on the issue of low-skilled migration, the report provides excellent evidence on the economic role of EEA migrants, and balanced recommendations on the back of this analysis. Whether the Government will listen is another matter.

For a start, migration is a deeply contentious and political topic, which was at the heart of debates ahead of the EU referendum – and this will inevitably have a bearing on the Government’s migration policies, regardless of the evidential basis for the MAC recommendations.

And secondly, there have been some movements in the Government’s position on migration that have been seemingly independent of the MAC recommendations. For example, its announcement of a  temporary agricultural worker visa scheme came before the MAC report launch. And while the MAC’s report starts from the premise that freedom of movement will end, reports have suggested that the Government might take a more ad hoc approach to freedom of movement, offering this kind of arrangement to places which are willing to strike a comprehensive trade deal.

Ultimately, to design a post-Brexit migration system which is fit for purpose, our research shows that the Government has to look not only at the sectoral basis of migration, but its geography.

With cities accounting for 70 per cent of EU population in the UK, it is urban employers that will face the greatest challenges and the new system should reflect this. Neither the MAC’s recommendations or the Government’s approach to date fully account for this.


London Born Thandie Newton Wins First Emmy

The actress was visibly shocked and emotional at the awards ceremony last night.

The actress took home the award for outstanding supporting actress in a drama series for her role as “Maeve” in Sky Atlantic’s Westworld.

Westworld is due to return to screens for a third season.

The 45-year-old was visibly shocked and even swore during her speech.

“I don’t even believe in God but I’m going to thank her tonight,” she said.

She went on to say: “I am so blessed. I am so f*****g blessed.” She covered her mouth immediately after using the expletive.

The timing of the award had a special significance for the mother-of-three – she received it on the same night of her daughter’s 18th birthday.

She said: “My daughter Ripley turns 18 today and I get to guide you and love you and protect you, which is my north star, I love you so much baby,” she said. “Thank you, thank you for this.”

Image result for thandie newton
Thandie Newton Wishes Daughter a Happy Birthday During Acceptance Speech | Emmys 2018 – Video | Hollywood Reporter

Newton was up against Ann Dowd, Yvonne Strahovski and Alexis Blediel of The Handmaid’s Tale, Lena Headey of Game of Thrones, Milly Bobby Brown of Stranger Things, and Vanessa Kirby of The Crown.

The first time Emmy award winner was nominated last year for the same role but lost out to The Handmaid’s Tale actress Reed Morano.

During her speech she also expressed her appreciation for her co-stars and Westworld colleagues.

She said: “To work with the people that I have gotten to work with…The cast and crew of – I can’t believe I’m here – the cast and crew of Westworld, I love you all so much.”

Newton wore a pink slim-fitted floor length gown with a one shoulder cape detail by designer Brandon Maxwell.

Westworld is due to return to screens for a third season.

EU migrants after Brexit should NOT get preferential treatment says official government-ordered report

AIWA! NO!//In a long-awaited verdict, the Migration Advisory Committee said access for lower-skilled workers should continue to be limited.
The Migration Advisory Committee issued its report today (Image: Getty Images Europe)

EU migrants to the UK after Brexit should NOT get preferential treatment, a bombshell government-ordered report declares today.

In a long-awaited verdict, the Migration Advisory Committee said the UK’s immigration system should make it easier for high-skilled workers to settle – but access for lower-skilled workers should continue to be limited.

The report will stoke claims Theresa May is set to unveil a harsh visa system for EU migrants (Image: PA)

It added: “A migrant’s impact depends on factors such as their skills, employment, age and use of public services, and not fundamentally on their nationality.”

Committee chair Professor Alan Manning added: “EEA migration has not had the costs that some people say they have but neither has it had the benefits that other people say.”

The report authors, who are independent experts, made clear that they were not giving an opinion on whether or not special treatment of EU migrants should be included in any Brexit agreement.

They said they were looking st the immigration system in isolation.

But today’s report clears the way for the Tories to finally reveal their Brexit immigration policy.

Tony Blair: ‘Brexit’s doomed coalition will burst’

Former prime minister Tony Blair. Photo: PA / Stefan Rousseau
Former prime minister Tony Blair. Photo: PA / Stefan Rousseau

Leading French journalist Marion Van Renterghem meets Tony Blair, one of Remain’s Don Quixotes suddenly realising their task might not be as futile as it first seemed.

