(Reuters) Prime Minister Theresa May has been told by senior Conservative party colleagues that she will have to set a timetable for her departure date from Downing Street in return for passing her Brexit deal, the Financial Times reported on Monday.
The prime minister’s chief whip, Julian Smith, is understood to have told May that some Conservatives will only vote for the deal if they are certain she will not lead Britain into a second round of talks with the EU on a future relationship, the newspaper said on.ft.com/2UCV2ua.
(FT – Video) The prime minister brokered legal tweaks to her Brexit deal and brought it back for MPs to vote on. It failed to pass once again. We discuss all of the Commons votes against a no-deal exit, in favour of an extension to delay leaving the EU and the prospect of indicative votes. Plus, we look at whether Theresa May and Geoffrey Cox can win over more MPs and whether a third or even fourth vote could pass.
(Scotsman) The government’s dwindling hopes of passing its Brexit deal have been thrown into disarray by the Commons Speaker John Bercow, who dramatically ruled out a third vote unless there were substantial changes.
Mr Bercow said parliamentary rules dating back to 1604 made clear that a government could not bring back the same or similar motion “ad infinitum” even though MPs keep rejecting it. With just 11 days until Brexit is scheduled to take place, it means the Prime Minister has little alternative but to ask EU leaders for a lengthy delay of up to two years at a summit in Brussels on Thursday.
“Decisions of the house matter. They have weight,” the Speaker said. “It is a necessary rule to ensure the sensible use of the house’s time and the proper respect for the decisions which it takes.” Critics of Mrs May’s deal on both sides of the Brexit debate cheered the shock announcement, with Brexiteers arguing the government should embrace a no-deal exit, while campaigners for a second EU referendum said the only way for the government to save its agreement was to accept putting it to the people.
The Commons Speaker blindsided ministers with his intervention yesterday afternoon, which means that without changes to the Brexit deal, a further vote cannot be held until a new parliamentary session begins. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The Speaker did not warn us of the contents of the statement or indeed the fact that he was making one.” Downing Street gave no official response, but shortly after Mr Bercow’s statement, the Solicitor General Robert Buckland said the UK was in the grips of a “major constitutional crisis” and warned that the government could be forced to prorogue parliament, asking the Queen to bring the current session to an end months early.
“There are ways around this – a prorogation of parliament and a new session – but we are now talking about not just days but hours to 29 March,” Mr Buckland said. “Frankly we could have done without this, but it’s something we’re going to have to negotiate with and deal with.” Citing rules set out in the parliamentary handbook Erskine May, Mr Bercow told MPs: “If the Government wishes to bring forward a new proposition that is neither the same nor substantially the same as that disposed of by the House on March 12, this would be entirely in order.
“What the Government cannot legitimately do is resubmit to the House the same proposition – or substantially the same proposition – as that of last week, which was rejected by 149 votes.” Any change must be “not different in terms of wording but different in terms of substance” and would need to be “in the context of a negotiation with others outside the UK”, Mr Bercow added. While the government had signalled it wanted to bring back the deal for a third vote today or tomorrow, Downing Street said on Monday that it wouldn’t do so until it was clear that it could win.
Travelodge targets parents to plug potential Brexit staffing crisis Nicola Sturgeon accuses Theresa May of undermining Holyrood over DUP Brexit deal A number of leading critics of the deal, such as European Research Group chairman Jacob Rees-Mogg, said they were now willing to back it to avoid a lengthy delay. However, in his Telegraph column, Boris Johnson said it was impossible for “anybody who believes in Brexit” to back the deal in its current form, and 23 Eurosceptic Tory MPs also said they were still opposed.
There is also no sign of the government’s DUP shifting their stance to support the deal despite talks between the party and ministers over the weekend. “The deal can’t be brought back,” Mr Blackford told journalists after the Speaker’s statement. “If there’s an extension, you have to ask – for what purpose? “There has to be a purpose to it, and ultimately we have to reach the conclusion that we need to put this back to the people. That’s the right thing to do.”
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said the Prime Minister would be forced to “change the deal in a fundamental way or face the other alternative, which is taking this back to the people with the option to remain”. Mr Blackford added that if the government tried to push ahead with a no deal Brexit, parliament would seek to have Article 50 revoked. “In such a scenario, we have to be able to apply a handbrake,” he said.
FT political commentator Robert Shrimsley examines the prime minister’s parliamentary options. He says we are in the end-game of this stage of Brexit and considers Mrs May’s strategic choices after a tumultous week in the Commons
The warnings come amid growing pressure from the US, which has told its allies any collaboration with the Chinese tech firm could compromise intelligence sharing agreements.
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is part of GCHQ, is currently preparing its annual report into the safety of Huawei equipment.
While the findings of the report are yet to be published, the NCSC has previously indicated it has not seen any evidence of spying by the Chinese firm.
One US official told the Financial Times a significant risk of 5G is that it is based on software, meaning the network can be altered even after the equipment has undergone testing.
“One analogy that we can often use is, one minute you’re holding a 5G coffee cup that is transmitting back telemetric data on what the temperature is what the actual liquid is inside. And then the next moment that object can turn into something radically different,” the source said.
“While a huge opportunity, it is also deeply concerning to us from the perspective of national security.”
The official cast doubts over the UK’s programme for testing Huawei equipment, which is carried out at a dedicated NCSC facility in Banbury known as ‘The Cell’.
“The mandate that the UK and their Huawei oversight centre has is a purely technical mandate about looking at a piece of equipment that is sitting in front of you,” the person said.
