Category Archives: World News


#MeToo” The women left behind in India:

India’s #MeToo campaign has taken off in fits and starts but it has still not touched the lives of millions of poor, vulnerable women who work in informal jobs, writes professor Sreeparna Chattopadhyay.

Meena (her name has been changed on request) is a 45-year-old domestic worker in the southern city of Bangalore. And she is a survivor of sexual harassment in the workplace.

She cooks and cleans in three different homes, earning around 6,000 rupees ($84; $64) a month. She used to earn nearly three times as much. But she lost her job in several homes after she accused one of her employers of sexually harassing her.

Meena said the harassment started after she borrowed 100,000 rupees for her older daughter’s wedding from a couple in their early 70s. She had been working in their house for three years by then.

She alleged the man would initially try and brush past her while she was sweeping or mopping the floor. Sometimes, she said, he would try and touch her casually or even tug on her sari.

Scattered surveys of female workers in different parts of the country tell an incomplete but important story

His wife, Meena said, was often asleep and didn’t seem to know about her husband’s inappropriate behaviour.

Meena said she tried to resist his advances.

But one evening his wife locked herself in the bedroom and went to sleep. That day, she alleged, he grabbed her and tried to pull her onto the sofa.

Despite his age he was strong she said, but fortunately not stronger than her. She managed to push him away, and flee the house never to return.

Meena did not file a police complaint because she assumed no-one would believe her. But then the couple started pressurising her to return the money she had borrowed, failing which they wanted her to return to work to pay off her debt. At first, they threatened her over the phone. Then, she alleged, they sent men to her home to intimidate her.

The wife also blamed her for dressing “provocatively” and “tempting” her husband.

Given their economic and social vulnerability, informal workers are less likely to report offences against them

Meena said she was scared, depressed and did not know what to do. She could not pay off her debt in full and returning to work in their home was not an option.

In one of the other houses that she worked in, she felt comfortable enough to share her experience. This employer put her in touch with a domestic workers’ union and another organisation that works on violence against women in Bangalore.

The union representative spoke to the elderly couple and threatened police action if they did not stop harassing Meena.

Meena had some money saved and decided to use it to pay off as much of the debt as she could.

Domestic workers protested in Mumbai against actor Shiney Ahuja, who was allegedly raped his 18-year-old maid.
Domestic workers’ groups have been protesting for years for more benefits

Her tribulations ended but she still struggles. Her daughter suffers from cerebral palsy and needs constant care, so she spends a significant portion of her savings taking her to school every day because she can’t walk by herself. She is entitled to a disability allowance from the government but the payments are not regular.

The incident also scarred Meena – she had nightmares, was afraid to take a job near the home of her previous employers and experienced shame and guilt.

Informal workers like Meena – women employed as domestic workers, construction labour, garment workers and vendors – make up 94% of India’s female workforce. But their experiences of sexual harassment or assault rarely come to light.

And data is also hard to come by – scattered surveys of female workers in different parts of the country tell an incomplete but important story.

Presentational grey line

Read more about the #MeToo movement in India

2012 study by Oxfam of formal and informal workers in eight Indian cities showed that 17% of women were sexually harassed at work – the most vulnerable being female labourers (29%) and domestic workers (23%).

survey of domestic workers in 2018 in and around India’s capital, Delhi, found that 29% of them were sexually harassed at work.

These figures are low compared to studies from the formal sector where rates of reported harassment range from 88% in the BPO(Business Process Outsourcing) sector to 57% in the health sector.

But this is because given their economic and social vulnerability, informal workers are less likely to report offences. Even if they do, these cases may never lead to justice for the victims because they may be eventually withdrawn fearing reprisals.

Tanushree Dutta says the incident forced her to leave acting
Tanushree Dutta says the incident forced her to leave acting

There have been a few cases that have grabbed national attention.

In 2017 for instance, domestic workers and their families stormed a posh apartment complex in Delhi alleging that a domestic worker had been beaten up by her employers; in 2011, a Bollywood actor was convicted for raping his maid.

But these examples are few and far between.

The #MeToo movement in India, which was preceded by LoSha a crowd sourced list of Indian male academics who allegedly harassed students or colleagues  has named several high-profile figures, including filmmakers, actors, artists and journalists.

But the face of #MeToo – both in India and globally – has been an urban, educated, articulate and privileged woman; the experiences of marginalised women are notably absent.

