Tag Archives: qatar

Tom Arms’ World Review

Qatar

As the World Cup draws to a close, host nation Qatar is being implicated in yet another scandal. This one involves allegedly bribing key figures in the European Parliament.

It is widely accepted that super-rich Qatar secured the World Cup with cash payments to FIFA board members. Now it is alleged that they tried to obtain preferential visa treatment for their citizens with a few selected bribes. The main target of the Qataris is alleged to be European Parliament Vice President Eva Kalli. She has been arrested on charges of money laundering, corruption and belonging to a criminal organisation. The Greek MEP has denied all charges but has been stripped of her vice-presidency and her assets have been frozen. She remains, however, an MEP.

Qatar’s representation to the EU issued a statement “categorically” rejecting “any attempts to associate the State of Qatar” with the scandal. The European Parliament thinks otherwise and has postponed indefinitely the vote that would have allowed Qatari citizens to be issued with automatic three-month visas on arrival at EU airports. The problem with the Qataris is that they have form and money to splash out. Their and oil gas-fed Sovereign Wealth Fund guarantees a per capita income of $61,276.

Russia

One of the main aims of Western sanctions against Russia is to deprive Moscow of technology needed for Putin’s military machine. This is especially the case with advanced semi-conductors, aka computer chips.

According to the US Department of Commerce, the sanctions have resulted in a 70 percent reduction in Russian imports of this vital technology. Not so says Reuters News Agency and the London-based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). If anything, they claim, Russia is receiving more computer chips and other advanced technology than ever before. In April, according to Reuters and RUSI, Russia recorded received $34 million in advanced technology from Western companies. In October 2022 the figure rose to $87.96 million.

Overall, at least $2.6 billion in advanced technology from US and European companies has ended up in Russia since the start of the Ukraine War. They include equipment from Intel Corp., Advanced Micro Devices and Texas Instruments. There is no question of these companies selling their goods directly to Russia. The equipment is being bought by middlemen based mainly in Turkey and Hong Kong who are then marking up the price and selling the technology to Russia. One company, Azu Industries, which has offices in Germany and Turkey, is alleged to have profited to the tune of $26 million since the start of the war.

India and China

Back in colonial times -July 1914 to be precise – British diplomats sat down with Tibetan diplomats to negotiate the border between India and Tibet (also known as the Line of Actual Control or LAC). Also present was a Chinese diplomat who stormed out of the meeting after protesting that Tibet had no right to negotiate any treaties because it was part of China.

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Has Elon Musk broken Twitter?

When I want to know what politicians are saying, including Lib Dem MPs and peers, I turn to Twitter. When I want to get a message out to a broader community than my town (for which I use Facebook), I use Twitter.

But Twitter is in trouble. Serious trouble. That trouble goes by the name of Elon Musk.

True, Twitter was languishing. Failing to effectively monetise its product. Too many staff. Not enough innovation.

But Elon Musk’s shock and awe approach to managing a company he wasn’t that interested in running is weakening the Twitter brand and weakening its credibility. Mass sackings. Mass resignations. Mass closure of accounts. Defections to Mastodon. Record Twitter use but much of that criticising Musk and bemoaning what Twitter is becoming.

Will I join the mass movement and leave Twitter? Not yet. But I don’t rule it out.

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15 November 2022 – today’s press releases

  • ONS earnings figures: Economic mismanagement is leaving pay packets stretched further than ever
  • Vaughan Gething Qatar Press Briefing – More Soundbites Rather than Real Solidarity
  • Liberal Democrats Raise Concerns Over the Impact of Australian and New Zealand Trade Deals on Wales
  • Conservatives failing to count cost of windfall tax loophole

ONS earnings figures: Economic mismanagement is leaving pay packets stretched further than ever

Responding to the latest ONS labour market and earnings figures which show pay falling in real terms, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

This Government’s economic mismanagement is leaving pay packets stretched further than ever before just as bills spiral out of control.

This is the worst cost of living crisis in a generation and Thursday is judgement day for the latest Conservative Chancellor in post. He cannot make the same mistakes as his predecessors who crashed the economy and left families to pick up the bill.

Thanks to the Conservative party’s botched budget and reckless mismanagement of the economy, homeowners are being forced to pay hundreds of pounds more a month on their mortgage whilst their take home pay is eaten away by inflation. The public will never forgive Conservative MPs for this.

Vaughan Gething Qatar Press Briefing – More Soundbites Rather than Real Solidarity

Responding to Vaughan Gething’s press conference where he continued to defend the Welsh Labour Government sending a delegation to Qatar during the World Cup, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said:

I am not convinced by the arguments set out today by Vaughan Gething nor previous arguments from the Welsh Labour Government seeking to justify this morally unjustifiable trip.

The Welsh Government should be upfront about its intentions going to Qatar, it is not to ‘support Team Wales’ but is to seek investment.

These tainted investment opportunities are going to come at the cost of providing diplomatic legitimacy to Qatar’s hosting of this tournament despite the country’s atrocious human rights record that has left over 6,500 migrant workers dead, punishes being gay with execution or imprisonment and treats women as lesser human beings.

