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Posts tagged ‘Conservatives’

Obama’s Threat of ‘Consequences’ in Ukraine Irks Conservatives.

Image: Obama's Threat of 'Consequences' in Ukraine Irks Conservatives

By Elliot Jager

President Barack Obama’s warning to Ukrainians that “there will be consequences if people step over the line,” generated scorn from conservatives who pointed to the administration earlier unfulfilled warnings to the Syrian regime.

The president made the remarks Wednesday on the sidelines of a daylong summit with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper,Stars and Stripes reported.

Obama said: “I want to be very clear as we work through these next several days in Ukraine that we’re going to be watching closely, and we expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint, to not resort to violence in dealing with peaceful protesters. We’ve also said we expect peaceful protesters to remain peaceful, and we’ll be monitoring very closely the situation, recognizing that with our European partners and the international community there will be consequences if people step over the line.”

Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes raised the possibility of sanctions against those responsible for the violence that has claimed 26 lives.

The president referenced Syria in response to a reporter’s question.

“I do think it is worth noting that you have in this situation in one country that has been a client state of Russia, and another whose government is currently being supported by Russia, whose people obviously have a very different view and vision for their country. And we have now seen a great deal of turmoil there that arose organically from within those countries,”  NBC reported.

Conservative Washington Post columnist George Will picked up on the parallel between Ukraine and Syria during an appearance on Wednesday’s “Special Report” on Fox News,Breitbart reported.

“Well, announcing expectations is all very well,” Will said. “But I’m not sure who is impressed by it. What we are seeing in the Ukraine, what we’ve seen in Syria, and what we will see again in Iran is a complete failure of what I think was the centerpiece of the president’s foreign policy, and that is the reset of the relations with Russia.”

Peter Wehner asked in Commentary: “Have more empty words ever been uttered by an American president?”

Wehner, who served as deputy assistant to president George W. Bush wrote, “In the aftermath of Mr. Obama telling the Syrian regime that using chemical weapons would cross a ‘red line,’ and then doing nothing serious in response to it, the president’s latest threat is probably evoking belly laughs in Kiev.”

Also Wednesday, on Fox News’ “Hannity” program, Oliver North described Obama as behaving like “Jimmy Carter on steroids.” 

North said he was not advocating sending American soldiers to quell civil wars abroad. “But it would have been nice to have had the credibility of being at least respected by adversaries or admired by our allies. And we have neither as a consequence of his total failure of leadership.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

House GOP Ties Votes on Debt Limit to Defunding Obamacare.

Image: House GOP Ties Votes on Debt Limit to Defunding Obamacare

By Lisa Barron

House Republicans appear to be moving closer to tying an increase in the debt ceiling to a repeal of the insurance company bailout clause in Obamacare.

After another meeting of members Tuesday, aides indicated that removing the “risk corridor” provision in the healthcare law seemed to have more support than a plan to link the debt limit to approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, reports The Hill.

“Listen, the goal here is to increase the debt ceiling. No one wants to default on our debt,” House Speaker John Boehner told reporters after the meeting. “But while we’re doing this, we should do something either about jobs or the economy, about the drivers of our debt. And so we’re talking to our members, and when we have a decision, we’ll let you know.”

But it is still not clear that either proposal will gain the necessary votes for the House to pass its own bill to raise the limit by the late-February deadline set by the Treasury Department.

And some GOP legislators have indicated they would not oppose the approval of an increase in the debt ceiling without any conditions.

“A clean debt-ceiling [bill] would not garner my vote, but if the House leadership chooses to go that route and believes that’s in the best interest of the country and they don’t need my vote to accomplish that, I’m OK with that,” Rep. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming told The Hill.

Conservatives say they are also wary of another showdown four months after an impasse over the debt ceiling led to a government shutdown that damaged the GOP’s image.

“There is an understanding by conservatives in light of history and the trajectory that we’re on right now, that you cannot make all the demands that we would like to make,” Rep. Scott Garrett of New Jersey told the publication.

House aides say they expect the legislators to reach a conclusion by the end of this week,reports The Washington Post. 

Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma told the newspaper that Boehner would spend the week “looking for a sweet spot.”

“We’re in the process of sorting it out.” He said. “The number one question is: how do we get to 218 votes?”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


Bridge-gate Getting Much More Press Than Obama Scandals.

