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China’s fury as top US military intelligence general makes visit to Taiwan

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The two-star US Navy admiral who has overseen military intelligence in the Asia-Pacific region has visited Taiwan. China will be vexed by this high-level trip by a top US general. Under China’s ‘one country, two systems’ protocol any official trip to Taiwan by a foreign power must ask permission from Beijing.

The CCP see any bilateral arrangements between Taipei and other governments as a direct challenge to their claim over the island democracy.

Beijing claims Taiwan as its territory since the CCP won the Chinese civil war and the nationalists fled to the island.

The US Navy general was Rear Admiral Michael Studeman.

Mr Studeman is director of the J2, the organisation oversees intelligence and is based in the US military’s Indo-Pacific Command.

When asked if Mr Studeman was visiting Taiwan, the US Pentagon did not comment.

During Donald Trump’s years in office, his administration has increased military support for Taiwan.

This includes new arms sales and high-level visits.

The last time a senior US official figure visited Taiwan on 17 September 2020 Beijing responded belligerently.

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This led Chinese defence ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said: “Recently the United States and (DPP) authorities have stepped up their collusion, frequently creating disturbances.”

The Democratic Progressive Party is Taiwan’s ruling party.

Bejing warned the US not to try and “use Taiwan to control China”.

Mr Guoqiang said Taiwan should not, “rely on foreigners to build oneself up and is wishful thinking and doomed to be a dead-end”.

He added: “Those who play with fire will get burnt.”

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London crisis: Sadiq Khan accused of ‘refusing to lift a finger’ as Boris ‘takes control’

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Mr Bailey accused current London mayor Sadiq Khan of “refusing to lift a finger” to sort out the problem of “leaving residents without a safe, reliable river crossing”. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph he added: “It’s not the Government’s job to look after London’s bridges. Funnily enough, that responsibility lies with the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

“I asked the Government to step in and take control of restoring the bridge.

“While I’m glad they followed my advice, I’m keeping the pressure on for a temporary road bridge.

“If a temporary road bridge hasn’t been delivered by May next year, I’ll make it my priority as Mayor to build a temporary road bridge and get London moving.”

The news comes as last weekend children had to go on long detours to get to school because the bridge was closed.

Mr Bailey said the total cost of the bridge design that he is proposing will cost £10million.

This is a fraction of the £53million that Mr Johnson spent on his garden bridge across the Thames that was never built.

Mr Johnson’s scheme was cancelled by current Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan in 2017.

Mr Bailey has dubbed his bridge design “Bailey’s Bridge”.

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He is now challenging Mr Khan for letting the current 133-year-old Hammersmith Bridge fall into disrepair.

Last week Government ministers have started the procurement process for a ferry service that will be a replacement for the currently closed bridge.

Now Transport for London is seeking an operator to manage this ferry service.

Transport for London has said they have discarded plans for a temporary road bridge.

This road bridge could be built “for £7million in three months on the grounds of cost, timescale, and feasibility”.

A spokesman for Mayor of London Sadiq Khan rebuked the criticism, but agreed it was right that ministers had stepped in to bail out the bridge repairs.

A spokesman said: “The Mayor and Transport for London will continue working closely with the bridge owners Hammersmith and Fulham Council and the government to find an urgent solution, but it’s time for ministers to put their money where their mouth is.”

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Covid lockdown rules mapped: All the rules for England, Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland

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When the lockdown ends on December 2, England is expected to return to the three tier system in place before. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the lockdown on Saturday, October 31, on the same day the UK surpassed one million lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus. MPs voted in favour of the proposal in the House of Commons on November 4.

Rules in England

The key restrictions from the current lockdown are similar, but not exactly the same, as the Spring lockdown.

They include:

  • Pubs, bars and restaurants must close, but food takeaways and deliveries are allowed
  • All non-essential retail, leisure and entertainment venues have to close
  • A ban on mixing of households aside from support bubbles or childcare reasons
  • A restriction on travel, including outbound international travel and within the UK, except for work
  • Staying at home is encouraged, except for education, work, medical reasons, shopping for food or essentials, caring for others, or exercise

Unlike the first lockdown, nurseries, colleges, schools and universities are allowed to remain open.

Rules in Wales

Coronavirus rules are in place in Wales for the next two weeks, First Minister Mark Drakeford recently confirmed.

