LONDON: Fans of Liz Truss think she is the new Iron Lady.
Britain’s foreign secretary is one of the two final contenders to replace Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and prime minister.
Some 180,000 party members will be asked to choose either Truss or former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak, with the winner set to be announced Sept. 5.
If Truss wins, she would become Britain’s third female prime minister. She has forged her image in homage to the first, Margaret Thatcher.
Truss has posed in a British Army tank in Eastern Europe, evoking an image of Thatcher during the Cold War. In a televised leadership debate this week, Britain’s top diplomat sported a pussy-bow blouse eerily similar to one the late prime minister used to wear.
Truss, 46, is a favorite among many Conservatives, who revere Thatcher above all other leaders. Critics say it’s an empty homage and believe Truss lacks the gravitas to lead the country amid economic turbulence and a European war.
As foreign secretary, Truss has been front and center in Britain’s support for Ukraine and Western sanctions against Russia over the invasion of its neighbor. She also has figured prominently in the UK’s feud with the European Union over post-Brexit trade arrangements.
Her pugnacious approach — along with her promises to slash taxes and boost defense spending — have made her the favorite of the party’s strongly euroskeptic right wing.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Truss said she was “the only person who can deliver the change we need on the economy — in line with true Conservative principles — and the only person capable of stepping up and leading the response to Ukraine and the increased security threat that the free world faces.”
But opponents criticize her as a dogmatist and a wooden public speaker, and note that she has not always been a true-blue Tory.
Born in Oxford in 1975, Truss is the daughter of a math professor and a nurse who took her on anti-nuclear and anti-Thatcher protests as a child, where she recalled shouting: “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie — out, out out!”
Truss attended a public high school in Leeds, northern England, and then studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University, where she briefly belonged to the centrist Liberal Democrats and called for the abolition of the monarchy.
She worked as an economist for energy giant Shell and telecommunications firm Cable and Wireless, and for a right-of-center think tank while becoming involved in Conservative politics and espousing free-market Thatcherite views. She ran unsuccessfully for Parliament twice before being elected to represent the eastern England seat of Southwest Norfolk in 2010.
Truss is married to Hugh O’Leary, with whom she has two teenage daughters.
In Britain’s 2016 referendum on whether to leave the European Union, Truss backed the losing “remain” side. But she has served in Johnson’s staunchly pro-Brexit government as trade secretary and then foreign secretary, and has won the support of the Conservative Party’s most fervent Brexiteers.
Her record as foreign secretary has drawn mixed reviews. Many praise her firm response to the invasion of Ukraine, and she secured the release of two British nationals jailed in Iran where her predecessors had failed. But EU leaders and officials hoping she would bring a softer tone to the UK’s relations with the bloc have been disappointed.
Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London, says the fact that euroskeptics adore Truss, while suspecting Sunak of pro-EU views — despite that fact that he backed “leave” in the referendum — shows the importance of image over substance in politics.
“His image doesn’t fit that of a Brexiteer whereas hers does,” Bale said. “There’s a kind of presumption that if you’re a bit of a smoothie chops who moves easily in international circles you must be a remainer, and if you’re someone who tells it like it is to Johnny Foreigner then you’re obviously a (true) Brexiteer.”
Liz Truss, a Margaret Thatcher fan at UK’s diplomatic helm
Liz Truss, a Margaret Thatcher fan at UK’s diplomatic helm
- Britain’s foreign secretary is one of the two final contenders to replace Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and prime minister
- If Truss wins, she would become Britain’s third female prime minister
LONDON: Fans of Liz Truss think she is the new Iron Lady.
US designates Pakistan militant group, Al-Qaeda branch ‘terrorist’ groups
- Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan ended a monthslong cease-fire with Pakistan and resumed attacks
- Pakistani Taliban were behind the 2014 attack on a Peshawar school that killed 147 people
ISLAMABAD: The United States has added the key Pakistani militant group and the Al-Qaeda branch to its list of “global terrorists,” triggering sanctions against the groups amid a resurgence of militant violence in this Islamic nation.
Thursday’s move by the State Department comes days after the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, known as TTP, ended a monthslong cease-fire with Pakistan and resumed attacks across the country.
The threat issued by the TTP forced Pakistani authorities to take additional measures, and security was tight on orders from the Interior Ministry outside worship and other public places Friday amid fears of more attacks. TTP has asked its fighters to target security forces across the country. Pakistani Taliban were behind the 2014 attack on a Peshawar school that killed 147 people, mostly schoolchildren.
The State Department said Thursday it has designated TTP and Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent as “Specially Designated Global Terrorists.”
