The Method in the Madness: Understanding North Korea’s Nuclear Ambition

The success of North Korea’s recent missile launch, has raised alarms around the world.
Pyongyang claims it is now capable of successfully hitting anywhere in mainland America, bringing the US into the sphere of North Korea’s military reach for the first time. This missile test is just the latest addition to the increasing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. But what is the aim of North Korea’s nuclear program?
North Korea’s nuclear program has been met with widespread international criticism, even from, surprisingly, North Korea’s only ally, China. Yet, the criticism is only met by further determination from Pyongyang to achieve its nuclear targets.

In August, US President Donald Trump said North Korea’s attitude towards America would be met with “fire and fury”.
The United Nations has acted to attempt to defuse the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, visited North Korea following the missile tests, and met with Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho. In a joint statement, they said: “the current situation is the most tense and dangerous peace and security issue in the world today.”

North Korea is playing a high-stake game against growing opposition. The question is, why Pyongyang is so committed to its weapons programs in the face of rising opposition? It may seem that North Korea is on a path of war, or that the nuclear program is aimed at destruction. However, it is important to understand what North Korea is trying to achieve with its weapons programs. Overall, Pyongyang has one main aim, survival.

It should not be forgotten that North and South Korea have been locked in a 65-year stalemate following the ceasefire of the Korean war in 1953. North Korea proudly boasts its military might as a sign of the regimes power, and clings to it as the protector of the regime.

North Korea currently has the fourth largest standing army, with approximately 1.1 million personnel. However, experts say that North Korea’s military equipment, and technology is outdated, reducing the effectiveness of North Korea’s conventional military. However, both Pyongyang and Seoul realise the mutual destructive reality conflict would bring.

The goal of the Kim dynasty is to solidify their regime. The hostility towards the international community comes from a lack of trust, based on historic events. North Korea believes that both the Giddafi regime in Libya and the Saddam regime in Iraq collapsed because of their abandonment of their nuclear programs.

Libya sticks an alarming comparison to North Korea for Pyongyang, as Libya exchanged its nuclear program to ease sanctions and improve relations with the West, only to find the West not only supported but provided arm for Libyan rebels, who ultimately overthrew the government. North Korea does not trust the West to honour any agreement of improved relations, and therefore only has its nuclear program to counter the deceitful enemy it perceives the West to be.

The United Nations has called to keep channels open with North Korea to ease the tensions on the Peninsula. North Korean state news announced that Korean officials and the UN have agreed to “communication through visits at different level on a regular basis in the future”.

Although communication is progress, it is unlikely that North Korea will be swayed away from its nuclear program.
North Korea’s nuclear program ambition comes from the regimes determination for survival. The nuclear program is the only bargaining chip Pyongyang can believe in, there is simply no trust in western promises, security or economic support.

The North Korean government will continue to develop its weapon technologies, undeterred by any condemnation. Whether this development will lead to conflict remains to be seen, but we can be sure the consequences will be historic.

The UK media is failing to report on the Israel Palestine conflict accurately

Last week, Donald Trump announced the United States will now officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

This announcement has caused outrage across the world, especially in the Arab world.
Demonstrations and marches quickly followed to send a message to Trump and the US administration that recognising Jerusalem as the capital of an Israeli state is not only unjust due to the fact East Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian territory, but it will also delay the peace process indefinitely. David Hearst, editor-in-chief of the Middle Eastern Eye said: “there are 300,000 Jerusalemites who are residents, but not citizens of, the freshly declared Israeli capital and Trump has just thrown a grenade in their midst.”

2017 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Six-Day War, the event that saw Israel occupy substantial parts of Palestine, including East Jerusalem, displacing over 250,000 Palestinians. The subsequent occupation of Palestine by Israel has been declared illegal by the United Nations as well as the International Court of Justice.

The British media’s reporting of Trump’s announcement has been largely predictable, downplaying actions of the Israeli military and overplaying the reactions of Palestinian resistance. The right-wing press has tended to focus on it being Muslim anger, continuing the fear-mongering narrative of anything Islam-related. For instance, the Daily Mail ran a headline beginning with “Muslim ‘day of rage’ against Trump turns deadly.” Such language provokes a reaction that Muslims are to blame for anyone dying, taking any responsibility that Israel may have in preventing violence and killing away.

