SATURDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2013
Press regulation plan faces legal challenge in UK LONDON A newspaper industry group will go to court on Friday to seek a judicial review of plans by the British government for tougher press regulation following a string of highproile scandals. Last November, senior judge Brian Leveson concluded a year-long public inquiry into press ethics with a 1,987-page report denouncing some newspaper tactics and calling for an industry watchdog, enshrined in law, to regulate REGULATION
ome proposals were amended in response to press lobbying and another that would allow editors to play a greater role on the regulatory committee
journalists’ behaviour. Earlier this month the three main political parties reached a deal after months of fraught debate, announcing a new set of rules to regulate the often rough-and-tumble press. The government said the parties had agreed a system to be enshrined under a Royal Charter setting out a code of practice to editors, with an arbitration system to deal with complaints. Some proposals were amended in response to press lobbying, including
one that would require those wishing to complain about the media to pay a small fee, and another that would allow editors to play a greater role on the regulatory committee. But the newspaper industry remained concerned that the current package could curtail press freedom, and so decided to ask for judges to check the legal basis of the decision to reject their own counter-proposal. The Press Standards Board of Finance, which funds the current system, blamed the government for their decision to launch a legal challenge, saying it should have done more to protect press freedom in its new proposals. “They singularly failed to do so, and that is why as the issues at stake are so extraordinarily high - we have to take this course of action,” Chairman Guy Black said in a statement on Thursday. The group will apply for a judicial review at London’s High Court on Friday. This could delay implementation of the new rules despite opposition from high-proile celebrity victims and members of the public who have fallen foul of press abuse. Hacked Off, a group set up on behalf of those who feel mistreated by the press, faulted Thursday’s decision, accusing parts of the newspaper industry of being “desperate and deaf”. In a statement, the government defended its proposals, arguing they struck the right balance press freedom and safeguards for victims. Reuters
EU anger over US spying heats up Merkel seeks ‘no-spying’ deal, wants more than ‘apologetic words’ from Obama WASHINGTON/BRUSSELS European Union lawmakers will seek a response from US administration and intelligence oficials next week to accusations of widespread spying on EU citizens and governments, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Members of the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee will ly to Washington on Monday for the talks and explore “possible legal remedies for EU citizens” resulting from the alleged surveillance, the committee said in a statement on Friday. Berlin is also sending a separate delegation of staff from Merkel’s ofice and top intelligence oficials to the US for talks, a German government spokesman said on Friday. The European parliament has already opened an inquiry into the effect on Europe of US intelligence activities revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. It has also led a push for tougher data protection rules and the suspension of a transatlantic data-sharing deal. The European Parliament, with 766 members directly elected from the EU’s 28 member states, voted this week in favour of an amended package of laws that would greatly strengthen EU data protection rules that date from 1995. The rules would restrict how data collected in Europe by irms such as Facebook, Yahoo and Google is shared with nonEU countries, and impose ines of $138 million or more on rule breakers. German Chancellor Angela Merkel demanded on Thursday that the US strike a “no-spying” agreement with Berlin and Paris by the end of the year,
European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso (second from right) talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (left), European Council president Herman Van Rompuy (second from left) and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on the second day of an European Council meeting in Brussels on Friday.
