jueves, 31 de octubre de 2013

Snowden's Lawyer Says He Has a New Job in Russia - New York Times

Mr. Snowden, whose whereabouts here have remained closely held and a matter of intense speculation, will begin working on Friday at a company that the lawyer, Anatoly G. Kucherena, would not disclose. He declined to discuss details of Mr. Snowden's life in exile, he said, "because the level of threat from the U.S. government structures is still very high."

Mr. Kucherena's assertion about the employment offer could not be verified. Other claims about Mr. Snowden's secretive life here have turned out to be unsubstantiated.

In August, when Russia's migration agency granted Mr. Snowden a one-year temporary asylum, the founder of Russia's most prominent social network, VKontakte, publicly offered him a job, saying his expertise would help protect the personal data of the site's users.

A spokesman for the company, Georgy Lubushkin, declined to comment; a technology site, Digit.ru, quoted the company's technical director, Nikolai Durov, as saying he was not aware of any job offer.

Two other prominent Internet companies here, Yandex and Mail.ru, said that Mr. Snowden was not working for them.

Mr. Snowden's disclosures about the global extent of eavesdropping by United States intelligence services have caused an international uproar, deeply embarrassing the Obama administration and creating severe frictions with some of American's most important allies.

Owners of killer dogs to face same jail terms as lethal drivers under new ... - Telegraph.co.uk

Earlier this year, the Government announced plans to make it a crime in England and Wales to allow a dog to be dangerously out of control on private property after Jade Anderson, 14, was killed by five dogs in a house in Wigan.

In 2003, the government raised the maximum penalty for death by dangerous driving from 10 to 14 years.

Lord de Mauley, the animal welfare minister said: "It is right that the punishments of those who allow their dog to kill or injure people or assistance dogs are proportionate to the horrendous impact dog attacks can have.

"We're toughening up laws to ensure that anyone who owns a dangerous dog can be brought to justice, regardless of where an attack takes place. We're also giving local authorities and the police new powers to nip issues in the bud and take action before a dog attack takes place."

Some campaigners have said Government policies on dogs are becoming too strict. Home owners were warned earlier this year that they could potentially face prosecution if their dog scares a child who strays into their garden to retrieve a football.

Under the rules, an owner whose dog "nips, bites or barks" at a person such as a postman could in theory face court action.

There are concerns that the law could lead to dog owners being threatened with legal action if their pet barks aggressively at a child.

Under the new Government plans, a dog owner could also face three years in jail if their animal kills an assistance dog.

Hit-And-Run Revenge Driver Jailed For 20 Years - Sky News

A motorist caught on CCTV ploughing into a group of men as they crossed the street - leaving one of them brain-damaged - has been jailed for 20 years.

Aqab Hussain was convicted of four counts of attempted murder by a jury at Manchester Crown Court at an earlier hearing.

CCTV footage captured the 21-year-old mowing down the men after "horseplay" over a baseball cap led to a fight outside a club in Manchester city centre.

One was catapulted over the roof, another knocked to the side and a third carried down the street before Hussain swerved to dislodge him from the bonnet of his car.

One of his targets managed to jump out of the way of his vehicle.

Rachael Pavion, prosecuting, said the car was used as a "lethal weapon" as Hussain "sought revenge by driving at speed deliberately at the four men with a clear intention to kill".

The attack in John Dalton Street in the early hours of August 21 last year left one of his victims with "life changing" injuries.

Michael Ward, who was carried several metres down the street on the bonnet of Hussain's car, spent many weeks in a coma after suffering injuries to his brain.

The court heard the injuries were so severe Mr Ward could not remember he had three children, and that he would never be able to look after himself.

His wife, Maryrose, was in court for the sentencing, and said of the prison term afterwards: "In a way I am disappointed, but in one way I am happy, because it would have been worse if they never caught the person who ran my husband over.

"It ruined my husband's life, and my life, and my kids ... he can't remember my kids ... so happy in a way and then feel upset in one way."

She added: "He can't talk, he can't walk. He has no concentration, he has no memory of years ago, the kids. We've been married seven years, no memory. He can't wash himself, he can't feed himself ... I will care for him for the rest of my life."

Hussain, who declined to give evidence during the trial, showed "complete disregard" for his actions and fled the country three days after the attack.

Police arrested him at Manchester Airport seven weeks later on his return to the UK.

Witness accounts, CCTV footage and forensic evidence helped prove that he was behind the wheel of the car.

Hussain, from Manchester, was also disqualified from driving for 15 years.

California woman ticketed for driving with Google Glass - The Globe and Mail

A woman testing the prototype device Google Glass was ticketed in San Diego this week for driving while wearing the glasses, which contain a built-in computer and miniature display. The case has drawn the focus of technology enthusiasts on social media.

The driver was pulled over on a freeway for speeding on Tuesday evening. The police officer gave her a second citation for driving "with a monitor" in violation of state law, according to California Highway Patrol spokesman Officer Marc Hale.

More Related to this Story

The citation was issued on Interstate 15 in San Diego, he said, without identifying the driver.

In a post to social networking site Google Plus, technology entrepreneur Cecilia Abadie said she was the driver stopped by the California Highway Patrol on suspicion of speeding and she displayed her citation online.

"A cop just stopped me and gave me a ticket for wearing Google Glass while driving!" Abadie wrote in the post.

It was not immediately clear if Abadie was the first person cited for wearing Google Glass while driving, but Hale said he was not aware of anyone in California ever being cited for using the technology while behind the wheel.

Google Inc.'s eyewear Glass is not available for sale to the general public. The company is testing the product with the help of thousands of so-called Explorers who have been given early access to the technology.

On the technology website CNET, writer Lance Whitney wrote that Abadie's infraction "does pose a thorny legal question that police, judges and drivers will have to face as these wearable devices become more prevalent."

Abadie, who is listed on LinkedIn as the founder and developer at technology firm 33 Labs in Southern California, could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

On her Google Plus page, a number of online commentators suggested that Abadie contest the ticket, with one person comparing her offense to having a cellphone in a pocket.

Others criticized Abadie for her alleged speeding. Her citation says the California Highway Patrol officer estimated she was driving 80 mph in a 65 mph zone.

Putin muscles in as world's No 1 - New Zealand Herald

Maybe one of geopolitics' hoariest cliches is in need of revision.

At least since the end of the Cold War, "The most powerful man in the world" has been a standard appendage for the President of the United States.

Now, if Forbes is to be believed, that title belongs to the leader of America's vanquished Cold War rival, the President of Russia.

For only the second time since the US business magazine began its practice of listing the world's most powerful people in 2009, Barack Obama is not ranked No 1 this year. In 2010, the distinction went to Hu Jintao, the former Chinese President. Now it is the hour of Vladimir Putin.

Such rankings are entirely subjective; indeed their existence is merely evidence of the American obsession with lists, numbers and its eternal search for definitive truth in statistics. But they're undeniably fun.

