All posts by Emmanuel justice

Contact Email (BBCNEWS.CO.UK@bbcnewslight.co.uk) or (emmanueljustice@post.com)

Call to ban killer robots in wars”:


This is not about terminator robots but “conventional weapons systems with autonomy”

A group of scientists has called for a ban on the development of weapons controlled by artificial intelligence (AI).

It says that autonomous weapons may malfunction in unpredictable ways and kill innocent people.

Ethics experts also argue that it is a moral step too far for AI systems to kill without any human intervention.

The comments were made at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meetingin Washington DC.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is one of the 89 non-governmental organisations from 50 countries that have formed the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, to press for an international treaty.

Among those leading efforts for the worldwide ban is HRW’s Mary Wareham.

“We are not talking about walking, talking terminator robots that are about to take over the world; what we are concerned about is much more imminent: conventional weapons systems with autonomy,” she told BBC News.

“They are beginning to creep in. Drones are the obvious example, but there are also military aircraft that take off, fly and land on their own; robotic sentries that can identify movement. These are precursors to autonomous weapons.”

Ryan Gariepy, chief technological officer at Clearpath Robotics, backs the ban proposal.

His company takes military contracts, but it has denounced AI systems for warfare and stated that it would not develop them.

“When they fail, they fail in unpredictable ways,” he told BBC News.

“As advanced as we are, the state of AI is really limited by image recognition. It is good but does not have the detail or context to be judge, jury and executioner on a battlefield.

“An autonomous system cannot make a decision to kill or not to kill in a vacuum. The de-facto decision has been made thousands of miles away by developers, programmers and scientists who have no conception of the situation the weapon is deployed in.”

According to Peter Asaro, of the New School in New York, such a scenario raises issues of legal liability if the system makes an unlawful killing.

“The delegation of authority to kill to a machine is not justified and a violation of human rights because machines are not moral agents and so cannot be responsible for making decisions of life and death.

“So it may well be that the people who made the autonomous weapon are responsible.”

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Vogue Brazil exec quits over ‘slave party’ criticism”:


Donata Meirelles has apologised after photos from her 50th birthday party were criticised for “evoking slavery”

Vogue Brazil’s fashion director has resigned after photos from her 50th birthday party were criticised for “evoking slavery.”

One image, now deleted from Instagram, show fashion boss Donata Meirelles sat on a throne with two black women in traditional dress stood either side of her.

Critics on social media have accused her of being racially insensitive,

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Ms Meirelles has apologised and denies the images were linked with slavery.

The image first emerged in a now-deleted Instagram post by Brazilian journalist Fabio Bernardo.

It has been suggested that the black women’s clothes were similar to those worn by slaves, while the throne resembled a cadeira de sinhá – a chair for slave masters.

Other pictures from the party in Salvador de Bahia in northeast Brazil, show traditionally-dressed black women welcoming and ushering guests.

TV presenter Rita Batista, posted the party picture with another photograph, taken in 1860, of a white woman sat next to two slaves.

“Think about how much you can hurt people, their memories, the plight of their people, when you choose a theme to ‘spice up’ a happy moment in your life,” said Brazilian singer Elza Soares in an Instagram post.

Ms Meirelles apologised in a now-deleted statement on Instagram. She added that the women’s clothes were traditional Bahian party dress and the chair was a relic from the Afro-Brazilian folk religion candomblé.

On Wednesday, she announced her resignation in a separate post.

“At age 50, it’s time for action. I’ve heard a lot, I need to hear more,” she said.

Vogue also issued an apology for the incident, saying it “deeply regrets what happened and hopes that the debate generated will serve as a learning experience.”

The fashion magazine also said it would form a panel of experts and academics to address concerns about inequality at the publication.

This is the third racially-charged incident Vogue has apologised for this years.

In February, it again misidentified two actresses from the movie Crazy Rich Asians.

Pulwama attack: India will ‘completely isolate’ Pakistan”:


The blast took place on a heavily guarded highway

India has said it will ensure the “complete isolation” of Pakistan after a suicide bomber killed 46 soldiers in Indian-administered Kashmir.

It claims to have “incontrovertible evidence” of its neighbour’s involvement but has not provided it.

Pakistan denies any role in the attack by militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad, which is based on its soil.

Thursday’s bombing of a military convoy was the deadliest attack on Indian forces in the region for decades.

Federal Minister Arun Jaitley said India would take “all possible diplomatic steps” to cut Pakistan off from the international community.

But a Pakistani minister has asked India to reveal their evidence, and offered to help them investigate the attack.

