LONDON — British lawmakers opened a stormy debate on Tuesday about a proposed overhaul of the state-run National Health Service that has divided the ruling coalition and drawn criticism from the medical profession.
Critics fear the wideranging changes could be the first step on a slippery slope to privatisation of the NHS, a charge rejected by supporters of the bill who say it will better protect patients, boost choice and raise standards.
Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron was forced to pause the passage of the health bill through parliament in April and make amendments after it sparked widespread criticism.
Many in his junior coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, were against it, as well as NHS professionals and patient groups.
The most controversial part of the proposals would see responsibility for commissioning services removed from local boards and handed to healthcare professionals, potentially widening the role of private providers.
Opening a two-day debate, Health Minster Andrew Lansley insisted changes had been made to safeguard against privatisation, saying the bill would ensure the NHS “is fit to face the challenge of tomorrow”.
But Labour lawmaker Debbie Abrahams hit back, saying there were “many reasons why this bill is still a threat to the NHS”.
Hong Kong police threaten use of water cannon in latest clashes
Hong Kong police on Sunday for the first time rolled out water cannon trucks in clashes with protesters, after months of escalating violence, but stopped short of using them.
The financial hub has been gripped by three months of street demonstrations that started against a proposed extradition bill to China, but have spun out into a wider pro-democracy movement.
As thousands of people who had gathered at a sports stadium marched in the pouring rain to Tsuen Wan, a town in the New Territories, a group of hardcore protesters erected makeshift roadblocks and dug up bricks from the pavements.
Hundreds of new fires in Brazil as outrage over Amazon grows
Hundreds of new fires are raging in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, official data showed Saturday, as thousands of troops were made available to help fight the worst blazes in years following a global outcry.
Multiple fires billowing huge plumes of smoke into the air were seen across a vast area of the northwestern state of Rondonia on Friday when AFP journalists flew over the area.
Several residents in the capital, Porto Velho, told AFP on Saturday that what appeared to be light clouds hanging over the city of half a million people, was actually smoke from the blazes that had scorched swaths of land and left tree trunks smoldering on the ground.
Trump backs Boris Johnson, sends mixed signals on China at G7
US President Donald Trump on Sunday backed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the "right man" for Brexit and sent mixed signals about his trade war with China at a G7 summit dominated by worries about the global economy.
Johnson and Trump were on obviously friendly terms as they sat down for a working breakfast in the southern French resort of Biarritz where Group of Seven leaders are gathering this weekend.
"He's going to be a fantastic prime minister," Trump said in their first meeting since Johnson took office last month.
Asked what his advice was for Brexit, Trump replied: "He needs no advice. He's the right man for the job. I've been saying that for a long time."