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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

‘UK Better Off Outside the EU’, says Lord Lawson

Lord Lawson, Chancellor of the Exchequer under Margaret Thatcher between 1983 and 1989, has written an article in the Times defending the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU), which he describes as “a bureaucratic monstronsity”. He is the most prestigious Conservative politician to claim that the country would be better off outside the bloc, boosting eurosceptic ranks within the party. “The heart of the matter is that the very nature of the European Union, and of this country’s relationship with it, has fundamentally changed after the coming into being of the European monetary union and the creation of the eurozone, of which – quite rightly – we are not a part. That is why, while I voted ‘in’ in 1975, I shall be voting ‘out’ in 2017″, writes Lawson. His words should add to the pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron, who has promised a referendum on UK membership of the EU during the next parliament if the Conservatives are returned to power. He also wrote that, should Cameron secure significant concessions in the country’s relationship with the bloc, the EU would be “unravelled” by all other countries seeking a similar return of powers.

US Secretary Kerry Talks Syria with President Putin

US Secretary of State John Kerry met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Tuesday to “make another stab” at bridging the differences between the two countries in finding a solution to the civil war in Syria and also to thank Russia for its cooperation into the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombings. The meeting was complicated by Israel’s bombing of what it claimed were caches of Iranian missiles headed to Lebanon and the Hezbollah over the weekend. Israel claimed the weapons were a threat to its national security because the Islamist group could use the missiles to strike its cities from Lebanese territory. The Israeli strike puts both countries on alert, as it could mean that Syria’s neighbours are no longer ready to wait until the two powers agree on which path to take. The US has repeatedly threatened to begin arming the Syrian rebels, while Russia has so far defended the legitimacy of the Bashar al-Assad regime.

China Denies Cyber-Espionage Programme Against the US

China has denied carrying out cyberattacks against US defence networks, with a People’s Liberation Army researcher telling the state-controlled Xinhua news agency on Tuesday that the accusations made in a Pentagon report were “irresponsible and harmful to the mutual trust between the sides”. Senior Col Wang also added that “the Chinese government and armed forces have never sanctioned hacking activities”. The Pentagon released its 83-page report to the US Congress on Monday saying that during the past year “the US government continued to be targeted for (cyber) intrusions, some of which appear to be attributable directly to the Chinese government and military”. The report, delivered to Congress annually since 2000, also stated that the attacks were made to gain information for the benefit of Chinese defence industries, military planners and government leaders. “China continues to engage in activities designed to support military procurement and modernisation. These include economic espionage, theft of trade secrets, export control violations, and technology transfer”, it read.

DRC Named the Worst Place in the World to Be a Mother

Children’s rights NGO Save the Children has said the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the worst place in the world to be a mother, overtaking Niger in its latest annual “State of the World’s Mothers” report. The 10 bottom places in the report were all taken by countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The top spot was taken by Finland, with other Scandinavian countries taking leading places. The report found, for example, that a women or girl in the DRC has a one in 30 chance of dying from maternal causes, including childbirth, compared to a similar risk of one in 12,200 in Finland. The NGO also highlights that sub-Saharan African countries have a significantly higher number of mothers who are underweight, who give birth before their bodies reach maturity, and who do not have access to contraception or basic healthcare. Finally, the report identified four life saving products that could be deployed universally, improving conditions in the DRC and elsewhere: corticosteroid injections to women in preterm labour, resuscitation devices to save babies who do not breathe at birth, cord cleansing to prevent umbilical cord infections and injectable antibiotics to treat newborn blood infection and pneumonia.

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