“Ours is a much broader question about how trust is changing in the way in which 5G networks will work in the future. Right now, back doors exist by definition, that’s how the manufacturer runs the network.”
The NCSC declined to comment on the report. Earlier this year the spy organisation’s boss, Ciaran Martin, said the UK has “arguably the toughest and most rigorous oversight regime in the world for Huawei”.
“Huawei’s presence is subject to detailed, formal oversight, led by the NCSC,” he said at a cyber security conference in Brussels.
“We also have strict controls for how Huawei is deployed. It is not in any sensitive networks – including those of the government.”
The Trump administration has launched a campaign urging its allies not to use the Chinese firm’s equipment. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has previously warned that countries using Huawei technology in their 5G networks risk damaging their relationship with the US.
The Chinese firm has denied all allegations of spying and accused the US of operating a coordinated smear campaign. Earlier this month the company sued the US government, claiming a law limiting its US business was unconstitutional.
Airbus and Boeing have been engaged in fierce competition over many different aircraft markets. From narrowbodies to very large aircraft, both manufacturers have shifted their strategies to what they think would be a successful product. With Boeing’s impending 777X entry into service and the launch of the 797, the question remains: what’s next for Airbus?
What is next for Airbus? Photo: Airbus
The A320 Family
Boeing has their 737, Airbus loves their A320. These single-aisle jets can be utilized for a whole host of flights. The A320 can span transcontinental flights, like from New York to Los Angeles or short-haul flights from London to Paris. A comfortable ride, the derivatives give a whole range of opportunities for airlines to expand. From the small 120-132 passenger A318 to the larger 200-passenger A321, one family can make up the entire fleet of some airlines.
Wizz Air only flies A320 family aircraft. Photo: Airbus
By operating one family, airlines can save a lot of money. Many low-cost carriers, like Wizz Air or Easyjet, will choose one aircraft family for their fleet. With common type ratings across the entire family, Wizz Air doesn’t have to worry about retraining pilots. In addition, significant cost savings can come in maintenance since staff only need to be aware of one family of aircraft. It also helps with substitutions since cabin crew can easily transfer from an A319 to an A320, as long as minimum staffing rules are followed.
The A321LR could replace medium or long-haul thin routes operated by 757s. Photo: Airbus
At the other end of the scale, Airbus is looking to take their A330neo to capture the higher end of the spectrum. Old and weary 767s and, in the future, A330s will need to be replaced with an aircraft that can seat 230-250 passengers in a 2-class (or 3-class) configuration. The A330-800 could fit that bill. Considering that Airbus is not developing a whole new aircraft like the 797, they could beat Boeing in the race to introduce an aircraft to fill the middle of the market. We’ll have to see what Airbus comes up with, but this could be a huge market for the manufacturer.
Airbus launched the A350 as a direct competitor to Boeing’s 787. Designed with the latest technology and comfort on a widebody, long-haul airliner, this aircraft is an airline favorite. Singapore Airlines, Delta Airlines, Qatar Airways, and many other airlines already operate the A350 and a whole host more have A350s on order.
Singapore Airlines operates the A350 on the world’s longest flight. Photo: Singapore Airlines
Airbus could seriously make a splash with an A350neo. If timed right, this aircraft could kick in for the replacement cycles of some 777 models, A330s, or even A380s! Twin-engine aircraft are the new standard in long-haul flying, and the A350 is almost unbeatable. Singapore Airlines operates a special version, the A350-900ULR, on the world’s longest flight from Singapore to Newark.
By tweaking design features, such as offering increased takeoff weight while lowering fuel burn without compromising range, a revamped A350neo could be the perfect fit for airlines like Qantas, who are looking to introduce economically viable ultra long-haul flights that can operate with significant capacity.
Airbus recently took over the A220 from Bombardier. This gave them access to a brand new market of narrowbody planes that are capable of conquering routes both long and short. Airbus attempted to reach into this market with the A318, however, the A318 came too soon when airlines weren’t looking for a jet that could seat 110-120 passengers with the same versatility as the A220.
Overall, Airbus is in a solid position with their aircraft line. They’ve solidified some brand new aircraft that will keep them flying well into the future. Given the introductory timeline of these aircraft, it will be some time before Airbus really needs to design a brand new aircraft. Most likely, Airbus will seek to launch a new narrowbody plane before launching a new widebody.
After the A380, Airbus has learned a lot of lessons in aircraft development. Now, we wait and see for the next new plane from Airbus.
UK government exploring how to use international convention as a potential means of escaping the Irish backstop.
British Prime Minister Theresa May | Jack Taylor/Getty Images
LONDON — There’s a new Brexit deal in the works: Britain will close its eyes if Europe bites its tongue.
In a bid to get Theresa May’s deal over the line — and stop a Brexit delay of 21 months or longer — the U.K. government has turned to an obscure clause in an obscure international treaty to prove to hard-line Euroskeptics that there is a way out of the Irish backstop.
With May’s Brexit deal likely to be voted on in the House of Commons this week for a third time, ahead of the prime minister traveling to Brussels on Thursday to seek an extension of Article 50 irrespective of whether or not her deal passes, London is looking for creative — some say dubious — ways to bring opponents on board.
That’s where Article 62 of the Vienna Convention — a treaty that lays down the rules about international treaties, or legal agreements between countries — comes in.
Under one option set out by the Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay, the U.K. could make a statement saying that if there are “unforeseen circumstances” arising from the implementation of the backstop, the U.K. would have the right to walk away.
British Prime Minister Theresa May | Niklas Halle’n/AFP via Getty Images
Barclay confirmed the U.K. is looking at this scenario in a parliamentary answer to Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg last week.
