French police search the Paris apartment of IMF chief Christine Lagarde, in an inquiry into alleged abuse of her authority when finance minister.
See the original post here: IMF head Lagarde’s flat searched
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Your editorial (No cause for hyperventilating, 18 March) doubts that “John Milton will be spinning in his grave” over current rows about press freedom. Of course he isn’t: he was Cromwell’s censor. In the Areopagitica, the great phrase is “as good almost kill a man as kill a good book”. The crucial adjective is “good”, and he was quite happy to determine what could be so described and burn the rest.
The turning corpse we should be worrying about is Sir Roger L’Estrange, the last statutory censor of the press – “Surveyor of the Imprimie”. He must be cheering. A fervent royalist, L’Estrange believed “it is the Press that has made ‘um Mad, and the Press must set ‘um Right again” and was therefore also licensed to be a monopolistic news publisher. So, if we are turning back the clock, how long before we do it properly and appoint Rupert Murdoch (or his front-person) by royal charter “Surveyor of the Media”?
University of Lincoln
• Implementing the Leveson proposals is not an issue of whether we have a “free” or a “shackled” press. The papers that are complaining are privately owned, and the notion that they are edited without any influence from the companies that own them is for the birds. Nor is there any proposal to shackle them: it is simply to do what self-regulation has repeatedly failed to do and set out a framework that will require them to behave responsibly.
Claims that the terms proposed would have prevented the Daily Mail’s challenge to those it accused of Stephen Lawrence’s murder, or the Daily Telegraph’s exposé of the expenses scandal are disingenuous: neither would have been realistically threatened. On the other hand, the Sun might well have taken the trouble to investigate its assertions about the victims of the Hillsborough disaster more carefully.
Baildon, West Yorkshire
• Those of us who watched the Leveson inquiry day after day were satisfied when the politicians admitted that they had been too close to the owners and editors of newspapers. It was agreed there would have to be changes. Then, after the publication of the inquiry report, one of the most open examinations of public life, politicians and the newspapers went private. Both having been found guilty, they were left to decide away from the public gaze what part of the sentence suited them.
• Why all this talk about newspapers opting into regulation or failing to opt in (Newspaper groups threaten boycott if Tories back down over press regulator, 18 March)? We can’t opt out of regulations about how we drive our motor cars just because we think we ought to be able to drive faster or reckon it costs too much to insure them.
• May I thank the Lib Dems for standing firm and sticking to principle to help force David Cameron to do what is right for once, rather than what is politically expedient for the Conservatives and their puppet masters?
Category : Stocks
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwire – Feb. 15, 2013) - The Rio Theatre will screen the film A Long Journey Home: The Rainier Story, at 5PM on Monday, February 18, followed by a panel discussion to raise awareness of the need for women’s addiction treatment in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The panel will include former Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable Steven Point, Chair of the Advisory Committee on the Safety and Security of Vulnerable Women, responsible for the implementation of recommendations from the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry Report.
How the benchmark rate fixing unfolded
The Libor interest-rate scandal dates back to 2005. Little known outside the City, it underpinned trillions of pounds worth of loans, mortgages and financial contracts in Europe and the US.
Regulators have already imposed £1.7bn of fines on a string of the world’s biggest banks, while police are pursuing criminal investigations into staff involved in rigging the rates to suit their employers.
Between January 2005 and June 2009, Barclays derivatives traders made a total of 257 requests to fix Libor and Euribor rates. Initially, traders sought to inflate the bank lending rate to boost profits – and their own bonuses.
After Northern Rock collapses, Barclays submits artificially low rates to give a healthier picture of its ability to raise funds.
In a phone call in December, a Barclays employee tells the New York Fed that the Libor rate was being fixed at a level that was unrealistically low.
In April the New York Fed queries a Barclays employee over Libor reporting.
The Wall Street Journal publishes the first article questioning the integrity of Libor.
Following the WSJ report, Barclays is contacted by the British Bankers’ Association over concerns about the accuracy of its Libor submissions.
Later in the year, the Fed meets to begin inquiry. Fed boss Tim Geithner gives Bank of England governor Sir Mervyn King a note listing proposals to tackle Libor problems.
A year on, the BBA issues guidelines for setting Libor rates.
In June, Barclays makes first effort to clamp down on Libor manipulation in email setting out standards of behaviour.
Royal Bank of Scotland sacks four people for their alleged roles in the emerging Libor-fixing scandal.
22 June Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond learns of emails sent by dodgy traders. He later says reading them made him feel “physically ill”.
27 June Barclays admits misconduct. Regulators fine it £360m.
29 June Diamond insists he will not resign.
July Barclays chairman Marcus Agius and Diamond resign, followed by chief operating officer Jerry del Missier.
The prime minister, David Cameron, announces a review of the banking sector, sets up Banking Commission. Serious Fraud Office (SFO) launches a criminal inquiry into Libor manipulation.
