Month: July 2019

JK Rowling sues Daily Mail for libel

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has filed a libel lawsuit against bosses at British newspaper the Daily Mail over a 2013 report published about her past as a struggling single mother.


The writer claims editors attributed a single incident involving one woman, who had visited her local church in Edinburgh, to formulate a story about how her fellow church members treated her in a “bigoted, unchristian manner”, because she was raising a child on her own.

Rowling insists the article, which said “How JK Rowling’s sob story about her past as a single mother has left the churchgoers who cared for her upset and bewildered”, damaged her reputation and caused her distress and embarrassment, according to The Guardian.

She is suing executives at the publication over the “misleading and unfair” story, which was published in September.

The court documents state: “(They wrote) a knowingly false account of her time as a single mother in Edinburgh… falsely and inexcusably accusing her fellow churchgoers of behaving in a bigoted, unchristian manner towards her, of stigmatising her and cruelly taunting her for being a single mother.”

A journalist reportedly contacted Rowling’s lawyer before the article was published but did not give the author an opportunity to comment.

Rowling is seeking unspecified damages from publishers at parent company Associated Newspapers.

The article has since been removed from the Daily Mail website. A spokesperson for the publication has declined to comment on the case.

It’s the latest legal drama for the author – she was awarded damages in July after a British lawyer who outed Rowling as the secret writer of The Cuckoo’s Calling was fined over the leak.

Next Iran nuclear talks set for February 1

World powers will hold their next talks on Tehran’s contested nuclear program on February 18.


In an earlier accord in November, Iran agreed with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – plus Germany that it would open up its nuclear program to allay fears it would build atomic weapons.

In return, the world powers agreed to a progressive lifting of tough sanctions that have caused immense damage to the Iranian economy.

Top Iranian and European Union (EU) diplomats agreed the latest stage during talks on Friday.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, who has led the international nuclear talks with Iran, said she had a “really interesting” meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

Speaking about the upcoming talks to be held in Vienna in just over two weeks, Ashton added: “I very much look forward to working together with you then.”

The US State Department also confirmed the date and place of the next talks, after having earlier this week said that they would take place in New York.

“A European city made more sense because of travel schedules,” deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters.

Earlier this month, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, certified that Tehran had stuck to its side of the initial deal, giving access to key nuclear installations and cutting back its enriched uranium stockpile.

Accordingly, the EU and the US began lifting sanctions on January 20, laying the groundwork for the next, six-months of the process.

During this period, the EU and US have promised to impose no new sanctions.

Iran has insisted repeatedly that its nuclear program is peaceful. But in an atmosphere of complete distrust, the West applied ever tighter sanctions, with serious impacts on the Iranian economy.

Despite the initial progress, the core of these sanctions remains in place.

The accord provides for ultimately removing the sanctions if Iran lives up to all its commitments.

Aid enters besieged Syria Yarmuk camp

The United Nations has distributed food in the Syrian capital’s besieged Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp for a second day in a bid to help tens of thousands of trapped civilians.


The aid distribution comes after months of siege by the army that has caused shortages of food and medicines, leading to the deaths of 86 people, according to a monitoring group.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that more than 100 people deemed “humanitarian cases” were evacuated from the camp on Friday by the Red Crescent and taken to local hospitals.

UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) spokesman Chris Gunness said an aid convoy entered the camp in south Damascus in the morning.

“UNRWA staff carried out another full day of food aid distributions in Yarmuk … handing out 980 food parcels,” he said.

“This follows the distribution of 1026 food parcels yesterday. Since we were able to enter the camp on 18th January, we have distributed a total of 2144 food parcels.”

Yarmuk is largely in the hands of rebel forces, and has been under army siege since June, making it nearly impossible for food and medicines to enter or for residents to leave.

Residents have spoken of eating grass, cats, and dogs in a bid to stay alive.

The camp began as a home for Palestinian refugees, but long ago evolved into a bustling district housing some 150,000 Palestinians, as well as many Syrians.

But now just an estimated 18,000 Palestinians remain in the camp, much of which has been destroyed by fighting.

Gunness said UNRWA appreciated the efforts of the Syrian government and others in facilitating the aid delivery.

“These distributions demonstrate that the extraordinary suffering in Yarmuk and other closed areas of Syria can be addressed if all parties to the conflict fulfil their obligations to protect civilians,” he said.

