Thursday 31 October 2013

Tax powers promise from Cameron

Source BBC News@

David Cameron and Nick CleggDavid Cameron and Nick Clegg will meet Carwyn Jones on Friday

The Welsh government will get some control over income tax, subject to a referendum, Prime Minister David Cameron will say on Friday.

He and deputy PM Nick Clegg will announce new financial powers for the devolved administration.

They include control of the stamp duty paid by house buyers and powers to finance upgrades on the M4 motorway.

The Welsh government has accused the Westminster coalition of dragging its feet over further devolution.

It follows the publication of a report last year which said the Welsh government should have new tax powers.

At present Wales's devolved administration cannot vary taxes or borrow money, and gets its budget in a grant from the Treasury.

Last November the Silk Commission, set up by the Westminster coalition, said the Welsh government should be responsible for raising some of the money it spends.

It included a recommendation to devolve powers to vary a portion of income by 2020, following a referendum.

'Opportunity to decide'

First Minister Carwyn Jones has accused the UK government of delaying its response to the Silk report, which was initially expected in the spring.

Writing jointly in the Western Mail, the prime minister and his deputy say "Wales will have the opportunity to decide whether some of their income tax should be devolved".

"This is hugely important - one of the best ways to raise living standards is to cut peoples' taxes," they write.

They say the UK government will "provide for a referendum to take place so that people in Wales can decide whether some of their income tax should be devolved, in the same way as it is in Scotland".

The Silk Commission said a referendum should only happen with the agreement of both the Welsh and UK governments, a two-thirds majority in the Welsh assembly and the agreement of both Houses of Parliament.

'Get this project started'

Referring to the M4, the coalition leaders say Wales "must have the tools to invest in the transport infrastructure it needs".

David CameronDavid Cameron announced the next Nato summit is to be staged in Wales

The Welsh government has been calling for borrowing powers to pay for a £1bn upgrade to the M4, with the first minister saying it would be a "disaster" if the borrowing powers recommended by Silk were not devolved.

With a consultation underway on building a new stretch of motorway around Newport, the PM and deputy PM say there will be the "devolution of some finance raising powers... to get this project started".

Devolution of stamp duty - another Silk recommendation - will "bring in money that can be spent on big Welsh priorities like much needed affordable homes", they say.

Speaking to BBC Wales on Thursday, Mr Cameron said he agreed with the principle that "you get better government if the government is responsible for some of the money that it spends". He denied delaying the process, adding: "It takes time to get these things right."

He also announced that the next summit of Nato leaders in autumn 2014 will be held at the Celtic Manor resort in Newport, saying it was an opportunity to showcase the modern, successful Wales.

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui

Baby P mother 'released from prison'

Source BBC News@

Tracey ConnellyTracey Connelly served more than five years in jail, including time on remand

Baby Peter Connelly's mother, who was jailed over his death, has been freed from prison, it is understood.

Tracey Connelly was jailed for a minimum of five years in 2009 after admitting causing or allowing her son's death. She had also spent more than a year in custody on remand.

The Parole Board recently said it had recommended her release.

Peter died in August 2007 with more than 50 injuries, despite being on a social services "at-risk" register.

His death at home in Tottenham, north London, came a day after police told his mother she would not be prosecuted over abuse of the 17-month-old.

Social workers, health professionals and police officers had visited 60 times in eight months.

The Ministry of Justice refused to confirm whether Connelly had been released, saying it did not comment on individual cases.

Public protection

Connelly first became eligible for parole in August 2012.

The Parole Board did not recommend her release then, but a three-strong panel said she should be released following a second review.

She admitted causing or allowing Peter's death soon after being charged, and spent more than a year on remand before being sentenced in May 2009.

The sentence was "imprisonment for public protection", which carries a minimum term after which prisoners can be considered for release.

When deciding whether to release a prisoner, the Parole Board must consider the nature of their crime, their history, their progress in prison, any statements made on their behalf and reports from relevant professionals.

Baby Peter ConnellyThree people were jailed following the death of Peter Connelly in 2007

Connelly was jailed with her boyfriend Steven Barker and his brother Jason Owen, who were convicted at trial of the same offence she admitted.

Barker was given a 12-year sentence for his "major role" in Peter's death.

Owen was jailed indefinitely with a minimum three-year term, but later on appeal that was changed to a fixed six-year term. He was freed in August 2011 but has since been recalled to prison.

This week the BBC's Newsnight programme revealed Sharon Shoesmith, who was head of children's services at Haringey Council at the time of Peter's death, had agreed a "six-figure payout" for unfair dismissal after the case.

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui

MPs urge EU arrest warrant reform

Source BBC News@

Handcuffs on suspect in UK - file picMr Vaz said the warrant had resulted in a "number of miscarriages of justice"

The European Arrest Warrant is "flawed" and needs to be reformed, the Home Affairs Committee of MPs has said.

The EAW, introduced in 2004, allows a national judicial authority such as a court to get a suspect extradited between EU member states.

Home Secretary Theresa May has vowed to change the law to prevent the warrant being used to extradite UK nationals on trivial or dubious charges.

But the committee said the government's plans did not go far enough.

It called for an urgent vote in the House of Commons on continued UK participation in the scheme.


Committee chairman Keith Vaz said: "The European Arrest Warrant, in its existing form, is fundamentally flawed and has led to a number of miscarriages of justice with devastating consequences for those concerned.

"We welcome the government's proposed reforms, but are concerned that they do not go far enough.

"The House should be given the opportunity to vote separately on continued UK membership of the EAW as early as possible in order to provide a parliamentary mandate for any future negotiations."

In its report, the committee said some countries used the EAW simply to expedite investigations or in relation to relatively minor crimes.

It said that for these reasons the UK received disproportionately more warrants than it issued.

The government wants to opt out of many, but not all, pan-EU criminal justice measures. To do so, under the terms of the Lisbon Treaty, it must opt out of all 133 and then renegotiate to opt back in to those it wants to retain.

Mrs May has said the UK will seek to continue to participate in 35 of the measures, including the EAW, which are "in the national interest".

Despite being under pressure from Conservative backbenchers to abandon the EAW entirely, Mrs May said she would amend UK legislation to ensure the warrants could be refused for minor crimes.

