Last British-based prisoner held at Guantanamo is released

Shaker Aamer, the last British resident held at Guantanamo, was released this morning after more than 13 years in custody. He had never been charged with any offense.

The Independent has a timeline of how the case unfolded of the Saudi-born Aamer, who is married to a British citizen. As does The Guardian:

His fellow former-detainee Moazzam Begg tweeted:

Earlier, the US confirmed that another Guantanamo detainee had been repatriated to Mauritania, and the two releases brings the number of prisoners still being held at Gitmo to 113.

***

WORLD

Talks are under way in Vienna in what is the first major attempt since 2014 by regional leaders and global powers to end the civil war in Syria. Neither the Syrian government or its opposition are attending.

The FT’s Geoff Dyer outlines key things to watch for.

Iran and Saudi Arabia will be important participants in the talks.

Top Iranian officials are said to have indicated a “willingness to compromise” over the future of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, Reuters reports:

Iran could accept a six-month transition period at the end of which Assad’s fate would be decided in nationwide elections, a senior official from the Middle East familiar with the Iranian position told Reuters on Thursday.

During a war that has killed more than 250,000 people and driven 10 million from their homes, Assad’s main ally, Tehran, has been locked out of a succession of international peace conferences, all of which ended in failure.

 

There are crucial elections this weekend in Turkey.

In US presidential politics, after a disappointing debate performance – as Bloomberg’s John Heilman said, “It’s hard to understate the sheer, epic awfulness” – Jeb Bush was forced to deny his campaign was “on life support” – always a bad sign.

His swing and a miss at Marco Rubio succeeded only in pissing off the French.

Despite his new slogan, can he fix it?

Meanwhile, Stephen Colbert dissected the debate, saying last night that his chance to talk about the event was “..now or never. And never really seemed like the best option.”

On the Democratic side, Hizzonner catches the last train as it’s leaving the station…

***

BUSINESS

***

MEDIA

From the Columbia Journalism Review’s Lower Case section, here are some headlines editors wish they could take back…

***

CULTURE

Keith Richards appeared on BBC Radio‘s Desert Island Discs this morning.

On this day, in a different radio world..

***

SPORTS

Today’s Lunch With the FT subject is Fifa president Sepp Blatter. It leaves a pretty unpleasant taste.

In the Premier League, the match of the weekend could be the Special One versus the Normal One.

In different-shaped ball news, its the final of the Rugby World Cup on Sunday.

Game Three of baseball’s World Series is Friday night at Citi Field in New York, where it’s up to the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard to turn the tide.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Fifa’s house of cards wobbles still further

sun(The Sun/Tomorrow’ Papers Today)

Fifa boss Sepp Blatter appeared to let slip that the bidding process for the 2018 World Cup finals was a waste of everyone’s time and money.

England’s FA, which had spent some $30m on its bid for the tournament, was predictably incensed.

And Blatter also spoke about the 2022 tournament award to Qatar.

But don’t worry, help is on the way…

It’s hard to see how the body can be reformed when those doing the “reforming” have been part of it. Unfortunately, the reputation of football itself has been trashed in the process.  It might be time to scrap it altogether and start over. If that means skipping a finals while it’s all sorted out, then maybe that’s the price we have to pay.

***

WORLD

GOP presidential candidates – with a four-man undercard – debated (sort of) the economy. It all got very predictable very quickly.

The party wasn’t happy.

China looks set to end it’s one-child policy.

In Britain, the long-awaited Chilcot inquiry report (and it has been awaited for so long you could be forgiven for thinking that was its actual name) looks likely to be released next summer.

***

BUSINESS

A huge round of job cuts follows a big reversal at Deutsche Bank.

More revelations about the business behind collapsed charity Kids Company.

In today’s data news…

No results yet for how people are using the infinitely more fun “Internet of Thongs.”

***

MEDIA

A BBC reporter’s laptop was seized in a “terror” investigation.

***

CULTURE

Yeah, right…

If you hadn’t noticed, it’s that time of year again..

This, though, is simply beautiful.

***

SPORTS

The Kansas City Royals took game two of the World Series, leaving Noah to right the ship, as it were, on Friday night in New York.

Finally, today’s Note started with everything that is wrong with football. Let’s end with someone who represents everything that is right. Womens’ World Cup winner and US icon Abby Wambach announced she is retiring from the game.

 

 

 

 

 

Boots on the ground?

Reuters reports that the US is “weighing options to build momentum” in the fight against ISIS.

Two U.S. officials, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing deliberations, said any deployments would be narrowly tailored, seeking to advance specific, limited military objectives in both Iraq and Syria.

That option includes temporarily deploying some U.S. special operations forces inside of Syria to advise moderate Syrian opposition fighters for the first time and, potentially, to help call in U.S. air strikes, one official said.

