British MP fatally shot, stabbed in street attack

Eyewitnesses said Jo Cox, 41, Labour MP for Batley and Spen, was left bleeding on the ground by her attacker. A 77-year-old man also suffered slight injuries.
One eyewitness told the BBC they heard her attacker shout “put Britain first” at least twice beforehand.
A 52-year-old man was arrested near Market Street, Birstall, West Yorkshire Police said. The MP holds a weekly advice surgery nearby.
The MP was taken by ambulance to Leeds General Infirmary, where armed police were stationed outside, but the MP’s death was confirmed at police headquarters in Wakefield.
Police said they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the attack, and were not willing to comment on any possible motive.
Mrs Cox is the first sitting British MP to be killed since 1990, when Ian Gow was the last in a string of politicians to die at the hands of Northern Irish terror groups.
Her husband Brendan Cox said she believed in a better world, “and fought for it every day of her life”.
“She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.
“Jo would have no regrets about her life, she lived every day of it to the full.”
He also posted a picture on Twitter of his wife standing beside the Thames.
Vote Leave and Remain have both suspended campaigning in the EU referendum in light of the attack.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the country would be “in shock at the horrific murder”, describing the MP as a “much loved colleague”.
He added: “Jo died doing her public duty at the heart of our democracy, listening to and representing the people she was elected to serve.
“In the coming days, there will be questions to answer about how and why she died.
“But for now all our thoughts are with Jo’s husband Brendan and their two young children. They will grow up without their mum, but can be immensely proud of what she did, what she achieved and what she stood for.”
New Zealand MP Phil Twyford worked with Mrs Cox, and said he was shocked and gutted.
Mr Twyford hired her for a job with Oxfam in Brussels – and said she was a fabulous colleague and full of heart.
He said she was feisty, independent minded, and not afraid to take on the leadership of her own party on some issues.
Mr Twyford said Mrs Cox referred to herself as a proud Yorkshire lass, and was very proud of her working class upbringing.
‘People screaming’
Cafe owner Clarke Rothwell, who witnessed the attack, said he heard a “loud popping noise that sounded like a balloon burst – a loud balloon”.
“When I looked round there’s a man stood there in his 50s with a white baseball cap on and a jacket with a gun, an old fashioned looking gun in his hand,” he said.
“He shot this lady once and then he shot her again, he fell to the floor, leant over shot her once more in the face area.
“Somebody tried to grab him, wrestling with him and then he wielded a knife, like a hunting knife, just started lunging at her with a knife half a dozen times. People were screaming and running from the area”.
Eyewitness Hithem Ben Abdallah, said the 41-year-old mother of two was left lying and bleeding on the pavement after the incident.
‘Handmade weapon’
Mr Abdallah, 56, was in a cafe next door to the library shortly after 13:00 BST when he heard screaming and went outside.
“There was a guy who was being very brave and another guy with a white baseball cap who he was trying to control and the man in the baseball cap suddenly pulled a gun from his bag”.
After a brief scuffle, he said the man stepped back and the MP became involved.
Mr Abdallah said the weapon had “looked handmade” and a man who had been wrestling with the gunman continued even after seeing the gun.
He said: “The man stepped back with the gun and fired it and then he fired a second shot, as he was firing he was looking down at the ground.”
“He was kicking her as she was lying on the floor”, he said.
‘Completely devastated’
Prime Minister David Cameron also tweeted to express his concern. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Jo and her family,” he wrote.
Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton said he had known Mrs Cox since before she became an MP
Mr Hamilton said: “And I’m just completely devastated, I know Birstall reasonably well, and I think we’re all totally shocked.”
It has been announced the Vote Leave and Remain have suspended campaigning in the EU referendum in light of the attack.
Mrs Cox, who was born in Batley, was elected in 2015.
She was educated at Heckmondwike Grammar School and graduated from Cambridge University in 1995.
A former head of policy for Oxfam, she also worked as an adviser to Sarah Brown and Baroness Kinnock.
Mark Goldring, Oxfam’s chief executive, said: ” Oxfam is deeply shocked to hear the news. Our thoughts and sympathies are with Jo and her family at this difficult time.” (BBC)
-Daily Mirror

Obama officially endorses Hillary Clinton

President Barack Obama has officially endorsed Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Party presidential nominee.