The agency’s statement said the US is “committed to using its full set of counterterrorism tools to counter the threat posed by terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan, including Al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP)” to keep militants from using Afghanistan as “a platform for international terrorism.”
“As a result of these actions,” the statement said, “all property and interests in property of those designated (Thursday) that are subject to US jurisdiction are blocked, and all US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them.”
The United States also named four members of TTP and Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent Osama Mehmood, the head of the Al-Qaeda branch, Yahya Ghouri, the deputy chief of Al-Qaeda’s branch, and Muhammad Maruf, who is responsible for recruitment for the group.
It also designated TTP’s leader, Qari Amjad, who oversees militant attacks in northwest Pakistan.
Al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden was killed in a US Navy SEALs operation in May 2011 in his hiding place in the garrison city of Abbottabad, not far from the capital of Islamabad, and TTP emerged after Pakkistan became a key ally of the United States in its war on terror after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
There was no immediate comment from Pakistan, but the latest development comes after Islamabad asked the Taliban in Afghanistan to prevent TTP from using their soil for attacks inside the Islamic nation. The demand from Pakistan came after a suicide bomber dispatched by TTP blew himself up near a truck carrying police assigned to protect polio workers in Quetta, the capital of southwestern Baluchistan province.
TTP has claimed responsibility for the attack, which has drawn nationwide condemnation.
The Pakistani Taliban are a separate group but allied with Afghanistan’s Taliban, who have ruled their country since the US and NATO troops withdrew last year. The Taliban takeover in Afghanistan emboldened their Pakistani allies, whose top leaders and fighters are hiding in the next door country.
Philippines’ largest prison holds mass burial for 70 inmates
- They were among 176 corpses found by police during an investigation into the death of an inmate
- Bodies are normally held at accredited funeral homes for three months to give relatives time to retrieve them
MANILA: The bodies of 70 inmates from the Philippines’ largest prison were laid to rest Friday in a mass burial, weeks after their decomposing remains were discovered in a Manila funeral home.
They were among 176 corpses found by police during an investigation into the death of an inmate, who was accused of being involved in the killing of a journalist in early October.
Most of the deaths were due to “natural causes,” said Cecilia Villanueva, the Bureau of Corrections’ acting director for health and welfare services.
Among them was a Japanese national.
Villanueva said 127 of the 140 bodies buried so far were badly decomposed and could not be autopsied again.
The bodies began piling up in the funeral home in December 2021 after their families — most of them poor — did not claim them.
Villanueva blamed “constraints” for the failure of corrections staff to ensure the inmates were given timely burials.
Bodies are normally held at the accredited funeral home for three months to give relatives time to retrieve them.
Friday’s mass burial was the biggest ever by the Bureau of Corrections, Villanueva told reporters.
Minimum security inmates carried the 70 plywood coffins to their final resting place — cheap concrete tombs in a cemetery inside the prison complex.
The gruesome discovery at the funeral home was only the latest scandal to rock the troubled Bureau of Corrections, which runs the country’s overcrowded prison system.
Its chief Gerald Bantag is accused of ordering the killing of radio broadcaster Percival Mabasa, as well as Cristito Villamor Palana, an inmate who allegedly passed on the kill order to the gunman.
After Bantag was suspended from his job as director general, a huge pit was discovered next to his former official residence inside the prison complex.
Bantag claims it was for scuba diving, not an escape tunnel for inmates.
Among the remaining bodies still at the funeral home, eight would be re-examined by Raquel Fortun, one of the country’s two forensic pathologists.
Villanueva said an average of one to two prisoners died every day inside New Bilibid Prison, where about 29,000 inmates are held in a facility designed for 6,435.
There were only five doctors to treat the prisoners, but the Bureau of Corrections was trying to hire more.
“We are doing everything we can, we try to provide health care, just as health care is provided to the public, but there are so many constraints,” Villanueva said.
Finnish PM warns Russian win would empower aggressors
- First-ever visit by a Finnish prime minister to Australia and New Zealand
- ’Make no mistake, if Russia wins its terrible gamble, it will not be the only one to feel empowered’
CANBERRA: Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin warned an Australian audience Friday that a Russian victory over Ukraine would empower other aggressors and urged democracies against forming “critical dependencies” on authoritarian states such as China.
Marin was speaking in Sydney at the end of the first-ever visit by a Finnish prime minister to Australia and New Zealand. Australia’s pursuit of a free trade deal with the European Union was on the agenda.
She used a speech to urge democracies to ramp up sanctions against Russia.