There has been an insurgency in Indian-administered Kashmir since the late 1980s but violence has risen in recent years.

Demonstrators overturn a car during a protest against the attack on a bus that killed 44 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in south Kashmir on Thursday, in Jammu February 15, 2019.
REUTERS

Protests were held in Jammu after Thursday’s attack

In the wake of the attack, authorities have imposed a curfew in parts of Hindu-majority Jammu city after an angry mob vandalised cars in a largely Muslim neighbourhood.

Both India and Pakistan claim all of Muslim-majority Kashmir but only control parts of it.

How will India ‘punish’ Pakistan?

India says that Pakistan has long given safe haven to Jaish-e-Mohammad militants and accused it of having a “direct hand” in Thursday’s attack.

It has called for global sanctions against the group and for its leader, Masood Azhar, to be listed as a terrorist by the UN security council.

India has tried to do this several times in the past but was repeatedly blocked by China, an ally of Pakistan.

Mr Jaitley set out India’s determination to hold Pakistan to account when speaking to reporters after attending a security meeting early on Friday.

He also confirmed that India would revoke Most Favoured Nation status from Pakistan, a special trading privilege granted in 1996.

Pakistan said it was gravely concerned by the bombing but firmly rejected allegations that it was responsible.

The country’s Information Minister, Fawad Chaudry, asked India to show its evidence, and offered to help the investigation into the attack.

“This needs evidence,” he told broadcaster CNN-News18. “This needs an investigation.”

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a speech that those behind the attack would pay a “heavy price”, leading many analysts to expect further action from Delhi.

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But they say that the government’s military options appear limited due to heavy snow across the region.

After a 2016 attack on an Indian army base that killed 19 soldiers, Delhi said it carried out a campaign of “surgical strikes” in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, across the de facto border. But a BBC investigation found little evidence militants had been hit

How did the attack unfold?

The bomber used a vehicle packed with explosives to ram a convoy of 78 buses carrying Indian security forces on the heavily guarded Srinagar-Jammu highway about 20km (12 miles) from the capital, Srinagar.

The bomber is reported to be Adil Dar, a high school dropout who left home in March 2018. He is believed to be between the ages of 19 and 21.

Soon after the attack, Jaish-e-Mohammad released a video in which a young man identified as Dar spoke about what he described as atrocities against Kashmiri Muslims. He said he joined the group in 2018 and was eventually “assigned” the task of carrying out the attack in Pulwama.

He also said that by the time the video was released he would be in jannat (heaven).

Dar is one of many young Kashmiri men who have been radicalised in recent years. On Thursday, main opposition leader Rahul Gandhi said that the number of Kashmiri men joining militancy had risen from 88 in 2016 to 191 in 2018.

India has been accused of using brutal tactics to put down protests in Kashmir – with thousands of people sustaining eye injuries from pellet guns used by security forces.

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‘It feels like my son is always with me’

by Arvind Chhabra, BBC News Punjabi

Kulwinder Singh was killed in the attack on Thursday

“I’m proud of my son. He has sacrificed himself for his family,” says Darshan Singh, whose son, Kulwinder, died in the suicide attack in Kashmir.

Mr Singh, who lives in Rauli village in Punjab, last saw Kulwinder on 10 February, before he returned to Kashmir at the end of his vacation.

His son was 26 and planned to marry in November: “We talked of only his wedding. We had finalised the caterers and the venue.”

“It feels like my son is always with me,” Mr Singh says, pointing to the jacket he is wearing. It belonged to Kulwinder and has his name embroidered on it.

Darshan Singh says his son was like a friend to him and he had been waiting to see him come home with his bride. “I didn’t know we would instead be waiting for his body.”

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What’s the background?

There have been at least 10 suicide attacks since 1989 but this is only the second to use a vehicle.

Prior to Thursday’s bombing, the deadliest attack on Indian security forces in Kashmir this century came in 2002, when militants killed at least 31 people at an army base in Kaluchak, near Jammu, most of them civilians and relatives of soldiers.

Why has 2018 seen a spike in violence in Indian-administered Kashmir?

The latest attack comes amid a spike in violence in Kashmir that came about after Indian forces killed a popular militant, 22-year-old Burhan Wani, in 2016.

More than 500 people were killed in 2018 – including civilians, security forces and militants – the highest such toll in a decade.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars and a limited conflict since independence from Britain in 1947 – all but one were over Kashmir.

What is Jaish-e-Mohammad?

Started by cleric Masood Azhar in 2000, the group has been blamed for attacks on Indian soil in the past, including one in 2001 on the parliament in Delhi which took India and Pakistan to the brink of war.

