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Monday, May 13, 2013

Two UK Cabinet Members Expose Rift by Backing Vote to Leave the EU

UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond and Education Secretary Michael Gove have exposed a rift in Prime Minister David Cameron’s cabinet by revealing that they would choose to vote to leave the European Union if a referendum was held now. Gove told the Andrew Marr Show on BBC One on Sunday morning that he supported Cameron’s plans to renegotiate the UK’s terms of membership, but that “life outside it would be perfectly tolerable, we could contemplate it, there would be certain advantages”. Hammond, interviewed on Pienaar’s Politics on BBC Radio 5 Live, agreed directly with Gove’s statement. “If the choice is between a European Union written exactly as it is today and not being a part of that then I have to say that I’m on the side of the argument that Michael Gove has put forward”, said the education secretary. Cameron, away on an official visit to the US, reacted with irritation to the words of his two senior cabinet members. “There isn’t going to be a referendum tomorrow, so it is a hypothetical question”, said Cameron, adding that “to give up before a negotiation has started seems to me an extraordinary way to go about things”.

Nawaz Sharif Poised to Take Pakistan’s Reigns as New PM

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif looked close to securing a majority in the country’s parliament, paving the way to a third term in office after Sunday’s election. Unofficial results suggested his Pakistan Muslim League had won the vote with ease, but he will have to negotiate with other parties to obtain a governing majority. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was one of the first to congratulate Sharif on the results, and the incoming Pakistani leader said he would be happy if his Indian counterpart could attend his inauguration, an important gesture. “We had a long chat on the phone and then he extended an invitation to me and I extended an invitation to him”, said Sharif. The election marks the first transition from one elected government to another elected government in Pakistan’s history, marred by military coups in its 65-year history. EU election observers said the conduct of the election was “satisfactory or good”, while the local electoral commission said turnout was close to 60 percent, higher than the 44 percent turnout registered in 2008.

Turkish Fighter Jet Crashes Near Syria

A Turkish F-16 fighter jet crashed near the border with Syria on Monday afternoon, prompting speculation that it could have been shot by Syrian forces. The plane was flying over the Amanos mountain range in the southern Turkish province of Osmaniye when contact was lost. “We have received information that the jet crashed in the Yarpuz region of the Amanos Mountains in the direction toward Hatay”, said Osmaniye Governor Celalettin Cerrah. Villagers in the area said they had heard an explosion at the time of the last contact. The Turkish Armed Forces later released a statement saying the pilot had said “I’m jumping” during the last radio contact and that search and rescue operations were hampered by heavy fog in the area. Syria shot down a Turkish F-4 last June, claiming it had been acting in self-defence. The Turkish government said the jet had been flying in international airspace. Relations between the two countries have been strained since the start of the Syrian civil war, with Turkey taking in many refugees from the conflict.

Paralysed Men Seek Right-to-Die in Court

Two British men who want to die but cannot kill themselves due to paralysis have gone to court to seek protection for those who could help them end their lives. Assisted suicide is illegal in the UK. “”I’m constantly thinking, ‘how on Earth can I do it without getting someone into trouble?’. I just want my wishes to be respected, that’s all I want”, said Paul Lamb, 57, who was paralysed after a car accident in 1990 and is completely immobile except for limited movement in his right hand. He takes repeated doses of morphine to cope with the pains in his body. The other man, named only as Martin, is a 48-year-old who was left paralysed by a stroke four years ago and can only communicate by moving his head and eyes. Judge Igor Judge said he understood their desperate situations, but added that “they must surely know that we cannot decide this case as a matter of personal sympathy. We have to decide it as a point of law”. A number of British citizens have already ended their lives in Switzerland after those who would help them were not assured legal protection in the UK.

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