Barclay spelled out one possible “unforeseen” circumstance in his answer to Rees-Mogg. He said if the U.K. deemed that the backstop was “no longer protecting the 1998 [Good Friday] agreement in all its dimensions,” that could be enough for the U.K. to pull out of it.
In other words, if the backstop, which is there to protect the open border in Ireland — a central part of the peace process — is later seen to be actively undermining the peace process, the U.K. could seek to declare the arrangement null and void.
The problem for the U.K. government, according to EU officials aware of the proposal, is that “unforeseen circumstances” are hardly that if they are known about in advance.
One international law expert, who did not want to be named, said the Vienna Convention argument is “weak.”
One senior government official from an EU27 member country said the EU would “not be surprised to see a truly unilateral declaration of this or another sort tried out” over the coming days. “The question for us would be how far to bite our tongues,” the official said.
If the EU does bite its collective tongue, the U.K. government hopes Brexiteers will close their eyes to what many experts and EU officials believe is the dubious legal basis of the Vienna Convention option in a bid to get the deal done.
If the EU and the Brexiteers both play their part, the argument goes, the Brexit deal might still have a chance of passing.
Changes in the small print
The Withdrawal Agreement drawn up by the U.K. and EU states that the backstop is necessary to protect key elements of the Good Friday peace agreement.
One section of the backstop text acknowledges that it is needed “so as to maintain the necessary conditions for continued North-South cooperation … in accordance with the 1998 Agreement.”
However, in the joint “instrument” subsequently agreed by both sides — which provides interpretation of the Withdrawal Agreement — the relationship between the backstop and the Good Friday Agreement appears to have changed.
Instead of being “necessary,” the joint instrument says the new structure of governance for Northern Ireland contained in the backstop “does not affect or supersede the provisions of the 1998 Agreement in any way.”
It adds that the backstop does not alter “in any way” those areas where Belfast and Dublin agreed to work together under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. These areas will continue to be “matters for the Northern Ireland Executive and Government of Ireland to determine,” the joint instrument states.
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said the “legal risk” that the U.K. would have no way of unilaterally leaving the backstop remains “unchanged” after Theresa May’s latest round of negotiations with the EU | Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images
Unionists briefed on the matter say this section is key because it suggests the U.K. government is concerned the backstop, far from being “necessary” to protect the Good Friday Agreement, may, over time, serve to undermine some of its core provisions. Nationalists in Northern Ireland — and EU officials — fiercely dispute this.
Nevertheless, by inserting the clause into the joint instrument, the U.K. has set up an extra test for the backstop that ministers believe could justify withdrawal should the backstop ever risk becoming permanent.
Addressing Rees-Mogg on Tuesday, the Brexit secretary said the issue is whether there might be “exceptional circumstances that might change the basis on which the U.K. might enter into an agreement.”
He explained: “If the United Kingdom took the reasonable view, on clear evidence, that the objectives of the protocol [backstop] were no longer being proportionately served by its provisions — because, for example, it was no longer protecting the 1998 agreement in all its dimensions — the U.K. would first, obviously, attempt to resolve the issue in the Joint Committee [to be set up as part of Withdrawal Agreement] and within the negotiations.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay attending a Cabinet meeting in February | Leon Neal via Getty Images
“However … it could respectfully be argued, if the facts clearly warranted it, that there had been an unforeseen and fundamental change of circumstances affecting the essential basis of the treaty on which the United Kingdom’s consent had been given.”
In this instance, Barclay said, “Article 62 of the Vienna Convention on the law of treaties … permits the termination of a treaty in such circumstances.”
He added: “It would, in the government’s view, be clear in those exceptional circumstances that international law provides the United Kingdom with a right to terminate the Withdrawal Agreement.”
A senior official from an EU27 member state dismissed the basis of the argument, saying it is perfectly possible to foresee that it would not be possible to find an agreed solution to the Irish border.
The official added that the regulation of trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland “is not and never has been a competence of the GFA [Good Friday Agreement] institutions.”
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank confirmed on Sunday they were in talks about a merger, prompting labor union concerns about possible job losses and questions from analysts about the merits of a combination.FILE PHOTO: Banners of Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank are pictured in front of the German share price index, DAX board, at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo
Germany’s two largest banks issued short statements following separate meetings of their management boards, a person with knowledge of the matter said, indicating a quickening of pace in the merger process, although both also warned that a deal was far from certain.
“In light of arising opportunities, the management board of Deutsche Bank has decided to review strategic options,” Deutsche said in its statement.
Christian Sewing, Deutsche Bank’s chief executive, told employees that Deutsche still aimed “to remain a global bank with a strong capital markets business… with a global network”.
Sewing said many factors could still prevent a merger and a Deutsche spokesman said the talks were expected to last some time. Commerzbank described the outcome as open.
However, formal disclosure of talks appeared to boost the chances of concluding a deal first floated in 2016 before the banks opted to focus on restructuring.
The German government has pushed for a combination given concerns about the health of Deutsche, which has struggled to generate sustainable profits since the 2008 financial crisis.
The government, which holds a stake of more than 15 percent in Commerzbank following a bailout, wants a national banking champion to support its export-led economy, best known for cars and machine tools.
Berlin also wants to keep Commerzbank’s speciality – the funding of medium-sized companies, the backbone of the economy – in German hands.
“SHAKY ZOMBIE BANK”
A merged bank would likely be the third largest in Europe after HSBC and BNP Paribas, with roughly 1.8 trillion euros ($2.04 trillion) in assets, such as loans and investments, and a market value of about 25 billion euros.
