The Weekly Report 11/01/13

Andrew Thorpe-Apps reviews the week’s top stories.

The coalition government has set out initiatives to mark its midway point. David Cameron promised more help on childcare costs, help towards care costs for the elderly and investment in roads and high speed rail. He and Nick Clegg claimed the coalition was ‘steadfast and united’.

William Hague said he would ask the European Union to lift its arms embargo on Syria. This would open the possibility of Britain arming Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The United Nations recently said that 60,000 people have died in the conflict in Syria since the violence began in March 2011.

Senior Met Police detective April Casburn, 53, has been convicted of trying to sell information on the phone-hacking probe to the News of the World after the investigation into hacking by the newspaper reopened in 2010. Her case is the first prosecution under Operation Elveden, the probe into payments by journalists to officials.

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The Bank of England has decided not to extend its quantitative easing (QE) stimulus programme, which has injected £375bn into the UK financial system. It is also keeping its key interest rate unchanged at 0.5%.

A cross-party delegation from the Bundestag’s EU Affairs committee has issued a strongly worded warning against Britain leaving the EU. It follows similar concerns voiced by the Obama administration over a possible referendum on EU membership.

More than 100,000 Americans have signed a petition calling for CNN talk-show host Piers Morgan to be deported after he criticised US gun laws. The White House issued a statement defending Mr Morgan’s right to free speech.

In an anonymous survey conducted by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), MPs have suggested they deserve a salary of £86,250, the equivalent of a 32% increase.

Five men in Delhi have been formally charged with the abduction, gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman. Two of the defendants have agreed to testify against the other suspects in an attempt to avoid the death penalty. A lawyer who is representing one of the accused has claimed his client was tortured for 10 days.

AlexSalmond_2007

An inquiry has cleared Scottish first minister Alex Salmond of breaching the ministerial code over a row about an independent Scotland’s status in the EU. There were accusations that Mr Salmond misled the public over the existence of legal advice to back up the Scottish governments position that an independent Scotland would be a member of the EU.

French actor Gerard Depardieu has taken Russian citizenship in a bid to avoid the 75% ‘supertax’ pledged by President Francois Hollande.

BBC Broadcaster Andrew Marr is recovering in hospital after suffering a stroke. He is said to be responding well to treatment.

And finally…

Celebrations have taken place to mark the 150th anniversary of London Underground. A steam train recreated the journey of the first underground train, carrying people from Paddington in west London to Farringdon, just outside the City.

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