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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

IMF Urges UK to Curb Austerity Measures

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned the UK government that its austerity measures could hamper the country’s growth, saying that it should instead “guide the economy to greater and more balanced growth”. David Lipton, the IMF’s Deputy Managing Director, said at a press conference in London at the conclusion of an IMF mission to the UK that the government should consider curbing its programme of cuts. “It would be, in our view, useful for the economy for infrastructure and other measures to be brought forward to reduce the drag of austerity measures and provide more support for the economy”, said Lipton. Also speaking at the press conference, Chancellor George Osborne said the government would not “duck its economic challenges”. Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls criticised the government’s stance, saying that “behind the diplomatic language, this is the call for action on jobs and growth that the IMF has been threatening to deliver for many months and a stark warning of the consequences if the chancellor refuses to listen”.

Third Night of Rioting Grips Stockholm

Riots in at least nine suburbs of Stockholm have spread into the third consecutive night after an alleged deadly shooting by the police in May 13 and accusations of police brutality. According to reports, rioters have smashed shop windows, stoned emergency services, burnt down a school, a nursery and a cultural centre as well as set vehicles ablaze, with more than 100 cars being burnt on Sunday alone and approximately 30 cars being set on fire in the past 24 hours. Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has appealed for calm and blamed the riots on “hooliganism”: “It’s important to remember that burning your neighbour’s car is not an example of freedom of speech, it’s hooliganism,” he said. The riots are mainly happening in deprived low-income areas, where immigrants live. The unrest first broke out in the northwestern suburb of Husby following the death of a 69-year-old man who was said to be wielding a machete and was later shot by the police. So far, eight people have been arrested and there are no reports of personal injuries.

Iran Bars Moderate Candidates from Elections

The Guardian Council of Iran, the country’s supervisory 12-member council appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, has barred two candidates from next month’s presidential elections. One was former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, considered to be a moderate, and the other is Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, the former chief of staff of current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Their disqualification is a clear attempt by the country’s clerical rulers to avoid any chance of a surprise, guaranteeing the election of a loyalist hardliner. Speaking to the Reuters news agency, a dissident journalist said that he felt “indifferent” by the move, adding that “most people feel the same as long as they don’t have a say in the political arena, as long as the authorities are running the election and can rig the votes at will and as long as the ruling system can filter candidates at their own discretion”. Ahmadinejad has said that he would ask Ayatollah Khamenei to reverse the ban on Mashaie, but former president Rafsanjani said he wouldn’t appeal the council’s decision.

Evidence Shows UK Provided Ample Support for CIA Rendition Flights

Evidence gathered by the Rendition Project, a study that uses publicly available data and documents to document rendition operations, shows that the UK’s support for the CIA’s rendition programme was much more substantial than had been previously recognised by the government. The data, gathered from detainee testimonies, Red Cross reports, courtroom evidence, flight records and invoices, shows that 1,622 flights in and out of the country may have been involved in the CIA’s illegal detention, torture and kidnap programme established after 9/11. Of these, 144 were shown to have definitely participated in the rendition programme, with 51 different UK airports used by 84 different aircraft. Only the US and Canada were determined to have been visited more frequently by these flights. The evidence is in direct contradiction to the statement first put out by then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in 2007, who said that “unless we all start to believe in conspiracy theories and that the officials are lying, that I am lying, that behind this there is some kind of secret state which is in league with some dark forces in the United States. There simply is no truth in the claims that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition”.

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