The Firebreak rules which were introduced and ended on November 9 have been extended until Monday, December 7.

The rules for Wales are:

  • There are no travel restrictions within Wales for residents
  • Two households can join together to form a support bubble
  • Only people in extended households can meet inside their homes
  • You can meet indoors in other settings like pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants, in groups of a maximum of four, where social distancing should be adhered to
  • Up to 15 people can take part in an indoors activity and up to 30 in an outdoor setting
  • Schools are to remain open until the end of term
  • Businesses premises can remain open
  • Places of worship can continue to hold services with social distancing
  • Council services continue
  • People should avoid non-essential travel and work from home wherever possible
  • Two metre social distancing and wearing masks in enclosed public spaces

Rules in Scotland

Scotland has introduced a five-level system that provides different restrictions based on infection rate.

The majority of Scottish councils are currently in Level 4.

The Level 4 restrictions are alike to an entire, full lockdown, and include:

  • Indoor household mixing will be prohibited, barring exceptions like caring duties
  • Socialising outside is still allowed with a limit of six people from two households
  • Non essential shops and hospitality establishments will close, with no exception
  • Hairdressers and other close contact services like hairdressers and beauticians, will have to close
  • Working from home is advised for all sectors with the exception of essential work, outdoor work, construction and manufacturing jobs
  • Non essential travel into or out of level 4 areas will be prohibited and public transport should only be used when essential
  • Gyms will close and outdoor sports will be restricted to non-contact games, but professional sports are allowed to continue
  • Informal childcare is permitted for the children of key workers

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Rules in Northern Ireland

Ministers in Northern Ireland were told on Thursday that the R Number was sitting at around 1, and that while the current restrictions have had some positive impact, hospital inpatients numbers are still at a higher level than the first wave and are declining slowly.

First Minister Arlene Foster said: “The Executive has been presented today with the sobering prospect of our hospitals becoming overwhelmed within weeks.

“It is clear that a tough, carefully timed, intervention is required to give us the best chance to have a safe and happy Christmas and further into the new year period.

“We all need to work together to save our hospitals, to save Christmas, to save lives.”

The full list of measures agreed by the Executive:

  • Closure of all retail except essential retail that was permitted to stay open in the Spring
  • Off licenses can stay open, with an 8pm curfew
  • Closure of close contact services, and driving instruction (not motorcycles), except close contact for film and TV production, medical, health and social care services, and elite sports therapeutic services
  • Closure of all hospitality. Takeaway and delivery remain open
  • Closure of all leisure and entertainment, including soft plays, gyms, swimming pools etc.
  • Sporting events only allowed for elite sports, but household and individual exercise and school PE should continue
  • Elite sports events behind closed doors without spectators
  • No household gatherings of more than one household, other than for caring, maintenance, house moves and support bubbles
  • Closure of places of worship, except for weddings, civil partnerships and funerals. 25-person limit.
  • Work from home where possible, and only leave for essential reasons
  • Schools and childcare to stay open
  • Universities to provide learning at a distance except where face-to-face is essential
  • Public parks and outdoor play areas remain open

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Lockdown POLL: Would you sacrifice Christmas not to be locked down in January? VOTE HERE

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Prime Minister Mr Johnson is set to lay out his much-anticipated plans, including a strengthened three-tier system of local restrictions for England, for when the national lockdown ends on December 2. More areas are facing severe constraints to prevent the coronavirus from reigniting after England entered a month-long lockdown in early November after COVID-19 infection cases and deaths started to rise again.

Mr Johnson’s plans will also include details on how families can see their loved ones at Christmas.

Express.co.uk is asking you would you sacrifice Christmas not to be locked down in January?

Mr Johnson will detail his “COVID winter plan” to MPs on Monday.

Number 10 said it is expected to place more areas into the higher tiers to keep the virus under control to ensure further restrictions are not needed.

And while some local measures will be the same as those in the previous system, some tiers will be strengthened to safeguard the gains made during the national lockdown.

The Cabinet is expected to discuss and sign off the plan today before Mr Johnson announces it to Parliament the following day.

The plan will set out how people will be able to spend their Christmas, but ministers have made clear that the festive season will be different to normal, with some restrictions expected to remain in place.

Ministers will set out what tier each area will be placed into on Thursday and MPs are expected to be given the vote to approve the new tiering system, as promised by Mr Johnson, in the days before it comes into force on December 3.