People protest carrying placards of Maulan Masood Azhar

Maulan Masood Azhar founded JeM in 1999

Most recently, the group was blamed for attacking an Indian air force base in 2016 near the border in Punjab state. Seven Indian security personnel and six militants were killed.

India, the UK, US and UN have all designated it a “terrorist” organisation and it has been banned in Pakistan since 2002.

But Masood Azhar remains at large and is reportedly based in Bahawalpur in Pakistan’s Punjab province. India has demanded his extradition but Islamabad has refused, citing a lack of proof.

He was arrested in Srinagar in 1999 but India released him as a part of a hostage exchange after an airliner was hijacked.

How have others reacted?

Mr Gandhi and two former Indian chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir condemned the attack and expressed their condolences.

The attack has also been widely condemned around the world, including by the US and the UN Secretary General.

The White House called on Pakistan to “end immediately the support and safe haven provided to all terrorist groups operating on its soil”.

Trump to declare emergency over Mexico border wall”:


Senator McConnell supports the president; Speaker Pelosi warns it sets a dangerous precedent,

Democratic and Republican politicians have sharply criticised President Trump’s plan to use emergency powers to pay for a border wall with Mexico.

The rarely-used move would enable Mr Trump to bypass Congress, which has refused to approve the money needed.

Senior Democrats accused the president of a “gross abuse of power” and a “lawless act”. Several Republicans also voiced concern at the plan.

Building a border wall was a key campaign pledge of Mr Trump’s campaign.

Declaring a national emergency would give Mr Trump access to billions of dollars for his project.

The president agreed on Thursday to sign a spending bill that does not include finance for the wall. Disagreement over the issue led to a 35-day government shutdown early this year – the longest in US history.

The spending bill must be signed on Friday to avert another shutdown. Citing unnamed White House officials, US media outlets reported that the president would sign the emergencies act at the same time.

Can Congress stop Trump’s emergency move?

The National Emergencies Act contains a clause that allows Congress to terminate the emergency status if both houses vote for it – and the president does not veto.

With a comfortable majority in the House, Democrats could pass such a resolution to the Senate. The Republicans control the Senate, but a number of Republican senators have been vocal in their unease about the president invoking a national emergency.

The dissenting Republicans include 2012 presidential contender and new senator for Utah Mitt Romney, Florida senator Marco Rubio, and the senator from Maine Susan Collins, who said the move was of “dubious constitutionality”.

The resolution would however still require Mr Trump’s signature to pass, allowing him to veto it. A supermajority in both houses of Congress is needed to overturn a presidential veto.

What did the White House say?

“The president is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement on Thursday.

She said Mr Trump would “take other executive action – including a national emergency – to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border”.

The compromise legislation was approved in an 83-16 vote in the Senate on Thursday. The House of Representatives later also backed the measure, by 300 to 128.

The package includes $1.3bn (£1bn) in funding for border security, including physical barriers, but it does not allot money towards Mr Trump’s wall. Mr Trump had wanted $5.7bn for this.

Speaking on the Senate floor on Thursday, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated his support for the president’s national emergency move, saying the president was taking action with “whatever tools he can legally use to enhance his efforts to secure the border”. Trump faces anger over wall emergency plan

How have Democrats responded?

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer issued a strongly worded joint statement condemning the move.

“Declaring a national emergency would be a lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency and a desperate attempt to distract from the fact that President Trump broke his core promise to have Mexico pay for his wall,” read the statement.

BBC

“He couldn’t convince Mexico, the American people or their elected representatives to pay for his ineffective and expensive wall, so now he’s trying an end-run around Congress in a desperate attempt to put taxpayers on the hook for it.”

Ms Pelosi had already suggested that Democrats would mount a legal challenge.

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Getting around Congress, not through it

A month ago, in the midst of the federal government shutdown crisis, a consensus had emerged that the easiest way out for the president was to back down from his demands for congressional border wall appropriations while declaring a “national emergency” to commandeer funds from other sources.

It took a while, but the path of least resistance is the one Donald Trump is following.

He has extricated himself from a predicament of his own making, while taking action that he can cite to supporters as evidence that he’s fulfilling his “build the wall” campaign promise.

Of course, the drawbacks to this course that were apparent in January are still there.

Republicans fear this will set a precedent for presidential power that Democrats can someday use to circumvent the will of Congress.

The emergency declaration is sure to get bogged down in court challenges, which means it may not have much tangible benefit anytime soon.

And, as much as the president may like to spin this as a victory by other means, he still backed down in the face of Democratic resistance in Congress.

