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Westlake Legal Group > Uncategorized (Page 65)

Kyrgyz cargo plane crashes near Tehran, crew feared dead: report

Iran’s state TV says a Boeing 707 Kyrgyz cargo plane has crashed west of Tehran amid severe weather and that there are fears all 10 crew members have been killed.

Westlake Legal Group Tehran-SanatSQ-00 Kyrgyz cargo plane crashes near Tehran, crew feared dead: report Tehran (Iran) fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fnc/world fnc e31dd4bc-0c73-54ea-8f6b-f3ac83ddd723 Associated Press article

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University of Michigan hires, then fires former head of USA Gymnastics women’s program

The University of Michigan says it is ending a less-than-week-old consulting contract with Rhonda Faehn, the coach who was head of USA Gymnastics’ women’s program when abuse by team doctor Larry Nassar was first reported to the organization.

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Westlake Legal Group OapNqPliQx8 University of Michigan hires, then fires former head of USA Gymnastics women's program

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’90 Day Fiance’ star says she’s been hospitalized for kidney failure

A reality TV star on Sunday announced that she was found unresponsive inside her home and rushed to the hospital where she was diagnosed with acute kidney failure due to lupus. Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Peter Bone: I helped move Cameron’s Government to deliver the referendum. And this deal doesn’t deliver on the result.

Peter Bone is a member of the Select Committee on Exiting the European Union, and is MP for Wellingborough.

All my political life, I have been campaigning to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union superstate. Quite simply, I believe that the United Kingdom should be a sovereign nation making its own decisions.

In 2011, I was behind the motion that we should have a referendum on whether Britain should remain in the European Union. This was opposed by David Cameron’s government and, winding up that debate, I suggested that MPs should put the country first and their Party second. The vote resulted in 81 Conservative MPs defying a strict three-line whip to support a referendum.

In 2015, with my colleagues and Parliamentary neighbours Philip Hollobone and Tom Pursglove, I held a ballot in North Northamptonshire to find out whether local people wanted to leave the EU. This was the biggest vote on the European issue since 1975, with 100,000 ballot papers distributed across Wellingborough, Kettering, Corby and East Northamptonshire. The result was that 81.1 per cent voted to leave.

In December of that year, along with Tom, I co-founded a non-party political Leave campaign – Grassroots Out. I travelled to every corner of the United Kingdom, speaking to people from all areas, ages and backgrounds. I held grassroots events in village halls and at street stalls. I addressed major rallies of thousands of people at venues in every part of our United Kingdom. I knocked on thousands of doors talking to people who were energised by this great democratic event.

On the 23rd of June 2016, the people of the United Kingdom voted by a substantial majority to leave the European Union.

Unfortunately, more than two years on from that great debate, the Prime Minister’s proposal does not deliver the Brexit that 17.4 million people voted for. Let us look at what people told me mattered to them.

First, they wanted an end to the free movement of people from the European Union. They thought it unfair that people from the EU could come to this country and enjoy the benefits of our public services when they had no connection with the United Kingdom, yet at the same time skilled workers, such as doctors, from outside the EU, couldn’t get in. They wanted to see a fair immigration policy based on merit not where you come from.

Theresa May claims that her deal ends free movement, but this is palpable nonsense. The Commons was promised an Immigration Bill more than a year ago. However, it was only last month that we got a White Paper on what might be in the Bill. If the government was planning to end free movement when we left the EU, we would have had such a Bill by now.

The non-binding political declaration, which is just a wish-list, talks about ending free movement, but of course we have no detail of our future trading relationship, and it is highly likely that the Government will trade off ending free movement for a trade deal. The one thing that is certain is the Prime Minister’s plan does not guarantee the ending of free movement.

Second, they wanted an end to billions and billions of pounds paid each and every year to the European Union by UK taxpayers. Last year, we gave the European Union a net £9 billion contribution.

Since we have been a part of the European project we have given a net subscription fee of over £210 billion. If that money had stayed in this country, we could have improved our public services, cut taxes and lowered national debt. This cost might not have been so bad if we had had a trading surplus with the European Union, but of course this is not the case: they sell £100 billion of goods more to us then we do them each year.

Under May’s plan we would pay a minimum amount of £39 billion to the EU for the transition. That equates to £60 million for each constituency in the country, just think what a difference that could make! However, the £39 billion is only the start. Her plans allow for a further extension of two years for the transition period which would cost a further £20 billion.