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They are optimistic that restrictions can be gradually reduced in the run-up to spring, providing vaccines are approved by regulators, allowing a plan for the rollout to begin next month before a wider programme in the new year.

Downing Street will hope an easing at Christmas, potential vaccines on the horizon and new scientific evidence will lessen the scale of a rebellion, with the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) expected to publish papers on Monday stating that the previous tiers were not strong enough.

The plans emerged as the Government announced a further 341 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19 as of Saturday, bringing the UK total to 54,626.

A No 10 spokeswoman said: “Everyone’s efforts during the current national restrictions have helped bring the virus back under control, slowed its spread and eased pressures on the NHS.

 

“But the Prime Minister and his scientific advisers are clear the virus is still present – and without regional restrictions, it could quickly run out of control again before vaccines and mass testing have had an effect.

“That would put in jeopardy the progress the country has made, and once again risk intolerable pressure on the NHS.”

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BBC’s Andrew Marr slams Dodds as Labour descends into civil war – ‘A complete mess!’

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BBC’s Andrew Marr exposed the crisis tearing apart the Labour Party in a heated interview with Labour’s shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds. There is concern that a civil war will erupt in the Labour Party, with a growing left-wing revolt against the leader Sir Keir Starmer. The BBC host pointed out that “for people watching, who don’t know the details, this looks like a complete mess”.

Mr Marr noted: “Ian Lavery, a former chairman of the party, and someone who I’m sure you know well, has said that Keir Stamrer has a political vendetta against the former leader Jeremy Corbyn.”

Ms Dodds responded: “I don’t agree with Ian on that. I agree with him on plenty of other things but certainly not on that

“We need to make sure we demonstrate to the Jewish community that we have learned from the EHRC report.”

The BBC host fired back: “It’s not just Ian Lavery, the bakers union has talked about vindictive and divisive attacks and threatened to disaffiliate from the party.

“Many people in the Labour Party are talking about civil war. Is it really worth it?”

JUST IN: Labour MP refuses to give party’s position on Brexit deal

MORE TO FOLLOW…

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Queen had ‘carefully’ orchestrated plot to stop Nicola Sturgeon ripping UK apart

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As the Scottish National Party, under the leadership of Alex Salmond at the time, prepared its bid to break away from the Union in a 2014 vote, the Queen is said to have prepared an intervention. Lionel Barber, a Financial Times’ former editor, claims the Queen’s son Prince Andrew told him of his mother’s plans during lunch – one week before the referendum.

In his diaries, published this week, Mr Barber told how the Duke of York gave him “a nod and a wink” and made some “pretty bloody amazing” comments about his mother would intervene, according to The Times.

He said: “There is this scene where I am at Buckingham Palace, invited by the roguish Duke of York to lunch with the Chinese foreign minister, and Andrew suddenly half lets loose that the Queen is going to intervene on the Sunday.

“That was interesting. They had clearly planned it. It was very artfully done.

“Andrew knew about it.”

The claims come after the Queen told a well-wisher outside a church near her Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire she hoped “people will think very carefully about the future” ahead of the Scottish independence referendum in 2014.

When the well-wisher joked that they were not going to mention the vote, the Queen replied: ”Well, I hope people will think very carefully about the future”.

Her comments provoked criticism as the head of state, the Queen has a duty to remain impartial on all things politics.

A Buckingham Palace statement at the time read: “The sovereign’s constitutional impartiality is an established principle of our democracy and one which the Queen has demonstrated throughout her reign.

“As such, the monarch is above politics and those in political office have a duty to ensure this remains the case.

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“Any suggestion that the Queen would wish to influence the outcome of the current referendum campaign is categorically wrong.

“Her Majesty is simply of the view this is a matter for the people of Scotland.”

It comes after former Prime Minister David Cameron sparked fury when he revealed the Queen “purred down the line” when she heard the news the majority of Scots had voted to remain in the UK in the 2014 vote.

Mr Cameron told how he asked the Queen to intervene ahead of the vote, which saw the “No” side won with 55.3 percent voting against independence and 44.7 percent voting in favour.

Today SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon hopes she can mount another campaign for Scottish independence following next year’s Holyrood elections, despite the UK being in the middle of a global pandemic.

Today SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon hopes she can mount another campaign for Scottish independence following next year’s Holyrood elections, despite the UK being in the middle of a global pandemic.