saying alleged espionage against two of Washington’s closest EU allies had to be stopped. Speaking after talks with EU leaders, the chancellor said she wanted action from President Barack Obama, not just apologetic words. Germany and France would seek a “mutual understanding” with the US on cooperation between their intelligence agencies, and other EU member states could eventually take part. “That means a framework for cooperation between the relevant (intelligence) services. Germany and France have taken the initiative and other mem-
ber states will join,” she said. In a statement issued after the irst day of the summit, the EU’s 28 leaders said they supported the Franco-German plan. Merkel irst raised the possibility of a “nospying” agreement with Obama during a visit to Berlin in June this year, but nothing came of it. The latest revelations, part of the vast leaks made by former US data analyst Edward Snowden, would appear to have renewed her determination for a pact. The US has a “no-spying” deal with Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, an alliance known as “Five Eyes”
that was struck in the aftermath of World War II. But there has traditionally been a reluctance to make similar arrangements with other allies, despite the close relations that the US and Germany now enjoy. Merkel said an accord with Washington was long overdue, given the shared experiences the countries face. “We are in Afghanistan together. Our soldiers experience life threatening situations. They sometimes die in the same battles,” she said. “The friendship and partnership between the European member states, including Germany, and the US is not a one-
way street. We depend on it. But there are good reasons that the US also needs friends in the world.” As EU leaders arrived for the two-day summit there was near-universal condemnation of the alleged activities by the NSA, particularly the monitoring of Merkel’s mobile phone, a sensitive issue for a woman who grew up in East Germany, living under the Stasi police force and its feared eavesdropping. Merkel, whose country is one of the world’s leading exporters and stands to gain from any trade deal with Washington, said that was not the right path to take, saying the best way
forward was to rebuild trust. The series of Snowdenbased leaks over the past three months have left Washington at odds with a host of important allies, from Brazil to Saudi Arabia, and there are few signs that the revelations are going to dry up anytime soon. Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported on Thursday that one NSA contact, a US oficial, had provided the telephone numbers of 35 world leaders that had then been monitored. As well as raising questions about the EU-US trade negotiations, the spying furore could also have an impact on data-privacy legislation working its way through the EU. An advisor to US President Barack Obama sought on Thursday to assure the American people that the country’s surveillance programme is legitimate, but acknowledged it created “signiicant” challenges with allies. “Though we collect the same sort of intelligence as all nations, our intelligence community has more restrictions and oversight than in any other country in history,” Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president on homeland security and counter terrorism, wrote in an op-ed piece in the American daily USA Today. She added that disclosures over the past months “have created signiicant challenges in our relationships with some of our closest foreign partners.” Monaco said that “the president has directed us to review our surveillance capabilities, including with respect to our foreign partners.” Agencies
Royal family denies Charles ‘prison’ remark Couple held for buying Roma baby LONDON Britain’s royal family on Friday rushed to deny a report that Prince Charles believed becoming king when Queen Elizabeth II dies would be like “prison”. Time magazine carried a lengthy cover proile with the heir to the throne, who turns 65 next month, in which an aide was quoted
as saying that he worried that he would not achieve some of his aims before the “prison shades” close. The row erupted just two days after the christening of Prince George -- the threemonth-old baby of Prince Charles’s eldest son Prince William -- which brought the queen and three future monarchs together for the
irst time in over a century. A spokesman for Charles’s ofice Clarence House said: “This is not the Prince of Wales’s view and should not be attributed to him as he did not say these words. “The Prince has dutifully supported the Queen all his life and his oficial duties and charitable work have always run in paral-
lel.” Time magazine journalist Catherine Mayer said she had access to Charles himself as well as more than 50 interviews with friends, associates and current and former aides. “I found a man not, as caricatured, itching to ascend the throne, but impatient to get as much done as possible before, in the
words of one member of his household, ‘the prison shades’ close,” Mayer wrote in the article. British newspapers quickly picked up on the “prison” quotes, with the Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail all featuring the story on their front page. Agence France-Presse
ATHENS Police in Athens on Friday said they had arrested a Greek couple suspected of having purchased a Roma baby for $5,500. The couple, a 53-year-old man and his 48-year-old wife, told police that they had received the baby girl, then only a few weeks old, from a Roma woman in March.
The woman then unsuccessfully tried to register the baby as her own child. Private adoption is legal in Greece as long as money is not exchanged in the process. The case came amid heightened scrutiny by Greek authorities after the discovery of a mysterious blonde girl living in a Roma
camp with a couple who were accused of abducting her. Greece’s Supreme Court has ordered a general review of newborn registrations after the discovery of the blonde girl known as Maria exposed lax recording practices around the country permitting the misuse of state beneits. Agence France-Presse
EU tackles migrant issue at summit BRUSSELS Europe’s leaders sought how to deal with the drama of Mediterranean boat-people Friday, weeks after the deaths by drowning of 400 refugees leeing conlict shocked many across the continent. “Europe can neither save, nor welcome the whole world,” the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, told a European Union summit. “But we are the world’s richest continent and so must do more, specially if we act together, seek solutions together, and together take responsibility.” Countries on the bloc’s southern fringe -- Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, Spain,
and Croatia on the EU’s Balkans frontier, want dificult decisions on immigration to be taken by the 28-nation bloc. But as anti-immigrant parties pick up support across the crisis-hit bloc, how to accomodate more foreigners while unemployment nudges record highs remains a politicallyexplosive question. A draft statement on migration expressed “deep sadness at the recent and dramatic deaths of hundreds of people in the Mediterranean” but delayed key decisions to EU summit meetings in December and June 2014. Agence France-Presse
Greenland’s parliament votes to allow uranium, rare earth mining NUUK (Greenland) Greenland’s parliament voted on Thursday to end a decades-long prohibition on mining for radioactive materials like uranium, further opening up the country to investors from Australia to China eager to tap its vast mineral resources. The move will not only allow the mining of uranium deposits, but also of rare earths, minerals used in 21st century products from wind turbines to hybrid cars and smart phones and that are currently mostly extracted by China.