In addition, we don’t know how much we have to contribute each year in any future trading relationship. So, it is reasonable to expect that the Prime Minister’s plan will cost in excess of £60 billion. That is hardly stopping paying billions and billions of pounds each and every year to the European Union.

Third, they wanted us to make our own laws in our own country. Clearly, our citizens want to return control to Parliament. They want to elect their politicians to make laws which are in the interest of the people of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. They also want the power to be able to throw out those politicians through the ballot box. Simply, they want sovereignty returned to our country. They are fed up with laws and regulations made by European bureaucrats who are not subject to scrutiny or to election by the people.

May’s plan would sign up to accepting laws made by the EU, with no say in making them. The worst part of this being that we have no unilateral right to end this arrangement, and we could become a permanent rule-taker, not rule-maker.

Fourth, they wanted us to be judged by our own judges, not by a foreign court, as our judicial system is the envy of the world. Our judges are of the highest integrity and calibre, and they make their decisions based on the law of the land and never for political reasons. Yet at the moment our Supreme Court is subservient to the European Court of Justice whose judges are appointed for political reasons. They have a long record of producing dubious decisions which seem to be based more on politics than the law. What the British people want is a set of properly qualified judges, solely interpreting the law of our land and making their decisions purely based on the evidence they have put before them. That is what we have with our judicial system and that is not what we have with the ECJ.

Unfortunately, the Prime Minister’s plans would have us in a transition period for up to four years, during that period we will be subject to the rulings of the European Court of Justice. What is worse, is that we will not have any say in how the laws are drawn up, and we will have no presence in the ECJ. Even after the implementation period, if the Northern Ireland backstop kicks in, we will still be subject to European rulings on vast swathes of the law and regulation that affect us. So clearly the May’s proposals do not allow for our own judges to judge our own laws.

The Prime Minister’s proposal might be the worst deal ever for this country. It is certainly not the Brexit that people voted for. As Bill Clinton might have said about Brexit: It’s the Sovereignty, Stupid!

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New revelations beg the question of why Trump acts in a way that sharpens suspicion about his ties to Moscow

A weekend of bombshells deepened the most intractable mystery of Donald Trump’s presidency — one that could eventually dictate his fate — over his deference to Vladimir Putin and behavior that often favors Russia’s goals.

Westlake Legal Group cnn_topstories?d=yIl2AUoC8zA New revelations beg the question of why Trump acts in a way that sharpens suspicion about his ties to Moscow   Westlake Legal Group cnn_topstories?d=7Q72WNTAKBA New revelations beg the question of why Trump acts in a way that sharpens suspicion about his ties to Moscow   Westlake Legal Group cnn_topstories?i=vOWfANN4RiQ:TK67DvAf-mA:V_sGLiPBpWU New revelations beg the question of why Trump acts in a way that sharpens suspicion about his ties to Moscow   Westlake Legal Group cnn_topstories?d=qj6IDK7rITs New revelations beg the question of why Trump acts in a way that sharpens suspicion about his ties to Moscow   Westlake Legal Group cnn_topstories?i=vOWfANN4RiQ:TK67DvAf-mA:gIN9vFwOqvQ New revelations beg the question of why Trump acts in a way that sharpens suspicion about his ties to Moscow

Westlake Legal Group vOWfANN4RiQ New revelations beg the question of why Trump acts in a way that sharpens suspicion about his ties to Moscow

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Meirion Jenkins: Birmingham is the largest metropolitan authority in Europe – and one of the worst run

Cllr Meirion Jenkins is the Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources on Birmingham City Council.

Is Labour-run Birmingham City Council the worst run council in the world?  If there was such a contest, then our dreadful Labour administration would be in with a good shout. Birmingham is the largest metropolitan authority in Europe and the country’s second city, with a population of 1.1 million.

The Labour administration lurches from one financial screw-up to another.  Despite various interventions over the years, with the Kerslake Review and the Birmingham Improvement Panel amongst them, the underlying problem, in my view,  remains a lack of sound judgement, a lack of attention to detail, and a political resistance to good house housekeeping and budgetary control by the Labour leadership.  In short, they are just not good enough to run Europe’s largest metropolitan authority.  The problem is compounded by ordinary members not having the power or the time to properly challenge and hold the executive to account.  Far too much power sits with officers, who have a £10m spend authority without needing to seek member approval. I am always left with the impression that the council is run for the benefit of anybody but the people that should be the real ‘bosses’ i.e. the electors. Many of the working practises became outdated in the private sector and other councils years ago. The Birmingham Improvement Panel referred to a “1970s culture.”