He said UNRWA stood ready to provide food for all the estimated 18,000 Palestinian civilians still in the camp.

The food parcels contain enough provisions to feed a family for 10 days, and Gunness said it was “imperative that continuous access to Yarmuk is authorised and supported.”

Gunness said “chaotic scenes” accompanied Thursday’s aid distribution – the first since January 21 – as thousands of residents tried to get food.

Yarmuk is one of a number of rebel-held areas where army blockades have left trapped civilians in desperate straits.

The United Nations has also been trying to negotiate access for humanitarian aid to the besieged Old City of Homs in central Syria.

30 killed in CAR capital in three days

An unprecedented level of violence in the Central African Republic capital has left 30 dead in three days, the Red Cross says.


The violence occurred as French troops converged on a rebel-held northern town.

French military aircraft hovered over the strategic town of Sibut, 180 kilometres north of the capital Bangui, which was seized by ex-Seleka rebels on Thursday, prompting African troops and hundreds of frightened residents to flee.

“A military operation is happening in Sibut,” a French communication officer told AFP on Friday, while a defence official in Paris confirmed the presence of the aircraft since Friday afternoon.

Newly installed interim president Catherine Samba Panza slammed the rebel efforts, saying they aimed to destabilise her mandate.

“At the time when the government is calling for togetherness, tolerance and national reconciliation, some of our countrymen are taking upon themselves the heavy responsibility of dividing the country,” she said.

No Central African citizen “worthy of the name” would allow such “anti-patriotic, irresponsible and dangerous” actions, she added, vowing not to cede “an inch of our ground.”

The installation of a new government in the strife-torn nation has failed to stem inter-religious violence between the mostly Muslim Seleka and Christian militia groups.

Tensions remain high in Bangui, where Red Cross officials said they had collected 30 bodies in the past three days after fighting which also left 60 people wounded.

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation Georgios Georgantas said he was very concerned by an unprecedented level of violence.

The poor, landlocked country descended into chaos 10 months ago after Seleka overthrew the government and installed one of its leaders, Michel Djotodia, as the country’s first Muslim president.

His Seleka fighters began targeting people from the Christian majority, prompting the emergence of self-defence groups who launched revenge attacks on Muslims amid reports of murder, mutilation, rape and looting by both sides.

By the time Djotodia was effectively ousted by regional leaders on January 10 for his failure to end the spiralling bloodshed, about a million people were displaced out of a population of 4.6 million.

Georgantas urged the authorities and some 7000 French and African troops based near Bangui Airport to “take up their responsibilities” and keep the peace in a city abandoned by hundreds of thousands of residents.

The foreign soldiers were patrolling districts of the capital, where French troops this week warned looters that they would open fire if they failed to disperse.

In contrast the interior of the country is a lawless zone ruled by warlords, with few or no foreign troops present.

‘Romanian invasion’ in UK fails to eventuate

A quarantine period that kept Bulgarians and Romanians out of the jobs market in the UK and eight other EU states ended on January 1, seven years after the two countries achieved full EU membership.


The temporary restrictions meant Bulgarians and Romanians could only apply for jobs in the agricultural and food processing sectors under a quota system.

Tricia McCarron from Worldwide Fruit Limited says in the last month she has seen no sign of a mass migration of Romanians or Bulgarians in Britain.

“We haven’t seen any here and I’ve also checked with our agency GM recruitment and they’ve had no applications either,” Ms McCarron said.

“We’ve always got jobs and if they were able to do the jobs, if they shared our values and had the right skills we would employ them.”

In Peterborough, Britain’s fastest growing city, predictions of mass migration have not materialised either.

“I never thought it was likely and because we didn’t think it was likely I didn’t think it was going to be any bigger challenge then the one we already have,” said Councillor Marco Cereste from Peterborough City Council.

“Our evidence shows us that we’ve got one Romanian family that’s arrived in Peterborough recently.”

Nurse Liliana Demeter moved from Romania a decade ago and says she finds the language of the immigration debate offensive.

“They’re not on benefits. I don’t know even one Romanian to even be on benefits,” she said.

“Are we in the European Union or not? It would better not to let us come [if we’re going to] just be put through all this humiliation.”

The government will publish the first official arrival figures in five months time.