It takes little effort to see how misleading such a headline is.

In 2015, it was reported by the International Institute For Strategic Studies that $18.6 billion was spent on the Israeli military, including US foreign military assistance. The United States and Germany are also suppliers of the IDF, meaning the latest intelligence, technology and arms will be at their disposal. One of the most heavily backed defence forces in the world should be better equipped at dealing with stones and burning tyres, and should not have to resort to killing.

Once these additional details of the ‘Day of Rage’ are added in, it’s difficult to overlook the failings of the UK media to report on the events fairly. Peter Beaumont, the Jerusalem correspondent for the Guardian, reports on the Israeli airstrike that killed two in Gaza. Beaumont accurately reports that this airstrike was a response to rockets being fired into Israel by Hamas. However, he fails to comment on how there were no Israeli casualties. This is largely due to the Israeli military’s capacity to effectively intercept rockets fired at them, which it dutifully did for one of at least two projectiles.Palestinians do not have this luxury, meaning any exchange of attacks will inevitably lead to more Palestinian deaths than Israeli. We need to ask whether an Israeli retaliatory strike is truly fair given the defensive capabilities of each side.

Beaumont also fails to comment on the fact that twenty-five civilians were wounded by Israel’s military in the counter-airstrike. The Palestinian Health Ministry, though, did report on this and revealed that of the twenty-five wounded, six of them were children. In addition, the location of these wounded civilians was not on military sites, as the Israeli military has reported, but on a building near the military site according to witnesses. Questions, thus, must be asked whether this airstrike carried out by the Israeli military was deliberately targeting civilians. If so, then the Israeli military has committed a war crime and should be at least reprimanded by the UN Security Council.

Once additional details and facts are filled in, the UK media can be largely seen as guilty for failing to accurately represent the conflict in Israel and Palestine. Accurate reporting of the events is vitally important so that serious questions can be asked and investigated, like whether or not the Israeli military’s response is proportionate, or whether or not war crimes are being committed.

Opinion Poll tracker – December 2017

Labour’s 2 point lead over the Conservatives disappeared during November and they now hold a very slight lead. There is evidence of some voter movement towards UKIP which indicates that their true national level is around 4% or 5% and their General Election performance was distorted by so many of their candidates standing down and tactical voting. Despite Survation, the only polling agency to call June’s general election correctly, giving Corbyn’s Labour an 8 point lead heading into Christmas , the lead Corbyn had over May is slowly being eroded.

National Overview:
Chart G1 shows the Conservatives have slipped back since the 2017 election and Labour now has a lead of less than 1% in Great Britain. The most striking thing about G1 is the quite extraordinary recovery in the Labour vote from mid-April 2017 when the election was called. Understanding why this happened is key to making sense of the 2017 election and what is likely to happen next. I have to say that from what I have read from political commentators, no-one has yet made sense of this dramatic surge. For myself, I keep coming back to a comment I made to my wife (who is American) that the election was starting to remind me of the Democrats primary battle in 2016 between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and I do feel that the two elections share a similar dynamic. I have put down some initial thoughts in the Voter Switching section below.

Despite dropping back, the Conservatives are still well placed when compared to previous elections. The difference is that we are now back to 2-party politics last seen in 1979 as shown by chart G3. A piece was written for The People’s News on this very subject, a Road to Landslide, and whilst the prediction was not true it talked about how a return to 2 party politics, except in Scotland, had tipped the scales in the advantage of the Tory Party.

Voter Switching Patterns:
For all the apparent chaos in the Conservative party, their vote share is still where they were when she became PM which does raise the question of where they could be if all was going well. Chart G1 shows that they reached a peak of 47% just after she called the General Election so it does seem that the current pessimism within the party is regret for what could have been rather than whether they made the wrong choice for party leader.

The difference in the political landscape since then is entirely due to the recovery of the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn and chart G3 shows that this has mostly come at the expense of UKIP. This raises the question, how did this come about? I have attempted an answer with the table in chart G4.