In its report the committee argued that, if the government proceeded with the opt-in as proposed, it would not result in any repatriation of powers to the UK - and may even result in a net flow of powers to the EU institutions.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: "Labour supports the European Arrest Warrant and the other crucial measures of EU co-operation that tackle serious crime, bring criminals to justice and protect victims."

She added: "While the government's U-turn on the arrest warrant has been welcome, the home secretary has been foolish in putting EU co-operation at risk in a big game of phoney hokey-cokey."

Libby McVeigh of Fair Trials International, a human rights charity that provides assistance to people arrested in a country other than their own, said: "The arrest warrant is an important crime-fighting tool but, without reform, will continue to be used inappropriately with devastating human consequences."

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui

RBS set to avoid 'bad bank' split

Source BBC News@

RBSRBS remains 81% owned by the government

Royal Bank of Scotland is not going to split into separate so-called good and bad banks, it is expected to announce alongside its financial results later.

Instead it will create an internal "bad bank" ring-fencing about £40bn of bad assets - such as loans it does not expect to have repaid.

It follows a Treasury-backed report into whether RBS should be broken up.

The bank remains 81% owned by the government following a massive bailout at the height of the financial crisis.

The BBC's business editor Robert Peston says the expected announcements by RBS and the Treasury, which will give its approval of the plan, are intended to be important steps towards mending the bank and preparing the ground for RBS's return to the private sector.

New chief executive

Earlier this year, Chancellor George Osborne commissioned two City firms, Black Rock and Rothschild, to evaluate the case for splitting RBS in two.

The decision to keep the bad assets within the bank, but ring-fenced and managed separately, does not go that far.

It also goes against the advice of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, which suggested that toxic loans should be removed from RBS and kept in the public sector for the foreseeable future.

Ross McEwanRoss McEwan took over from Stephen Hester as the boss of RBS in September

Toxic assets include loans and mortgages that are not expected to be repaid, as well as more complex investments related to these bad loans.

RBS already operates a "non-core" division, which holds £54bn of the bank's problem assets, and the new bad bank is expected to take its place.

The announcement is expected alongside RBS's third quarter results - the first overseen by RBS's new chief executive Ross McEwan, who took over from Stephen Hester in September.

The bank is expected to reveal that it continues to make a profit, having made £1.4bn in the first half of this year after racking up losses of £5.2bn in 2012.

It is not clear whether the results or the plans for a bad bank will speed up RBS's planned return to the private sector.

Traders suspended

The government began selling off its stake in Lloyds Banking Group, which was also bailed out during the banking crisis, in September, reducing its shareholding from about 39% to 33%.

But it has given no timetable for the sale of RBS, which has recovered more slowly from the crisis.

The bank's share price currently remains well below the 502 pence a share the government paid for its stake, meaning the share price would have to rise significantly for it to break even on its investment.

Earlier this year the bank's chairman, Sir Philip Hampton, said privatisation could begin as early as next year.

But the BBC's business editor says the first stages of privatisation are unlikely to take place until after the 2015 general election.

In a separate development RBS has suspended two traders in connection to an investigation into the possible manipulation of foreign exchange rates.

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui

GCSE overhaul in England made final

Source BBC News@

Exam roomMany changes are planned and underway for England's exam system

Exams regulator Ofqual has confirmed the changes it is making to GCSEs, in what it calls the biggest shake-up in exams in England for a generation.

A new grading system will use numbers instead of letters and coursework is being scrapped for most subjects.

The changes will be in stages, starting with pupils taking GCSE exams in 2017 - those who will be 13 before the end of the current school year.

English and maths will be the first subjects affected.

Pupils will begin studying the new courses in English language, English literature and maths from autumn 2015.

And about 20 other popular GCSE subjects will be revamped in the same way, ready for teaching a year later, in 2016, with the first exams for those taken in 2018.

'Fresh content'

The changes apply to England only. Wales is planning its own GCSE shake-up, but Northern Ireland is not planning any changes. Scotland has its own exams system.

While they come in, pupils in England will have some exams graded with numbers and some with letters, leading teaching unions to warn this will be confusing for pupils, parents and employers.

Around the UK

The GCSE changes being announced will apply only to pupils in England.

Scotland has its own exam system, but Wales and Northern Ireland also use GCSEs.

Wales is also planning a shake-up, bringing in its own new GCSEs in maths, English and Welsh, which will be taught from autumn 2015.

In Northern Ireland no changes to GCSEs are planned. A recent review concluded there was "no case for replacing A-levels or GCSEs in the short- or medium-term".

Exams will be graded from one to nine, with nine being the highest. Pupils who fail will be awarded a "U" for an "unclassified" result.

All exams will be taken after two years of study, rather than in modules taken at various stages over two years, meaning a return to the format of O-levels, which pre-dated GCSEs.

And there will be more marks awarded for spelling, punctuation and grammar.

The head of Ofqual, Glenys Stacey, said the changes were "fundamental".

"This is the biggest change in a generation," she said. "They [GCSEs] have been around for over 25 years but now we are seeing fresh content, a different structure, high-quality assessment coming in.

"It's a significant change for students and for schools."

Ms Stacey said the move to a numerical system meant a new grade was being added and that would help examiners distinguish between candidates' performance - especially at the top grades.

She suggested that the move away from traditional grades might be hard for some people to understand, but was important.

"The new qualifications will be significantly different and we need to signal this clearly," she said.

At the same time, the government is confirming changes to what has to be studied in English language, English literature and maths, because the overhaul in exams covers both what is studied and how it is assessed.

Key Changes - Autumn 2015

  • Changes will initially be for English language, English literature and maths

  • Grading by numbers 9-1 rather than by the current letters A*-G

  • No more modular courses, instead full exams taken at the end of two years

  • Controlled assessments (coursework done under exam conditions) will be scrapped for most subjects

It says in English literature, students will have to "study whole texts in detail, covering a range of literature including Shakespeare, 19th Century novels, Romantic poetry and other high-quality fiction and drama".

The new maths exam will cover more topics and be more challenging, the government says.

Ofqual is keeping the present arrangement where pupils can be entered for either a higher- or lower-tier paper in maths, depending on their ability.

But in English, that division has been scrapped and one exam will be taken by all.

At the moment, students who are entered for easier papers can be awarded only the maximum of a C grade.

'Cautious welcome'

Head teachers' representative, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), gave what it said was a "cautious welcome" to the changes.