Nonetheless, Obama's demotion and Putin's promotion (from 3rd in 2012), underline a fundamental truth about the nature of power. In terms of objective "hard power", America has long reigned supreme: a defence budget exceeding those of the 10 next countries combined, a unique ability to project troops and colossal firepower to every corner of the earth, and (as the current NSA brouhaha only confirms) unsurpassed technology to boot.

But matters are not so simple. Power resides in the perception of power or, put another way, of the readiness of an individual or state to use it. Obama's performance of late, not least over Syria, suggests he is uncomfortable in that role. No such doubts surround Putin.

Happily for the US and the rest of us, economic might counts at least as much as military might, if the Forbes list is anything to go by. That's why Chancellor Angela Merkel is at No 5 - though Germany's readiness to use military power is close to zero - ahead of British Prime Minister David Cameron (11th) and French President Francois Hollande (18th), who both head nuclear powers and who both talked a fierce fight against Syria.

Even so, ranking the new Pope at 4th might be pushing it. Pope Francis' personal humility and moral example are indubitably inspiring, but the scandals that have plagued a hide-bound Catholic Church may be hard to overcome. By contrast China's new leader, Xi Jinping, entering the charts at No 3, has clear upside potential, as stock analysts say.

In general, however, the US continues to rule. Of the 72 names on the list (each representing 100 million of the world's population), 28 are American. The bulk of those are corporate bosses, plus the inevitable Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, ranked at No 7. The high-tech contingent (the heads of Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple etc.) also attest to America's enduring "soft power".

Apart from Putin, only three Russians make the list, a more accurate reflection of the country's modest economic ranking (around 10th, as measured by GDP).

- Independent

By Rupert Cornwell

In Pictures: Ronaldo-Bale partnership blossoms in Bernabeu rout - Goal.com

After the world's most expensive footballers put in star displays in a 7-3 win against Sevilla, Goal looks back at what could prove to be the beginning of a beautiful relationship

Real Madrid may have had to wait a while, but Wednesday night finally saw the first steps of what coach Carlo Ancelotti hopes will prove to be a fruitful partnership between Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

The world's two most expensive footballers turned on the style during Los Blancos' 7-3 rout of Sevilla, with the Welshman bagging two goals and two assists, while his Portuguese team-mate hit a clinical hat-trick.

The Santiago Bernabeu faithful were delighted at what they saw, while Ancelotti is encouraged about the relationship the duo are already developing.

He told Marca: "Bale played very well, showing great fitness, scoring two goals and forming a good understanding with Cristiano."

Deadlock broken | Gareth Bale opens the scoring against Sevilla with a top strike.

Double trouble | Bale doubles his and Real Madrid's tally for the night via a deflected free kick.

Spot on | Cristiano Ronaldo gets in on the act after scoring from the penalty spot.

Loved up | Early reports of unrest between the two stars seem a distant memory

The day after Fifa president Sepp Blatter was forced to apologise to Ronaldo and Real Madrid for saying he preferred Lionel Messi, and claiming the Portuguese was like a military commander, the Bernabeu crowd were fully behind their No.7.

After showering their hero with praise in the opening exchanges, and after Bale had already struck twice, Ronaldo had the last laugh. After scoring his first goal from the penalty, he performed his best salute to show that he means business.

Dream team |The pair combine as Bale claims his second assist and Ronaldo his second goal.

Anything you can do... | Ronaldo makes sure he has the final word as he completes his hat-trick.

UPDATE 2-Murdoch editors Brooks, Coulson had affair, hacking trial told - Reuters

Thu Oct 31, 2013 12:16pm EDT

* Court hears of affair at heart of Murdoch empire

* Brooks, Coulson both later close to PM Cameron

* Prosecution says both knew of hacking by reporters

* Defendants deny charges

By Kate Holton and Michael Holden

LONDON, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, two former editors of Rupert Murdoch's now defunct News of the World tabloid, were having an affair at the time their reporters are accused of hacking into phones, a court heard on Thursday.

Prosecutor Andrew Edis said the intimacy of their relationship indicated each knew as much as the other about how their reporters were operating. Both have denied conspiring to hack into phones or making illegal payments to public officials.

"What Mr Coulson knew, Mrs Brooks knew too. What Mrs Brooks knew, Mr Coulson knew too," Edis told the court. "That's the point."

Coulson went on to become the chief media spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron while Brooks, a close confidante to Murdoch, went on to be chief executive of News International, the tycoon's British newspaper group.

The revelation of the affair is likely to bring more embarrassment to Cameron, who has long been accused by critics of being too close to Murdoch's News Corp media empire.

Murdoch owns The Sun and Times papers and 39 percent of pay-TV group BSkyB, which opponents say enables him to wield too much political influence in Britain.

"Mrs Brooks and Mr Coulson are charged with conspiracy, and when people are charged with conspiracy the first question the jury have to answer is, how well did they know each other?" Edis said. "How much did they trust each other?"

The affair went on from 1998 to 2004, Edis told the jury at London's Central Criminal Court.

Brooks and Coulson showed little reaction to the revelation as they sat side-by-side in the glass dock along with six other defendants, including Brooks's husband Charlie, whom she married in 2009.

The prosecutor said the relationship was discovered after police found a document containing a 2004 letter on a computer at Brooks's home. Brooks wrote the letter to Coulson after he tried to break off the relationship, Edis said.

"The fact is you are my very best friend, I tell you everything, I confide in you, I seek your advice, I love you, care about you, worry about you, we laugh and cry together," the letter said, according to Edis who read it out to the jury of nine women and three men.

"In fact without our relationship in my life I am not sure I will cope."

Edis told the jurors that it was not the affair in itself that was important to the prosecution's case.

"It isn't simply that there was an affair, it isn't to do with whether they have sexual relations with one another, (it is to do with) how close were they ... and they were very close," he said.


Revelations about phone-hacking engulfed News Corp during the summer of 2011, forcing the closure of the 168-year-old tabloid News of the World and embarrassing senior politicians and police who were shown to have very close links to press barons including the 82-year-old Murdoch.

Earlier on Thursday, the jury heard that Brooks and Coulson had authorised huge payments to the man behind the hacking at a time when the News of the World was drastically cutting costs.

Brooks and Coulson ordered senior staff to slash budgets but allowed about 100,000 pounds ($161,000) a year to go to Glenn Mulcaire, the private detective who has admitted tapping mobile phone voicemails for their paper.

"What was so special about him?" Edis asked the jury of Mulcaire. "Well, what was so special about him was that he was doing phone-hacking."

The jury were shown emails which Edis said revealed the tight financial restrictions and the pressure Britain's best-selling newspaper was under to maintain sales.

"I am very worried about news desk's spending, what is going on? It's a disciplinary situation. How am I going to make myself any clearer?" Brooks wrote in an email to her senior news staff in June 2001 shortly after berating one for spending 7,500 pounds on one story.

Showing the pressures within the newsroom, Coulson told senior staff in April 2005 that the paper "needed a hit badly," in terms of the quality of the stories they were breaking. Edis said the jury would have to decide whether that pressure was a factor in the decision by some staff to break the law.

In a bid to get ahead on salacious front-page stories, reporters on the Sunday tabloid repeatedly hacked the phones of senior politicians, royalty and even rival journalists to get big stories, the jury heard.

