EU Poised to Offer a Major Concession that Could Finalise a Brexit Deal

Politics

As the Brexit deal continues to drag on, the Irish backstop remains as one of the important reasons stalling EU and UK negotiators from arriving at a Brexit deal. Still the news currently floating around is that the European Union is planning to put forward a plan that will allow Northern Ireland to exit the Irish Backstop deal after a specific period of time.

What exactly is the Irish Backstop?

Basically, the Irish backstop was conceptualised as a form of safety net that would deter any attempt to reintroduce a hard border between the UK’s Northern Ireland section and the Republic of Ireland. The need to do so stems from worries that if a physical border will be in place to mark the divide, it will rekindle conflicts regarding the cultural, social and religious differences between the two regions.

The Backstop therefore serves as an invisible marker that will come into recognition once a Brexit deal is finalised; but before a complete and comprehensive set of guidelines has been worked out by the UK government and the EU body. During that period, Northern Ireland will remain under the single market trade agreement covering  EU economic zones.

That would also mean that goods passing through the Irish Backstop will not require custom checks for tariffs, product standards, quotas, custom processes, products of origins and such other applicable EU or UK trade policies. The backstop will pose as a common territory; the purpose of which is to minimise, if not avoid the occurrence of economic disruptions. However, under such conditions, the UK will still adhere to EU trade rules, albeit touted as temporary.

Not all members of the UK parliament are amenable to the backstop agreement though. That is why Theresa May’s early negotiations have been rejected by majority of the members of the British parliament. After all, the duration with which the temporary agreement will last is still not clear, leaving UK still without total control over goods that will be passing the Northern Irish border.

As a way of settling matters, incumbent Prime Minister Boris Johnson appears to be pushing for a No-Brexit Deal, calling the backstop issue ‘dead.”

Deal or no deal, Brexit is supposed to change everything as far as economic trade is concerned. The Northern Ireland sector will have to recognise the UK government’s set of trade rules and regulations, while the Republic of Ireland will remain part of the EU economic zone.

As a concession, the European Union is said to be contemplating an offer that will allow the Northern Irish government to leave the so-called Irish backstop after a specific number of years,

Prime Minister Modi Officially Launches NPCI’s RuPay Card Payment System in the Kingdom of Bhutan

News

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently spent a two-day state visit to the Kingdom of Bhutan to meet with with Bhutanese leaders led by Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering. The visit further strengthens bilateral ties through the signing of nine (9) Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The agreements signed by the leaders of the two countries included the launching of the RuPay Card, India’s proprietary card payment system.

To officially launch the credit card payment scheme, PM Modi made the first RuPay purchase at Simtokha Dzong, one of the dzongs in Bhutan which currently serves as the country’s administrative and monastic centre.

The RuPay card payment system, owned and operated by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), enables Indian RuPay card holders to make purchases by way of credit and debit cards, as an alternative to the Visa and Mastercard international card payment schemes. The launching of RuPay in Bhutan makes the country the second nation, after Singapore, in which citizens in both countries are empowered to use a RuPay credit or debit card for seamless, cashless purchases.

The MoU signed by the two leaders include a standby swap arrangement involving an additional $100 million made available to Bhutan in meeting the related foreign exchange requirements.

The deployment of the RuPay card payment system in the Kingdom of Bhutan will transpire in two phases. The first phase entails the issuance of Rupay Cards by Indian banks, to qualified Indian nationals, which they can use during their visits to Bhutan. The second and final phase will be carried out by Bhutan banks in which RuPay cards will be issued to qualified Bhutanese citizens for their sojourns in India.

About India’s RuPay Card Payment System

RuPay card scheme was the project conceived by the NPCI in fulfilling the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) vision to have a locally operated open and multilateral payment system. The goal is to provide Indian nationals with a credit payment facility that charges lower processing fees than the card payment systems offered by Visa and Mastercard.

The RBI through its 2009-2012 vision stated that the need for such payment systems in the country arises from the high cost of affiliation that Indian banks have to bear in order to obtain accreditation with international card companies like Visa and Mastercard. As a result, even domestic credit card transactions that account for more than 90% in India’s market were being routed outside of the country.

Rupay processing fees for credit transactions are 23% lower than those charged by the companies behind the two leading international credit cards. The NPCI collects only 60 paise from the acquiring bank and 30 paise from the bank that issued the RuPay card

Backed by 10 leading banks, 6 of which are public-sector banks that include the Bank of Baroda, Canara Bank, the State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Bank of India, and the Union Bank of India; two (2) private-sector banks represented by HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank ; and two (2) foreign banks, namely Citibank and HSBC.

Presently, the NPIC has issued 64 million Rupay Global Cards released between 2014 and March 2019.

