Ten years ago, Swiss hairdresser Christine Dousse feared guns. Then her daughter convinced her to join a 400-year-old local shooting club. Now she shoots twice a week. “When I am lying in the stall, facing the target, alone with my rifle … I don’t know how to describe it, but it just helps me forget a bad day,” said the 50-year-old. “It helps me completely let go of the stress and negative things.” Dousse and many of the 500 other participants at a marksmanship contest in Romont this month believe their heritage is under threat from tighter gun rules Swiss voters are expected to support in a binding referendum on Sunday. Even though Switzerland has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in Europe, polls suggest two out of three voters back controls the European Union embraced in 2017 after militant attacks in Paris and elsewhere. The new European rules make it harder to buy semi-automatic rifles and easier to track weapons in databases. Non-EU member Switzerland’s parliament and government back the regulations, but shooting enthusiasts fear a dangerous trend towards disarming them altogether. More is at stake than just guns. Switzerland must adopt the rules to remain part of Europe’s Schengen open-border system, otherwise weapons on the restricted list could reach the EU from Swiss gun shops. Leaving Schengen would disrupt travel, hurt tourism and crimp cross-border police cooperation, proponents say. Failure to adopt the rules could also force Switzerland out of common rules for handling asylum requests
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar and his Russian counterpart discussed ways to reduce tension in Syria’s Idlib province, the Turkish Defence Ministry said on Tuesday, after the biggest military escalation in northwest Syria in nearly a year. Russia has backed the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey has backed some rebels in Syria’s eight-year civil war, but they have recently worked together to try to contain fighting in the country’s northwest. That effort has been strained by the surge in violence in Syria’s last major insurgent stronghold in recent weeks. The offensive by the Syrian army and its allies, backed by Russia, has uprooted more than 150,000 people, the United Nations says, while rescue workers and civil defence officials say more than 120 civilians have been killed. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called the attacks by Syrian forces a flagrant violation of a September ceasefire that had averted a government offensive. He said in a tweet on Tuesday it went counter to the spirit of Turkey’s efforts to work with Russia and Iran to reduce hostilities and casualties in Idlib and neighbouring areas. On Monday, rebels said they mounted a counterattack against government forces. A senior rebel commander said on Tuesday the offensive showed an array of rebel forces – from Turkey-backed rebels to jihadists – were still able to prevent the army from making major advances despite heavy air strikes. “We conducted this lighting offensive to show the Russians we are not easy prey and throw the
The British Council has confirmed one of its employees has been convicted and jailed in Iran for espionage charges. Head of the British cultural organization Ciarán Devane said in a statement on Tuesday that Aras Amiri, a 32-year-old employee of the London-based Council, had been sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran more than a year after she was arrested in the country for espionage. The statement came a day after a senior Iranian judiciary official said an Iranian woman had been convicted after she was found guilty of spying for Britain. Gholamhossein Esmaili, who serves as the spokesman for the Iranian Judiciary, said the unidentified woman had been “cooperating with Britain’s foreign intelligence service,” while working for the Iran Desk at the British Council. Esmaili said the woman had made “clear confessions” about her recruitment and “the instructions that the English security agency had given her.” “The person was involved in contacting theater and art groups to implement cultural infiltration projects,” said the official, adding that the woman had repeatedly traveled to Iran under aliases. The British council, however, denied espionage charges against Amiri. The agency said it will remain in contact with Britain’s foreign ministry to pursue the issue. “We firmly refute the accusation levied against her,” Devane said, adding, “The British Council does not do any work in Iran and Aras did not travel to Iran for work.” Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt also reacted to the news of the jail sentences for Amiri, saying late
Britain will eventually leave the European Union and agree a free-trade deal with the bloc, according to the vast majority of economists polled by Reuters who were, however, split on whether the two sides would divorce on Oct. 31.