In her first 9 months, the Conservatives were steady just above 40% whilst Labour leached voters to the Lib Dems. At the same time, Labour was losing some voters to the Conservatives and there was also a slow drift from UKIP to the Conservatives which then accelerated when May called the election. Over the next month during which local elections took place, Parliament backed the election call and the parties decided their manifestos and candidates, Labour began to recover due to their Lib Dem defectors returning to the fold plus some UKIP voters switching to Labour. The UKIP to Labour switching was something I noticed at the time and I speculated that with UKIP choosing to stand down candidates as a way to not split the Conservative, this had the potential to backfire as in effect their voters were being told what to do which is always a dangerous thing to do in my opinion.
With the benefit of hindsight, the publication of the manifestos backfired considerably on the Conservatives, and Theresa May especially, whilst rejuvenating Labour. The precise dynamic is still not clear to me, but it does look like a combination of prior UKIP to Conservative & Labour to Conservative switchers then changed their minds and decided to vote Labour instead; especially in the Midlands and the North which is where the polls got it so badly wrong and precisely where the Conservatives expected to gain seats. Perhaps the thought process was “same old Tories” and an electorate looking for something different then became receptive to Jeremy Corbyn’s message. But it still should not be overlooked that for all that, the Conservatives are still where they were when May became Prime Minister and the current Labour vote consists of many people who have flirted with all of the other parties especially UKIP. Whilst I am making no prediction of the future, it is not beyond the realms of possibility for some future event to take place that could lead to a UKIP resurgence at the expense of Labour.

This article was written by Nigel Marriot of Marriott Statistical Consulting, the original piece can be found here. This piece has been edited for use here.

Libya – The conflict we forgot about

The battle between whether or not Europe’s borders should be open for immigrants has been a continuous war between political parties. Over the years governments have been limiting the numbers of immigrants allowed to cross the boarder of European countries such as Italy. However, the people of these war torn countries are desperate, and therefore forced to rely on people smugglers who charge an extortionate fee for the service. In 2015, a statement was made by Italian leaders stating that they would allow a more even distribution of refugees to pass the border more safely without resorting to illegal people smuggling, since then we have seen no major change.

In London’s most recent news the topics have been centered around the prolific slave trade in Libya. Many of these people were caught trying to escape the country and start a new life in Europe, but as it becomes increasingly difficult to leave, those without the means to pay for safe passage, end up stuck in a vicious trade cycle.

Video footage of Libyan citizens being auctioned for less than $400 were released Mid November by CNN. The footage brought to light the conditions and concerns for migrants who try, but fail, to escape the borders.The EU have forged a plan to launch “concrete military action” with additional humanitarian aid to maintain stability of the region. However, it is difficult to forget that just 2 years earlier the EU were propping up detention centers with funding and training to ensure desperate migrants did not leave the war torn region.

Libya is the perfect destination for these ‘slave masters’ because of the perpetual flow of Africans trying to travel to Europe by sea. It has been estimated that more than 1000 people try to cross the Mediterranean Sea every few months. To try and mitigate the crisis, the Rwandan government issued a press release headlined “Rwanda’s door is open for migrants held captive in Libya”. Although. Rwanda has offered a very generous offer, it is quite clear to say that it may not be the best option, below are three reasons why.

Despite the abundance of natural resources, Rwanda is currently over populated with a population of 11.2million – with 57% of people living below the poverty line.The most immediate argument AGAINST sending the Libyan citizens to Rwanda is the fact that the people within Rwanda are already physically and mentally abused. Like many African countries today, corruption continues to tear the country apart.Government Protection and healthcare is scarce, which only serves to exacerbate the devastating impact of poverty and HIV/Aids on Rwanda’s development.

Many disagree with the idea of migrating the victims of the slave trade to a country that is already overwhelmed by its native population, while others have applauded the country for taking immediate action to help those in desperate need. But one issue about the whole tragedy is the lack of coverage by economically stable nations. This is what provoked the people of London to create a petition in order for the UK government to have a more active role in securing the stability of the region. It seems the conflict is beginning to get more attention on the global stage with celebrities such as Giggs getting involved on twitter by sharing a petition started by Constance Mbassi which led to a further 10,000 signatures.

Even though our governments have been slow to respond, people with prominent platforms are helping keep the story relevant, and hopefully this will lead to an organised effort to stop the suffering of the Libyan people.