Amazon for one, which has an India branch makes it possible for Indian online consumers to stay active members via RuPay cards, especially during the holding of the online store’s annual Amazon Great Indian Sale.

El Paso Mass Shooter Echoes Trump’s “Invasion” Rhetorics but Trump Refuses to Accept Responsibility

News, Politics

The gunman responsible for the El Paso mass shooting last Saturday reportedly posted a manifesto on the 8chan online forum, warning readers about “Hispanic invasion,” minutes before he gunned down shoppers at the El Paso Walmart. The incident has more than ever amplified concerns over Trump’s repeated use of the word “invasion.” Although stated as a rhetoric about the rising number of Latino immigrants coming into the country

Instead of acknowledging even a hint of responsibility that his oft repeated rhetoric about “immigrant invasions:”somehow influenced the El Paso mass shooter to commit the “hate crime,” Donald Trump typically blamed other factors such as mental health and violent video games. He also blames Democrats for linking his rhetoric invasions to the recent spate of mass shootings, including the shooting incident that occurred in Ohio on the same day.

Police identified Saturday’s El Paso mass as Patrick Crusius, who turned 21 a week before he drove 10 hours from his hometown in Allen, Texas to commit a hate crime. Crusius is currently held in El Paso jail without bail and has been charged with capital murder.

Survivors and Witnesses Said Crusius Targeted Only Hispanics

According to relatives of the victims who were also at the scene of the shooting, Crusius was determined to kill only those that appeared to be of Latinx origin.

Chris Grant, a 50-year old African American whom Crusius took shots at only after Grant started throwing soda bottles as a way of distracting the shooter still have vivid memories about the incident. Grant recalls that Crusius had let white and black shoppers leave the store before shooting the victims. Since Grant was shot, he witnessed how the victims kneeled and prayed, begging Crusius to

‘Please! Please! Don’t shoot me.’

Grant said the memory of how Crusius just gunned down people who were already on the ground without any sign of remorse, still haunts him.
Still, Trump refuses to accept that the “invasion” rhetoric directed toward immigrants passing through the US. Mexico Border had nothing to do with the gunman’s actions.

El Paso Residents Want Trump to Apologize to the Community

Generally, the people of El Paso does not intend to welcome Trump upon his arrival. City Representative Alexsandra Annello though received some messages that encouraged welcoming Trump because the mass shooting is not about politics.

The City Representative disagrees, saying that after a week, people can expect Trump to turn around and resume mouthing the same racist rhetoric. After putting the community of El Paso in danger, she does not see Trump apologizing to the Hispanic people.

White House Officials Keeps White House Rejection of Climate Change Raging Even While Trump is Away

General, Politics

While president Donald Trump and his family went on a 3-day state visit to the UK, White House officials saw it fit to bar the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research from submitting a written testimony about the catastrophic possibilities of human-caused climate change. The White House decision to stop Dr. Rod Schoonover, Senior Analyst of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, was obviously in deference to Donald Trump’s staunch opposition to movements pertaining to global climate change.

Later, some unnamed White House members told the Washington Post that the Office of Legislative Affairs decided to allow Dr Schoonover to attend a House Intelligence Committee hearing, scheduled last Wednesday; but, without the need to submit his bureau’s written scientific findings about the effects of climate change. According to the unnamed White House sources, the State Department had rejected suggestions to remove reference to human use of fossil fuel as the main cause of climate change.

The Washington Post could not reach Senior Analyst Schoonover in order to obtain his remarks about the White House order. Nonetheless, The Post published a full text of the White House-banned document entitled “The National Security Implications of Climate Change.”

President Donald Trump’s Stance on Global Warming/Climate Change

President Trump’s widely publicized remarks about climate change made clear his opposition to the global movement against the widespread use of carbon dioxide. He previously posted via Twitter, his belief that

”The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

During his UK state visit, Trump met with Prince Charles, who is himself a stern supporter of movements to reduce fossil fuel use. As opposed to Donald Trump, Prince Charles believes in the general scientific consensus that carbon dioxide, being a “heat-trapping gas,” has rapidly attained a level that yielded significant global climate changes.

Time and again, Trump made it clear that he is not a believer of scientific reports claiming that human use of fossil fuels is the main reason for the continuing rise of the climate-changing carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere. In fact, National Security Council senior director, William Harper, who was tapped by the White House administration to lead the counter consensus against climate change was quoted stating,

“The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler.”

Ladder : Its Use as Metaphor, Its Origins, Development and Functionalities

General

More often than not, the word ladder is used as a rhetorical device, when referring to or narrating an uphill journey to reach the pinnacle of success. We often encounter phrases like, “climbing the ladder of success,” “corporate ladder,” political ladder,” and “social ladder” to idiomatically describe a quest that requires working one’s way to the top in a linear manner.

