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Matt cartoons, June 2017

Thu, 2017-06-22 17:36

May offers ‘fair deal’ for EU nationals in Britain

Thu, 2017-06-22 17:34

Prime Minister Theresa May set out what she called a “fair deal” for EU citizens living in Britain on Thursday, saying in her first test of negotiating strength that she did not want anyone to have to leave because of Brexit or to split up families.

Outlining the five main principles of her “fair and serious offer”, May told other EU leaders at a summit in Brussels that she wanted to offer certainty to EU citizens about their future in Britain, again using a softer tone in her approach to Brexit.

But while her five principles go some way to ease concerns of the roughly 3 million EU nationals in Britain, their leaders will no doubt want to see more detail and may query the lack of a firm cut-off date for any changes to immigration rules – the EU is insisting on no changes until Britain leaves in 2019.

And her reduced stature, after losing her parliamentary majority in a June 8 election, among leaders who have made clear that they are more concerned about the future of the European Union than Britain’s departure, could see her on the back foot.

“The prime minister tonight set out details of the rights and status EU citizens in the UK will enjoy after Brexit – vowing to give them reassurance, and to make them a priority in negotiations,” a senior British government source said.

“The PM said the UK’s position represented a fair and serious offer – and one aimed at giving as much certainty as possible to citizens who have settled in the UK, building careers and lives, and contributing so much to our society.”

It was her first foray into the Brexit talks, one which was timed to coincide with coffee at the end of dinner by EU leaders who have warned the British prime minister not to use Council summits as a negotiating chamber for Britain’s departure.

May outlined the plan many in her party who campaigned for Brexit hope will reduce the flow of migrants to Britain, then she left. The others went on to discuss Britain’s departure from the European Union without her.

EU leaders attend a EU leaders summit in Brussels

May told leaders she wanted to offer certainty by saying no EU citizens in Britain lawfully would be asked to leave at the time of Brexit, and that all EU citizens lawfully in the country at the point of Brexit would be able to regularise their status.

She would also offer any EU citizen resident for five years – at some cut-off date – the opportunity to get settled status, a new category which would treat them as if they were British citizens for healthcare, education, benefits and pensions.

Those who by then had less than five years residency would be allowed to build up to five years to obtain that status. The government will also offer a grace period of most likely up to two years to allow people to regularise their status so that “no one will face a cliff edge”, she said.

The 85-page residency form, which many struggled to fill in after Britain voted to leave the European Union a year ago on Friday, will be replaced by a more streamlined system, “using digital tools to register people in a light-touch way”.

In a nod to the million or more Britons living on the continent, she said that: “Reciprocity was, of course, vital.”

But, even with the softer tone and expressed eagerness to sort out one of the relatively easy problems that the Brexit talks will have to unpick, there were bound to be sticking points.

EU leaders argue that while Britain is in the bloc it must adhere to its rules. May offered a window in which to set the cut-off which can be debated with Brussels – no earlier than her confirmation of withdrawal three months ago and no later than Brexit, due on March 30, 2019, two years after it was triggered.

There would be no changes until the latter date: “All EU citizens currently (in Britain) will have their rights protected under EU law until the date we leave the EU,” the source said.

Other non-negotiables were the role of the European Court of Justice – May has repeatedly said that “we’re taking back control of our own rules” and, the source said, EU citizens could rely on the protection of “our highly respected courts”.

The EU wants their citizens’ rights after Brexit enforceable in their European court in Luxembourg.

May’s aides declined to add detail, saying the government would present a paper to parliament on Monday that would explore the implications of the changes for family members from non-EU states and marriages of people of different nationality.

The EU has insisted that sweeping political guarantees are worth little without detailed legal agreements which tackle the complex diversity of people’s family situations.

“Both sides should seek to agree terms and give certainty as early as possible in the talks,” May said.

The post May offers ‘fair deal’ for EU nationals in Britain appeared first on Cyprus Mail.

