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‘Bulk powers’ vital to national security, report claims

Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 09.10.09‘The use of wide-ranging powers to harvest huge swathes of data has proved vital in saving lives, thwarting terrorist plots and identifying jihadist threats, a new review concluded today. The report into the use of “bulk powers” by GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 was published just months before parliament must conclude its debates on the new legal framework in which the intelligence services operate. Supporters of the US whistleblower Edward Snowden condemn the powers as “mass surveillance” but David Anderson, QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said they had a “clear operational purpose” and “play an important part in identifying, understanding and averting threats in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and further afield”. In a series of case studies, his report showed how the techniques were used not just in combating terrorism but in catching paedophiles, tackling organised crime, enhancing cybersecurity and countering espionage by other states.’ – The Times (£)

  • Watchdog gives ‘go-ahead’ to data harvesting – Independent
  • Lawyer says ‘proven operational case’ – FT
  • ‘Vivid range’ of disasters averted – Daily Mail 
  • ‘Astonishing details’ show plots stopped with ‘hours to spare’ – The Sun (£)
  • And Western hostages rescued – Daily Express
  • Choudary videos remain online – The Times (£)

Public borrowing at lowest since 2008

‘The public finances were in surplus by around £1billion last month, after being in the red by around £7.8bn in June, official figures revealed today. Public sector borrowing is now at £23.7bn for financial year-to-date, down £3bn down from the same period last year and the lowest since 2008,the Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed. Britain is usually in the black in July because it’s when a chunk of corporate tax receipts are received. But experts said the figures were further proof the vote to leave the European Union had not impacted the economy.’ Daily Express

  • Government borrowing decreased ‘during and immediately after’ referendum – Daily Mail

Larry Elliot: The ’sky hasn’t fallen in’

EU Exit brexit‘Unemployment would rocket. Tumbleweed would billow through deserted high streets. Share prices would crash. The government would struggle to find buyers for UK bonds. Financial markets would be in meltdown. Britain would be plunged instantly into another deep recession. Remember all that? It was hard to avoid the doom and gloom, not just in the weeks leading up to the referendum, but in those immediately after it. Many of those who voted remain comforted themselves with the certain knowledge that those who had voted for Brexit would suffer a bad case of buyer’s remorse. It hasn’t worked out that way. The 1.4% jump in retail sales in July showed that consumers have not stopped spending, and seem to be more influenced by the weather than they are by fear of the consequences of what happened on 23 June. Retailers are licking their lips in anticipation of an Olympics feelgood factor. The financial markets are serene. Share prices are close to a record high, and fears that companies would find it difficult and expensive to borrow have proved wide of the mark. Far from dumping UK government gilts, pension funds and insurance companies have been keen to hold on to them.’ –  Guardian

More economy

Comment:

  • Deindustrialisation: Springstein’s ‘muse’ – Janan Ganesh, FT
  • Britain can retain Olympic prowess without state reliance – Stefan Szymanski, Daily Telegraph

More Brexit

  • City upping work on free trade ideas – Daily Express
  • Claims surface that May wants Brexit ‘by April’ – The Sun (£)
  • Refusing to guarantee EU migrants’ rights was a key ‘card’ for May to play – The Times (£)
  • Sturgeon told in 2013 that Scottish independence would prevent EU talks – Daily Express 
  • Friend claims Clarke thinks over 100 Conservative MPs want to stop Brexit – Daily Express
  • Albanian murderer to be extradited as ‘right to life in UK’ claim ‘based on lies’ – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • EU unlikely to ‘leap’ towards superstatedom -Tony Barber, FT
  • We must listen to the farmers – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph 
  • Will May put up with the three Brexiteers’ ‘squabbles’? Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail
  • ‘People’s Challenge’ crowdfunders focus on high court – Andrew Grice, Independent

>Today: ToryDiary: The last closed shop must end if we’re to get the best out of Brexit

Postal workers vote to strike

‘Postal workers have voted to go on strike in an increasingly bitter row over post office closures, job cuts and pensions. The the Communication Workers Union (CWU) said the Post Office was ‘on the path to extinction’ as the ballot saw an overwhelming majority of 83.2 per cent vote in favour of industrial action. Dave Ward, CWU general secretary, said: ‘Staff in the Post Office face 2,000 job losses this year, the closure of their pension scheme and a strategy of slash and burn from the board of the company.’ – Daily Mail

  • Post office at ‘crisis point’ over closures and job cuts – The Times (£)

‘Flaw’ means Help to Buy Isas can’t be used for house deposits

help-to-buy-logo-jpg‘The Government’s much vaunted Help to Buy Isa was on Friday described as a “scandal” after it emerged that first-time buyers will not be able to use it for an initial deposit on their new home. More than 500,000 savers have opened the accounts after being told by George Osborne, the former chancellor, that it provided “direct government support” for those saving for a deposit, as a way of getting “Generation Rent” on to the housing ladder. But on Friday it emerged that a flaw in the scheme means a 25 per cent government “bonus” on savings will not be paid out until the sale has completed. Experts say this renders the scheme technically useless as it is designed for those who are struggling to find the initial outlay involved in buying a home and means they will still be reliant on loans from their parents, if available.’ – Daily Telegraph

