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World news and comment from the Guardian | theguardian.com
  • US India diplomatic row concludes as deputy consul leaves New York

    Devyani Khobragade - India's deputy consul general- is charged in New York with fraud regarding her maid but is free to leave without facing court











  • Dow Jones sues Ransquawk for 'hot news' misappropriation

    Dow Jones has sued a London-based aggregation service, Ransquawk, for allegedly accessing its news feed and publishing its content within seconds of its original publication.

    The legal action - as reported by Reuters - accuses Ransquawk (Real-Time Analysis & News) of "hot news" misappropriation by taking a "free ride" on journalistic content that the originator spent time and expense to create.

    In its filing to the US district court in Manhattan, Dow Jones accuses Ransquawk of "nearly instantaneously cutting, pasting, and broadcasting" content from its DJX service, which includes news unavailable to the general public.

    "Its business model is as simple as it is illegal," says the filing. By accessing such content without permission, and without its own reporting or analysis, Ransquawk can offer a "pirated product" to traders at a cheaper price,.

    "We refuse to sit back when others swoop in to swipe our content," said Jason Conti, deputy general counsel of Dow Jones, a division of News Corp.

    Dow Jones is aiming to halt to further misappropriation and seeking damages of $5m (3.04m).

    Reuters quotes Ransquawk's chief executive and founder, Ranvir Singh, as saying in a email: "Whilst we obviously strongly deny any accusations made against us by Dow Jones... we will only be in a position to make a full statement tomorrow."

    Sources: Reuters/Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal


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  • China overtakes US to become world's biggest goods trader - business live

    A 'landmark milestone' in China's economic history as it overhauls America to become the biggest goods trading nation, as investors awaits the latest US employment data











  • Lords to debate EU referendum bill

    Conservative-backed bill, introduced by Lord Dobbs, promises a poll on Britain's membership of the European Union in 2017

    A Conservative attempt to lay down in law the need for a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU begins the next stage of its parliamentary journey on Friday.

    The House of Lords meets at 10am to begin the first debate on the European Union (referendum) bill with about 75 peers currently listed to speak. Their working day is likely to be extended beyond the normal 3pm finish as Conservative peers try to get the legislation over its first hurdle in one day.

    The Lords' scrutiny on the bill must be finished before the final Commons Friday sitting on 28 February or it is likely to fail to become law.

    After Friday's debate, it must go through committee, report and third reading stages before being returned to MPs.

    James Wharton, the Tory MP for Stockton South who piloted the bill through the Commons, said: "It is extremely important that the House of Lords recognise that this bill, which has been passed through every stage of the democratically elected House of Commons, needs to pass in order to give the British people a say on this very important issue.

    "It would be strange indeed for the unelected House of Lords to block a bill which is to legislate for a referendum.

    "Were that to happen, it would put them in a very difficult position."

    Conservative peer Lord Dobbs is in charge of the bill in the upper house.

    In an email to party members ahead of the debate, he said: "Today, I'm introducing the EU referendum bill to the House of Lords. It's time the British people had their say on our membership of the EU.

    "The bill will give the prime minister the chance to renegotiate our membership of the EU and then put an in-out referendum to the people in 2017.

    "Whatever your view on Britain's membership of the EU, it's right that the people have a say."

    Mr Wharton proposed the legislation as a private member's bill in the Commons and it cleared all the stages of the lower house before Christmas after his party imposed a rare three line whip to push it through on successive Friday sittings.

    It is customary in the House of Lords for bills agreed by MPs to be given a second reading and amendments at this stage are rare.

    With around 75 peers due to speak it is likely they will have their contributions limited to four minutes to prevent the debate lasting late in to the night.

    Peers will not table amendments to the referendum bill at second reading but they are inevitable as the legislation progresses to committee stage.

    It is then likely that backbench Labour and Liberal Democrat peers will table numerous amendments designed to delay the bill.

    If the House of Lords makes any changes to the bill, these will have to be agreed or deleted by the Commons, before sending it back to peers ? known as parliamentary ping-pong.

    As things stand, an agreed bill must be finalised by the Commons no later than 28 February so that it can receive royal assent and become law.

    The government can ask for further sitting Fridays but this is likely to need the consent of the coalition's Liberal Democrat wing, which opposes the bill.

    Philip Davies, Tory MP for Shipley, asked on Thursday whether the government would bring forward what is known as a carry over motion, which would allow the bill to make further progress in the next parliament.

    But this only applies to government legislation, meaning that unless the Tory peers in Lords can force the bill back to the Commons by 28 February it will probably fail.


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  • History wars: the men behind the national school curriculum review

    Christopher Pyne has announced a review of the school curriculum; but what do we know about Kevin Donnelly and Ken Wiltshire, the two men he has appointed to run the process?











  • Education wars: what the curriculum actually says about Australian history

    Guardian Australia examines Christopher Pyne's claims that school history neglects conservative leaders, Anzacs and western civilisation











  • Niger uranium mining dispute a test case for use of African natural resources | Mark Tran

    The wrangle between Niger and a state-owned French firm over payments for uranium extraction has wider ramifications

    The protracted negotiations on uranium mining between Niger and Areva, the French energy multinational, are not just a trial of strength between an African government and a big company. The face-off will also test whether there is more than just pious sentiment to the notion that African countries should derive greater benefit from their natural resources.