Image: Bridge-gate Getting Much More Press Than Obama Scandals

By Lisa Barron

Just two days after news broke of politically motivated traffic jams in New Jersey, the mainstream media has already given the story far more airtime than it has given to the Obama administration’s IRS scandal.

The Media Research Center has found that the three networks have devoted 17 times more coverage to Bridge-gate than they have allowed in the last six months for the controversy over the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups.

“This is media bias,” former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said on Fox News’“Fox & Friends” Friday when asked about the report.

“If it’s a story involving a Republican that they can in any way make negative, they exaggerate it tremendously. If it’s a story involving a Democrat who they like — of course they love President Obama — they give it as little attention as possible. This is a perfect example of it,” he said.

A prominent GOP fundraiser agreed, telling Politico that Christie is getting blasted for standard “political activities” by a partisan media. “Obama had the IRS investigate GOP-ers and media yawned. That’s a crime. This is silly,” he said.

Indeed, the Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote on Friday, “Republicans operate under a double media standard that holds them to a much lower scandal threshold. In that sense, the pathetic New Jersey traffic-lane scandal may be, as Mr. Obama likes to say, a teachable moment.”

Many in fact, contrasted the New Jersey governor’s decisive response to the controversy to the president’s failure to take action or responsibility for his administration’s missteps.
“The real question is does a leader own up to it and handle it correctly,” said Giuliani on Fox. “In the case of Obama, he has yet to own up to the IRS scandal. In this case, Chris Christie acted the way a leader has to act.”

“He was sincere and decisive. He apologized, fired people, and promised to make changes. He said the buck stopped at his desk,” Fox Business News host and analyst Charles Payne wrote in his Wall Street Commentary newsletter.

“We haven’t been able to say the same thing, when it comes to President Obama, whose litany of scandals are always met with a strategy of circling the wagons, and deflecting blame; no apologies and no accountability,” he said.

As the Wall Street Journal noted, “Lois Lerner, who ran the IRS tax-exempt shop and took the Fifth before Congress, was allowed to ‘retire,’ presumably with a pension. Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller resigned under pressure but no other heads have rolled.”

Meanwhile, with Christie’s political future still the subject of much debate, some Republicans say that the way he handled Bridge-gate could work to his advantage.

“This will be, at the end of the day, a political benefit to Chris Christie,” GOP strategist Steve Schmidt,” told The Washington Post, adding, “This sends a very clear signal: If you screw up, you violate the public trust, there’s not going to be an exercise in wagon-circling — there’s going to be an exercise in accountability.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

FBI Finally Contacts Conservative Groups in IRS Targeting.

Image: FBI Finally Contacts Conservative Groups in IRS Targeting


By Sandy Fitzgerald

The FBI is contacting some conservative groups that were targeted by the Internal Revenue Service as calls heat up for a key Justice Department investigator to step down from the probe after questions about her donations to President Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns.

A lawyer working with some of the tea party groups told The Washington Times that a “small number” of his clients were recently contacted, albeit seven months after the investigation was to begin.

“After seven months of no contact from federal investigators, a small number of our clients recently received a request for an interview from the FBI,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law & Justice, which represents more than three dozen of the organizations.

Cleta Mitchell, another attorney representing some of the targeted groups, said her clients have not heard from investigators.

“Normally, don’t you first interview the victims?” Mitchell said. “I mean, I’ve watched enough cop shows over the years. You interview the victims. You don’t interview the perp.”

Republicans, though, say the whole investigation is under question following the selection of Justice Department attorney Barbara Kay Bosserman to lead the probe. Bosserman donated more than $6,000 to the president’s campaigns, and Republicans say she cannot be impartial.

House Speaker John Boehner said he is concerned by the Obama administration’s many obstructions on not only the IRS investigation, but many other issues.

“The administration has not been forthcoming with regard to the IRS investigation,” the Ohio Republican said. “Furthermore, they’ve not been forthcoming when it comes to the Benghazi investigation or Fast and Furious. And the administration can try to stonewall as much as they want, but these issues are not going to go away. The American people have a right to know the truth. And for the administration that came in five years ago promising to be the most transparent administration in history, they’ve got a very poor record.”

Meanwhile, Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul called for independent investigations into the IRS scandal.