The shutdown fight was always about more than just the wall – it was a battle over who would set the political agenda for the next two years of the Trump presidency.

And if this resolution is any indication, if the president wants to get his way he’s largely going to have to find ways around Congress, not through it.

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What is a national emergency?

The National Emergencies Act is intended for times of national crisis. Mr Trump has claimed that there is a migration crisis at the nation’s southern border – a claim strongly refuted by migration experts.

The largest number of illegal migrants settling in the US each year is those who stay in the country after their visas expire.

Declaring a national emergency would give the president access to special powers that effectively allow him to bypass the usual political process, and he would be able to divert money from existing military or disaster relief budgets to pay for the wall.

BBC

Emergency declarations by previous presidents have been overwhelmingly used for addressing foreign policy crises – including blocking terrorism-linked entities from accessing funds or prohibiting investment in nations associated with human rights abuses.

“It’s extremely rare for a president to declare a national emergency in a bid to fund domestic construction projects, particularly one that Congress has explicitly refused to fund,” Andrew Boyle, an attorney in the national security program at the Brennan Center for Justice, told the Associated Press news agency.

Mr Trump’s decision to apply the powers to overcome a partisan impasse over border security has struck politicians on both sides of the aisle as a deviation from the intended use of the act.

“It would be a pretty dramatic expansion of how this was used in the past,” said the Republican senator Ron Johnson.

Other presidents got money for a border barrier – why not Trump?

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Climate strike: Schoolchildren protest over climate change,”:


Schoolchildren across the UK have gone on strike as part of a global campaign calling for action over climate change.

Students around the country walked out of school to call on the government to declare a climate emergency and take active steps to tackle the problem.

“Save our planet” was the message chanted by thousands of people gathered in Parliament Square in London.

Organisers Youth Strike 4 Climate said protests were taking place in more than 60 towns and cities across the UK.

The action is part of a much wider global movement, known as Schools 4 Climate Action.

It began with 15-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg skipping class to sit outside government buildings in September, accusing her country of not following the Paris Climate Agreement.

Since then, tens of thousands of children across Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Australia have been inspired to hold their own demonstrations.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said that while it was important for young people to engage with issues like climate change, the disruption to planned lesson time was damaging for pupils.

However, energy minister Claire Perry said she was “incredibly proud” of young people’s passion and concern.

She told the BBC: “I suspect if this was happening 40 years ago, I would be out there too.”

Lola and Christina in Parliament Square
Christina (right) says she’s worried for her future

In London, 15-year-old Christina, from London, said the issue was too big to ignore.

“A lot of us are very good, obedient students but when it comes to climate change, it’s really important,” she says.

“The youth of our time tend to get pushed to one side. We often stay quiet but when it comes to climate change we are going to have to pay for the older generation’s mistakes.

“It really scares me.”

Scarlet at protest in London
Scarlet, one of the organisers, says they will keep making noise until they are heard

Part of the UK Student Climate Network, 15-year-old Scarlet, from Suffolk, says the group has a detailed list of demands.

“We want the UK government to declare a climate emergency and make moves to achieve climate justice, prioritising this above all else,” she told BBC News.

“We’re demanding the government listen to us and we will continue to make a noise until they do so.

“It can’t be about behaviour change any more; it has to be about system change.”

Scarlet says she has been vegetarian since she was six, wears second-hand clothes and avoids plastic bags; she also carries a reusable straw.

Hannah Jane at protest in London
Eleven-year-old Hannah Jane’s mum wrote a letter to the head teacher asking for her permission to give her daughter the day off

Banners in Parliament Square
Banners filled London’s Parliament Square

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At the scene

By BBC education reporter Judith Burns

Protestors sitting down in the road
Some of those involved staged a sit-down protest

Teenagers brandishing brightly-coloured posters packed Parliament Square chanting “save our planet”.

Many were keen to point out it is their generation who will be left to pick up the pieces of our civilisation’s waste and pollution.

They don’t feel the government is listening to scientists’ warnings on climate change. Without a vote, protests like this one are their only option, they say.

Some climbed onto statues but were quickly ordered down by police.

The organisers had planned a revision session to show the protestors take their education seriously but instead, shortly after noon, some of the teenagers, sat down on a crossing, blocking traffic.

Again they moved on quickly, but took an unplanned walk up Whitehall. Most of the protesters left the square and marched to Downing Street.

The protest is good-humoured, but the organisers’ plans have been abandoned.

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Hundreds of young protesters chanted for climate justice in Cambridge, carrying banners with slogans including ‘There is no planet B’ and ‘When did the children become the adults’.