Vaughan Gething has stated that the Welsh Government will “proactively use Wales’ place in the World Cup in Qatar to promote our strong Welsh values”, yet today has again not provided any evidence on how the Government will do this.

The last time I checked, unless the three ministers have been promote to Team Cymru itself and are going to be on that pitch, their presence isn’t going to affect how our national team performs and our national team are already upholding our values.

If Labour actually wanted to show solidarity with those living under Qatar‘s poor human rights record, or the families of the victims that have died during the construction of World Cup stadiums, they would cancel their unjustifiable trip immediately and instead join the vast majority of fans who will be watching the games from home, and to show some consistency on “saving them air miles” that was used to justify the Welsh Government not attending COP27 last week.

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8 November 2022 – today’s press releases

It’s been another day in which the apparent total lack of understanding of governance has been the undoing of another Conservative minister, and today’s press releases reflect how quickly that can play out…

  • Williamson comments: Independent Cabinet Office investigation needed now
  • Welsh Liberal Democrats Only Party in the Senedd Making a Stand on Human Rights
  • Gavin Williamson resigns: Sunak’s integrity left in tatters

Williamson comments: Independent Cabinet Office investigation needed now

The Liberal Democrats have demanded an immediate independent Cabinet Office inquiry into remarks made by Gavin Williamson, in which he told a senior civil servant to “slit his throat.”

It comes after Number 10 confirmed today Rishi Sunak has full confidence in Gavin Williamson.

The Liberal Democrats said a full and independent inquiry must be carried out immediately by the Cabinet Office Propriety and Ethics team, and the findings must be made public.

Liberal Democrat Cabinet Office Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

The Conservatives must not be allowed to mark their own homework. We need an independent inquiry now to address these damning allegations about Gavin Williamson’s conduct.

Anything less would be an abdication of leadership from Number 10, and make a mockery of Sunak’s promise to govern with integrity.

The findings must be made public – if the Conservatives have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear.

Every day this scandal drags on means more endless infighting while the Conservatives fail to tackle the pressing issues facing the country.

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3 November 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Bank of England rate rise: Chancellor must address the country
  • Asylum seekers abandoned – Braverman failing in her duty as Home Secretary
  • Elin Jones Wrong to Defend Mark Drakeford’s Qatar Trip Say Lib Dems
  • Number of GPs and GP Practices in Wales Fall
  • Interest rates: Chancellor must address the country with a plan to save homeowners
  • Davey: Recession warning a “badge of shame” for Rishi Sunak and Conservative government

Bank of England rate rise: Chancellor must address the country

Commenting ahead of today’s interest rate decision from the Bank of England, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

The Chancellor must address the country immediately after the rate rise decision to spell out a plan to save homeowners on the brink. He should either come to Parliament or hold a press conference to announce support for families facing mortgage bill rises worth hundreds of pounds a month.

Hardworking families are being left to pay the price for weeks of Conservative chaos. People are desperately worried about how they are going to pay these frightening mortgage payments after tomorrow.

The Government cannot hide away, especially after their long list of economic failures.

Asylum seekers abandoned – Braverman failing in her duty as Home Secretary

The Liberal Democrats have warned that Home Secretary Suella Braverman is “failing in her duty” as Home Secretary, after reports asylum seekers have been left stranded in central London by the Home Office.

It comes after Robert Jenrick emphasised last night on ITV’s Peston that the Home Secretary has a duty not to release asylum seekers into destitution.

Suella Braverman also assured Parliament on Monday that she had refused to release people into local communities “without having anywhere for them to stay”.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

Asylum seekers being abandoned with no place to stay in central London is the most blatant sign that the system is completely broken.

Suella Braverman is failing in her basic duty as Home Secretary. She needs to urgently explain how this has been allowed to happen, despite the assurances given to Parliament earlier this week.

It’s intolerable that vulnerable people are being left without help because of the endless chaos and incompetence of this government.

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24 October 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems table Bill calling for general election by December
  • Sunak: Another out of touch Conservative PM with no plan
  • Sunak statement: Keeping public in the dark while celebrating behind closed doors
  • First Minister Must Not Contribute to the Whitewashing of Qatar

Lib Dems table Bill calling for general election by December

The Liberal Democrats have tabled a Bill in Parliament today calling for an early general election by 1st December 2022.

The Bill will be tabled in Parliament today (Monday 24th October) and will be given its First Reading on Wednesday after Prime Minister’s Questions.

The Liberal Democrats are urging Conservative MPs to back the …

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30 September 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Truss urged to hold mortgage lender summit in Number 10 as millions left in “anxious limbo”
  • OBR forecasts: Economy left “flying blind” for two months
  • Calls reiterated for Welsh Government to Close Qatar Offices After Death of British National

Truss urged to hold mortgage lender summit in Number 10 as millions left in “anxious limbo”

The Liberal Democrats are urging the Prime Minister Liz Truss to host an emergency summit with mortgage lenders in Number 10 this weekend, instead of heading off to Conservative Party conference.

The call comes as hundreds of mortgage products have been withdrawn from sale since the Government presented its mini budget last week.

Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

The Conservatives have plunged our country into an economic crisis and what’s worse is that the damage is purely self inflicted.