"In the dog-eat-dog world of journalism, in this frenzy to get this huge story, and to try and get something better or at least as good as what everyone else has got, that is what you do if you're Ian Edmondson," Edis told the jury of nine women and three men.

"You hack the competition."

Edmondson, one of the six others on trial, ran the news gathering desk at the tabloid when Coulson was the editor.

All eight defendants in the trial deny all the charges against them. The trial is expected to last for six months.

UK trial hears phone hacking was rife - Ninemsn

Two former editors of the newspaper - Murdoch's protegee Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, a one-time media chief to Prime Minister David Cameron - are among eight defendants at the high-profile trial.

It is the first time that criminal charges have been put to alleged key players in the scandal that rocked the British media and the political world two years ago.

Brooks, Coulson and the six others are accused of offences ranging from plotting to illegally hack celebrities' phones to concealing evidence and bribing officials for stories.

All the defendants deny the charges against them.

Opening the case at London's Old Bailey court, prosecutor Andrew Edis said the jury had "quite a simple" question to consider.

"There was phone hacking," he told the panel of nine women and three men. "Who knew?"

Three former senior journalists at the News of the World - Greg Miskiw, James Weatherup and Neville Thurlbeck - have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to hack phones, Edis revealed.

Murdoch shut down the 168-year-old News of the World in disgrace in July 2011 amid a storm of allegations that its staff had hacked the mobile phone voicemail messages of a murdered schoolgirl as well as hundreds of celebrities and public figures.

Brooks and Coulson, both 45, are the most high-profile defendants in a trial that is set to last up to six months.

The prosecution stressed that the case was about more than just phone hacking. Edie said Brooks was accused of paying STG40,000 ($A68,000) to a Ministry of Defence official for information.

Do you have any story leads, photos or videos?

Putin pips Obama as 'most powerful person' in 2013 Forbes list - Business Standard

Russian President has been declared the world's by magazine, leaving United States President in second position in the 2013 list.

Forbes said that Obama's "lame duck period" had started earlier than usual, while Putin strengthened his control over Russia, the BBC reports.

According to the report, it is the first time in three years that Obama has dropped to the second place on the Forbes list.

Putin showed his strength by granting asylum to former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden in August, who is wanted in the U.S. over several intelligence document leaks.

Putin also strongly averted Obama's threats of missile strikes on Syria with a plan for Damascus to hand over chemical weapons.

On the other hand, Obama has been struggling from a 16-day U.S. government shutdown caused by a budget and debt crisis in Washington.

Top 10 most powerful people of the world according to Forbes 2013 are:

1) Vladimir Putin, Russian President

2) Barack Obama, US President

3) Xi Jinping, Chinese President

4) Pope Francis, Roman Catholic Church

5) Angela Merkel, German Chancellor

6) Bill Gates, co-chair, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

7) Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman

8) Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud

9) Mario Draghi, European Central Bank president

Putin chairs meeting on fighting corruption - Houston Chronicle

MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin has chaired a meeting on fighting corruption following a check of officials' incomes launched by the Kremlin.

Putin's chief of staff, Sergei Ivanov, said after Wednesday's meeting that eight top officials, including two senior military officers, were fired recently after a check of their income declarations.

Ivanov, who is in charge of anti-corruption effort, said 1.5 million officials nationwide submitted their income declarations this year, and 200 lost their jobs following inquiries. He says checks will continue and "there can't be any untouchables."

For the first time this year, officials were requested to declare their expenditures if they spent more than their three-year income in a single year. Ivanov said 14,400 such officials submitted such declarations this year; of 600 checked so far, 20 raised suspicions.

New 'back to work' scheme legislation faces legal challenge - Herald Scotland

The legal battle over the schemes has centred on claims brought by university graduate Cait Reilly, 24, from Birmingham, who challenged having to work for free at a local Poundland discount store and by 40-year-old unemployed HGV driver Jamieson Wilson, from Nottingham, who objected to doing unpaid work cleaning furniture and as a result was stripped of his jobseeker's allowance for six months. Ms Reilly, who was at the Supreme Court, said: "I brought these proceedings because I knew that there was something wrong when I was stopped from doing voluntary work in a local museum and instead forced to work for Poundland for free.

"I have been fortunate enough to find work in a supermarket but I know how difficult it can be. It must be time for the Government to rethink its strategy and actually do something constructive to help lift people out of unemployment and poverty."

Critics condemned the schemes as "slave labour" because they involved work without pay and cuts in jobseeker's allowance for those who failed to comply with the rules, while those in favour welcomed them as an effective way of getting people into employment.

Yesterday, Five Supreme Court justices upheld a Court of Appeal decision that 2011 regulations were legally flawed, but rejected claims that back to work schemes amounted to forced labour.

Since the Court of Appeal's ruling in February, the Government has fast-tracked new legislation, the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Act, through Parliament, which validates the 2011 regulations retrospectively.

After the latest decision in the legal battle, Phil Shiner, head of Public Interest Lawyers, said: "Today's ruling from the Supreme Court is of huge constitutional and practical significance. My firm will now get on with challenging, by judicial review, the retrospective legislation which was shamefully rushed through Parliament."

Responding to today's ruling, Mr Duncan Smith said: "We have always said it was ridiculous to say our schemes amounted to forced labour, and yet again we have won this argument."

Retina iPad Mini may debut on Nov. 21, Target.com suggests - CNET

Apple's hasn't yet revealed a release date for iPad Mini Retina, but a product page at Target.com may have spilled the beans.

First spotted by MacRumors, the retail giant's Web site lists the base 16GB tablet as having a November 21 release date. So far, the most Apple has said about a release date was that the $399 tablet would not be available until "later in November."

While getting the tablet in consumers' hands a week before Thanksgiving will give Apple a jump on Black Friday sales, MacRumors notes that November 21 is a Thursday and that Apple typically launches products on Fridays.

CNET has contacted Apple for comment and will update this report when we learn more.

However, the new tablet is said to be in limited supply. Apple CEO Tim Cook alluded to possible shortages of the recently unveiled tablet during Apple's earnings conference call on Monday.

"It's unclear whether we'll have enough for the quarter or not," Cook said.

The next day, it was reported that Sharp may be responsible for the expected shortage. The Apple supplier is having problems with production yields of the 7.9-inch display for the Mini Retina, according to a Digitimes report.

This week's cover: Inside the wild world of Katy Perry - Entertainment Weekly (blog)

What does it means to be the biggest pop star on the planet in 2013?

In this week's cover story, Katy Perry gave EW an all-access pass to her crazy world (spoiler alert: we saw her boobs), as we spent a week criss-crossing the globe with her from L.A. to London, Berlin, and New York.

"You're gonna see all different kinds of things," Perry warned in L.A. at the outset of our trip. And she wasn't kidding: Closing out the mammoth iTunes Festival. Sipping champagne with a giant German gentleman with bedazzled eyebrows named Bubbles (he's a member of the superfan contingent known as Katycats). Late-night tea in a London hotel lobby with a rock icon. Twitter accounts named after her breasts. Near-constant jet lag. Being Katy Perry (or even just being her plus-one) is an exhausting, exhilarating ride.