Court acquits Phinikoudes death crane operator

Thu, 2017-06-22 17:26

Larnaca District Court on Thursday acquitted the operator of a 200-tonne tower crane that fell on to Phinikoudes promenade in October 2012 – killing a 65-year-old woman, injuring three others and damaging five cars – after the prosecution failed to prove the case.

The crane operator, Christos Peristianis, had been charged with causing death through reckless or dangerous acts, omissions of persons responsible for dangerous equipment and negligent acts causing physical harm and serious bodily harm.

In its ruling, the court said was Peristianis was accused on October 10, 2012, by want of precaution or by by rash or careless act not amounting to culpable negligence, of not completely unlocking the crane brake, meaning strong winds caused its fall, resulting in the death of Christine-Marie Coleman and the injury of three other people.

Any person who by want of precaution or by by rash or careless act, not amounting to culpable negligence, unintentionally causes the death of another person is guilty of a misdemeanour and is liable to imprisonment for two years, or to a fine not exceeding one €170.

He was also accused of, while he was solely responsible for the crane, having neglected to take the necessary precautions against any possible risk arising from such a motorised machine.

The T-shaped crane- 44-metres in length and 80 metres in width – was part of a construction site managed by a contractor hired by Larnaca municipality to build an extra two floors on top of the town hall on Phinikoudes Avenue. It fell on to the promenade during strong winds averaging between 6 and 9 on Beaufort scale, crashing down on a moving car containing Victor and Christine-Marie Coleman, 65 and 67, who were permanent residents of Vrysoulles village.

The two had to be freed from the mangled car by emergency services before being rushed to hospital. Christine-Marie died at the hospital from multiple injuries including haemorrhages in her brain and lungs, while her husband sustained head and brain injuries and internal cranial haemorrhaging.

A 47-year-old Iranian man lost his finger trying to flee from the falling crane on foot, and a 60-year-old Cypriot pedestrian suffered a fractured hand.

Eye-witness accounts said the crane’s fall was broken by the cars underneath, which changed the direction of the crane as it hit the ground, narrowly missing a kiosk with seven people inside.

The court ruled that prosecution had failed to prove its case against the accused, since it could not prove that Peristianis “did not take all the appropriate action to unlock the crane to rotate with the wind’s direction”. The fact that he was the last person to operate the crane, the ruling said, “does not prove in itself, and especially in a criminal case, which should be beyond reasonable doubt, that he failed to take the necessary precautions, which resulted in the crane falling”.

The court also ruled that the operator had partially unlocked the crane brake and therefore took the appropriate action that requires full unlocking of the brake.

“The accused actually did what the police accused him of failing to do, namely to deactivate the brake”, the ruling said. It added that the operator is not considered responsible because the brake was not fully deactivated.

The court also raised questions over the checks carried out on the crane by its owner and the state electromechanical services on the remote control with which the break was released. It was reported that about 10 months before the accident, the remote control was destroyed by lightning and replaced by one from another machine that was not tested for compatibility.

The new remote control, the court said, did not have an operator’s notification function that the rotation brake was released, and this gap created a breach in the prosecution’s attempt to prove that the operator was guilty. It also said that it took into consideration that the crane was last operated by Peristianis at 10.30am that day, while the accident occurred at 8.30pm.

The court also said that after the accident the crane was stored in the premises of the construction company that owned it instead of being handed over to police. It said that this raised an issue with possible tampering.

The post Court acquits Phinikoudes death crane operator appeared first on Cyprus Mail.

Senate Republicans reveal Obamacare replacement bill

Thu, 2017-06-22 16:53

A seven-year push by US Republicans to dismantle Obamacare and kill the taxes it imposed on the wealthy reached a critical phase on Thursday when Senate Republican leaders unveiled a draft bill they aim to put to a vote, possibly as early as next week.

With Democrats deeply opposed to Republican attempts to overhaul former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law, the route to passage was extremely narrow for President Donald Trump’s party, with no assurances that moderates and conservatives will be able to bridge their differences.

The draft bill proposes repealing a 3.8 per cent net investment income tax on high earners retroactively to the start of 2017, not at some point in the future, as some analysts had speculated. The tax, affecting high-income Americans and imposed to help pay for Obamacare, has been a key target for Republicans.