Rather than head off on a jolly to party conference this weekend, Liz Truss should hold an emergency meeting with mortgage lenders in Number 10 to fix the chaos caused by her budget.

Millions of people are being left in an anxious limbo. Some are struggling to get the mortgages they need to get on the housing ladder while others are being left worried sick about losing their homes, all because of this Government’s catastrophic failure.

It would be unforgivable for Conservative ministers to sit around talking amongst themselves instead of taking action to sort out this mess.

The buck stops with the Prime Minister, she must not leave innocent mortgage borrowers to pick up the bill.

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Tom Arms’ World Review

The jury is out on the value of French President Emmanuel Macron’s numerous and lengthy telephone/zoom/face to face talks Vladimir Putin.

Some diplomats claim that he is providing a valuable role in keeping open the lines of communication between NATO and the Kremlin. Others maintain that his talks have given Putin a totally undeserved credibility. Either way, the Vlad-Emmanuel chats do not appear to have had a great impact Macron’s re-election hopes as the French presidential campaign swings towards the final week before the first round on 10 April.

Macron has been the favourite for the past six months, but this week he dropped a percentage point from 28 to 27 percent of the expected first round vote and his chief rival Marine Le Pen climbed from 18 percent to 20. Pollsters, however, still give the incumbent the advantage in the 24 April second round, but it has narrowed to 52-53 percent of the vote.

Right-winger Ms Le Pen has clearly had some success in de-demonising her National Rally Party. She has been helped by the candidacy of the extreme right-winger Eric Zemmour who wants to deport 100,000 Muslims a year. Ms Le Pen has successfully shifted the focus of her campaign from the traditional issue of immigration to the cost of living crisis. This has put her in a position to pick up second round votes from the left of the French political spectrum with her economic policy and votes from the right with her slightly more acceptable anti-immigration policies.

However, Macron has also had some recent successes. In January, the French economy has its biggest every monthly jump as it bounced back from the pandemic and he has managed to reduce unemployment to 7.4 percent.

Reports emanating from Britain’s MI6 and GCHQ and America’s CIA and National Security Agency are in total agreement – Putin goofed. He completely miscalculated the resolve of the Ukrainian people and the Western Alliance and the ability of his own military forces. But according to the spy chiefs, it gets even worse. The Russian president has surrounded himself with advisers who are terrified of telling him the truth. The result is that his decision to invade was made on the basis of intelligence which fitted the prejudices and political beliefs of Putin rather than the facts.

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We should boycott the 2022 Qatar World Cup

Embed from Getty Images

A Pakistani man working on the roads in the heat, felled by heatstroke. A disorganised at best response to his emergency, with no medical treatment. His body hauled into the back of a truck, dead like so many other migrant workers in his position. That was what my mum saw one day when she lived in Qatar and unfortunately, that man’s story is not unique. Just like many migrant workers in Qatar before him and many since.

Since that day, the World Cup has been awarded to Qatar, and last year the Guardian has reported the deaths of 6,500 workers in Qatar, though other reports put this number even higher. The stadiums they have died to build will be abandoned after the tournament, leaving only a legacy of death and sportswashing from the Qatari government.

This is not just a World Cup with a morally questionable regime in charge – nothing new for FIFA. This is not just a World Cup with a questionable process of selecting the host country by an organisation with a history of corruption. This is a World Cup quite literally built on the death of migrant workers in Qatar.

I love football, and I’ve never enjoyed watching England as much as I did in 2021, with young, exciting footballers taking England through to the Euros finals. The players and Gareth Southgate did more than just win matches –  they gained some respect back for the sport, as they acted with dignity and class.

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World Review: Qatar as power broker, EU rapid deployment and abortion in Texas

In one of history’s ultimate ironies, the West may end up working with the political organisation it overthrew and fought for 20 years. The reason? To prevent another more extreme Islamic organisation from using the central Asian country as a base for terrorism. ISIS-K has made it clear that it wants to use terror to undermine the West and export Islamic fundamentalism. It has also said that the Taliban leadership is as much a target for their suicide bombers as Americans.

At a Pentagon press conference this week, General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of the Staff, described the Taliban, as “ruthless” but added that in war “you do what you must.” When asked if the US would cooperate with the Taliban, he said: “that is a possibility.”

Meanwhile British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab flew to Qatar which has been acting as intermediary between the West and the Taliban.

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Fifa World Cup row: Lib Dem members say no to Qatar but split on 2022 boycott

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what our sample of Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. 747 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Yesterday, Fifa’s independent ethics investigator Michael Garcia quit in protest over the handling of his report into bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Here’s what Lib Dem members had to say about Fifa in our latest survey…

Do you think the 2022 football FIFA World Cup should go ahead in Qatar, or should it be hosted elsewhere?

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Willie Rennie apologises for ‘unintentional offence’ of Lib Dems’ Alex Salmond cartoon

Some embarrassment for Willie Rennie, MSP and leader of the Scottish Lib Dems, this week following the publication by party staff of a cartoon satirising First Minister Alex Salmond’s hailing of the similarities between Scotland and Qatar:

The Stv website takes up the story:

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