Deutsche Bank confirms that a “limited number” of staff were involved in the Libor rate-rigging scandal. It clears senior management. SFO arrests three men in connection with investigations into Libor.
Swiss bank UBS is fined £940m by US, UK and Swiss regulators.
January Barclays’ new boss, Antony Jenkins, tells staff to sign up to a new code of conduct – or leave the firm – in clean-up operation.
February RBS is fined £390m by
MPs will hear calls later for a full inquiry into allegations of the blacklisting of workers on major public projects such as Crossrail and the Olympics.
Read the original here: Call for workers’ ‘blacklist’ probe
Deal announced late on Friday means company formerly known as BAA will only be responsible for four airports
The company formerly known as BAA is to sell Stansted airport to Manchester Airports Group for £1.5bn.
The deal, announced late on Friday, will mean that BAA – now known as Heathrow Airport Holdings – will be responsible for just four UK airports compared with its original seven.
The remaining airports are Heathrow, Southampton, Aberdeen and Glasgow.
BAA’s airport ownership was brought into question when the Office of Fair Trading referred the company’s holding to the Competition Commission (CC).
After a long inquiry the CC ruled that BAA’s airport ownership was uncompetitive.
Criticising the company’s performance, the commission said that BAA must sell Gatwick and Stansted and one of either Edinburgh or Glasgow airports.
Gatwick had already been sold by the time of the ruling and since then BAA has sold Edinburgh.
It held out for some time before finally accepting the ruling on Stansted – mounting a succession of ultimately unsuccessful legal challenges.
Heathrow chief executive Colin Matthews said: “Stansted airport and its people have been part of our company for a long time.
“It has been named by passengers as ‘the world’s best airport for low-cost airlines’ for two consecutive years at the Skytrax World Airport Awards, and we are proud of its achievements.”
He went on: “We wish the new owners every success and are confident the airport will continue to flourish. We will continue to focus on improving Heathrow, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton airports.”
The sale is expected to close by the end of February 2013.
Manchester Airports Group (MAG) owns and operates Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports.
MAG also includes the commercial property company, MAG Developments, which has a £350m portfolio across the three airports and is leading the £650m Enterprise Zone development, Airport City, at Manchester.
MAG also runs businesses in car parking, airport security, firefighting, engineering, advertising and motor transport.
The group’s three airports and property business contribute about £3.2bn to the UK.
MAG had been one of the bidders for Gatwick when BAA put it up for sale while the CC inquiry was going on but it lost out to American private equity group Global Infrastructure Partners, which now also runs Edinburgh.
Stansted in Essex is London’s third busiest airport after Heathrow and Gatwick and is the UK’s fourth busiest airport.
It handles about 17.5 million passengers and more than 131,000 flights a year.
A popular airport for no-frills airlines, Stansted is home to 14 airlines serving more than 150 destinations in 32 countries. It employs more than 10,000 people.
Stansted’s pre-tax profits in 2011 amounted to £86.6m and are estimated to be £94.2m in 2012.
Senior members of the US Congress are demanding an inquiry after a Shell oil drilling ship ran aground off Alaska.
See the article here: VIDEO: Inquiry call after rig runs aground
CALGARY, ALBERTA–(Marketwire – Jan. 3, 2013) - The Lieutenant Governor in Council has ordered a Public Inquiry to be held pursuant to Section 17 of the Health Quality Council of Alberta Act concerning the possibility of improper preferential access being given to publicly funded health services in Alberta.
View original post here: Health Services Preferential Access Inquiry Announces Public Hearings in Calgary
Shuffling bundles in his Strand courtroom, Lord Justice Leveson offers surprisingly little original thought or research
This Last Chance Saloon, of course, will never close until it runs out of cash and customers. The idea that politicians (and newspaper proprietors) will suddenly discover a perfect way of regulating the press is bunk. To see that, turn to the single most depressing part of Brian Leveson’s magnum opus and the paragraphs of chop-logic where he pretends that Twitter, Facebook and the rest don’t exist.
Who cares if Prince Harry’s Las Vegas revels and Princess Kate’s sunbathing are all over the net? Ethical, regulated newspapers are required to pretend that US privacy laws, French snappers and international celebrity websites that 90% of the British population can click to somehow don’t exist. It’s a ludicrous proposition. But Leveson, safe shuffling bundles in the warmth of his Strand courtroom, has nothing else useful to say.
And so – by 2016, maybe, which even Ed Miliband reckons is the earliest an underpinned regulator could be up and running – the whole caravan of possible reform will surely be heading into the ditch again. Does it matter, now, whether David Cameron is “a leader of press freedom” in Daily Telegraph eyes? Not so much, except in brute political terms. The big issues of privacy, defamation and the rest will be played out across cyberspace and require fresh remedies with every passing year’s launch of the latest Apple/Samsung gizmos.