“They say the fox isn’t good to guard the henhouse; the fox is probably not good to investigate the henhouse, either,” Paul said Thursday. “I think these investigations need to be done by independent people outside of the administration.”

Last spring, Attorney General Eric Holder ordered an FBI investigation after it was revealed the IRS had been targeting conservative groups for additional scrutiny and delaying tax-exempt status for hundreds of groups’ applications.

However, not much has been done with the investigation since that time, and House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and co-chair Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, complained last month that the committee still has not gotten related documents.

While the FBI rejected many of Issa’s demands for documents, he learned Bosserman was leading the investigation for the Justice Department, and on Wednesday he and Jordan sent a letter to Holder saying her selection tainted the entire investigation.

The Justice Department says federal law and policy prevents it from denying assignments based on an employee’s political views, and doing so violates workers’ rights right to participate in the political process, The Washington Times reports.

Sekulow said his firm’s clients are evaluating FBI’s requests, but Bosserman’s political leanings “create a serious conflict of interest and raises more questions and doubts about the Obama administration’s promise to get to the bottom of what happened.”

The FBI refused comment, pointing to a letter sent on Dec. 31 by Stephen Kelly, assistant director for the agency’s office of congressional affairs.

“We would request that the committee permit the investigators to complete their investigation and consult with federal prosecutors, as appropriate, to determine whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation of any statutes within our jurisdiction,” said Kelly. “As a result, we cannot provide the documents requested at this time while the criminal investigation is active and ongoing.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Giuliani, Conservatives: Christie OK As Long As No ‘Smoking Gun’.

Image: Giuliani, Conservatives: Christie OK As Long As No 'Smoking Gun'

By Todd Beamon

Conservatives widely commended New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s actions on Thursday in the spiraling bridge-gate scandal, but told Newsmax that any “smoking gun” specifically tying the Republican to the controversial closures last September on the world’s busiest bridge could sink his chances for a White House run in 2016.

“The governor handled it about the best way he could possibly handle it,” former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said. “Holding a press conference — not running away from it — apologizing profusely for the mistakes, taking responsibility as the chief executive for what his people did wrong, but making it clear that he had no advance knowledge that they did anything like this or that he would have wanted them to do this.

“As long as there is no smoking gun, then this becomes just another situation where a chief executive has people working for him that do things that are foolish,” Giuliani said.

Matt Towery, a debate expert and pollster, said the governor’s news conference and dismissal of a top aide linked to the scandal were “very consistent with Chris Christie — his standard operating procedure both as a governor and as a politician.

“Certainly, someone’s head had to roll over that, and he’s had those heads roll.”

However, “it has to be pretty clear that Christie had no knowledge of this,” Towery added. “If he did, and he takes these sort of actions, then that is perceived by the public as just compounding the situation.

“Then, you get into that big word called ‘hypocrisy’ — the one that I’ve found that takes most politicians down.”

The governor put on “an impressive performance,” political analyst and pollster Doug Schoen told Newsmax. “Christie did what he had to do, but there is a big ‘but.’

“This is a guy who’s had a reputation for being arguably above politics, trying to be nonpartisan, calling it as he saw it — and this involves a petty political scandal that goes right to the heart of his credibility as a manager.

“This does not speak well to his ability to lead the government and to inspire confidence in his staff,” Schoen said.

“Christie is handling the scandal in the right way by firing his staff people,” political consultant Dick Morris said. “The country will accept that he had nothing to do with it, as long as there is no trail that leads to Christie knowing about or ordering the lane closures.

“But the burden of proof is on Christie,” Morris cautioned. “He needs to establish that he had nothing to do with it. The U.S. Senate, under Democratic control, will investigate this through a committee. How Christie handles the committee will be the key test.

“If he appears to be stonewalling, he will be in real trouble.”

Sounding contrite and humbled at a news conference at the state capitol in Trenton,Christie apologized for the closings over five days that created massive gridlock on the George Washington Bridge and said he fired the aide in what critics say was a political vendetta.

“I come out here to apologize to the people of New Jersey,” the governor said at the start of what became a two-hour news conference. “I apologize to the people of Fort Lee. And I apologize to the State Legislature.

“I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team.”

Christie announced that he had dismissed the aide, Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly, who sent the email to David Wildstein, the director of interstate capital projects for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who resigned last month because of the scandal.

“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Kelly wrote. Fort Lee is where the bridge’s toll booths are located.