We must move away from Neo-Liberal economic illiteracy

Neoliberalism has been at the forefront of mainstream economics since its popular use by Augusto Pinochet, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. Its ultimate aim was to undermine the use of Keynesian policies; moving away from a planned economy approach of the “Golden Age of Capitalism” to a new open economy with more private corporations and a stress on individualism. Throughout the thirty years of its use there have been countless theoretical and data inconsistencies. We find economic think tanks such as the OBR continuously moving back their predicated date to when the UK government will “plug” the government deficit (it was supposed to be plugged by 2015). Wall Street has had almost universal failure to actually predict market factors and Mark Carney from the Bank of England has himself stated “we are probably not going to forecast the next financial crisis”. This inconsistent data and theory is ultimately down to how vague the language is used by neoliberals. Some neoliberals, such as Blairites within the Labour Party, are economically liberal. This is in stark contrast to neoliberals on the right who argue for a laissez-faire/free market economy, which is ultimately doomed to fail in nature.

Yet despite these inconsistencies its use is still mainstream. Whilst the language is vague neoliberals do have a good use of metaphors which, to most people who don’t study economics, makes sense. Being told that a government budget is like a household budget and that there is no “magic money tree” seems easy to believe. This argument is then used to follow up with the idea that we need to plug the deficits, because deficits are bad. The final step for neoliberals is to argue for a tax cut so everyone can spend their increased disposable income into the economy. Neoliberals have simplified economics for most people to understand.

But here’s the catch. The argument they propose is nonsense. There is a magic money tree. Deficits aren’t necessarily bad. Tax cuts don’t work for everyone and in fact normally hurt the poorest.

Let’s touch on the idea that government budgets are like household budgets. It would be nice to think that Westminster is symbolically a big household trying to look out for everyone. Normal households have massive financial constraints; we heavily rely on one or two incomes within a household and need to spend just to get into next month. Normal households can possibly save, but that usually occurs with only higher earners since those at the bottom end are spending every penny to feed themselves and others at home. In 1983 Margaret Thatcher made a similar point in her party conference speech, arguing:
“The state has no source of money, other than the money people earn themselves. If the state wishes to spend more it can only do so by borrowing your savings, or by taxing you more. And it’s no good thinking that someone else will pay. That someone else is you.”

Thatcher was unsurprisingly wrong with this point. Unlike normal household budgets the government can find a way to spend more without borrowing, that being the very currency states issue. I myself can’t print my own money at home (that would be illegal counterfeit with me quickly going to jail), but governments can legally do this. If the UK government issues the pound then how can they run out of them? Simple, they can’t. As modern monetary theory works upon, any state that issues its own currency can never run out of money. Yet despite this we see many on the left play along with neoliberal language. Politicians such as Labour MP Liz Kendell argued that former chancellor, George Osborne, had merits in his budget. This is incredibly damaging to the image the left want to create. As the SNP have successfully done in Scotland, Labour must universally move away from the economic illiteracy of the Conservative Party and their use of language. And it’s on the right path with the leadership election of Jeremy Corbyn, but it must do so as a party to start arguing that there is in fact a magic money tree. By issuing our own currency and not borrowing from private banks this also has the added benefit of not paying anything on interest. And we use tax as a tool to remove money from circulation to control inflation.

The second point is the idea that a state must plug the government deficit. The deficit is the difference between how much a government spends into the economy in a given year and how much it gets back from taxation. So for example if a government spends, say, £100 million into the economy but only collects £80 million from taxation then our government deficit is £20 million. Neoliberals will screech to no end at how horrible such a scenario is and will label this as uncontrolled spending. Once again this language makes sense and is easy to simplify for others. In parliament any legislation proposals that could increase the deficit are quickly shot down with not much further analyse. But there is another side to the story which political commentators and politicians don’t tend to comment on as much. A government deficit of £20 million means that there is a public surplus of £20 million for the rest of society. So really a government deficit adds pound assets to other parts of the economy. What we must instead ask ourselves is if the deficit we currently have is serving a purpose that does good for the broader public.

So yes, it’s okay to have a deficit. What we want to achieve is an equitable balance in the distribution of a surplus for the majority.

The third argument employed by neoliberals is tax cuts. They argue that by cutting taxes for everyone (although you find most right wing parties tend to cut it far more favourably for the rich and maybe do the opposite for the poorest) that this will allow households to increase their disposable income and spend it into the economy. And once again it does make sense at face value. But this goes against the understanding of how people actually spend their disposable income. If you are amongst the poorest in society then in reality you are likely to face a tax rise whereas the benefits of a tax cut will actually go to the top 10%. If you’re in the top 1% then these tax cuts almost guarantee you a lifetime of partying with your rich mates.

