Archive for: June 2014

John Kerry Urges Kurdish Leaders to Remain in Iraq

The President of the semi-autonomous Kurdish government in Iraq Massoud Barzani had said that the Kurdish are “facing a new reality and a new Iraq” to US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Kerry travelled to the Kurdish regional capital of Irbil to urge their leaders to remain as part of Iraq. However, the Kurdish are only considered a minority in Iraq’s country, and, as they have no land to establish their nationalism, their long-held goal is to find an independent country.

Some Kurdish leaders are seeing the opportunity to fulfil the dream once ISIS militants continue to pound against the Iraq military’s incapability to defend crucial places.

Kerry had been in talks with Maliki and Sunni leaders and had discussed about Iraq’s possible collapse not unless a new government that represents all of its people from all sects and ethnicities is formed. Kurds have been in self-rule with their own government and their own defence force, which makes it hard to urge them to remain.

Kurdish fighters have also helped secure the oil capital of Kirkuk from the ISIS during the militant’ group’s overtaking of the northwestern area of Iraq.

According to Kerry, they aim to unify Iraq to strengthen it against the militants. However, political analysts said that the US fears an independent Kurdistan because it will weaken Iraq and create a scenario for secessions.

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Obama Proposes Military Aid to European Countries Worried About Russia

UK Prime Minister David Cameron had compared Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions to that of Hitler during the Second World War after it had chosen to annex Crimea and is continuing to threaten the Ukrainian border, despite a small retreat of troops in the area. Eastern European countries worried about being “next-in-line” to Russia’s military movements can ask for military support from the United States.

US President Barack Obama had promised military support for its eastern European allies. Obama said that the US is planning to spend up to $1 billion to support NATO forces on NATO states on Russia’s borders. They are also reviewing permanently stationing troops in Europe.

According to political analysts, this plan should help raise the reputation of Obama’s frequent European and Asian tours reassuring leaders of US support in light of differing conflicts in regions. However, they also said the move could start another “arms race” as Russia could reciprocate and double up on its forces and allies in different regions.

Obama said that “The United States is proud to bear its share of the defence of the transatlantic alliance. It is the cornerstone of our security.”

Putin is to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Holland and British Prime Minister David Cameron. However, Putin has no plans to meet Obama.

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Corrupt Legal Professionals Face Crackdown

HandcuffsSolicitors and other members of the legal profession who work with criminal gangs to help them in their activities could face imprisonment of up to five years under new proposals from the Home Office. These proposals form part of the Serious Crimes Bill, announced today in the Queen’s Speech.

The bill also includes other provisions to facilitate a crackdown on organised crime. These include enhanced abilities for the seizure of criminal assets and the closure of loopholes that previously allowed some criminals to keep what they had gained from illegal activities.

In order to be prosecuted under the new bill, specifically under the offence of “participation in an organised crime group,” it will have to be established by prosecutors that a defendant had “reasonable grounds to suspect” that their activities were aiding criminals and facilitating crime.

The Home Office claimed that some lawyers, along with other professionals such as accountants, are wilfully assisting criminals by deliberately failing to ask questions about why their services are needed, and then later claiming ignorance of any criminal activity. Karen Bradley, a Home Office Minister, welcomed the proposals. She said that “Nobody is above the law. But for too long corrupt lawyers, accountants and other professionals have tried to evade justice by hiding behind a veneer of respectability.” She went on to suggest that the new law would [send] out a clear message” to professionals who were “helping to oil the wheels of organised crime.”

However, many voices within the legal industry have spoken out in opposition to the proposals. These include president of the Law Society Nicholas Fluck. While stressing that he had “no sympathy” for solicitors who aided criminals, Fluck said that it was questionable whether the laws would make any real difference given the regulatory and statutory obligations that solicitors are already under. He also said that the issue of criminal intent had to be looked at carefully. Requiring defendants to prove they did not have “reasonable grounds to suspect” that they were facilitating crime might result in a reversal of the burden of proof.

Richard Atkinson, chairman of the criminal law committee of the Law Society, joined Fluck in criticising the law. Atkinson asked whether the government may be “seeking to impose on lawyers and other professionals a duty to enquire into the workings of their clients.”