The legislation also curbs Obamacare’s expanded Medicaid help for the poor and reshapes subsidies to low-income people for private insurance.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his lieutenants worked in secret for weeks on the bill, and he said debate on it would start next week.

Republicans who control the House of Representatives approved a more conservative version last month.


US hospital stocks traded sharply higher after the bill was released, adding to gains from earlier in the session.

HCA Healthcare Inc rose 3.3 per cent, while Tenet Healthcare Corp surged 7.4 per cent.

Health insurers also traded broadly higher, with large players Aetna Inc and UnitedHealth Group Inc each up more than 1.5 per cent. Insurers that specialise in Medicaid also gained, with Centene Corp up 2.2 per cent and Molina Healthcare Inc rising 2.4 per cent.

The overall S&P 500 healthcare sector was up 1.3 per cent and hit an all-time high.

Mizuho Securities’ director of research, Sheryl Skolnick, said in a research note, “Hospital stocks are up on this news today. They should be, in our view, as the near-term risks would be abated if the subsidy and Medicaid provisions hold through Senate and House negotiations.”

The subsidies enabling low-income people to buy private health insurance are expected to be linked to recipients’ income in the Senate bill, a “major improvement” from a measure approved last month by the US House of Representatives that tied them solely to age, Republican Senator Susan Collins said.

Some of the Senate bill’s provisions could be political land mines, with individual senators’ reactions crucial to determining whether or not the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, survives a Republican attack that has been underway since its passage in 2010.

But even with control of the White House and both chambers of Congress since January, the Republicans have struggled to make good on their bold campaign promises to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The law is credited with expanding health insurance to millions of Americans. Republicans say it costs too much and involves the federal government too much in healthcare. Trump made Obamacare repeal a centerpiece of his 2016 election campaign.

Trump has urged the Republican-led Senate to pass a more “generous” bill than the one approved by the House. He privately described that version as “mean,” according to congressional sources.

Democrats accuse Republicans of sabotaging Obamacare, and say the Republican bill will make healthcare unaffordable for poorer Americans while cutting taxes for the wealthy.

McConnell may have a tough job convincing enough Republican senators that the Senate bill improves on the House version. A Reuters/Ipsos poll this month found nearly 60 per cent of adults believed the House bill would make insurance costlier for low-income Americans and people with pre-existing conditions. Only 13 per cent said it would improve healthcare quality.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated the House bill would kick 23 million people off their healthcare plans. Healthcare is a top priority for voters, and many Republicans fear a legislative misstep could hurt them.

The post Senate Republicans reveal Obamacare replacement bill appeared first on Cyprus Mail.

Kitten adoption day

Thu, 2017-06-22 16:50

On Saturday, Cat P.A.W.S, in collaboration with the Crafting for Animals Workshop and all cat lovers will come together in Nicosia to hold a kitten adoption day.

Cat P.A.W.S association promotes programmes of cheap sterilisation in order to reduce overpopulation of stray cats while Crafting for Animals is a workshop which raises awareness and funds to help homeless animals.

During the day, there will be about 20-25 three-month old vaccinated cats being given up for adoption. There will be a crafts bazaar selling hand-made objects and paintings for sale, all made by volunteers. Children will also have the opportunity to handcraft objects with the theme of cats in collaboration with the Crafting for Animals workshop.

An information desk about the Cat P.A.W.S association will be present at the event, along with a meet and greet with volunteers.

Adoption Day

June 24. Koukounari Café, Larnakas Avenue, Akadimias Park Aglandjia, Nicosia. 5pm. Tel: 22305854

The post Kitten adoption day appeared first on Cyprus Mail.

Regulators back Trump on looser financial rules

Thu, 2017-06-22 16:42
Officials endorse Volcker rule revamp and bank relief from burden of ‘stress tests’

Briton dies on mountain hike in 45C desert heat

Thu, 2017-06-22 16:42
A British man has died while hiking down a mountain in the United Arab Emirates in 45C desert heat.

