News from 03/2017

31 March 2017

What does nepotism mean and should it be allowed in business or politics?

The practice among those with power or influence of favouring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs. "his years in office were marked by corruption and nepotism"

Ivanka Trump is officially joining her father's administration as an unpaid employee with the title, "Assistant to the President," the White House says. Ivanka Trump is the daughter of U.S. president Donald Trump and his first wife, former model Ivana Trump.  


30 March 2017

‘No turning back’ on Brexit as Article 50 triggered

Britain's departure from the EU is "an historic moment from which there can be no turning back", Theresa May has said. She was speaking after Britain's EU ambassador formally triggered the two year exit process by handing a letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk. A sombre-looking Mr Tusk said it was not a "happy day" for him or the EU.


29 March 2017

Neither charismatic nor visionary, but very popular since announcing he would run to be chancellor

An interesting article by Hans Kundnani, featured in ‘The Guardian’ Newspaper, Sunday 26 February 2017 suggests that Martin Schulz's popularity is not so much about a liking for the chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP),  but rather of a feeling of being fed-up with long-time chancellor, Angela Merkel.

“The excitement around the candidacy of Schulz is something of a puzzle – he is hardly a charismatic or visionary figure. Some think of him, though, as “populist of the centre” because of the way he presents…Read

28 March 2017

The French election

A Le Pen victory would be the worst crisis for half a century. Even if she doesn’t, the system is in deep trouble.

Is France on the brink of a political revolution? Already, four established candidates for the presidency — two former presidents and two former prime ministers — have backed out or been rejected by the voters, and another, François Fillon, is on the ropes. The campaign is being taken over by outsiders, principally the Front National’s Marine Le Pen and a youthful former banker, Emmanuel Macron, while the Socialists…Read

27 March 2017

Iran hits back at US with ‘reciprocal’ sanctions

Iran has announced sanctions against 15 US companies, alleging they support "terrorism", repression and Israel's occupation of Palestine, in retaliation for measures earlier announced by Washington.

A foreign ministry statement carried by the state-run IRNA news agency on Sunday said the sanctions barred companies from any agreements with Iranian firms, and that former and current directors would not be eligible for visas into Iran.

It also said any of the company's assets in Iran could be seized.

"The sanctioned companies have, directly and/or indirectly, been involved in the brutal atrocities committed…Read

Angela Merkel’s Re-election Bid Is Buoyed by Widely Watched State Election

Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives won a regional election in the western state of Saarland on Sunday, dealing a setback to their Social Democrat rivals (Martin Schulz) and boosting her prospects of winning a fourth term in Germany's Sept. 24 national election. Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) strengthened their position as the largest party in the state despite expectations ahead of the vote that the Social Democrats (SPD) would be boosted by their new national leader, Martin Schulz. The CDU won 40.1 percent of the vote, up from 35.2 percent in the last election in Saarland in 2012, an exit poll for…Read

26 March 2017

European leaders gather to mark 60th anniversary of Treaty of Rome

Only once, and fleetingly, was the 28th member state of the European Union mentioned during the formalities of a distinctly sombre summit in Rome held to mark the 60th anniversary of the bloc. And it was not to celebrate what Boris Johnson has taken to describing as Britain’s liberation.

Lamenting the EU’s failure to respond adequately enough to the economic crisis of 2008, the Italian prime minister Paolo Gentolini told leaders and dignitaries: “That [failure] triggered in part of public opinion – unfortunately the majority of public opinion in the United Kingdom –…Read

25 March 2017

A victory for the American people,” Nancy Pelosi” but a disappointing day for Donald Trump

Republicans in the US House of Representatives, short of support from their own party, have withdrawn a healthcare bill drafted to repeal and replace "Obamacare".

House Speaker Paul Ryan on Friday withdrew the legislation after President Donald Trump called him and asked him to halt debate without a vote.

Just a day earlier, Trump had demanded a House vote and said if the measure lost, he would move on to other issues.

Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that "we were very close" and tried to blame Democrats for the failure to…Read

Brexit is a failure and a tragedy, says EC chief Juncker

Brexit is “a failure and a tragedy”, the president of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has said.

The EU’s most senior civil servant promised that Brussels would approach the negotiation of Britain’s withdrawal in a “friendly” and fair way, but warned that European institutions were not “naive” about the process.

He confirmed that the UK would be presented with a bill for leaving, but insisted this did not represent a punishment, but merely the settling of commitments made by the UK.

He did…Read

U.S Health care vote - the latest news

After Republican leaders abruptly postponed its vote on the GOP health care bill Thursday, President Trump declared he was finished negotiating with Republicans opposed to the current measure and sent the message he wanted the vote Friday. House Speaker Paul Ryan went to the White House to brief the president on the state of play in the vote.

