Wednesday’s World News Updates: My Views

Bringing you a rounded view of the news by collating stories from various publications and broadcasters, and sharing my opinion on this week’s top news stories.

  1. Journalist James Foley killed by extremists. On Tuesday, militant jihadist group Islamic State (also known as ISIS) purportedly beheaded war journalist James Foley. After he went missing two years ago, the freelance journalist appeared in a propaganda video posted on social media sites by Islamic State sources. He spoke to the camera and was then beheaded. Sky News reports: ‘The footage appears to show a masked man – speaking in English with an English accent – killing James Foley, who was seized by armed men in Syria in November 2012.’ ‘The man says Mr Foley was being killed because Barack Obama had ordered airstrikes against IS positions in northern Iraq.’‘The journalist, dressed in an orange jumpsuit like those worn by Guantanamo inmates, is seen kneeling in the desert before he blames the US for his death, in a statement presumably prepared by his abductors. He then says: “I wish I had more time, I wish I could have the hope of freedom and seeing my family once again, but that ship has sailed.” He is then beheaded. The group also claimed to be holding another American journalist, Steven Sotloff, who appears at the end of the video, and said his life depended on the US President’s next move.’

    According to the BBC, ‘Philip Hammond has described the apparent beheading of a US journalist by an Islamic State militant with a British accent as “an appalling example of the brutality of this organisation”.’ ‘Mr Hammond said the involvement of British nationals with extremist groups was one of the reasons that IS “represents such a direct threat” to the UK’s security.’

    This is a stark reminder that ISIS is a continuous threat to us all. This sinister act by a British-speaking extremist also reveals just how local the threat is with British nationals involved in the militant jihadist group. As a journalist, I know that you have to take risks but war journalists take the biggest risks by putting their lives in jeopardy. Foley epitomises fearlessness, bravery and dedication to the field of journalism and his death highlights the tragedies that journalists face when trying to uncover the truth.

  2. Lord Rennard’s Lib Dem suspension lifted. Rennard had been suspended from the Liberal Democrat Party after refusing to apologise for his inappropriate behaviour towards women. But the party has now dropped its disciplinary proceedings and is readmitting Rennard.The Guardian reports: ‘Clegg said: “The Liberal Democrats have taken a long, hard look in the mirror since these allegations were made last year and I am confident that the party has changed. It is clear that a number of women in our party felt let down that the party failed to act on their complaints appropriately. I am determined that no member of our party should find themselves in that position again. “That’s why I immediately appointed Helena Morrissey to carry out a root-and-branch review of our culture and processes and made sure we acted on her recommendations.“In addition, at my request the party president and the federal executive established a review into our procedures for handling cases such as this to ensure that the party’s rules are fit for purpose in the future. This review has now been completed by a senior barrister who has recommended that we make changes to the current criminal burden of proof and these changes will now be taken forward.”’ Susan Gaszczak, A Lib Dem activist who made one of the allegations against Rennard, resigned last month over how the issue was handled.

    Once again, this portrays how politics places itself above the position of women. We saw it with David Cameron and his misrepresentation and underrepresentation of the number of women in the Conservative Party. And now we are witnessing the undermining of women by its coalition counter-part. Clegg claims to be changing how such cases are dealt with but with one woman resigning and others deeply frustrated by his decision to invite Rennard back, we must ask: why is Clegg willing to compromise the women of his party for Rennard? Rennard’s apology may have earned him some party points but it has clearly not provided justice for the women who made the allegations; sending out the wrong message. This looks like another case of schoolboy antics where the girls are not welcome to play.

  3. Afghan Sikhs claim political asylum in Britain. On Sunday, 35 Sikhs from Afghanistan were found in a shipping container at Tilbury Docks in Essex. Staff were alerted to the men, women and children after they heard banging, screaming and crying. A 40-year-old man named Meet Singh Kapoor, who was travelling with his wife and two sons, died on the 19-hour journey, and others had fallen ill. The migrants were 20 minutes from their death, it has been reported. They were rushed to Queen’s hospital for medical checks and Grays Gurdwara collected donations for them and provided relief and support. It has been reported that all of them are now well.Channel 4 News has learned that some of them have family in Southall, West London, and the Home Office said all 34 are claiming asylum in the UK.

    Today, The Independent reports that police have arrested a man after the death of Meet Singh Kapoor. ‘Detectives in Northern Ireland seized the 34-year-old man from Limavady this afternoon on suspicion of manslaughter and facilitating illegal entry into the United Kingdom.’I speak to UK Immigration Lawyer Harjap Singh Bhangal to understand the politics behind the story:

  4. Rail prices set to rise again. Rail fares are set to rise by 3.5% next year, with some increasing up to 5.6%, making it virtually unviable to travel on them. For anyone who commutes regularly, or has commuted, you will know that trains do not run on time, are sometimes cancelled and it is impossible to get a seat at peak-times.The Independent reports: ‘Since privatisation, the average price of a train journey has increased by 22 per cent and walk-on tickets on some routes have been hiked by a huge 245 per cent.’ ‘If you compare this figure to real wages (which have decreased by 0.2 per cent over the last three months) it’s pretty clear that our privatised rail model is broken. It’s been argued however, that a publicly owned rail system could save £1.2 billion a year. This could be used to cut fares by 18 per cent across the board. It would be more efficient, cheaper, greener network that the nation could be proud of.’ Rail fares have risen by a quarter since the Conservatives came into power.

    According to The Guardian ‘The shadow transport secretary, Mary Creagh, said Labour was considering a pledge to limit fare rises to inflation – although the party is reluctant to make spending commitments before the election. Creagh warned fares could rise by a further 24% by 2018 under Tory plans.’The Telegraph offers some top money saving tips:
    – Buy your season ticket on the 31st December because any tickets valued from the 1st of January pay according to this years prices and avoid next fare hikes.
    – Get money off on the rail fares you do buy. Santander 1 2 3 credit card, you can get 30% back on any rail fares you buy from National Rail or Transport for London. RBS and Natwest get 1% off on trainline.com.
    – Check out any group or day save deals.
    – Check your route – the rail system is full of anomalies and ticket prices. And be savvy about which time your arrive at the station.

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