Study finds Cyprus media could do better

Thu, 2017-06-22 16:32

While media in Cyprus are generally independent from political control, they frequently reflect their owner’s political agendas and are vulnerable to influences by commercial interests, a recent study said.

According to the Media Pluralism Monitor (MPM) 2016, freedom of expression and media pluralism in Cyprus are generally positive, but gaps and problematic aspects do exist.

“While media are generally independent from political control, they frequently reflect the owners’ political agendas,” the report said. “They are also vulnerable to increasing influences by commercial interests.”

Companies have been known to threaten media outlets with withdrawing advertising if negative reports are published. They have also been known to pull ads after such reports.

The MPM is a research tool designed to identify potential risks to media pluralism in the EU. The report was produced as part of the first pan-European implementation of the MPM carried out in 2016.

According to the report, despite privileged media access, political actors interfered with the funding and operation of public service media.

“Non-mainstream and other minorities groups, including women, enjoy limited media access,” it said.

In Cyprus, the main challenge for the authorities is to promote universal penetration of broadband with higher speeds so as to bridge the digital gap.

The media must also rethink and redefine its role.

“Raising awareness on and defending journalists’ rights and editorial independence are key to pluralism and serving the public interest,” the report said.

As regards market plurality, the media must clear content from external influences and restore its social role.

The media should also experiment with new business models and revenue streams and the state must find ways to assist print media mainly to survive and offer more titles.

“Government and political parties must revise their approach to media, mainly public service media,” the report said. “The legal framework of PSM needs ample revision, in particular the definition of public service.”

Read the full report here:

The post Study finds Cyprus media could do better appeared first on Cyprus Mail.

Buffett rescues teetering Canadian subprime mortgage lender

Thu, 2017-06-22 16:31
Berkshire Hathaway provides C$2.4bn financing package for Home Capital Group

Former owner of Hitler’s birthplace fights expropriation in court

Thu, 2017-06-22 16:05

The expropriation of Adolf Hitler’s birthplace by Austria’s government is unconstitutional and is not the only way to stop it being an attraction for neo-Nazis, a lawyer for its former owner told a court on Thursday.

Gerlinde Pommer-Angloher filed a legal challenge to the constitutional court in January, seeking annulment of a law which allowed the state to seize the three-storey house in Braunau am Inn on Austria’s border with Germany.

The state took possession of the house under a compulsory purchase order after a parliament vote, saying it wanted to stop it becoming a shrine for neo-Nazis to visit.

The fact that the house is still a meeting point for neo-Nazis more than 70 years after World War Two had nothing to do with its former owner, Pommer-Angloher’s lawyer Gerhard Lebitsch said at court hearing on Thursday.

“Mrs. Pommer-Angloher has always had an interest in a neutral use of the house,” Lebitsch said. “She thinks that nothing is achieved with the expropriation.”

Instead, police, security services and the judiciary could do a better job to prevent it becoming a site for neo-Nazi tourism, he said.

Austria’s government says expropriation was the only way to end a long-running dispute with Pommer-Angloher. Retired without children, she has turned down previous offers by the state to convert or buy the house.

Hitler, who led Nazi Germany into a global war that cost more than 50 million peoples’ lives, was born in the house in 1889.

Pommer-Angloher’s grandparents bought the house in 1913 but were forced to sell it in 1938. After the war, her mother bought it back.

The interior ministry had rented the building since 1972, but due to the dispute it has remained vacant in recent years.

Hermann Feiner, an interior ministry representative, told the court that Austria had to live up to its historic responsibilities.

“This is not just any property. It is here that the person was born who … committed the greatest crime of human history,” Feiner said. “How Austria deals with it is not just an issue within Austria.”

Austria plans to refurbish the house and convert it into a centre for people with learning disabilities, in a bid to break its historic connection to Hitler’s ideology.

A verdict in the case is expected early next month.

The post Former owner of Hitler’s birthplace fights expropriation in court appeared first on Cyprus Mail.