When studying economics we use a term called the “marginal propensity to consume” (MPC) which helps us understand how much every extra pound we receive will be spent into the economy. If you’re a fan of The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime then ask yourself this: what is Jeremy Clarkson going to spend his increased earnings on? Or what about some of the wealthiest footballers like Cristiano Ronaldo? If they gain, say, around £500 million from these tax cuts then how will they spend it? Will they decide to buy a dozen more cars from the ones they already have? Will they take their families of more vacations throughout the year? Maybe around 1% of the 1% may do this, but the vast majority of them won’t.
The wealthiest have already consumed what they’ve always wanted. By increasing their disposable income they won’t actually add anymore new spending into the economy. We won’t see new spending help create jobs for those who seek work. What this tax cut really allows is for the wealthiest to buy shares, stocks and real estate. These investments with their new disposable income benefits the top 10%. What we instead find is that such investments actually driving up prices and lock out millions of consumers. Whilst real estate markets could go up in wealth what we won’t see is a large increase in growth and employment.

The vast majority of the time since the 80s the UK has had a deficit. Whilst neoliberals have obsessed in trying to close it they have only allowed inequality and poverty to increase. It was only a few weeks ago we heard that research from the British Medical Journal found that austerity has killed over 120,000 people in England and Wales alone, despite the slow decrease in the deficit. We must move away from the neoliberal argument and instead form a new debate. The question no longer is about how we close the deficit but instead how we use it.

We must form new language and metaphors to counter the illiteracy of the right. What we need more than ever is a new economic approach for shared prosperity.

If the BBC is not reformed it will be at the expense of our democracy

Over the past year since the election it has become increasingly apparent that our treasured national broadcaster is strongly opposed to informing the public of goings on that do not reflect well on the ruling party.

We are constantly reminded that Russia Today (RT) is the propaganda arm of the Russian government. While I, and no one else can reasonably claim that the BBC and RT are two sides of the same coin, it should be formally addressed that the BBC is deliberately avoiding reporting that reflects poorly on the ruling party.

For instance, cast your mind back to the snap election last year. While it was reported by many outlets that the Conservatives were being investigated by the police for allegedly using call a centre to directly contact voters in marginal seats, the BBC were silent. The Conservatives insisted that they had not done anything wrong and the call centre was hired as part of legal market research and direct marketing. However, the legality of a crime is not for the defendant to adjudicate. They can deny any wrong doing all they like, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Welsh police (serious economic crimes unit) are nonetheless investigating the allegations.

Without delving into the legality of this issue, as I, and I assume the readers are not of competent legal mind, it is still an important story that the public should have been informed of at the national level. There is an argument to be had that it is just an allegation and therefore not of importance until it has been investigated. However, I don’t recall any hesitation to report on manufactured outrage at Corbyn during the salacious ‘traingate‘ that was ultimately ratified as a Conservative/establishment smear campaign based on lazy opportunistic ‘journalism’.

Some will argue that the call centre investigation was reported on, but those people should be reminded that burying the lead in a local Welsh BBC site is not good enough. The election impacted all of us in the country and therefore should have aired on national TV at prime time, but apparently it is not as important as a man sitting on the floor of a train.

Most recently, the BBC have ignored a devastating report by the British Medical Journal that has gone as far to conclude that Tory austerity can be correlated to 120,000 avoidable deaths under their rule. These deaths are at the expense of their false economic model of self-imposed austerity to somehow promote growth? This is not a biased ideological claim, it has been substantiated time and time again – most convincingly by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

What austerity actually does, is demonise the most vulnerable in society and whip up racial tensions that only serve as scapegoats for the actual problems of everyday people. It is easy to blame an immigrant for your misfortune, but it is extremely difficult to mount an argument against the moneyed classes when your trusted national broadcaster refuses to effectively hold these people to account.

Even when the BBC appears to hold these people to account, as seen in the Paradise Papers documentary, its not good enough because the news section of the company refuses to tackle it with the same veracity, of say, a man sat on the floor of a train. Those familiar with The Peoples News know that we reported on the dubious tax affairs of the rich and famous well before the documentary aired. However, let me detail how the BBC has come to serve a specific purpose in this country.

