Italian journalists strike over Berlusconi wiretap bill

Italian PM Silvio BerlusconiJournalists say Silvio Berlusconi wants to protect himself and his allies

Journalists across Italy are on strike to protest against a proposed bill aimed at curbing wiretapping.

Newsstands were left without papers and journalists working for news agencies, websites and broadcast media also refused to work.

The government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi wants to restrict the right of police and prosecutors to plant bugs and record telephone conversations.

It also proposes fines for journalists publishing transcripts of recordings.

Mr Berlusconi argues that tightening the law is necessary to protect the privacy of Italian citizens.

Most observers agree that there has been an explosion of media reports based on wiretaps and secret telephone recordings in Italy.

But journalists say that the prime minister wants to protect himself and his allies.

"The real objective of this bill is to prevent the reporting of judicial cases that have a high political impact, the ones that can generate, and have generated, embarrassment," said the head of the Italian journalists union, Roberto Natale.


The international organisation Reporters without Borders has described the law as authoritarian.

Italian magistrates have also warned that the proposed law, which still needs to pass the lower house of parliament, would restrict their fight against the Mafia, terrorism and paedophiles.

Transcripts of bugged conversations have fuelled a number of scandals involving Mr Berlusconi, including a call girl's claims to have slept with the Italian leader.

Recently, wiretaps leaked to Italian media have led to corruption allegations against the Italian disaster relief agency.


Osborne meets workers in spending cuts consultation

Chancellor George Osborne has met public sector employees who have suggested ideas for saving money as part of a consultation on future cuts.

He said there had been 65,000 responses to a website launched recently asking for suggestions on cutting waste.

Mr Osborne said the process was "sensible" and many of the ideas would be considered by civil servants.

But unions have said the exercise is an "outrage" as workers are being asked to contribute to their own sacking.

In the Budget Mr Osborne announced real terms cuts across all government departments of 25% over four years - except health and foreign aid which are ring-fenced.

It has since emerged that some departments have been asked to consider cuts of up to 40% in order to reduce the deficit.

'Big problem'


  • Book travel and accommodation directly not through agents
  • Centralise stationery orders across government
  • Get local authorities to share functions like HR and finance
  • Make hospital clearance checks applicable across NHS
  • Turn the lights off in buildings during evenings and weekends
Spending Challenge ideasUnions urging 'cuts alternative'

As part of the spending review process, ministers are asking public sector workers to suggest services they believe are non-essential, how services can be better targeted or provided more effectively by private and voluntary groups.

Ideas published on the Treasury website include booking travel and accommodation directly rather than through third party agents, centralising stationery orders across government, getting local authorities to share functions, making hospital clearance checks applicable across the NHS and turning the lights off in buildings during the evenings and weekends.

The Treasury said it would shortlist a number of ideas "for further work or implementation".

'Involving people'

Mr Osborne said the idea was a "very sensible thing to do" given the challenges the country was facing.

Having over 65,000 people take part.. is all about saying to the country 'your government needs you to help us deal with those debts we have inherited'

George OsborneChancellor of the Exchequer

"The country knows there is a big debt problem," he told the BBC. "We have got to deal with that to make sure the economy is not in crisis.

"But the country also knows that, as we go about it, we need to involve the public sector in those decisions.

"Having over 65,000 people take part and now opening that process up to the public is all about saying to the country 'your government needs you to help us deal with those debts we have inherited'."

Mr Osborne has also asked the public for their suggestions on how to save money, with the launch of a new spending challenge website.

He said: "We need to tackle this huge national debt and make our economy stronger, and it's your ideas that will help us do that by improving public services and saving money."

But the consultation with public sector staff was condemned by GMB union chief Paul Kenny, who said it was an "outrage" to ask public workers to "co-operate in sacking thousands of them".


And Unite branded the ideas "boy scout" solutions and said it would launch its own campaign for ideas to protect jobs and local services.

The union's assistant general secretary for public services, Gail Cartmail, said: "It is ludicrous to ask people for their suggestions to make savings, when the government has already decided on the biggest round of public sector cuts since the 1930s."

It is ludicrous to ask people for their suggestions to make savings, when the government has already decided on the biggest round of public sector cuts since the 1930s

UniteFacebook users asked about cuts

Labour say proposed 25% average cuts in departmental budgets, which will be determined in an spending review in October, are reckless and will hurt vital services.