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Labour MP refuses to give party’s position on Brexit deal despite being asked THREE times

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Brexit talks have reached crunch point as the transition period deadline hurtles closer, sparking concerns about achieving a deal in time. Sky News host Sophy Ridge questioned Labour’s Shadow Business Minister Lucy Powell over whether her party would be inclined to support the final agreement when it comes back to the House of Commons. However, the MP remained vague about the party’s position, despite being repeatedly asked the same question.

Ms Powell said: “We’ve always said that we want there to be a deal. That is our starting point.

“We have now left the EU so the arguments about Leave and Remain are over.

“The very best situation we could get for this country is a deal with the EU.”

She was asked again by the host but only added that the party “needed to see the detail”.

More to follow…

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World War 2 mystery: Roosevelt’s car lurks in ‘Titanic’ shipwreck off Icelandic coast

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The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest continuous campaign of World War 2, as it spanned the full six-year conflict. Nazi Germany dominated western Europe throughout much of the war, as Britain stood alone in opposition to Adolf Hitler after the fall of France. The German war machine seemed unstoppable after Dunkirk, when British forces were heroically rescued from the beaches of northern France.

Hitler assumed Britain would lobby for peace ‒ but Sir Winston Churchill was having none of it, vowing to “never surrender”.

After the RAF defiantly fought off the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain, the war changed dynamic slightly as Hitler attempted to strangle UK supplies by cutting off the Atlantic. 

German U-Boats flooded the English Channel and wreaked havoc ‒ sinking military and merchant vessels at will, regardless of whether or not civilians were on board.

This only got worse after Operation Barbarossa ‒ the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1942 ‒ as the Allies desperately tried to send supplies to Russia.

German U-Boats, knowing full-well that ships in these waters were sending supplies to Moscow from London and Washington, desperately and very effectively picked them off.

Iceland, then, became a key checkpoint during the war, as its strategic position was vital for any vessel making the journey east. 

Hitler was all too aware and directed his U-Boats, often stationed in Nazi-occupied Norway, to target vessels coming in and out of Reykjavik. 

One such vessel was the SS Godafoss ‒ carrying cargo and civilians from New York.

It was sunk on November 10, 1944, as the net closed in on Nazi Germany with the Soviets advancing in the east and the Allies advancing in the west after the D-Day landings.

The Godafoss was hit by a German U-Boat torpedo and sank in seven minutes. Everyone on board was killed. 

Also on board was a car that has now become the talk of legend, intended to be a gift from US President Franklin D Roosevelt to the President of Iceland, Sveinn Björnsson.

The car, which is undoubtedly priceless, was said to be a thing of beauty and even boasted a golden wheel. 

Speaking on the History Hit World Wars podcast, presenter James Rogers was joined by Icelandic film producer Jon Arsaell. 

Addressing the Godafoss, Mr Rogers asked: “Is it perhaps right to say this is Iceland’s Titanic or Iceland’s Lusitania? How has it gone down in Icelandic memory?”

Mr Arsaell replied: “Yeah, that’s a good point. It’s our Titanic accident, somehow.

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“There are books written about it. I did a television programme on it a few years ago and people are also eager to find the shipwreck.

“There have been many, many attempts to find the Godafoss on the bottom of the sea.

“Because this is our Titanic, so to speak, but also it was full of valuable things.”

Mr Arsaell then detailed what was on board the lost ship.

He added: “Among the cargo was a car that was a gift from the US President to the Icelandic President ‒ a beautiful car, it had a golden wheel.

“A lot of people are interested in finding the car and also there was a lot of copper on board the ship so the cargo was valuable.

“There was also a lot of whisky ‒ many people are interested in the liquor that was on board. 

“Now it’s 75-year-old whisky!”

Mr Rogers concluded: “Wow! So the history of the Godafoss might not be over yet, especially with treasure hunters across the world looking for lucrative bounties.”

However, Mr Arsaell had a word of warning for any would-be treasure hunters.

He said: “I took part in trips trying to find the wreckage because that was part of the film I was doing.

“We searched and searched with the newest equipment but we didn’t find anything.

“The current is hard where the ship went down and another problem is that it isn’t very deep ‒ it’s something like 40 or 50 metres deep.

“So the wind, the waves and the current are enemies in that way.” 