While some of the more critical voices have pointed to the fact that Dalit (formerly known as untouchables) women and poor women have been left out of this movement, these voices have remained on the fringe.

Bhanwari Devi in the centre
Bhanwari Devi (centre) was raped by upper caste men in 1992

This is ironic because it was the gang rape of a Dalit development worker, Bhanwari Devi, in Rajasthan state that led to India’s first law against sexual harassment at the workplace.

India’s sexual harassment laws mandate that in the absence of organisations, a Local Complaints Committee (LCC) headed by a district magistrate should address these complaints. But most cities or districts have no such committees.

The #MeToo movement in India has several supporters with social, economic and cultural capital and has now found a voice in mainstream media. But we are yet to see them aligning closely with informal workers’ rights groups.

It is time for us to move from #MeToo to #UsAll.

Sreeparna Chattopadhyay is a senior research scientist the the Public Heath Foundation of India.

Belfast Zoo visitor ‘shocked’ by chimpanzee approach,”:

A mother of three has described her shock at coming across a chimpanzee outside its enclosure at Belfast Zoo.

Chantal Baxter, from Larne, said “one of the big chimpanzees just appeared from behind a bush”.

Footage posted on social media shows a chimpanzee on a path with members of the public, with several others remaining on the enclosure wall.

Belfast Zoo said the chimpanzees made an improvised ladder from a large tree branch propped up against a wall.

This is the second escape attempt by animals at Belfast Zoo in as many months.

In January, a red panda which escaped the zoo was found in a garden in Newtownabbey.

Mrs Baxter said she and her family were heading towards the zoo exit on Saturday afternoon when they met a young couple who said the chimpanzees had escaped.

When the chimpanzee showed up near them, she added, her youngest child shouted.

“I think she scared it and it did sort of make its way back up the hill,” she said.

Chimpanzee at Belfast Zoo on public path
One chimpanzee went for a bit of a wander…

“But there were four of them that we could see were out. There was one on the path and there were three of them sitting on the wall.

“We were a bit shocked, obviously, being approached by this big chimpanzee. The kids were shocked.

“I suppose now it’s easy to think it was funny but it was quite dangerous.”

‘Quite cowardly’

Belfast City Council, which runs the zoo, said one chimpanzee “briefly” left its enclosure.

“Zookeepers were present as the chimpanzee quickly returned from an adjacent wall to the rest of the group inside the enclosure,” a spokeswoman said.

“Belfast Zoo would like to thank members of the public who helped raise the alarm as zookeepers moved in to return the animal to its enclosure.”

Chantal Baxter
… while the others remained on the wall

The zoo’s Alan Cairns said: “We think what has happened is that the trees in their enclosure have been weakened by the storms and so they’ve been able to break them and use them as a ladder to get out.

He said the zoo’s chimps were “quite cowardly” so went back into their enclosure themselves during the incident.

When the keepers arrived one was on the wall of the enclosure and none were out of it, he added.

The zoo’s Alan Cairns said the “intelligent” primates “got back in themselves”

“They’re intelligent primates and know they’re not supposed to be out of their enclosure, so got back in themselves,” he said.

“We like things to be natural in their enclosure, to have trees in it, but we will review it.

“We may have to remove the trees or make them a smaller level, although we don’t want to do that.”

The chimpanzees were locked into their inner enclosure afterwards.

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Chimp facts

  • Chimpanzees are one of four types of “great ape” – the others being bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans
  • Humans and chimpanzees share 95% to 98% of the same DNA
  • Chimpanzees walk on all fours and have longer arms than legs
  • Chimpanzees sometimes hunt and eat small mammals such as bushbuck or monkeys
  • They also eat fruit, nuts, seeds, blossoms, leaves, and many kinds of insects
  • A full-grown chimpanzee has five or six times the strength of a human being

Source: Jane Goodall Institute UK

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Gas wars: The problem with Nord Stream 2

Nord Stream 2 is the name of the undersea pipeline that should soon pump more Russian gas into Europe.

It is a divisive project within Europe and has infuriated the US, which fears that more Russian gas means more Russian influence and less share of the lucrative European gas market for American liquefied natural gas.

BBC’s Berlin correspondent Jenny Hill has been looking at the issue.

The Papers: Cold call warning and medication costs row

The Daily Mail leads with news of a “crackdown” on cold callers. The paper says dozens of firms who moved to Scotland to escape tough regulations will now be subject to the same strict rules as the rest of the UK.

