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Monday, February 18, 2013

UK Prime Minister Says Country Still ‘A Long Way’ from Gender Equality

UK Prime Minister has used a state visit to India to say that the country had a “very long way to go” to achieve gender equality in all areas and that more women needed to get into senior positions. During a visit to Unilever’s headquarters in Mumbai he was asked by a female employee if the UK had any lessons for India about career opportunities for women. He first revealed that his wife, Samantha, was a close advocate for the issue. “My wife likes to say that if you don’t have women in the top places, you are not just missing out on 50 percent of the talent, you are missing out on a lot more than 50 percent of the talent – and I think she probably has a point”, said Cameron. He added that there was “a lot further to go”, with more women needed in Cabinet, the judiciary, politics or business. “Just opening up and saying ‘You’re welcome to try if you want to’ doesn’t get over the fact that there have been all sorts of barriers in the way”, he said.

Syrian War Criminals Should be Taken to the ICC, Says UN Prosecutor

The International Criminal Court (ICC) should probe war crimes in Syria and bring perpetrators to justice, according to former Chief UN Prosecutor Carla del Ponte. Speaking during a news briefing in Geneva on her commission’s latest report, covering crimes committed in the six months leading to January, dal Ponte said that “now really is the time, we have a permanent court, the ICC, who would be ready to take this case”. She said UN investigators were working to trace the chain of command to establish criminal responsibility for war crimes with a view towards eventual prosecutions. “Of course we were able to identify high-level perpetrators”, added del Ponte, saying that these were officials “in command responsibility…deciding, organising, planning and aiding and abetting the commission of crimes”. Crimes catalogued by UN investigators included crimes against children, rape and sexual violence. “It is terrible”, concluded dal Ponte.

Chávez Back in Venezuela After Cancer Treatment

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez returned to his country early on Monday after more than two months of secretive treatment in Cuba following cancer surgery. His return was announced in a series of messages on his Twitter account, which had remained dormant since November last year. His first message said “We have arrived once again in our Venezuelan motherland. Thank God! Thanks to the beloved people! We shall continue treatment here!”. He also thanked Fidel and Raúl Castro as well as the whole of Cuba, before stating that he was indebted to Christ and trusting the work of his doctors and nurses. Vice-President Nicolás Maduro went on state television to announce that he was very happy with the arrival of the president back in Caracas and that the president himself had wanted to break the news on Twitter. Chávez had been out of the limelight since December, when he left Venezuela for surgery in Cuba. His type of cancer or the exact surgery he was submitted to have never been revealed, nor the location of tumors. His inauguration to a new six-year term had been scheduled for January 10, but had been indefinitely postponed by the country’s lawmakers.

UK Doctors Demand Tax on Soft Drinks to Tackle Obesity

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and its 220,000 associated doctors have called for a 20 percent increase in the cost of soft drinks in the UK, as well as a reduction in fast food restaurants near schools and a ban on unhealthy meals hospitals in a bid to tackle the country’s spiralling obesity epidemic. It says such changes are necessary because “generation after generation are falling victim to obesity-related illnesses and death”. Professor Terence Stephenson, chair of the academy, writes in the introduction of a report on the problem that the UK is “the fat man of Europe”. One quarter of men and women are obese (with BMI over 30) and two thirds of adults are obese or overweight (BMI over 25). In children aged 10 to 11, one in five are obese and one in three are overweight or obese. The number of morbidly obese adults (with BMI over 40) has more than doubled to over one million UK citizens. The report concludes that “there is no single simple solution – if there was we wouldn’t be in the position we are now. But this is no excuse for us to sit on our hands and do nothing”.

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