His endorsement came after meeting Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders who has been battling Mrs Clinton for the nomination.

Speaking in a video tweeted out by Mrs Clinton, Mr Obama said she may be the most qualified person “ever” for the role of president.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren also endorsed Mrs Clinton on Thursday.

“I am ready to get in this fight and work my heart out for Hillary Clinton to become the next president of the United States,” she told MSNBC, “and to make sure that Donald Trump never gets any place close to the White House.”

President Obama and Mrs Clinton are set to start campaigning together soon.

“I want those of you who’ve been with me from the beginning of this incredible journey to be the first to know that ‘I’m with Her.’ I am fired up and cannot wait to get out there and campaign for Hillary,” Mr Obama said in the video.

“Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders may have been rivals during this primary, but they’re both patriots who love this country and they share a vision for the America that we all believe in.”

The two ran against one another for the Democratic nomination in 2008 and Mr Obama later made Mrs Clinton secretary of state.

Speaking to Reuters following the endorsement, Mrs Clinton said Mr Obama’s endorsement “means the world”.

“It is absolutely a joy and an honour that President Obama and I, over the years, have gone from fierce competitors to true friends,” she said.

Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump tweeted that Mr Obama’s endorsement means he wants “four more years of Obama” and “nobody else does”.

-Ceylon Today

Largest military exercise in Eastern Europe

Warsaw (Sydney Morning Herald)
The biggest military exercise in Eastern Europe since the Cold War kicked off in earnest Tuesday as roughly 2000 NATO paratroopers were set to fill the skies over Poland.
The operation, called Anakonda 2016, is billed as a Polish-led training exercise and will span roughly 10 days. More than 30,000 troops from 24 different countries, including non-NATO states such as Finland and Kosovo, are set to participate in a series of events spread across Poland.
The exercise is designed to emulate a ‘joint defensive operation on a large scale,’ according to a release by the US Army

2 suspects, 4 victims in Tel Aviv terror attack identified


The four people killed after a pair of gunmen opened fired on at an upscale market in Tel Aviv Wednesday night have been identified by Israeli police.

They are:

–          Idan Ben Arieh, 42, from Ramat Gan, which is east of Tel Aviv

–          Ilana Naveh, 39, from Ramat Gan

–          Michael Faiga, 58, from southern Israel

–          Mila Meshayev, 32, from Rishon LeZion, which lies just south of Tel Aviv

 They died after two shooters,identified as Palestinians,opened fire at the Sarona Market–a popular food and shopping complex near the Israeli Defense Ministry — shattering what was a serene night with chaos and bloodshed.

In total, 13 people suffered gunshot wounds, according to Israel’s national emergency medical service. Four people, including one suspect, are still being treated at hospitals, Israeli police say.

The attackers were dressed as Hasidic Jews, a law enforcement source briefed by Israeli officials said. Police officers shot one of the suspects. The other surrendered, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

“People were having coffee,” Amir Ohana, a member of the Israeli Parliament who was at the market, told CNN. “I saw a birthday cake on one of the tables. And then you see the chairs upside down and glass shattered and blood all over.”

Surveillance footage from a cafe near the shooting scene showed chaos as panicked customers knocked over chairs and tables as they rushed to escape. People crawled across the floor and others carried children in their arms.

Vietnam’s new role in US strategy

US President Barack Obama began his three-day visit to Vietnam on 22 May. The visit is believed to have given an edge to Vietnam in the South China Sea disputes as part of the larger confrontation between the United States and China. As another article in The Diplomat put it, “Vietnam stands to benefit from the competing interests of the superpowers vying for control of the South China Sea.”

However, the reality is more complex. It must not be forgotten that Vietnam and the United States used to be enemies during the infamous Vietnam War. Only in 1995, 20 years after Vietnam’s independence, were relations between two nations officially normalized with President Bill Clinton’s visit to Vietnam. The Vietnam War exerted such significant impacts on both countries that the recent rapprochement has been phenomenal. The improvement in relations could only happen because the United States has developed a new strategy, the so-called “Pivot (or Rebalance) to Asia.”

It is, therefore, important to reassess the position of Vietnam in the United States’ overall strategy in the region.