AIWA! NO!//From my side of the Channel, I initially saw you Remainers as some tribe of Don Quixotes, at war with windmills, assigning yourselves a quite impossible mission: to bring your compatriots back to wisdom.

Yet as time goes by, it seems that Quixotism might turn into something more achievable. The lies behind Leave are blowing up, the nation’s mood is changing, the move for a People’s Vote is growing. And you, Remainers, have become like little mosquitos, tormenting the government, creating a constant, inescapable noise which is giving ministers sleepless nights.

As a spectator, I am fascinated to witness such a spectacle: the officers who set the course are leaving the ship one after another (Farage has become a radio entertainer, David Davis and Boris Johnson have resigned, Jacob Rees-Mogg and others have cynically transferred their investments out of Brexitland); the captain herself, Theresa May, remains on the bridge – but hardly in control. And yet the ship carries on.

The UK today reminds me of the Fellini film E la nave va (And the Ship Sails On). In it, the ocean liner Gloria N sinks and the passengers evacuate by singing opera arias, after having triggered the First World War. As I watch, I’m amused. As a European, I’m bemused. And scared. Because your story is ours.

But there are mutineers on board the UK’s ship, and in recent months, I have been meeting with many of them: brilliant debaters emerging out of nowhere like Femi Oluwole; previously unknown voices like Gina Miller; older hands putting all their energy to shift opinion, like Nick Clegg, Andrew Adonis, Peter Mandelson… and Tony Blair.

In Paris, Brussels and London, I’ve been meeting regularly with your former prime minister – the most intelligent and reformist politician you have had in recent times, and the man you hate the most.

At one meeting, he stares at me like a martian and dissolves into laughter when I tell him that Europe’s misfortune – Brexit – stemmed from the fact that Britain did not lose the Second World War. I insist: the arrogance of you British and your current teenage crisis over ‘independence’ results from the fact that you were able to stand up to Hitler. “You, the British, look down on Europe because it was defeated, while you weren’t,” I tell him. “As a result, you live under the delusion that the EU isn’t of any use to you, except possibly to facilitate your business affairs.”

He stops laughing and admits: “The British tend to forget the importance of their European heritage. They wanted to join the Economic Community in 1973 only, and they didn’t understand that they should have been a founding member in 1951 or 1957. This would have changed everything.”

He adds: “My vision of Europe has always been political as much as economic. We signed the European Social Charter and I personally laid the foundations for a European defence policy in 2000. Europe must not be only a market, but a broader project that takes into account the social dimension of the market.” The trouble is, even then, he was one of the only Britons to think so.

Years of criticism have given Blair the expression of a Hamlet haunted by some spectre. His hair has whitened, the forehead has darkened. Yet his courtesy and cheerfulness seem to have resisted all the blows.

Even in France, politicians of the left are careful not to mention his name publicly, even though some keep on having meetings with him and envy his exceptional career in power: elected three times for his visionary reforms in the NHS and education and for his humanitarian interventions in international crises.

When campaigning against the Conservative, Nicolas Sarkozy, in 2007, socialist Ségolène Royal was blamed by her own party for praising Blair’s policy. Sarkozy himself was more open about their friendship, and said recently that he and Blair might work on some projects together. Emmanuel Macron, when a candidate for the French presidency, said that he was not ashamed to be compared to Blair – he didn’t insist too much, however, knowing this statement would act like a scarecrow to his voters on the left.

Anglo Saxon politicians can’t easily provide a simple template for French ones, who traditionally tend to celebrate the role of the state in the economy. Blair will always be considered a man of the right by the French left – just as he has come to be seen on the British left, since Corbyn shifted it further to the extreme.

Then there is Iraq. His burden, the tragic mistake that has thrown him into hell. His deep motivation for following George W Bush in his Baghdad mission remains a mystery. Was it strategic loyalty to the Atlantic alliance, as he himself explained? Or a kind of a religious revelation? A journalist told me he was present for a telephone conversation in January 2001 in which Bill Clinton urged his friend Blair to be “as close to Bush” as he had been to himself.