The House is debating the measure now and is expected to begin voting on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) later this afternoon. Follow along here for live updates:

The vote has been cancelled 3:35 p…Read

24 March 2017

A big joke’: former al-Jazeera director discusses Trump on Q&A

Journalist Wadah Khanfar and Claire Wardle, director of First Draft News, speak as part of the ABC’s Q&A panel discussing the ‘misinformation ecosystem’ aka fake news on Monday night. Khanfar says: ‘Is he going to be able to deliver, with this kind of show and the tweets and making jokes about media and so on and so forth? I don’t think so’


22 March 2017

French presidential debate

France’s main presidential candidates rounded on the far-right Front National’s Marine Le Pen in the first televised debate on Monday night, with the independent centrist Emmanuel Macron accusing her of lying and seeking to divide the country.

The three-and-a-half-hour live debate between the top five candidates saw Le Pen and Macron repeatedly exchange verbal blows. At the start of the debate, Macron, the 39-year-old former economy minister who has never run for election before, seemed subdued, perhaps more used to making speeches alone on stage than debating rivals. But when Le Pen accused…Read

20 March 2017

Germany election: Martin Schulz stakes anti-populist bid

The candidate named by Germany's Social Democrats to challenge Chancellor Angela Merkel, Martin Schulz, has vowed to fight populism if his party wins the elections due in September. At an SPD party meeting in Berlin, he denounced Eurosceptics and the "racist" rhetoric of US President Donald Trump. The convention unanimously confirmed Mr Schulz as the candidate who will lead the Social Democrats to the election. It has been the junior partner in Germany's "grand coalition" since 2013. The party hopes that Mr Schulz, a former president of the European Parliament, will boost its chances of governing without Mrs…Read

18 March 2017

Trump wiretapping claim ‘makes US a circus’

Former US defence secretary and BBC world affairs analyst William Cohen says President Donald Trump's wiretapping allegations against Barack Obama are "unpresidential" and harmful to his administration's credibility. He adds that the US image abroad has been negatively affected by Mr Trump's unverified claims. "I think we're seeing the US portrayed as a circus," Mr Cohen told the BBC's Katty Kay and Christian Fraser.


17 March 2017

Sanity Returns as as Dutch election defeats far right

Geert Wilders loss in Netherlands hailed by leaders as key moment for tolerant societies and serious politics on continent.

European governments facing a rising tide of populism heaved a collective sigh of relief after the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, swept aside the challenge of the anti-Islam, anti-EU, populist Geert Wilders in the parliamentary elections.

Angela Merkel was among many EU leaders to congratulate voters on what she called “a good day for democracy”. The German chancellor said she was “very glad”, as she thought many people were, “that a…Read

16 March 2017

Voting today in the Netherlands - Geert Wilders (far-right) or Mark Rutte (centre-right)

Geert Wilders PVV -

Party for Freedom (Nationalist and far-right, populist and anti-immigration political party). Under PVV proposals mosques, Islamic schools and asylum centres will be closed; the borders will be shut down with a blanket ban on migrants from Islamic countries; women will be forbidden from wearing a headscarf in public; and the Koran will be banned.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte VVD -

People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy is a conservative-liberal political party - Political position‎: ‎Centre-right…Read

15 March 2017

Up to 13 million Dutch voters are getting ready to go to the polls tomorrow, 15 March 2017

After a long hard-fought election campaign, the people of the Netherlands will finally go to the polls on Wednesday March 15.

The polling stations will open at 7.30am local time (6.30am GMT) and will close at 9pm local time (8pm GMT). 

Mr Wilders, the populist leader of the anti-Islamist Party for Freedom (PVV), has lost his clear lead in the polls as he goes into the knife-edge Netherlands election.

The latest polls show that Prime Minister Mr Rutte, from the Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), is now on track to win a…Read

14 March 2017

Support surges for Martin Schulz

The SPD's leader's popularity is close to 50 per cent, as opposed to Merkel's 38. 

The leader of Germany's Social Democratic Party, who will be pitted against Angela Merkel in the September election, has been labelled a 'sexy beast' by a youth activist. Matthias Zeller, 21, who is the head of the SPD's youth wing, called Martin Schulz a 'geile Sau' on national television, which translates as 'sexy beast'

The SPD's leader's popularity is close to 50 per cent, as opposed to Merkel's 38. 

An active group of…Read

13 March 2017

Netherlands General Election - Jesse Klaver (“Jesse we can!”)

A boyish 30-year-old who looks like Justin Trudeau and sounds like Barack Obama has emerged as a potential kingmaker in Dutch politics, riding a rare message of tolerance ahead of an election dominated by anti-immigrant rhetoric. Jesse Klaver, son of a Moroccan father and part Indonesian mother, is expected to turn his tiny Green Left party into one of the main groups in the Dutch parliament in a vote this week that has mostly made headlines because of a far right surge.

The election is mainly billed as a challenge by flamboyant anti-Islam nationalist Geert Wilders…Read

12 March 2017

Corruption scandal in South Korea

South Korea's top court has unaniminously ruled to formally end impeached Park Geun-hye's presidency over a corruption scandal that has plunged the country into political turmoil.

Park Geun-hye 65, has been accused of colluding with a friend, Choi Soon-sil, and a former presidential aide, both of whom have been on trial, to pressure big businesses to donate to two foundations set up to back her policy initiatives.

