When a politician wants to promote a certain party policy, they tend to make sure to know the numbers behind it. Jeremy Corbyn did things differently when he appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour this morning to push his flagship pledge to provide free childcare to all two to four-year olds, as the simple question of how much it would cost left him scrabbling for his iPad to find the answer as he plaintively asked: “Can I give you the exact figure in a moment please?”
Corbynistas have reacted with fury online, with former spokesman Matt Zarb-Cousin on the politer edge of the responses with his attempt to dismiss presenter Emma Barnett’s questions as “pub quiz”.They may be especially annoyed as it emerges that Diane Abbott’s fumbling attempt to set out her party’s spending commitments for the police on LBC was noticed by voters, so Mr Corbyn’s performance could reinforce the image in their minds that Labour – as Ms Barnett suggested – cannot be “trusted” with money.
Meanwhile, Theresa May has sought to ram home the impression that her Labour rival is a novice who cannot be trusted with leadership, declaring that his approach towards Brexit would leave him “alone and naked” in negotiations with Brussels. She will be quietly pleased by his struggle today with numbers, as it will it even easier for her to portray him as inexperienced.
After getting off to a dodgy start this morning, the Labour leader had managed to log into his iPad by the time he arrived at Mumsnet Towers for a Q&A.( an all too quick one in the view of the forum’s users) – quoting the cost of his childcare pledge as £5.3 billion. He then followed up his car-crash interview by quite literally crashing a (toy) car while visiting a nursery in London.
Mr Corbyn’s day is far from over, as he is appearing on the One Show sofa tonight. He is unlikely to face further questions about the numbers behind his pledges from the presenters, so will enjoy the chance to relax and show off his personal side. We’ll be watching it, and have the latest analysis of what emerges on our live-blog this evening.
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A 19-year-old woman has been sentenced to death in Pakistan after she accused her cousin of raping her at gunpoint.
The woman said she was asleep at her family home in Rajanpur, in the country’s central Punjab province, when the attack happened.
She reported the crime to the local panchayat, a tribal court that operates outside the official justice system in remote areas of the country, but was told she had intentionally seduced her attacker.
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When the G7 heads of state arrive in Taormina, Sicily, for the G7 meeting on May 26, they will find themselves in an embellished, picture-postcard version of European reality. Italy, the host of the G7 meeting, has announced that it will close all harbors on the island to ships that arrive with migrants ( mainly from Libya) for the duration of the two-day meeting. The reason for the closure of the Italian island to migrants is to protect the G7 meeting from potential terrorist attacks. According to Italian reports, “the Department of Public Safety believes that the boats with illegal immigrants could be hiding an Islamist threat”.
G7 meetings are, of course, always subject to a host of high-level security measures. However, shielding heads of state from seeing the consequences of the policies that they themselves have forced on the entire European continent represents a staggering new level of hypocrisy. Literally altering reality in order to present a whitewashed picture of the influx of migrants into Europe, which happens largely through Italy, is a Potemkin measure, regardless of terror risks. Heads of state, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom Italy seeks to protect from a terrorist risk, seem not to care particularly about the very real terrorist risks that European citizens are forced to live with daily thanks to the migrant policies of these heads of state.
In 2015, when asked how Europe could be protected against Islamization, Merkel, who does not move without her own personal security team consisting of 15-20 armed bodyguards, carelessly said: “Fear is not a good adviser. It is better that we should have the courage once again to deal more strongly with our own Christian roots.” In December 2016, she told members of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), who were asking how to reassure the public about the problem of integrating migrants, “This could also broaden your horizons.”
Why do the citizens of Europe need to ‘broaden their horizons,’ while the people in power, who forced them to do that, protect themselves from the reality they themselves imposed on everyone else? This attitude, far from democratic, borders on the atmosphere prevalent in Europe during the bygone days of Europe’s absolute monarchs.
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Kabul’s streets were once again smeared with blood on Wednesday morning, as a powerful bomb exploded in the center of the Afghan capital, killing at least 80 people and wounding more than 300 in a devastating attack near the Presidential palace and foreign embassy buildings. The death toll looked set to climb as local hospitals were overrun with casualties from the attack.
The epicenter of the blast was a busy section of Kabul near the Arg, the 19th century fortress that houses the President’s home and residence, and close to the German embassy. It was timed to coincide with the morning rush hour, when Kabul’s roads are packed with cars and traffic in many parts is slow moving. “The blast was so huge that it dug a big crater as deep as four meters,” General Hassan Shah Frogh, Kabul’s police chief, told the New York Times.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing, which came as Muslims around the world mark the holy month of Ramadan. The Taliban, which has grown increasingly more powerful following the departure of most foreign troops from Afghanistan in 2014, denied that it was behind the attack, according to the Reuters news agency. Earlier in May, eight civilians died when an ISIS suicide bomber struck a NATO convoy that was making its way through Kabul.
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In January, 2015, a week after the attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the American television channel Fox News created a scandal in France by claiming that Islamic “no-go zones” were established in the heart of Paris. For the French media, the existence of no-go zones — where non-Muslims are unwelcome and Islamic law, sharia, holds sway — in the heart of the capital was pure nonsense and horrifying “fake news.” Paris’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, said she planned to sue Fox News and that the “honor of Paris” was at stake.
By May 2017, however, the tone had changed. The French daily, Le Parisien, disclosed that, in fact, no-go zones are in the heart of the capital. It seems that the district of Chapelle-Pajol, in the east of Paris, has become very much a no-go zone. Hundreds of Muslim migrants and drug dealers crowd the streets, and harass women for wearing what many of these migrants apparently regard as immodest clothing:
“Women in this part of eastern Paris complain that they cannot move about without being subjected to comments and insults from men.
“There are several hundred square meters of pavement abandoned to men alone; women are no longer considered entitled to be there. Cafés, bars and restaurants are prohibited to them, as are the sidewalks, the subway station and the public squares. For more than a year, the Chapelle-Pajol district (10th-18th arrondissements) has completely changed its face: groups of dozens of lone men, street vendors, aliens, migrants and smugglers harass women and hold the streets.”
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