Perry's openness extended to our multiple interviews with the singer where she talks about everything from God to falling in love to what she thinks of her pop-star contemporaries:

On current boyfriend John Mayer, the inspiration for the Prism track "Legendary Lovers": "I actually wrote it in an email one time, and after I wrote it I looked — we had a long courtship before anything was [public], just writing letters to each other — and seeing 'legendary lovers,' it sounded so nice. Some things float into my mind, and I process them, and [then] I make songs about them."

On headline-grabber Miley Cyrus: "She's what, 19 or 20? She's just living her life. She's super young, and there's no directing book on how to do this. Each of us find our own way, and some of us make it out alive and some of us don't. I mean, Madonna was naked [too]. The thing is, people come to me and ask me, out of default, what I think about all these girls, but at the end of it all I shouldn't be considered the behavior police, because I'm not always going to be on my best behavior!"

On her perceived rivalry with Lady Gaga: "Gaga and I like to publicly dismiss it because it's not healthy. You want to feel music. You want it to resonate and relate to you. You can't look at it like a competition because you ruin the reason why you love music. But I think that sometimes our fan groups are so big and strong, they use it as ammunition."

For the full story, find the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands this Friday. And go to our Facebook page to watch an exclusive interview with Katy talking about her current style influences (The Craft and Empire Records, anyone?).

miércoles, 30 de octubre de 2013

Chris Brown enters rehab facility - USA TODAY

Chris Brown has decided to try to get some help.

The star, who was arrested in Washington over the weekend after getting into a fight, "has elected to enter a rehab facility," his rep, Nicole Perna, tells USA TODAY.

"His goal is to gain focus and insight into his past and recent behavior, enabling him to continue the pursuit of his life and his career from a healthier vantage point."

MORE: Chris Brown's rap sheet continues to grow

Brown, 24, is still on probation from his 2009 assault incident with his then-girlfriend Rihanna. His probation will end on Aug. 25, 2014, according to E! News, which had reported earlier this week that friends and family were hoping he would enter rehab. Any arrest could be considered a violation of this probation, which could result in jail time.

Boxer Mike Tyson had advice for Brown this week, telling a New York radio station: "Chris should know this … if you're not humble in this world, this world will dress humbleness upon you."

Reviews: Apple's iPad Air is a major improvement, but pricier than competitors - The Star Online

REUTERS: Apple Inc has not reinvented the wheel with the iPad Air but the thinner device, priced higher than many of its competitors, is a major improvement on a successful product, the reviewers wrote on Tuesday.

Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Walt Mossberg called the iPad Air the best tablet he has ever reviewed.

"That isn't just because of its slimmer, lighter design, but because Apple boasts 475,000 apps optimized for tablet use - far more than any other tablet platform," Mossberg wrote. (http://link.reuters.com/wyk34v)

The new full-sized iPad goes on sale from Friday and will be priced starting US$499 (RM1,500).

Damon Darlin of the New York Times said the Air is lighter than its predecessors, adding that the gadget is a delight to use. (http://link.reuters.com/xyk34v)

Reviewer David Pogue, who recently left the New York Times to start a new consumer-tech website at Yahoo, said the iPad Air is "a fantastic leap into the future if you're upgrading from an original iPad, or if you've never owned a tablet before."

However, all three reviewers highlighted that the iPad Air is pricier than many of its competitors.

"Do you need to plunk down US$500 (RM1,500) or more for an Air if you already have an earlier version of the iPad?," Darlin asked, calling the improvements on the new device "incremental, not revolutionary."

Amazon.com Inc's 8.9in Kindle Fire HDX costs US$379 (RM1,137), Microsoft's Surface 2 starts from US$449 (RM1,347), while Samsung's Galaxy Tab 3 10.1in tablet has a suggested retail price of US$400 (RM1,200).

Pogue said that given the price, an iPad probably does not need replacing every year or even every other year. (http://link.reuters.com/zyk34v)

Mossberg concluded: "Bottom line: If you can afford it, the new iPad Air is the tablet I recommend, hands down." - Reuters

First-ever suicide bombing at Tunisian resort could presage more violent attacks ... - Washington Post

The extremists have experienced a resurgence since Tunisia kicked off the Arab Spring in 2011 by overthrowing its secular dictatorship.

In what may have been the first suicide attack in Tunisia, hotel security guards stopped the bomber from entering the Riadh Palm hotel in Sousse, a city 90 miles (150 kilometers) south of the capital, Tunis, then chased him to a beach where he blew himself up, the Interior Ministry said.

The ministry described the bomber as dark-skinned and wearing an explosive belt. The city is being searched for possible accomplices, said ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Aroui.

In the foiled attack in nearby Monastir, an 18-year-old followed a group of tourists into the mausoleum of modern Tunisia's founder, Habib Bourguiba, carrying a backpack full of TNT. He attempted to distract security by tossing a firework before being subdued, said Hicham Gharbi, a spokesman for the presidential guard, which patrols the site.

"He will be questioned to learn his motives and those who ordered the attack," Gharbi told local radio. Bourguiba, Tunisia's first post-independence president, was a fierce secularist and has long been criticized by hardline Islamists.

Riccardo Fabiani, the North Africa analyst for the Eurasia Group said, that coupled with a failed car bomb a few days ago, Wednesday's attacks suggest the start of a new terrorist campaign targeting civilians and tourism.

"A few episodes alone don't necessarily make compelling evidence, but three episodes of this kind point in this direction," he said in an interview. "It was also inevitable to an extent that this would happen sooner or later, if you consider the news over the past few months."

His analysis was echoed by Mokhtar Ben Nasr, the former spokesman for the military, who said the attacks were designed to harm the tourist industry and distract security forces from their efforts to root out militants based in the hinterlands.

Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali ruthlessly suppressed overt expressions of religion. Since his ouster in 2011, there has been a resurgence of political Islam, including moderates who won elections and hardliners known as salafis.

The salafis were tolerated by the new government led by the moderate Islamist Ennahda Party. But that changed when they began challenging policies they deemed insufficiently Islamic, resulting in increased confrontations between them over the past year.

That culminated in the main salafi group, Ansar al-Shariah, being classified as a terrorist movement in September.

Dell users: Latitude 6430u laptops 'smell of cat urine' - BBC News

A number of Dell users have complained that their Latitude 6430u Ultrabooks "smell of cat urine".

Dell engineers have ruled out biological contamination, and said the smell was not a health hazard.

The problem lay in the manufacturing process, which has now been changed, the company said.

Users affected by the issue should send their laptop back for replacement parts.

Customers first raised the issue with Dell's high-end business laptop in June.

"A few weeks ago I got a new Lattitude 6430u for work," one user called Three West complained on Dell's hardware support forum. "The machine is great, but it smells as if it was assembled near a tomcat's litter box. It is truly awful!"

Another customer, Hoteca, said: "I thought for sure one of my cats sprayed it, but there was something faulty with it so I had it replaced. The next one had the same exact issue. It's embarrassing taking it to clients because it smells so bad."