She is also accused of soliciting bribes from the head of the Samsung Group for government favours including the backing of a merger of two Samsung affiliates…Read

11 March 2017

Bribery and Corruption in South Korea

South Korea president Park Geun-hye ousted by court.

South Korea's President Park Geun-hye has become the country's first democratically elected leader to be forced from office. Judges unanimously upheld parliament's decision to impeach Ms Park over her role in a corruption scandal involving her close friend, Choi Soon-sil. She now loses her presidential immunity and could face criminal charges. There have been angry scenes outside the court. Police said two protesters had died. The court ruling is the culmination of months of political turmoil and public protest. An…Read

9 March 2017

Abdellatif Merdas, a Moroccan member of parliament, shot dead in Casablanca, according to police

The 53-year-old, a politician with the liberal Constitutional Union party, was gunned down late on Tuesday near his home in the well-off southern district of Californie.

His assassins fled the scene, but police said on Wednesday they had arrested a 27-year-old man suspected of links to the assault.

A raid on the suspect's home came up with two shotguns similar to the one used in the attack, police said.

The assault is believed to be criminally motivated.


8 March 2017

Meet Emmanuel Macron the pro-globalisation revolutionary

IT HAS been many years since France last had a revolution, or even a serious attempt at reform. Stagnation, both political and economic, has been the hallmark of a country where little has changed for decades, even as power has rotated between the established parties of left and right.

Until now. This year’s presidential election, the most exciting in living memory, promises an upheaval. The Socialist and Republican parties, which have held power since the founding of the Fifth Republic in 1958, could be eliminated in the first round of a presidential ballot on April 23rd.…Read

ITALY’S new prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni,

The Italian Prime Minister says on Thursday that Rome and London must reassure Italian citizens living in the UK as well as British citizens living in Italy that their acquired rights will be respected. Paolo Gentiloni was talking to reporters in London, after talks with his counterpart, Theresa May. Gentiloni also reiterated Italy’s commitment to a multi-speed future for the European Union, in which there will be different levels of integration



7 March 2017

Kim Jong-nam death: Malaysia and N Korea in tit-for-tat exit bans

North Korea and Malaysia have banned each other's citizens from leaving their countries, in a growing row over the killing of Kim Jong-nam. The extraordinary tit-for-tat actions come amid North Korean fury at Malaysia's ongoing investigation into his death at a Kuala Lumpur airport. The North Korean leader's half-brother was killed with a potent nerve agent. Malaysia has not directly blamed the North for this, but there is widespread suspicion Pyongyang was responsible. North Korea has fiercely denied any accusations of culpability and the row over the killing - and who has the right to claim…Read

6 March 2017

World’s cartoonists on this week’s events

François Fillon presents his program to judges: “It looks like they’re interested!” First published  in L’Express, France, March 2, 2017 | By Plantu

urkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: “Finally, a free press!” First published in Der Standard, Austria, March 1, 2017 | By Oliver Schopf

First published on, Belgium, March 3, 2017 | By Rytis Daukantas - Russia

Donald Trump First published on, U.S., February 28, 2017 | By Matt Wuerker



5 March 2017

Syrian’ warplane crashes near Turkish border

A Syrian military plane crashed in Turkey near its border with Syria, the Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu said.

The plane crashed in the Turkish province of Hatay on Saturday, the news agency said, quoting provincial governor Erdal Ata as saying police and medical teams were at the site.

"The plane's cockpit was empty. We believe that the pilots parachuted out," Ata said, adding that a search for them was underway.

On Sunday, Anadolu reported the pilot was found and taken to hospital, adding that he had managed to use his parachute…Read

4 March 2017

Just when all eyes are on Washington, up springs a challenger to Merkel in Berlin.

As if to prove that no one in politics is safe, Germany’s SPD (Social Democrat Party) has chosen Martin Schulz to take on the once unassailable chancellor.

A couple of years ago the German political scene seemed pretty stable. The chancellor, Angela Merkel, was riding high in the polls, her social democratic coalition partner, the SPD, was weak, and although a right-wing party, the AfD, had had some election successes, Merkel’s position seemed unassailable.

2015 saw the refugee crisis, with more than 1 million new arrivals registered, and Merkel has…Read

3 March 2017

2 March 2017

Brexit week: In or out somethings don’t change

John Pienaar has a flutter on the frooties in his round-up of events in Westminster in a week when the UK triggered Article 50, nine months after the referendum, which put the UK on the road to leaving the EU.


1 March 2017

Deportation Raids

DEPORTATION RAIDS A series of raids took place in at least six states across the United States late last week More than 600 undocumented people were detained Of that total 160 were from Los Angeles (LA) Undocumented Americans contribute $11.64bn to the US economy Massoud Hayoun is a Los Angeles-based freelance reporter for Al Jazeera and other outlets. He speaks several languages, and has reported internationally for Al Jazeera America, The Atlantic, AFP and South China Morning Post, among others.