The gridlock occurred Sept. 9-13, when three of the 12 eastbound toll-booth lanes heading into New York from New Jersey normally dedicated to morning rush-hour traffic were cut one during a traffic study. The other two lanes were used for regular traffic.

The closures have also been linked to delays by emergency responders to at least four medical situations, including one involving a 91-year-old woman who later died at a Fort Lee hospital.

“I terminated her employment because she lied to me,” Christie said on Thursday.

The governor also forced his two-time campaign manager, Bill Stepian, to remove his name from consideration to lead the New Jersey Republican Party. Stepian also will lose a lucrative consulting contract to the Republican Governor’s Association, of which Christie is chairman.

Christie also went to Fort Lee and apologize to Democratic Mayor Mark Sokolich and the city’s residents. Critics have said that the bridge closures were in retaliation for the mayor not supporting Christie’s re-election bid last year.

“Actions have consequences,” Christie said. “I had no knowledge of this issue in its planning and execution. I am stunned by the abject stupidity that was involved here. This was handled in a callous and indifferent way.”

The U.S. Attorney for New Jersey has asked the FBI to help in its investigation into the lane closures. The New Jersey Assembly also is looking into the matter — and Wildstein repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment rights in response to questions at an assembly hearing on Thursday.

Reflecting on Christie’s demeanor at the news conference, Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor and columnist for the National Review, told Newsmax that “it was not only impressive, it was un-Christie-like.

“He can be very gruff with people who ask him questions that he don’t want to answer — and that trait has gotten him in more trouble here.”

When asked in December about the scandal, Christie “dismissed them and gave them the back of the hand,” McCarthy said. “Obviously, it was a much more serious issue than he either believed or led on at the time.”

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin also noted Christie’s disposition in an interview on “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.

“Here was a guy who was really baring it all, baring his soul — and he used words like ‘humiliated,’ ’embarrassed,’ ‘feels awful,’ ‘sad,'” Rubin said. “These are not emotions one usually connects with him and unless he is a marvelous actor, that is a compelling picture of remorse.”

Tobe Berkovitz, an associate professor of advertising at Boston University, observed: “It’s never surprising when a politician who’s been put up on a pedestal by the media then gets knocked off by the media. The media has sort of this infatuation with Chris Christie — and he has given them an opening to sort of turn him into a New Jersey piñata.

“He’s got a reputation as this larger-than-life, in-your-face, take-no-BS politician,” he added. “The problem is that, this time, the people who paid for that were commuters — and, quite honestly, people care a lot about their commute.

“That’s not a way to get elected president of the United States.”

Towery expressed concerns as to how quickly the U.S. attorney had become involved.

“I don’t know whether this warrants a U.S. attorney’s investigation or not — but it certainly begs questions,” he told Newsmax.

“The idea that the U.S. attorney is jumping into this a day after they became aware of it — I wonder what in the world justifies the need that quickly. If I were Christie’s camp, I would be asking the same question.”

Towery declined to say that the Obama administration might be involved, but noted: “When you see that Christie is clearly a very strong potential candidate for president, and when you hear of something that quickly, it does raise eyebrows.”

Speaking of the White House, many of the observers contrasted Christie’s candor with the lack thereof coming from President Barack Obama on the many scandals that have engulfed his administration.

“Governor Christie did the right thing and demonstrated what leaders do when actions of the team are unacceptable and wrong,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “I wish President Obama would be as transparent and open as Governor Christie was today.”

“President Obama and Hillary Clinton have held no press conference on Benghazi and have done nothing like what Chris did here,” Giuliani told Newsmax. “That counts for something.”

And, if Christie’s version of events hold up, the biggest loser could be Clinton, the former Secretary of State who might be the Democratic nominee for the White House, said political analyst Ron Christie.

“I honestly believe the big loser out of all of this is Hillary Rodham Clinton,” Christie, who is not related to the governor, told the Malzberg show. He is CEO of the Christie Strategies consulting firm.

“‘What difference does it make at this point’ [Clinton’s answer during a Benghazi hearing last January] — that is going to be hung around her neck like an albatross if she decides to jump in the 2016 campaign,” he added. “The parallels of Christie couldn’t be drawn any more stark here.”

“The proof is going to be in the pudding,” said Boston University’s Berkovitz. “Is there a smoking text or smoking email that directly shows that he knew what was going on?