As mentioned, The People’s News reported on the likes of Lord Ashcroft and Walmart well before the documentary aired. But, because ours is a humble operation, it is to be expected that it can’t really take hold on a national level, and the attention such reporting does get, ends up causing disjointed/isolated uproar within our growing, yet still very modest, social media circle.

Now this is the interesting part: once the BBC aired the Panorama documentary, it had the effect of unifying the country’s outrage to speak in one concerted fashion, which has the effect of creating a momentum that can be grappled with on a national scale. This is because the BBC, unlike The People’s News, has a direct line of contact with everyone in their homes. However, even when The People’s News wrote about Ashcroft, this was not ground-breaking news – it is an old story that never gets any traction because those in power and owners of news outlets are taking part in the exact same methods used to avoid tax.

With this critical point in mind, it doesn’t matter that the BBC aired the documentary because the newspapers and other outlets don’t keep the issue relevant by sustained reporting, leaving the story to fade into the 24 hour news cycle. Whereas, to use the ‘traingate’ example again, once this was reported on, the papers and other sources ran with it because it was politically expedient to do so as it smeared the leader of the opposition.

The BBC wasn’t set up to occupy these establishment biases, but it can no longer be ignored that it has become a propaganda arm for the ruling party. It is not overt propaganda, but omission of certain stories that don’t reflect well on the current government still falls under the umbrella of propagandist.

It seems odd that a government priding itself on capitalist/free market values insist that we continue to subsidise the BBC through our TV licenses while they deliberately misinform us. This is particularly troublesome when Tory policy has been correlated to the deaths of the lowest earners in society. Yes, the BBC does some excellent work, but they should remember that by omitting some of the news, they are losing the trust of the nation and worst of all, backing us into a corner and forcing us to pay for a service that abuses its viewership’s trust. This is especially unethical when you consider that their policies are suppressing wages and adding outgoing expenses that many of us simply cannot afford.

It is not my intention to encourage anyone to break the law, but while paying a TV license is mandatory, and not paying can result in significant legal trouble, if everyone unified and threatened to withdraw our funding if our grievances aren’t addressed – can they really impose any legal consequences? After all, we are paying customers – paying to be misinformed. We need reform, for the sake of our democracy.

A fight to evict the Royals: Britain’s rising Republican movement

Guess who’s not invited to the Royal wedding.

Why is it so unheard of to be a republican in Britain? We aren’t exactly a country in love with bureaucracy – Brexit.
Author of Down with the Royals, Joan Smith, certainly doesn’t understand. “I grew up in a working-class northern family. I have always hated the idea of inherited privilege,” she explained. Joan and her group of distant campaigners envision a future without King or Queen and they aim to find support in a new generation.

This year Queen Elizabeth II tuned 91, continuing her reign as the world’s longest serving Head of State, the term reserved for a country’s chief public representative, the effective head of government. In presidential countries like America this would be the President, the most powerful official. Explaining her disdain for the royals, Ms Smith added: “It seems bizarre this one family has the exclusive right to produce our heads of state. Our next three will all be white, male, middle-class and Christian. A bunch of people who can’t possibly represent the country.”

The Queen may be our Head of State, but she is also the head of a constitutional monarchy. Meaning she reigns but does not rule, and in fact has very little power. Decisions on policy and legislation are left to the government. These days the role of Monarch is very much a symbolic one.

Although many, including Dr Martin Farr, of Newcastle University, believe the Queen doesn’t need actual legislative power to affect our lives, he said: “people may feel that she contributes to the hierarchical nature of British society.” Farr, who earlier this year unveiled Princess Eugenie was initially rejected by Newcastle University, until an admissions officer realised her royal connection, insists his statements were overblown, but republican campaigners seized upon them. Judy Mercer, of Republic, an anti-monarchist organisation with over 30,000 supporters, said: “We pay for a very very rich and privileged royal family, their extended family members and all of their security.”

