EU Officials Exasperated by British Calls for an In-Out Referendum
Senior EU officials have told the Guardian that the British government’s position of renegotiating the bloc’s treaties could trigger a sequence of national referendums. “It’s pure political posturing. Pure ideology. British pragmatism has gone away. Then you have the domino effect. What about the Netherlands, Sweden, France. French President François Hollande’s position is key. He needs a referendum like a hole in the head”, said one official. British Prime Minister David Cameron had attempted to quell eurosceptic MPs in his Conservative party by offering to table a bill introducing an in-out EU referendum, but the measure apparently backfired as rebel Tory MPs want the referendum to be held during this parliament, not in 2017 as planned by the government. “We, the Conservative party, voted en masse against Nice and Amsterdam and Lisbon, three massively centralising treaties that took powers away from our country. We never agreed to them. We want them sorted out. We do not think Britain can be governed properly under them. And it is urgent. It can’t wait until 2017″, said John Redwood. Cabinet minister Ken Clarke countered that leaving the EU would be a “catastrophe for the country’s economy and our political standing”, adding that the pressure was “very, very reckless”.
Russia Detains CIA Agent Working Undercover at US Embassy
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the Soviet-era KGB, has detained a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer attempting to recruit a Russian agent. The American officer was said to be carrying a large sum in cash and “appearance disguising means”. The officer, identified as Ryan Christopher Fogle, had the post of third secretary in the political department of the US Embassy in Moscow as his cover. Russian news channel RT posted a sequence of photos on its website showing a man wearing a blonde wig and his possessions, including a map of Moscow, a flashlight, a dagger, a black wig, a stash of euro notes, a compass and three different sunglasses. Also found among Fogle’s possessions was a letter purportedly addressed to a recruit, offering an initial US$100,000 “to discuss your experience, expertise and cooperation”, with a potential US$1 million for “long-term cooperation”. The US Embassy declined to comment on Fogle’s arrest, but Russia’s Foreign Ministry has already ordered his expulsion from the country.
Western Companies Used Premature Babies as Guinea Pigs in East Germany
The Charite hospital in Berlin has said it plans to investigate the conduct of drug trials in the former East Germany. News magazine Der Spiegel says that communist officials allowed Western pharmaceutical companies to test drugs on about 50,000 people, often without their knowledge, and these included premature babies. East German hospitals that agreed to take part in the trials received as much as US$520,000 per clinical study. Many patients died during the trials, including two in East Berlin who were given drugs to improve blood circulation and another two in Magdeburg who were testing a blood pressure treatment. In a statement, the Charite hospital said that “as a first step, Charite has stopped the usual shredding of decades-old files after expiry of the storage period. This is in order to reconstruct the course of action in particular cases as fully as possible”. More than 50 East German hospitals took part in the trials and the companies involved included Bayer, Schering, Hoechst and Sandoz.
Boat Carrying Burmese Muslim Refugees Sinks, Killing at Least 50
A boat carrying about 100 Burmese Muslim refugees struck rocks off Pauktaw in Rakhine state late on Monday, killing at least 50 people. The boat was part of a mass evacuation ahead of the landfall of Cyclone Mahasen, which could threaten areas of Burma where 140,000 victims of ethnic and religious unrest are living in UN refugee camps. The evacuation was part of the government’s disaster plan, according to Kirsten Mildren, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Bangkok. “We understand that yesterday evening they went out with the approval of government officials. This was part of an official government evacuation plan although the boats were not government boats. They were moving from a low-lying area to a safer area”, she said. Some refugees were refusing to evacuate despite the imminent danger. “If the storm comes, we want to die here”, said Fatima Hadu, a 65-year-old refugee. Another refugee told an OCHA official that he feared he wouldn’t receive food assistance if he moved together with his family.