Of course, the strategy shift isn’t being universally acclaimed.

David Gardner at the FT writes that the West “should call Moscow’s bluff” on the future of Syria:

Of course, it is discomfiting to all external parties to Syria’s viciously complicated conflict to categorise some of their allies. The west, for example, regards Assad regime allies such as the Iran-backed Hizbollah paramilitaries of Lebanon or some Iraqi Shia militia as terrorists. Moscow for its part describes as terrorists Ahrar al-Sham, backed by Turkey but allied with Jabhat al-Nusra, the local al-Qaeda branch supported from the Gulf; it often claims the Free Syrian Army does not exist.

Yet no nine-point plan is going to make headway with any of this — especially since about the only point discussed so far is Moscow’s insistence that Mr Assad, regarded by much of his Sunni majority population as a war criminal, must stay on through an interim transition. If the Kremlin really does perceive the well-financed millenarian jihadism of Isis as a regional and global threat, then a more immediate, say, three-point plan might show it is serious about addressing it.

 ***

WORLD

Meanwhile…

The Budget deal has raised the ire of Conservatives.

Republicans are preparing for Wednesday night’s CNBC debate on the economy.

Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, said she wouldn’t bail out troubled banks

Fallout continues from a classroom incident at  Spring Valley High School in South Carolina.

Human Rights Watch has a gloomy prognosis for Malaysia.

No… really?

***

BUSINESS

Meanwhile, there’s another GM recall

***

MEDIA

Big shake-up at the Atlantic/National Journal.

Evergreen journalism from the ever-pink ‘un.. (salmon, actually)

And a pretty impressive front on today’s Times.

times(The Times/Tomorrow’s Papers Today)

***

CULTURE

***

SPORTS

FIFA confirmed that seven candidates will contest the election next February to succeed Sepp Blatter as the body’s president.

The longest Game One in baseball’s World Series history started with an inside-the-park home run and ended when the Kansas City Royals outlasted the New York Mets in 14 innings.

Game Two is Wednesday night in Kansas City, before the series moves to Citi Field at the weekend.

 

Exclusive: Living causes dying

bacon(The Sun/Tomorrow’s Papers Today)

Today’s freakout news seems to be that either eating tasty things, or at the very least reading about them, causes cancer. Twitter reacted as you might expect.

and, of course..

***

WORLD

More fallout – constitutional and otherwise – is expected today from the Lords’ reversal last night of the government’s plans to reform tax credits.

In Afghanistan, the death toll is rising from a 7.5 magnitude earthquake.

Authorities are investigating why a whale-watching boat capsized off the coast of British Columbia, killing five passengers. One person is still missing.

In the US, the debt ceiling apparently isn’t the contentious issue it was last time a government shutdown loomed.

In presidential politics, here’s “How Trump upended the story line” – Anand Giridharadas writes at the New York Times:

In the face of Republican near-consensus on the free market, Mr. Trump says, in his own way, that government can play a unique role in writing the rules of the marketplace and restraining the market when it fails people.

Such ideas have grown unfashionable in our market-venerating era. A cool new utilitarianism has gained currency: If a million people lose $50,000-a-year jobs through trade, but 100 million save $501 a year by buying cheaper Chinese stuff — the surplus of which they spend on other things, in that way generating more jobs — the market consensus tells us we are better off.

But pain is not transferable. One hundred savers at Walmart and one laid-off worker may cancel themselves out on a balance sheet, but in politics they are additive. Mr. Trump has, in his own way, understood that. Win or lose, that understanding could endure.

And in today’s ‘you couldn’t make it up’ news…

***

BUSINESS

with Shell still to come.

UK GDP figures show slow growth…

A 15-year old boy was questioned – and subsequently bailed – in Northern Ireland in connection with the Talk Talk security breach. Meanwhile, the network said customers would have to prove that losses were directly related to the breach if they wanted to terminate their contract without a fee.

***

MEDIA

***

CULTURE

Ricky Gervais will host January’s Golden Globe awards.

***

SPORTS

The deadline passed for nominations to FIFA’s top job,  with eight candidates set to compete to succeed Sepp Blatter. Former players Zico and Ramon Vega didn’t get the required nominations. Tokyo Sexwale says he did. FIFA will ratify the candidate list in 10 days.

In the NFL’s latest audience-building exercise…

Blair “apology” pre-empts Iraq War report

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s “apology” at the weekend concerning aspects of the 2003 war in Iraq was widely seen as an attempt to get out in front of the likely release of the long-awaited investigation into his role in the conflict. An announcement is expected this week on the release date for the Chilcot Report, six years in the making.

eye(Private Eye)

In an interview with CNN‘s Fareed Zakaria , Blair said:

“I apologise for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong. I also apologise for some of the mistakes in planning and, certainly, our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime.”

