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Posts Tagged ‘British’

British court to decide whether to bail Assange

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:42 am

LONDON, Dec 16, 2010 (AFP) – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange finds out Thursday if a British court will grant him bail, as he fights attempts to extradite him to Sweden over allegations of sex crimes.


A hearing at the High Court in London will determine if Assange will be allowed to leave Wandsworth prison after lawyers acting for Sweden challenged a British judge’s order that he be freed under stringent conditions.


Sweden wants Britain to hand over Assange for questioning over claims he sexually assaulted two women in Stockholm in August, but the 39-year-old Australian’s supporters insist the process is politically motivated.


If released on bail, Assange will have to reside at the country estate of Vaughan Smith, a former British army officer who founded the Frontline Club, a media club where WikiLeaks has based part of its operations.


Despite Assange’s arrest on December 7, his whistle-blowing website has continued to release US diplomatic cables that it has been leaked. Washington has been infuriated by the leaks, which have caused it great embarrassment.


The latest batch Thursday showed that a BP oil platform in Azerbaijan suffered a well blowout and a huge gas leak around a year and a half before the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.


In a highly charged court hearing on Tuesday, Assange was granted bail on condition he pays a security of 200,000 pounds (315,000 dollars, 235,000 euros) with an additional 40,000 pounds guaranteed in sureties.


Celebrity supporters including maverick US film director Michael Moore, British director Ken Loach, campaigning socialite Bianca Jagger and journalist John Pilger have helped put up the money.


Assange’s lawyer, Mark Stephens, meanwhile accused the authorities Wednesday of making it difficult for the website founder’s legal team to meet him and prepare his case.


“I can’t get access to him,” he said. “I will not be able to take instructions from him.”

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Source: SGGP

British Band to rock Ho Chi Minh City!

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:37 am

On December 9 and 11, Ho Chi Minh City will vibrate, pulsate and rock! ‘Goober Gun’, a British Rock n Roll band will rock the City to their beat and energy.

                                        The Gober Gun

Goober Gun is a three-man British Rock n Roll band with Tim Hardwick on drums and vocals, Jon Reynolds on the guitar and vocals and Ian Hardwick playing bass and vocals. 


Influenced by Def Leppard, Cheap Trick, The Wildhearts and Jimmy Eat World, Goober Gun have crafted their own authentic style of rock and combine it with a lyrical and musical depth that has won over audiences in the UK and around the world.


On December 9 the band is expected to create their musical magic at SuperSize SaiGon at Vasco 74/7D Hai Ba Trung Street in District 1.The show starts at 9pm. Entrance fee of 100, 000vnd includes a free drink.

On December 11 the band will play at LoretoFest International Music Festival at RMIT, 702 Nguyen Van Linh Parkway in District 7. The show starts at 2pm. Entrance tickets will be available for 500,000 to 650,000vnd.


The band has just completed a very successful performance at the Factory Bar, 11A Bao Khanh Street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi on December 4.

Source: SGGP

British couple freed by pirates ‘happy to be alive’

In Uncategorized on November 15, 2010 at 6:31 am

British PM on trade-boosting visit to China

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2010 at 6:21 am

British Airways, Iberia fly back to profit

In Uncategorized on October 29, 2010 at 9:40 am

LONDON (AFP) – British Airways and Iberia of Spain flew back into profits on Friday ahead of their merger as the pair cut costs and benefited from a fragile recovery in air travel and the global economy.


BA posted net profits of 107 millions pounds (122 millions euros, 170 million dollars) for the six months to September, its first interim profit for two years, as revenues rose and non-fuel costs fell.


In Madrid, Iberia posted a 74-million-euro net profit for its third quarter, or three months to September, after a year-earlier loss of 16.4 million euros.


The healthy results are the latest evidence of a strengthening recovery in the global airline industry which was savaged by the worldwide economic slump that hammered demand for air travel.


BA’s first-half earnings after tax compared with a net loss of 217 million pounds in the six months to September 2009, the airline said in a statement.