It would be far, far better if newspapers – led by some mythical “substantial figure” if the Guardian can find one – could come up with an answer that requires no legislation, because its flexible remit will be easier to alter as technology demands fresh responses. See how successive Communications Acts rot and silt on the statute book! But, for the rest, none of the real problems here is even addressed.
Of course, everyone has been very nice to Lord Justice Leveson. Well, they would be, wouldn’t they, as Baroness Rice-Davies might add. But, in truth, this report is a sloppy, elephantine piece of work that relies on nobody having the time to read it before taking sides.
You want history and the seven supposed attempts to regulate newspapers in 70 years of last chancery? Leveson does what seems suspiciously like a scissors and paste job on the Media Standards Trust’s own version of history, which in turn draws heavily on a 12-year-old volume from Tom O’Malley and Clive Soley called Regulating the Press (what it says on the tin). No original thought or research required. You want an international perspective? Here comes another load of paint and clippings from the Reuters Foundation’s own look at press self-regulation around the western world – without any attempt to create a relevant UK context. No thought at all.
You want to denounce “injudicious, sensationalist and intemperate” behaviour on an industrial scale? In fact, the relatively few “ordinary” victims paraded here are exactly the same as those (pretty non-transparently) called to testify before the full inquiry – and none of their stories, except perhaps for non-ordinary Gordon Brown’s, is interrogated or assessed in any proper judicial fashion. Do I feel sorry for Chris Jefferies after the police wrongly arrested him? Of course: but this is Section 2(2) of the Contempt of Court Act territory, handled far faster by the law than any regulator could possibly contrive. Do I warm to the sad Watsons from Glasgow who want libel protection for the recently dead? Ask Cyril Smith’s grieving relatives. Did I feel for the Dowlers? Yes, for a brief, horrible ordeal: but not so much when they’re dragged from platform to platform as some kind of legal exhibits. Hacked Off would do well to balance the millions in settlements paid out against victimhood (and in lawyers’ fees) before turning the volume too high.
What we’re given here is the Strand equivalent of pages 2-97 in any full-rant edition of the Daily Mail: a pre-digested charge sheet, not a proper inquiry. Leveson’s 1,987 pages add nothing that his nine months of hearings didn’t already rehearse. How is the public supposed to trust something they won’t remotely have time to read and an outcome they won’t understand? Jeremy Hunt, David Cameron and sundry police officers may be cleared in a miraculous instant, but the racket of a debate rigged on both sides rumbles on.
Those who say that statutory underpinning is the lightest touch on the tiller compared with what already exists – say the recognition of PCC verdicts in subsequent legal cases – have an argument, sure enough. There’s heavy fog over the precise location of this Rubicon. But there’s an even heavier fog over the meaning of the word “independent” in a world when you examine the relatively narrow legions of the great and good who actually sit on our regulatory quangos, from Ofcom to the BBC Trust – all government-approved or government-appointed. This debate, for those with the dedication to endure it, tells you more than you want to know about the introverted, self-loathing state of British political society – and journalism. But – as Leveson himself might redolently conclude – we are where we are.
There will now be redoubled efforts to set up a press regulatory framework that works. It won’t endure, at least for very long. You can’t make that happen in an instantly interlinked world where the dominant player, the US, has none of your laws and none of your posited regulators. It matters, for the moment, what messages the process sends to foreign states where democracy has frailer roots. It matters that whatever emerges is done by agreement, because imposed solutions on a problem so various and ephemeral are bound to implode. And it matters that, as we soldier hoarsely on, we don’t deceive ourselves.
I was attached to the now doomed PCC because I helped in small ways to construct it: and I don’t recognise many of the outside attacks by those who were not and have never been there, whose opinions Brian Leveson merely parrots. We know that some journalists and some editors (not, please, “the press”) let it down. We ought to know that that is one inevitable price of freedom. We’ll be trying once more to make something that works while upmarket journalists sniff at tabloid journalists and broadcast journalists sniff at both, unless they’re being sniffed at themselves.
But we have to travel with due humility all round. Some reporters, however regulated, will always get something wrong. Some governments will always want to curry favour with, or intimidate, the press. Some learned academics will always believe that supervising the press is as simple and low-profile as running the Judicial Appointments Board.
And we’ll all forget that freedom of information – on the web as well as via Caxton – is a struggle, not a hot bath of sanctimonious baloney. Or, as even the wholly partial history of seven decades of last chances recited by Leveson reminds us, that the demand for the 1947 royal commission “reflected understandable public disquiet over a return to business as usual after the war years” (which entailed strict government control). Ah! Those were the days. How about one more round?
Richard Desmond is not his lordship’s best beloved. Indeed, Leveson’s lip seems to curl at the mere mention of his name. Gallons of midnight oil have gone into finding formulas to bring Dickie to heel. But, rather quietly, this unclubbable, uncouth proprietor has been Ofcom-sanctified as the owner of statutorily regulated Channel 5 for another 10