Hello. It looks like you’re using an ad blocker that may prevent our website from working properly. To receive the best Tortoise experience possible, please make sure any blockers are switched off and refresh the page.

If you have any questions or need help, let us know at memberhelp@tortoisemedia.com

Identity, Society, Beliefs, Countries

13 october 2021

Frosty the showman
From a luxury ambassador’s residence in Lisbon, David Frost, UK minister of state for EU relations, demanded a wholesale rewrite of the Northern Ireland Protocol that he negotiated with the EU to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland. Frost’s principal demand is an end to European court (ECJ) jurisdiction in Brexit-related dispute resolution in Northern Ireland, something the EU has said it won’t countenance while the region is effectively in the single market. The EU is expected to set out proposals today that include reduced checks on goods and medicines, though these have little chance of satisfying Frost, who’s accused the EU of being “disrespectful” to Britain. Frost’s speech may have been a negotiating tactic aimed at setting up a Swiss-style dispute resolution mechanism independent of the ECJ. Or it may have been designed to pre-empt EU proposals and perpetuate a quarrel that still plays well – with some – at home. 

12 october 2021

Noor Mukadam
Pakistan’s elite faces growing calls for accountability after the brutal killing of 27-year-old Noor Mukadam. The daughter of an ex-diplomat, Mukadam was allegedly raped, killed and beheaded by Zahir Jaffer, an acquaintance and the son of one of Pakistan’s wealthiest businessmen. Pakistani police reported that Jaffer had been deported from the UK for his alleged involvement in a rape and sexual harassment case. Campaigners have seized on Mukadam’s murder as a prime example of abuse of power by Pakistan’s elite, as well as of endemic violence against women. Pakistan ranks 153 out of 156 in the World Economic Forum’s 2021 Gender Gap index and the Human Rights Commission Pakistan recorded 363 victims of honor killings in 2020. Efforts to introduce stronger laws to protect women from violence and killings have been met with resistance from ministers and lawmakers. Jaffer’s indictment for the murder of Mukadam will be held on Thursday.

11 october 2021

Trump rides again
He’s off Twitter and still banned from Facebook, but Trump retains an iron grip on the Republican party and most of his old ability to pull and captivate a crowd. He was in Iowa on Saturday to test the waters for a 2024 White House re-run. As things stand, if he bids for the nomination, most big-name rivals will melt away. He spoke for an hour and 43 minutes at the state fairgrounds in Des Moines, remarking that “violent criminals and bloodthirsty gangs” had taken over America’s streets and “lunatic lefties” had taken over its schools. He repeated the lie that last year’s election was stolen – not that his audience needed reminding – and quoted a Des Moines Register poll showing his approval rating among independents three points up since March. Some polls also put him ahead of Biden nationally. Why wouldn’t he run? He could have a health wobble or decide a second term wouldn’t be much fun. Just now, neither looks likely. 

8 october 2021

Poland v EU
Poland’s constitutional court rejected the primacy of (some) EU treaties over its own constitution yesterday – a first in the EU’s history. Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, asked the country’s constitutional court in April to rule on the “collision between the norms of the European law and the national Constitution”. It was a direct response to claims from the European Commission that Poland’s disciplinary chamber within its Supreme Court undermined judicial independence. The Commission said the Polish court’s ruling “raises serious concerns” by questioning the primacy of EU law and authority of the European Court of Justice. What can the EU do? Brussels is already withholding €23 billion in grants and €34 billion in cheap loans for pandemic recovery until Poland fixes what the EU sees as weaknesses in its rule of law. There were initial signs Poland would back down, but Morawiecki’s government is now standing firm. An unravelling of the relationship between Warsaw and Brussels could in principle lead to “Polexit”. In practice 80 per cent of Poles are enthusiastically for EU membership, and at some point they’d have to be heard. Wouldn’t they?

7 october 2021

Police excuses
Former senior police officers told the Guardian that budget cuts over the past decade “severely diminished” police forces’ ability to control violence against women. One described the cuts as a “massive body blow” to their ability to stop men being violent towards women and girls. It’s true that austerity led to police station closures and cuts in police officer numbers, but it affected all areas of policing. It doesn’t explain the police’s specific failings in relation to violence against women and girls, which – in any case – predated austerity.