Deputy general secretary Malcolm Trobe said: "There is much to welcome in today's announcement, especially the measured approach Ofqual has taken to this significant task.

"We have always agreed that GCSE can be improved to better prepare students to meet the needs of the world we live in today. But the constant tinkering with GCSEs we have had in the past has not been helpful."

But the National Union of Teachers said the move to a numerical system would be confusing and that there had not been enough consultation with teachers.

General secretary Christine Blower said: "Tiering, re-sit opportunities, modules and coursework all have their role to play in getting the very best out of all learners.

"We are glad that Ofqual hasn't ruled out tiering and non-exam assessment altogether and will monitor closely the subject-by-subject decisions that Ofqual now makes."

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui

NHS apology for miscarriage error

Source BBC News@

Emily Wheatley said the hospital took away the enjoyment of pregnancy

A Cardiff hospital has been forced to apologise for flaws in the way it diagnosed miscarriages over many years.

It follows the case of a woman who was wrongly told she had miscarried nine weeks into her pregnancy after a scan at the University Hospital of Wales.

Emily Wheatley, from Monmouth, went on to have a healthy baby daughter.

The Public Service Ombudsman for Wales believes flaws in UHW's practices may have gone back as far as 2006. A helpline has been set up for patients.

'Real shock'

Ms Wheatley was told during a dating scan she had suffered a silent miscarriage - where there are no symptoms.

She chose to undergo a uterine evacuation at Nevill Hall hospital in Abergavenny, but staff there discovered she was nine weeks pregnant with a healthy foetus.

Ms Wheatley suffers from polycystic ovary syndrome and endometriosis, meaning the chances of her conceiving naturally were "very, very slim".

She said: "To be told that I'd miscarried was a real shock.

"It took a lot to adjust to that after adjusting to the fact that I was pregnant in the first place."

After being told the good news she was still pregnant, she said: "Even though the baby was there clearly on the screen, I couldn't really believe it."

She said the hospital "took away the enjoyment of pregnancy".

The thought that other women may have lost babies after wrongly being told they had silently miscarried early in their pregnancy was "frightening".

'Unacceptable mistake'

"It's just unbelievable actually that there are potentially other women out there who have been diagnosed with having a silent miscarriage... and they potentially have got rid of healthy babies. That frightens me."

Ms Wheatley added: "Maybe hundreds of babies have been lost because of their decision making, which is unthinkable."

Peter Tyndall, Public Service Ombudsman for Wales, said it was an "unacceptable mistake" which should have been avoided and he has called a review of midwife sonographers' competency.

He said staff, after discovering a silent miscarriage, should have used a different scan to give them a "more accurate picture", but failed to do so.

In a report, he says the health board "failed to implement guidelines issued by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) that were designed to prevent the misdiagnosis of early pregnancy loss" and had been using out-dated guidance for two years or more.

Asked how many other people could have been affected, he replied: "You'll have to ask the health board but clearly there will have been others.

"The health board has set up a helpline for other women who think they may have been affected.

"We'd advise them if they are concerned to contact the helpline."

Mr Tyndall said he thinks Ms Wheatley's case is "unusual and I don't think it's typical", but he said other women may have been similarly affected.

The ombudsman made a series of recommendations, including that the health board issues a written apology and pays the woman £1,500.

The helpline - 0800 952 0244 - will be launched at 09:00 GMT on Friday and will remain open until 17:00 GMT on 4 November.

The health board does not know how many women, if any, could potentially be affected.

'Genuinely sorry'

Dr George Findlay, Cardiff and Vale Health Board director for children and women's services, said about 6,000 deliveries are performed each year, and between 600 and 1,200 people have a miscarriage.

"We're saying that about 600 women per year may have a miscarriage that leads to an intervention by us," he said.

"What I don't know right now is what type of scan or number of scans that these patients had and we're happy to look at that on a case by case basis."

Dr Findlay added: "We let her down and we didn't provide a standard of care that's acceptable to me as a doctor or me as a manager."

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board's executive director of nursing, Ruth Walker, offered an "unreserved" apology to Ms Wheatley and said the said the board was "genuinely sorry that it has taken an ombudsman's report for her to receive the answers she deserved".

She said what happened to Ms Wheatley was "absolutely unacceptable" correct procedures were now followed, and it has undertaken a review of the way women are cared for in the early stages of pregnancy.

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui

Israel 'conducts Syria air strike'

Source BBC News@

An Israeli fighter (file photo)Israel is thought to have carried out several air strikes in Syria earlier this year

Israeli aircraft have carried out a strike near the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, a US official says.

The official said the strike targeted Russian-made missiles intended for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Latakia is a stronghold of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an important port city where the Alawite community to which he belongs is concentrated.

Israeli is widely reported to have carried out at least three air strikes in Syria so far this year.

Reports circulated on Thursday of explosions near Latakia, but the cause was not clear.

"Several explosions were heard in an air defence base in the Snubar Jableh area" said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based activist network.

Neither Israel nor Syria have commented on the reports.

But a US official said the strike took place overnight from Wednesday into Thursday.

Israel has repeatedly said it would act if it felt Syrian weapons, conventional or chemical, were being transferred to militant groups in the region, especially Hezbollah.

The BBC's Jim Muir in Beirut says the reports come at a delicate moment, with the Russians - who apparently made the weapons that Israel is said to have targeted - working closely with the US to get a peace conference on Syria off the ground.

Russia has been a key backer of President Assad's, continuing to supply his government with weapons during the conflict in Syria.

Mr Assad had promised to respond to any future strikes by Israel.

The uprising against Mr Assad began in 2011. More than 100,000 people have been killed and more than two million people have fled the country, according to the UN.

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui

RBS traders suspended in forex probe

Source BBC News@

RBS signRBS is among several banks contacted by regulators in the foreign exchange investigations

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has suspended two traders in connection to a growing investigation into the possible manipulation of foreign exchange rates.

The news follows reports that London-based executives at three other major banks have been placed on leave.

Regulators in the UK, US and Switzerland are looking into whether banks colluded to set exchange rates.

The global foreign exchange market is worth more than £3tn a day.

London is the most important centre for the market, accounting for about 40% of all foreign exchange trading.

The reports are that executives at Citigroup, JP Morgan and Standard Chartered have agreed to be placed on leave, but none has been accused of any wrongdoing.