The i
The i leads on campaigners’ pleas for the government to intervene over the drug Orkambi, which they say children with cystic fibrosis are being denied. The life-extending drug has reportedly been priced by manufacturers at more than £100,000 per patient per year.
Daily Record
The Daily Record says three Strictly Come Dancing stars chased a thief who stole a mobile phone from them as they had dinner before a Glasgow show. The paper hails taxi drivers Greg Macfarlane and Willie Paterson who helped in the chase.
The Scotsman
The Scotsman features a warning from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that the UK is “not remmotely prepared” for Brexit. Ms Sturgeon will call for the process to be stalled in a keynote speech in the US today.
Daily Express
Theresa May faces a “race against time” to draw up a new withdrawal agreement proposal to take back to Brussels, the Daily Express reports. The paper said the prime minister will thrash out talks with Tory Brexiteers and Remainers in a bid to find a deal that can get through the Commons, and be acceptable to EU negotiators.
The National
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has welcomed the launch of a new organisation “dedicated to advancing the fight for Scottish independence”, according to The National. Progress Scotland has been set up by former SNP depute leader Angus Robertson.
The Sun
The Sun leads with news that TV presenter Ant McPartlin has bought two Maltipoo puppies “to help with his fresh start”. It also features Nicola Sturgeon being accused of “abandoning the day job” by campaigning for Scottish independence while on a visit to the US.
Daily Star
The Star carries a story about a US professor who has criticised the Step In Time scene in the original Mary Poppins film.
The Herald
The Herald leads with claims that taxpayers have been hit with a £1bn bill over the last five years because of the collapse of the high street and the demise of other big businesses.
Press and Journal
The Press and Journal says Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee has urged the UK government and business to invest in three new centres of excellence for the North Sea oil and gas industry. The paper says the move could boosy the north-east economy by as much as £110bn over the next 15 years,
The Times
The government is considering withdrawing a £60m support package for Japanese car maker Nissan after it broke a pledge to build one of its new cars at its Sunderland plant, the Times reports. The car maker has said its X-Trail SUV would be built in Japan rather than the UK.
Daily Telegraph
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss has said women should be less “squeamish” about making money, the Daily Telegraph reports. It is part of the paper’s campaign called Women Mean Business, which highlights the funding gap for female entrepreneurs in the UK.

M62 closed after man seriously hurt in collision

Football fans at Liverpool’s home match against Leicester have been told to expect delays

Police have alerted motorists after the M62 was closed in both directions following a serious collision.

A man was taken to hospital with “major trauma injuries” after the incident on the motorway in Merseyside, North West Ambulance Service said.

The crash happened between junction 7 (A57) and 8 (A574). North West Motorway Police attended the scene at about 19:48 GMT.

Motorists have been urged by officers to avoid the area.

A statement from police on Twitter said both carriageways “are still closed due to police investigation and will remain closed for foreseeable future please avoid area and find alternative route.”

Highways England warned football fans at Liverpool’s home match against Leicester, which kicked off at 19:45 GMT, to expect delays.

It said in a tweet that closures between junction 7 for Warrington A57 and junction 8 for Burtonwood A574 are in place.

“Likely to be in place for some time, be aware if leaving LFC vs LCFC,” the tweet said.

The injured man suffered “a head injury, leg injuries and chest injuries”, a spokeswoman for the ambulance service said.

She said two ambulances, an advanced paramedic and a rapid response vehicle attended the scene.

Newspaper headlines: May bids to woo Tories before Brexit debate..’

