May urges public to ‘get behind’ Brexit deal
- The political declaration, which sets out what the UK and EU’s relationship may be like after Brexit – outlining how things like UK-EU trade and security will work.
- The EU withdrawal agreement: a 585-page, legally binding document setting out the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU. It covers the UK’s £39bn „divorce bill”, citizens’ rights and the Northern Ireland „backstop” – a way to keep the border with the Republic of Ireland open, if trade talks stall.
There is no formal vote on Sunday but the EU expects to proceed after reaching a consensus, with the agreement likely to be approved.What happens afterwards?If the EU signs off the withdrawal deal, Mrs May will then need to persuade MPs in the UK Parliament to back it. A vote is expected in December. Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and the DUP have all said they will vote against the government’s deal, as well as many Conservatives.The agreement will also have to go back to the European Council, where a majority of countries (20 out of 27 states) will need to vote for it. It will also need to be ratified by the European Parliament.If MPs reject the deal, a number of things could happen – including leaving with no deal, an attempt to renegotiate or a general election.According to the Sunday Times, Chancellor Philip Hammond is working with other Cabinet ministers to trying to persuade Mrs May to opt for a softer Brexit deal, which they believe could get through Parliament if her original deal is rejected.And the Sunday Telegraph reported several senior ministers are working on a plan B – for a Norway-style relationship with the EU.What are Mrs May’s critics saying?Labour MP Ian Murray called the 800-word letter an „utter work of fiction” and described Mrs May as „desperate”.He repeated the words of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has previously called the agreement „the worst of both worlds”.Meanwhile, writing in the Sunday Express, leading Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg – who has previously called for Mrs May to be replaced as party leader – claimed the deal „does not deliver on Brexit”.Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, speaking at Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party conference on Saturday, said the UK was on the verge of „making a historic mistake” and there was still time to work for a better deal.Why was Spain unhappy?Spain threatened to not show up over concerns about its role in future trade arrangements involving Gibraltar – a British Overseas Territory with 30,000 residents.But it dropped its threat after saying it had received assurances from the UK.The Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez claimed the UK and EU had agreed to its demands but BBC Europe correspondent Kevin Connolly said UK assurances did not contain anything substantially different from the withdrawal agreement.He said there was a suspicion that Spanish ministers were „showboating a little for the domestic electorate” on the eve of elections in the south of Spain.
French protesters angry over fuel taxes clash with policeThomas Adamson, Associated Press•Police operates a water canon during clashes with demonstrators, called the yellow jackets, on the famed Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, as they protests against the rising of the fuel taxes, France, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. France is deploying thousands of police to try to contain nationwide protests and road blockades by drivers angry over rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron’s presidency. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)PARIS (AP) — French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse violent demonstrators in Paris on Saturday, as thousands gathered in the capital and beyond and staged road blockades to vent anger against rising fuel taxes.Thousands of police were deployed nationwide to contain the eighth day of deadly demonstrations that started as protests against tax but morphed into a rebuke of President Emmanuel Macron and the perceived elitism of France’s ruling class. Two people have been killed since Nov. 17 in protest-related tragedies.Tense clashes on the Champs-Elysees that ended by dusk Saturday saw police face off with demonstrators who burned plywood, wielded placards reading „Death to Taxes” and upturned a large vehicle.At least 19 people, including four police officers, were slightly hurt and one person had more serious injuries in the day of unrest in Paris, according to police.Macron responded in a strongly worded tweet: „Shame on those who attacked (police). Shame on those who were violent against other citizens … No place for this violence in the Republic.”Police said that dozens of protesters were detained for „throwing projectiles,” among other acts. By nightfall the Champs-Elysees was smoldering and in the Place de la Madeleine, burned scooters lay on the sidewalk like blackened shells.”It’s going to trigger a civil war and me, like most other citizens, we’re all ready,” said Benjamin Vrignaud, a 21-year-old protester from Chartres.”They take everything from us. They steal everything from us,” said 21-year-old Laura Cordonnier.The famed avenue was speckled with plumes of smoke and neon — owing to the color of the vests the self-styled „yellow jacket” protesters don. French drivers are required to keep neon security vests in their vehicles.Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said that 8,000 protesters flooded the Champs-Elysees at the demonstration’s peak and there were nearly 106,000 protesters and 130 arrests in total nationwide.Castaner denounced protesters from the far-right whom he called „rebellious,” as he accused National Assembly leader Marine Le Pen of encouraging them.But the Interior Ministry played down the scale of Saturday’s demonstrations by highlighting that up to 280,000 people took part in last Saturday’s protest.The unrest is proving a major challenge for embattled Macron, who’s suffering in the polls.The leader, who swept to power only last year, is the focus of rage for the „yellow jacket” demonstrators who accuse the pro-business centrist of elitism and indifference to the struggles of ordinary French.Macron has so far held strong and insisted the fuel tax rises are a necessary pain to reduce France’s dependence on fossil fuels and fund renewable energy investments — a cornerstone of his reforms of the nation. He will defend fresh plans to make the „energy transition” easier next week.Paris deployed some 3,000 security forces on Saturday, notably around tourist-frequented areas, after an unauthorized attempt last week to march on the presidential Elysee Palace.Police officials said that a no-go zone, set up around key areas including the presidential palace and the National Assembly on the Left Bank of the Seine River, has not been breached.But authorities are struggling because the movement has no clear leader and has attracted a motley group of people with broadly varying demands.The anger is mainly over a hike in the diesel fuel tax, which has gone up seven euro cents per liter (nearly 30 U.S. cents per gallon) and will keep climbing in coming years, according to Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne. The tax on gasoline is also to increase four euro cents. Gasoline currently costs about 1.64 euros a liter in Paris ($7.06 a gallon), slightly more than diesel.Far left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon explained to BFMTV the historical importance of this issue in the Gallic mindset: „When tax is no longer agreed to, it’s the start of revolutions in France.”_Chris Den Hond and Patrick Hermensen contributed to this report.