“If that happens, game-set-match, it’s over,” he added. “If not, it’s still a long way away to 2016, and this will always be hanging over his head.”

“It can help, it might hurt,” pollster Schoen told Newsmax. “Bottom line, if you’re a big Republican donor, it takes a big leap of faith to sign on now and write a check.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Sen. Cruz: GOP ‘Lost Its Way’ in 2008 Election.

Image: Sen. Cruz: GOP 'Lost Its Way' in 2008 Election

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Conservatives were “embarrassed” to vote in the 2006 and 2008 midterm and presidential elections, even when Sen. John McCain was seeking the presidency, Sen. Ted Cruz says in a wide-ranging interview in October’s GQ Magazine.

“I don’t know a conservative who didn’t feel embarrassed voting in 2006 or 2008,” the Texas Republican said. “I think the Republican Party lost its way. We didn’t stand for the principles we’re supposed to believe in.”

Cruz and McCain have been butting heads almost from the first moment the tea party-backed freshman senator was sworn into office earlier this year, and his comments in the GQ interview aren’t likely to endear him to the veteran senator from Arizona who famously called him and fellow Republicans, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, “wacko birds” back in March.

McCain apologized soon after the name-calling, but Cruz and McCain still do not see eye-to-eye on most issues. One McCain aide told GQ that the veteran senator “[expletive] hates Cruz.”

In addition, Cruz — along with a few of his conservative cohorts — has been criticized strongly by other members of their party for tying the defunding of Obamacare to a temporary spending bill aimed at preventing a government shutdown.

The fiercely ambitious Cruz, meanwhile, has fueled speculation about his own presidential ambitions in 2016 by speaking to Republican groups in early primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire. That fact is highlighted in the GQ article, which profiles the senator as the hard-edged, Princeton- and Harvard Law-educated son of a Cuban immigrant father and an American mother.

The article portrays the former appeals court lawyer as a cocky, intelligent politician whose views are often cheered by tea party supporters while being booed by more established politicians such as McCain.

According to the article, he embraces his differences with other politicians, even wearing McCain’s “wacko bird” comment as a badge of honor. In fact, he now displays a baseball cap in his office bearing a picture of the Daffy Duck cartoon character along with the words “Wacko Bird” that supporters from Texas sent him.

The article also details the Cruz family background, beginning with the story of his father, Rafael, who fled Cuba and was eventually admitted to the University of Texas despite speaking little English.

The elder Cruz’s freedom flight story has endeared him to his son’s tea party supporters, and he has become a powerful conservative speaker in his own right, reports The National Review. In his speeches, Rafael Cruz has compared President Barack Obama to Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

But the article also delves into the elder Cruz’s early financial problems, a story his senator son usually avoids. Cruz acknowledges in the article that his father started an oil and gas exploration business in the late 1960s, moving his wife to Calgary, Canada, where their son was born.

In 1974, the family moved back to Houston, but in the 1980s his father’s business went bankrupt and soon after, his parents divorced.

“My father poured all of my parents’ personal assets into the company, and demand for oil and gas exploration just disappeared because oil prices dropped so low,” Cruz told GQ.

“There’s a whole generation of people in the energy industry at that time that just lost everything.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

A Knee-Jerk Approach To Managing Immigration In The UK By Zainab Usman.

By Zainab Usman

A proposed scheme by the UK government that would require first-time visitors from certain Asian and African countries to deposit a £3,000 bond to obtain a visitor’s visa to the UK has provoked outrage from these countries, notably Nigeria and India. The pilot scheme to commence in November 2013 would initially cover a select number of “high risk” visitors from countries whose nationales have a higher probability of absconding, and if successful, would be extended over other visa categories. The affected countries feel unfairly targeted and the scheme itself could have profound implications.

Since the announcement by the UK Home Secretary Theresa May, some of the affected countries which include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Ghana have reacted with indignation on the grounds that the proposal is selective. The Nigerian House of Representatives has described the policy as “discriminatory and capable of undermining the spirit of the Commonwealth”. The Confederation of Indian Industry has described the scheme as “highly discriminatory and very unfortunate”.

