U.K. Pays £2.2m to Libyan Rendition Claimant
A Libyan dissident and his family have been awarded £2.2 million by the U.K. government as compensation for what he described as an illegal rendition by MI6 agents. Sami al-Saadi, his wife and four children were forced to board a plane in Hong Kong and subsequently flown to Libya, where al-Saadi was tortured by agents of the government of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. The allegations surfaced during the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime, when documents related to the family’s rendition were found among papers of Libya’s intelligence agency. Al-Saadi, in a statement released by his solicitors, said he accepted the settlement because his family “had suffered enough” adding that the money would enable his children to “complete their education in the new, free Libya” and also afford him “the medical care I need because of the injuries I suffered”. A Foreign Office spokesman confirmed that “the government and the other defendants have reached a settlement with the claimants. There has been no admission of liability and no finding by any court of liability”.
U.K. Government Lifts Ban on Fracking
The U.K. government lifted a ban on fracking on Thursday, a process that extracts natural gas stored in underground shale rocks by pumping massive quantities of water, sand and chemicals at high pressure deep into the ground. This opens fissures, freeing the trapped gas for collection. Energy and Climate Secretary Ed Davey said that the gas “could contribute significantly to our energy security, and reduce imports as we move to a low-carbon economy. It could substitute for imports, which are increasing as North Sea gas is decreasing.” Opponents of the measure say that it could cause tremors in surrounding communities, but companies using fracking will have to install equipment that can detect any seismic activity caused by the drilling. As for the potential savings of the practice bringing in gas that would otherwise be imported, “it is unlikely that U.K. shale gas will be anywhere near as cheap as it is in the U.S., and any price difference between U.K. gas and continental European gas will quickly disappear as a result of demand from other countries”, said Jim Watson, a professor at the University of Sussex interviewed by the Guardian.
Japan Scrambles Fighter Jets to Intercept Chinese Flight Over Disputed Islands
Japan sent fighters jets to intercept a Chinese government plane that entered airspace over a set of disputed islands in the East China Sea on Thursday. Called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, the islands were bought by the government of Japan from a private Japanese owner in September and have rocked Sino-Japanese relations ever since, sparking fears that similar collisions could escalate to a conflict. “It is extremely regrettable that an intrusion into our airspace has been committed in this way”, said Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osama Fujimura. He added that Japan had protested formally to China through diplomatic channels. “The Diaoyu islands and affiliated islands are part of China’s inherent territory. China’s flight over the islands is completely normal”, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei. Although the two nations have sent warships patrolling around the islands, this is the first time a Chinese aircraft had entered Japanese airspace near the island. Speaking to the Reuters news agency, retired Japanese general Toshiyuki Shikata said that “something accidental is more likely to happen with planes than with ships”.
Chinese Government to Stimulate Lending to Private Entrepeneurs
Chinese leaders have agreed to introduce bank deposit insurance schemes as the first step in financial reforms to be undertaken in coming days. The country’s incoming leadership agreed that the system is needed because Chinese banks offer risky investments and loans that do not appear on their balance sheets. The government is keen to stimulate lending to smaller businesses and private companies who receive as little as 3 percent of all lending despite accounting for at least half of the country’s economic activity. China’s banks have so far lent mostly to large state-owned enterprises that its managers saw as certain to repay its loans. If they didn’t, the government would normally step in and pay off debts and in full. Charlene Chu, a specialist interviewed by the New York Times, said that the introduction of deposit insurance could help address the “very rapid decrease in credit in China relative to the size of the economy”.