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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Parliament Recalled Over Syrian Crisis

British Prime Minister David Cameron has asked Parliament to reconvene from its summer break to vote on whether the UK should take part in any military action over the alleged use of chemical weapons by the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. The speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, has agreed to his request and MPs are to hear the prime minister speak on Thursday on the reasons why British forces should carry out military strikes against the Syrian government. Meanwhile, the opposition says the government should not be given a “blank cheque” of support. “I’m not ruling out the possibility that Labour could support the government, but I’m certainly not prepared to write the government a blank cheque. We don’t know the legal basis on which the government would seek to be acting. We don’t know the international support that it would be seeking to galvanise”, said shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander. In Cairo, a statement issued after a meeting of Arab League delegates held Assad responsible for the chemical attack.

Peace Talks Cancelled After Palestinians Killed in Border Clash

Palestinian negotiators called off a round of peace talks with Israel to be held today after Israeli troops shot dead three Palestinians during an early morning attack on the Qalandiya refugee camp in the West Bank. Israeli border police sources say the troops entered the camp in order to arrest a man and were met by firebombs and rocks. One of the men killed was a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) employee, which provides aid to Palestinian refugees. “Credible reports say that he was on his way to work and was not engaged in any violent activity. He was shot in the chest”, said UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s executive council, said that “Israel’s use of excessive and indiscriminate violence and live ammunition in densely populated civilian areas represents a blatant violation of international and humanitarian law”.

Bubonic Plague Outbreak Feared in Kyrgyzstan

Health officials in Kyrgyzstan have confirmed that a 15-year-old boy, a sheep herder, has died of the bubonic plague. “We suspect the patient was infected with the plague through the bite of a flea”, said Tolo Isakov, a Health Ministry official. Three other patients were admitted to hospital with high fever and swelling of the neck and armpits, characteristic symptoms of the disease. The Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper reported another 131 people had been quarantined because they came into some kind of contact with the patients, but had yet to exhibit any symptoms of the disease, which is transmitted from rodents to humans by flea bites, but can also be contracted through direct contact with infected tissues. Local authorities in Russia, which does not ask Kyrgyz citizens for visas to enter the country, have begun inspecting visitors from the country more closely, fearing a potential outbreak of the disease.

India to Offer Subsidised Food to 800 Million

India’s lower house of parliament has approved the Food Security Bill, a controversial plan to provide subsidised food to two-thirds of the country’s population. Under the plan, 800 million people would receive 5kg of grains every month. “We have to struggle much more as there are millions of our brothers and sisters who go hungry and hence it is our responsibility to take care of them. And that is why we forged a law like the Food Security Bill so that hunger can be banished”, said Sonia Gandhi, leader of the country’s ruling Congress party. Critics say the country cannot afford such a plan at a time when India’s growth rates are slowing, with the opposition BJP party calling it simply a “political gimmick” to win votes in the country’s general elections in 2014.

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