Well, she’s sort of right. Until 2011 calculating the Royal income was an unnecessarily complicated process, involving several different grants and stipends. Now Royal funds are distributed via one solitary payment called the sovereign grant, which does consist of contributions from tax payers, as well as the personal income of the Royal family. It was reported in 2016 that Prince Charles earned over £20 million from his private estate, The Duchy of Cornwall. Though the Queen does, voluntarily, pay income tax on all profits from the Privy Purse – the account which holds income from the Duchy of Lancaster, the reigning Monarch’s private and extensive rural estate.

Much of the Republican movement has now moved online. A strategic decision to connect with a younger generation.
Mrs Mercer added: “The palace is using the two young princes to keep younger generations engaged, ultimately it is this new generation who will be suffering further inequality and Republic’s job is to highlight the connection with the Royal family.”

Undeterred by the odds, they have hope in the future. Leading online campaigner Revolting-Subject, who upholds his anonymity due to a career in broadcast journalism, said: “Prince Charles looks like a disaster waiting to happen, so I have high hopes there.”

Trump blunder further undermines May

This week it was Trump’s turn to add further strain on the “Special relationship”, with the President choosing retweet 3 videos from the fringe far-right Britain First group that claimed to show Muslim youths committing acts of violence. Once again it displayed his penchant for rash, badly thought out actions, leaving his spokespeople to clean up his mess.

Besides the fact that the videos are of dubious provenance (the Dutch Embassy confirming that one of the perpetrators wasn’t a migrant as claimed), Trump’s actions do nothing other than incite hatred. Irrespective of the content of the video, by posting isolated incidents of cruelty without context with captions of “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!”, the tweets only motive is evidently to increase anti-Islam sentiment and preach hate, the opposite of what any US president should be doing.

Moreover by having the President of the United States retweet content from Britain First, he has given the small extremist nationalistic group (that was formed by extremist outcasts from the BNP) an enormous level of free publicity. As a result, news channels are forced to talk about them thus further increasing their public exposure. This was just about the best outcome Britain First could have envisaged. Rather ironically in their posting of explicit, violent videos such as “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!”, they are not dissimilar from their Islamic extremist groups they so vehemently claim to oppose.

However the biggest impact from Trump’s myopic actions are by far the effect it has on Theresa May. Ever since Trump was elected, May has been trying desperately to attract his favour and thus strengthen Britain’s relationship with America in the post-Brexit world. She was the first foreign leader to visit Trump in the White House, only 7 days after his inauguration. Even after Trump’s numerous blatant violations of ‘British values’ such as in the Muslim Ban in January, May refused to condemn Trump’s actions until pressure finally forced her to concede that Number 10 “didn’t agree” with America’s “approach”.

Thomas Mair, the murderer of British MP Jo Cox, shouted “Britain First” repeatedly as he shot and stabbed her. This coupled with the inflammatory content Trump posted meant May would have no choice, but to post a serious rebuke. She was joined by a multitude of figures across every mainstream party as well as religious figures such as the Chief Rabbi and Archbishop of Canterbury.

Despite the strong response from May, Trump refused to back down and as he always does, he took May’s comments as a personal attack, issuing an angry response-
“Don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom”.

In doing so, Trump knowingly undermined May’s position. In the position that she is in regarding Brexit, May has to maintain a friendly relationship with Trump, however his inflammatory retweets and unrepentant behaviour has crossed a clear red line.

If she asks the Queen to cancel the state visit or to not invite him to Prince Harry’s wedding, she would involve the Royal Family in politics and incense Trump personally, thus jeopardising their relationship. If she does nothing, coupled with her previous insipid responses to the almost universally reviled Trump, she will look even weaker. If a post-Brexit Britain is going to force us to suck up to other leaders such as Trump in order to get trade agreements, maybe Brexit won’t allow for a renaissance by unshackling us diplomatically from the tyranny of Europe after all?

As a result, May has been forced to walk this tightrope that Trump has knowingly presented with her. However, luckily for her, as seen with Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian PM, who had a diplomatic spat with Trump regarding a migrant deal regarding asylum seekers on Australian islands such as Nauru, overtime Trump is capable of softening his stance. Regardless, this twitter spat has both angered Britain and harmed the relationship between May and Trump, doing no good for either leader during a time when both of them are sorely in need of allies. However I wouldn’t be surprised if by next week everybody has forgotten this incident, but for the wrong reasons.