While tackling illegal immigration and managing legal migration is a key concern for any serious country to ensure adequate access by residents to infrastructure and public services, targeting those who contribute to the economy is not only discriminatory, but is plain disrespectful. This scheme is perceived to be unfairly selective, applying to those countries whose nationales actually contribute to the UK economy, struggling to bounce back in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

Over 140,000 Nigerians and 340,000 Indians visit the UK annually contributing significantly to the tourism sector which is Britain’s fifth biggest industry and third largest foreign exchange earner. Nigeria in particular is not only the UK’s second largest trading partner in Africa, but Nigerian shoppers rank among the highest spending tourists in the UK, sometimes outspending their Chinese, Arab and Russian counterparts. Middle-class Nigerians annually flock to the UK, not only for sight-seeing, but mainly to get good bargains especially during the annual summer and winter sales, with the British economy typically witnessing a bump within this period.

Nationales of many non-European Union (EU) countries regard this proposed scheme as the latest in the long list of rapidly changing and increasingly hostile immigration policies by the UK. In 2012, the UK closed the Post-Study Work visa which allows non-EU university graduates to work for two years in the UK (and pay taxes). The badly managed brief suspension of London Metropolitan University’s license in 2012, with little thought for the thousands of international students who had already paid thousands of pounds in school fees, and all the wrong signals it sent out to prospective international students, cannot be easily forgotten.

Although David Cameron’s coalition government has insisted that Britain wants to attract the “best and the brightest” to its shores, this seems to be a euphemism for “attracting the richest only”, especially with such steeply expensive conditions for securing a UK visa. There is a growing feeling especially among Commonwealth countries that the familiar bond with the UK is deliberately being severed by such antagonistic policies. One of the reasons why Britain has remained highly competitive as a tourism and shopping destination, despite higher VAT than the USA for instance, and as a higher education hub due to the historical link with former colonies. With this realisation, many have since been looking at more welcoming places to study and with this recent proposal, to spend their hard-earned money.

This proposed visa bond scheme is seen to be in reality, driven by the exigencies of domestic British politics, especially the Conservative Party’s campaign pledge of reducing net migration to the UK “from hundreds of thousands, to tens of thousands”. There is a sense that in a bid to stave off the growing threat posed by the far-right United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) to the Conservative Party’s core electoral base, and unable to limit EU migration because its hands are tied by EU migration policies, the Coalition government has chosen to target non-EU immigrants.

Such anti-immigration policies have been fuelled xenophobic rhetoric based on the mostly inaccurate assumption that African, Asian or other non-EU immigrants claim state benefits either legally or illegally depriving citizens, of these benefits, and jobs. For instance, a recent study by the British Department for Work and Pensions (PDF) reveals that only 6.4% or 371,000 of the 5.5 million people claiming work-related benefits in the UK are immigrants, and out of this 371,000, only 2% or about 7,500 have done so illegally. The number of non-EU immigrants claiming benefits will be much lower if the figures are disaggregated by EU and non-EU migrants. Obviously, it is incredibly difficult for undocumented illegal immigrants from outside the EU, who end up living on the fringes of society, to secure decent jobs, access the National Health Service (NHS) and other state benefits here because all these require detailed registration and identification.

Clearly, this policy ought to be considerably watered down or completely rescinded. Indeed, the backlash from the individual countries to be affected and the potential economic repercussions have prompted Cameron to embark on damage control by insisting that the policy hasn’t been finalised. If the British government does insist on pushing ahead with this Visa bond scheme, then the affected countries, especially, Nigeria, India and Pakistan which are hotspots for journalists and researchers, are well within their rights to diplomatically reciprocate by similarly demanding steep bonds for visiting Britons. A collective response, under the auspices of the Commonwealth for example, might be more effective in pressuring Britain to water down this discriminatory proposal. Either way, it is Britain that stands to lose more in the medium to long term by this knee-jerk approach to managing immigration.

-Zainab Usman, @msszeeusman blogs at


Britain Conservatives, Parliament Hit With New Lobbying Scandal.

LONDON — A lobbying scandal that has tarnished the reputation of Britain’s parliament widened on Sunday after a newspaper secretly filmed a senior lawmaker from Prime Minister David Cameron‘s party making what is said were improper remarks.

A series of media sting operations has already thrust the issue into the limelight and forced one lawmaker, Patrick Mercer, to resign from the ruling Conservative Party.

Three members of Britain’s upper house of parliament have also been covertly filmed offering to ask parliamentary questions, lobby ministers, and host events in exchange for cash.