More Government

  • A week of broken election promises – Daily Mail
  • Green light for four ’NHS chains’ – The Times (£)
  • Government accused of giving in to fast food lobby – Daily Mail
  • Adopted children twice as likely to do badly at GCSE – The Times (£)
  • Heads to suggest teaching apprentice scheme – Daily Mail
  • SNP blamed for increase in Scottish pupils ‘missing out’ on university – Daily Telegraph
  • Apprenticeships appeal to A* pupils – The Times (£)
  • Children gambling online with digital currency – The Times (£)
  • Prosecutions ‘possible’ from Bloody Sunday ‘quizzing’- Daily Telegraph
  • 16m ‘custody images’ on police database – The Times (£)
  • May calls for Olympians victory parade in Manchester – Daily Express

Comment:

  • Knighthoods for Olympians would ‘restore honour’ to the system – Steve Hawkes, The Sun (£)
  • Our rail system is embarrassing – Janice Turner, The Times (£)

Patrick Cockburn: The Syria conflict combines ‘half a dozen’ crises

Syria‘Five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, his face bloody and bruised from bomb blast, stares out in bafflement at a world in which somebody had just tried to kill him. Pictures of his little figure in the back of an ambulance in Aleppo have swiftly become the living symbol of the slaughter in Syria and Iraq. In the past there would have been more demands for spurious responses to the latest atrocity in Syria, with calls for the immediate overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad or no-fly zones – measures that sound positive but are never going to happen. This time round there is greater wariness internationally about such quick-fix solutions, opening the way for more realistic action to reduce the present horrendous level of violence… The conflict is so difficult to end because it is half a dozen crises and confrontations combined into one: Sunni Arabs against ruling Alawites and the minorities; better-off against poor; secular against Islamists; city against country; Kurd against Arab; Kurd against Turk; Sunni against Shia; Iran against Saudi Arabia; Russia against – but sometimes cooperating with – the US.’ – Independent

Editorial:

More foreign affairs

  • Campaign for May to oust Saudi from UN Human Rights Council – Independent

>Today: Rehman Christi in Comment: The danger to Libya is also a danger to us

Burka

  • Nice becomes latest French seaside to ban burkini – Daily Mail
  • And Germany ‘will’ make burka illegal – Daily Express

Corbyn wants Nato ‘closed down’

Jeremy Corbyn 16-06-16‘Jeremy Corbyn has called for Nato to be “closed down”, it emerged today as defence chiefs warned his comments about the organisation are “weakening western civilisation”. In footage uncovered by the Telegraph the Labour leader said the military alliance was an “engine for the delivery of oil to the oil companies” and called for it to “give up, go home and go away.” Mr Corbyn on Thursday was criticised after he refused to say whether he would defend a Nato ally if it were invaded by Russia.’ – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • He can’t be ‘trusted with the country’s defence’ – John McTernan, Daily Telegraph
  • Prevarication over Nato typifies Corbyn’s ‘hypocrisy’ – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • Collected criticisms could ‘embolden’ Russia – Henry Mance, FT

More Labour

  • Momentum ‘drops commitment’ to non-violence – The Times (£)
  • Conference uncertainties continue – FT
  • Why I resigned from the ‘shoddy’ shadow cabinet – Heidi Alexander, Guardian

Trump’s chairman resigns five months in

TRUMP Live‘The man tasked with securing victory for Donald Trump has resigned after a week of damning stories about his questionable ties to pro-Russian interests were splashed across newspapers. Paul Manafort found himself sidelined when the Trump campaign announced two new hires earlier this week, which were read as supplanters of his influence. He left the Trump campaign yesterday after five months in the job. “This morning Paul Manafort offered, and I accepted, his resignation from the campaign,” Mr Trump said in a campaign statement. “I am very appreciative for his great work in helping to get us where we are today, and in particular his work guiding us through the delegate and convention process. Paul is a true professional and I wish him the greatest success.” Mr Manafort, a seasoned political operative, was originally hired in March, when Mr Trump’s victory in the Republican primary was not assured.’ – The Times (£)

  • This ‘clears the way’ for ex-Breitbart boss… – Guardian
  • …who has a ‘colourful back-story’ – Demetri Sevastopulo, FT
  • Trump asks black voters what they ‘have to lose’ by voting for him – Independent

Comment:

  • Trump is wrong to think he can ‘do a Brexit’  – Tim Stanley, Daily Telegraph 
  • We all ‘project’ like Trump does – Oliver Burkeman, Guardian
  • The potential urban backlash against his supporters – Justin Webb, The Times (£)
  • Clinton must hold strong against Trump by keeping her bus ‘parked’ – David Millward, Daily Telegraph

News in Brief

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