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Thursday, November 14, 2013

US Aircraft Carrier Begins Filipino Aid Mission

The USS George Washington aircraft carrier and its accompanying ships began unloading supplies of food and water on Thursday, docking in the central Philippines in order to aid relief efforts amidst the unprecedented destruction brought about by Typhoon Haiyan. “There are still bodies on the road. It’s scary. There is a request from a community to come and collect bodies. They say it’s five or 10. When we get there, it’s 40″, said Alfred Romualdez, mayor of Tacloban, a city that was ravaged by the storm. The effort to collect and bury the dead has been hampered by the lack of fuel. “The choice is to use the same truck to distribute food or collect bodies”, said the mayor. But the arrival of the US carrier group can speed up the relief effort. “One of the best capabilities the strike group brings is our 21 helicopters. These helicopters represent a good deal of lift to move emergency supplies around”, said Rear Admiral Mark Montgomery.

France Halting European Recovery

The eurozone’s recovery came to a standstill as France’s economy unexpectedly contracted and Germany’s slowed according to data released on Thursday by Eurostat, the EU’s statistics arm. The eurozone grew 0.1 percent in the three months to September, brought down by Germany’s weak 0.3 percent growth and France’s 0.1 percent contraction. The main cause, according to an analyst interview by the AFP news agency, was a slowdown in exports because of the stronger euro, while domestic demand failed to make up the difference. Eurostat’s data showed that the EU as a whole also slowed down, but not as much, growing 0.2 percent. The statistics agency also highlighted that the US economy grew at a much quicker pace, growing 0.7 percent in the same period.

Sri Lankan President Hits Out at Critics

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa hit out at critics who questioned his country’s human rights record, saying that the country’s institutions are dealing with the violations and that it has a legal system in place that should be respected. “If anyone who wants to complain about human rights violations in Sri Lanka, whether it is torture, whether it is rape, we have a system. You all must respect the system of a country, the culture of a country”, said the president. He was speaking ahead of the opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting summit, to be held in Colombo, which will open on Friday. His remarks seemed to be aimed at British Prime Minister David Cameron, who said before travelling to the summit that he would take a “tough message” on the alleged war crimes committed during the Sri Lankan civil war. “There are some positive steps that have been taken in Sri Lanka: the fact that they had elections to a northern provincial council; the fact that there is a process of reconciliation, it’s just not going as far as we would like it to go. So on the ledger, there are some things on the positive side, but there are too many things on the negative side. Now that’s a frank conversation I think we should be able to have”, said Cameron.

Malta Offers EU Citizenship for €650,000

A law approved by the Maltese government will now bestow Maltese citizenship upon high-net-worth individuals who are willing to bring in €650,000 in cash and investments to the islands, effectively selling an EU citizenship to anyone willing to part with that sum of money. The scheme, called the Individual Investment Programme (IIP), has been criticised within the country, with business leaders saying it could “tarnish the country’s reputation”. “The citizenship programme as approved lacks transparency and raises many questions about its implementation, as it may have introduced factors that may damage this vital area of economic activity”, said a statement put out by the Maltese Employers’ Association. The European Commission said it would not comment on the IIP, adding that member states had full sovereignty on how and to whom they granted nationality.

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