However, sceptics questioned the wisdom of a merger.
“We do not see a national champion here, but a shaky zombie bank that could lead to another billion-euro grave for the German state. Why should we take this risk?” said Gerhard Schick, finance activist and ex-member of the German parliament.
While the banks had not publicly commented on merger talks until Sunday, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz last Monday confirmed that there were negotiations.
On Sunday, the ministry acknowledged the announcement and said it remained in regular contact with all parties.
However, there were signs of political opposition.
Hans Michelbach, a lawmaker from the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), urged the government to sell its 15 percent stake in Commerzbank before a deal.
“There may not be an ownership by the federal government in a merged big bank indirectly through an old stake. We do not need a German State Bank AG,” he told Reuters.
The supervisory boards of both banks are scheduled to hold long-planned meetings on Thursday, four people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. The status of merger negotiations is expected to be discussed.
A merged bank would have one fifth of the German retail banking market. Together the two banks currently employ 140,000 people worldwide – 91,700 in Deutsche and 49,000 in Commerzbank.
Germany’s Verdi labor union on Sunday renewed its objections to a merger, saying that tens of thousands of jobs were at risk and that a tie-up added no value.
Jan Duscheck, head of the union’s banking division and a member of Deutsche’s supervisory board, said the union would raise its concerns on both banks’ oversight bodies.
U.S. authorities investigate FAA approval of Boeing plane: WSJ
Deutsche emerged unscathed from the financial crash but later lost its footing. German officials fear a recession or big fine could derail the bank’s fragile recovery.
Other than Deutsche, Commerzbank is Germany’s only remaining big publicly-traded bank, after a series of mergers.
Commerzbank has also struggled to rebound, and German officials say it is vulnerable to a foreign takeover. If an international rival snapped it up, that would increase competition for Deutsche on its home turf.
Initial reaction among analysts to a deal was skeptical.
There will only be limited benefits of adding Commerzbank’s clientele of retail and small and medium businesses to Deutsche, said David Hendler, an independent analyst at New York-based Viola Risk Advisors, which specializes in risk management.
“It doesn’t change the fact that Germany is not getting a flagship bank that can compete on the world stage. It’s still a stunted bank with a lot of problems,” Hendler said.
One of the biggest risks is how to fill what one German official has told Reuters will be a multi-billion-euro financial hole because a merger could trigger an adjustment to the valuation of some bank investments.
Commerzbank, for example, has about 30.8 billion euros of debt securities such as Italian bonds that now have a value of 27.7 billion euros. A tie-up could crystallize this loss. Deutsche has such securities at market value in its accounts.
O embaixador de Israel em Portugal condenou hoje o atentado contra duas mesquitas na Nova Zelândia, que causou 49 mortos, e exprimiu “solidariedade na dor” numa carta enviada ao presidente da Comunidade Islâmica de Lisboa.
“Foi com choque e repugnância que tomei conhecimento do ataque insano a crentes muçulmanos”, declara Raphael Gamzou na carta dirigida a Abdool Karim Vakil, classificando o ataque de “crime de natureza claramente islamofóbica”.
“Só sociedades unidas por indivíduos de paz e tolerância para com todas as religiões, fundeadas em princípios profundamente humanistas (…) poderão derrotar a barbárie”, defende o embaixador israelita, que pede a Abdool Karim Vakil que transmita à comunidade islâmica portuguesa a sua solidariedade.
Pelo menos 49 pessoas morreram e 48 ficaram feridas hoje no ataque a duas mesquitas em Chirstchurch, na Nova Zelândia, tendo sido já detidos quatro suspeitos, três homens e uma mulher.
Um homem que se identificou como Brenton Tarrant, de 28 anos, nascido na Austrália, reivindicou a responsabilidade pelos disparos e transmitiu em direto na Internet o momento do ataque.
Christchurch é a maior cidade da Ilha Sul da Nova Zelândia e a terceira maior cidade do país com cerca de 376.700 habitantes.
Since 2016, dozens of American officials have come home from Cuba and China with unexplained brain trauma. Evidence shows it may be the work of another government using a weapon that leaves no trace
In 2016 and ’17, 25 Americans, including CIA agents, who worked in the U.S. Embassy in Cuba suffered serious brain injuries causing impaired vision and memory loss among other persistent symptoms. Now, we’ve learned that at least 15 American officials in China suffered unexplained brain trauma soon after. The FBI is now investigating whether these Americans were attacked by a mysterious weapon that leaves no trace. Over many months we have been collecting evidence of what appears to be a hostile foreign government’s plan to target americans serving abroad and their families.
Mark Lenzi: For me it was November of 2017, when I started to feel lightheaded a lot. I was getting more headaches, my wife was getting headaches too.
Mark Lenzi is a State Department security officer who worked in the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China. He says that he and his wife began to suffer after hearing strange sounds in their apartment.
Mark Lenzi: Picture holding a marble. Then, picture if you had like a six foot in diameter funnel, metal funnel. The sound that marble would make as it goes around and it progressively gets faster as it gets, goes down towards the hole at the end. It’s a sound like I’ve never heard before.
Scott Pelley: Was this subtle? Like, “Did I hear that?”
Mark Lenzi: No. It was, it was actually somewhat loud. I heard it about three or four times. Always in the same spot. Always over my son’s crib and always right before we would go to bed.
“This was a directed, standoff attack against my apartment.”
Lenzi wears prescribed glasses because sensitivity to light is among his persistent symptoms.