Let the debate begin.
Aircraft Carriers, Submarines and Nukes: Meet the 5 Deadliest U.S. Weapons of World War II
The ultimate compliment to the Essex carriers was how long they lasted after the war. Ships such as USS Essex, Ticonderoga and Hancock continued to launch combat missions over Korea and Vietnam.
The secret of American victory in World War II was quantity and quality. Copious amounts of weapons and equipment that not only overwhelmed and outmatched the Axis arsenal, but helped enable Lend-Lease allies like Britain and Russia to do the same.(This first appeared several years ago.)Not that every U.S. weapon was great. The ubiquitous M-4 Sherman tank was plentiful but mediocre. Early U.S. fighters like the P-40 and P-39 were nothing to brag about (except in the hands of the Flying Tigers), while U.S. submarine torpedoes had a bad habit of not exploding until late 1943.But utilizing its massive industrial and technological base, America was able to produce some excellent weapons, including:Proximity Fuzes:Shell fuzes aren’t usually thought of as weapons. But Japanese pilots and German infantrymen learned otherwise.The issue was that in an era when most anti-aircraft guns lacked radar or sophisticated fire control computers, their chances of hitting a target were not great. So complex were the calculations required to compute where to intersect the path of shell and airplane two to five miles high that tens of thousands of rounds had to be fired on average to score a hitThe problem became really acute when American warships encountered Japanese kamikazes; destroying an aircraft hell-bent on crashing into your ship meant the suicide planes had to be shot down quicklyThen someone had the bright idea of putting a tiny radar in the nose of each anti-aircraft shell. Instead of having to strike the aircraft to be effective, the shell could be set to explode once the onboard radar sensed the target was close enough, spraying a cloud of fragments that covered a wider area. The VT (variable time) fuze helped the U.S. Navy survive the kamikaze threat.It also helped the hard-pressed U.S. Army at the Battle of the Bulge. Artillery shells are more effective if they detonate as airbursts above the ground, rather than bury themselves in the earth. Instead of spraying airplanes, clouds of shrapnel sprayed German infantry.M-1 Rifle:At the start of World War II, armies used bolt-action rifles that in some cases dated back to the nineteenth century.Enter the M-1 Garand, a semi-automatic rifle that could pump out bullets with a far-higher rate of fire. The M-1 enabled U.S. infantry to generate remarkable rates of fire by the standards of the early 1940s.That was fortunate, because American infantry was otherwise weakly armed, with no squad-level machine gun to match the deadly German MG-42. Meanwhile, the Germans and Soviets, who had far more practical experience at ground warfare, ultimately opted to arm their troops with submachine guns that lacked range, but could spew lots of bullets. But the M-1 was a solid, reliable weapon that gave American riflemen a fighting chance against their enemies.Essex-class carrier:The Pacific War was ultimately a war of carriers—those floating, mobile airfields that banished battleships from preying on vulnerable troop and supply convoys. The backbone of the late-war U.S. carrier fleet was the Essex-class flattop. Carrying about a hundred fighter, dive-bombers and torpedo-bombers, and equipped with sophisticated radar and fighter direction facilities, these carriers devastated the Imperial Japanese Navy in battles such as the Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf.The ultimate compliment to the Essex carriers was how long they lasted after the war. Ships such as USS Essex, Ticonderoga and Hancock continued to launch combat missions over Korea and Vietnam.Gato-class subs:U.S. Navy carriers and battleships got the glory for defeating Japan, but 55 percent of Japanese naval tonnage sunk was by U.S. submarines. By 1945, American subs had largely cut Japan’s maritime lifeline to raw materials and food imports.The efficient engine of this destruction was the Gato-class sub, the backbone of the U.S. underwater fleet. There is much discussion about how it stacked against World War II’s other underwater killer, the German U-boat. The comparison is somewhat academic; Japanese anti-submarine capabilities were so primitive that American subs never faced anything like the sophistication and intensity of those Allied defenses that killed more than 60 percent of U-boat crews. Nonetheless, the Gato-class has to rank as one of the most deadly naval weapons of all time.The Atomic Bomb:Including the A-bomb on a list that otherwise features conventional weapons seems out of place. That the atomic bomb was a weapon, there is no doubt. But it was a weapon of a different magnitude, a device that could pulverize an entire city more thoroughly than a raid by a thousand regular bombers. It also epitomized the ability of the United States to harness scientific and industrial resources on a single project, to a degree that no other nation could match.As a weapon of war in World War II, the A-bomb was of greater shock than practical value. They were too complex to mass produce in the late 1940s, and by 1945, American and British bombers had pretty much devastated every German and Japanese city worth bombing.There is still much debate over whether Hiroshima and Nagasaki convinced Japan to surrender, or whether the Soviet declaration of war was the final catalyst.Nonetheless, in an era when radar and jet aircraft were considered the zenith of military technology, along came a weapon that could kill 60,000 people in a split-second. What more need be said?Michael Peck is a contributing writer at The National Interest. Follow him on Twitter:@Mipeck1 or Facebook.