Ten-year-old Zachary, who attended with his mother, said he thought climate change was more important than lessons.

He said: “People just have to change their ways as we don’t want the world as it is right now.

“We just want to make people aware of it. We were talking about it in our class, so we just came along.”

Protesters at a Youth Strike 4 Climate demonstration outside Shire Hall in Cambridge
Students in Cambridge gathered outside the Cambridgeshire County Council’s offices

Brighton
Students marched down the streets of Brighton

Ivy in Sheffield
Ivy, 9, is home-schooled; she received permission from her mother to join the protest in Sheffield

In Wales, hundreds of primary and secondary school pupils descended on the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff Bay.

Protest outside the National Assembly for Wales

Meanwhile in the Scottish Highlands, pupils staged hour-long walkouts outside their school gates.

Shamima Begum: IS runaway teen ‘could face prosecution in UK’:


Ms Begum was 15 and living in Bethnal Green, London, when she left the UK in 2015

A British woman who ran away to Syria as a schoolgirl to join the Islamic State group has been told she could face prosecution if she returns home.

Shamima Begum, now 19 and pregnant, told the Times she had no regrets but wanted to have her baby in the UK.

She said she had heard that Amira Abase, one of the two girls she fled to Syria with, might still be alive.

Her father, Abase Hussen, broke down on hearing the news and appealed to the UK government to bring both women home.

He said that Ms Begum’s comments had given his family hope about Ms Abase.

In her interview with the newspaper, Ms Begum, who married an IS fighter, showed little remorse for her involvement with the terror group, saying she was not fazed by seeing “beheaded heads” in bins.

“I don’t regret coming here,” she told Times journalist Anthony Loyd, who found her in the camp.

“I’m not the same silly little 15-year-old schoolgirl who ran away from Bethnal Green four years ago.”

Anthony Loyd of the Times describes how he found Shamima Begum in a Syrian refugee camp
Anthony Loyd of the Times describes how he found Shamima Begum in a Syrian refugee camp

“The caliphate is over. There was so much oppression and corruption that I don’t think they deserved victory,” she said.

“I just want to come home to have my child. I’ll do anything required just to be able to come home and live quietly with my child.”

Earlier, security minister Ben Wallace told the BBC he would not risk any British officials’ safety trying to bring back Ms Begum, who is currently in a refugee camp in northern Syria.

But Mr Wallace said any Britons who had gone to Syria to engage or support terrorist activities should be prepared to be questioned, investigated and potentially prosecuted if they came back to the UK.

He said there was no consular assistance in Syria and insisted he would not attempt to rescue Ms Begum.

“I’m not putting at risk British people’s lives to go and look for terrorists or former terrorists in a failed state,” he told the BBC.

Abase Hussen appealed to the British government to bring home his daughter, Amira Abase, and her friend Shamima Begum
Abase Hussen appealed to the British government to bring home his daughter, Amira Abase, and her friend Shamima Begum

However, the father of Ms Abase believes that the UK should help bring back both his daughter and Ms Begum.

Abase Hussen told the BBC that his daughter had not spoken to him since she sent some texts two years ago, telling him not to worry about her.

The Times interview “gives us some kind of positive hope for the family,” he said. “We were just waiting for something to come out.”

Ms Begum and Ms Abase, both 15, along with Kadiza Sultana, 16, were pupils at Bethnal Green Academy when they left the UK in February 2015.

The schoolfriends flew from Gatwick Airport to Turkey after telling their parents they were going out for the day.

They later crossed the border into Syria.

On arriving in Raqqa, Ms Begum stayed at a house with other newly-arrived brides-to-be.

“I applied to marry an English-speaking fighter between 20 and 25 years old,” she said.

Ten days later she married a 27-year-old Dutch man who had converted to Islam – and has been with him since then.

The couple escaped from Baghuz – IS’s last territory in eastern Syria – two weeks ago.

MET POLICE

Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum (l-r) in photos issued by police

Her husband surrendered to a group of Syrian fighters as they left, and she is now one of 39,000 people in a refugee camp in northern Syria.

Asked whether living in the one-time IS stronghold of Raqqa had lived up to her aspirations, Ms Begum said: “Yes, it did.

“It was like a normal life. The life that they show on the propaganda videos – it’s a normal life.

“Every now and then there are bombs and stuff. But other than that…”

She said that seeing her first “severed head” in a bin “didn’t faze me at all”.

“It was from a captured fighter seized on the battlefield, an enemy of Islam.

“I thought only of what he would have done to a Muslim woman if he had the chance,” she said.

