Milkshakes become weapon of choice in UK European campaign as Farage next to get hit

Brexit Party leader Nigel gestures after being hit with a milkshake while arriving for a Brexit Party campaign event in Newcastle, Britain, May 20, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 20 May 2019

Milkshakes become weapon of choice in UK European campaign as Farage next to get hit

  • The Brexit Party leader had just given a speech, as part of a nationwide tour ahead of Thursday's European elections
  • The attack has been condemned by Downing Street and by some of Farage’s other political opponents

LONDON: The lowly milkshake has turned into an unlikely weapon of choice for Britons determined to make a splashy statement against the rise of the Brexit-backing populist right.
Former UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage became the latest political figure Monday to be doused with the sticky concoction while campaigning for his new Brexit Party in this week’s European Parliament election.

Images shared on social media showed a grim-faced Farage — his black suit covered from shoulder to toe — being led away by a bodyguard during a campaign stop in the northern city of Newcastle.
The suspected culprit told the Press Association it was a £5.25 ($6.70, six euro) banana and salted caramel shake he bought at the local Five Guys hamburger chain store.
“I didn’t know he was in town. I thought this is my only chance,” the 32-year-old was quoted as saying before being detained by the police.

A man is detained by police after throwing a milkshake on Brexit Party leader Nigel before a Brexit Party campaign event in Newcastle, Britain, May 20, 2019. (Reuters)

First-time offenders in such cases usually pay a small fine.
In a tweet, Farage blamed the incident on EU supporters who “have become radicalized, to the extent that normal campaigning is becoming impossible.”
The European Parliament election campaign has turned into a test of Britons’ support for Brexit three years after they first narrowly voted to leave the bloc.
Farage’s Brexit Party is leading the polls on its promise to get Britain out quickly and by any means.

Farage has become the latest victim of a protest which has seen other European election candidates also have milkshake thrown over them. (Reuters)

The Remain camp’s milkshake resistance meanwhile has also targeted a far-right leader who is best known by his online alias Tommy Robinson — an adviser to UKIP who once headed the now-banned English Defense League.
A clip that went viral this month showed a young man of Asian descent splashing Robinson in the face with a McDonald’s drink in response to something the far-right leader said.
Robinson fought back by landing a few punches at the man before being restrained.
Meanwhile UKIP European Parliament candidate Carl Benjamin — known by his social media pseudonym Sargon of Akkad — has been “milkshaked” at least four times this month.
A defiant Benjamin showed up to one of his events this week with a McDonald’s cup in his hand.
The entire mess prompted McDonald’s to temporarily halt milkshake sales near the site of a campaign event Farage held last week.
“We will not be selling milkshakes or ice cream tonight,” a sign taped to the door of the fast food chain’s central Edinburgh restaurant said.
“This is due to a police request given recent events.”

The banana and salted caramel milkshake is believed to have been purchased from Five Guys, costing £5.25. (Reuters)

That decision elicited a controversial comeback from the US chain’s eternal rival Burger King.
“Dear people of Scotland,” the @BurgerKingUK account wrote on Saturday.
“We’re selling milkshakes all weekend. Have fun. Love BK.”
It signed the post with the #justsaying hashtag.
A flurry of angry comments on Twitter prompted the account to later add: “We’d never endorse violence — or wasting our delicious milkshakes!“
A spokesman for Theresa May said on a more somber note that the premier “has been clear that politicians should be able to go about their work and campaign without harassment, intimidation, or abuse.”