The Financial Times is among several papers to lead on Theresa May’s decision to back an amendment to her own Brexit deal that would overhaul provisions preventing a hard border with Ireland. The PM has moved to woo moderate Eurosceptic MPs to support her plans, it says.
Guardian front page - 29/01/19
The Guardian says the chances of the amendment on the “backstop” passing are on a knife-edge because Tory Brexiteers are split over whether they should back it. Looking ahead to votes on amendments to the PM’s deal, the paper predicts a day of deadlock.
Times front page - 29/01/19
The Times says the Tory party’s hard-Brexit “rebels” were refusing to rally behind calls for unity. If Theresa May fails to win backing she could be “fatally exposed” to a cross-party move to take control of the Brexit timetable, the paper reports.
Sun front page - 29/01/19
The Sun prints a leading article on its front page, urging MPs to stop the amendment tabled by Labour MP Yvette Cooper to delay Mrs May’s plans. Alongside a photograph of party leader Jeremy Corbyn, the paper says: “Don’t let Labour kill Brexit”.
Daily Express front page - 29/01/19
The Daily Express also leads on Mrs May’s fresh attempt to win backing for her plans – suggesting she issued an “extraordinary challenge” to her arch rival Boris Johnson to support her.
i front page - 29/01/19
However, the i reports Mr Johnson – and the leader of the hard-Brexit faction, Jacob Rees-Mogg – will not back the prime minister. The MPs have cut her lifeline, it says.
Metro front page - 29/01/19
The Metro leads on a warning from a number of retailers and restaurant chains that a no-deal Brexit could lead to a fresh-food shortage – highlighting their concern that salad items could be hit. But it says their fears were downplayed by the Leave Means Leave campaign group.
Daily Express front page - 29/01/19
“No deal, no meal”, says the headline in the Daily Mirror. “Retail chiefs have warned of food shortages and crippling price rises in the chaos of a no-deal Brexit,” it reports.
Daily Mail front page - 29/01/19
The Daily Mail leads on a report into children’s use of technology – saying campaigners fear some youngsters are abandoning their friends and hobbies to go on the internet, play games or watch TV. It carries the headline “Generation of web addicts”.
Daily Telegraph front page - 29/01/19
The Daily Telegraph focuses on Sir Philip Green’s decision to drop legal action which prevented the paper from publishing sexual harassment and racist behaviour allegations against him. It says the retail tycoon, who denies the claims, is now being urged to free his accusers from gagging orders that prevent them from speaking out.
Daily Star front page - 29/01/19
The Daily Star leads on Blue singer and Strictly Come Dancing star Simon Webbe’s revelation in a magazine interview that his brother took his own life last November.

The papers look ahead to the votes in the Commons, on a series of amendments to Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

Theresa May leaving Downing Street on 21 January 2019

The Sun’s front page headline is: “Don’t let Labour kill Brexit”.

There is no story – just an editorial which urges MPs to reject the amendment put forward by the Labour MP Yvette Cooper. It would delay the UK’s departure if no plan was agreed by the end of February.

The Sun believes the measure could be a “mortal blow” for Brexit. Ms Cooper has insisted the amendment seeks only to postpone leaving, but the paper fears that any delay could become permanent.

The Daily Mail is highly critical of a different faction , the European Research Group of Brexit-supporting Conservative MPs.

The paper is horrified by the ERG’s warning that it will defy the Tory whip, and not support the amendment which seeks changes on the Irish border issue.

The Mail sees that proposal as “eminently sensible”, because it could pave the way for a Brexit deal. And it describes those Brexiteers who fail to accept that as “reckless zealots”.

There is a section in the Times that seeks to weigh up how significant a day this is in the Brexit process. By the end of the voting, it says, “we will certainly have a better idea of what MPs don’t agree on – and perhaps a better idea of what they do agree on”.

House of Commons

The Financial Times says European leaders are “bracing themselves” for a request from Mrs May to extend the 29 March Brexit deadline.

It believes that the “precise response is far from certain”.

The EU, explains the paper, would have to decide how long such an extension lasted – and what conditions would be imposed on the UK.

BBC News Daily

Follow BBC Newslight, Latest news

The lead in the Daily Telegraph follows up the announcement that Sir Philip Green has ended his legal claim against the paper, which reported allegations of sexual and racial harassment against him.

The businessman has always denied wrongdoing – and has warned that any former employee who breaks an agreement not to discuss allegations against him could face legal action.

The Telegraph says there are calls for Sir Philip to remove that threat.

Online addicts

The Times and the Sun both report that Kensington Palace has been struggling to cope with the amount of online abuse directed at the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex.

The Times says household staff spend several hours per week deleting what are described as “vicious comments”.

Duchess of Cambridge and Duchess of Sussex

It reveals that the palace has appealed to Instagram to help deal with the problem.

The paper’s leader column argues that technology companies need to be more aggressive in closing the accounts of abusive people.

“Generation of web addicts” is the front page headline in the Daily Mail.

It is shocked by new research from the media regulator, Ofcom, that shows many children spend on average around three hours a day online.