In the latest covert recording, Tim Yeo, a former minister and the chairman of a powerful parliamentary energy committee, appeared to admit he had told a representative of a firm that is a subsidiary of a company he is paid to work for, what to say in front of his own committee.

Such conduct does not break rules which forbid lawmakers from taking cash for questions, but the Sunday Times newspaper said it had also got Yeo on camera explaining “how he could secretly help push private business in parliament for cash.”

Yeo said he “totally rejected” all the allegations.

“The Sunday Times has chosen to quote very selectively from a recording obtained clandestinely during a conversation of nearly an hour-and-a-half in a restaurant with two undercover reporters, who purported to be representing a client from South Korea,” he said in a statement.

Shaken by such scandals, the coalition government has promised to bring forward tighter rules in the coming weeks to ensure lobbying is more transparent.

Lobbying has the potential to become an embarrassing issue for Cameron.

He said before the 2010 general election that it was “the next big scandal waiting to happen,” saying:

“It’s an issue that crosses party lines and has tainted our politics for too long, an issue that exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money.”

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Britain’s ‘Iron Lady’ Margaret Thatcher Dies.

Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher, the “Iron Lady” who dominated British politics for two decades, died on Monday following a stroke, a spokesman for her family said. She was 87.

Britain‘s only woman prime minister, the tough, outspoken Thatcher led the Conservatives to three election victories, governing from 1979 to 1990, the longest continuous period in office by a British prime minister since the early 19th century.

“It was with great sadness that I learned of Lady Thatcher‘s death,” Prime Minister David Cameron said. “We’ve lost a great leader, a great Prime Minister and a great Briton.”

Thatcher died peacefully on Monday morning, said Lord Tim Bell, a spokesman for the Thatcher family.

“It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother Baroness Thatcher died peacefully following a stroke this morning,” Bell said.

A grocer’s daughter with a steely resolve, she became loved and loathed in equal measure as she crushed the unions and privatised vast swathes of British industry.

Queen Elizabeth said she was sad to hear the news of Thatcher’s death and sent a message of sympathy to her family.



© 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Kate Holton; Editing by Giles Elgood

Britain’s PM Alienating Christians With Gay Marriage Promotion.

Prime Minister David Cameron
British Prime Minister David Cameron is alienating Christians by promoting gay marriage, an influential former Anglican leader said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is alienating Christians by promoting gay marriage, an influential former leader of the world’s 80 million Anglicans said on Saturday.

In a strongly worded article, former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey said Cameron’s plan to legalize gay unions hid an “aggressive secularist” approach that threatened the link between church and state.

The comments echoed widespread concern about the policy among some Christians—and also highlighted the challenge facing Cameron whose efforts to modernize his center-right Conservative Party have antagonized some traditional party voters.

“The danger I believe that the government is courting with its approach both to marriage and religious freedom, is the alienation of a large minority of people who only a few years ago would have been considered pillars of society,” Carey wrote in Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper.

Carey’s comments come at a bad time for Cameron, who as the economy flounders is attempting to woo right-leaning voters with tough talk on immigration and the European Union.

The former Anglican leader also condemned what he saw as a lack of government support for Christians who choose to wear a cross at work, a practice that has been challenged in the past due to rules on religious expression at the workplace.

He cited a survey by pollster ComRes saying more than two thirds of Christians in Britain felt they were a “persecuted minority” and that more than half who voted Conservative in 2010 would not do so in 2015.

“It was a bit rich to hear that the prime minister has told religious leaders that they should ‘stand up and oppose aggressive secularization’ when it seems that his government is aiding and abetting this aggression every step of the way,” Carey said.

Cameron’s Downing Street office rejected Carey’s accusations, and praised the church’s role in charities and education, but did not address the issue of gay marriage.

“This government strongly backs faith and Christianity in particular, including backing the rights of people wanting to wear crosses at work and hold prayers at council meetings,” Downing Street said in a statement.

“The prime minister values the profound contribution that Christianity has made and continues to make to the country, which is why he strongly backs it,” the statement continued.

Carey was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002. Current Archbishop Justin Welby this month said some gay relationships were “stunning” in quality, but he is also opposed to gay marriage.

As elsewhere in Europe, the number of regular churchgoers in Britain has been declining in recent decades.



Reporting by Mohammed Abbas

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