The party says the cuts are based on an ideological desire to reduce the scope of the state, rather than sound economic reasons.

The government earlier announced a tie-up with the Facebook website in an effort to use new technology to "crowd source" and get people involved in making policy.

The website will have a page for people to debate spending priorities and will allow people to submit and vote for ideas on where cuts could be made.


Backbenchers line up to criticise Gove over cancelled school project list

Gavin Barwell becomes fourth Tory MP to publicly question education secretary's proposed cuts to school building projects

Michael Gove
Education secretary Michael Gove is facing increasing criticism from within his party over cuts to school building projects. Photograph: Murdo Macleod

The education secretary, Michael Gove, was under mounting pressure from inside the Conservative party today after another Tory MP attacked his plans to axe new school buildings.

On Monday, Gove cancelled Labour's £55bn school building programme, suspending projects for 715 new schools as part of the coalition's latest tranche of spending cuts. He told the Commons that the scheme had been hit by "massive overspends, tragic delays, botched construction projects and needless bureaucracy".

Since then, Gove has been attacked by four Tory MPs who have school building projects in their constituencies that have been cancelled or suspended. Gove is expected to face further criticism from MPs on Monday when he will answer questions in the Commons.

The latest Tory to publicly question the education secretary's decision was Gavin Barwell, Conservative MP for Croydon Central, who today, was seeking "urgent confirmation" that the rebuilding of the Quest Academy in his constituency would go ahead. "I am very concerned," he said. "We need urgent confirmation that the government is going to provide something for that."

His statement comes after three other Tory MPs condemned Gove for scrapping the school building programme earlier this week. Philip Davies, Tory MP for Shipley, West Yorkshire, said he wanted to know how a decision had been reached to scrap a new building project for grammar schools in his constituency. He intends to challenge Gove with a question in the House of Commons on Monday.

Ian Liddell-Grainger, Conservative MP for Bridgwater in West Somerset, attacked plans to halt three schools in his constituency and put three others under review. He has said he will lobby David Cameron about the issue.

Gordon Henderson, Tory MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey in Kent, has written to Michael Gove to plead with him to make an exception of the Isle of Sheppey Academy, whose funding is under threat.

Ed Balls said he was asking the public accounts committee to investigate after the Department for Education made at least 25 errors on a list it published which was meant to identy which schools' projects had been halted. Hundreds of schools were informed their projects had been spared when in fact they had been cancelled.

Balls said: "Parents and teachers no longer have any confidence in these error-strewn lists. This looks like a totally arbitrary decision-making process, with no clear criteria being used to decide which schools are safe and which will go ahead."


Fire breaks out at Heathrow airport

Servisair cargo warehouse fire leads to a 400-metre exclusion zone being established, but flights not affected

London fire brigade said it has sent around 100 firefighters and 20 fire engines to Heathrow, above. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

About 100 firefighters have been tackling a fire at Heathrow airport, which broke out at lunchtime in a cargo warehouse.

Pictures of the scene show thick black smoke billowing over the airport. A spokesman for Heathrow said no one had been hurt and flights had not been affected.

An emergency call was made at 1.16pm after fire broke out at the Servisair cargo warehouse on Stansted road, on the southern edge of the airport. "There is less smoke than there was but there is still a large amount of smoke," the spokeswoman said.

A spokesman for BAA, the airport's operator, said that a 400-metre exclusion zone had been set up. He stressed the airport was "running as normal".

London fire brigade said it sent about 100 firefighters and 20 fire engines to the scene. A spokesman said the blaze was not yet under control. Police were at the scene.

The BBC reported that it believed a forklift truck caught fire. It said witnesses heard explosions, probably from the gas cylinders on the vehicle.


Raoul Moat sightings suggest fugitive remains near village

Police fear Raoul Moat could have been living under their noses in the village at the centre of Britain’s biggest manhunt.

As the search for the gunman entered its seventh day, alarmed members of the public reported seeing a man they were convinced was the fugitive gunman striding down the High Street in Rothbury where almost 200 armed police are searching for him.

The sighting came just three hours after Northumbria’s temporary Chief Constable Sue Sim told hundreds of worried villagers: “I’m not saying he’s going to be walking down the road with a gun.”