Map of Ms Begum's travels

Will Shamima Begum be allowed to return to the UK?

Shamima Begum was legally a child when she pinned her colours to the Islamic State mast.

And if she were still under 18 years old, the government would have a duty to take her and her unborn child’s “best interests” into account in deciding what to do next.

But she’s now an apparently unrepentant adult – and that means she would have to account for her decisions, even if her journey is a story of grooming and abuse.

Another British jihadi bride, Tareena Shakil, who got out of the war zone with her child, lied to the security services on her return and was jailed for membership of a terrorist group.

If Ms Begum got out of the country, that is the kind of charge she could face – along with encouraging or supporting terrorism.

But that’s a long way off. Assuming she made it to an airport, the UK could temporarily ban her from returning until she agreed to be investigated, monitored and deradicalised.

Social services would also certainly step in to consider whether her child should be removed to protect him or her from radicalisation.

In her interview, Ms Begum talked about Kadiza Sultana who accompanied her to Syria.

She said her school friend had died in a bombing on a house where there was “some secret stuff going on” underground.

“I never thought it would happen. Because I always thought if we got killed, we’d get killed together,” she added.

A lawyer for Ms Sultana’s family said in 2016 that she was believed to have been killed in a Russian air strike.

‘Overprotective’

Ms Begum said losing her two children came as a shock. “It just came out of nowhere, it was so hard.”

Her daughter died at the age of one year and nine months and was buried in Baghuz a month ago.

Her second child died three months ago at just eight months old of an illness compounded by malnutrition, the Times reports.

She said she took him to a hospital but there were no drugs and not enough staff.

She said she was now “really overprotective” of her unborn child and was scared it would become ill if she stayed in the refugee camp.

“That’s why I really want to get back to Britain because I know it will be taken care of – health-wise, at least,” she said.

Her family back in the UK told lawyer Tasnime Akunjee they wanted “time and space to process what’s happened”.

The BBC asked people in London's Bethnal Green, where Shamima Begum went to school, whether she should be allowed back to the UK
The BBC asked people in London’s Bethnal Green, where Shamima Begum went to school, whether she should be allowed back to the UK

Dal Babu, a former Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent, said it should be remembered that Ms Begum was groomed as a child to become a radicalised woman and was a “victim of brainwashing”.

Lord Carlile, a former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said Ms Begum would have to be accepted back into the UK if she had not become a national of any other country.

Under international law, it is not possible to render a person stateless.

He said he thought it was unlikely she would be allowed to return quickly and expected that, if tried for any offences, she would be tried as an adult, he told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Emma Barnett.

Sir Peter Fahy, a retired senior police chief who led the Prevent terrorism prevention programme at the time the girls ran away, said he could understand why the government was “not particularly interested” in facilitating her return.

“If the woman was showing complete remorse, it would be completely different,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

It would cost a “vast amount of money” and the biggest challenge would be for local police to keep her safe and ensure she did not become a lightning rod for both right-wing extremists and Islamic extremists, he added.

IS has lost control of most of the territory it overran, including its strongholds of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.

However, fighting continues in north-eastern Syria, where the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) say they captured dozens of foreign fighters in recent weeks.

We asked people in Bethnal Green, where Shamima Begum previously went to school, whether the teenager should be allowed back to the UK

Brexit amendments: The MPs trying to change Theresa May’s course”:


MPs are trying to influence the Brexit process in a number of ways, as Theresa May continues her bid to get the EU to change the deal.

The prime minister has asked MPs to approve a motion on Thursday simply acknowledging that process is ongoing and restating their support for the approach.

Several MPs tabled amendments setting out alternative plans and Commons Speaker John Bercow has selected three to be put to a Commons vote.

Even if they won the backing of a majority of MPs, the proposals would not be binding on the government. However, they could put pressure on Mrs May to change course.

She has adopted proposals from two successful backbench amendments tabled in January.

One asked her to seek alternatives to the “backstop”, which aims to prevent the return of customs checkpoints on the Irish border in the event that no trade deal has come into force. The other rejected leaving the EU without a formal exit deal.

The selected proposals are below. Use our guide to Brexit jargon or follow the links for further explanation.

Labour frontbench amendment

Jeremy Corbyn
AP

Requires the government to either give MPs a vote on the withdrawal agreement and political declaration on future UK-EU relations by 27 February, or make a statement saying there is no longer an agreement in principle with Brussels and so allow MPs to vote on – and amend – its planned next steps.