According to a YouGov poll earlier this year, only 17% of Britons have a favourable image of Blair. The most smiling of all prime ministers has learned to live with this hostility. “I can’t prevent people from hating me nor can I force them to listen to me,” he says quietly. “But they can’t prevent me from speaking out what I believe in.”

One of the main reasons – apart from Iraq – why Blair irritates you British so much might be that, in one crucial respect, he is so different to you: he is viscerally European.

By European, I mean supporting a community of political, ethical and social values – not only a single market, for one’s own interest. In that sense, Blair is the first genuine European to have occupied Number 10 since Churchill, even if – paradoxically – he is blamed on my side of the Channel for being too British and not European enough. Wasn’t he the strongest supporter to the enlargement of the EU in 2004 and the man who favoured intra-European immigration, both of which have contributed to today’s populism?

“The context was different,” he answers. “In 2004, the economy was booming. If I had been in power for the last ten years, I would have hardened the rules on immigration. It remains desirable and necessary for the economy, but we must hear the anxiety it arouses and regulate it. As for enlargement, can you imagine the eastern countries left behind, with the emergence of Russian nationalism? They would have been more vulnerable, and so would we.”

He pauses, looks for words by looking up to the ceiling and concludes: “The irony is that the single market and the enlargement are British initiatives – Thatcher, then Major, then me. The Brexiters now blame Brussels for what Great Britain wanted and supported… They want to ‘take back control’, but I can’t remember one single law imposed by Brussels that I would have been forced to apply. They want a ‘global Britain’ whereas only the European Union can be global, facing the three economic giants – USA, China, India.”

A silence again, eyes to the ceiling, then: “There are two irreconcilable groups among the Brexiters – those who are scared of globalisation and those who are scared of a too socialist Europe. If Brexit takes place, this coalition will burst.”

He adds: “The government wants to believe that this is a negotiation with the EU, but it is not. Either we stay close to the EU, then we wonder why there would be any reason to leave, or we leave the EU, then we accept to lose the benefits of the single market. There is no alternative.” The inevitable restoration of some sort of border between Northern Ireland and the Republic that Brexit will bring – an issue particularly pertinent for Blair, as an architect of the Good Friday Agreement – is, he says, a “metaphor of the impasse”.

The former prime minister was among the first to articulate calls for what is now called a People’s Vote. “We have the right to reconsider the issue once the deal between London and Brussels is known,” he told me, back in November 17. “It would not be a second referendum, but a new one, given the situation itself is all new. Brexit as it now looks like has nothing to do with what people have voted for. Until March 29 2019, it is not too late.” Back then, it was a fringe view. Not any more, if the polls are correct.

As a strong European myself, I couldn’t understand why you Remainers didn’t take the opportunity, at the last general election, to vote for one of the two only pro-European, UK parties you have: the Greens and the Liberal Democrats. Instead, you showed a Pavlovian link to the two-party system, and then blamed Jeremy Corbyn for his persistent silence on Brexit, despite his notorious, long-standing anti-European credentials.

Blair insists he voted Labour in June 2017 and pretends not to have given up hope that Labour will play the role of a centrist party – “but that looks increasingly unlikely,” he admits. As we would say in France, by the time Labour comes back to the centre hens will have teeth.

So does a new, centrist party remain a possibility for the UK? “The paradox,” Blair answers, “is that a majority of people would vote for a centrist policy – a strong market economy together with a liberal society, justice and mobility not for the few but for the many – while both the two main parties can only be taken over from outside the centre. That is why they both are disappointing and deceitful.” What happened in France with Emmanuel Macron, who broke through with a new political party, En Marche, by blowing up the old ones, can hardly be replicated in the UK’s parliamentary system. But old French politicians thought the same regarding French politics. And all laughed at Macron when he launched his attempt. So perhaps, with Brexit, it should be worth a try in the UK.

The countdown is running in the UK, and across Europe, towards March 29, 2019. Whatever the outcome will be, the anger that caused Brexit remains. As in all European countries, British society is cut in half. In my meetings with politicians from different parts of Europe in recent months, I have never heard such uncertainty. In such uncertainty, as regards Brexit and the possibility of a second referendum, Blair can find some optimism – or pessimism, depending on how you look at it. “Everything is possible,” he says

Marion Van Renterghem is a reporter-at-large and a writer. This article has been partly adapted from a piece published in Vanity Fair France online

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