There was also evidence that Moat, 37, a nightclub doorman, may have been scrumping for tomatoes in local allotments to feed himself after a week on the run from three shootings 30 miles away.

Scores of armed police accompanied by dogs spent hours combing the area under helicopter searchlight after an intruder was seen running into a greenhouse in the early hours of Friday.

The intense police activity in Rothbury came hours after a walker discovered a mobile phone apparently abandoned by Moat in open ground outside the village.

It had not been used by him since Tuesday when two alleged accomplices were arrested in Rothbury and a tent found on a makeshift campsite he is thought to have set up in nearby woodland.

A mobile phone was earlier found in Birtley - where Moat is alleged to have shot his former girlfriend Samantha Stobbart, 22, and killed her new boyfriend Chris Brown, 29 – early on Saturday.

Another, used to make two 999 calls before and after Pc David Rathband, 42, was shot in his patrol car at East Denton on Sunday, has been recovered from an undisclosed location.

The three telephones could help police piece together vital information about his movements and anyone he may have had contact with while on-the-run.

A man and woman were arrested in Blyth, Northumberland, where he is thought to have robbed a fish and chip shop on Monday night, are now being questioned on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Two men have been remanded in custody accused of conspiracy to murder and possession of a firearm, and two other men have now been released on police bail pending further enquiries.

Police were first alerted to the sighting in the centre of Rothbury around 11pm on Thursday when a woman in her 30s saw a man she was convinced was Moat striding past her as she stood outside the village chip shop.

Moments later a man further down the street also saw the distinctive tall stranger and alerted two police officers.

Northumbria Police said there had been a night of “intense” activity in and around the village and confirmed that there had been a number of “potential sightings” of Moat.

They also disclosed that there had been a sighting of Moat in Rothbury on Monday which had now been corroborated with other evidence.

Armed police yesterday set up a cordon around the National Trust’s Cragside House, Gardens and Estate just over a mile away with a helicopter in support.

A £10,000 reward has been offered for information leading to his detention.

Karl Ness, 26, from Dudley in North Tyneside, and Qhuram Awan, 23, from Blyth in Northumberland, were remanded in custody at Newcastle maigistrates’ court on Thursday accused of joining Moat on a hunt for policemen to shoot.

Police believe Mr Ness and Mr Awan were with Moat when he shot Pc Rathband, but lawyers for the pair deny their clients were involved.


Prisoner Swap in Vienna Ends U.S.-Russia Espionage Case

Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

A Vision Airlines jet believed to be carrying the Russian agents parked near a Russian plane at a Vienna airport on Friday.


UN condemns SKorea ship sinking

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council on Friday condemned a deadly attack on a South Korean warship that killed 46 sailors and pointed a finger toward North Korea but didn't directly blame the reclusive communist nation.

North Korea's U.N. Ambassador Sin Son Ho called it "our great diplomatic victory," stressing again that his country had nothing to do with the sinking of the 1,200-ton Cheonan on March 26.

He warned that "the plot" blaming North Korea for the sinking throws "the situation of the entire Korean peninsula into trigger point, which may be exploded at any moment." But at the same time, he said North Korea will make "efforts" to continue the denuclearization process on the Korean peninsula through six-party talks, which Pyongyang abandoned in December 2008, and to replace the Armistice Agreement that ended the 1950-53 Korean War with a new peace treaty.

The statement approved by all 15 council members expressed "deep concern" over the findings of a South Korean-led international investigation that concluded that a North Korean torpedo fired by a North Korean submarine sank the Cheonan.

The statement, read by the council president, condemns and deplores the attack and calls for "appropriate and peaceful measures to be taken against those responsible."

But it doesn't identify who is responsible and "takes note" of North Korea's response "that it had nothing to do with the incident."

North Korea has called for a new joint investigation by both Koreas and Sin again pledged that his government will "do our utmost to dig out the truth behind this incident to the end."

South Korea had wanted the council to condemn the North. But China, the North's closest ally and a veto-wielding council member, opposed a third round of sanctions against North Korea or direct condemnation for the sinking.

While U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice and South Korean Ambassador Park In-kook insisted the council statement makes clear that North Korea was responsible for the attack, some diplomats and analysts privately called it weak for not directly blaming Pyongyang.