Why ladder and not stairs or steps? The idea is to use metaphor that is more related to slow upward movement, while maintaining a strong foothold on a step that is characteristically narrow. Maintaining balance or equilibrium on every level is important, as critical missteps can adversely affect one’s chances of making it to the top.

The same is true when trying to physically reach the top by way of a ladder. The latter, being a standalone equipment, requires several factors such as normal force, frictional force, gravitational force, wall-to-ladder angle, and the torque produced when all forces are at work. However, such forces must achieve a state of equilibrium to make sure the contraption will not slip or topple.

Origin of Ladders

The interesting thing about ladders is that the earliest period in which they were invented is as far back as 10,000 years ago. Paintings discovered in the mesolithic rocks of the Spider Cave in Valencia, Spain provided evidence that flexible ladders, seemingly constructed with some kind of grass, were already in use as means of accessing honey bee nests.

Still, not a few researchers believe that ladders with more functional designs came around during biblical times, in which ancient Egyptians and Hebrews developed and perfected ladders into what most of us use today.

Modern-Day Ladders: Forms and Uses

Modern-day ladders come in many forms, and are now commonly self-supporting; not requiring a wall or hard solid surface on which a force acts upon to create leverage. Most households keep a ladder handy in case they need to do chores that involve reaching or accessing something way above the head. Painters, carpenters, installers, as well as artists working on murals prefer ladders to scaffoldings, being a safer alternative to makeshift contraptions.

The advent of different home designs, installable devices and equipment, including the latest outdoor innovation, above-ground swimming pools, has made ladder use quite important. Dependent on the nature and purpose with which ladders are used, a ladder may be single or double-sided, may include a top deck, built with steps instead of rungs, or a combination of steps on one side and rungs on the other side. Materials also vary, ranging from wood, metal, aluminum or plastic.

Brexit : What’s Stopping the No-Deal EU-Withdrawal from Happening?

Uncategorized

Brexit to many is not as as simple to understànd, especially up to now when the move to withdraw has been extended twice, to which date of effectivity has extended to October 31, 2019.

Confusions About the Deal or No-Deal Brexit Conditions

Mentions about exit with or without deal upon effectivity date has been floating but remains baffling. The general understanding was that the UK was set to exit from the European Union last March 29, 2019, even if the UK and EU Council fails to arrive at a withdrawal agreement. .

Under the No-Deal scenario, the UK will engage in free trade, while businesses and people carrying on with activities in the UK, will abide by UK’s own set of laws. Yet Brexit finality remains uncertain, since extensions rather than the no-deal Brexit, has transpired.

Concerns Over a No-Deal Brexit

The crux of the matter is that if the UK goes ahead with free trade without a Brexit deal, there are apprehensions that disruptions and confusions may transpire. Disagreement may arise with regard to trading laws, border issues, tariffs, residence rights of citizens, consumer rights and protection and even over matters as simple as mobile phone charges.

Certain movements of goods and people require definitive rules. Although the UK has already set some guidelines, some EU member countries and other territories may raise issues if UK’s non-EU aligned policies adversely affect their businesses and citizens.

On the other hand, if UK goes into free trade with a Brexit deal, the withdrawal movement initially sets out within a transition period. In which case, temporary agreements are in place until unforeseen problems have been threshed out and resolved with a more permanent UK or EU policy.

Examples of Issues Clouding a No-Deal Brexit

As a rule, countries that do not have free trade deals between them have to abide by the rules set forth by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). This denotes that if the UK trades with EU member countries without a pre-agreed deal, tariffs or taxes imposed on imported goods will be based on WTO tariff rates.

A certain land border must be established in order to determine up to what point EU’s trade directives apply or do not apply as far as UK is concerned. Instead of installing custom posts, border towers and security systems, the EU and UK agreed to establish the 310-mile border separating Ireland from Northern Ireland as the the land border between the UK and EU.

In this scenario, Northern Ireland remains aligned with EU, which means UK products brought to the territory may be subject to controls and checks based on EU regulations. The establishment of the border has been referred to as “the backstop” safety net in the Brexit negotiations.

In the event the UK goes ahead with free trade, without formalising an agreement pertaining to border transactions, the “backstop” safety net stays. This denotes UK product movements in Northern Ireland will abide with EU regulations until such time that a more definitive agreement has been established.

Analysis of Trump’s Migration Policy Changes Has Lowered Number of Foreigners Granted Immigrant Status

Politics

The Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan organization that conducts authoritative research and analysis of information about migration and integration policies recently came out with an analysis of what the Trump administration has achieved so far.