    Areva, which owns stakes in the Somair and Cominak mines, has been negotiating with Niger over new uranium mining contracts for two years. The mines' 10-year licences expired on 31 December without a new agreement, although Niger issued a decree on 27 December providing a legal framework under the 2006 mining law for operations to continue.

    The company is tight-lipped on discussions. Olivier Wantz, a senior executive vice-president of Areva, was in the capital Niamey this week for three days of talks.

    "Talks between the Niger government and Areva over mining accords are continuing, and we do not want to make any further comments on these ongoing negotiations," an Areva spokesman said.

    The mines have been closed since mid-December for what Areva describes as routine maintenance. Some see the move as hardball tactics by the company to put pressure on the Nigerien government.

    At heart of the matter is the country's desire for a better deal. Niger accounts for more than a third of Areva's uranium production, and President Mahamadou Issoufou's government wants to increase the royalties the company pays from 5.5% of revenues to 12%, officials told Reuters.

    Areva, which is 87% owned by the French government, says an increase in the royalties rate would make operations unprofitable. The company has been mining uranium in Niger, a former French colony, for four decades. It owns about two-thirds of the open-cast Somair mine, which produced an estimated 3,000 tonnes of uranium ore last year, and approximately one-third of the smaller, underground Cominak mine.

    France gets 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy but has never said to what extent it relies on Niger for uranium to fuel its 58 nuclear reactors. Niger and NGOs say one in three light bulbs in France is powered by Nigerien uranium. A French parliamentary committee report in 2008 put the figure at about one in five.

    Niger is desperately poor, ranking last of the 187 countries in the 2012 UN Human Development Index. Three-quarters of its people live on less than $2 a day and malnutrition is rife, with the country beset by droughts. Although mining made up 70.8% of Niger's exports in 2010, it contributed only 5.8% of the country's gross domestic product.

    According to a report from Oxfam France and the Niger arm of Publish What You Pay, the transparency group, Areva's two mines produced uranium worth more than ?3.5bn (2.9bn) in 2010, but Niger received just ?459m, or 13% of this amount. In 2012 Areva received tax exemptions worth ?320m, the report says.

    Areva rejects Oxfam's figures and insists that since the creation of the mining companies, 40 years ago, 80% of revenues ? ?871m ? have gone to Niger and 20% to Areva and its partners. It says Cominak and Somair have always worked within the framework of a mining agreement with Niger and observed mining laws. Areva made a loss of ?99m last year, but expects to make an operating profit of more than ?1.1bn this year, helped in part by its uranium mining business.

    The negotiations put the French government in a tough spot. As majority owner in Areva, it has to look out for French commercial interests. On the other hand, Pascal Canfin, the energetic French development minister, is a champion of domestic resource mobilisation in poor countries ? governments generating their own revenues ? and a backer of EU initiatives on transparency in the extractives sector. NGOs are watching closely to see how different French interests play out.

    "As France has a strong stand on transparency and domestic resource mobilisation, it would make sense for it to put pressure on Areva. But it is not happening, it is a massive embarrassment for the French government," one activist said.


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  • Cyclists air their grievances on road safety: from the archive, 10 January 1935

    While cyclists reject a proposal for separate cycle lanes and criticise coroners who blame riders for fatal road accidents, the new Belisha beacons are causing problems for other road users

    Cyclists and their grievances

    The Cyclists' Touring Club are to hold a general meeting tomorrow, at which two resolutions are to be proposed. One of them censures the Minister of Transport, the other the coroners of England.

    Mr Hore-Belisha is in trouble because he has expressed the wish to segregate cyclists in special tracks on the roads, as has been done on Western Avenue. The Cyclists' Touring Club consider that this method is unjust to them and limits their rights as road users. At first sight this argument is apt to strike non-cyclists as an excessive insistence on strict rights, and it will be interesting to hear whether speeches at the meeting can prove substance behind the show of injury.

    The criticism of coroners' courts seems a graver one. The club's resolution states that in most cases the inquests on the victims of road accidents fail to determine the responsibility correctly, and urges the Minister to arrange for the establishment of special courts. There is a strong feeling among cyclists that those of them who, having been killed, are unable to speak for themselves are often unjustly saddled with the blame for fatal accidents.

    Motorists ignoring pedestrian crossings

    Mr Hore-Belisha's road safety campaign figured in the news yesterday. So far pedestrian crossings with beacons and studs have only been instituted by orders of the Transport Ministry in the London area, and here there has been a probationary period to allow drivers and pedestrians to become used to the system.

    The authorities have apparently now decided that this trial period may now end, and that abuse of the crossings must now be prevented by prosecutions. "The regulations may be the subject of ridicule," said Alderman AJC Field, the chairman of the borough bench, "and when you are on the road may be irksome, but they are there and must be obeyed."

    Youth goes to gaol for breaking beacon

    A police constable concealed in a doorway in City Road, Finsbury, saw a youth of seventeen, who had two others with him, climb a Belisha beacon and break the globe with his fist. It was the hundredth beacon globe to be broken in Finsbury since November. Yesterday at Old Street Police Court the youth was sentenced to one month's imprisonment and ordered to pay 7s 6d costs.


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  • Aid organisations fear government will cancel funding promised to them

    Charities concerned the Coalition will break election promise after asking them to ‘hold off’ invoicing











  • US condemns 'provocative' Chinese edict over South China Sea fisheries

    Latest territorial assertion by Beijing requires foreign crews operating in disputed waters to notify Chinese authorities












 

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