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Thursday, March 7, 2013

David Cameron Dismisses Rethink of Economic Plans

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has dismissed calls for a rethink of the government’s economic strategy made by his own Business Secretary, Vince Cable. Writing in the New Statesman magazine, Cable questioned whether the government should “borrow more, at current very low interest rates, in order to finance more capital spending: building of schools and colleges; small road and rail projects; more prudential borrowing by councils for house-building”. Cameron said such a strategy could lead to crippling interest rate hikes. “It’s as if they think there’s some magic money tree. Well, let me tell you a plain truth: there isn’t. Getting taxes down to help hard-working people can only be done by taking tough decisions on spending. That is what we are doing in our plan”, said Cameron. Shadow Treasury Secretary Ed Balls countered that “families, pensioners and businesses across Britain will wonder what planet David Cameron is on. He claims the economy is getting better and his plan is working, but everyone else knows that the economy is flatlining”.

UK Foreign Secretary Warns Yemeni Insurgents

A day after pledging the supply of armoured vehicles and body armour to the Syrian rebel movement, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has warned insurgents in Yemen that any attempt to disrupt the country’s democratic processes will be met with a strong response, adding that local instability could lead to a wider regional conflict. “To those who seek to disrupt the peaceful process under way, the international community has a clear warning – any attempt to spoil the process, to interfere with elections or undermine the national dialogue will be met with a serious response and further measures from the United Nations, including the UN security council”, said Hague. The warning came during a speech to the Friends of Yemen group on Thursday, a meeting of 39 representatives from countries and organisations for talks on the challenges facing the Middle Eastern nation. The group was formed in 2010 to help Yemen develop its economy and confront Islamic insurgents. “Progress is being made but the road ahead is difficult and many challenges remain”, added Hague.

UK Government Orders Study into Liberal Drug Laws

The UK Home Secretary, Theresa May, has ordered a wide study on effective drug laws from across the world, with a particular focus on Portugal’s policy of abandoning criminal penalties for personal possession. Portugal stops short of decriminalisation, as traffickers are still subject to the full force of the law, but users are sent into treatment instead of facing custodial sentences. “The government does not believe there is a case for fundamentally re-thinking the UK’s approach to drugs”, said May. “Nonetheless, we must continue to listen and learn from emerging trends, new evidence and international comparators”, she added. The study will be led Jeremy Browne, a Lib Dem Home Office minister and will include the effects of legalisation of marijuana in the states of Washington and Colorado for recreational and medicinal use. Drug reform policy groups have already criticised the government for ordering a study on decriminalisation while already ruling out a similar measure in the country.

Early Deaths Linked to Processed Meats

Processed meats such as bacon, ham and sausages can increase the risk of dying young and were linked to cardiovascular disease and cancer in a study of half a million people across Europe. The authors of the study, published in the BMC Medicine journal, said the salt and chemicals used in such products could damage health. The study tracked people in 10 European countries for approximately 13 years. Those that consumed the most processed meat were also more likely to smoke, to be obese and to sustain other behaviours that could damage their health. One in 17 people that were tracked during the study died. Those that ate more than 160g of processed meat every day, which would be the equivalent of two sausages and a rasher of bacon, were 44 percent more likely to die than those who ate about 20g. Ursula Arens from the British Dietetic Association told the BBC Radio 4′s Today programme that meats are only considered processed when “something has been done to it to extend its shelf life, or to change its taste, or to make it more palatable in some way and this could be a traditional process like curing or salting”.

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