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn’s amendments are considered unlikely to receive the necessary backing from Conservative backbenchers to succeed.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable has tabled a bid to change the wording of this amendment to delay the Brexit date to allow for a referendum on the deal, with the option to remain in the EU.

SNP amendment

PA

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford, centre, tabled the amendment on behalf of his party

Seeks to postpone the Brexit date by at least three months.

This has the backing of Liberal Democrats, as well as the SNP contingent.

Conservative backbencher Anna Soubry’s amendment

Anna Soubry with Labour's Chris Leslie, left and Chuka Umunna
Anna Soubry’s amendment has the backing of Labour MPs including Chris Leslie, left, and Chuka Umunna, right

Instructs the government to publish within seven days “the most recent official briefing document relating to business and trade on the implications of a no-deal Brexit presented to cabinet”.

This has the backing of some mostly Remain-supporting Labour and Conservative backbenchers.

Does the government motion face defeat?

The government may well fight off these attempts to amend its motion.

But even if it does, it is not guaranteed to win the subsequent vote. Some Conservative Brexiteers in the European Research Group (ERG) have indicated they will refuse to back the government.

They are angry because the motion not only supports the view backed by a majority of MPs last month that the government should seek an alternative to the “backstop”, but also a separate move to stop Brexit happening without a formal deal, which the Commons supported at the same time.

Most MPs want to avoid a no-deal scenario, fearing chaos at ports and disruption to business. However, some Brexiteers have played down that prospect, arguing it is an example of “Project Fear”, and say the no-deal option offers leverage in negotiations with Brussels.

Prince Philip will not be prosecuted over crash”:


The Duke of Edinburgh will not face prosecution over his road crash near the Sandringham estate, the Crown Prosecution Service has said.

The 97-year-old voluntarily gave up his driving licence on Saturday after his Land Rover Freelander collided with another vehicle in Norfolk last month.

He later apologised to the occupants of the other car – two women and a baby.

The CPS says it decided that it would not be in the public interest to prosecute the duke.

Chris Long, Chief Crown Prosecutor from CPS East of England, said: “We took into account all of the circumstances in this case, including the level of culpability, the age of the driver and the surrender of the driving licence.”

The duke escaped injury after his vehicle landed on its side following the collision with a Kia on 17 January on the A149 near the Queen’s country estate.

Two days later Norfolk Police gave him “suitable words of advice” after he was pictured driving without a seat belt.

He wrote to one of the passengers in the Kia – Emma Fairweather, who broke her wrist in the accident.

In the letter, dated 21 January andreproduced by the Sunday Mirror , the duke acknowledged the “very distressing experience”.

“I would like you to know how very sorry I am for my part in the accident,” he wrote, on Sandringham House headed paper.

“The sun was shining low over the main road. In normal conditions I would have no difficulty in seeing traffic coming… but I can only imagine that I failed to see the car coming, and I am very contrite about the consequences.”

Ms Fairweather had previously criticised the duke for a lack of communication following the crash.

Paul Manafort: Trump ex-aide lied to prosecutors, judge rules”:


Paul Manafort was found guilty of multiple fraud charges in 2018

Donald Trump’s former election campaign chief Paul Manafort breached his plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller by lying to prosecutors, a US judge says.

US District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that Manafort “made multiple false statements” to the FBI, Mr Mueller’s office and a grand jury.

Mr Mueller leads a probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.

This related to his work as a political consultant in Ukraine.

Manafort, 69, then accepted a plea deal on other charges in return for co-operating with Mr Mueller’s investigation.

In her ruling on Wednesday, Judge Berman Jackson said there was evidence that showed Manafort had lied about – among other things – contacts he had with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian political consultant. Prosecutors claim Mr Kilimnik had ties to Russian intelligence.

The judge also cleared Manafort of allegations that he lied on two other subjects.

The verdict means that Manafort – who has been held in a detention centre in Virginia since June – could now potentially face harsher sentences or have charges against him re-filed.

Last year, Mr Mueller said that Manafort lied “on a variety of subject matters” after signing the plea deal.

What was the plea deal?

Last August, Manafort was convicted on eight counts of fraud, bank fraud and failing to disclose bank accounts.

A month later he pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy against the US and one charge of conspiracy to obstruct justice in a plea bargain with Mr Mueller. The agreement avoided a second trial on money laundering and other charges.

The plea deal meant Manafort would face up to 10 years in prison and would forfeit four of his properties and the contents of several bank accounts – but deadlocked charges from the previous trial would be dismissed.

It was the first criminal trial arising from the Department of Justice’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the presidential election.

However, the charges related only to Manafort’s political consulting with pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, largely pre-dating his role with the Trump campaign.

