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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Philippines Government ‘Overwhelmed’ by Destruction

Filipino Cabinet Secretary René Almendras said the country’s government had been “overwhelmed” by the destruction brought about by Typhoon Hayan. “This is the largest logistic operation in the history of the Philippines, we have never done anything like this before. The Filipino resiliency will be proven by this crisis. Maybe somebody from the outside cannot understand the true nature of this country and the realities that can be found on the ground”, he said. The death toll now stands at more than 2,000, less than the 10,000 originally estimated, but aid workers said the numbers could rise as authorities gain access to areas previous cut off by debris. US military planes have begun arriving at Tacloban, one of the most affected cities, bringing World Food Programme supplies. These will later be distributed by helicopters to outlying areas. A French-Belgian field hospital has also been set up in the area, according to the BBC.

UK Economy to Grow Faster, Says Bank of England

Growth has “finally taken hold” of the UK economy, according Bank of England Governor Mark Carney. Speaking during the release of a report by the Bank’s Monetary Policy committee, Carney said that “for the first time in a long time, you don’t have to be an optimist to see the glass as half full”. The report, however, cautioned that problems still persisted. “Significant headwinds – both at home and abroad – remain, and there is a long way to go before the aftermath of the financial crisis has cleared and economic conditions normalise”, read the report. These headwinds meant the Bank would still have to maintain an “exceptionally stimulative” monetary policy, which includes keeping interest rates at 0.5 percent. On inflation, the report said that it had been lower than expected and was on track to reach its 2 percent target “over the next year”.

Palestinian Peace Negotiators Resign

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday that his team of negotiators had collectively resigned over the lack of progress on the on-going peace talks with Israel. Abbas said that negotiations would continue despite this setback. During an interview with the Egyptian CBC channel, he said that “either we can convince them to return, and we’re trying with them, or we form a new delegation”. In a statement to Reuters, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that “in reality, the negotiations stopped last week in light of the settlement announcements last week”. Israel’s Housing Ministry announced plans for nearly 24,000 new homes in the occupied West Bank and in East Jerusalem, drawing Palestinian and US condemnation. US Secretary of State John Kerry said the proposed settlements were “illegitimate”.

Chile Expected to Return Left to Power

Polls in Chile suggest former president Michelle Bachelet could win the presidential elections on Sunday in the first round, taking the 50 percent of votes she would need to avoid a runoff with second-placed candidate Evelyn Mathei of the centre-right Alianza coalition This is the first time the country would not hold a runoff vote in 20 years, but Chile’s switch from compulsory to voluntary last year has made polling more complex. Bachelet has pledged to reduce the country’s inequality by increasing taxes and increasing the country’s education and health budgets. On the economy, her plans include reforms of land and water-use rules, which could bring changes to the country’s mining and energy sectors.

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