The profits reflected steep cost-cutting and came despite recent travel chaos caused by the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud in April and cabin crew strikes.


Next month, BA and Iberia shareholders will vote on their landmark merger deal that is due to be completed in January 2011, creating the second largest airline group in Europe after Germany’s Lufthansa.


“The changes we have made to our cost base are now having a big impact on the business,” BA chief executive Willie Walsh said.


“I’m pleased with the results today — they demonstrate that the action we have taken has been the right decision for the business. The figures speak for themselves.”


He added: “The challenge we faced was one of structural cost difference between us and our competitors.


“We are also benefiting from an improved economy, which we hope will pick up in 2011. We don’t see any evidence to support a double-dip (return to recession).”


BA revenues rose 8.4 percent to 4.45 billion pounds in the reporting period, while operating costs declined 1.5 percent.


Pre-tax profit hit 158 million pounds, compared with a year-earlier loss of 292 million pounds and way above analyst forecasts for profit of 73 million pounds.


“Our concerted efforts to introduce permanent structural change across the airline has led to a reduction in non-fuel costs and a return to profitability,” Walsh said.


Despite healthy first-half profits, BA saw its share price slide in early morning trade on Friday as the group warned that the economic outlook was uncertain — and cited a tax hike in Britain next week.


BA shares sank 2.78 percent to 272.90 pence on the London stock market, which was 0.11 percent lower in late morning trade.


On Monday, the British government will ramp up Air Passenger Duty (APD), which is levied on all flights from British airports. The tax will rise by 55 percent for the most far-flung destinations.


“While positive, the economic environment continues to be subject to uncertainty, to which the increase in APD is unhelpful. We continue to focus on managing our costs,” the British carrier said.


The BA-Iberia tie-up will create Europe’s second-biggest airline by market value after Germany’s Lufthansa, combining Iberia’s strong position in Latin America with BA’s presence in Africa, Asia and North America.


Following the merger, Walsh will become chief executive of a new umbrella company which will control the two airlines, International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG), while Iberia chairman Antonio Vazquez will be chairman.


Earlier this month, BA launched a transatlantic alliance with Iberia and American Airlines, pledging cheaper fares and more travel choice in a new agreement for greater coordination over routes.


The tie-up allows them to cooperate commercially on flights between the European Union, Switzerland, and Norway and the United States, Mexico and Canada.

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Source: SGGP

British units ‘under scrutiny over Afghan attacks’

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2010 at 5:35 am

LONDON, Oct, 27 (AFP) – Three British military units in Afghanistan face questions about their conduct after details of their involvement in attacks on Afghan civilians emerged, a report said.


Of casualties caused by British forces, two-thirds involved troops from the three units, reported Britain’s Guardian newspaper, which obtained the information from the government through freedom of information legislation.

AFP file photo of Royal Marines taking part in a live-fire exercise on Salisbury Plain.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) released information about 21 incidents in response to the paper’s demands.


The information revealed that the Coldstream Guards shot four civilians in Kabul over four weeks, while the Royal Marine commandos killed or wounded civilians eight times in six months.


And a third unit, The Rifles, were involved in three incidents last year.


Children were among the casualties and a man with mental health problems was attacked on one occasion, the information showed.


The attacks were among incidents mentioned in tens of thousands of classified US military documents on the war in Afghanistan, which were published by whistleblower website WikiLeaks in July.


Exact details of the attacks were not released at the time, said the Guardian.


Defence officials insisted protecting Afghan civilians remained a priority.


“We deeply regret all civilian casualties,” said an MoD spokesman.


“Protecting the Afghan civilian population is a cornerstone of [the NATO-led force] ISAF’s mission, and all British troops undergo comprehensive training on the strict rules of engagement.”


He added this was in contrast to the insurgents, who “cause the majority of civilian deaths and injuries in Afghanistan.”

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Source: SGGP

British defence cuts to be kept under 10 percent: BBC

In Uncategorized on October 16, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Britain’s Ministry of Defence will only face cuts of under 10 percent in the government’s punishing spending review next week, compared to 25 percent for many other departments, the BBC reported Saturday.


