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Friday, December 14, 2012

NATO Sends Missiles to Turkey as Russia Admits Time is Running Out for Syria’s Assad

The U.S. government has decided to send two batteries of Patriot missiles and 400 troops to Turkey as part of a NATO unit tasked with protecting Turkey from a potential Syrian missile attack. Germany and the Netherlands have also agreed to send two batteries of Patriot missiles each, bringing the total to six, along with 760 troops. A number of Syrian shells have landed within Turkish territory since the conflict began in March 2011. Turkey has supported Syrian rebels and has provided humanitarian support for refugees crossing its borders. NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said that the deployment “will not support a no-fly zone or any offensive operation. Its aim is to deter any threats to Turkey, to defend Turkey’s population and territory and to de-escalate the crisis on NATO’s south-eastern border”. The NATO move comes as Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, admitted that his regime was nearing its downfall. “You need to look the facts in the eyes,” said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov. “The Government regime is losing more and more control over a large part of the country’s territory.”
Syria

Labour Leader Ed Miliband Reveals ‘Integration’ Plan

U.K. Labour party and opposition leader Ed Miliband announced on Friday that public sector workers that deal with the public would have to show proficiency in English under a Labour government. “We can only converse if we can speak the same language. So if we are going to build one nation, we need to start with everyone in Britain knowing how to speak English. We should expect that of people that come here. We will work together as a nation far more effectively when we can always talk together”, he said. He outlined a three-point plan to this end, with the first measure being that newcomers to the country would be taught English as a priority, with less funding going to non-essential translated material. The second step would be that all publicly-funded jobs requiring interaction with the public would require English language proficiency, and finally that schools and parents would share the responsibility of using English to help foreign-born children to adapt. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron promptly attacked the plan, saying that the previous Labour government “presided over a completely broken immigration system that over 10 years allowed 2 million people net to come into the U.K., that is two cities the size of Birmingham”.

U.K. Hacker Will Not Face Charges for Breaking Into Pentagon and NASA

Hacker Gary McKinnon, whose extradition to the U.S. was blocked by Home Secretary Theresa May in October, will not face charges in the U.K. Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Stamer QC said that the chances of McKinnon being convicted were “not high”. McKinnon caused more than US$700,000 in damages to U.S. military systems in what a U.S. prosecutor called “the biggest military computer hack of all time”. McKinnon admitted to hacking into the Pentagon and NASA, but claimed he was only looking for evidence of UFOs. He had been permitted to stay in the U.K. on human rights grounds because there was a chance that McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, might end his life if extradited. Janis Sharp, McKinnon’s mother, told the BBC upon hearing the news that she was “pleased and glad Gary’s not going to have to go through another long term of trauma. I would love more than anything now for Mr Obama to give Gary a Christmas pardon”.

Hawkish Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman Resigns

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who boasted that he would “ensure that the Palestinian Authority collapses” before its successful campaign for upgraded status at the UN, has resigned after being charged with breach of trust following a long-running investigation. “Though I know I have committed no crime, I have decided to resign my post as foreign minister and deputy prime minister”, he said in a statement released by his office. He had only yesterday told a roaring crowd that “according to the legal opinion given to me, I do not have to resign”. Investigations had begun in 2001 and centred on allegations of money-laundering and bribery, but Israel’s attorney-general decided the chances of convicting Lieberman on those charges were slim. The indictment instead focuses on his efforts to promote a diplomat who gave him privileged information about a police probe pertaining to Lieberman’s dealings.

Medical Report Shows That Obesity Is a Bigger Crisis Than Hunger

Medical journal The Lancet has published a study detailing that eating too much is a more serious risk to health than eating poorly. The finding is part of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2012. Dr Majid Ezzati, one of the authors of the report, said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph that “we have gone from a world 20 years ago where people weren’t getting enough to eat to a world now where too much food and unhealthy food – even in developing countries – is making us sick”. Among the diseases linked to obesity are type II diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The study also found that obesity has risen from the 10th most important risk factor of death in 1990 to sixth in the latest study, with more than 3 million people dying from having a high body mass index (BMI).

Weekend Read: The Last Shuttle Flight

When the last shuttle astronauts began training in the summer of 2010, there was no guarantee they’d get a chance to fly. Their mission had originally been to wait on the ground to rescue the crew of the last scheduled flight. In Air & Space Magazine.

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