Child looking at mobile phone in bed

Particularly disturbing, says the paper, is a tendency among youngsters to watch people online pursuing hobbies and interacting with friends, instead of doing those things themselves.

The paper’s cartoonist, Pugh, depicts a father who has disguised a window frame as a tablet computer, with his son who is looking through it.

The caption is: “I’ve tricked him into thinking the garden’s a YouTube video”.

Tablecloth charger

There are details in the Daily Mirror of Britain’s first legal cannabis farm.

It has been set up in Wiltshire after a company was granted permission to cultivate the plants for medicinal purposes.

The paper says the location of the seven-and-a-half acre greenhouse is not being disclosed, because of security concerns.

Finally, the Guardian reports that people who forget to charge their mobile phones may soon be in luck.

American scientists have created super-thin, flexible materials that can generate power from the electro-magnetic waves in the air.

The paper says it raises the possibility that you could soon be plugging your phone into the tablecloth.

Bohemian Rhapsody excluded from Glaad LGBT awards over Bryan Singer allegations

By emmanuel Justices

Bohemian Rhapsody has been removed as a nominee for a major LGBT award show, following new accusations of sexual assault against director Bryan Singer.

The allegations were the result of a year-long investigation by US magazine The Atlantic, and included claims that the director had sex with underage men.

He denies the allegations, saying they are a “homophobic slur” against him.

The film stars Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury and Gwilym Lee as Brian May

But Glaad said it would not honour his latest film, saying “survivors of sexual assault should be put first”.

Singer, whose previous credits include The Usual Suspects and X-Men, was fired from Bohemian Rhapsody three weeks before filming ended, amid reports of erratic behaviour and personality clashes with the star, Rami Malek.

Bryan Singer
Singer oversaw the launch of the X-Men franchise, which kick-started the boom in superhero movies

British director Dexter Fletcher was brought in to complete the project, but in accordance with Director’s Guild rules, Singer’s name remained on the film’s credits.

Glaad said in a statement: “This week’s story in The Atlantic documenting unspeakable harms endured by young men and teenage boys brought to light a reality that cannot be ignored or even tacitly rewarded.

“Singer’s response to The Atlantic story wrongfully used ‘homophobia’ to deflect from sexual assault allegations and Glaad urges the media and the industry at large to not gloss over the fact that survivors of sexual assault should be put first.”

Glaad is a media monitoring organisation which hands out awards each year to recognise outstanding representations of the LGBT community in the media.

‘Innocent until proven otherwise’

It described the decision to remove Bohemian Rhapsody as a “difficult” one, adding: “The legacy of Freddy Mercury deserves so much more than to be tainted in this way”.

The film was nominated for five Oscars earlier this week, although Singer failed to make the best director shortlist.

The 53-year-old was dropped by his agency last year, but was recently hired to direct an adaptation of the cult comic Red Sonja.

Producers have confirmed he will keep the job despite the latest allegations.

“The over $800m Bohemian Rhapsody has grossed… is testament to his remarkable vision and acumen,” said Millennium Films’ boss Avi Lerner told The Hollywood Reporter.

“I know the difference between agenda-driven fake news and reality, and I am very comfortable with this decision. In America people are innocent until proven otherwise.”

Millennium Films was itself hit with allegations of sexual harassment and gender bias, with Lerner accused of making disparaging remarks towards female employees.

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‘El Chapo’ trial: Drug lord tortured and murdered rivals, says witness

By emmanuel Justices

Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán personally tortured and murdered his rivals, his former bodyguard has said at a trial in New York.

In the most gruesome testimony to date, Isaias Valdez Rios described seeing “El Chapo” brutally beat at least three men before shooting them.

El Chapo” stared calmly ahead in court during Thursday’s testimony

Guzmán, 61, faces 17 charges including trafficking and money laundering, and could be jailed for life.

The ex-boss of the Sinaloa cartel was held in 2016 after escaping from jail.

He used a tunnel to leave the prison in Mexico but was arrested five months later.

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US shutdown: Senate rejects bills to re-open government

El Chapo” stared impassively in court during Thursday’s testimony by his ex-bodyguard, correspondents say.


What did the bodyguard say?

Mr Valdez Rios told the court he had personally witnessed “El Chapo” murder three members of rival drug cartels.

In one incident, he said two people originally from Sinaloa who had joined the rival Los Zetas cartel were deemed traitors and rounded up by Guzmán’s hitmen.

