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LONDON, June 19, 2018 (News Wires) - UK prosecutors say on Tuesday that an Islamic State adherent plotted a suicide bombing targeting British Prime Minister Theresa May at her Downing Street office in London.

Authorities say Naa'imur Zakariyah Rahman, 20, thought he was just days away from carrying out the attack before his arrest last November. He was snared in a social media sting by an undercover operative for Britain's security services posing as an Islamic State official in Syria

Prosecutor Mark Heywood told jurors at London's Central Criminal Court that Rahman intended to inflict violence "at the very heart of the United Kingdom government."

Heywood says Rahman's objective was "a suicide attack, by blade and explosion, on Downing Street and, if he could, upon the Prime Minister Theresa May herself."

Rahman has denied two counts of preparing terrorist acts.

 

CAIRO, June 19, 2018 (MENA) - Egypt's Higher Education Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar will receive on June 24 a high-level delegation from key British universities for talks on means of fostering cooperation in the educational domain.

During a four-day visit, the delegation will seek to stand on the Egyptian programme of higher education and scientific research as well as the investment potential in the educational field in Egypt, the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

The meeting will address educational plans under "Egypt Vision 2030" and how British universities can contribute to supporting higher education in Egypt.

A press conference will be held to highlight the outcome of the talks.

LONDON, June 19, 2018 (News Wires) - E.ON, the world's largest investor-owned power and gas company, will raise prices for British customers taking both gas and electricity by 4.8 per cent from Aug. 16, the German utility said on Tuesday, the last of the "big six" energy suppliers to increase its tariffs.

The move follows similar increases announced this year by the other five big suppliers in the country, and comes as regulator Ofgem is working to set a cap on standard prices by the end of the year.

The British government has asked Ofgem to put the price cap on to combat what it has called "rip off" energy prices.

Utilities have denied overcharging, but the Competition and Markets Authority found they had overcharged some British households a total of 1.4 billion pounds ($1.75 billion) a year on average from 2012 to 2015, prompting the government to act.

E.ON said the increase was needed "due to the significant rise in the cost of wholesale energy, and in common with similar pressures faced by a number of other suppliers of all sizes across the industry over recent months."

It said wholesale energy costs have increased more than 20 percent since March, largely due to the impact of extremely cold temperatures earlier this year depleting European gas storage.

E.ON said the latest rise equated to an average extra cost of 55 pounds per year per customer, and it had not increased its standard gas and electricity unit prices since April 2017.

However, earlier this year it changed the way it structured bills including scrapping discounts for people who take both gas and electricity from the company and for those who opt for paperless billing, which added around 22 pounds per year to average bills.

Britain's big six energy suppliers, controlling around 80 percent of the market are Centrica's British Gas, SSE , E.ON, EDF Energy, Innogy's Npower and Iberdrola's Scottish Power.

 

LONDON, June 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Three people have died after being struck by a train in south London, British Transport Police said on Monday.

Police said they were trying to determine details about the deaths at the Loughborough Junction station, on a busy commuter line into the city center. Police said the three were pronounced dead at the scene.

Detective Superintendent Gary Richard his team was "now working hard to understand what happened and how these three people came to lose their life on the railway."

He said the deaths are being treated as "unexplained." The bodies were found at about 7:30 a.m. Monday near the start of the morning rush hour.

Police asked anyone who was in the area and observed something that might be related to the deaths to contact them immediately.

Transport police were on the scene working to identify the victims and notify their families.

Train services in the area were being delayed during the investigation.

 

 

GENEVA, June 18, 2018 (News Wires) - British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has defended the UN's main human rights body, alluding to signs the US may withdraw from it over its alleged bias against Israel.

Speaking to the Human Rights Council, Johnson nonetheless said that its dedicated agenda item on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories was "disproportionate and damaging to the cause of peace."

Johnson said: "But I stress that that does not mean that we in the UK are blind to the value of this council."

Johnson said the council's work on the Israel-Palestinian conflict could have value under the right conditions.

Diplomats said that a US withdrawal from the 47-member council could come as early as Tuesday.

Johnson's address Monday focused on the need for education of women and girls worldwide as a way to promote human rights.

 

 

 

LONDON, June 17, 2018 (News Wires) - British Prime Minister Theresa May pledged Sunday to increase funding for the National Health Service (NHS) by £20 billion after Brexit, funded by money no longer spent on membership of the European Union and possible tax rises.

The announcement of more cash for the NHS, a regular issue at elections, comes after a row in parliament over Brexit highlighted the fragility of May’s minority government.

May said spending in England would increase to an extra 20 billion pounds by 2023/24. The pledge drew immediate scepticism, with critics saying the plans lacked detail and questioning whether leaving the EU would actually save money.

“As we leave the European Union and stop paying significant annual subscriptions to Brussels, we will have more money to spend on priorities like the NHS,” May said in a post on her Facebook account.

“But to give the NHS the funding it needs for the future, this Brexit dividend will not be enough. As a country, we need to contribute a bit more in a fair and balanced way.”

May said the spending increase was equivalent to a 3.4 per cent funding increase in real terms. Independent experts say it needs even more than that to improve.

The idea of a “Brexit dividend” is also contested. The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank highlighted government analysis showing public finances would weaken by 15 billion pounds per year after Brexit, and paying Britain’s EU divorce bill would eat up any savings initially.

In media interviews, May said her finance minister would set out plans before a government spending review expected next year. She said the increased contribution from taxpayers would be done in a “fair and balanced” way. She did not answer directly when asked whether borrowing might increase.

The announcement is timed to mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS, which delivers free access to care for everyone living in Britain. It aims to foster unity in the government and the country after two years of bitter divisions over Brexit.

But it is also seen as a political risk. During eight years in power, May’s Conservative Party has made fiscal discipline its core message. Any departure that involves tax increases could upset core voters and open it up to criticism from the opposition Labour Party.

“I’d certainly welcome it, if I could believe it,” Labour’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Emily Thornberry told the BBC. “Let’s see what they deliver. How are they going to pay for it?”

Sunday’s announcement was also tailored to send a positive message to the 48 per cent of Britons who voted in 2016 to remain in the EU - many of whom are still unconvinced about Brexit as the March 29, 2019 exit date approaches.

During the 2016 referendum campaign on EU membership, the pro-Brexit camp claimed that Britain was sending £350 million a week to the EU and should spend that money on the NHS instead.

The claim was controversial because the figure did not take into account Britain’s sizeable rebate or the payments that were flowing back from the EU to Britain, so it was widely seen as overstating Britain’s contribution to the bloc.

Despite leaving, Britain will continue to make payments to the EU over several decades to settle an exit bill of around £39 billion pounds.

In interviews, May - who campaigned against Brexit in 2016 and has been under pressure from hardline Brexiteers ever since to prove her conversion to the cause - drew attention to the fact that her funding announcement exceeded that £350 million-per-week figure.

The £20 billion pounds annually is approximately 384 million pounds per week.

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