Prime Minister Theresa May failed to get her Withdrawal Agreement ratified by the British parliament on three attempts so the EU allowed a Brexit delay until the end of October, giving May time to try to convince lawmakers to reach agreement.
When asked if the latest deadline - delayed from March 29 - would be extended, 17 of 33 economists who answered an extra question in the May 3-10 Reuters poll said it would not.
“Failure to come to an agreement runs the risk that the EU will simply lose patience in October and not grant any extension,” said Peter Dixon at Commerzbank.
“We are by no means out of the woods.”
The UK has been designing a space defense mechanism to protect its satellites from possible attacks by Russia and China, leaked documents show.
According to a leaked Ministry of Defense document seen by The Times, London’s frist ever space defense strategy London names missile launches by Russian and Chinese military forces among the top ten risks to British satellites.
“Both China and Russia have admitted testing ground-based interceptor missiles that have the potential to target satellites,” the leaked memo noted.
“Such systems will create significant amounts of orbital debris, putting many hundreds of other satellites at risk,” it added.
European countries said on Thursday they wanted to preserve Iran’s nuclear deal and rejected “ultimatums” from Tehran, after Iran scaled back curbs on its nuclear programme and threatened moves that might breach the pact.
Iran announced steps on Wednesday to ease curbs on its nuclear programme, in response to new U.S. sanctions imposed after Washington abandoned the deal a year ago.
Experts say the new moves announced by Tehran so far are not likely to violate the terms of the deal immediately.
But President Hassan Rouhani said that unless world powers find a way to protect Iran’s banking and oil industries from U.S. sanctions within 60 days, Iran would start enriching uranium beyond limits allowed in the deal.
“We reject any ultimatums and we will assess Iran’s compliance on the basis of Iran’s performance regarding its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA and the NPT,” read a statement issued jointly by the European Union and the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany.
British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will urge both pro-EU voters and Brexit supporters on Thursday to vote for his opposition party at this month’s European election, a poll he blamed on the Conservative government’s “complete failure” to steer the country out of the bloc.
Again setting out Labour’s stance that a second referendum is an option only to stop the government’s “bad deal” or leaving the European Union without an agreement, Corbyn will call on voters to see beyond divisions over Brexit to back his party.
The need to contest elections to the European Parliament on May 23 - after the country failed to meet an original March 29 deadline and still has not agreed on a deal for the departure - poses difficulties for both Labour and Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives.
Both parties have internal divisions over Europe and both were punished by voters in local elections last week over the delay to Brexit.
The United States and European Union have expressed deep concern over Turkey’s plans for offshore drilling operations in an area claimed by Cyprus as its exclusive economic zone, adding to tensions between Ankara and its Western allies.
The statements at the weekend came after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said “we are starting drilling” in the region.
Turkey and the internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government have overlapping claims of jurisdiction for offshore oil and gas research in the eastern Mediterranean, a region thought to be rich in natural gas.
“The United States is deeply concerned by Turkey’s announced intentions to begin offshore drilling operations in an area claimed by the Republic of Cyprus as its Exclusive Economic Zone,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said on Sunday.
Prime Minister Theresa May could reach a Brexit deal with the opposition Labour Party within days, a leading Conservative Party figure said on Saturday, after senior ministers urged compromise following poor local election results.
Ruth Davidson, the Conservatives’ leader in Scotland, told party members that a cross-partisan agreement on Brexit was needed before this month’s European elections, or Britain’s major parties would face an even bigger backlash from voters.
The Conservatives lost 1,332 seats on English local councils that were up for re-election, and Labour - which would typically aim to gain hundreds of seats in a mid-term vote - instead lost 81.
Many voters expressed frustration at May’s failure to have taken Britain out of the European Union, almost three years after the country decided to leave in a referendum.
“If we thought yesterday’s results were a wake-up call, just wait for the European elections on the 23rd of May,” Davidson told a party conference in Aberdeen.
