Speaking in the House of Commons today, British Prime Minister David Cameron had this to say about the ongoing Israeli military offensive on Gaza:
“I have been clear throughout this crisis that Israel has the right to defend itself. Those criticising Israel’s response must ask themselves how they would expect their own government to react if hundreds of rockets were raining down on British cities today.
I spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu again about this crisis last night. I repeated our recognition of Israel’s right to take proportionate action to defend itself, and our condemnation of Hamas’ refusal to end their rocket attacks, despite all international efforts to broker a ceasefire.
It is vital that Hamas recognises the need to enter serious negotiations to end this crisis. In particular, we urge Hamas to engage with the ceasefire proposals put forward by the Egyptian government.”
On Friday in Edinburgh the Scottish Minister for External Affairs Humza Yousaf said:
“I have today written to the Home Secretary and told her that Scotland would be willing to accept Palestinian refugees and urged the UK to also play a part in easing the refugee crisis in Gaza and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
It is essential that the UN should be allowed to independently investigate all civilian deaths to determine whether there has been any violation of international law.
Our offer of medical assistance to help the humanitarian situation still stands and we are currently in dialogue with the appropriate Governments and agencies to assess whether Scotland can give specialist medical help to civilians caught up in the conflict should should this prove possible.
The Scottish Government also believes that the continuation of the blockade in Gaza is exacerbating the suffering experienced by the people there and tantamount to collective punishment. For that reason I recently wrote to the UK Government to exert further pressure on the Israeli Government to bring that blockade to an end.”
In a week that saw [at the UNHRC in Geneva] a principal officer at the Department of Health admit that Ireland’s abortion law discriminated against women who could not afford to travel to Britain, Dublin South East TD Lucinda Creighton [on yesterday's Marian Finucane programme on RTÉ Radio One], chose another story to discuss…
Marian Finucane: “You picked out as well a story in the Business Post called ‘NAMA Offers Deals To Stop Developers Seeking Bankruptcy Abroad’.”
Lucinda Creighton: “Yeah. I just had a quick look at that. I suppose the thing that strikes me about this is that we have to be very careful when we’re trying to resolve the huge problems that we still obviously have in the property sector. A lot of major players who have been embroiled now for a number of years in trying to resolve debt overhang etc with NAMA that we don’t forget about all of the other business in the country that is literally you know collapsing under the weight of debt and this is something that Morgan Kelly and many others have pointed to as one of the biggest challenges to economic recovery in this country so. I have a fear, I have a concern that if we talk about special circumstances for bankruptcy where people involved in property development and speculation in the past and we ignore the huge existing problem and challenge for a lot of people in small business who can’t afford to go to the UK for bankruptcy purposes for example, being truthful. It’s just not an option for them. You know I think prioritising one cohort of business people above others is actually, firstly is completely unfair and secondly actually risks ignoring probably the biggest challenge we have to economic recovery which is getting the small and medium sized enterprise domestic economy back functioning.”
Senator Ned O’Sullivan (Fianna Fáil) raised the issue of seagulls this morning in the chamber.
Well I have nothing against pigeons. I can take or leave pigeons but I’m very much against seagulls. And eh I think something needs to be done here to address the seagull problem in this city. People may have been listening to Joe Duffy about it there last week. It seems the seagulls have lost the run of themselves completely. I know the apartment block I live in it’s impossible to get a night’s sleep.
…They’re very raucous. They’re keeping people awake. I saw that they’re getting so cheeky now that they attack young children and dispossess them of their lollipops and stuff like that. It might be funny to many people but it’s a serious issue in the city. They’re not seagulls, they really are vermin. They’re scavenger gulls, dump gulls….
..So I’m saying the Minister for the Environment should look at that in a serious manner. It might be funny but if you listen to the details on the radio show you’ll learn that it’s anything but.
Smoking rates in Australia fell at their fastest pace in more than two decades, following the introduction of the world’s first law forcing cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging.
The daily smoking rate fell 15 per cent between 2010 and December 1 2013, when one in eight Australians said they lit up at least once a day, according to the most comprehensive survey undertaken since the new rules came into force.
Australia, which introduced plain packaging in December 2012, is at the centre of a global debate over whether laws removing all corporate branding and adding graphic health warnings can reduce smoking. Tobacco companies claim the rules do not work and say they infringe their intellectual property rights.
Simon Chapman, a professor in public health at the University of Sydney, told the Sydney Morning Herald that plain packaging was almost “like finding a vaccine that works very well against lung cancer”.
An interview that credits Pope Francis as saying about 2% of Roman Catholic clerics are paedophiles stirred controversy Sunday, as the Vatican sought to raise questions about the article’s accuracy and others called on the pope to take more action on the issue.
The interview by Eugenio Scalfari, published Sunday, quotes the pope as calling the rash of sex abuse scandals “a leprosy in our home” and saying the pedophiles include “priests and even bishops and cardinals,” according to a CBS News translation. “And others, even more numerous, know about it but keep quiet, they punish without saying the reason why. I find this state of things untenable and it is my intention to confront it with the severity it requires.”
The Vatican has pushed back on some points. According to Vatican officials, Scalfari does not record his conversations with the pope nor transcribe them word for word. News.va, an official Vatican news source, cited Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi as saying Scalfari quotes Francis from memory alone, and that the pope does not review the results before publication.