He also acknowledged that events at the time had in some way contributed to the rise of ISIS.

“Of course you can’t say those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015.”

But amid the clamor for legal process or the sense of resignation that it’s just one more unaccountable politician, maybe the final, prescient, word – for now – should be this:

***

WORLD

Someone who clearly isn’t apologizing, for anything, even a little, is Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, yeah…

The words “Chris Christie” and “quiet” don’t often appear in the same sentence, but the entire internet seemed to be on board a New Jersey Acela on Sunday.

There were elections all over the place this weekend.

And a couple coming up…

In Florida…

For a remarkable tweet-by-tweet account of the event, look at the timeline of Tampa Bay Times reporter Craig Pittman.

Sunday was the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt

Britain’s House of Lords is to vote on Monday on the Conservative government’s controversial plan to reduce tax credits as part of welfare reforms.

***

BUSINESS

***

MEDIA

Sigh… Maybe these troll-polls have gone a bit too far…

***

SPORTS

Lewis Hamilton won the US Grand Prix in Austin on Sunday to become F1 World Champion for the third time, equalling the accomplishment of Ayrton Senna and Sir Jackie Stewart.

The Premiership’s bottom club Aston Villa are looking for a new manager, parting company with Tim Sherwood after losing at home to Swansea City.

Could a man called Tokyo Sexwale lead FIFA? Yeah, why not…?

Next weekend’s Rugby World Cup final will be – as widely expected – between New Zealand and Australia.

 

 

Did marathon Benghazi session backfire on GOP?

After 11 hours of testimony to the Congressional committee on Benghazi, the consensus view seemed to be that Hillary Clinton’s composed performance put her in a stronger position in her quest for the Democratic Presidential nomination and, subsequently, the Presidency.

Democrats on the committee – who were later reportedly considering resigning – bolstered the former Secretary of State by repeatedly attacking the partisanship of the hearing.

Ben Geier writes at Fortune:

Regardless of the intentions, though, the hearings may actually end up being a good thing for Clinton’s presidential campaign and could even improve how Americans perceive her as a leader.

First, any potential voters who who believe that Clinton is personally responsible for the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens aren’t going to be voting for her anyway. They just aren’t. And it seems unlikely that anyone’s mind is going to be changed by these hearings. And then there’s the argument that “independent voters,” the kind who may be swayed by Clinton’s testimony, are largely a myth, as party affiliation is usually the deciding factor when people choose which candidates to vote for. So no one is sitting at home, watching Clinton’s testimony on C-SPAN and deciding that they won’t support her candidacy because she acted poorly in Benghazi.

***

WORLD

And Hillary’s path to the nomination also seemed to ease further (sort of) with talk that Lincoln Chafee is about to withdraw.

Meanwhile, Rep Paul Ryan appears to have secured the “unity” he requested among Republicans in order to run for Speaker of the House.

In Iraq, a US serviceman was killed during a raid which freed some 70 hostages of ISIS. He was the first American killed by hostile fire in the country since 2011.

David Cameron took China‘s leader to the pub. Xi Jinping goes to Manchester on Friday as his state visit wraps up.

There was a shooting at Tennessee State University in Nashville.

And what looks to be a terrible road accident in France.

Mexico is braced for landfall of the “potentially catastrophic” Hurricane Patricia.

***

BUSINESS

***

MEDIA

***

CULTURE

And at the other end of the spectrum, as it were…

 

 

 

Clinton heads for Benghazi showdown

Hillary Clinton appears on Thursday before the Congressional committee “investigating” the 2012 Benghazi attack, with the committee itself under renewed scrutiny.

But as is often the case, the people who deserve real closure are angered by a politicized process.

***

WORLD

So. No go, Joe.

An apparent sword attack at a school in Sweden this morning left one person dead and several hurt.

On behalf of potato loving people everywhere, thanks for dropping by.

oh, and, yeah…

***

BUSINESS

An iconic British store, which had already been in foreign ownership, is to be bought by a Chinese company.

The Governor of the Bank of England spoke about Britain’ position in the EU.

Credit Suisse is to cut jobs and relocate staff to Poland in an effort to reduce costs.

times(The Times/Tomorrow’s Papers Today)

But some better news:

***

MEDIA

***

CULTURE

Reviews are in for the new Bond movie, SPECTRE, which opens this weekend.

And the latest incarnation of another big movie franchise got the Jimmy Kimmel treatment, and it’s glorious.

And more questions than answers here too, really…

***

SPORTS

The New York Mets will play in the World Series after sweeping the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS. On – of course – Back to the Future day, the Mets dominated the Cubs early to win 8-3.

But the Washington Post‘s Tom Boswell has some encouragement for Cub fans too.