Other users said they had blamed their cats for the smell.

Dell support technicians initially suggested that users should clean the laptop air vents with compressed air, but users complained that the odour persisted.

In September, a customer known as Malioz raised a concern that the cause of the problem could be to do with the polymer used in the laptop plastics, and asked whether chemicals causing the smell could be a health hazard.

Replacement parts

After an investigation, Dell concluded that the odour was not hazardous to health.

"The smell is not related to cat urine or any other type of biological contaminant, nor is it a health hazard," Dell support technician SteveB said.

The problem was related to the manufacturing process, and had now been resolved, he said.

"If you order an E6430u now, it will not have the issue."

Dell recommended that users should send affected laptops away for a replacement palm rest.

News of the issue spread after a link to the thread was posted to discussion site Reddit.

Humpback whale Norfolk coast recording 'a first' - BBC News

The sighting of a humpback whale in the North Sea off the Norfolk coast is the first on written record, experts said.

The whale spent most of Wednesday morning swimming about two miles out to sea between Winterton and Horsey.

Carl Chapman, cetaceans recorder for Norfolk, said having examined records dating back to the 1700s it was a first "to record a humpback off our coast".

First seen on Tuesday and surrounded by gannets, it has stayed because of a "good supply of fish", said Mr Chapman.

A regional co-ordinator for the Sea Watch Foundation, he added: "There's been an increase in the number of humpback whales around the world in the past 20 years since the hunting of them stopped.

"It was only going to be a matter of time before we had one off our coast, but to have one in our waters is a real thrill and it's possible it could over-winter here."

Robin Chittenden, who runs Bird Line East Anglia was trying to photograph a shorelark when he saw the whale.

He said:"It was an amazing thing to see. The first thing I saw was the blow as it surfaced to breathe. It stayed in one area for quite some time surrounded by gannets.

"It then swam towards Sea Palling before what appeared to be turning out to sea. But for it to come back today it's clearly found a good food source. Nobody expected to see it again."

Other whales recorded in Norfolk by the Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service include the fin whale, minke whale, sperm whale and long-finned pilot whale.

Gemma Walker, from the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, said she was so determined to see the humpback she just put a coat over her pyjamas.

"I live at Winterton and thought when am I ever going to see one in my lifetime off the Norfolk coast - it was an opportunity not to be missed.

"I've been to Australia to see the humpback migration and didn't see a thing, I never thought I'd see one on my doorstep."

Adobe hack: At least 38 million accounts breached - BBC News

Adobe has confirmed that a recent cyber-attack compromised many more customer accounts than first reported.

The software-maker said that it now believed usernames and encrypted passwords had been stolen from about 38 million of its active users.

It added that the attackers had also accessed details from an unspecified number of accounts that had been unused for two or more years.

The firm had originally said 2.9 million accounts had been affected.

Adobe has also announced that the hackers stole parts of the source code to Photoshop, its popular picture-editing program.

It had previously revealed that the source code for its Acrobat PDF document-editing software and ColdFusion web application creation products had also been illegally accessed.

The information could allow programmers to analyse how Adobe's software works and copy its techniques.

In May, Adobe shifted several of its products to a subscription model, meaning its customers needed to register an account and provide their payment card details in order to qualify for upgrades.

Passwords reset

A spokeswoman for Adobe defended the fact its initial statement did not reveal the full scale of the issue.

"In our public disclosure, we communicated the information we could validate," she said.

"As we have been going through the process of notifying customers whose Adobe IDs and passwords we believe to be involved, we have been eliminating invalid records. Any number communicated in the meantime would have been inaccurate."

She added that the firm still believed that encrypted credit and debit card numbers, product expiration dates and other information relating to customer orders had only been compromised in the case of the original 2.9 million users identified.

Regarding the additional 35.1 million users, the company thinks only customer IDs and encrypted passwords have been affected.

It has since reset the passwords as a precaution against the encryption being cracked. However, this would not protect its customers from the threat of having their accounts on other services attacked if they used the same usernames and passwords.

According to Brian Krebs, a security blogger who first reported the breach, a file was uploaded to a hacking forum last weekend that appeared to contain millions of usernames and hashed passwords taken from Adobe.

The fact the passwords had been hashed means that they had been converted into a string of characters using a process that cannot be reversed to reveal the original text.

The spokeswoman for Adobe said the document had since been removed from the site at the firm's request, and added that her company had seen no indication of unauthorised activity on any of the accounts involved in the incident.

21 new torrent sites added to UK banned list - ZDNet

Summary: Following a court order, UK ISPs must now block customers' access to a total of 25 torrent sites and aggregators.

Twenty-one extra torrent sites and aggregators are now being blocked in the UK.

Music industry group BPI recently obtained a High Court order stipulating UK ISPs must block their customers' access to the 21 sites, with the ban coming into force from today.

"Music companies are working hard to build a thriving digital music sector in the UK, offering fans great convenience, choice and value, but these efforts are undermined by illegal sites which rip off artists and contribute nothing to Britain's vibrant music scene. We asked the sites to stop infringing copyright, but unfortunately they did not and we were left with little choice but to apply to the court, where the judge considered the evidence and declared that ISPs should not serve access to them," Geoff Taylor, CEO of BPI, said in a statement.

BPI obtained similar banning orders for four torrent sites — The Pirate Bay, Kat, H33t, and Fenopy — earlier this year, but many users were able to circumvent the block without too much trouble.

According to the BPI, the block has led to a "significant reduction" in use of the sites, though the organisation did not provide any details of how it had decreased.

As of today, the 25 sites blocked in the UK are:

  1. The Pirate Bay
  2. Kat
  3. H33t
  4. Fenopy
  5. 1337x
  6. BitSnoop
  7. ExtraTorrent
  8.  Monova
  9. TorrentCrazy
  10.  TorrentDownloads
  11. torrentHound
  12. Torrentreactor
  13.  Torrentz
  14. Abmp3
  15. BeeMP3
  16. Bomb-Mp3
  17. eMp3World
  18. FileCrop
  19. FilesTube
  20. Mp3Juices
  21. Mp3lemon
  22. Mp3Raid
  23. mp3skull
  24. NewAlbumReleases
  25. Rapidlibrary

Further reading

Topics: Piracy, Legal, Telcos, EU, United Kingdom


Jo Best has been covering IT for the best part of a decade for publications including silicon.com, Guardian Government Computing and ZDNet in both London and Sydney.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Rebekah Brooks trial jury warned by judge - Irish Independent

'Ex-BBC driver' David Smith found dead ahead of sex abuse trial - BBC News

A man described by a court as a former BBC driver has been found dead ahead of his trial for historical sex offences.

David Smith, 67, from Lewisham, south-east London, was charged as part of Operation Yewtree with allegedly abusing a 12-year-old boy in 1984.

A warrant was issued for his arrest on Monday after he failed to attend Southwark Crown Court. His cause of death is not yet known.

The BBC said it had found no record of him working for the corporation.

Scotland Yard said a post-mortem examination was being carried out on Tuesday, but there are not thought to be any suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.