The analysis shows that despite the strong pronouncements made by President Trump about his intention to change the migration landscape in the US, his administration has so far achieved only baby steps. Nonetheless, the changes implemented even if not visible, are important, since fewer number of immigrants have succeeded in gaining legitimate entry into the country

Examples of Policy Shifts that Lowered Migrant Admissions in the US

While Trump’s main political promise to build a higher US-Mexico Border Wall in the south is yet to see fulfillment, several changes were set into motion. Their implementation in related federal agencies somehow brought down the number of foreign nationals taken in by the country.

Enhancement of Immigration Enforcement – Interviews on all visa applicants, including those applying for “green card” has been mandated. Applicants for temporary visa were met with increased scrutiny, while additional requirements became necessary as part of a more comprehensive vetting procedure. All of which, contributed to the slowing down of US visa processing.

Cut Backs on Humanitarian Programs – In addition to increasing application requirements, federal agencies in charge of handling refugees and asylum seekers have implemented a narrower set of eligibility criteria. The goal of which is to scale down the number of noncitizens allowed to enter as refugees, or to receive temporary protection.

Increased Vetting and Obstacles for Legal Immigration – After hurdling a legal battle, the Trump administration succeeded in banning nationals coming from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen; citing as reasons terrorist activities, inability to properly document travelers and poor cooperation with US authorities.

Critical Setbacks Preventing Trump Administration in Implementing Other Migration Policy Shifts

To date, the Trump administration is faced with several lawsuits and house committee investigations. Many of which are aimed at putting an end to president Trump’s continuing pursuit of the billions of dollars worth of funding for expanding the US Mexico border wall. In fact, none of Trump’s proposed legislations have been passed by the US Congress, while not a few court rulings have suspended the implementation of his executive orders, which include the “Zero Policy”. The latter calls for the filing of criminal charges against adults proven to have illegally entered the US.

Why Even Wedding Photography is Also About Conveying Political Statements

Political Photography, Politics

Politics has a different meaning from political. Photography is not politics because as a profession, its essence as a career has nothing to do with activities associated with governance, or in referring to ideologies dividing individuals into parties, organizations or stances.

Yet photography can be political because it captures images that can make a statement, or convey a message, as well as tell a story about a subject and what he, she or they represent. Political photography therefore is similar to wedding photography.

Different Facets of Political Photography

Political photography makes photographic statements that suit the purpose of different persons, bodies or organizations involved in politics.

The Chief Official White House Photographer, for example, handles a team of photographers who covers the daily activities not only of the incumbent president, but also those of the members of his immediate family. However, not all photographs taken during the day are released for publishing. The White House communications department chooses which of the captured images can be best used to illustrate official White House statements offered as press releases.

Another example of political photography involves work commissioned to cover campaign trails of political candidates. To which the objective of course is to take photographs of candidates in ways that will convince voters of his sincerity in fulfilling his campaign promises. Campaign trail photographs also project stories of how well-loved, or at least how well the candidate was received in different regions.

Political Photographer vs. Photojournalist – A photojournalist covering the same campaign trail is not expected to duplicate the same shots taken by the political journalist.

A photojournalist has more leeway on how he or she wants to project the image of the candidate, usually for purposes of conveying neutrality or reality. If a candidate looks pale and feeble, then there is no need to adjust saturation in order to make the candidate look well and lively; or to edit out liver spots that suggest health disorders. A photojournalist may also apply lighting that will give equal emphasis on the candidate and the background, to suggest neutrality of the political statement conveyed by a photo

Still, all those three photographers are into political photography, albeit adhering to different photo-taking principles.

Wedding Photography is Also Political by Nature

Catherine Ross a professional wedding photographer is also a disciple of political photography. Her gallery of wedding photographs at https://catherinejgrossphotography.com exemplify how she uses lighting, angles and saturation in positions idealizing the bridal couple’s relationship. A wedding may be traditional, but it does not necessarily mean producing staple photos that project only the usual betrothal rites and the typical beaming smiles during wedding ceremonies.

To be political in capturing images of the union, a wedding photographer may choose angles that project the couple as a pair of forward-looking individuals all set to face the challenges of marriage. Rather than present them as dreamy-eyed lovers, a political presentation will focus on emphasizing facial projections that suggest strength and solidity of union.

Like Catherine, the current Official White House Photographer Shealah Craighead also started out as a professional wedding photographer. In interviews in which she was asked about her work as the official photographer of a quite controversial president, Ms. Craighead remarked that the challenges are mainly on the hectic schedule and in handling a team of photographers, but not on the job itself.

She also commented that the job offer was an opportunity too valuable to pass up. After all, her main task is to see to the documentation of the history of Donald Trump and that of his first and second families, during his tenure as the 45th president of the United States.