Much has been and will be written about what the special advisers Boris Johnson and his Cabinet have chosen to appoint mean for the direction of their government. But just as significant as any new hire made by a minister this week is one that hasn't happened.
Julian Smith, the new Northern Ireland secretary, will not be retaining Jonathan Caine, the most senior of Karen Bradley's three spads. At any other department, that decision wouldnt really merit serious reflection. Spads are personal appointments whose employment expires with the end of their ministers term in office. Only occasionally do they stay on if the ministerial guard changes.
Caine was one of those rare exceptions. He was first appointed as a Northern Ireland Office spad in 1991. Of the eight Tory Secretaries of State there have been since he joined the Conservative Research Department as a graduate in 1987, he has advised seven of them in some capacity: Tom King, Peter Brooke, Patrick Mayhew, Owen Paterson, Theresa Villiers, James Brokenshire, and Bradley.
Smith is the eighth, and will be the first since Brooke not to have Caine – elevated to the Lords by David Cameron in 2016 – as a spad. It is no exaggeration to say that it is as big and consequential a call he could have made in his first week in office. It was certainly as significant as his decision to wade into the row over the removal – or not – of a portrait of a Queen from the NIO's Stormont headquarters. So profound is Caines influence that some in Westminster jokingly refer to him as the “real Northern Ireland secretary”. I recall asking one MP for their thoughts on Theresa Mays appointment of Bradley in January 2018. “It doesnt actually matter,” they said. “Jonathan Caine will still be running the department.”
So what does his enforced departure tell us? Nationalists will hope it means the new regime will prove more amenable to close cooperation with Dublin than those of his predecessors; unionists are already expressing anxieties that it could mean the opposite. Beyond the vague and familiar statements of aspiration on restoring devolution, we know little of Smith's priorities. Yet his decision not to re-appoint Caine, as his two predecessors dutifully did, suggests Boris Johnsons government could be preparing for a serious departure from the May line on Northern Ireland.
Taken together with the appointment of the outspoken Johnny Mercer as minister for veterans, it could well mean the shift in tone – and policy – Boris Johnson has promised on Troubles legacy prosecutions: Caine has been heavily involved in shaping the policy that Tory MPs like Mercer have chosen, not entirely fairly, to characterise as a “witch hunt” against former servicemen.
But it is at the most basic level that the absence of Caine will have the greatest impact. Johnsons Brexit policy, embrace of unionism and reliance on the DUP for a parliamentary majority will force his government to confront some of the most fundamental questions about NorRead More – Source
Burkina Faso military says it has seized power
The military in Burkina Faso says it has seized power and overthrown President Roch Kaboré.
The announcement was made on state television by an army officer, who cited the deteriorating security situation for the military takeover.
Mr Kaboré had faced growing discontent over his failure to stem an Islamist insurgency.
His whereabouts are unclear, but the officer said that all those detained were in a secure location.
The coup comes a day after troops seized barracks, and gunshots were heard in the capital, Ouagadougou.
Earlier, the ruling People’s Movement for Progress (PMP) party said that both Mr Kaboré and a government minister had survived an assassination attempt.
On Sunday, mutinying troops demanded the sacking of military chiefs and more resources to fight militants linked to the Islamic State (IS) group and al-Qaeda.
The army statement said Mr Kaboré had failed to unite the nation and to deal effectively with the security crisis which “threatens the very foundations of our nation”.
The statement was issued in the name of a group not heard of previously, the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration or MPSR, its French acronym.
Although read out by another officer, the statement was signed by Lt-Col Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who is believed to be the coup leader and a senior commander with years of experience fighting the Islamist militants.
The statement said that parliament and the government had been dissolved, and the constitution suspended, but promised a “return to constitutional order” within a “reasonable time”.
The military also announced the closure of Burkina Faso’s borders.
UN chief António Guterres condemned the coup and called on the military to “ensure the protection and the physical integrity” of Mr Kaboré.
The African Union and regional bloc, Ecowas, have also condemned the forceful takeover of power, with Ecowas saying it holds the soldiers responsible for the deposed president’s well-being.
Earlier, the news of his detention was received with cheers and celebrations in Ouagadougou, reports the BBC’s senior Africa correspondent Anne Soy.
Earlier video footage from the capital appeared to show armoured vehicles – reportedly used by the presidency – peppered with bullet holes and abandoned in the street.
Mobile internet services have been disrupted, though fixed-line internet and domestic wi-fi are working.
Mr Kaboré has not been seen in public since the crisis began, but two posts appeared on his Twitter account before the officer announced he had been toppled.