For more than three hours the drug lord brutally beat them, the witness said.

“They were completely like rag dolls – their bones were totally broken. They could not move. And Joaquin was still hitting them with the branch and his weapon too,” Mr Valdez Rios said.

The two men were later driven to an area where they could see a large bonfire.

There, the jury was told, “El Chapo” cursed each one before shooting them in the head with his rifle.

The leader of the Sinaloa cartel ordered that they be thrown in the bonfire, telling his men that he did not want any bones to remain, the former bodyguard said.

This handout picture released by the Mexican interior ministry shows Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán (centre) escorted by Mexican police officers before his extradition to the US. Photo: January 2017
Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was extradited to the US by the Mexican authorities in 2017

The third man murdered by “El Chapo” was a member of the Arellano Felix cartel.

“He had burns made with an iron on his back, his shirt was stuck to his skin. He had burns made with a car lighter all over his body. His feet were burned,” the witness said.

The man was then locked in a wooden structure for days. It was only then that the man was brought blindfolded with his hands and legs tied to a graveyard.

“El Chapo” started to interrogate him, and while he was responding, shot him with his handgun.

The man was still gasping for air – but he was dumped in a hole and buried alive, Mr Valdez Rios said.

Mr Valdez Rios, 39, has been held in a US jail since his arrest in 2014.

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Brexit: PM reassures DUP on peace funding

By emmanuel Justices

The government will remain committed to funding peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland regardless of Brexit, the prime minister has said.

Theresa May made the pledge in a letter to “reassure” the DUP.It comes amidst strains in the relationship over the border backstop The DUP responded angrily when  the Northern Ireland secretary said guaranteeing future peace funding could be difficult if Mrs May’s EU withdrawal agreement was voted down by MPs.

The party, and some Conservative MPs, are opposed to the backstop proposal for the border after Brexit in part because it would mean Northern Ireland being treated differently from the rest of the UK.

DUP-Conservative confidence and supply agreement
The DUP signed an agreement to prop up the Conservative government in June 2017, but there have been tensions in the relationship over Brexit

Mrs May is set to outline her next plans on how to take forward the Brexit process in the House of Commons on 29 January.

A wide range of proposals have been mooted by MPs, including making amendments to the backstop – an option rejected by the Irish government – or setting aside a full six days in Parliament before the March deadline to decide on a way forward.

Brexit delay ‘likely’

However, the former chancellor George Osborne and shadow chancellor John McDonnell have both said 

delaying Brexit is now the “likely” option. Mr Obsorne told the BBC: “At least that gives some space to explore whether there is an alternative deal on the table – I doubt there is but it’s worth exploring – or indeed whether we need to resolve this through a referendum.”

No-deal Brexit ‘means hard border’ – European Commission

Earlier in January, the UK announced about £300m for future peace projects.

The government funding will be given to Peace Plus “as part of its unwavering commitment to uphold the hard-won peace in Northern Ireland after Brexit”.

That funding followed about £100m already earmarked by the EU

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley warned that without the legal mechanism provided by the EU withdrawal agreement, providing the cash could prove very difficult.

‘Unequivocal commitment’

The DUP raised the matter with the prime minister, who has now reassured them in writing that she remains “personally strongly committed” to the peace funding.

She referred to it as an unequivocal commitment made in the withdrawal agreement and added that the UK remained committed “whatever the outcome of Brexit”.

In a letter to DUP leader Arlene Foster and her deputy Nigel Dodds, dated Monday 21 January, the prime minister wrote: “In relation to a specific issue you raised of PEACE funding, I want to reassure you that I remain personally strongly committed to this and the government has emphasised its importance at every stage.

“In the event of no deal, both the UK and the EU have categorically committed to protect funding for current programmes through to 2020, as you rightly say in your letter.

“I can also reassure you that whatever the outcome of Brexit, the UK will remain committed to contributing financially to support peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.”

Karen Bradley
Karen Bradley said funding could be “very difficult” without an EU withdrawal deal

Mrs Foster thanked Mrs May for her clarification, but repeated her party’s criticism of the Northern Ireland secretary, describing Mrs Bradley’s earlier comments casting doubt on the funding as foolish and irresponsible.

“It lays to rest the comments made by the secretary of state that there may be some doubt about the legal basis on which it could be delivered,” Mrs Foster said.