Mark Lenzi: The symptoms were progressively getting worse with me. My headaches were getting worse. The most concerning symptom for me was memory loss, especially short-term memory loss.
Mark Lenzi believes he was targeted because of his work. He uses top secret equipment to analyze electronic threats to diplomatic missions.
Mark Lenzi: There is no shadow of a doubt in my mind that this was a directed attack against my neighbor and I.
His neighbor was Catherine Werner, who lived one floor up. She’s a U.S. Commerce Department trade officer who promoted American business from the Guangzhou Consulate.
Catherine Werner: I woke up in the middle of the night. I could feel this sound in my head. Um, it was intense pressure on both of my temples. At the same time, I heard this low humming sound, and it was oscillating. And I remember looking around for where this sound was coming from, because it was painful.
Scott Pelley: When did you first notice that you weren’t feeling well?
Catherine Werner: October of 2017, I started to get hives all over my body. Really bad hives. I woke up with headaches every day. Um, I started to feel tired. The simplest things would just make me very, very tired.
Scott Pelley: Were these symptoms growing worse over time?
Catherine Werner: They were. Yes. My symptoms would get so bad that I would throw up, or I would wake up with nosebleeds.
She says even her dogs were throwing up blood. Werner assumed her illness was connected to China’s toxic smog. She didn’t know it at the time but her symptoms were the same that American officials in Havana had suffered since 2016. The U.S. Embassy there is all but closed as a result.
Catherine Werner: We hadn’t heard about what happened in Cuba. I mean, there were headlines in the news about hearing loss and um, attacks to our diplomats, but we didn’t know the details.
Catherine Werner became so ill, her mother traveled from the U.S. to live with her.
Catherine Werner: She spent almost three months with me. During that time she also got very ill. Um, and she and I shared the same symptoms.
Scott Pelley: What sort of symptoms did your mother have?
Catherine Werner: Headaches and um, ringing in our ears. Um, we also started to both um, have difficulty recalling words.
After reporting her experiences, Werner was medically evacuated to the U.S. for treatment. U.S. agencies are investigating, but Mark Lenzi has a theory.
Mark Lenzi: This was a directed standoff attack against my apartment.
Scott Pelley: It was a weapon?
Mark Lenzi: Oh, of course it was a weapon.
Scott Pelley: An energy weapon–
Mark Lenzi: Absolutely.
Scott Pelley: What sort of energy is this that we’re talking about?
Mark Lenzi: I believe it’s RF, radio frequency energy, in the microwave range.
A clue that supports that theory was revealed by the National Security Agency in 2014. This NSA statement describes such a weapon as a “high-powered microwave system weapon that may have the ability to weaken, intimidate, or kill an enemy over time without leaving evidence.” The statement goes on to say “…this weapon is designed to bathe a target’s living quarters in microwaves.” The NSA disclosed this in a worker’s compensation case filed by former NSA employee Mike Beck.
Scott Pelley: When you look back across your career is there any incident that leads you to believe that it could be responsible for your Parkinson’s disease?
Mike Beck: Yes.
In the 1990’s Beck and an NSA co-worker were on assignment overseas. Years later, he says they developed Parkinson’s Disease at the same time.
Mike Beck: In 1996 a colleague of mine, Chuck Gubete, and I traveled to a hostile country and worked there for about a week. And um, I can’t say where the hostile country– the identity of it.
Scott Pelley: Because it’s still classified?
Mike Beck: Yes.
But it was not Cuba or China.
Scott Pelley: You believe that you and Chuck Gubete were attacked with this microwave weapon?
Mike Beck: Yes. I had a pretty good working knowledge of the hostile country’s intelligence services, what they do to people, what they have done, what their modus operandi is.
Mike Beck says more intelligence has come in recently which he shared in a classified briefing with congressional investigators.
Scott Pelley: Mike, you can’t discuss any of these details because they’re all classified. But in your opinion, does the new information that you briefed the House and Senate Intelligence Committee staff on in any way relate to what happened in Cuba and China?
Mike Beck: It’s relevant to the Cuba and China cases.
No one has officially confirmed that what Beck says happened to him is related to at least 40 Americans injured in China and Cuba. While Beck suffers from Parkinson’s the recent patients are being treated for the same kind of symptoms that doctors would expect from a concussion. Dr. Teena Shetty is Mark Lenzi’s neurologist.
Dr. Teena Shetty: So Mark initially came to me reporting symptoms of headache, memory loss, sleep difficulties, emotionality, and irritability.
Scott Pelley: And what did you make of that in the early days?
Dr. Teena Shetty: I was very surprised. He did not have any history of any trauma or blow to his head, but he reported a constellation of neurologic symptoms which are characteristic of mild traumatic brain injury, without any history of associated head trauma.
Exactly how their brains were injured is the subject of a study at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Brain Injury and Repair. Dr. Shetty is not part of that study, but her patient, Mark Lenzi, is.
Dr. Teena Shetty: The presumption is that something happened which caused a functional brain injury of widespread brain networks because he has symptoms to reflect a multitude of brain networks.
What Dr. Shetty describes mirrors the findings published so far by the University of Pennsylvania study.
Robyn Garfield:They have said that our symptoms are exactly what they saw in Cuba, and that we have the full suite of findings that they had there.
Robyn and Britta Garfield are among the 40 patients enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania study. Like Catherine Werner, Robyn Garfield is a trade officer with the Commerce Department. He was posted with his wife and two young children in Shanghai.
Robyn Garfield: I don’t know when the sound started. Um, I do know that it was for months on end.
Britta Garfield: I was sitting next to Robyn and something I felt like hit me from the left side. Um, and at first it felt like an electric shock um, and then it paralyzed me, so I was not able to move or speak.