RBS declined to comment. It is among several banks believed to have been contacted by regulators in recent weeks about foreign exchange dealing.

Regulators, including the UK's Financial Conduct Authority, are looking at allegations traders used instant messaging services to fix rates - similar to the Libor-fixing scandal which resulted in big fines for major banks in 2012.

On Wednesday Barclays became the latest bank to confirm it had launched an internal probe into its foreign exchange trading.

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui

Tunnel linking US and Mexico found

Source BBC News@

An image of a tunnel discovered under the US-Mexico border, released by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement on 31 October 2013 More than 75 tunnels under the US-Mexico border have been found since 2008

A drug-smuggling tunnel equipped with electricity, ventilation and a rail system has been found connecting San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico.

Authorities seized more than eight tons of marijuana and 325lb (147kg) of cocaine in the discovery.

Officials have not revealed the exact length or location of the recently finished tunnel, but Mexican media report it is near Tijuana's airport.

More than 75 such secret tunnels have been discovered since 2008.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced the find on Thursday.

'Just completed'

It was described as "a just completed, highly sophisticated underground passageway", according to an ICE statement.

The tunnel is the eighth discovered just in San Diego since 2006, according to media reports.

In 2010, officials confiscated 22 tons of drugs from a 640m (2,100ft) tunnel equipped with rail tracks stretching from a Tijuana home to two San Diego warehouses.

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui

Teen held over delivery man murder

Source BBC News@

A teenager has been arrested on suspicion of murdering a pizza delivery man in Sheffield.

Thavisha Lakindu Peiris, 25, was found dead by colleagues in his car in Southey Crescent, Sheffield, on Sunday. He had been stabbed in the chest.

He had been making his final delivery for Domino's Pizza before he was due to start a new job as an IT consultant.

South Yorkshire Police said a 17-year-old male was arrested earlier and was being held in custody for questioning.

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui

US clears gadgets for take-off use

Source BBC News@

PlanesUS regulators have cleared passengers to use mobile devices in flight-mode on planes

Aviation regulators have cleared the safe use of mobile devices during take-off and landing in the US.

Airlines are expected to let passengers use smartphones, tablets, and e-book readers from gate to gate in the US by the end of the year.

Internet connections for email, web surfing, and downloading will be prohibited below 10,000 feet.

Cellular voice calls will remain banned because of the possibility of radio interference with flight equipment.

The changes to US regulations mean passengers will be able to read e-books, play games, and watch videos for the duration of a flight.

Airlines will need to perform safety checks before changing their current policies on device use.

Carriers must show the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that they can handle the effects that mobile devices have on flight instruments and avionics, and they must assess risks such as stowage problems.

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui

Banyan: Zero-sum politics

Nguồn tin:

WRITING about politics in Bangladesh, this newspaper has often found itself drawn to the analogy of a Punch-and-Judy show. We now know this is deeply unfair—to a wholesome if brutal form of puppetry.

On October 26th the two women who for over two decades have dominated politics in the Muslim-majority country of over 150m spoke on the telephone. It was their first conversation in many years. Their country was in crisis, on the brink of a 60-hour hartal, or national strike, called by one of them, Khaleda Zia, leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). This was to protest about arrangements for a general election due in January. Knowing the hartal would bring not just disruption but violence and death, the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, deigned to telephone her nemesis to ask her to call it off. It was a chance for the two women to prove they could set aside their history of vindictive point-scoring. They might even show leadership, statesmanship and a spirit of compromise.

Fat chance. For 36 minutes, as a recording shows, they squabbled: about whether Mrs Zia’s red telephone was working and whether to meet over dinner; over Mrs Zia’s temerity in cutting a cake on her birthday on August 15th, also the anniversary of the assassination of Sheikh Hasina’s father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the hero of Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan in 1971; and over the responsibility for a grenade attack on Sheikh Hasina at a rally in Dhaka in 2004, in which 24 people died and she was among hundreds injured. And like an old married couple, they bickered about who was bickering. “We surely don’t want to quarrel,” said the prime minister. “You are quarrelling,” came the retort.

The hartal went ahead. At least 13 people were killed and 1,000 injured as thuggish BNP loyalists battled the police for control of the streets, and hundreds of crude bombs exploded. But, in the peculiar terms of Bangladeshi politics, the strike was a success. It showed that the BNP has the muscle to mobilise nationally. Polls suggest it will win the coming election, if it does not boycott it.

This is a remarkable turnaround. When the Awami League routed it in the last election, in December 2008, the BNP seemed on the verge of collapse. A landslide offered the league the chance to break out of the anti-incumbency rut in which Bangladesh was stuck: Sheikh Hasina and Mrs Zia had alternated in power since 1991. Mrs Zia’s prime ministership from 2001-06 was unusually abysmal. Her government topped international rankings for corruption, while presiding over abuses by special forces. It angered both the big neighbour, India, which accused it of giving sanctuary to separatist groups, and the West in general, by appearing to tolerate a small but growing extremist Islamist fringe.

When the BNP tried to rig an election in January 2007, the army quietly stepped in, installing a “technocratic” interim administration that at first was welcomed by many at home and abroad. It tried to lift the blight of the two irredeemably corrupt, family-run parties, hoping their leaders, the “battling begums”, could be packed off into exile. It looked around for alternative leaders with standing and nationwide networks. Muhammad Yunus, a Nobel peace prize-winner for his advocacy of microcredit, briefly flirted with launching a “third force” party. But the break from democracy ended after two years, back where it began, with an election pitting the two begums against each other.

Sheikh Hasina, because of her parentage, still carried the hopes of the older generation of Bangladeshi nationalists for a liberal, secular democracy. In 2008, when one-third of the electorate was voting for the first time, she also seemed to be riding the wave of the future.

She fell off—in part because her government’s signature policy was to tackle not the future but the past. It put on trial those accused of war crimes during the terrible bloodshed of the country’s independence war. The tribunal, deeply flawed, was at least popular. But this backfired after the BNP portrayed it as victimising Islamists. Dozens were killed in a protest march earlier this year, devastating the government’s popularity. It was not just the main opposition that saw partisan bias at the tribunal. Most of the leaders of the biggest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, are before the court. Five have so far been sentenced to death. Jamaat, a BNP ally, has also been ruled ineligible to fight the election.