“Such comments were not only foolish, but were particularly irresponsible given the nature of the groups who are in receipt of this funding.

“There is nothing wrong with a robust debate on the facts, but resorting to such scaremongering is not just wrong but is also counterproductive.”

What is Peace Plus?

The new scheme is set to replace the current Peace scheme, which has been in operation since 1995, next year.

It applies to Northern Ireland and the border counties of the Republic of Ireland – Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth.

Currently, Peace IV is operating, which focuses on children and young people, shared education, shared spaces and positive local relations.

It is funded by the UK, Ireland and the EU.

The programme as a whole has helped fund developments like the Peace Bridge in Londonderry and numerous projects supporting victims and survivors, children, business and regeneration.

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US shutdown: Trump angered by Democrats’ rejection of ‘compromise’

By Emmanuel Justices

Trump’s wall and the ongoing debate over border security

US President Donald Trump has attacked Democrats for rejecting his proposals to end the longest government shutdown in US history.

He said his plans had been dismissed before he had even presented them.

Mr Trump had offered “compromises” in exchange for funding for his security wall along the Mexican border, the issue that has caused the shutdown.

But Democrats called the proposals “unacceptable”, a “non-starter” and “hostage taking”.

Trump savages Federal Reserve as stock plunge worsens

US House Democrats challenge Trump on shutdown

US-Russian spat over bombers landing in Venezuela

There were two main offers in an address Mr Trump made on Saturday:

  • Some 700,000 so-called Dreamers, who were young when they entered the US illegally with their parents, would be protected for another three years
  • Some 300,000 people holding visas under Temporary Protection Status (TPS) would also get three years’ protection. These are people who have fled countries affected by war or disasters

What is the latest from Mr Trump?

On Twitter, he said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats had “turned down my offer yesterday before I even got up to speak”.

He said his opponents “don’t see crime and drugs, they only see 2020 – which they are not going to win”.

Trump aide ‘fired over ties to white nationalist event’

US white nationalist Richard Spencer’s wife says he abused her

A second tweet appeared aimed at the conservative right, which fears the offer he made on immigration would amount to an amnesty.

Five questions about Trump’s border wall

He tweeted: “No. Amnesty is not part of my offer.” He said he was only talking about a three-year extension and that an amnesty would “be used only on a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else”.

Mr Trump also said he was not planning a “big push to remove 11 million plus people” in the US illegally, but added a warning to Ms Pelosi to “be careful” on that.

What did the Democrats say?

The target of Mr Trump’s anger was a statement released by Ms Pelosi anticipating – and rejecting – the concessions before they were made.

She said the proposals were “a non-starter” and “a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable and in total do not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people’s lives”.

Dreamers: “America is the only country I’ve known”

Senator Chuck Schumer said Mr Trump had previously “single-handedly” taken away Dreamer and TPS protections and that offering some protections back was “not a compromise but more hostage taking”.

The Democrats insist they will not negotiate until government is reopened.

The party took over control of the House this year, while Mr Trump’s Republicans still have a majority in the Senate. The federal budget funding would have to be agreed by both.

Opinion polls suggest most Americans blame Mr Trump more than the Democrats for the shutdown.

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Shutdown likely to drag on

Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

Donald Trump struck a deal to reopen the government and build his much-promised wall – with one small problem. He was negotiating with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, and if he wants to succeed he’s going to have to get Democrats on board.

It’s a touch ironic that the deal Mr Trump outlined – his wall in exchange for protection for certain childhood undocumented migrants and temporary resident aliens – was one the president walked away from last year, when Democrats were the ones instigating a shutdown.

After senators thought they had an agreement, the White House issued new demands for reforms to legal immigration. Now Democrats are in control of the House, and the calculus has changed. Mr Trump’s offer of temporary immigrant protection probably isn’t any greater than the ones courts have already imposed.

The president’s move may put some pressure on his opponents to return to the negotiating table, but they still feel they have the upper hand. Unless that changes – or the president backs down – the shutdown will drag on.

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How is the shutdown affecting unpaid workers?

Some of the 800,000 federal employees who have been going unpaid since 22 December are in increasingly dire straits as the shutdown enters its fifth week.

Federal workers queue up for free food

More than 1,500 appeals have been set up by them on crowdfunding site GoFundMe, seeking a financial lifeline to pay rent or feed and clothe their children.

Chart showing length of shutdowns in the US

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