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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

British MPs Urged to Back Gay Marriage

In what the Guardian described as another installment of “the battle between the Tory party and the modern world”, MPs were debating on Tuesday government legislation that would allow gay marriage. The legislation was expected to be approved by a large majority because Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs were in favour of the measure, with the Prime Minister’s Conservative party split over the issue. Some of its leading figures, George Osborne, the Chancellor, William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, and Theresa May, the Home Secretary, wrote an open letter to the Daily Telegraph backing gay marriage. “Civil partnerships for gay couples were a great step forward, but the question now is whether it is any longer acceptable to exclude people from marriage simply because they love someone of the same sex”, they wrote. Sir Gerald Howarth, a Conservative MP for Aldershot and former Defense Secretary, one of the leading opponents of the bill, said that he believed “marriage can only be between a man and a woman and I shall not surrender my principles. I believe this bill is wrong, the consultation process was a complete sham, it is opposed by the established church. I therefore hope and pray that this measure will be rejected”.

French President Hits Back at British ‘à la Carte’ Attitude Towards the EU

French President François Hollande told the assembled European Parliament in Strasbourg that the European Union (EU) should not be “neither a two-speed Europe nor an à la carte Europe”, a message clearly directed to U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron. He added that national interests risked taking precedence over the interests of the EU. “If it is true that the eurozone crisis is now largely behind us, we are far from drawing all the consequences. The threat we face now is no longer the mistrust of the markets but that of the peoples”, said the French president. He also criticised the British attitude towards EU spending cuts. “There are those who want to see cuts and others, possibly the same, who want guarantees on their own rebate”, referring to money paid back to the U.K. by the EU because the country benefits less from the bloc’s Common Agricultural Policy as its agricultural sector is relatively small in comparison to the other members. It is worth an estimated £3 billion annually.

We Will Control the Falklands Within 20 Years, Says Foreign Minister of Argentina

The Foreign Minister of Argentina, Héctor Timerman, declared during an interview with British media that his country will control the Falkland Islands within 20 years, insisting that “not a single country” supports the islands’ current status as a British Overseas Territory. Speaking during his first visit to London, ostensibly a visit to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), he accused the British government of “fanaticism” for an archipelago “more than 14,000 kilometres away” and said that it was only using the Falklanders “for access to the oil and natural resources that should belong to the Argentine people”. When his interviewers, from the Guardian and the Independent, suggested that the Falklands had actually been invaded by Argentina under its military regime, Timerman retorted that they should respect him. “I am a victim of this same dictatorship, please take me more seriously”.

Report Finds 54 Countries Supported the CIA’s Rendition Programme After 9/11

A report compiled by the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), a human rights organisation, reveals that at least 54 countries cooperated with the United States in the illegal detention, torture and kidnap programme established after 9/11. While blaming the Bush administration for the implementation of the programme, the report says it could not have been so extensively carried out without the implicit approval of the countries listed, including Afghanistan, Austria, Germany, Spain, Pakistan and Portugal. “Secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations, designed to be conducted outside the United States under cover of secrecy, could not have been implemented without the active participation of foreign governments. These governments too must be held accountable”, says the report. The OSJI found the U.K. to be particularly compliant with the CIA, allowing people to be secretly detained, allowing the use of British airports and airspace and even arranging for one man, Sami al-Saadi, to be rendered to Libya with his entire family.

Japan Protests to China After Weapons Radar Locks On to Navy Vessel

A Chinese navy vessel locked a weapons-targeting radar at a Japanese navy ship in the East China Sea, an action that could heighten tensions between the rivals. The activity took place on January 30, but it was only confirmed on Tuesday. “Projecting fire control radar is very unusual,” said Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera. “One mistake, and the situation would become very dangerous.” He added that a similar incident occurred on January 19, when a Chinese navy ship locked on to a Japanese navy helicopter. Chinese Foreign Ministry Hua Chunying told reporters that “we believe that what is most urgent is for Japan to stop provocative actions like regularly sending in ships and aircraft into the waters around the Diaoyu Islands”. Tensions have been strained since Japan nationalised an archipelago of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan. A junior Japanese coalition partner said on Tuesday that a summit could take place as early as April.

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