"The message to North Korean leadership is crystal clear," Rice said. "The Security Council condemns and deplores this attack. It warns against further attacks and insists on full adherence to the Korean Armistice Agreement."

She said the council's use of the word "attack" and its expression of "deep concern" about the investigation's findings show how all members viewed the sinking.

South Korea's Park said: "the Security Council made it clear that it is North Korea to be blamed and to be condemned."

"I'm sure that today's strong and unanimous statement will serve to make North Korea refrain from further attack or provocation," he said.

Japan's U.N. Ambassador Yukio Takasu expressed hope that North Korea listens and responds to the council's message "that this kind of attack is not acceptable, should not be repeated, and any further action ... should not be tolerated."

The council statement "underscores the importance" of preventing further attacks or hostilities against South Korea or in the region, and stresses "the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia as a whole."

South Korea sent a letter to the council on June 4 asking the U.N.'s most powerful body to respond to the sinking "in a manner appropriate to the gravity of North Korea's military provocation."

After more than a month of closed-door discussions, the United States announced Thursday that the five permanent council members — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France — as well as South Korea and Japan had reached agreement on the text.


Major militant attacks in Pakistan in 2010

Army offensives and U.S. missile strikes are believed to have decreased militant attacks in Pakistan, but the violence is far from ended. A look at some of the major attacks so far in 2010:

_ July 9: A pair of suicide bombers kill 62 people and wound 111 in the Mohmand tribal region.

_ July 2: Twin suicide bombers attack Pakistan's most revered Sufi shrine in the eastern city of Lahore, killing 47 people and wounding 180.

_ May 29: Two teams of seven militants armed with hand grenades, suicide vests and assault rifles attack two mosques of the Ahmadi minority sect in Lahore, killing 97 and wounding dozens.

_ May 18: A remote-controlled bomb kills 13 people, including three police, in Dera Ismail Khan, a northwestern city hosting thousands of tribesmen displaced from a military offensive in South Waziristan.

_ April 19: A suicide bomber apparently targeting police at a conservative Islamic party rally in the northwestern city of Peshawar kills 23 and wounds more than 30.

_ April 18: Two burqa-clad suicide bombers attack refugees lined up to register for food and other relief supplies in Kohat district in the northwest, killing 41 people and wounding dozens more.

_ April 5: Militants unleash a car bomb and grenade attack against the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar, killing four people.

_ April 5: Hours before the consulate attack, a suicide bomber attacks a rally of an anti-Taliban political party in Lower Dir district, killing 45 people and wounding more than 70.

_ March 13: Two suicide bombers targeting army vehicles in Lahore kill more than 55 and wound more than 100.

_ March 8: A suicide bomber rams an explosives-laden vehicle into a building where police interrogate high-value terror suspects in Lahore, killing 13 people and wounding 45 others.

_ Feb. 18: A bomb tears through a mosque in the Khyber tribal region, killing 29 people and wounding 50 more.

_ Feb. 5: Two bombs targeting the Shiite Muslim minority sect in southern Karachi city kill 33 and wound 176.

_ Feb. 3: A suicide bomber kills three U.S. servicemen and three civilians in the northwest's Lower Dir region.

_ Jan. 1: A suicide bomber drives a truckload of explosives into a volleyball field in Lakki Marwat district in the northwest, killing at least 96 people and wounding more than 100.


Armani Jeans & Underwear campaigns featuring Cristiano Ronaldo

This is one for the ladies who love Cristiano Ronaldo. Here is one of his ads for the Armani Jeans & Underwear Spring/Summer 2010 campaign

Giorgio Armani is pleased to unveil the new images of Cristiano Ronaldo appearing for the second season as the official worldwide testimonial for Emporio Armani Underwear and Armani Jeans, coinciding with Autumn Winter 2010-2011 advertising campaign.

The advertising campaigns for both Emporio Armani Underwear and Armani Jeans, were shot on location Madrid, and will roll out starting from July around the world on line and on signature billboards in major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, London, Milan, Rome, Paris and Tokyo.

In addition to the outdoor and digital campaigns, September will see the release of a Cinema and online commercial with Cristiano Ronaldo to showcase the collections.

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