World News (April 1, 2019)


LONDON (AP) — British lawmakers were preparing to blow open the Brexit process and put a host of rejected options back on the table — including keeping the U.K. close to the European Union or even remaining a member — as Prime Minister Theresa May defiantly insisted Tuesday that Parliament should approve her twice-defeated divorce deal instead.

Lawmakers are scheduled to vote on multiple flavors of Brexit, after the House of Commons voted to wrest the parliamentary timetable away from May’s weakened government and hold votes on alternatives to her rejected withdrawal agreement.

The largely pro-EU legislators behind the unprecedented move hope to find a form of Brexit that can command a majority in Parliament. Votes are due to be held Wednesday on options that could include remaining in the EU’s single market and customs union, calling a new membership referendum and canceling Brexit — all ideas that May has repeatedly rejected.

They plan to see which ideas have the most support, and then hold another day of votes next week to try to find agreement on a proposal.
The government, which usually controls the scheduling of votes in Parliament, said the lawmakers’ move “upends the balance between our democratic institutions and sets a dangerous, unpredictable precedent for the future.”

The votes will not be legally binding, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC that the government wouldn’t “pre-commit” to accepting the option backed by lawmakers because they may come up with a plan that is impractical. It’s also possible lawmakers could support contradictory options, or none at all.

MOSCOW (AP) — Five years into Ukraine’s conflict with Russia, Moscow seems to have Ukraine pinned against the ropes. Ukraine’s ambition of joining the European Union and NATO is indefinitely stalled. It has no realistic way to reclaim control of Russian-annexed Crimea, or to end the war with Russia-backed separatists in the east.

It’s no wonder a comedian is leading in the polls for the upcoming presidential election. The Kremlin has long seen Ukraine’s plan to join NATO as a threat that must be fended off at all costs, and its calculations that the conflict in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region would scuttle the nation’s membership bid seems to have worked.

“The Russian strategy is to keep the Donbass conflict smoldering for a long time and use it as an instrument to influence Ukraine’s internal political situation and also as a major obstacle to Ukraine’s membership in the EU and NATO,” said Volodymyr Fesenko, head of the Penta Center, a Kiev-based thinktank.

“As long as the territorial problem of Crimea and Donbass remains, as long as the fighting in Donbass continues, it will be a decisive argument against letting Ukraine join the EU and NATO,” he said. In February 2014, Ukraine’s former Russia-friendly president was ousted by mass protests sparked by his refusal to sign an association deal with the EU. Moscow saw his ouster as a Western-staged plot and responded by quickly annexing Ukraine’s Crimea, a move seen by most countries as illegal, and backing a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine has since signed an association deal with the EU and won a much-coveted visa-free travel deal with the bloc. But its hopes for joining the EU appear as elusive as ever, and that has contributed to public disenchantment and eroding the popularity of President Petro Poroshenko.

The U.S. and the EU have maintained strong political support for Ukraine, most recently over Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian ships and their crews in November. But both NATO and the EU have made it clear they are not going to put Ukraine on a track to membership any time soon.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Norwegian police say an avalanche in northern Norway has killed two people. Bent-Are Eilertsen, police spokesman for Norway’s northern Nordland district, said the 660-foot avalanche happened on the southern tip of the Lofoten archipelago.

Eilertsen said the two people who died were sitting in construction equipment on a road at the foot of Durmaalstind mountain at the time.
He didn’t identify the victims.

Four skiers — a woman from Sweden and three men from Finland — were killed by a 990-foot avalanche in northern Norway, near Tromsoe, in January.