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UK community spirit can help lead the country out of lockdown, says WHO Covid chief

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Dr David Nabarro has helped plan The Honeycomb Network, which is aimed at reopening communities, with the appointment of a spine of key support individuals within each area to offer reassurance, mental health support, and emergency help when needed. Under Dr Nabarro’s plans, neighbourhood support networks across the nation would boost morale and provide practical measures to help the UK navigate a stable route out of lockdown. “The Honeycomb Network is based on simple mathematics,” said Dr Nabarro.

“It is formulated on a realistic approach to how individuals, particularly those who are older or more isolated, can take more confident strides back to normality by knowing that support is there.

“Steps forward will feel safer for people if they know that they will be informed if new cases appear in the local area. If a community can respond to situations with unity and common purpose then we will be in good shape.”

Under the proposals, vulnerable people will have the contact number of a key individual written on their notice boards or easily accessible to them on the back of their phone.

“One support person can cover approximately 50 people,” said Dr Nabarro.

“That may mean that the individual is there at the other end of a call if a warm voice is needed, or sometimes they will be for them to provide responsible advice if a person is feeling unwell and unsure if they have symptoms of the virus, other times it will be to help in an initial response to an emergency situation.

“What we have learned from other countries, particularly throughout East Asia, is that small communities can play a crucial role.

“Localised efforts, both in terms of neighbourhood support systems and emergency response testing, have value.”

Dr Nabarro, who was the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Ebola, noted that examples of UK locally-led efforts were already in display in the education system, identifying Lincoln and Loughborough universities as examples.

Leicestershire’s director of public health, Mike Sandys, who is helping coordinate local efforts in those areas, said: “As always the key to this has been good joint working.

“If my team and I have helped in advising from a public health perspective and, more pragmatically, going out to halls of residences to advise where things can be made better, then I’m happy.”

John Atkinson, a living systems specialist working with the UN and multilateral bodies, has helped devised the Honeycomb Network with Dr Nabarro.

He said: “All over the UK we already have different groups coming together to work out how to safely get on with life.

“We see workplaces arranging transport, temperature checks and looking out for those who are isolating.

“Shops and small businesses putting in place protocols around distancing, hygiene, and face coverings to take care of their customers.

“Neighbours, calling on elderly people who live nearby, making sure they are getting their shopping and hearing a friendly voice.”

Mr Atkinson noted that looking out for each other in times of need was part of any nation’s character.

“Making sure our neighbours know how to reach us if they need help, passing on trusted knowledge on what the symptoms are, when and how to isolate, how to get a test.

“This works. It is the first line in our response to the virus. More people, doing more of the right things, more of the time, because they choose to. Where we see this happen, we see healthy communities.”

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Ann Widdecombe warns Boris poised to betray Brexit Britain and ‘SURRENDER’ to the EU

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Former Brexit Party MEP Ann Widdecombe admitted that Boris Johnson was only going to make bad decisions going forward with trade talks. While speaking to Martin Daubney and Belinda de Lucy on Brexit Unlocked, Ms Widdecombe claimed Boris could cave to the EU as early as next week Tuesday. She insisted that he had already shown he does not stick to his Brexit promises.

She highlighted his reluctance to step away from trade talks with the EU after a deadline is missed.

Ms Widdecombe said: “I think Boris Johnson will betray Brexit and the signs have been there.

“Ben Habib has repeated the numerous deadlines that we have had saying that if we got to that point we were going to go.

“Now if we had actually walked at the end of June, my belief is that we would have had a deal by now.

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“This is because they would have realised that we were serious and they would have recognised our sovereignty and we would have been talking about terms of trade.

“That is something different altogether.

“But Boris didn’t do it and he didn’t do it for numerous subsequent deadlines.”

Ms Widdecombe reiterated her scepticism that the UK and EU were close to agreeing on a Brexit deal.

She insisted the EU had so far not shown the willingness to deal with the UK like a separate nation.

She said: “If anyone is seriously talking about Tuesday then it will be an abject surrender.

“This is because there has not been the slightest sign that the EU is prepared to recognise that we will be in exactly the same position as any other sovereign state.

“We are not just a semi-detached member of the EU, which is what they are trying to reduce us to.

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“So it is very bad news and I think because we do have to decide one way or the other by December 31, we are running out of time.

“I think all the decisions will be bad ones because that is simply the way things have been going for some time.

“It is not just that I am pessimistic, all the signs are there.”

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