Guardian Unlimited OnLine June 23 2007
Goldsmith steps down days before Brown becomes PM June 23 2007
Attorney general's announcement ends career dogged by Iraq and BAE case
Clare Dyer, legal editor
Lord Goldsmith dramatically announced his resignation as attorney general last night, days before he was expected to be ousted when Gordon Brown takes over as prime minister. The departure makes it easier for Mr Brown to look afresh at the role of attorney general, a job which many consider to have inbuilt conflicts of interest.
Mr Brown is considering stripping the attorney of his role in superintending prosecutions and making the Crown Prosecution Service independent. Such a change would mean no government minister would play a part in deciding whether to prosecute in the loans-for-honours affair, distancing the new administration from the embarrassing saga.
Lord Goldsmith said in a statement that he had been "immensely privileged" to serve but had "wanted for some time to move on". He would not be giving up all links with government, and had "agreed with Mr Brown to carry out a review of the legal and other aspects of citizenship, further details of which will be announced in due course".
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Times OnLine June 23 2007
Britain hails EU deal June 23 2007
Philip Webster and David Charter in Brussels
European leaders struck an outline deal on the future of the EU at midnight last night after Britain won a legal exemption from a new rights charter and Gordon Brown intervened directly to thwart French efforts to weaken competition laws.
After days of bitter resistance from Poland on the new voting system, a draft treaty was agreed when the Poles accepted a compromise that will be phased in from 2014 to 2017.
Tony Blair achieved his aim of an explicit declaration in the proposed treaty that the European Court of Justice will not be able to use the Charter of Fundamental Rights to change British law. The declaration stated: “For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in the charter creates justifiable rights applicable to the UK except in so far as the UK has provided for such rights in its national law.”
The concession – the most important of Mr Blair’s four “red lines” – came on day when he was pressured by Mr Brown to change his negotiating position. The Chancellor leant on Mr Blair to force the retention of the EU’s commitment to “undistorted competition” after it was dropped from a list of the Union’s objectives and values. The Prime Minister secured a protocol that officials claimed gave “legal certainty” to unhampered competition as a goal of the EU.
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Independent OnLine 'Indy' News June 23 2007
The fight for the world's food June 23 2007
Population is growing. Supply is falling. Prices are rising. What will be the cost to the planet's poorest?
By Daniel Howden
Most people in Britain won't have noticed. On the supermarket shelves the signs are still subtle. But the onset of a major change will be sitting in front of many people this morning in their breakfast bowl. The price of cereals in this country has jumped by 12 per cent in the past year. And the cost of milk on the global market has leapt by nearly 60 per cent. In short we may be reaching the end of cheap food.
For those of us who have grown up in post-war Britain food prices have gone only one way, and that is down. Sixty years ago an average British family spent more than one-third of its income on food. Today, that figure has dropped to one-tenth. But for the first time in generations agricultural commodity prices are surging with what analysts warn will be unpredictable consequences.
Like any other self-respecting trend this one now has its own name: agflation. Beneath this harmless-sounding piece of jargon - the conflation of agriculture and inflation - lie two main drivers that suggest that cheap food is about to become a thing of the past. Agflation, to those that believe that it is really happening, is an increase in the price of food that occurs as a result of increased demand from human consumption and the diversion of crops into usage as an alternative energy resource.
On the one hand the growing affluence of millions of people in China and India is creating a surge in demand for food - the rising populations are not content with their parents' diet and demand more meat. On the other, is the use of food crops as a source of energy in place of oil, the so-called bio-fuels boom.
As these two forces combine they are setting off warning bells around the world.
Rice prices are climbing worldwide. Butter prices in Europe have spiked by 40 per cent in the past year. Wheat futures are trading at their highest level for a decade. Global soybean prices have risen by a half. Pork prices in China are up 20 per cent on last year and the food price index in India was up by 11 per cent year on year. In Mexico there have been riots in response to a 60 per cent rise in the cost of tortillas.
It has even revived discussion of the work of the 18th-century British thinker Robert Malthus. He predicted that the growth of the world's population would outstrip its ability to produce food, leading to mass starvation.
So far in Britain we have been insulated from the early effects of these price rises by the competitive nature of our retail system. But the supermarkets cannot shield us for long. The European Commission no longer has reserves to help cushion its citizens. Its mountains of unsold butter and meat and its lake of powdered milk have disappeared after reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy.
Then there is corn. While relatively little corn is eaten directly it is of pivotal importance to the food economy as so much of it is consumed indirectly. The milk, eggs, cheese, butter, chicken, beef, ice cream and yoghurt in the average fridge is all produced using corn and the price of every one of these is influenced by the price of corn. In effect, our fridges are full of corn.
In the past 12 months the global corn price has doubled. The constant aim of agriculture is to produce enough food to carry us over to the next harvest. In six of the past seven years, we have used more grain worldwide than we have produced. As a result world grain reserves - or carryover stocks - have dwindled to 57 days. This is the lowest level of grain reserves in 34 years.
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BBC OnLine News June 23 2007
EU leaders agree on reform treaty June 23 2007
EU leaders in Brussels have reached agreement on an outline of new rules for the 27-member bloc after two days of tough negotiations, officials say.
Compromise over a new voting system - to which Poland objected - was struck, removing a major obstacle to a deal.
Warsaw had rejected previous proposals as giving too much weight to the bloc's larger members, including Germany.
The treaty is planned to replace the failed EU constitution, which was rejected by voters in 2005.
The leaders emerged from their overnight talks smiling to announce the results.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said "we have a detailed and clear mandate for an inter-governmental conference" which will draft the actual treaty.
"We are very, very satisfied with what we have been able to conclude."
Ms Merkel said it had not been easy but in the end everyone had made concessions.
The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, paid tribute to Ms Merkel and handed her a bunch of flowers.
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BBC OnLine History June 23 2007
June 23 1992: 'Teflon Don' jailed for life
New York crime boss John Gotti has been sentenced to life imprisonment with no chance of parole.
The head of the city's largest Mafia family was convicted on 2 April for racketeering and five counts of murder - including the former head of the Gambino clan, Paul Castellano.
Gotti's deputy, Frank Locascio, was also sentenced to life after being found guilty of similar charges. Both men were fined $250,000 (£134,500).
Several hundred Gotti-supporters had gathered outside the Brooklyn courtroom and an angry mob attempted to storm the building when the decision was announced.
Judge Leo Glasser's sentencing brought to a close the long quest to convict the man nicknamed the "Teflon Don".
Gotti, 51, had escaped repeated attempts by federal prosecutors throughout the 1980s to get charges to stick to him.
But police finally persuaded Salvatore Gravano - his former ally and right hand man - to testify against his boss in return for leniency.
BBC OnLine Full Story