Finance Minister George Osborne had told the MoD to prepare cuts of at least 10 percent despite strong resistance from Defence Secretary Liam Fox and military chiefs.


But Prime Minister David Cameron intervened in the row and the MoD is now likely to face cuts of between seven and eight percent, the BBC said, adding there would be no substantial cuts in army personnel numbers.


Britain will announce full details of the cuts in a strategic defence review being unveiled Tuesday, which will outline a long-term vision for the military.


That comes the day before an overall spending review Wednesday which Cameron has said will reveal details of cuts of up to 25 percent in most departments.


But there has been particular controversy over reductions to the defence budget.


Britain currently has around 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, the second largest contingent after the United States but Cameron has indicated they will be withdrawn from combat by 2015 in a process which may start next year.


The premier’s reported intervention came after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the BBC Thursday she was worried that sharp spending cuts could damage the NATO military alliance.


The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday that the new professional head of the British Army, General Peter Wall, had warned Cameron that operations in Afghanistan could be undermined by cuts in army numbers and training.


Wall plus Chief of the Defence Staff Jock Stirrup, the Navy’s head Admiral Mark Stanhope and Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Stephen Dalton are all concerned about the potential impact of cuts.


Reports suggest that areas of defence expenditure under threat from the cuts include RAF bases, Harrier jets and navy frigates, although two promised new Royal Navy aircraft carriers will be delivered.

Source: SGGP

British author denies intention to insult Singapore courts

In Uncategorized on August 18, 2010 at 7:25 am

SINGAPORE, Aug 18, 2010 (AFP) – A British author facing charges for publishing a book on the death penalty in Singapore said it was never his intention to scandalise the judiciary, a court document showed Wednesday.


Freelance journalist Alan Shadrake, 75, who penned “Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock,” described himself in an affidavit filed with the High Court as a “strong believer in the need to abolish the death penalty”.


But he said “it was never and is not my intention to scandalise the judiciary in Singapore,” according to the affidavit obtained by AFP.


The document was filed last week and forms part of Shadrake’s defence in a contempt of court case.


Shadrake, who divides his time between neighbouring Malaysia and Britain, is also facing a separate charge of criminal defamation.


Both offences are punishable by jail and fines.


His 219-page book contains a profile of Darshan Singh, the former chief executioner at Singapore’s Changi Prison who, according to the author, executed around 1,000 men and women from 1959 until he retired in 2006.


It also features interviews with local human rights activists, lawyers and former police officers on various cases involving capital punishment.


Shadrake is out on bail but his passport has been impounded to prevent him from leaving the country.


He appeared in court for the first time on July 30, and the case will be heard again on August 30.

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Source: SGGP

Pakistan leader to raise British PM’s terror claims on visit

In Uncategorized on August 3, 2010 at 7:19 am

PARIS, Aug 3, 2010 (AFP) – Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari is set to address David Cameron’s “uncalled for” criticism of Islamabad’s stance on terrorism during a visit to Britain which kicks off Tuesday, officials said.


After wrapping up a two-day visit to France, Zardari heads to London and in talks with the British prime minister this week will raise his claims that some elements in Pakistan back the Taliban, said a spokesman for the president.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari delivers a speech after a meeting with France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy on August 2, 2010 at the Elysee Palace in Paris. AFP PHOTO

The spokesman said that “Cameron’s uncalled for remarks and the fact that these were made in India had disappointed the people of Pakistan,” according to a statement released Monday after Zardari held talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris.


Zardari’s office said he told Sarkozy it was “unfortunate if some people continued to express doubts and misgivings about our will and determination to fight the militants to the finish,” according to the statement.


Relations between London and Islamabad soured last week when Cameron said Pakistan must not “look both ways” in secretly promoting violent extremism while pretending to seek regional stability.


Britain is the second largest troop contributor to a NATO force in Afghanistan, which faces daily attacks from Taliban fighters who intelligence analysts say draw operational support and funding from Pakistan.