Savile documentary

Smith was the first person to be charged under the investigation into historical cases of abuse, which was originally set up in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

He faced two counts of indecent assault, two of indecency and one of a serious sexual offence.

It was alleged Smith met his victim at a swimming pool and invited him back to his flat, where he sexually abused him.

He also took the boy on a visit to the BBC studios at White City, in west London. During the journey, the boy claimed, he was indecently assaulted.

It is understood there is no evidence to suggest a link between Smith and Savile, though the former was contracted to work as a driver for the BBC.

A BBC spokesman said "on searches carried out to date" the corporation had "not found any record of David Smith being employed by or working for the BBC".

"We have been assisting the police in relation to David Smith and will continue to do so," he added.

The alleged victim's partner contacted police after she saw his response to the ITV documentary Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile, which was broadcast on 3 October 2012.

A previous attempt to track down Smith in 2002 had failed when police could not find him - even though he was in prison at the time.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said a crime report was taken at Tooting police station, south London, when the victim reported the matter in 2002.

It said a specialist team was set up to look into the complaint, but the victim did not remain in contact.

"As a formal statement had not been provided by the victim at that time, the investigation was subsequently closed," it said.

Historical abuse

Smith was a prolific sex offender whose first conviction was in 1966. He had 22 convictions for sexual offences against young boys.

His barrister became concerned on Monday when his client failed to appear at court.

Police found him at his home address at about 14:20 GMT and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Yewtree is an inquiry into allegations of historical sexual abuse linked to the entertainment industry.

The operation has three strands. One concerns Savile's crimes exclusively, while a second strand relates to allegations against Savile and others.

The third strand concentrates on accusations that emerged as a result of the publicity surrounding Savile, but which are unconnected to him.

Smith was investigated under the third strand.

Two killed as storm wreaks havoc - Fleetwood Today

A 17-year-old girl was among four people killed as hurricane-force winds battered England, leaving a trail of destruction and disruption.

Bethany "Gia" Freeman was crushed as a 30ft tree fell on the static home where she was sleeping in Hever, near Edenbridge, Kent, at 7.18am.

"Loving husband" and father-of-three Donal Drohan, 51, originally from Waterford in Ireland, died after his car was hit by a tree at the bridge over the River Colne in Watford.

A man in his 40s and a woman also died, trapped under rubble when an uprooted tree caused a gas blast in Hounslow, west London.

During the morning, winds of up to 100mph swept through the South West, South, South East, the Midlands and the East of England after first hitting land in the early hours.

The storm, dubbed St Jude after the patron of lost causes, also caused transport disruption on road, rail, air and sea, and power cuts for hundreds of thousands of homes.

Hitting the mainland in the early hours, it left Bethany crushed as a 30ft tree fell on the caravans she and her family were living in while renovation work was taking place at their home at Edenbridge in Kent.

Known as "Gia", she was a was a "universally respected" sixth-form pupil at Tunbridge Wells Grammar School who "had everything to look forward to", the school's website said.

There were tragic scenes as her driving instructor arrived at her home in Lydens Lane to pick her up without knowing she had died.

Mr Drohan, from Harrow, west London, was "in the wrong place at the wrong time" when his car was struck by a falling tree at Lower High Street.

An officer who attended the scene said that a millisecond's difference would have made for "a different story".

The Harrow council worker's family said: "He was the best husband and father anyone could wish for. You couldn't find anyone who had a bad word to say about him."

In Hounslow, three houses were completely destroyed and two more were damaged by the blast, thought to have been caused by a ruptured gas main .

Officers were called to Bath Road at around 7.30am and at noon they found the male victim's body at number 47 amid "scenes of devastation".

An hour and a half later, a woman - whom investigators were trying to identify - was found dead at the same property .

Later in the day, the Met Office lifted its amber warning as the heart of the storm blew away from Norfolk and over the North Sea to continental Europe.

The Energy Networks Association said 459,000 homes which suffered power cuts across England have had energy restored, but 166,000 were still disconnected.

The port of Dover in Kent had to be shut, train and Tube services were disrupted, more than 130 flights at Heathrow Airport were cancelled and many roads were impassable due to fallen trees.

Debris falling on to power lines caused a nuclear power station in Kent to automatically close down both its reactors, leaving its own diesel generators to provide power for essential safety systems.

The Environment Agency said there were four flood warnings and 99 flood alerts still in place.

Met Office spokeswoman Laura Young warned that blustery conditions were expected to remain in London and the East Midlands.

She said: "Although the amber warning is over, there are still strong winds and the impacts from earlier in the day are still around.

"People need to stay aware, keep an eye on the forecast and remain alert to the situation."

Experts said that, while the gales were relatively weak compared with the Great Storm of 1987, it had shown how much weather predictions have improved compared with 26 years ago.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2013, All Rights Reserved.

Video: Big Six Accused Of Boosting Profits - Sky News

Energy companies have insisted controversial rises in bills were partly down to green taxes but were accused of charging customers "the maximum price they feel they can get away with".

Senior executives from the "Big Six" -  E.ON, British Gas, npower, EDF, Scottish Power and SSE - have been questioned by MPs about the recent increases by some of them.

The Energy and Climate Change Committee hearing was told rising wholesale costs and environmental "stealth taxes" were behind the average 9.1% hike.

But the businesses practices of the Big Six were called into question by the managing director of small, green energy firm Ovo Energy, who also faced the politicians.

Stephen Fitzpatrick told MPs he "can't explain" the price rises being imposed because his company was buying gas at a cheaper price - 5p a therm less - than it had in 2009.

Loyal bill-payers are charged a far higher rate, in some cases £200 more, and loaded with environmental costs than those who switch but the companies responsible go "unchallenged" by Ofgem, he said.

He said: "It looks to me like a lot of energy companies, a significant number of the Big Six, are charging the maximum price they feel they can get away with to the customers that they feel will not switch under any circumstances."

And he claimed if the Big Six charged the same unit rates as Ovo Energy did in 2012, then the total saving would be £3.7bn (£1.4bn in gas and £2.3bn in electricity).

Tony Cocker, chief executive of E.ON, which has yet to announce a price increase, said he had written to Prime Minister David Cameron calling for a competition commission inquiry to investigate the industry to help reassure customers.

Stephen Fitzpatrick, Managing Director, Ovo Energy
Ovo boss Stephen Fitzpatrick criticised the 'Big Six' firms

Npower said it supported the call for an inquiry but Centrica (British Gas) and SSE said they were against.

An analysis by industry regulator Ofgem showed that wholesale prices have risen by 1.7% - adding just £10 to the average household bill of £600.

But npower's external affairs director Guy Johnson said that wholesale prices had increased by 3% and that wholesale prices accounted for 45% of their costs.

He also blamed the 11.1% increase on household bills announced last week by npower on green levies, saying they had increased by 31% and now accounted for 15% of the companies' costs.

In addition, he said that transport costs, which comprised 23% of their costs, had also increased by 10%.

When asked why, over the last few years, the Big Six had all increased prices at a similar level and at a similar time, they claimed it was because the majority of their costs were outside their control and therefore broadly the same.

