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Showing posts from January, 2017

'Islamophobia killed Canadians': anti-Muslim rhetoric blamed in Québec attack

Thousands of Canadians from coast to coast have sought to show their support for victims of a shooting spree on a Québec City mosque, as the country struggled to comprehend how one of Canada’s safest cities had become the setting for an attack described by the country’s prime minister as an act of terror.

Just steps away from the mosque, residents braved the bitter cold to leave flowers and handwritten signs of support in nearby snowbanks.
Alexandre Bissonnette, a 27-year-old university student, was charged with six counts of first-degree murder and five charges of attempted murder on Monday. 
Those who knew Bissonnette described him as pro-Donald Trump, anti-immigration and sympathetic to the far right, prompting many to ask whether the current political climate had laid the ground for the attack.
The gunman unleashed a scene of “unspeakable brutality”, the Québec City Islamic cultural center, also known as the Grande Mosquée de Québec, wrote on its Facebook page.
“Gunshots, deaths, loadi…

Some nations affected by U.S. immigration order may stay on list

Nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries temporarily barred from the United States by President Donald Trump's executive order may be blocked indefinitely, and others might be added to the list, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said on Tuesday.

Under the order released on Friday, travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen may not enter the country for at least 90 days while Kelly and others determine whether there is enough information available to screen them.
"Some of those countries that are currently on the list may not be taken off the list anytime soon, if they are countries that are in various states of collapse, as an example," Kelly told a press conference.
Kelly said others may be added if it is determined they "could tighten up their procedures" to ensure more secure vetting.
Several lawsuits have been filed blocking portions of the order, which drew harsh criticism from some of Trump's fellow Republicans, Democrats…

Trump's embattled U.S. education department pick may face Senate fight

Billionaire philanthropist Betsy DeVos, already known as one of the most controversial nominees for education secretary in U.S. history, now risks a rare congressional rejection.

The deeply divided U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Tuesday agreed to send her nomination to the full chamber for a vote, the final step in the confirmation process.
But the committee's executive session showed DeVos faces choppy waters ahead for a post for which there is typically little congressional debate or public attention.
The chairman, Republican Lamar Alexander, acted as tie-breaker after all 11 Republicans voted for Republican President Donald Trump's pick and all 11 Democrats voted against.
Two Republicans - Maine's Susan Collins and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski - expressed grave misgivings about the charter school advocate's limited experience with public schools. 
They said they voted yes only so the entire Senate can debate whether DeVos is the right fit. …

UK's 2017 growth outlook raised after Brexit resilience: NIESR

Britain's economy now looks set to slow only slightly in 2017 after its resilient response to last year's Brexit vote, but growth is still likely to be a lot weaker than if the country had decided to stay in the European Union, a think tank said.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research said on Wednesday its latest forecasts pointed to growth of 1.7 percent this year.
That would be only a moderate slowdown from 2.0 percent in 2016 when Britain outgrew its big rich country peers around the world despite the Brexit shock, delighting politicians who supported the decision to leave the EU.
Like the Bank of England and many other forecasters, NIESR has progressively revised up its short-term estimates for British economic growth since the referendum, thanks in large part to consumers who kept on spending.
In August, a few weeks after the vote, NIESR predicted the economy would grow by only 1 percent in 2017. 
In November, it raised that forecast to 1.4 percent.
The BoE is a…

Dollar hit by crossfire as Trump talks currency wars

The dollar nursed hefty losses in Asia on Wednesday after the Trump administration accused Germany and Japan of devaluing their currencies to gain a trade advantage, fuelling a risk-off mood that subdued stocks while benefiting bonds.

The U.S. currency suffered its worst January in three decades after President Donald Trump complained that every "other country lives on devaluation."
Just hours earlier his top trade adviser said Germany was using a "grossly undervalued" euro to exploit its trading partners and that a proposed trade agreement between the United States and Europe was dead.
"Suspicions that Washington may increasingly focus on the value of the dollar were catapulted into the limelight," ANZ analysts said in a note.
"The early policy implication is that dollar competitiveness could have a prominent role to play in Trump's 'America First' agenda."
That left the dollar huddled at 112.70 yen JPY= in Asia on Wednesday, having fall…

U.S. House Republicans finalize list of rules to kill in Wednesday vote

Republicans pressed ahead in their deregulatory push on Tuesday, with the U.S. House of Representatives Rules Committee officially adding a regulation on methane and one intended to root out pay discrimination to the list of rules the whole chamber will vote to kill on Wednesday.

On Monday, the committee sent three other recently enacted rules on the environment, corruption and guns to the full House to axe under the Congressional Review Act, which has only been used effectively once, in 2001.
The Republican-controlled House is expected to vote to overturn all five regulations on Wednesday, and then hand them off to the Senate.
Agencies cannot create a new rule to replace any part of an overturned regulation, and Democrats at Tuesday's committee hearing argued that House Republicans were closing off the possibility of enacting regulations that could be needed in the future.
They also pressed for more time to consider rolling back regulations that often took months and years to craft.

