EU to issue Brexit response within 48 hours of trigger

The EU will take just 48 hours to issue its first plan for Brexit negotiations after Britain formally triggers its departure, European Council President Donald Tusk has said.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has promised to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union –the divorce notification clause – by the end of March.

Mr Tusk said the European Council, the EU institution which groups the bloc’s national leaders, would issue its draft plan for the talks soon after that.

“When the UK notifies, it is our goal to react with the draft negotiation guidelines for the 27 members to consider, for this I think we need more or less 48 hours,” Mr Tusk told a news conference in Brussels.

Source: EU to issue Brexit response within 48 hours of trigger

A new party of the centre? It makes fixing Labour seem easy | Rafael Behr The Guardian

In a crisis there are always people saying something must be done. Most of their plans are worse than doing nothing. I’d like to have coined that maxim but I borrowed it from a former Downing Street adviser – someone who has seen first hand how the attraction of doing something drastic in politics conceals the risk of doing something stupid.

The context was discussion of a new party. It isn’t hard to find this conversation in Westminster. It takes place whenever there is a gathering of two or more people who despair equally at Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of Labour and Theresa May’s navigation of Brexit. It isn’t a plot: no one is recruiting MPs to some new force. But there is a lot of speculation that someone should.

The conversation begins with the thought that Labour is doomed. Corbyn’s closest allies insist he can still be prime minister, but with dwindling conviction. John McDonnell complains about conspiracies by MPs and the media, not because he fears a coup but because he needs one. It isn’t a coincidence that the Corbyn locomotive ran out of steam once Owen Smith’s leadership challenge was crushed. Battle against “Blairites” was the coal in the furnace. Without an internal enemy to fight, the wheels stop turning.

Source: Rafael Behr | Opinion | The Guardian

“Manchester city council to create UK’s first LGBT retirement home” | The Guardian

Manchester city council has announced plans to create the UK’s first retirement community aimed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

According to the local authority, the city is home to the country’s largest number of LGBT people outside of London and is due to see a rapid growth in the number of LGBT residents over 65 in the next two decades. More than 7,000 over-50s living in Manchester identify as LGBT.

A recent report by the Manchester-based LGBT Foundation, commissioned by the council, revealed that older LGBT people experience higher levels of loneliness and isolation.

Many were fearful of discrimination in existing accommodation and there was a desire for affordable LGBT-specific housing where people could be open about their identity in later life.

Source: The Guardian

The Tablet

Nearly 2,000 Catholic perpetrators, including 572 priests, allegedly abused 4,444 children over many decades in complaints made to the Church between 1980 and 2015, Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has been told. The shocking figures were delivered on the opening day of the Commission’s “wrap-up” hearing into the Catholic Church.

Senior Counsel Assisting the Commission, Gail Furness, said in her opening address that 60 per cent of survivors attending a private session with the Commission had reported abuse in faith-based institutions – nearly two-thirds of them in Catholic institutions. Overall, 37 per cent of all survivors who attended private sessions reported sexual abuse in a Catholic institution. It was the Commission’s 50th public hearing in the past four years

Source: The Tablet

French Presidential hopeful vows to ‘name and shame’ anti-gay employers · PinkNews

French Presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron has pledged to “name and shame” employers who discriminate against LGBT people.

Macron, a centrist candidate who is currently the favourite to become the country’s next leader, launched his full policy manifesto today.

While his likely run-off opponent Marine Le Pen’s manifesto included no policies on LGBT rights other than scrapping same-sex marriage, Macron dedicated an entire section to LGBT issues.

In it he pledged to challenge homophobic in everyday life, and to tackle anti-LGBT discrimination in the workplace.

The candidate said he would scale up random checks of employers’ compliance with equality laws, while also “naming and shaming” those found to have discriminated.

Source:  · PinkNews

Analysis: Endangering social grants is the ANC’s own catastrophic mistake | Daily Maverick

Many a big crisis is a series of seemingly isolated events in different sectors at the same time. Sometimes they’re a flash in the pan, doing limited damage. But sometimes they arrive at the same historical moment as other events, merging into messy chaos. They are often the work of different actors, pulling in different directions. This makes blame hard to pin down. But we are about to have a crisis that is entirely different. The fiasco around the social grant payments is entirely the making of the people responsible and no one else’s. Should the worst happen, the results of the crisis and their impact on South Africa are too ghastly to contemplate. But the cooler analytical heads now also have to measure the political price the ruling party is going to pay because of the reckless actions by one Bathabile Dlamini. By STEPHEN GROOTES.