Scott Pelley: It hit you so hard you felt like you were in danger in the room?
Britta Garfield: Yes.
They say the children suffered blurred vision and loss of balance.
Scott Pelley: Your daughter was literally falling down?
Robyn Garfield: Yes. She fell down multiple times that day.
Britta Garfield: We went on a walk and she just fell on her face. It was very abnormal. She never does that. And then a second time she completely lost her balance and just fell to the side.
Last spring the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, confirmed the case of Catherine Werner. U-Penn found her brain injuries matched the Cuba victims.
Mike Pompeop on May 23, 2018: We had an incident in Guangzhou that the medical indications are very similar and entirely consistent with the medical indications that have taken place to Americans working in Cuba.
But for reasons that are unclear, the State Department is raising doubt about the other 14 China cases. The State Department’s medical office sent Mark Lenzi this note that says, “We have reached the decision that your symptoms and findings do not correlate with the Havana cohort.”
Mark Lenzi: They tried to deny it. They tried to cover it up. They tried to minimize it.
Scott Pelley: Why would the State Department minimize this?
Mark Lenzi: Because it’s China, because we have such a large trade relationship with them. You can push around Cuba. Their trade, you know, relations are minimal. With China, that’s a different beast. Right?
State Department doctors told Robyn Garfield his illness stems from a baseball injury 17 years ago, which does not explain his wife and children.
Robyn Garfield: It is a very complicated geopolitical relationship between the U.S. and China. So that, to me, feels like why this determination’s being made.
Scott Pelley: What does it mean for your benefits today that the State Department is refusing to call this an attack?
Robyn Garfield: It has significant impact on our, our life. Our finances. My career as well, likely. I have not been afforded time for my rehabilitation. Being classified as a preexisting injury means that I don’t have access to paid leave. It also means that after one year my medical bills will not be covered currently.
The China patients have the attention of at least one member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Jeanne Shaheen wrote Secretary Pompeo, “The group from China is increasingly feeling isolated and left behind by… the State Department.”
Regulation aims to reassure international businesses and nudge towards a US trade deal, but the FT’s Lucy Hornby says it may not completely answer foreign investors’ concerns. It makes it illegal for officials to meddle in overseas companies’ operations
The death toll in the Christchurch mosque attacks now stands at 49 people and dozens injured in the worst mass shooting in New Zealand history. The deadliest attack was on the Masjid Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch at about 1:45 p.m., where 41 of the 49 people were killed.
Witness Len Peneha said he saw a man dressed in black enter the mosque and then heard dozens of shots, followed by people running from the mosque in terror. –Bloomberg
At least 48 patients with gunshot wounds were being treated at Christchurch Hospital.
A male in his 20s has been charged with murder and will appear in court tomorrow, while police found two explosive devices found one of the perpetrators’ vehicles – one of which was deactivated, and the other was being worked on by the New Zealand Defense Forces.
Four people were taken into custody in connection with the attack who held extremist views, yet were not on any police watchlists; three men and a women – however just the one of them has been charged in the massacres.
Australian media reports have named 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant as the shooter. He published a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto prior to the attack explaining who he is and why he conducted the attack – saying he was inspired by Norwegian shooter Anders Breivik.
The manifesto, posted online, features a series of questions and answers, and opens with one asking: “Who are you?”
The answer says: “Just a ordinary White man, 28 years old. Born in Australia to a working class, low income family.
“My parents are of Scottish, Irish and English stock. I had a regular childhood, without any great issues. I had little interest in education during my schooling, barely achieving a passing grade.”
He adds: “I am just a regular White man, from a regular family. Who decided to take a stand to ensure a future for my people.”
He describes himself as “a private and mostly introverted person” and admits he is racist, adding that he is an “Eco-fascist by nature”.
He said New Zealand was not the original choice for an attack, saying he only came to the country temporarily to plan and train.
On his planning for the attack, he wrote: “I begun planning an attack roughly two years in advance and an attack at the location in Christchurch three months in advance.”
Answering whether he supports Brexit, he wrote: “Yes, though not for an official policy made. The truth is that eventually people must face the fact that it wasn’t a damn thing to do with the economy.
“That it was the British people firing back at mass immigration, cultural displacement and globalism, and that’s a great and wonderful thing.”
On whether or not he is a supporter of US president Donald Trump, he wrote: “As a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose? Sure. As a policy maker and leader? Dear god no.” –Independent.ie
Update6: Four people are in custody following shootings at two New Zealand mosques; three men and a woman. According to the New Zealand police commissioner, “There were a number of IEDs attached to vehicles that we stopped.”
One of the gunmen is confirmed as 28-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant.
A gunman wielding an automatic rifle opened fire on a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, approximately ten minutes after approximately 300 people began afternoon prayers.
At least nine people have been killed with dozens injured, while eyewitnesses report “there was blood everywhere,” according to Stuff.co.nz and Radio NZ.
Another eyewitness who declined to give his name said there were “bodies all over me,” adding that the gunman emptied at least two magazines into the crowd.
The shooter was described as “white skinned, blonde, quite short and wearing a helmet and a bulletproof vest.” according to witness Ahmad Al-Mahmoud, 37, who broke a window in a door to escape from the mosque.
According to journalist Nick Monroe, the shooter – Twitter user “Brenton Tarrant” who joined in February posted his intention to shoot up the mosque on social media, then livestreamed the shooting. View image on Twitter
Of note, gun ownership in New Zealand is categorized as “restrictive” – as civilians are not allowed to possess handguns, military-style semi-automatic weapons or fully automatic weapons without a permit and a relevant firearm license endorsement.
