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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lord Leveson Calls for U.K. Media Watchdog to Prevent ‘Havoc’

Lord Justice Leveson has recommended in a report presented to the U.K. government that press standards should be subjected to a tougher form of self-regulation backed by legislation. He said the press has “wreaked havoc in the lives of innocent people” for many decades, particularly those subjected to phone hacking. He said his proposals would protect the rights of victims and those coming forward with complaints against the press. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said he had “serious concerns and misgivings” about regulation backed by new laws. “We should be wary of any legislation that has the potential to infringe free speech and the free press. The danger is that this would create a vehicle for politicians whether today or some time in the future to impose regulation and obligations on the press”, said the Prime Minister to the House of Commons. Opposition leader Ed Miliband urged the government to accept the report in its entirety. “The publication of this report is the moment when we must put that right, upholding the freedom of the press, and guaranteeing protection and redress for the citizen”, said Miliband.

U.K. Annual Net Migration Falls Below 200,000

Net migration levels to the U.K. have fallen significantly in the past year, according to figures revealed by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Net migration, or the net figure between the number of people who arrive to settle in the country and those who leave, fell from 242,000 to 183,000 year-on-year in March. This is the lowest figure recorded since 2008-9. The governing coalition has pledged to make net migration fall to tens of thousands. The main factor in the fall in numbers has been the drop in the admissions of foreign nationals to study in the U.K, despite an increase in the number of arrivals from China. At the same time, the number of people choosing to leave the U.K. rose from 108,000 to 127,000. “Our tough policies are taking effect and this marks a significant step towards bringing net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands”, said Home Office minister Mark Harper.

Syrian Internet and Mobile Phone Networks Cut Off

Mobile phone networks and internet connections have been cut off in Syria, according to internet monitoring firm Renesys. It said the measures were “effectively removing the country from the internet”. Reports from Syrian users on Twitter using the #SyriaBlackout hashtag suggested the disconnection began in the early afternoon, with telephone networks offering patchy service. “Starting at 10:26 UTC (12:26pm in Damascus), Syria’s international internet connectivity shut down. In the global routing table, all 84 of Syria’s IP address blocks have become unreachable”, said the monitoring company in its blog. It also said it would continue to monitor the outage. The Syrian government has previously cut off access before and during major military operations, which could suggest the Bashar al-Assad regime is about to launch a major offensive against the rebel coalition. Opposition activists have begun using satellite phones to communicate beyond Syria’s borders.

New York Experiences a Full Day Without Violent Crime

Last Monday New York City recorded its first entire day without a single person being stabbed, shot or subjected to a violent crime. The lack of crimes took the New York Police Department by surprise, with a spokesman admitting they could not tell exactly when that had last happened. In 1994, when the police force began entering crime date in computer databases, the city registered almost 14 shootings every day. This year, the database tracked 1,674 shootings, or five per day. “There were shootings galore. We lived in a town where people were afraid to come out of their houses, where babies slept in bathtubs to avoid getting shot, where nursery schools ran drills – ‘When you hear shots, drop down’”, said NYPD historian Tom Reppetto to the New York Daily News. A Metropolitan Police spokesman told the Huffington Post that London might have had a technically more violent day than New York because a suspicious death was recorded that Monday in Acton. New York’s record only lasted until early Tuesday, when a shooting was reported in the borough of Brooklyn.

Brazil Announces Lowest Level of Deforestation Since 1988

The Brazilian government has announced the lowest levels of Amazon deforestation since monitoring began in 1988. Data gathered from satellite observations made by the National Institute of Spatial Research (INPE) in July showed that deforestation fell by 27 percent year-on-year. The measurements were made shortly before a new logging code came into effect, with environmentalists fearing that its more lax punishments on those that practice illegal logging could lead to an increase in deforestation in the future. Brazilian Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said that the data was encouraging, but that some federal states were not as aggressive as others in their defense of the Amazon rainforest. “Regrettably, we see that some states that did not have an aggressive policy of combating logging are registering an increase in the activity”, said Teixeira. She added that government efforts to curb logging could improve once a new GPS monitoring system comes into effect next year.

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