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Friday, August 30, 2013

Cameron Loses Control of Foreign Policy as MPs Rule Out Military Action Against Syria

UK Prime Minister David Cameron became the first prime minister to lose a vote on war since 1782 on Thursday night, when Parliament ruled out any British involvement in a potential military action against Syria by 285 votes to 272, an opposition majority of 13. Thirty Tory MPs rebelled against the government, a turn labeled a “disgrace” by Education Secretary Michael Gove. After the vote, Labour leader Ed Miliband sought assurances from the prime minister that he would not invoke the royal prerogative to take the UK to war. “I can give that assurance. Let me say, the House has not voted for either motion tonight. I strongly believe in the need for a tough response to the use of chemical weapons, but I also believe in respecting the will of this House of Commons. It is very clear tonight that, while the House has not passed a motion, it is clear to me that the British parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that and the government will act accordingly”, replied Cameron. Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the vote would “place some strain” on the UK’s relationship with the US. “The Americans do understand the parliamentary process that we have to go through. Perhaps they have been surprised by the scale of opposition in parliament”, said Hammond.

Syrian Pro-Assad Hackers Promise ‘Many Surprises’

A group of Syrian hackers calling themselves the Syrian Electronic Army, backers of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad (SEA), have warned media companies to “expect” more from them after recent attacks on the New York Times and Twitter, adding that it had “many surprises” to come. “Our main mission is to spread truth about Syria and what is really happening”, said a SEA spokesman when interviewed via e-mail by the BBC. “All the media outlets that we targeted were publishing false/fabricated news about the situation in Syria. Our work doesn’t need funds. It just needs a computer and internet connection”, he added. Until this latest spate of attacks, the SEA had focused largely on hacking social media accounts.

Israel Planning to Deport African Migrants to Uganda

The Israeli Interior Ministry has revealed plans to begin deporting migrants from Eritrea and Sudan, who number more than 50,000, to Africa via Uganda. Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar said the government is preparing a large-scale campaign to pressure immigrants from these two countries to leave of their own free will after the September holidays. There are rumours that Uganda had agreed to accept the plan in exchange for money and weapons. Israel rejects the position of human rights groups that many of these migrants would be risking their lives if they were deported back to their own countries, but Israeli officials have assured that they would not be forcibly repatriated because they know many “would be at risk of their lives”.

Eurozone Unemployment Remains at Record High, Inflation Falls

The 17 members of the eurozone continued at a record combined unemployment rate in July, with the figure remaining at 12.1 percent. It is the highest number recorded since the creation of the euro in 1999 according to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union (EU). The figures show that unemployment in the eurozone fell slightly by 35,000 to 19.4 million people without a job. The wider European Union, which includes those countries not members of the monetary union such as the UK and Poland, registered an unemployment rate of 11 percent, also stable. The highest unemployment rates were registered in Greece, with 27.6 percent unemployment, and Spain, with 26.3 percent unemployment. The country with the lowest jobless rate was Austria, with 4.5 percent.

Huge Canyon Discovered Buried Under Greenland Ice

A team of scientists has discovered a canyon twice as long as the Grand Canyon under the ice sheets of Greenland, buried beneath more than 3 kilometres of ice. “We started looking at the data, and once we put it all together, we realized there was this strange feature in the middle of Greenland. And we started looking into it in a bit more detail. It’s almost twice the length of the Grand Canyon, about half its depth and about twice its width in most places”, said Prof Jonathan Bamber of the University of Bristol, adding that it was probably carved by rivers before Greenland was covered in ice, 4 million years ago. He said that there could also be similar canyons buried under the ice of Antarctica.

Weekend Read: Return to the Amazon

A young American man goes to the rainforest in search of his estranged mother, a Yanomami living deep in the Amazon. “I remember being with her – we used to have this little routine, where we’d stop by Dunkin’ Donuts and get coffee and donuts”. In BBC News.

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