With just 15 days to go until the UK is due to leave the EU, British lawmakers have voted to delay Brexit by at least three months. EU leaders will have the final say, with many demanding a clear reason from London.Watch video02:32
UK lawmakers vote to request delay in leaving EU
Lawmakers in the House of Commons overwhelmingly backed a government motion on Thursday to ask for a three-month delay for Britain’s departure from the European Union, which is currently scheduled for March 29.
The move has also paved the way for a third vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s divorce deal with the European Union, which could take place early next week.
With a vote of 412 to 202, lawmakers overwhelmingly backed the government’s motion to ask the EU to push the divorce date back to June 30.
The government’s motion states that it would ask for the three-month delay — but on the condition that Parliament approves May’s withdrawal agreement with the EU.
Lawmakers also overwhelmingly voted down the prospect of a second referendum — with only 85 MPs backing the amendment, while 334 voted against it.
An amendment that would have given lawmakers more control over the Brexit process narrowly lost, with 312 voting in favor and 314 against.
An amendment to block May from bringing her divorce deal back for a third vote was withdrawn.
BREXIT TIMELINE: CHARTING BRITAIN’S TURBULENT EXODUS FROM EUROPEJune 2016: ‘The will of the British people’After a shrill referendum campaign, nearly 52 percent of British voters opted to leave the EU on June 24. Polls had shown a close race before the vote with a slight lead for those favoring remaining in the EU. Conservative British Prime Minister David Cameron, who had campaigned for Britain to stay, acknowledged the “will of the British people” and resigned the following morning.
The vote means May’s government will ask the EU for a one-off extension to Article 50, extending the divorce date until June 30.
But there is one condition: May will only ask for the short-term extension if lawmakers approve the withdrawal agreement she negotiated with the EU. British lawmakers have already rejected May’s divorce deal in two prior votes by record margins.
Should MPs vote to support the deal by March 20, May will request the short-term extension when she heads to an EU leaders summit in Brussels, which is taking place on March 21 and 22.
If her deal is rejected a third time, the prime minister will still try to secure a short-term delay, although she will be heading to Brussels without a clear reason for the extension — something EU leaders have said is a must in order to secure a delay.
May has warned that the UK could face a much longer Brexit delay if her deal is not approved, and that the UK would have to hold European Parliament elections in May if an extension goes beyond June.
Although British lawmakers voted to support extending the Brexit deadline past March 29, it’s not certain the EU will grant it.
EU leaders have expressed frustration at the political turbulence taking place in London, saying they would grant an extension but would need a concrete reason from the UK for doing so.
Shortly following the vote on Thursday, a European Commission spokesperson emphasized that any extension would require “unanimous approval” from the leaders of the remaining 27 member states.
Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, said British lawmakers need to make clear what they want and that the EU should push the UK to move Brexit forward.
“We have to increase the pressure,” Verhofstadt told German broadcaster ZDF. “How many votes have there been, and every time it’s a negative majority, a majority against something. The time has come where we must see a broad majority that goes beyond the party lines.”
The decision also throws more uncertainly onto Britain’s trade relationship with the EU. In light of the vote, the head of Germany’s main association of chambers of commerce and industries, DIHK, told the press that European businesses have been left with no idea what scenario to be ready for and when.
“The companies no longer have any idea what they should be preparing for,” Martin Wansleben told the publisher Funke Mediengruppe.
“In addition to uncertainty about what is going to happen, now there’s uncertainty about when it will happen.”
Trump ‘surprised at how badly’ Brexit has been going
US President Donald Trump weighed in on the upheaval surrounding the UK’s departure from the EU on Thursday, saying he is “surprised at how badly” the negotiations have been going and that the Brexit debate is “tearing the country apart.”
He also criticized May’s handling of the negotiations, saying she did not heed his advice.
“She didn’t listen to that, and that’s fine. I mean … she’s got to do what she’s got to do. But I think it could have been negotiated in a different manner, frankly,” Trump told reporters at the White House ahead of a meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.
Trump added that he still hopes to secure a “large scale” trade agreement with the UK.
O Brexit revelou os limites da democracia numa Europa perplexa perante um mundo que lhe escapa. Não se riam do Reino Unido, para o resto do mundo não se rir de vós.
Tudo deveria ter sido muito simples: os cidadãos do Reino Unido votaram para deixar a União Europeia, o governo invocou o artigo de saída, a data ficou marcada, e no próximo dia 29 o Reino Unido deveria sair da UE. Acontece que provavelmente não vai sair. Nem no dia 29, nem, também provavelmente, em qualquer data próxima. Afinal, nada era simples. Uma das razões invocadas para justificar a saída — a soberania parlamentar – tornou-se rapidamente uma das razões para essa saída ser difícil: afinal, não bastava o referendo, o parlamento também tinha de votar. Pior: também muito rapidamente, descobriu-se que o voto pela saída não definira qual o tipo de saída. Mais ainda: a maioria de 2016 começou a parecer demasiado curta e circunstancial para não poder ser revertida em novo referendo. E eis como, ao fim de dois anos, estamos quase no princípio, com o Brexit a ameaçar tornar-se uma doença crónica da UE.
Há quem culpe Theresa May, demasiado fraca, e há quem culpe os brexiteers, demasiado intransigentes com qualquer acordo. Há quem culpe Jeremy Corbyn, apostado em usar o Brexit para precipitar novas eleições. E há quem, claro, culpe Bruxelas, tentada a fazer do Reino Unido um exemplo de como, na integração europeia, a porta de saída é a porta para o inferno. Todas essas acusações terão algum fundamento. Nenhuma, porém, captura a verdadeira dificuldade.