The issue that provoked the hartal was another move by the government seen as tilting the electoral playing field. It used its two-thirds parliamentary majority to amend the constitution to get rid of the unusual requirement, introduced, because of the climate of distrust, for the 1996 poll, that governments cede power to a neutral caretaker administration ahead of an election. Sheikh Hasina wants instead an all-party government. Mrs Zia objects, since her rival would lead it. Polls suggest that, on this, the public backs Mrs Zia. Improbably, she has the moral high ground.

That’s not the way to do it

Of course, Sheikh Hasina is far from unique in the world in using a big parliamentary majority to hound the opposition and rig the electoral system in her favour. In Russia, Sri Lanka and Venezuela, for example, “majoritarian” leaders have amended the constitution to perpetuate their own rule. Where the Awami League is special, however, is in the speed and extent to which, in pursuing such policies, it has lost popularity.

The hope must be that both begums realise that Punch-and-Judy politics does not work, either for the country or for their own long-term interests. Sadly, however, it seems more likely that they will draw the opposite conclusion: that the longer the feud endures, the more fiercely it should be fought. And just as Punch and Judy have a baby, they both have sons, who have waited in exile for their day to dawn at home. So both have reasons to keep the bickering going for generations to come.

Đăng ký: Hoc tieng anh


India’s mission to Mars: Red planet, red rival

Nguồn tin:

MUCH goes bang over India at this time of year, amid celebrations for Diwali, the Hindu festival of light. By one estimate, Indians spend over $800m a year on fireworks. But, in cosmic terms, they barely leave the ground. How much more exciting that a single, 4.5 billion-rupee ($74m) rocket is set to whoosh high into the sky on November 5th.

This one is not intended to explode, though in December 2010 scientists had to blow up a rocket that went haywire after a launch. Instead the idea is to send a craft to Mars. If all goes well, the rocket will lift Mangalyaan (“Mars vehicle”), which looks like a big box of gold foil, into orbit round the Earth. After stretching its solar wings and fiddling with its trajectory, it will set off on the nine-month trip to Earth’s neighbour.

Koppillil Radhakrishnan, head of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), says all is ready, weather permitting. Scientists aboard two ships in the South Pacific will track the launch, then Americans will help to watch. One point of the trip, he says, is to sniff out any methane in the Martian atmosphere. When the mission was first conceived the possibility of methane on Mars, where it might signal life, was attracting a lot of attention; proving its presence would have been a big deal. Since then, alas, NASA’s Curiosity rover has more or less ruled such a discovery out. But even without a scientific breakthrough, getting a spacecraft into orbit round Mars will demonstrate Indian prowess. Most bits of the launch rocket are home-made, along with 50-60% of the orbiter.

Indeed, the mission has the air of trying to outdo the Chinese. Mr Radhakrishnan waves away talk of rivalry, declaring that “we are only in a race with ourselves to excel in this area”. Yet Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister, announced the project last year shortly after a joint Chinese-Russian mission to Mars had failed.

ISRO, with a budget of 67 billion rupees and a decent pool of 16,000 scientists, engineers and other staff, would indeed brag if all goes well. Generally, though, the agency is cautious. Dreams of launching an astronaut by 2016 have been scrapped; there is a new emphasis on commercial launches. With economic growth slowing and sharp cuts in government spending, the race to space is proving more modest, too.

Đăng ký: Hoc tieng anh



Nguồn tin:

Gulnara bares her soles

GULNARA KARIMOVA, the glamorous elder daughter of Uzbekistan’s strongman, does little to quell speculation that she will succeed her ageing father, Islam Karimov. But a series of recent problems makes it look as if someone is trying to dampen her ambitions.

In October, during Ms Karimova’s annual high-society bash in Tashkent, the capital, known as “”, at least three television stations she controls suddenly went dark. A Belgian pop star cancelled, saying she would not help Uzbekistan whitewash its brutal human-rights record. Then rumours emerged that the tax authorities were investigating Ms Karimova’s charity network, an incubator for her personality cult. And this week the bank accounts of a media company linked to her were reported to have been frozen during an investigation into alleged financial wrongdoing.

Ms Karimova, who is 41, strives to be a glitzy socialite. A self-described “poet, mezzo-soprano, designer and exotic Uzbekistan beauty”, she appears dolled-up in music videos to the thumping backing of hackneyed techno music. She has lured Western performers such as Sting and Julio Iglesias to perform at

But Ms Karimova is coy about her business interests. Four of her associates have recently been implicated in related money-laundering investigations in Sweden and Switzerland. In July she was suddenly removed from her post as ambassador to the UN in Geneva, and so forfeited her diplomatic immunity. Many saw a noose tightening around her. French police are reported to have searched two of her properties.

She does little to make herself appear sympathetic. In October, after her younger sister, Lola, distanced herself from the mounting scandals, Ms Karimova used social media to accuse her sister of practising “sorcery” and indeed of bewitching their mother.

All this has contributed to Ms Karimova’s image outside Uzbekistan as a caricature of the vain, aggressive and greedy child of a dictator. A leaked American diplomatic cable from 2005 called her a “robber baron” and “the single most hated person” in Uzbekistan.

There is no way to know what her 75-year-old father thinks of all this, or how much he even knows. Mr Karimov, whose health and grasp of reality are topics of speculation, has been in power since before the collapse of the Soviet Union. He has built no institutions to ensure a democratic transfer of power, which is why Ms Karimova’s accession has long seemed a possibility.

Daniil Kislov, an Uzbekistan-born journalist, thinks recent events suggest someone influential is attacking Ms Karimova, in an effort to push her out of the way. One possibility is the deputy prime minister, Rustam Azimov, whom Ms Karimova loudly accused of corruption earlier this year. Another is the clan surrounding Rustam Inoyatov, the longtime secret-police chief. Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the prime minister, is also said to hate her.

“We don’t know which of these is her biggest rival, but they certainly want to destroy her business empire and political influence,” says Mr Kislov, the journalist. “She’s the only person close to the president who can challenge them.” Intriguingly, Ms Karimova’s cousin, Akbarali Abdullayev, sometimes described as her “purse”, was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of running an organised criminal racket.

When the succession is decided, it is likely, as with most important decisions in Uzbekistan, to be behind closed doors. Ms Karimova, however, has the capacity to inject a bit of public drama.

