10 roller coaster yrs at 10 Downing
Tony Blair announced on Thursday he would step down on June 27 after a decade as prime minister and told Britons disillusioned by the war in Iraq that he had always done what he believed was right.Blair’s popularity has suffered since he sent British forces to join the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and a Labour Party rebellion in September forced him to say he would quit within a year.
Earlier in the morning, he briefed the Cabinet on his plans. He acknowledged his government had not always lived up to high expectations but said he had been very lucky to lead “the greatest nation on earth”.
He will stay on in 10 Downing Street until the Labour Party elects a new leader — widely expected to be finance minister Gordon Brown. Blair will then drive down to Buckingham Palace on June 27 to give his resignation to the Queen. An insider told the Hindustan Times that there was some wit and leg-pulling in the cabinet meet which recalled the atmosphere at the first meet in 1997.
In an emotional speech, Blair said he had been prime minister for 10 years which was “long enough” for the country and himself. “Hand on heart, I did what I thought was right,” Blair told Labour Party members in his constituency in northern England.
When Blair was elected in May 1997, instead of driving in a Jaguar, he had walked with his family to the 10 Downing Street. He was immediately hailed as people’s prime minister. He achieved another first by resigning on his own volition. He was not booted out by voters, nor given the boot by his party nor did his doctors tell him to sign off. Thus at 54, an age when most of his predecessors did not even take office, Blair is almost gone.
North Korea has dropped a face mask mandate and other social distancing rules as leader Kim Jong Un declared victory over COVID-19 this week, state media said on Saturday, three months after its first acknowledgement of the virus outbreak in the isolated country. Kim presided over a COVID meeting on Wednesday and ordered the lifting of maximum anti-epidemic measures imposed in May, adding that North Korea must maintain a "steel-strong anti-epidemic barrier."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a fresh call on Friday for European Union states to ban visas for Russian nationals to keep the bloc from becoming a "supermarket" open to anyone with the means to enter. Zelensky said his proposal did not apply to Russians who needed help for risking their freedom or their lives by resisting Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin's policies. Zelensky's appeal has yet to win support from the EU's major players.
These days, Gul Agha Jalali is studying English and has enrolled in a computer science course in the capital, Kabul. (Also Read Inside Afghanistan's secret schools, where girls defy the Taliban) "When our country was occupied by infidels, we needed bombs, mortars and guns," says an employee at the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, Jalali. Now there is a greater need for education, he told AFP.
The attacker of Salman Rushdie has been identified as 24-year-old Hadi Matar who is from New Jersey. Shortly after Salman Rushdie arrived at the stage to deliver his speech, Hadi Matar attacked him at least once in the neck and at least once in the abdomen, police said. Hadi Matar had a pass to attend the lecture. Some reports claimed that Hadi Matar had sympathies towards the Iranian government that had called for Rushdie's death.
US lawmakers on Friday adopted President Joe Biden's sprawling climate, tax and health care plan -- a major win for the veteran Democrat that includes the biggest ever American investment in the battle against global warming. Passage in the House of Representatives along strict party lines came after approval of the bill in the Senate by a razor-thin margin, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.