William Morris, retail managing director of SSE, whose announcement of a 8.2% increase sparked the latest round of price rises, said that his company had been first to announce hikes at each time in the last two years.

He said that "85% of our costs are outside our control" and said that because of this "they are going to be similar at the same time".

Mr Cocker said that his firm E.ON would "hold out as long as we can" over a possible price rise.

However, he said the drivers for each firm to make the increases were similar, citing increases in transport and wholesale costs, and "environmental obligations" (green taxes).

Mr Cocker said that the green levies were a "stealth poll tax" and should be removed from energy bills and put into general taxation - a move the Liberal Democrats have indicated they may not oppose.

Mr Morris, of SSE, said that if the Government was to agree then that would "come straight off the customers' bills".

Costa Concordia trial: Captain's lover was on bridge - BBC News

Domnica Cemortan testified at Francesco Schettino's trial, as Alan Johnston reports

A Moldovan dancer who was on the bridge of the Costa Concordia with Captain Francesco Schettino has admitted she was his lover at his trial.

Domnica Cemortan testified that she was in a romantic relationship with the captain and was with him when the cruise ship ran aground off the north-west Italian coast.

Capt Schettino faces multiple charges of manslaughter and abandoning ship.

The January 2012 tragedy killed 32 people.

The captain faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Ms Cemortan has been the subject of intense media interest, says the BBC's Alan Johnston in Rome. On the night the Costa Concordia ran aground, she had dinner with the captain before he invited her to join him on the bridge as he oversaw what was meant to be a close sail-past of the little Tuscan island of Giglio.

Local press have speculated the captain may have been distracted by her presence, or even showing off.

In court, Ms Cemortan acknowledged after being pressed that they had been romantically involved. She had boarded the ship as a non-paying passenger hours before the crash, she said, adding: "When you are someone's lover, no-one asks you for a ticket." She subsequently dismissed the remark as a joke to her translator.

She said she had worked for the company that operated the Costa Concordia for about three weeks in December 2011, and had met Capt Schettino on a previous cruise.

After the ship hit the rocks, Ms Cemortan said the captain urged her to "save herself".

She told court that she helped other passengers to abandon ship before getting into a lifeboat herself.

Trial to take weeks

The court is expected to hear evidence from about 1,000 surviving passengers and crew during Capt Schettino's trial.

In testimony earlier in the day, ship maitre d' Antonello Tievoli told the court in Grossetto, Tuscany, that he had asked the captain if he could sail close to the island of Giglio because he has family there, the news agency AP reported.

The captain obliged on 6 January, but was apparently disappointed with the result, and ordered the ship's helmsman to plot a closer route for next time.

A week later, the ship ran aground on rocks after veering too close to the island, with 3,206 passengers and 1,023 crew aboard.

The captain has acknowledged fault in the tragedy, but his defence team is arguing the ship sank in part because watertight doors did not function on the ship.

He also told the court in late September that his Indonesian helmsman was to blame for steering the ship onto rocks and ignoring orders to slow down.

However, an Italian naval expert told the trial these were not crucial factors and the crash would have happened anyway.

The helmsman, Jacob Rusli Bin, is one of five employees who were granted plea bargains in return for mild sentences in a separate proceeding. He was given a sentence of one year and eight months.

The 290m-long vessel was righted last month in one of the largest, most complex salvage operations ever that took 18 hours and followed months of stabilisation and preparation work by a team of 500 engineers and divers.

That operation allowed divers to retrieve the remains of one of the two people still missing in the disaster, a young waiter. An Italian passenger, Maria Grazia Trecarichi, is still unaccounted for.

Plans are now being made to attempt to remove the wreckage of the boat next year.

Pension scheme charges cap proposed by ministers - The Guardian

A cap of 0.75% is to be imposed on pension scheme charges in a move that will boost retirement funds by hundreds of thousands of pounds, the government will indicate on Wednesday.

In a move that has angered financial advisers, and leapfrogged Labour party proposals, the government will on Thursday launch a consultation paper that proposes a cap of between 0.75% and 1% a year for charges on the £275bn currently sitting in workplace pensions.

Steve Webb, the pensions minister, and Sajid Javid, the Treasury minister, will say they will consult on a suitable figure. But Webb will say: "The government believes that enough is enough on charges. People need to know they are getting value for money when they save into a pension and not being ripped off by excessive charges.

"We are consulting on a cap on pension charges. A range of options will be on the table including an outright ban on all charges above 0.75% per year.

"I'm confident we will make the system fairer for anyone being automatically enrolled into a workplace pension and will finally address the issue of charges, which has been neglected for far too long."

The proposed cap is below the 1% limit proposed by Labour, and goes further than a recent report by the Office of Fair Trading into pension schemes, which stepped back from calling for a one-size-fits-all cap.

But Webb, one of the leading Liberal Democrats in the coalition government, said the OFT report found that parts of the pensions market "were some of the worst they had ever encountered".

He told the House of Commons: "Not enough people are saving for their retirement and therefore every penny they get into their pension has to turn into as much pension as possible. That's why we are going to consult on some pretty tough action on charges. This is a full frontal assault on pension scheme charges."

The OFT report, published last month, warned that up to £40bn of pension savings could already be sitting in schemes that are delivering poor value or are at considerable risk of doing so.

Millions of workers are currently being pushed into workplace pension schemes under the "auto enrolment" programme begun under Labour, which by 2018 will see employees paying in 4% of salary plus 3% from their employer and 1% from the government.

The government has set up a scheme for employers to join called Nest, in which charges are only 0.3% a year, far below the rates typically charged by pension schemes until now.

Webb said that while a 1% charge may sound low, in reality the impact it has on returns is large. In a scenario in which a person paid in £100 a month throughout their working life to a fund with a 1% charge cap, Webb said: "The difference between having no charges and a 1% charge and £100 a month saving is £160,000 coming out of your pension pot."

But the National Association of Pension Funds called the cap a "blunt tool", at a time when competition is already driving charges down below the 0.75% level. The OFT report showed that the average charge on new pension schemes set up in 2012 is 0.51%.

An NAPF spokeswoman said: "Our concern is that a cap would be a blunt tool that would inhibit innovation."

Financial advisers warn that a cap on charges will force pension schemes to switch to indexation – replicating the performance of an index such as the FTSE100 – rather than actively managed stock picking. They also argue that low charges will mean employers will not be able to offer advice or education to workers.

Laith Khalaf of advisers Hargreaves Lansdown said: "At 0.75%, very few schemes will be able to get actively managed portfolios. It's effectively saying that all schemes will have to be indexed. My concern is that you will get an overall levelling down of pension schemes."

Gina Miller of SCM Private, a fund management firm that has campaigned on excessive charges in the investment industry, said Webb was "puffing up his political ego" rather than truly helping consumers. Over the past year, the True and Fair campaign launched by SCM has found that charges can take as much as 40% of a pension pot.

"Webb is starting at the end of the journey, rather than the beginning. The problem in the pensions world is that there is no agreement on what is disclosed in the annual management charge, and no requirement to publish them. The OFT itself has admitted that it's almost impossible to determine what charges are."