US containment policy

For Washington, the war in Vietnam was seen as the key to prevent the ‘domino effect’ of communism. The theory speculated that, should one country in a region fall under the influence of communism, the neighbouring countries would subsequently follow suit, like dominoes toppling one after another. As a result, the Vietnam War was considered a legitimate intervention by the United States to prevent the communist takeover of South Vietnam and subsequently Southeast Asian countries. US involvement in South Vietnam was part and parcel for the US Cold War containment policy.

Vietnam was turned into a proxy battlefield, where North Vietnam was supported by the communist bloc of the Soviet Union and China, and South Vietnam was supported by the United States. At the time of Vietnam War, Vietnam was a young independent country, gaining independence in 1945 only to be interrupted again by the French in 1946, and then having to continue the war for unification without any break after the Geneva conference in 1954.
Vietnam in the 21st century is a politically stable country with positive economic development. Vietnam is a dedicated member of ASEAN and has established a wide network of diplomatic and economic relations around the world. Being geographically next to China, possessing an organic connection with Chinese and ASEAN economies, and appearing as one the two strongest claimants of territory in South China Sea, Vietnam holds a strategic position if the United States has the intention to contain China.

Thus, Vietnam has again become a vital element in the new US containment policy at three levels. At the economic level, Vietnam is included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a macro free trade agreement, which intentionally leaves out China. At the diplomatic level, Vietnam is important in supporting the Philippines’ arbitration case against China regarding the disputes in the South China Sea and for emphasizing the cooperation of ASEAN countries as a legitimate regional forum.

At the level of military containment, the United States has recently lifted the arms embargo on Vietnam and increased financial support for Hanoi’s maritime self-development. The fact that Vietnam is the only country involved in US containment policy at all three levels (the Philippines, for example, is not included in TPP and Japan is not within ASEAN or involved in the legal case against China) shows the importance of Vietnam in the new US containment policy, which is a great evolution from its unfavourable position during Vietnam War.

Strategic partner

The first striking evolution of Vietnam’s position in the US containment policy was the upgrade of Vietnam’s status from being Washington’s enemy to a strategic partner.