Bolsonaro to send army to fight huge fires in the Amazon

Updated 33 min 58 sec ago

Bolsonaro to send army to fight huge fires in the Amazon

  • Some 370 square kilometers (140 square miles) have burned in northern Paraguay, near the borders with Brazil and Bolivia, said Joaquín Roa, a Paraguayan state emergency official
PORT VELHO, Brazil: Under international pressure to contain fires sweeping parts of Brazil’s Amazon, President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday authorized use of the military to battle the huge blazes while thousands took to the streets to protest his environmental policies.
Brazilian forces will deploy starting Saturday to border areas, indigenous territories and other affected regions in the Amazon to assist in putting out fires for a month, according to a presidential decree authorizing use of the army.
The military will “act strongly” to control the wildfires, Bolsonaro promised as he signed the decree.
The armed forces will collaborate with public security and environmental protection agencies, the decree says.
“The protection of the forest is our duty,” the president said. “We are aware of that and will act to combat deforestation and criminal activities that put people at risk in the Amazon. We are a government of zero tolerance for crime, and in the environmental field it will not be different.”
Bolsonaro has previously described rainforest protections as an obstacle to Brazil’s economic development, sparring with critics who note that the Amazon produces vast amounts of oxygen and is considered crucial for efforts to contain climate change.
As the president spoke, thousands of Brazilians demonstrated in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and the capital of Brasilia demanding the government announce concrete actions to curb the fires. People also banged pots from their homes, a traditional mode of protest in South America.
An Associated Press journalist who traveled to the Amazon region Friday saw many already deforested areas that had been burned.
Charred trees and fallen branches were seen around Porto Velho, the capital of Rondonia state, which borders Bolivia. In some instances, the burned fields were adjacent to intact livestock ranches and other farms, suggesting the fires had been managed as part of a land-clearing policy.
A large column of smoke billowed from one fire, and smoke rose from a couple of nearby wooded areas. Life appeared normal in Porto Velho. However, visibility from the windows of an arriving airplane was poor because of smog enveloping the region.
Small numbers of demonstrators gathered outside Brazilian diplomatic missions in Paris, London, Geneva and Bogota, Colombia, to urge Brazil to do more to fight the fires. Larger protests were held in Uruguay and Argentina. Hundreds also protested in Chile, Ecuador and Peru.
Neighboring Bolivia and Paraguay have also struggled to contain fires that swept through woods and fields, in many cases set to clear land for farming. About 7,500 square kilometers (2,900 square miles) of land has been affected in Bolivia, Defense Minister Javier Zavaleta said.
A B747-400 SuperTanker arrived in Bolivia and began flying over devastated areas to help put out the fires and protect forests. The US-based aircraft can carry nearly 76,000 liters (20,000 gallons) of retardant, a substance used to stop fires.
Some 370 square kilometers (140 square miles) have burned in northern Paraguay, near the borders with Brazil and Bolivia, said Joaquín Roa, a Paraguayan state emergency official. He said the situation had stabilized.
Close to 20% of the Amazon has already been deforested, said Thomas Lovejoy, a George Mason University environmental scientist.
“I worry that the current deforestation will push past the tipping point leading to massive loss of forest and biodiversity,” Lovejoy wrote in an email to The Associated Press. He said Brazil is “turning its back” on past environmental achievements, including the 1992 Earth Summit, and has proposed infrastructure projects that will accelerate the challenge of climate change.
“Fires are directly burning into the Amazon rainforest and that releases the carbon stored in those trees,” said Doug Morton, a NASA scientist. “The carbon then enters the atmosphere as carbon dioxide or methane, where it contributes to the greenhouse gases that are causing climate change, bringing us a warmer and a drier planet.”
Morton said there is now “an uptick in the pressure against the remaining Amazon forest, to expand agriculture production in areas that are the leading edge in the deforestation frontier.”
Fires are common in Brazil in the annual dry season, but they are much more widespread this year. Brazilian state experts reported nearly 77,000 wildfires across the country so far this year, up 85% over the same period in 2018.
Just over half of those fires have occurred in the Amazon region. Brazil contains about 60% of the Amazon rainforest.
US President Donald Trump said Friday that he spoke with Bolsonaro.
“Our future Trade prospects are very exciting and our relationship is strong, perhaps stronger than ever before,” Trump tweeted. “I told him if the United States can help with the Amazon Rainforest fires, we stand ready to assist!“
In escalating tension over the fires, France accused Bolsonaro of having lied to French leader Emmanuel Macron and threatened to block a European Union trade deal with several South American states, including Brazil. Ireland joined in the threat.
The specter of possible economic repercussions for Brazil and its South American neighbors show how the Amazon is becoming a battleground between Bolsonaro and Western governments alarmed that vast swaths of the region are going up in smoke on his watch.
Ahead of a Group of Seven summit in France this weekend, Macron’s office questioned Bolsonaro’s trustworthiness.
Brazilian statements and decisions indicate Bolsonaro “has decided to not respect his commitments on the climate, nor to involve himself on the issue of biodiversity,” Macron’s office said.
It added that France now opposes the EU’s trade deal “in its current state” with the Mercosur bloc of South American nations that includes Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel views the fires as “shocking and threatening,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert said.
Argentina, which is struggling with rising poverty and austerity measures, has offered to send emergency workers to Brazil and Bolivia to help battle the fires. Chile also offered aid.
The Brazilian government has said European countries are exaggerating Brazil’s environmental problems in order to disrupt its commercial interests. Bolsonaro, who has said he wants to convert land for cattle pastures and soybean farms, said it was difficult to curb increasing deforestation with limited resources.
“It’s not easy to fight deforestation, our Amazon area is bigger than all of Europe,” he said. “We’ll do what we can to fight this crime.”