Guardian Unlimited OnLine June 25 2007
Johnston family 'distressed' by video June 25 2007
Jason Deans and agencies
The family of kidnapped BBC journalist Alan Johnston say they are "most concerned and distressed" by the latest video released by his captors, in which he said he has been dressed in an explosives belt to deter rescue attempts.
In the recording, posted on a website used by militants, Johnston appeals to the British government and Palestinian group Hamas not to try to free him by force, saying negotiations had reached a "very promising" stage.
Johnston, the BBC's Gaza correspondent who has been in captivity for 105 days, wears a blue and white checked vest strapped around his torso and attached to shoulder straps which he says is an explosive belt.
Early today, Johnston's father Graham released a statement responding to the new video, in which he said: "My family and I are obviously most concerned and distressed at this latest development. Our thoughts, of course, are with Alan in his present predicament. We earnestly request his abductors to release Alan unharmed in any way."
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Times OnLine June 25 2007
Election set for 2008 June 25 2007
Philip Webster, Political Editor
Gordon Brown put Britain and the Labour Party on the alert for a general election next year as he was crowned as Tony Blair’s successor yesterday.
In his first speech as party leader, he promised to heed and lead the call for change. He also used his coronation speech to announce the appointment of an election co-ordinator in a clear signal that he would like to go to the country next year.
After Harriet Harman was elected as his deputy leader by the narrowest of margins, Mr Brown immediately showed his ruthless streak by making her party chairman but not deputy prime minister, despite earlier indications that he would give his elected deputy that job.
Mr Brown has picked Douglas Alexander, a close ally and currently the Transport Secretary, for the election role “so that we are ready not just to fight but win a general election . . . whenever the prime minister decides to call it”.
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Independent OnLine 'Indy' News June 25 2007
New Labour, new era June 25 2007
Emphasising trust, renewal and social inclusion, Gordon Brown sets out agenda for change
By Steve Richards
Gordon Brown hailed the start of a new political era as he was crowned leader of the Labour Party at a special conference in Manchester. In his victory speech, Mr Brown declared that Labour would be the party of change, and hinted at sweeping reforms in key policy areas.
Suddenly, he is free to range more widely without fearing that his words are interpreted as a bid for the leadership or an attack on Tony Blair. He is the leader now. Yesterday, Mr Blair watched the speech in the audience as the former leader. After years of agonising, plotting, frustration,explosive anger and at times displays of nail-biting patience Mr Brown has pulled it off. There has been a relatively smooth transition from one leader to the next.
As if to prove Labour is moving on, Harriet Harman was the surprise winner of the deputy leadership contest, narrowly beating the Education Secretary, Alan Johnson. She had stressed the importance of a woman being part of the leadership team. After her victory, she declared: "With a man and a woman elected leader and deputy it is Labour that leads the way." Suddenly Labour felt different.
In Mr Brown's speech, he highlighted repeatedly the need for change. There would be changes to meet the new challenges. Changes to deal with insecurity. Changes to meet new needs and, in case there were any doubts, change from the old politics. This was the first attempt to introduce New New Labour. Mr Brown's internal opponents and the Conservative leadership attempt to portray him as a figure that would lead Labour back to its vote-losing past. The aim of the speech was to challenge the misleading caricature.
Mr Brown is following Bill Clinton's advice to him with a persistent emphasis: Labour will win again if it is seen as the agent of change. The oddly inappropriate music, an old one-hit wonder, that greeted Brown's appearance on the stage should have been replaced by David Bowie's "Changes". The need for change was his overwhelming theme, in tone and policy-making.
On housing, he pledged that local authorities as well as the private sector and housing associations would build homes. The Housing minister would attend cabinet, although the brief will probably not be elevated to cabinet status. Mr Brown repeated his determination to raise public investment on state education to the level spent on pupils who attend private schools, a potentially revolutionary development. He promised a "new settlement" for a modern NHS. Expect significant announcements in the next few weeks on a policy area that he described as his "immediate priority".
More specifically he promised a bigger department for international development, with greater co-ordination of debt, aid and trade policies, signalling a much wider shake up in Whitehall including dismantling the Department of Trade and Industry.
One challenge Mr Brown faced was to address the seemingly impossible question: how to represent continuity with the Blair era and, at the same time, emphasise change? He answered it with an illuminating phrase: "We will build on what has gone right", a seemingly innocent construction but one that gives him the space to change Blairite reforms that obviously have not gone right.
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BBC OnLine News June 25 2007
BBC captive in 'bomb vest' video June 25 2007
The kidnappers of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston have released a new video of him in which he is wearing what he says is an explosives vest.
In the tape, Mr Johnston says his captors have said they will detonate the vest if force is used to try to free him.
It is the second such video released since Mr Johnston was abducted in Gaza on 12 March.
The BBC renewed its appeal for Mr Johnston's immediate release.
In a statement, the corporation said: "It is very distressing for Alan's family and colleagues to see him being threatened in this way.
"We ask those holding Alan to avoid him being harmed by releasing him immediately.
"We are keeping his family fully informed and offering them our continued support."
Mr Johnston's father, Graham, said: "My family and I are obviously most concerned and distressed at this latest development.
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BBC OnLine History June 25 2007
June 25 1953: Christie to hang for wife's murder
John Christie has been sentenced to hang for murdering his wife and then hiding her body under the floorboards of their Notting Hill home in London.
Christie, 54, had admitted murder but pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. It took the jury an hour and 22 minutes to reject his defence and declare him guilty.
In his final speech to the court, defence lawyer Derek Curtis-Bennett QC argued that Christie was suffering from "a defect of reason" - although he knew what he was doing, he did not know that it was wrong.
Mr Curtis-Bennett told the jury Christie had begun showing signs of hysteria as long ago as 1918. During World War I he had served in the army and lost the ability to speak for three-and-a-half years after being caught up in a mustard gas shell explosion.
It was, he concluded, no exaggeration to say Christie was "as mad as a March hare".
Earlier, the court had been told that eight female bodies, including that of a baby girl, had been found at Christie's home at 10 Rillington Place. They had all been strangled.
The bodies also included Christie's wife, Ethel. Mr Curtis-Bennett said her killing was the most insane of all and the best example of a "motiveless, purposeless killing of the one person he liked".
The court was told Christie had forged his wife's signature to take money out of her bank account and buried her body under the floorboards. His defence counsel said these were the actions of a man desperate to cover his tracks after belatedly realising what he had done.
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