During the Vietnam War, Vietnam was targeted by the United States as a key to stop the ‘domino effect’ of communism in Southeast Asia. Vietnam went through a deadly and destructive war with the Americans to achieve unification of the country. The country became well-known worldwide for being able to resist the advanced, high-tech power of the United States, and thereby completely shook Washington’s foreign policy with the so-called Vietnam syndrome.
However, in the 21st century, the position has changed dramatically. After the increasing aggression of Chinese claims in the South China Sea, the US made a decisive decision to partially lift the arms embargo which had been imposed on Vietnam since 1984. Furthermore, Vietnam is also included in Washington’s new Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative, which aims to upgrade the ability of eight ASEAN countries to manage maritime challenges in the South China Sea.
Most remarkably, Vietnam is included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the US answer to the Chinese initiative of ‘One Belt, One Road.’ TPP is considered by some as an obvious attempt by the United States to contain China, due to the agreement’s deliberate omission of China despite its important role in trans-Pacific trade. The absence of Philippines in the list of TPP partners is also noticeable. While the Philippines is Washington’s close ally in ASEAN, with a defence treaty obligating the US to protect the Philippines in case of attack, Manila is not included in TPP – but Hanoi is. This very fact shows that Vietnam is becoming more essential in the US containment strategy for China.
Active partnership
Part of the reason for this change is that Vietnam enjoys a more independent position in the South China Sea disputes than it had in the Vietnam War. Back then, Vietnam was a small, newly-independent country, with few resources to manage the war with a US-supported South Vietnam. The target of US containment policy at the time was the Soviet Union and communism.
However, the United States allied with China to take advantage of the crack in the communist bloc, changing the structure of US-Soviet-China relations. In the early 1970s, tension between two big communist states created the opportunity for the United States to intervene. The so-called ‘opening to China’ process started after President Richard Nixon’s trip to China in 1972, greatly improving the diplomatic relations between the US and China.
At that point, the United States could negotiate with China, persuading Beijing to limit support for Vietnam and the Soviet-Vietnam link. In the first negotiations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, the Vietnam War was one of the two important topics discussed, along the Taiwan question, as Henry Kissinger noted in On China. Vietnam was turned into a bargaining chip and the triangle of US-China-Vietnam relations became a key in US containment policy. In that triangle, Vietnam was the most vulnerable. The United States wanted to take advantage of diplomatic opening with China to quickly finish the Vietnam War, while China wanted to use Vietnam to bargain and gain more standing in US-China cooperation against the Soviet Union.
South Vietnam, or the Republic of Vietnam, was directly supported by the United States – but despite that close relationship, Washington forbade the South Vietnam government from bombing the PRC when China took control of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. And China was ready to reduce support for Vietnam, as it did in the 1970s, if it was beneficial for US-China relations against the Soviet Union. Vietnam was stuck in the middle, used as bargaining chips by big powers. Vietnam at the time had little means to decide its own destiny.
However, in the South China Sea dispute today, as an independent state, Vietnam has more space to develop its own position. That is not to say that Vietnam is completely independent from the influence of the United States or China. However, Vietnam can to some extent manage the level of cooperation and relations. For example, after peaking disputes in South China Sea, the Chinese government always has to follow up with diplomatic visits and attempts to reconnect relations. Xi Jinping visited Vietnam in October 2015, at a very sensitive point in their relationship. Though more symbolic than substantive, Xi’s visit showed that China did not want Vietnam to completely drift away from Beijing. On the other hand, Vietnam can also actively initiate and encourage military and political advances with India, Japan, and the United States to balance the relation with China.
Multipolar world
The way Vietnam perceives itself in international relations, especially in the US-China-Vietnam triangle, dramatically affects the position of Vietnam in US containment policy. In the past, the world was bipolar. Vietnam chose to be in the communist bloc and subsequently fell into a proxy war with the United States. There was no middle ground; Vietnam could not simultaneously ally with the Soviet Union and the United States.
That power structure has changed. The new world is multipolar. US hegemony has been undergoing a considerable decline relative to new emerging powers such as China, Japan, Australia, Germany, India, and so on. In the new world order, Vietnam has the chance to choose a variety of alliances and avoid falling into direct confrontation with either the United States or China.
Undoubtedly, Vietnam could have chosen to side completely with the United States, like Japan and the Philippines. However, Vietnam decided to commit to a more flexible position. Vietnam cautiously avoided a direct confrontation with China by not following the Philippines in taking Beijing to court for violations in the South China Sea. Obviously, there is pressure from China for Vietnam not to join the Philippines’ case, but Vietnam was also aware that a court case would not work in favour of its geopolitical position. Vietnam prefers a balance between the United States and China rather than making straightforward commitments with either of the two superpowers.
Rather than totally allying with big powers like Russia, China, or the United States, Vietnam is simultaneously trying to enhance cooperation with many countries, such as Russia, Japan, India, and Australia. Many scholars give ASEAN special attention as Vietnam’s most favoured form of balancing or containing China. While the future cooperation of ASEAN to speak as one voice on the South China Sea issue remains doubtful, ASEAN is expected to provide the most legitimate power and commitment for ensuring conduct in the South China Sea. Such a multi-dimensional outlook offers Vietnam more space and flexibility to partly form its own position and while keeping its importance in the US containment policy centered on the South China Sea dispute.
What next for Vietnam?
Self-development is the only way for Vietnam to insulate itself from the influence of major powers’ clash.
Vietnam is a small country stuck in the middle of confrontations by superpowers — in the past between the United States and USSR, and currently between the United States and China. Vietnam’s geopolitical position shaped the fate of the country as relates to US containment policy in both the Cold War and today’s South China Sea dispute. In the 21st century, Vietnam has again become an element in US containment against China.
However, this time around Vietnam has been quite flexible in adjusting its position in the US containment strategy. Vietnam’s foreign policy on the South China Sea issue is an example of the evolution of an independent and pragmatic state. Being China’s neighbour, but with a long history of fighting against Chinese influence, pushes Vietnam into an extreme dilemma. On one hand, resisting China is the core of Vietnamese identity and nationalism; it is almost impossible for Vietnam to submit to Chinese supremacy and bandwagon with China. The two sides’ cooperation under the communist bloc already marked the best period in Vietnam-China relations.
Linh Tong is a research assistant at ADA University.
On the other hand, bordering China does not leave Vietnam the chance to ignore Chinese power and completely commit to a strategic partnership with the United States. After the liberation of 1975, Vietnam has always tried to balance relations between the US and China, being careful not to anger China by over-intimate dialogues with the Americans.
Given the interdependence in the new world order, Vietnam cannot expect any committed support such as it received from the Soviet Union. The best position for Vietnam in the US containment policy up till now is to stay flexible, multilateral, and independent. However, such a strategy is not sustainable.
Already, Vietnam is struggling to balance relations with China and the United States, in addition to being on the verge of losing its claimed territory in the South China Sea. Developing its economy and improving Vietnam’s internal situation is the only sustainable method for having a position in the South China Sea dispute. Otherwise, Vietnam will again lie at the mercy of the great powers’ game.

