File photo of Justin Trudeau | Scott Olson/Getty Images
File photo of Justin Trudeau | Scott Olson/Getty Images
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Theresa May urges parliamentarians to give the Brexit deal ‘a second look’ and House Republicans unseat leader from committees over white supremacy remark.

Amid growing tensions, China awards death sentence to a Canadian citizen

A Chinese court sentenced Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, a 36-year old Canadian citizen, to death Monday on charges of drug smuggling, reported AFP. His previous 15-year prison sentence was seen as too lenient.

The verdict has deepened the tensions between the two countries.

Schellenberg’s sentence comes a month after a top executive of Huawei was arrested in Canada over charges of evading US sanctions on Iran. While the Chinese executive contested the charges, the government reacted by detaining two Canadian nationals.

Schellenberg, who claimed to be a tourist, was originally sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment in November 2018. The chief judge Monday said, “The court completely rejects the accused person’s explanation and defence because it is completely at odds with the facts.”

After the verdict, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was reported saying, “It is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our international friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply [the] death penalty … as in this case facing a Canadian.”

“It is a horrific, unfortunate, heartbreaking situation,” Schellenberg’s aunt told BBC.

Theresa May asks Britain MPs to give the Brexit deal ‘a second look’

A day before the parliament goes for a vote to decide the fate of the Brexit deal, British Prime Minister Theresa May made a last appeal to parliamentarians to reconsider their vote, reported Reuters.

“So I say to members on all sides of this House (of Commons) – whatever you may have previously concluded – over these next 24 hours, give this deal a second look,” May reportedly said.

She added, “I say we should deliver for the British people and get on with building a brighter future for our country by backing this deal tomorrow.”

In her address at a china factory, she also warned the MPs that failing to deliver the Brexit would be “catastrophic” and the removal of the referendum would lead to rise in far-right populism.

The Guardian predicted that May will be voted down tomorrow, “no-confidence vote might not be far off, should May’s deal – as is expected – be voted down tomorrow.”

House Republican leaders move to remove Steve King from committees after racist remark

House Republican leaders Monday moved to dismiss Representative of Iowa and fellow Republican leader Steve King from his duties in the Judiciary and Agriculture Committees. The party officials appeared to take a tough stand on racism and engage in damage control after King in a New York Times interview last week questioned why white supremacy is considered offensive.

During the interview, King said, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”

“Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?” the leader said emphasising supremacy of the “western civilization’s values.”

The NYT report quoted Senate Majority Leader and Republican Mitch McConnell as suggesting that King look for “another line of work” and Senator Mitt Romney went on to say that King should quit.

According to the report, the move comes ahead of the string of resolutions Democrats are introducing this week against King’s statements.

Washington Post report quoted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Representative of California) as saying, “We will not be seating Steve King on any committees in the 116th Congress.”

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal in its report quoted King’s response to the move.

“Leader McCarthy’s decision to remove me from committees is a political decision that ignores the truth,” the Iowa leader said in a statement.

Trump and Erdogan discuss possibility of ‘security zone’ in Syria after Twitter warning

US President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a telephonic conversation discussed the situation in northern Syria amid rising concerns over the fate of Kurdish fighters who fought alongside US forces to remove traces of ISIS in the war-torn country, said an Al Jazeera report.

According to the reportthe call came a day after Trump warned on Twitter that he would “devastate” Turkey’s economy if its security forces attacked the US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria.

The Turkish President, however, said that he didn’t have a problem with Syrian Kurds and that Ankara intended to fight those armed groups which were a threat to the conflict-ridden country’s national security.

Erdogan’s statement further added that the two leaders also “discussed the idea of creating a security zone cleared of terrorism in the north of the country.”

Trump corroborated this in his tweet, though he referred to the zone as a “safe zone”.

CNN report quoted White House press secretary Sarah Sanders as saying, “The President expressed the desire to work together to address Turkey’s security concerns in northeast Syria while stressing the importance to the United States that Turkey does not mistreat the Kurds and other Syrian Democratic Forces with whom we have fought to defeat ISIS.”

Sanders added that chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford is set to meet his Turkish counterpart Tuesday “to continue consultations” on Syria.

This report has been amended to correct the fact that Schellenberg was initially sentenced in November 2018 and not 2016 as written earlier.

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