Đăng ký: Hoc tieng anh


Religious violence in Myanmar: The silence of the muezzin

Nguồn tin:

Homeless now

A SUNNI mosque looks as if it has seen better days. One of the minarets seems close to collapse. But the cool white floor-tiles are spotless, and the carpeted prayer-rooms well-kept. An elderly imam, whose features betray his Arabic ancestry, prepares for noon prayers. No muezzin calls; but the faithful in the town of Thandwe trickle in, some in prayer caps, others bareheaded but with long white shirts over their blue-checked longyis.

Thandwe is in the south of Rakhine state in western Myanmar, once the kingdom of Arakan. The mosque is near its sprawling market, where Muslims, Indians and members of the ethnic-Rakhine majority sit side-by-side, trading fish and fresh vegetables, clothing, hardware and gold.

It all looks peaceful. But a pagoda by the market now houses riot police and soldiers. And Thandwe is under dusk-to-dawn curfew. In early October seven people died, five of them Muslims, as the town and villages nearby endured violence and arson. In one torched village, several hundred were left homeless.

Almost all local Muslims are from a recognised ethnic group, the Kaman. Unlike the Rohingyas in the state’s north, who are stateless since Myanmar regards them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, most Kaman are deemed to be citizens.

The Rakhine, like most Burmese, are Buddhists. But they resent the ethnic-Burman majority, blaming them for their own poverty. (Theirs is the second-poorest state in Myanmar.) Many feel crushed between “Burmanisation” and “Islamisation”. Their state shares a border with Muslim-majority Bangladesh. Some of the Rakhines’ frustration has been vented on the Muslim Kaman, whom they resent for being more prosperous. Such feelings are exploited by “969”, a Buddhist ginger-group. Its leader, Wirathu, has been inciting Buddhists against Muslims. He visited Thandwe some months ago, and his movement’s 969 signs are now displayed on many shops and houses.

The latest round of violence flared just as Myanmar’s president, Thein Sein, visited the area. His government is coming under mounting pressure to ensure the safety of the Muslim population. In a recent report, Tomás Ojea Quintana, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, argued that Rakhine remained in a “situation of profound crisis”, and that the violence had fed anti-Muslim feelings in the rest of Myanmar.

At least 190 people lost their lives in last year’s strife. But Buddhist perpetrators have so far gone unpunished. Following the latest violence, however, more than 40 people were arrested, mostly Buddhists, including leaders of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP), the main ethnic-Rakhine party.

Even more than elsewhere in Myanmar, violence in Rakhine is a minefield for the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s opposition leader. On a visit to Europe in October she argued that “both sides have been subjected to violence” and rejected the term “ethnic cleansing”. This sparked an outcry abroad, but not at home. Even a young Muslim in Thandwe thinks her wise to dodge “a political trap”.

Even as she risks foreign criticism, however, Miss Suu Kyi is unlikely to win the Rakhine vote in the election due in 2015. For many Rakhine, loyalty to their state transcends that even to Myanmar itself. The outside world is exercised about the plight of Rakhine’s Muslims. For the NLD and the government, however, just as worrying is the anger of the ethnic-Rakhine majority, many of whom still hanker for the days of Arakan’s independent glory.

Đăng ký: Hoc tieng anh


The Khmer Rouge tribunal: Justice and the killing fields

Nguồn tin:

THE long and often fraught proceedings of the court set up to try the leaders of Cambodia’s murderous Khmer Rouge at last came to a head this week on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. The two remaining survivors from the regime’s leadership, Nuon Chea, who is 87, and Khieu Samphan, 82, made their closing statements before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, to give the tribunal its full title. It was only the second trial, and probably the last. A public gallery of Buddhist monks, Islamic clergy, local schoolgirls and foreign journalists looked on.

Mr Nuon Chea was the Khmer Rouge’s chief ideologist and “Brother Number Two” to Pol Pot, who died (untried) in 1998. Mr Khieu Samphan was the head of state of Democratic Kampuchea, as the Khmer Rouge styled its totalitarian Cambodia. They are both accused of crimes against humanity and genocide. This part of their trial concerns the first charge, relating to the forced evacuation of the capital in 1975; no date has been set to hear the genocide charges. Both deny they had anything very much to do with the deaths of a quarter of the population, or about 2m people, from 1975 to 1979. Slave labour to forge an agrarian Utopia; the torture and extermination of ethnic Vietnamese, Cham Muslims and intellectuals (ie, anyone who wore spectacles); and the systematic murder of babies: all were apparently somebody else’s idea.

Throughout the trial, Mr Nuon Chea sported dark glasses and complained that the lights were too bright. A pitiless dogmatist, he once declined to save two nieces from his own regime. Both were doctors, but as educated people they, along with their families, were duly despatched to the dreaded Tuol Sleng or S-21 prison, of whose total of 17,000 inmates only a dozen emerged alive.

On October 31st Mr Nuon Chea expressed remorse for the suffering under the Khmer Rouge but dodged any personal responsibility. He blamed it all on “treacherous” subordinates. Yet a co-prosecutor, William Smith, an Australian, methodically summed up 212 days of hearings, testimony from 92 people, and documentary evidence that included telegrams sent to Pol Pot’s headquarters with daily accounts of the atrocities being committed. It all left little room for doubt that the regime’s leaders knew exactly what was going on.

Sentencing is expected early next year, and the prosecution is demanding life in prison for both ageing defendants. But even if it gets its way, wider questions about the court’s work and legacy will remain. The court’s investigations into the crimes began in July 2007 and to date have cost $200m. The first trial ended in July 2010 with the conviction of Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch: the head of Tuol Sleng, he is the only former Khmer Rouge leader to have admitted to crimes.

If these two also go down, the court will have only three convictions to its name (one other defendant, Ieng Sary, died in March, while another, his wife, was ruled mentally unfit to continue). Unsurprisingly, many Cambodians question whether justice has really been served, or whether the financial cost, even if underwritten by the West, was worth it.

The court has faced indifference and at times hostility from the government led by Hun Sen, the prime minister. He himself was a Khmer Rouge battalion commander until he defected to the Vietnamese in 1977. Vietnam’s subsequent invasion in 1979 ousted Pol Pot but also helped Mr Hun Sen to power. Other members of the government were also connected to the Khmer Rouge and have never wanted the court to delve too deeply into the past. All this helps explain why the court limited itself to trying only members of the Khmer Rouge’s standing committee. In 2010 Mr Hun Sen publicly declared his opposition to any more trials, in effect bringing the court’s work to an end.

