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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Eurosceptics Rebel, Lib Dem Leader Says Britain at Risk of Leaving the EU

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron suffered a major defeat on the European Union (EU) budget in the Commons on Wednesday night. Rebel Tories joined forces with Labour to defeat the government by 307 votes to 294, a majority of 13. The vote, which is not binding on the government, demands that the next seven-year EU budget should be “reduced in real terms”. The government was in support of negotiating an EU budget that rose only in line with inflation. Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls said that the vote was “a humiliating defeat for David Cameron, which shows how weak and out of touch he has become” and that the Prime Minister had “failed to convince his own backbenchers, just as he is failing to convince other European leaders”. Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats, said that the government could not “afford to give the impression we are going to disengage”, adding that there is a “shorter leap” than most think to Britain exiting the EU outright.

Caribbean Islands Suffering After Sandy’s Destruction

A report by the United Nations World Food Programme published on Wednesday details that hurricane Sandy destroyed almost 100,000 hectares (245,000 acres) of crops as it passed through eastern Cuba, as well as killing 11 people and destroying more than 180,000 homes. Santiago de Cuba, the country’s second largest city, as well as nearby rural areas, were devastated by the hurricane. “The toll on the farm sector will have major repercussions around the country due to the importance of areas where key crops for the whole island have been affected”, said the report, published by the AFP news agency. “Sugar cane was the single hardest hit following by plantain and bananas, vegetables and other basic crops”, it continued. Meanwhile, in Haiti, where more than 50 people were killed by the passage of the hurricane, aid workers said the flooding could cause a sharp rise in cholera cases. Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe called it a “disaster of major proportions”. In Jamaica, the storm caused extensive damage to crops and destroyed many houses. “Even before the hurricane we faced serious economic challenges. This has been made worse by hurricane Sandy”, said Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.

Northern Ireland Prison Officer Ambushed, Shot Dead on Motorway

A Northern Ireland prison officer was shot dead on Thursday on the M1 motorway between Lurgan and Portadown in County Armagh. David Black, who had worked in the Northern Ireland Prison Service for 30 years and was nearing his retirement, is believed to have been shot by dissident republicans. He was ambushed on the motorway as he drove to work at the Maghaberry high-security prison near Lisburn, in County Antrim. Unconfirmed reports suggest he was shot by a gunman leaning out of a passing car in front of early-morning commuters. “Prison officers and police officers alike are aware of the deadly threat from dissident terrorists who won’t face up to the fact that Northern Ireland has moved on and will not go back to its awful past. We must all be totally vigilant about our personal safety”, said Terry Spence, chairmen of the Police Federation of Northern Ireland. Maghaberry prison is still a focal point for ongoing protests by Continuity IRA and other dissident republican inmates.

U.S. Presidential Campaign Restarts After Sandy

The U.S. presidential campaign has resumed after its suspension during the passage of hurricane Sandy. President Barack Obama toured ravaged areas of New Jersey with Governor Chris Christie, saying that the government would be “here for the long haul” in the reconstruction effort. Governor Christie, a Republican and normally one of Obama’s critics, said he could not “thank the president enough for his personal concern and compassion for the people of our state”. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney held rallies in Florida and his campaign said he was attempting to strike a “positive tone” amidst the devastation caused by the storm.The candidate asked those in attendance to donate to the storm-relief efforts of the American Red Cross.

Putin’s Health Under Scrutiny in Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin has cancelled internal trips and international visits due to a persistent injury that he aggravated while on a hang-glider flight with cranes. A report in Russian daily Vedomosti cited two Kremlin sources who said the president’s back injuries had worsened after guiding a flock of Siberian cranes to their winter migration grounds. The injury had also forced the cancellation of the president’s yearly call-in show on television. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the show would be brought on at a later time, probably in the spring, when spectators’ “ears and feet would not freeze”, before adding that it could also be replaced by a press conference. However, some have speculated that Putin’s injury might be more serious. One source cited by Vedomosti said that the president’s current medical treatment prevented him from flying in order to avoid further effects on his spine.

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