Only a third of Americans think Trump's travel ban will make them more safe

Imposing a temporary travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim countries, President Donald Trump said the move would help protect the United States from terrorism. 

But less than one-third of Americans believe the move makes them "more safe," according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Tuesday.
The Jan. 30-31 poll found roughly one in two Americans backed the ban, which also suspends admission of all refugees for 120 days, although there were sharp divisions along party lines.
Trump has pushed back against critics who say the travel ban targets Muslims. 
He says the "extreme vetting" is necessary to protect the country and its borders.
"This is not about religion," Trump said in a statement after announcing the travel ban on Friday. 
"This is about terror and keeping our country safe."
In the Reuters/Ipsos poll some 31 percent of people said the ban made them feel "more safe," while 26 percent said it made them feel "less safe.&…

Trump concerns sink dollar to 2017 lows, weigh stocks

The dollar tumbled on Tuesday, headed for its worst start to a year in three decades, while stocks dipped as U.S. President Donald Trump added uncertainty to the market following stringent curbs on travel to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Comments from Trump's top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, that Germany was using a "grossly undervalued" euro to gain advantage over the United States knocked the dollar in early North American trading.
Trump followed up on those comments in a meeting with the chief executives of several top drugmakers, during which he said drug companies had outsourced production because of currency devaluation by other countries.
That dragged the dollar index .DXY, which tracks the greenback against six rival currencies, to its lowest since Dec. 8. 
The index is down about 2.6 percent for the month, its worst January since 1987.
"You don't talk about levels, don't really talk about valuation and you certainly don't t…

British firms relocating to Ireland, more to follow: Irish minister

Some British-based financial services firms have already decided to relocate at least part of their operations to Ireland, and others are expected to follow in the first half of this year, Ireland's minister for the sector said on Tuesday.

Speaking at an event hosted by the London Irish Business Society, Eoghan Murphy said Britain's decision to trigger divorce negotiations from the EU at the end of March had been a catalyst for these moves.
"With the time horizon we now have around Article 50, some decisions have already been made for relocation," Murphy said, declining to name the companies, or give a number.
"We are expecting for some parts of the industry for decisions to be made in Q1 and Q2," he added at the business event in central London.
Earlier this month Irish finance minister Michael Noonan said his central bank had received over 100 inquiries from British-based financial firms considering a move.
Barclays (BARC.L) is preparing to make Dublin its EU …

Germany arrests three suspected of Islamic State links

German police arrested three men in Berlin on Tuesday on suspicion of having close links to Islamic State militants and planning to travel to the Middle East for combat training, a police spokesman said on Tuesday.

The three men, aged 21, 31 and 45, are formally suspected of having prepared "a serious act of violent subversion" for planning to attend combat training; the police spokesman said there was no indication of any concrete plan to carry out an attack in Germany.
The newspaper Bild reported that the three suspects had close links to Islamic State members in Syria and Iraq and were frequent visitors of a mosque in the Berlin district of Moabit that Anis Amri, who attacked a Berlin Christmas market in December, also used to visit.
The police spokesman declined to comment on the background of the suspects, but confirmed that police had raided a mosque in Moabit.

Amri killed 12 people when he drove a truck into the market on Dec. 19, the worst of a spate of attacks on random…

U.S. to apply 'extreme vetting' in refugee swap deal with Australia

The United States will apply "extreme vetting" to up to 1,250 asylum seekers it has agreed to resettle as part of an agreement with Australia, a spokesman for President Trump said in the United States on Tuesday.
Washington agreed a deal late last year to resettle refugees, mainly from Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq, held in Australia's processing centers on remote Pacific islands in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.
Under the deal, Australia will in return resettle refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Providing details of the plan for the first time, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the deal covered many of the refugees held in the two offshore processing centres, though they have to satisfy recently tightened immigration policies.
"The deal specifically deals with 1,250 people that are mostly in Papua New Guinea being held," Spicer told reporters in Washington.
"Part of the deal is that they have to be vetted in the same manner that we're …

Israel says will build 3,000 new homes in West Bank settlements

Israel announced plans on Tuesday for 3,000 more settlement homes in the occupied West Bank, the third such declaration in eleven days since U.S. President Donald Trump took office.
Trump has signaled he could be more accommodating toward such projects than his predecessor Barack Obama.
A statement from the Israeli Defence Ministry, which administers lands Israel captured in a 1967 war, said the decision was meant to fulfill demand for housing and "return to life as usual".
The announcement came close to midnight as preparations began for the eviction of 330 settlers from an outpost in the West Bank. 
The Supreme Court had ruled that the Amona outpost must be evacuated by Feb 8. because it was built illegally on privately-owned Palestinian land.
Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are due to meet in Washington on Feb. 15. The president's chief spokesman said last week the two leaders would discuss settlement building.
The muted response from the Trump White Hou…