The court also had to take account of diplomatic complexities. American anxieties about the tribunal were met by restricting its remit to crimes committed within Cambodian borders, and only while the Khmer Rouge was in power. This had the effect of shielding Henry Kissinger, a former secretary of state, from having to explain his and America’s role in Cambodia’s descent into madness.

For all these reasons, many Cambodians have been cynical about a court shot through with expediency. Furthermore, the proceedings appear to have contributed little to reconciliation. The present political stand-off between Mr Hun Sen and the opposition, following a disputed election in July, shows just how much more of that is still needed.

Yet advocates of the court argue that despite its limitations, it has still done something to comfort the relatives of the Khmer Rouge’s victims. It has also helped Cambodians come to terms with this dreadful episode in their history. More than 100,000 Cambodians have attended the court hearings. Television channels wrap up each week at the tribunal, and programmes reuniting families separated by decades of war are popular.

School curriculums now teach the Khmer Rouge era, and as Craig Etcheson, a former chief investigator for the prosecution, points out, parents are no longer afraid to talk to their children about the horrors that took place when the Maoists came to power. And as for the much-criticised cost, Mr Etcheson says that $100 for every person who died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge is “not too much to ask.”

Đăng ký: Hoc tieng anh


Trial reveals Brooks-Coulson affair

Source BBC News@

Breaking news

Former News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson were having an affair for at least six years, the trial into phone hacking allegations has heard.

Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC told the jurors their relationship meant they trusted each other quite a lot and that was why they were being told.

"What Mr Coulson knew, Mrs Brooks knew too," he said.

Mrs Brooks and Mr Coulson deny a range of charges relating to phone hacking.

Jurors heard their affair was discovered by police through a letter saved on a computer belonging to Mrs Brooks.

The letter was written by Mrs Brooks in February 2004, when Mr Coulson was trying to end the affair, Mr Edis said.

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui

Trust did not warn of killer's risk

Source BBC News@

Brian MaddockBrian Maddock told his psychotherapist he wanted to kill Mr Naylor

A NHS trust failed to warn a man who was killed by his former partner that he was at risk, a report has revealed.

Killer Brian Maddock, 44, had previously told his psychotherapist he planned to kill Michael Naylor with a knife he had under his bed.

The report by NHS England said the risk posed to Mr Naylor by Maddock had not been assessed, before he died at their home in Manchester in 2010.

Manchester Mental Health NHS Trust has apologised to Mr Naylor's family.

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui

NoW phone hacking trial resumes

Source BBC News@

Rebekah Brooks arriving at courtFormer News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks is among those on trial

News of the World bosses must have approved the contract of a private investigator who later admitted phone hacking, the Old Bailey has heard.

Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC said senior figures would have been involved in the decision to give Glenn Mulcaire a written contract in September 2001.

Former NoW editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson are among eight defendants facing trial.

They deny charges including conspiracy to intercept communications.

Mr Edis said that, other than a few "taskings" by the News of the World in 1999, the first dated instruction to Mulcaire by the now-defunct newspaper was 8 January 2001.

An investigations team was set up by Rebekah Brooks when she became editor, and both Mulcaire and former NoW journalist Greg Miskiw, who has also pleaded guilty to hacking, were part of it.

The jury heard Mulcaire was paid a weekly fee until September 2001 when he moved onto a written contract.

The court heard on Wednesday that the private investigator was paid around £100,000 a year for his services.

"It is if course part of the prosecution case that a contract like that, a big contract, involves the senior management, in this case the editor, the deputy editor and the managing editor, the three defendants whom you have to try for phone hacking in addition to Mr Edmondson [former NoW head of news Ian Edmondson] - that is Rebekah Brooks, Andrew Coulson and Stuart Kuttner," Mr Edis said.

Opening the case on Wednesday, Mr Edis told the jury that celebrity victims of phone hacking are alleged to include Jude Law and Sienna Miller, former home secretary David Blunkett, actress Joanna Lumley, and pop star Will Young.

The court also heard that the newspaper was "intensely interested" in the Royal family, with alleged victims including Lord Frederick Windsor, son of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, and Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, former private secretary to Princes William and Harry, who recently became one of Prince George's godparents.

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui

Call for Miliband to condemn Unite

Source BBC News@

breaking news

The Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps has called on Labour leader Ed Miliband to condemn tactics alleged to have been used by the Unite union during the Grangemouth dispute.

It follows the claims of an Ineos manager who said a "mob" was sent by Unite to his home to intimidate him.

In a letter to Mr Miliband, Mr Shapps described the tactics as a "thuggish leverage strategy".

Unite says leverage is a democratic right.

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui

Tough new train punctuality targets

Source BBC News@

A First Great Western trainLong-distance services must improve reliability

Network Rail has been set tough new punctuality targets for the next five years by rail regulators.

In its final draft of 2014-2019 rail funding, the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) confirmed 90% of local trains must run on time.

Network Rail must also improve reliability for long-distance services, while making savings of £1.7bn.

The ORR also increased funding by £32m to close around 500 level crossings and improve safety at hundreds more.

By 2019, fewer than three in 100 long-distance trains on the West Coast line and around four in 100 on the East Coast line should be hit by cancellation or delays of 30 minutes, the ORR said.

In total, Network Rail will receive more than £21bn over the next five years to fund the day-to-day running of the rail network.

The savings require Network Rail to bring down the cost of running the network by around 20%,

Network Rail has until 7 February 2014 to respond in detail and accept or reject the ORR's determination.

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui

Syria chemical equipment 'destroyed'

Source BBC News@

Breaking news

Syria's declared equipment for producing, mixing and filling chemical weapons has been entirely destroyed - OPCW

More to follow.

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui

Universities face strike disruption

Source BBC News@

UCU strikersUniversities have warned that some classes could be cancelled and facilities closed

Universities across the UK face disruption from a one-day walkout by lecturers and support staff who say their pay has failed to keep up with rising living costs.

The University and College Union says it will affect 149 institutions, in a joint action with Unison and Unite.

The unions have rejected a pay offer of 1%, which they say represents a 13% pay cut in real terms since 2009.

University employers predict the strike will cause a "low level of impact".