UK to take up diaspora groups’ concerns with UNHRC before June sessions

All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils alleges progress ‘has been slow to non-existent’

The UK will make representations to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on behalf of the Tamil Diaspora regarding what UK based sources called extremely slow progress in the implementation of the Geneva Resolution adopted on Oct 1, 2015.

State Minister at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Hugo Swire has assured All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPG-T) that he would meet Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein before the next Geneva sessions next month. The APPG-T represents the interest of UK based Diaspora groups, including the Global Tamil Forum (GTF).

Prince Hussein is scheduled to make a statement on Sri Lanka largely in respect of post-Oct 1, 2015 developments.

Having assumed Foreign and Commonwealth Office in early September 2012, Swire dealt with those who had been pursuing war crimes investigation.

The 47 member United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) unanimously adopted the US led Resolution co-sponsored by Sri Lanka. The UK is also a member of the UNHRC.

Spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner, Rupert Colville yesterday told The Island that the HC was scheduled to deliver the statement on June 29, though there could be a change. Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha, too, confirmed that the presentation would be made during the last week of June.

State Minister Swire has said that much remains to be done in Sri Lanka. The Tamil Guardian quoted Minister Swire as having said that the UK would continue to support and encourage Sri Lanka to deliver “fully their commitments.

Minister Swire was responding to a query from the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPG-T), James Berry, (MP for Kingston and Surbiton). MP Berry said that progress to date “has been slow to non-existent”.

MP Berry said: “Last year, after the Prime Minister’s historic visit to Jaffna, the UN Human Rights Council passed a consensual resolution on accountability and reconciliation, following the atrocities at the end of the Sir Lankan civil war. When the resolution comes back before the UN in June, will our Government do whatever they can to ensure that Sri Lanka lives up to its promises? Progress to date has been slow to non-existent.”

Minister Swire responded: “”The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights will give his assessment of progress at the next meeting of the UNHRC in Geneva in June. Before then, I myself will visit Geneva to discuss with him how we can encourage and support the Government to deliver fully against their commitments. We recognise that there is still much more to be done, and the UK will continue to support and encourage the Sri Lankan Government to deliver fully against their commitments.”

-Shamindra Ferdinando


Chilcot Report: Tony Blair Set To Be Savaged In ‘Absolutely Brutal’ Iraq War Inquiry Verdict

The long-awaited Chilcot report into the Iraq war is reportedly set to savage Tony Blair and other former government officials in an “absolutely brutal” verdict on the failings of the occupation, The Independent reports.

– Colombo Telegraph

Syria conflict: Deadly blasts rock Assad strongholds

NZ PM ejected from parliament mid-debate

Being New Zealand’s prime minister granted John Key no special favours during a heated parliamentary debate about the Panama Papers.

Reprimanded for failing to obey a call to order, he was thrown out of the chamber by house speaker David Carter.

Mr Carter said Mr Key had ignored several of his warnings: “He is to be treated no differently to any other in this house,” Mr Carter said.

It is not the first time John Key has been thrown out of the chamber as PM.

Parliamentary records show he has been expelled on three other occasions while MP, the New Zealand news website Stuff reports.

Nor is he the first New Zealand prime minister to be ejected from the chamber: he follows in the footsteps of Helen Clark, in 2005, and before her, David Lange in both 1986 and 1987.

This billboard kills mosquitos by mimicking human sweat