Pope’s ‘prime minister’ leaves hospital
AUTUMN TREASURES: A tree with autumn coloured leaves stands on a meadow as Neuschwanstein Castle can be seen in the background in southern Germany on Friday. The 19th century Romanesque revival palace was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria. Construction started in 1869 and was almost inished in 1884.
Swiss finishing school opens doors to men GLION (Switzerland) The sign on the door with a stick igure of a man overlaid with a big “X” will have to go now that the last Swiss inishing school, bending to economic reality and social change, is accepting men. The Institut Villa Pierrefeu, located on a hill above Lake Geneva, is the last in a line of institutions that struggled to shake their image as “schools for princesses” after Diana Spencer, who later became Lady Diana, attended one in the same canton. In their heyday before feminism stirred in the 1960s, European aristocrats sent their daughters
to inishing schools in safe, neutral Switzerland to polish their manners and prepare them for married life. About half a dozen such schools once lourished in the French-speaking Alps, but the others have closed as young women have instead chosen to attend university and pursue careers. Now part of the demand for the last surviving school is coming from a very different segment of the population - men. “Men are starting to realise that like it or not, we are also judged by our manners,” Philippe Neri, who
is the grandson of the school’s founder and was dressed in dark suit and pink tie, told Reuters during a recent visit to the school. He recalled how he once witnessed a deal in a restaurant collapse after a Western man offered his Japanese business partner a Swiss army knife as a gift. “It was clear that the Japanese man thought the message was that the other wanted to cut off ties. The atmosphere went cold,” he said. The school has opened its doors to a more international and older, clientele and this year accepted men for the irst time as part of the process of adapting
its curriculum to stay relevant and compete with rival schools in emerging markets. Sewing has been dropped and Neri said that, contrary to the stereotype, students have never had to balance books on their heads. Instead, male and female students want to learn about etiquette and protocol to gain a competitive edge with international clients through courses on small talk, dress codes and the “dos and don’ts of giving gifts”. Around a dark wooden table lit by candelabras, students on an intensive etiquette course were learning how to behave at a for-
mal British dinner party. Guillaume Rue, a 26-year-old Frenchman and the only male in the class, began by making polite conversation about holiday destinations but blundered in reaching for his bread roll. Teacher Irene Vargas de Huber gently rebuked him: “The host will think you’re starving if you eat before the irst course.” A student from China was told off for eating too quickly and was urged to make conversation to take pressure off her host who was struggling to eat and entertain simultaneously. Reuters
VATICAN CITY The Vatican’s new “prime minister”, who was not able to attend his own instalment ceremony this month because he was undergoing surgery, has left hospital, the Vatican said on Friday. Monsignor Pietro Parolin formally took over as Secretary of State on October 15, replacing the scandal-tainted cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. Parolin, who was appointed by Pope Francis, is a skilled Vatican diplomat and has hinted at a reformist outlook in line with the new pontiff’s.
Poland may halve coal demand by 2030 OSLO Poland could halve its demand for coal by 2030 with a shift to renewable energies that would end its image as a laggard in European Union efforts to slow climate change, a study showed on Friday. It estimated that Poland, which now generates 90 per cent of its electricity from coal, could create 100,000 jobs with a shift to wind, hydro, biomass, geothermal and solar power by 2030.
Man held after Berlin restaurant standoff BERLIN German police early Friday ended a tense overnight stand-off when they arrested a Kurdish man ,36, who had threatened to set ire to a fast-food restaurant illed with a dozen people. He was agitated apparently because he feared “consequences” after he had failed to show up on Thursday for a court date for a drugs offence, police said.
Published on Nov 3, 2013