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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

MI5 Head Criticises Intelligence Leaks, ‘An Advantage to Terrorists’

The new head of MI5 used his first speech since taking up the post to make veiled remarks at US whistleblower Edward Snowden and the Guardian newspaper for revealing classified intelligence about the pervasive monitoring programmes undertaken by the GCHQ and the US National Security Agency. “We are facing an international threat and GCHQ provides many of the intelligence leads upon which we rely. It causes enormous damage to make public the reach and limits of GCHQ techniques. Such information hands the advantage to the terrorists. It is the gift they need to evade us and strike at will. Unfashionable as it might seem, that is why we must keep secrets secret, and why not doing so causes such harm”, said MI5 head Sir Andrew Parker. Guardian Editor-in-Chief Alan Rusbridger defended the newspaper’s reporting on BBC Radio 4′s World at One. “If you read the whole of Andrew Parker’s speech it is a perfectly reasonable speech and it is what you would expect him to say. If you are on the security side of the argument you want to keep everything secret, you don’t want a debate and you don’t want the press or anyone else writing about it. But MI5 cannot be the only voice in this debate.”

Pakistani Taleban Leader ‘Open to Talks’

Pakistan Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud has told the BBC that he is open to peace talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, but said he had not been approached by any official from Islamabad. “The proper way to do it is that if the government appoints a formal team, and they sit with us, and we discuss our respective positions”, said Mehsud, adding that a ceasefire would only be credible if “drone strikes are stopped”. “America is one of the two reasons we have to conduct a jihad against Pakistan. The other reason is that Pakistan’s system is un-Islamic, and we want it replaced with an Islamic system. This demand and this desire will continue even after the American withdrawal”, he added. He also said the group would continue to target “America and its friends”, but denied recent attacks within Pakistan. “As for explosions which cause damage to the life and property of Muslims, we have denied any link the past, we deny any link today”, he said.

Female Members of Saudi Legislative Council Ask King Abdullah to Let Women Drive

Female members of Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council, the country’s legislative body, have asked King Abdullah to allow women to drive. Conservative clerics claim letting women drive would lead to people of different sexes mixing in public, a “threat to public morality”. While there is no specific law banning women from driving in Saudi Arabia, women have been arrested in the past when attempting to drive on charges relating to public order or political protest. “Men and women members were discussing the obstacle of women’s transportation and how it’s a burden for women working with families and the lack of other options like public transport”, said Hanan al-Ahmadi, one of the women in the council. She said another of her colleagues then stood up proposing that the council should recommend the start of preparations to allow women to drive and “nobody raised their voice or opposed it. I think people were expecting it. I believe she received many notes of support afterwards from other members”. The head of the country’s morale police, Sheikh Abdulatif al-Sheikh, told Reuters last month that there was no text in Sharia law that explicitly forbade women from driving.

Obama To Nominate Yellen to Fed Chairman

US President Barack Obama will nominate Federal Reserve Vice-Chair Janet Yellen to replace Ben Bernanke as the next Chairman. If nominated, she will become the first woman to run the US central bank. Known for pushing aggressive policies to boost the US economy during her time in the Fed and making the most accurate forecasts of all the current Fed officials from 2009 through 2013, she is expected to face no major hurdles in her confirmation hearings. Described by a former colleague as a “small lady with a large I.Q.”, Yellen was previously president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, a White House advisor, a Fed governor during the Clinton administration and a professor at UC Berkeley. “She makes an argument on the merits and she sticks with it. And she’s good at articulating an argument in a way that doesn’t leave people on the other side hopping mad at her”, said Alan S. Blinder, an economics professor at Princeton and former Fed vice-chairman.

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