World Digest: May 14, 2013

May 14, 2013
BRITAIN
Cameron capitulates to party on E.U. vote

Prime Minister David Cameron faced questions about his leadership Tuesday after he bowed to pressure from within the Conservative Party to bring forward draft legislation enforcing a referendum on Britain’s European Union membership.

Just hours after President Obama cautioned against rushing toward the E.U. exit, Cameron — who was in Washington on Tuesday — was forced by a rebellion in his party into promising a bill that would clear the way for an in-out vote on Europe.

Cameron denied that the move was a desperate measure to placate his increasingly restive and “Euroskeptic” party, where many see the E.U. as an oppressive and wasteful “superstate” that threatens Britain’s sovereignty.

“I think when all the dust has settled people will be able to see the substance of the issue,” the prime minister said.

Still, the more Cameron concedes to the Euroskeptics in his party, the more they want, deepening the 25-year battle among Conservatives over Europe and undermining his chances of leading the party to victory in a general election set for 2015.

— Reuters

ISRAEL
Netanyahu under fire for costly lifestyle

For years, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s image has been that of a cigar-smoking, cognac-drinking socialite. Now a new disclosure about his soaring spending on housekeeping, furniture, clothing and other expenses is increasing pressure on him in a country whose leaders once were known for washing their own dishes and taking out the garbage.

The uproar, which began with a TV station’s report that Netanyahu spent $127,000 in public funds for a special sleeping cabin on a recent five-hour flight to London, fuels criticism that he is out of touch with average Israelis struggling with tax increases amid a huge budget deficit.

Netanyahu’s expenses have soared nearly 80 percent since he took office in 2009, totaling about $905,000 last year, according to a civil liberties group that obtained government figures after filing a freedom of information request.

— Associated Press

KENYA
Pigs used in protest over lawmakers’ pay

Nearly three dozen piglets were released and animal blood spilled Tuesday at an entrance to Kenya’s parliament as civil society activists protested what they called lawmakers’ greedy salary demands.

Police fired tear gas and water cannons and swung their batons to disperse the approximately 250 protesters, who gathered in what was dubbed the “Occupy Parliament” protest.

“Don’t like the pay? Quit!” one placard read. Members of parliament are commonly called MPs in Kenya, but protest organizer Boniface Mwangi and others refer to them as “MPigs.”

That saying was painted on all of the piglets and one huge pig released into the city, an act of civil obedience that saw Kenyan police scurrying after the piglets, while other small pigs munched on parliamentary flower beds.

— Associated Press

Bangladesh honors dead garment workers: Thousands of mourners gathered at the wreckage of a Bangladeshi garment factory building to offer prayers for the 1,127 people who died in the structure’s collapse last month, the worst tragedy in the history of the global garment industry. The Muslim prayer service was held a day after the army ended a nearly three-week search for bodies and turned control of the site over to the civilian government for cleanup.

Bahraini activist says he is safe in Britain: A Bahraini blogger and human rights activist said he has been granted asylum in Britain after being in hiding for two years. A leading voice among protesters during anti-government demonstrations in 2011, Ali Abdulemam hid to escape a crackdown by authorities and was smuggled out by fishermen. A military court tried and sentenced him in absentia to 15 years in prison.

3 U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan: A roadside bomb struck a U.S. convoy in the volatile southern Afghan province of Kandahar, killing three American troops, while a motorcycle bombing in a village market in Helmand province killed at least three Afghan civilians, officials said. Fifty-eight international service members, including 44 Americans, have been killed in Afghanistan this year, according to an Associated Press count.

Further arrests in Turkish bombings: Four more people have been detained in connection with two car bomb attacks that killed dozens in a Turkish town near the Syrian border, bringing the number of suspects in custody to 13, Turkey’s prime minister said. Syria again rejected Turkey’s contention that it was involved, condemning the attacks and offering to conduct a joint investigation of an attack it has blamed on Turkey.

Strauss-Kahn makes public appearance in S. Sudan: Dominique Strauss-Kahn helped to open a new bank in the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan, a low-key return to the global stage for the former International Monetary Fund chief brought down by a sex scandal. The former French finance minister, who has battled lurid allegations over his private life since 2011, was a guest speaker at the opening of the National Credit Bank in South Sudan’s capital, Juba.

— From news services

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