Saudi and Iran: how our two countries could make peace and bring stability to the Middle East : The Conversation

Relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran have rarely been worse, regarding the attacks on the oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman – for which both sides blame each other. Nevertheless, in the history of relations between the two countries, there have been regular shifts between tension and rapprochement – and things can change for the better once again.

As an Iranian and a Saudi, working as research fellows for peace studies, we believe it is time that our two countries seek to manage the conflict, improve their dialogue and begin the peace building process. And we are hopeful that this could happen.

But how? Peace cannot be achieved overnight; it requires a range of factors to strengthen diplomatic ties and decrease the level of enmity between the two states. First, we suggest both states’ politicians soften the language in their speeches, altering the hostile rhetoric to a more moderate one. This would open new paths towards a direct and constructive dialogue, reducing the tensions that are affecting the two countries, the region and, potentially, the world.


Direct dialogue between the two regional actors could launch negotiations that may lead to more stability in the region. The existing regional turmoil has had a detrimental impact on relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran over Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain and Yemen. The [Yemen war], which has caused a [dramatic humanitarian crisis], remains one of the main areas of conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, but it also offers ground for talks between the two states.


Source: Saudi and Iran: how our two countries could make peace and bring stability to the Middle East : The Conversation


Bananas Are Facing Extinction – And It’s All Our Fault | HuffPost UK

There’s a reason why bananas are the world’s favorite fruit. They are cheap to buy, soft and easy to eat and full of fat-free nutrients. Frequently found in our lunchboxes, breakfast mix and often one of the first foods babies eat, they are a household staple. More than two-thirds of U.S shoppers include them in their regular grocery shopping.

But the much-loved banana is in trouble. Two damaging diseases are destroying our favorite yellow food and threatening to wipe out the bananas eaten by consumers in the U.S.

“Banana production as it stands is facing an existential crisis,” said Dan Bebber, a plant and disease specialist at the University of Exeter. “There will have to be a revolution in how bananas are produced for production to continue.”

Bananas have been eaten in the U.S. since the 19th century. But the rapid development of large-scale banana plantations and improved transport links from export markets in South America in the late 1800s facilitated a boom in consumption in the 20th century.

The fruit now generates revenues of more than $8 billion a year for banana exporters including Ecuador, the Philippines, Costa Rica, Colombia and Guatemala.


Source: Bananas Are Facing Extinction – And It’s All Our Fault | HuffPost UK

Bosses pocket Trump tax windfall as workers see job promises vanish | Business | The Guardian

Stephen Smith worked at an AT&T call center in Meriden, Connecticut, for over 20 years before the giant telecoms company announced it was closing the city’s three call centers in February 2019.

“At 46 years old, I’m looking for a new job,” Smith said. “They basically told us we either need to move south or lose our job. It was out of the blue. We had no idea.”

Smith and about 90 of his colleagues were offered severance packages or the option to relocate to Georgia or Tennessee. But for most workers who have spouses with their own careers, elderly parents nearby in need of care, or children still in school, relocating on a whim isn’t an option.

These sudden mass layoffs have become increasingly common for workers at AT&T and many other big firms. But it was not meant to be that way.


Source: Bosses pocket Trump tax windfall as workers see job promises vanish | Business | The Guardian

Swiss women strike for gender equality | Euronews

Women across Switzerland are striking on Friday to denounce slow progress on tackling the gender pay gap and inequalities.

The movement echoes a similar protest held in 1991 in which some 500,000 women took part and which led to the adoption five years later of the Gender Equality Act. The legislation banned workplace discrimination and sexual harassment with the aim of “furthering true equality between women and men”.

But 28 years after their first strike, Swiss women continue to denounce the persistently-high gender pay gap under the slogan “Pay, time, respect!”


According to data from the country’s Federal Statistics Office, Swiss women earn 19.6% less than their male counterpart. While that is down by nearly a third since the first strike, the discrimination gap — the differences that cannot be explained by rank or role — has actually worsened since 2000.

The International Labour Organisation also found last month that the country is near the bottom of the list when it comes to the wage gap between men and women in senior roles. Only Italy, Kazakhstan and Israel were deemed worse across Europe and Central Asia.

The Women’s Strike Zurich Collective, which co-organised Friday’s movement, wrote in a manifesto: “We’re striking because women earn less for the same work, are passed over for promotions, are hardly represented at the executive level and because typically female jobs are poorly paid.”


Source: Swiss women strike for gender equality | Euronews

Blue badge scheme now open to people with invisible disabilities

This is good news, however, with Local Authorities (LAs) still having the final say on who does and does not qualify, will this become a ‘Postcode Lottery’.

The LAs having the final say on who does or does not, they may not issue them directly, as this could be done by a another organisation.

To ensure consistency should not one organisation deal with the total process. When LAs did issue their own Blue Badges directly then I could see the reason for each authority to do their own, but not now.

To obtain a Blue Badge see

The rules regarding Blue Badge parking should also be consistent, but they are not. See

Govt Newspeak

New guidance means those with conditions such as dementia or anxiety may be eligible for parking permit

Related image

People with invisible disabilities can now apply to use blue badge parking permits, the government has announced.

The Department for Transport (DfT) issued the new guidance on Saturday, advising that those with conditions such as dementia or anxiety disorders could be eligible for the scheme, which allows people to park closer to their destination.