How did we get here?

Manafort worked for the Trump presidential campaign for five months in 2016 and was in charge when Mr Trump clinched the Republican party nomination.

President Trump has branded the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt” and insisted there was no collusion between his team and Russia.

Manafort was charged by Mr Mueller last October and during the trial he was accused of using 31 foreign bank accounts in three different countries to evade taxes on millions of dollars.

Prosecutors presented evidence of Manafort’s luxurious lifestyle, saying it was only possible because of his bank and tax fraud.

MPs to debate next steps, Brexit:


MPs are to debate and vote on the next steps in the Brexit process later, as Theresa May continues to try to get a deal through Parliament.

A series of amendments – designed to change the direction of Brexit – will be considered in the debate, which is expected to be a routine procedure.

But BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said the PM could be facing another defeat.

Some Tory Brexiteers are refusing to back the government, she said.

No 10 insists Mrs May still plans to hold a vote on a deal as soon as possible but Labour has accused her of “running down the clock” in an effort to “blackmail” MPs into backing her deal.

The prime minister has asked MPs to approve a motion simply acknowledging that the process was ongoing and restating their support for the approach.

But several MPs have tabled amendments – which set out alternative plans – including one from Labour that would force the government to come back to Parliament by the end of the month to hold a substantive Commons vote on its Brexit plan.

Another, from the SNP, calls on the government to pass a law leading to the Brexit process being halted.

Commons Speaker John Bercow is yet to decide which of these will actually be considered by MPs.

However, influential Brexiteers from the European Research Group of Tory backbenchers are angry at being asked to support the PM’s motion.

This is because it combines the view backed by a majority of MPs last month that the government should seek an alternative to the “backstop” with a separate move to stop Brexit happening without a formal deal.

The backstop aims to prevent the return of customs checkpoints on the Irish border in the event that no trade deal comes into force.

The group’s deputy chairman, Mark Francois, told the BBC: “We cannot vote for this as it is currently configured because it rules out no deal and removes our negotiating leverage in Brussels.”

He said members had “pleaded” with Downing Street to change the wording, which he said goes back on what the prime minister has previously told MPs.

“A senior ERG source says they haven’t decided whether to abstain or vote against, but they won’t back the government,” said BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg.

Most MPs want to avoid a no-deal scenario, fearing chaos at ports and disruption to business. But some Brexiteers have played down that prospect, arguing it is an example of “Project Fear”.

MPs rejected the deal negotiated with the EU by a historic margin in January and the prime minister says she is seeking legally-binding changes to the controversial “backstop” – the “insurance policy” aimed at avoiding a return to border checks between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

The UK is currently due to leave the EU on 29 March, whether or not a deal has been approved by the Commons.

Presentational grey line

Could Brexit cause a Labour split?

By BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg

You’ll be used to people in my kind of job saying things like, “these are critical days”.

And hands up, on many of the occasions when a big move is predicted, a damp squib often comes along to squelch the expectation.

What I’m about to say may well be a repetition of that familiar phenomenon. But I’m not the only person in Westminster this week to be wondering whether after many, many, many months of private conversations where this possibility was discussed, in the next couple of weeks, maybe even in the next couple of days, something that actually is critical is going to start happening.

Read more

What happens next?

The prime minister has promised to return to the Commons on 26 February with a further statement – triggering another debate and votes the following day – if a deal has not been secured by that date.

If a deal is agreed, MPs will have a second “meaningful vote”, more than a month after Mrs May’s deal was rejected in the first one.

Mrs May told MPs on Tuesday she was discussing a number of options with the EU to secure legally binding changes to the backstop, including replacing it with “alternative arrangements”, putting a time limit on how long it can stay in place, or a unilateral exit clause so the UK can leave it at a time of its choosing.

The EU has continued to say it will not renegotiate the withdrawal agreement.

On Wednesday, European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted that “no news is not always good news”, saying the EU was “still waiting for concrete, realistic proposals from London”.

The prime minister has also said she will lift the requirement for a 21-day period before any vote to approve an international treaty, which means she could delay the final Brexit vote until days before the UK is due to leave the EU.

Former attorney general Dominic Grieve warned on Tuesday that time was running short for the ratification of a deal under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act.

The Act requires 21 sitting days before the ratification of any international treaty, to allow MPs to study the agreement.

But Mrs May responded: “In this instance MPs will already have debated and approved the agreement as part of the meaningful vote.”

If there was not time for normal procedures, the government would amend the law around Brexit to allow it to be ratified more quickly.

Brexit: MPs to debate next steps
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