The Pakistani leader is due to meet the British prime minister on Friday at his country retreat outside London, despite calls from some in Pakistan for him to cancel the visit in protest at Cameron’s criticism.


Zardari’s office rejected this idea, arguing that the trip gives Pakistan a chance to make its case, according to Monday’s statement, which cited presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar.


Following Cameron’s remarks, it was now “all the more important that the president’s visit to the UK went ahead as planned to raise this and other issues with the British prime minister,” said the statement.


Despite the storm over Cameron’s accusations — which were made during a trade visit to Pakistan’s arch-foe India — London has refused to back down. A spokesman for the prime minister insisted earlier Monday he stood by his remarks but made it clear Cameron had been referring to elements within the Pakistani state and not to the policies of Zardari’s government.


The terror row threatened to deepen Monday, when Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi hauled in Britain’s high commissioner — the Commonwealth equivalent of an ambassador — for a dressing-down over the Indian speech.


Criticising Pakistan in Bangalore last Wednesday, Cameron said: “We cannot tolerate in any sense the idea that this country is allowed to look both ways and is able, in any way, to promote the export of terror.”


In contrast to the tensions surrounding his forthcoming visit to Britain, Zardari’s time in France was shaping up to be free of controversy.


After talks with Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace on Monday, the Pakistani leader vaunted Islamabad’s relationship with France.


“France feels that Pakistan is a responsible partner with them in the world,” Zardari told reporters, adding that Sarkozy had said he would visit Pakistan later in the year.


Before heading to Britain late Tuesday, Zardari was to meet French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner for a working lunch expected to address regional issues and European humanitarian aid in the wake of this week’s deadly Pakistani floods.


After his official schedule, Zardari was to make a brief private visit to Normandy in northern France where his family owns a holiday home: the 16th century Chateau de la Reine Blanche in the hamlet of Mesnil-Lieubray.


Zardari is not an all-powerful figure in Pakistan, where the military still retains massive political influence and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has more day-to-day authority over government affairs.


Outside Pakistan, Zardari is best known as the widower of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and by his nickname “Mr 10 Percent”, a reference to the corruption allegations that have dogged his career.

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Source: SGGP

British PM agrees to see US senators on Lockerbie

In Uncategorized on July 20, 2010 at 11:24 am

WASHINGTON (AFP) – British Prime Minister David Cameron has agreed to meet during his visit to Washington with four US senators angry over the Lockerbie bomber’s release, his spokesman said Tuesday.


The British embassy in the US capital had originally said Cameron would not have time to meet the lawmakers as he had a full schedule, and would instead ask British Ambassador Nigel Sheinwald to see them.

British Prime Minister David Cameron seen in Hertfordshire, on July 16, 2010. AFP

But his spokesman later said the prime minister, on his first visit to Washington since taking office in May, had changed his plans and would invite the senators for a discussion later Tuesday at the British ambassador’s residence.


“The prime minister recognises the strength of feeling and knows how important it is to reassure the families of the victims,” said the spokesman.


“We are happy to see them face to face and find time in the diary.”


Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez of New Jersey wrote a letter to Cameron Monday asking to meet with him to discuss the Lockerbie case.


The lawmakers said they hoped to discuss “what we can all do to provide greater transparency into the circumstances surrounding the release, address the injustice, and ensure that a similar mistake is not repeated.”


The quartet said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had advised them that she had requested Cameron’s government to “review the facts and circumstances” leading up to the release of Libyan Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi.


Megrahi, the only person convicted of the 1988 bombing of a US Pan Am jumbo jet over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in which 270 people were killed, was freed from a Scottish jail last year.


He had been sentenced to life imprisonment but was freed in August on compassionate grounds after doctors said he had only three months left to live. Reports have since emerged that he could live another 10 years.


Britain has called the release a “mistake,” but said there was no evidence to back up media reports linking Megrahi’s release to BP’s efforts to safeguard a lucrative oil exploration deal with Libya.


Menendez earlier described Cameron’s initial refusal to meet with him and his fellow senators as “disappointing”, adding that “it is critical for us to get the full story from the British government.”

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Source: SGGP