But the unions say that universities will face the "most widespread disruption for years".

'Record surpluses'

Universities have been warning students there might be some cancellations of classes and that some facilities, such as libraries, could be closed.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the lecturers' University and College Union (UCU), accused universities of giving high salaries to the most senior staff while refusing to give the majority of staff rises to keep up with rising living costs.

She said: "Our employers had a combined surplus last year of more than £1.1bn yet were prepared to offer a pay rise which covered barely one-third of the increased cost of living."

There was a 35% turnout in the UCU strike ballot, with 62% voting in favour of strike action.

Unison's head of higher education, Jon Richards, accused university managements of "sitting on record surpluses, splashing out on senior management pay but refusing to give a decent wage to the staff who have made UK universities some of the best in the world".

The Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) says it is disappointed at the rejection of the pay offer.

A UCEA spokesman, speaking ahead of the strike, said that less than 5% of the higher education workforce had chosen to vote for strike action.

He said that "salary costs in most HE institutions will actually rise by around 3% this year".

The spokesman said that as well as the 1% increase many staff will also get incremental increases and merit awards.

"These pay increases will be seen as generous by many looking into the sector," he said.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: "We are disappointed that the unions have decided in favour of industrial action. Students have the right to expect that their learning will not be disrupted by such action."

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui

Maurice Chevalier

Nguồn tin: tieng anh vui

"Old age is not so bad when you consider the alternatives."

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui

Henny Youngman

Nguồn tin: tieng anh vui

"When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading."

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui

George Orwell

Nguồn tin: tieng anh vui

"In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning."

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui

William Goldman

Nguồn tin: tieng anh vui

"This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it."

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui

Colleen Wainwright

Nguồn tin:

"Sometimes the cure for restlessness is rest."

Đăng ký: Hoc tieng anh


David Assael

Nguồn tin:

"Well, spring sprang. We've had our state of grace and our little gift of sanctioned madness, courtesy of Mother Nature. Thanks, Gaia. Much obliged. I guess it's time to get back to that daily routine of living we like to call normal."

Đăng ký: Hoc tieng anh


Helen Keller

Nguồn tin:

"One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar."

Đăng ký: Hoc tieng anh


Frank Lloyd Wright

Nguồn tin:

"The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes."

Đăng ký: Hoc tieng anh


Wednesday 30 October 2013

Google outrage at 'NSA hacking'

Source BBC News@

A summary of US spying allegations brought about by Edward Snowden's leak of classified documents

The US National Security Agency (NSA) has been hacking data links connecting Yahoo and Google's data centres, according to leaks by Edward Snowden.

Millions of records were gleaned daily from the internet giants' internal networks, documents published by the Washington Post indicate.

The agency's director said it had not had access to the companies' computers.

Gen Keith Alexander told Bloomberg TV: "We are not authorised to go into a US company's servers and take data."

But correspondents say this is not a direct denial of the latest claims.

The documents cited in the latest Snowden leaks suggest that the NSA intercepted the data at some point as it flowed through fibre-optic cables and other network equipment connecting the companies' data centres, rather than targeting the servers themselves.

The data the agency obtained, which ranged from "metadata' to text, audio and video, were then sifted by an NSA programme called Muscular, operated with the NSA's British counterpart, GCHQ, the documents say.

The NSA already has "front-door" access to Google and Yahoo user accounts through a court-approved programme known as Prism.

The revelations stem from documents leaked by fugitive ex-US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who now lives in Russia and is wanted in the US in connection with the unauthorised disclosures.

'Inappropriate and unacceptable'

The latest revelations come hours after a German delegation of intelligence officials arrived in Washington for talks at the White House following claims that the US monitored Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone.

Two of Mrs Merkel's most important advisers, foreign policy adviser Christoph Heusgen, and intelligence coordinator Guenter Heiss were sent to take part in the talks - a measure of how seriously Mrs Merkel takes the matter, the BBC's Stephen Evans reports from Berlin.

Next week, the heads of Germany's spying agencies will go to meet their opposite numbers in Washington.

How intelligence is gathered

How intelligence is gathered

  • Accessing internet company data

  • Tapping fibre optic cables

  • Eavesdropping on phones

  • Targeted spying

This week's meetings are more about how to rebuild trust, while next week's agenda will be more about the detail of how the two countries' agencies might or might not work more in harmony, our correspondent reports.

The head of US intelligence has defended the monitoring of foreign leaders as a key goal of operations but the US is facing growing anger over reports it spied on its allies abroad.

It has also been reported that the NSA monitored French diplomats in Washington and at the UN, and that it conducted surveillance on millions of French and Spanish telephone calls, among other operations against US allies.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said that if Spain had been a target of the NSA, this would be "inappropriate and unacceptable between partners".

However Gen Alexander has said "the assertions... that NSA collected tens of millions of phone calls [in Europe] are completely false".

However on Wednesday, the agency denied Italian media reports that it had targeted communications at the Vatican.

The UN said it had received assurances that its communications "are not and will not be monitored" by American intelligence agencies, but refused to clarify whether they had been in the past.

'Basic tenet'

On Tuesday, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Gen Alexander testified before the intelligence panel of the House of Representatives.

Gen Alexander said much of the data cited by non-US news outlets was actually collected by European intelligence services and later shared with the NSA.

Meanwhile, Mr Clapper told lawmakers that discerning foreign leaders' intentions was "a basic tenet of what we collect and analyse".

He said that foreign allies spy on US officials and intelligence agencies as a matter of routine.

Mr Clapper said the torrent of disclosures about American surveillance had been extremely damaging and that he anticipated more.

James Clapper said knowing what foreign leaders were thinking was critical to US policymaking

But he said there was no other country that had the magnitude of oversight that the US had, and that any mistakes that had been made were human or technical.

Although the pair were not given a tough time by the committee, correspondents say that sentiment is turning within Congress toward tightening up the reach of American intelligence agencies.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied that Moscow used free USB memory sticks and mobile phone charging cables to spy on delegates attending the G20 Summit in St Petersburg last September.

Reports in two Italian newspapers suggested that the USB sticks and cables had bugs on them that could steal data from the delegates.

Spokesman Dmitri Peskov said the reports were an attempt to distract from the problems between European countries and the US.

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui


Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by VN Bloggers - Blogger Themes