The later one called on those who had taken up arms to lay them down “in the higher interest of the nation”. Earlier, Mr Kaboré congratulated the national football team on their win in an Africa Cup of Nations match.
It is unclear who posted the tweets.
Some security sources say the president and other government ministers are being held at the Sangoulé Lamizana barracks in the capital.
On Sunday, hundreds of people came out in support of the soldiers and some of them set fire to the ruling party’s headquarters.
The coup comes a week after 11 soldiers were arrested for allegedly plotting to overthrow Mr Kaboré.
But discontent has been growing in Burkina Faso over the government’s failure to defeat an Islamist insurgency in the country since 2015.
That escalated in November, when 53 people, mainly members of the security forces, were killed by suspected jihadists. And on Saturday, a banned rally to protest against the government’s perceived failure led to dozens of arrests.
Mutinying soldiers made several demands, including: the removal of the army’s chief of staff and the head of the intelligence service; more troops to be deployed to the front line; and better conditions for the wounded and soldiers’ families.
Similar troubles in neighbouring Mali led to a military coup in May 2021 – one that was broadly welcomed by the public.
Burkina Faso is now the third West African country to witness a military takeover in recent years. Guinea and Mali have had sanctions imposed on them by Ecowas to press them to return to constitutional order.
India Covid: Booster shots start for priority groups as cases surge
India has begun giving booster doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to priority groups amid a surge in infections.
Health and frontline workers and people above 60 years old with comorbidities are currently eligible to take the jab.
The drive began as India battles a spike in Covid cases fuelled by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Early studies from other countries have suggested that a booster vaccine may provide more protection against Omicron.
The highly transmissive Omicron variant was first discovered in South Africa in November.
Since then, several countries have expanded their booster programmes or shortened the gap between jabs to shore up protection against the variant.
In India, the booster shot – dubbed a “precaution dose” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi – will be the same vaccine that was given to a person for their first and second doses.
India has been mainly administering two locally-manufactured vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, since its vaccination drive began in January 2021.
On Sunday, India reported more than 179,000 new infections for the past 24 hours, driven by a steep rise in cases in big cities such as the national capital Delhi and financial centre Mumbai.
On the same day, Mr Modi chaired a review meeting with top officials, and asked for “technical support” to be provided to states reporting more cases.
The government had begun administering vaccines to 15-18-year-olds last week – it has said that 31% of Indians in this age group have been given the first dose so far.
More than 91% adults have been partially vaccinated so far, while 66% have received both doses.
But experts say that still leaves millions of unvaccinated people – many with underlying health problems that could increase the severity of the infection – at risk.
The spread of Omicron has also increased worries – India has confirmed a total of 4,003 cases of Omicron, with Maharashtra state reporting the highest (1,126), followed by Rajasthan (529) and Delhi (513).
The country has so far recorded more than 35 million Covid cases and about 483,000 deaths from the virus.
Last year, a devastating second wave overwhelmed the country’s health system, leading to a shortage in oxygen, hospital beds and critical drugs.
Emily in Paris Fans Think Kim Cattrall Will Make an Appearance in Season 3
instyle– Fans are speculating a major pop-culture crossover in season 3 of Emily in Paris. After Kim Cattrall infamously turned down the chance to revive her Sex and the City character, Samantha Jones, for the reboot, fans couldn’t help but wonder if Jones could make an appearance in the next season of the cult-favorite Netflix show.
If you’re watching And Just Like That … (and even if you’re not), you know that Cattrall’s character is supposedly off working her public relationships magic in London, England, just a quick trip from Emily (Lily Collins) and her booming marketing firm, Savoir.
RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About Emily in Paris Season 2
Fans noticed major parallels between the characters, from their location to their sex positivity to their career in communications. Plus, both series were created by big-time Hollywood producer Darren Star — with SATC costume designer Patricia Field now responsible for Emily’s kitschy, Parisian looks — making a collab that much more believable.
One Twitter user wrote, “Current theory: Samantha has supposedly moved overseas, hence her lack of presence in the new SATC TV series. Then she shows up by total surprise in a crossover episode of EMILY IN PARIS. I would watch Samantha try to tolerate Emily, 100 percent.”
Collins fueled the flames by teasing a possible season 3. The actress posted photographs from her Vogue Hong Kong cover featuring a jet-black shag haircut and dark makeup writing, “Season 3 pivot?? Who’s with me? …” Collins used the same caption when reposting a fan’s Tweet with the magazine images that read, “Emily in Berlin.”
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