O cepticismo britânico em relação à Europa não une, divide: divide a Inglaterra, mais eurocéptica, de Gales, Escócia e Irlanda do Norte, mais europeístas; divide Londres, mais europeísta, das províncias, mais eurocépticas; e finalmente, divide cada um dos partidos de governo, Conservadores e Trabalhistas, ambos estilhaçados em correntes e facções. Os Conservadores, mais eurocépticos, têm uma líder suspeita de querer ficar na UE, e os Trabalhistas, mais europeístas, têm um líder suspeito de querer sair. No parlamento, as únicas maiorias são negativas.
O eurocepticismo britânico também não é homogéneo nem corresponde a um projecto claro. Na restante Europa, é costume atribuí-lo a alguma ressaca imperial, ou a complexos de insularidade. Há alguma coisa disso, mas não é só isso. O eurocepticismo já foi esquerdista nos anos 70, quando os Trabalhistas fizeram campanha contra a adesão à CEE, para depois ser direitista nos anos 90, quando os Conservadores se começaram a agitar contra o “federalismo” de Bruxelas. Neste momento, ninguém sabe o que o Brexit poderá significar: uma Singapura, com um governo conservador, ou uma Venezuela, com um governo de Corbyn? Mas também ninguém sabe o que ficar na UE significa.
Ora, nada disto é muito diferente do que se passa na restante Europa, onde as votações em candidatos hostis à UE começam a ser enormes: em França, em Abril de 2017, Marine Le Pen e Jean-Luc Mélenchon conseguiram, em conjunto, 40% dos votos; na Itália, em Março de 2018, o Cinco Estrelas e a coligação de Matteo Salvini, tiveram 69%. É verdade: nada aconteceu. Muita gente já se desiludiu com a UE, mas ninguém descobriu alternativa. Os europeus vivem num mundo em que pesam cada vez menos, e em sociedades em que a continuidade demográfica e os modelos sociais não parecem garantidos. Toda a gente tem soluções – mais nacionalismo para uns, mais europeísmo para outros –, mas nenhuma solução tem uma maioria. Somos, a esse respeito, todos britânicos. A grande diferença é que o Reino Unido, através do referendo, por mais circunstancial que tenha sido a sua origem, enfrentou a questão. Mas como se tem visto, nem sempre votos e debates levam a soluções. O Brexit revelou os limites da democracia numa Europa perplexa perante um mundo que lhe escapa. Não se riam do Reino Unido, para o resto do mundo não se rir de vós.
A man stands in front of a British flag outside the Houses of Parliament, ahead of a Brexit vote, in London, Britain March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal is ready to support a delay to Britain’s exit from the European Union if London properly justifies such a request, but it has to be sufficiently long so that the sides can find an acceptable solution, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
“Allowing an extension by just some weeks we would create an illusion that the current problem is of a technical nature, when what we’ve got is a political issue,” the ministry’s statement said.
Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, but on Wednesday its parliament rejected withdrawing without a deal, paving the way for a vote that could delay Brexit for weeks or even months.
Volkswagen AG Chief Executive Officer Herbert Diess apologized for his use of a phrase that appeared to play on the slogan on the gates of the Auschwitz concentration camp, “Work sets you free.”
Diess said “Ebit macht frei” during an internal Volkswagen event, in a reference to the abbreviation for earnings before interest and taxes, evoking the Nazi slogan “Arbeit macht frei.” The misstep coincided with a notice that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has sued VW over the diesel emissions cheating scandal.
“It was in fact, a very unfortunate choice of words and I am deeply sorry for any unintentional pain I may have caused,” Diess wrote in a post on his LinkedIn page. “For that I would like to fully and completely apologize.”
The comments are all the more unfortunate considering Volkswagen’s history. The automaker was founded by the German government in 1937 to mass-produce a low-priced car, and was originally operated by the German Labour Front, a Nazi organization. Volkswagen, whose factory was repurposed during World War II to build military equipment and vehicles, is today the world’s biggest automotive group with brands including Audi, Bugatti, and Porsche.
The expression ‘Ebit macht frei’ was made in an internal management presentation in connection with operating margins from various company brands, Diess said. Within Volkswagen, “brands with a higher margins have more freedom within the Group to make their own decisions. My comment was made within this context,” he said.
The CEO said it wasn’t his intention to make this expression in a way that could be misinterpreted, and he didn’t consider the possibility that it could be.
“Volkswagen has undertaken many activities over the last 30 years that have made the company, myself personally and our employees fully aware of the historical responsibility Volkswagen bears in connection with the Third Reich,” Diess wrote.
VW’s powerful works council welcomed Diess’s “swift clarification and unequivocal apology” for the remark, adding that remembrance and responsibility are part of the company’s DNA.
Since Diess, 60, took over as CEO last April, he’s struggled to put the 3 1/2-year-old diesel cheating scandal in the past. In the latest twist, the SEC said Thursday it was suing the carmaker for failing to disclose to investors that its diesel vehicles violated emission standards.
“The investors did not know that VW was lying to consumers to fool them into buying its ‘clean diesel’ cars and lying to government authorities in order to sell cars in the U.S. that did not comply with U.S. emission standards,” the SEC alleged.
VW said the SEC complaint is “legally and factually flawed” and the company will “contest it vigorously.” It accused the SEC of “piling on to try to extract more from the company” more than two years after settlements with the Justice Department.