She said pension firms typically leave out dealing costs when calculating their charge, which can have a large impact on the outcome of an individual's pension fund.

Sainsbury's and Tesco go to court over price comparison row - Daily Mail

  • Sainsbury's is escalating row with Tesco over price comparison
  • It claims Tesco is not making fair claims over prices of certain goods
  • Move follows ad watchdog rejecting complaint from Sainsbury's

By Sam Webb


Supermarket Sainsbury's is stepping up its fight against rival Tesco's Price Promise campaign in a long-running row over comparisons between the two firm's products.

Britain's third biggest grocery chain is to take its battle into the courtroom by requesting a judicial review against a ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that rejected its complaint over the Tesco pledge.

The move comes after Sainsbury's lost an appeal against the ASA decision earlier this month, when a report by the watchdog's independent reviewer Sir Hayden Philips backed the ASA findings.

Price war: Sainsbury's is requesting a judicial review against an ad watchdog's ruling on its price comparison row with Tesco

Price war: Sainsbury's is requesting a judicial review against an ad watchdog's ruling on its price comparison row with Tesco

Sainsbury's believes Tesco's money-back pledge misleads consumers because it does not make fair comparisons

Sainsbury's believes Tesco's money-back pledge misleads consumers because it does not make fair comparisons

Mike Coupe, Sainsbury's commercial director, said it was 'time to take a stand' on behalf of customers to ensure shopping decisions are not just based on price, but also factors such as ethics and provenance.

The Tesco money-back pledge compares the price of goods in a shopper's trolley at the checkout with prices at Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons, with any difference on comparable products refunded in the form of a voucher worth up to 10.

Sainsbury's believes it misleads consumers because it does not make fair comparisons, by for example, matching products such as its Everyday Value Tea, which is not Fairtrade, with Sainsbury's basics tea, which is.

Sainsbury's claim certain comparisons are not valid as they fail to take into account whether goods are ethically-sourced

Sainsbury's claim certain comparisons are not valid as they fail to take into account whether goods are ethically-sourced

It added the pledge is also misleading on its basics water, which comes from a spring in Yorkshire, and is compared with Tesco's Everyday Value water, which Sainsbury's claims starts life at the mains supply.

But the ASA said in July that Tesco's campaign adhered to its rules requiring advertisers to compare goods which met the same need or intended purposes.

Sir Hayden agreed with the ASA, although he said Sainsbury's had made a 'persuasive case' that customers increasingly place value on provenance and other ethical issues.

Mr Coupe said: 'Tesco says that whether, for example, a product is Fairtrade or MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certified is just a "minor part" of a customer's considerations - especially for value products. We disagree.

'More than ever, customers want to let their values guide them and in price-matching its products with ours, Tesco is - when it sees fit - choosing to ignore factors such as ethical or provenance certification or even country of origin.'

A Sainsbury's-commissioned survey of customers across all major supermarkets found 86 per cent of those giving an opinion agree that supermarket price comparisons should clearly state whether they take ethical production standards into consideration when matching cost.

The poll also showed that 84 per cent of customers believe that how and where food is produced are important factors in their buying decisions.

Sainsbury's will apply for an admission hearing that will rule if its judicial review will go ahead, with hopes for a court hearing next summer.

The group's own Brand Match campaign recently fell foul of ASA rules, which saw the regulator ban an advert for suggesting consumers do not need to shop around to benefit fully from deals at rivals Tesco and Asda.

Consumer group Which? also recently warned shoppers to take supermarket price match schemes with 'a pinch of salt' after an investigation by the watchdog claimed each retailer calculates the cost of a basket differently, making them of little real worth to shoppers.

US intelligence chief Clapper defends spying policy - BBC News

James Clapper said knowing what foreign leaders were thinking was critical to US policymaking

The head of US intelligence has told lawmakers that discerning foreign leaders' intentions is a key goal of the nation's spying operations.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said such efforts were a "top tenet" of US intelligence policy.

But he told the intelligence panel of the House of Representatives the US did not "indiscriminately" spy on nations.

Mr Clapper was reacting to a growing international row over reports the US eavesdropped on foreign allies.

"Leadership intentions is kind of a basic tenet of what we collect and analyse," Mr Clapper said, adding that foreign allies spy on US officials and intelligence agencies as a matter of routine.

He said that what he called the torrent of disclosures about American surveillance had been extremely damaging and that he anticipated more.

But he said there was no other country that had the magnitude of oversight that the US had, and that any mistakes that had been made were human or technical.

The BBC's Jonny Dymond in Washington says if anyone was expecting apologies or embarrassment from the leaders of America's intelligence community they were in for a disappointment.

Also testifying before the House intelligence committee was National Security Agency (NSA) director Gen Keith Alexander, who called media reports in France, Spain and Italy that the NSA gathered data on millions of telephone calls "completely false".

The information "that led people to believe that the NSA or United States collected that information is false, and it's false that it was collected on European citizens," he added. "It was neither."

Gen Alexander said much of the data cited by non-US news outlets was actually collected by European intelligence services and later shared with the NSA.

President Obama says he wants to ''review'' the NSA's operations

Gen Alexander added: "It is much more important for this country that we defend this nation and take the beatings than it is to give up a programme that would result in this nation being attacked."

Our correspondent says the intelligence pair were not given a tough time by the committee but that sentiment is turning within Congress toward tightening up the reach of American intelligence agencies.

The testimony came amid a series of reports in the international news media that the NSA had spied extensively on the leaders, diplomats and citizens of nations friendly to the US, including Brazil, France, Germany, Mexico and Spain.

The revelations stem from documents leaked by fugitive ex-US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who now lives in Russia and is wanted in the US in connection with the unauthorised disclosures.

What do people in Spain make of news 60 million calls were tracked?

President Barack Obama has faced significant criticism over reports he was unaware of the extent of the spying.

In a television interview, the US president said the country's national security operations were being reassessed to ensure the NSA's growing technological capability was kept under control.

"We give them policy direction," he told ABC's Fusion network.

"But what we've seen over the last several years is their capacities continue to develop and expand, and that's why I'm initiating now a review."

'Totally opposed'

In one of the most significant disclosures, German media have reported that the US bugged German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone for more than a decade - and that the surveillance only ended a few months ago.

A summary of US spying allegations brought about by Edward Snowden's leak of classified documents

It has also been reported that the NSA spied on French diplomats in Washington and at the UN, and that it conducted surveillance on millions of French and Spanish telephone calls, among other operations against US allies.

On Monday, US Senate intelligence committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein called for an end to eavesdropping on leaders of the nation's allies.

Ms Feinstein said the White House had told her such surveillance would stop, but a senior administration official told the BBC there was no policy change so far.

"With respect to NSA collection of intelligence on leaders of US allies - including France, Spain, Mexico and Germany - let me state unequivocally: I am totally opposed," she said in a statement.

"It is my understanding that President Obama was not aware Chancellor Merkel's communications were being collected since 2002. That is a big problem."