But despite the new criteria, local authorities will still have the final say on who does and does not qualify. There are about 2.35 million holders of the blue badge in the UK at present. The DfT could not estimate how many more people would qualify after the extension of the rules.

The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, said: “As a society, we don’t do enough for people with hidden disabilities. I hope this change to blue badge guidance will make…

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NHS workers’ cars stripped of parts as they treat patients in hospitals – Mirror Online

Vandals are damaging NHS staff’s cars and stripping them of parts while they treat patients in hospitals.

Four sites have been targeted in south Wales in the past year, including Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Talbot Green, near Llantrisant.

A car bonnet and a grill was stolen from a white Citreon DS3 there on Thursday between 8.30am and 4.00pm, Wales Online says.

In a separate incident, a bonnet was also stolen off a white Ford Fiesta.

Ellie Kinson works at the hospital and was a passenger with her colleague in the Citroen.

She finished work and arrived at the car to see the window smashed so the bonnet could not be opened.

“My colleague parked her car in the car park around 8:30 roughly, and we finished work at approximately 4pm,” the 25-year-old woman said.


Source: NHS workers’ cars stripped of parts as they treat patients in hospitals – Mirror Online

Single mum denied DWP disability benefits despite having cancer

A stock Statement from a DWP spokesman “We’re committed to ensuring that disabled people get the support they’re entitled to, and PIP is available for those who need help with the costs of additional support for their daily living and mobility needs.

“Universal Credit is available for those who need help with day-to-day living costs, and Ms Lyth is receiving her full entitlement.
“PIP decisions are made following careful consideration of the evidence provided by the individual as well as their GP or medical specialist, and anyone who is unhappy with their decision can appeal.”

However, what does it really mean, not much in effect. It is something to say, but is it meant?
More thought and effort should be given to all applications and ‘lessons learnt’ from the many mistakes that are made. Another stock saying and again is it meant, for the lessons never seem to be learnt.

For it is not appeals that should be pushed, but correct Assessments and decisions made, with appeals being there as a backstock.

Where is the caring, common sense and many other aspects in the process.

For myself it appears that the assessors first action is to refuse a benefit claim and in many instances not correctly doing assessments, for in some there are blantant lies emanating from Assessors for which there are being paid to do.

If an assessment is proved to be wrong is the assessor penalised, I doubt it, but the claimant was.

Govt Newspeak

Single mum-of-two denied DWP disability benefits despite having cervical cancer
Laura Lyth, 30, from Stoke on Trent, was told she does not qualify for a benefit only a month after she completed chemotherapy treatment.

A mum-of-two was turned down for long-term illness benefits – despite having treatment for cervical cancer. Laura Lyth, 30, was assessed for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) less than a month after her final chemotherapy treatment.

But the single mum has received a letter to say she does not qualify for the benefit, reports Stoke on Trent Live . Laura had been forced to leave her teacher training course following the diagnosis and can no longer afford to pay for her son to attend full-time nursery on Universal Credit .

Laura, from Basford, Staffordshire, said: “I applied for support in January after someone from the Douglas Macmillan Hospice advised me to apply because I was struggling to even…

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Civil servants fail to answer key DWP deaths questions

The meeting was a start, but the answers need to be coming, with a significance change of practice to eliminate mistakes, now that would be something.

Govt Newspeak

Civil servants fail to answer key DWP deaths questions after meeting grieving parentsJoy Dove head and shouldersSenior Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) civil servants have failed to answer key questions about links between the government’s policies and the deaths of disabled benefit claimants, during a face-to-face meeting with grieving parents.

Emma Haddad, DWP’s director general for service excellence, and Colin Stewart, its work and health director for the north of England, spent more than an hour in Monday’s meeting with Joy Dove and Eric Whiting, the parents of Jodey Whiting.

The Independent Case Examiner (ICE) concluded earlier this year that DWP was guilty of “multiple” and “significant” failings in handling the case of the mother-of-nine, who had her out-of-work disability benefits stopped for missing a work capability assessment (WCA), and took her own life just 15 days later.

During the meeting, Dove asked 13 key questions that had been drafted for her…

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Brussels says Brexit bill must be paid even with no-deal

With the EU in this mood then it will be No Deal and No Money, the money was for a Deal.

The Leader is not now in power so the old deal is now not on the Table, so EU change otherwise it is leave with No Deal at the end of October 2019 for any other result it will be the liquidation of the Conservative Party.


Jeff Taylor
12 June 2019

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House Oversight votes to hold Barr, Ross in contempt | TheHill

The House Oversight and Reform Committee voted largely along party lines on Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for failing to comply with congressional subpoenas.

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) broke with his party to vote with the Democrats on the panel.

The high-stakes vote took place just hours after the Justice and Commerce Departments announced that President Trump had asserted executive privilege over the subpoenaed documents, which were tied to the Trump administration’s addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Wednesday’s vote, which comes just one day after the House voted to empower committee chairs with more legal authority to enforce their subpoenas, is a further escalation of the battle between the Trump administration and House Democrats investigating the president.

The citizenship question has been hotly contested since Ross announced in March 2018 that it would be included on the 2020 census, stating that the Justice Department had requested the question in order to help enforce the Voting Rights Act.


Source: House Oversight votes to hold Barr, Ross in contempt | TheHill