English voters are expected to use local government elections on Thursday to punish Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party over its failure to deliver Brexit, revealing a divided and dissatisfied electorate.
More than 8,000 seats on English councils - administrative bodies responsible for day-to-day decisions on local policy ranging from education to waste management - are up for grabs in the first elections since Britain missed its March 29 Brexit date.
The results will paint a picture, albeit an imperfect one, of how that has affected support for May’s centre-right Conservative Party, and the leftist opposition Labour Party.
The Conservatives are forecast to lose hundreds of seats, and, according to one analysis, the final toll could top 1,000. Labour, which rejects May’s vision of Brexit but still supports leaving the bloc, are expected to make gains, as are the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was sentenced to 50 weeks in jail by a London court on Wednesday for skipping bail to enter the Ecuadorean embassy where he was holed up for almost seven years until police dragged him out last month.
Judge Deborah Taylor read out the sentence as Assange, in a black jacket and grey sweatshirt, looked on. Taylor said Assange had exploited his privileged position to flout the law and express his disdain for British justice.
He was convicted last month of skipping bail in June 2012 after an extradition order to Sweden over an allegation of rape. The maximum sentence was a year in jail.
“You remained there for nearly seven years, exploiting your privileged position to flout the law and advertise internationally your disdain for the law of this country,” Judge Taylor said at Southwark Crown Court.
Britain’s opposition Labour Party resisted calls to unconditionally embrace a second referendum on Tuesday, restating its support for such a vote only if the government refuses to change its EU deal or there is no new election.
With Britain’s delayed departure from the European Union far from clear, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been under pressure from lawmakers and party members to throw his support behind a second referendum, or confirmatory vote, on any Brexit deal.
But the veteran Socialist, a long-time eurosceptic, has stuck firmly to his position that a second vote was an option to prevent what Labour calls a “damaging” Conservative Brexit or to stop Britain leaving without a deal.
In three weeks, Europeans will vote for a new European Parliament but the real struggle for power over the bloc will begin only after votes are counted. Here’s why?
More than 400 million people in the European Union’s 28 member states can vote from May 23 to 26, including nearly 50 million Britons who were due to leave the bloc in March. Their votes for 73 lawmakers who may have to quit within weeks has upset some calculations after a delay to Brexit agreed in April.
By proportional representation, Europeans will elect 751 members to the European Parliament, which divides its time between Brussels and Strasbourg. Ranging from Luxembourg, Malta and Cyprus with six seats each to Germany with 96, for five years Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will pass laws proposed by the European Commission, subject to approval by national governments in the EU Council.
Spain’s ruling Socialists were weighing options for forming a new government on Monday after they won a national election but fell short of a majority in a deeply fragmented parliament that could spell prolonged political uncertainty. Playing down talk of possible coalition options, Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo said the Socialists would try to govern alone, while party president Cristina Narbona said it was in no hurry to decide.
“The Socialists will try to govern on their own,” Calvo said in an interview on Cadena Ser radio. “We have more than enough (votes) to steer this ship along the course it must follow.”
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, whose party celebrated into the small hours after increasing their representation in Sunday’s election to 123 seats from 84, declined to comment ahead of a strategy meeting on Monday afternoon.
If he does seek a coalition partner, he could opt for a complex alliance with fellow leftists Podemos that would likely require support from at least one Catalan separatist lawmaker, or he could risk upsetting his grassroots supporters by joining forces across the political divide with centre-right Ciudadanos.
Spain goes to the polls on Sunday for its most divisive and open-ended election in decades, set to result in a fragmented parliament in which the far-right will get a sizeable presence for the first time since the country’s return to democracy.
After a tense campaign dominated by issues such as national identity and gender equality, the likelihood that any coalition deal will take weeks or months to be brokered will feed into a broader mood of political uncertainty across Europe.
At least five parties from across the political spectrum have a chance of being in government and they could struggle to agree on a deal between them, meaning a repeat election is one of several possible outcomes.