A modern revolution: How Zimbabwe got rid of Mugabe

November was a time of celebration for the citizens of Zimbabwe as the brutal Mugabe era finally ended.

Mugabe’s failing regime caused continuous devastation; a lack of healthcare, minimum funding for the education system and underpaid doctors. This forced the people of Zimbabwe to strike and march for his resignation.

The former president was highly respected at the beginning of his 37 years in power, because of his victory against the segregationist rule in the 70’s, and winning the country’s first independent election in the 80’s. Several people have blamed his wife Grace Mugabe, also known as Gucci Grace for his downfall. The former first lady, who had hopes of succeeding her husband, had only one qualification for the role, being Mugabe’s wife. The news that Robert Mugabe had fired his powerful vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, which cleared the way for his wife, sparked immediate attention and her ambitions were impeded when the army seized power. The army insisted it was not a coup, though, it was quite clear, it was.

A week later former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, a 75-year-old liberation war veteran and stalwart of the ruling Zanu-PF party, nicknamed the crocodile has been appointed.

In his first speech on Friday at a graduation ceremony west of the capital, Harare, he announced his ambition to modernise Zimbabwe and fix the country’s failing economy. He said: “the world has grown fiercely competitive and Zimbabwe must learn to deliver finished products to markets and extract the most profit from the country’s natural resources.”
Despite his gravitas many people do not believe that he is the right man for the job. He has a fierce reputation, as Mugabe’s enforcer, he was also directly involved in the Matabeleland massacres of the 1980s, in which 20,000 killings occurred. Whilst many hold his past mistakes against him, others believe he will undoubtedly be a less awful president but, he is hardly considered a democrat.

Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa has named his cabinet, appointing senior military figures to high-profile positions.

As read on Times Live – Africa a major outcry surfaced from the youth and adult citizens of Zimbabwe stating that Mr Emmerson had made poor decisions on the cabinet positions, the education minister who was rewarded a cabinet due to his participation in the removal of Robert Mugabe has been dropped earlier today [2nd December 2017] due to the continuous outcries made by the people, in addition to this removal Mnangagwa has also taken action to remove primary and higher education minister Lazaraus Dokora after a number of people complained about his poor performance and undermining Zimbabwe’s education system.

Despite these changes there is no doubt that copious numbers of Zimbabweans are disappointed with the line up as they hoped that things would change and drift away from the Mugabe era.

Ex-National Security Adviser Charged with Making False Statements to the FBI

L’Affaire Russe has claimed its third victim as former National Security Adviser and retired Lieutenant-General Michael Flynn was charged with making false statements to the FBI in an interview given on 24 January 2017 by special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the growing scandal.


Heckled by protesters ironically chanting ‘lock him up’ as he left a District Court in Washington DC, Flynn signed a plea agreement with the special counsel’s office to avoid further charges and to testify that the President directed him to reach out to the Russian government about counter-ISIL efforts before assuming office last year.

According to the agreement, the charge levelled against Flynn carries a maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. Section three of the plea stated that Flynn would not be prosecuted for conduct in the statement of the offence, however the statement declined to mention numerous well-sourced allegations against Flynn including plots to kidnap a prominent enemy of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Fethullah Gülen. Experts suggest that this leaves open the possibility of further charges against Flynn if he fails to satisfactorily cooperate with the special counsel’s investigation.

As if this was not damaging enough for the President, a report by CNN suggested that the ‘very senior’ transition official mentioned in Department of Justice filings was President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Flynn alleges that the transition member directed him to engage with members of the UN Security Council prior to assuming office in order to ‘influence those governments to delay the vote or defeat’ of Resolution 2334, a resolution which criticised Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories.

The President’s personal attorney, Ty Cobb, published a statement in Comic Sans in an attempt to distance the administration from Flynn by suggesting that he was also an ‘Obama administration official’ (he served as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, however this has little to do with the charges brought against him) and that the allegations made by the special counsel were why he was fired less than a month in office. This is unlikely to persuade many as allegations of impropriety by the President mount.

Cobb thought that L’Affaire Russe would have subsided by Christmas, but it is clear that Mueller’s team is just getting started. The fact that Flynn could have been charged with much more serious crimes and was able to sign a deal with Mueller indicates that there are much larger fish to fry. But how much bigger can you get than the former National Security Adviser without involving the President and/or his family?