Source: Daily Maverick

New National Survey Reveals Just How Little The Next Generation Of Voters Trust Britain’s Political Leaders | The Huffington Post

“Racked” with anxieties about the post-Brexit world, the next generation of voters do not believe there is a single politician trustworthy enough to run the country, a landmark study of 16 to 18-year-olds has revealed.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, a long-running integrity and credibility survey, the majority of these teens feel helpless about their prospects – distrusting of the government and the British people to protect their future.

The group, labelled “Generation Angst”, narrowly missed out on voting in the EU Referendum. They believe they have been left a “poisoned legacy”, with more than a third (38%) claiming their standard of living will be worse than older generations.

The main findings of the survey show:

  • Only 14% now feel confident about their future post-Brexit
  • ‘None of the above’ ranked higher than all UK political leaders
  • London Mayor Sadiq Khan most trusted to ‘do what is right’
  • 6 in 10 are worried about the pace of change of social media
  • Young people are more likely to consider experts believable

Source: The Huffington Post

Tory £1bn inheritance tax cut ‘will worsen north-south divide’ | Money | The Guardian

Research shows plans to increase threshold at which tax is paid will overwhelmingly benefit rich families in south-east England

Rachel Reeves in her Leeds West constituency
Rachel Reeves in her Leeds West constituency, where just six properties were worth more than £650,000 in 2015-16. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

A £1bn Conservative inheritance tax cut will exacerbate the north-south divide, an MP has warned, as figures lay bare the winners and losers of a flagship government policy.

People inheriting homes in constituencies in London and south-east England will gain the lion’s share of the benefits from the tax cut, according to research commissioned by the Labour MP Rachel Reeves.

Of the 100 constituencies that will benefit the most, 96 are in London or the south-east and are mostly held by Tories, with 31 in and around London held by Labour.

Source:  The Guardian

Names ruling win for transgender individuals | The Star, Kenya

The transgender community got yet another win yesterday after a judge directed principal registrar of persons to effect name changes in the national IDs of five of its members in 21 days.This means Maurene Muia, Alesandra Ogeta, Maria Mbugua, Audrey Mbugua and Dalziel Wafula will officially use their new names on their national identification documents to reflect their new identity. Muia, formerly Maurice Muia, Mbugua, formely Andrew Mbugua and the other three formally changed their names through deed poll paid for and processed at the AG’s office. However, it was never reflected on their IDs.High Court judge George Odunga yesterday gave the 21-day ultimatum or an order would be given against the registrar, declaring he failed in a constitutional mandate.Odunga said the case had been put off on several occasions despite the Attorney General givinghis legal opinion.“The AG has given the registrar a legal opinion, which should have settled the matter…it cannot be put off any further,” he said, adding that such “inaction” to carry out a statutory mandate is contrary to the Constitution.

Source: Names ruling win for transgender individuals | The Star, Kenya

Budget 2017: An economic or spiritual matter?

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan made a strong call to conversion in his 2017 Budget Speech. Quoting Pope Francis he said, “Reforming the social structures which perpetuate poverty and the exclusion of the poor first requires a conversion of mind and heart”. He went on to say, “We need to radically transform our economy so that we have a more diversified economy, with more jobs and inclusivity in ownership and participation”.

There is no doubt that South Africa is sitting on a fast-ticking social time bomb. Crunching numbers and good fiscal control alone will no longer keep the wolves at bay.

Gordhan’s Budget Speech alluded many times to key themes in Catholic Social Teaching (CST): option for the poor, trust, solidarity, human dignity, the call to community, responsibility and accountability. The 2017 Budget pointed to a bigger problem which is not simply economic: at the heart of South Africa’s woes is a spiritual crisis. We must build a true community of kinship. This is our strongest antidote to the crisis.

Source: Jesuit Institute