“Make no mistake, if Russia wins its terrible gamble, it will not be the only one to feel empowered,” Marin told the Lowy Institute international policy think tank.
“Others will also be tempted by the same dark agenda,” she added.
A free trade agreement being finalized between the European Union, which includes Finland, and Australia was an opportunity to develop resilient supply chains, she said.
“We have become far too dependent on cooperation with regimes that do not share our common values,” Marin said, using Finland’s reliance on Russian energy as an example.
“Our dependencies are becoming our weaknesses faster and in more important areas of our societies than we would like to happen,” she added.
She described trade with China as a “reality.”
“We all have worries when it comes to China and we must make sure that we don’t have that kind of critical dependencies when it comes to China,” Marin said.
“We cannot be dependent, for example, on microchips or semiconductors or any kind of critical technologies when it comes to authoritarian countries. Because if those trading routes would be cut suddenly, then we would be in trouble,” she added.
Marin later met Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at his official Sydney residence. The pair released a joint statement saying their talks “underlined the need to work together in strengthening their resilience as open and democratic societies and in fostering sustainable development.”
They prime ministers “agreed that managing complex supply chains, energy sources and investing in trustworthy critical and emerging technologies was needed to promote economic, political, social and environmental stability as well as human rights,” the statement said.
Australia, which is the most generous donor to Ukraine’s war effort outside NATO, and Finland, a country that is soon to become a NATO member and shares a 1,300-kilometer border with Russia, demanded in the statement Moscow immediately withdraw its forces from Ukraine.
Up to 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers killed since Russian invasion: Zelensky aide
- 5,937 Russian troops had been killed in the nearly seven months of fighting
KYIV: As many as 13,000 Ukrainian troops have been killed since Russia’s invasion in February, a senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky has said.
“We have official estimates from the General Staff... And they range from 10,000 ... to 13,000 dead,” Mykhailo Podolyak told Ukraine’s Channel 24 on Thursday.
Zelensky would make the official data public “when the right moment comes,” he added.
In June, as Russian forces battled to take full control of the easternmost Lugansk region, Zelensky said Ukraine was losing “60 to 100 soldiers per day, killed in action, and around 500 people wounded in action.”
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in September said 5,937 Russian troops had been killed in the nearly seven months of fighting to that point.
Both sides are suspected of minimizing their losses to avoid damaging the morale of their troops.
Top US general Mark Milley last month said more than 100,000 Russian military personnel have been killed or wounded in Ukraine, with Kyiv’s forces likely suffering similar casualties.
Those figures — which could not be independently confirmed — are the most precise to date from the US government.
Thousands of Ukrainian civilians have been killed in the worst fighting in Europe in decades.
US, South Korea and Japan impose fresh sanctions on North Korea
- US Treasury Department threatened sanctions against anyone dealing with those directly involved in weapons development
- Washington’s action blocks assets of three North Korean officials in the US
WASHINGTON: The United States, Japan and South Korea have imposed fresh sanctions on North Korean individuals and entities in response to Pyongyang’s recent slew of missile tests.
Washington’s action, announced Thursday, blocks any assets of three North Korean officials in the United States, a largely symbolic step against an isolated country that has defied international pressure over its weapons programs.
The US Treasury Department also threatened sanctions against anyone who conducts transactions with Jon Il Ho, Yu Jin and Kim Su Gil, who were identified as directly involved in weapons development.
The recent North Korean missile launches, including the test of an intercontinental ballistic missile with the range to hit the US mainland, “pose grave security risks to the region and entire world,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
The sanctions “underscore our sustained resolve to promote accountability in response to Pyongyang’s pace, scale and scope of ballistic missile launches.”
Blinken added that the action was taken in coordination with US allies South Korea and Japan, and noted that the European Union issued similar designations of the three in April.
Tokyo and Seoul on Friday also announced new sanctions.
South Korea said it would target eight individuals, including a Taiwanese and a Singaporean national.
They have “contributed to North Korea’s nuclear and missile development and evasion of (pre-existing) sanctions,” the South Korean foreign ministry said in a statement.
All are already subject to US sanctions, the ministry added, and South Korea’s new restrictions are expected to “alert the domestic and international community of the risks of transactions with these entities.”
And Japan said that in response to Pyongyang’s “provocative acts,” it was freezing the assets of three North Korean groups — Korea Haegumgang Trading Corp, Korea Namgang Trading Corp. and Lazarus Group — and one person, Kim Su Il.
The United States has voiced frustration that China, North Korea’s closest ally, and Russia have blocked efforts at the UN Security Council to impose tougher sanctions.