Waste collection

After many years of residents complaining about the waste collection service, last year we had a bin strike that lasted 221 days which cost the city more than £6 million.   With an average collection of household waste per normal working day being 1,400 tonnes, the three hour strikes might leave 466 tonnes uncollected each day and that assumes that normal working resumed immediately.  The situation was compounded by the fact that even before the industrial action started on 30 June 2017, there was a backlog of over 2,000 streets across the city awaiting missed collections and the service was already overspent by £2 million.  Whilst this was a fight that needed to be fought, due to lack of judgement and political resilience, after seven months, a high court injunction against the city and the resignation of the Labour Leader, the Labour administration capitulated to the union. They ended the strike by agreeing to the creation of a new job description, enabling waste staff who were otherwise due to be reduced to a lower grade to retain their existing grade.

It was a fudge of which even the EU would be proud.  More damning, a year later these arrangements have only just been implemented.  Even more damning, in the last few weeks an independent report has concluded that the then Labour Leader (who resigned as a result of the strike) acted ultra vires in attempting to agree a binding deal with the union and directly ordering relatively junior staff to override instructions from senior officers.  At one point, the then Labour Leader took separate legal advice (at the council’s expense) to support his case to override the senior officers’ advice, which itself was underpinned by that of a QC instructed by the officers (at the council’s expense).

Further industrial action has now been launched, with the cause of the dispute relating back to the original dispute last year.

Many of the issues around the waste collection service have impacted Birmingham’s equal pay dispute with comparisons between payments made to waste staff and other non-waste staff in the council. Equal pay claims have cost the city more than £1 billion.

Section 24 notices

These are issued by external auditors when a council’s financial position is giving grave cause for concern. These notices are very rare but Birmingham has had two – the only council I know of to achieve this.  As Grant Thornton said “The budget comprises two things – getting it right and delivering it and I think last year you got neither right”. Birmingham has been burning through reserves to meet day to day expenditure. If Labour does not start operating within budget, the city will become insolvent.  With the Commonwealth Games coming to Birmingham in 2022, the need to operate within budget may finally be forced on our financially incontinent Labour leadership.

Payments to departing officers are eye watering.

It’s a matter of public record (published accounts year end March 2017) that a former chief executive received £695,000 after being at Birmingham for just three years.  In the same year, two other officers received £649,000 between them. Over the last four years, there have been three leaders, three finance directors, three chief executives, and six different chairs of audit committee. I have been on audit for most of the time since I was elected in 2012.  There is a continual resistance to proper governance and transparency.  In this year’s audit report, Grant Thornton said ‘As external auditors, we have not always been made privy to emerging issues’.

The auditor also said:

“The Council also has a track record of not reporting governance failures effectively…”

Some discussions are moved into private session which, in my view, would be more properly held in public.  Saving embarrassment for members or officers is not a justification for private session, against which a very high bar should be set.

Lack of transparency

As Labour’s audit chairs come and go, there have even been occasions when officers have refused audit committee access to documents.  For example, current officers deny the audit committee access to details of compromise agreements entered into with departing senior staff – I suspect to conceal the incompetent or overly generous terms agreed, but it’s hard to know when even audit committee are denied knowledge.  In any private sector business, when audit committees are kept in the dark, it may be a good time to consider selling your shares in that business.

Our incinerator contract is operated by Veolia – it was a 25-year contract.  Despite having 25-years notice (and a scrutiny report on the subject three years ago), Labour ran out of time to re-tender the contract and are now proposing to issue a five year extension (subject to a call in as I write). It’s really hard to imagine directors in the private sector keeping their job after such a shocking failure to properly manage contracts.

In my view, the structure and management of the council needs total reform, treating such a large city more like the Scottish or Welsh assembly.  I would reduce the current 101 councillors to around 30, pay enough for members to allow sufficient time to undertake their roles properly, both in power and opposition, and provide members with proper administrative support, allowing members to recruit their own shared staff.

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