January 21, 2021

Shale Gas Company Suspends Drilling in Southern England

LONDON — Cuadrilla Resources, a British shale gas company, has suspended drilling activity at its site in Balcombe, the village south of London that has become a focus of protests against Britain’s efforts to develop a shale gas industry.

Although the company is drilling for oil, not gas, at Balcombe, its activities there have become symbolic of the shale-gas effort in Britain because Cuadrilla has been in the forefront of shale gas exploration in northwest England. The company attracted the wrong sort of attention in 2011 when early efforts to hydraulically fracture a well in Lancashire set off minor earthquakes.

Cuadrilla said Friday that it had decided to suspend drilling after taking advice from the local police in Sussex, following “threats of direct action against the exploration site.”

The company said it was acting in the interest of the safety of its own staff, Balcombe residents and protesters. A person close to the company said that Cuadrilla was concerned that protesters might invade the site, as they have done at a Cuadrilla site in northern England. The person asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak about the issue.

The decision not only delays Cuadrilla’s exploration program but is damaging to the government-backed effort to develop shale and other so-called unconventional oil and gas to replace declining production in the North Sea. Britain is thought to have substantial shale gas resources but it will require extensive drilling and testing to discover whether the gas in the ground can be profitably produced.

Amid the controversy in Balcombe, Prime Minister David Cameron has weighed in on the debate. In an article published last Sunday in the Sunday Telegraph, which is considered staple reading of his Conservative Party constituents, Mr. Cameron wrote in support of fracking, the technique of pumping liquids and sand down wells to cause the rock to release trapped oil and gas.

“If we don’t back this technology, we will miss a massive opportunity to help families with their bills and make our country more competitive,” Mr. Cameron wrote.

The antifracking movement appears to be gaining momentum.. Campaigners said that protesters from throughout the British Isles were planning to converge on Balcombe this weekend in a march for “a frack-free future.”

Cuadrilla, whose chairman is a former BP chief executive, John Browne, already appeared to be backing down earlier this week when it said that while it would continue its exploration at Balcombe, the drilling site there was unlikely to become a permanent production site.

“Cuadrilla has to delay drilling until next week. That’s a huge victory,” Katriona Vetch, an activist in Balcombe, said by telephone.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/17/business/energy-environment/shale-gas-company-suspends-drilling-in-southern-england.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

E.U. Leader Suggests Europe Will Not Change to Satisfy Critics

BRUSSELS — The man who represents the 27 leaders of the European Union warned Thursday of widespread opposition to steps that may be necessary to keep Britain as a member of the bloc.

Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, said he saw “no impending need to open the E.U. treaties” to address the complaints of countries like Britain that are outside the euro zone and which object to “federal Euroland” rules governing the Union.

“Nor do I feel much appetite for it around the leaders’ table,” Mr. Van Rompuy said, according to the text of a speech he delivered Thursday evening in London at the Policy Network, a center-left research organization.

An aide to Mr. Van Rompuy said the comments were meant to underline that there was no immediate need to change E.U. treaties to ensure the stability of the euro, and that the comments were not referring to any demands for treaty change that Britain may seek in the future.

Still, Mr. Van Rompuy’s remarks appeared to be a pointed warning to Prime Minister David Cameron, who in January promised British voters a referendum within the next five years on whether to stay in the Union on revised membership terms, or to leave.

Mr. Cameron’s stance is widely regarded as a bet that his country is big and important enough to win concessions from the bloc, including a change in the E.U. treaty if necessary. But a number of European leaders, as well as critics in Britain, have also warned that Mr. Cameron could lose that gamble and end up overseeing the country’s voluntary exclusion from the Union.

Mr. Van Rompuy also faulted the British approach as overly confrontational in a Union that has a long tradition of consensual decision-making.

“How can you possibly convince a room full of people when you keep your hand on the door handle?” said Mr. Van Rompuy, without naming Mr. Cameron, according to the advance copy of his speech.

“How to encourage a friend to change, if your eyes are searching for your coat?” he added.

In the speech, Mr. Van Rompuy said that “leaving the club altogether, as a few advocate, is legally possible” but that such a move “would be legally and politically a most complicated and unpractical affair.”

Mr. Van Rompuy’s remarks got underway shortly after Mario Monti, the outgoing Italian prime minister, warned during a speech in Belgium of renewed dangers to the Union on its southern fringe.

Mr. Monti was roundly defeated during the weekend in elections that left no party with a majority in the new Parliament in Rome. The ballot also saw the emergence of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, founded just three years ago by the comedian Beppe Grillo, and the resurgence of Silvio Berlusconi, who was forced from office in November 2011 amid a collapse in confidence in his ability to run the country.

In his speech, Mr. Monti, who described himself as a fervent supporter of budgetary discipline, said that one of the key problems the Union faced was that reforms associated with such policies took a long time to bear fruit.

“If the gains from virtue are not seen, the insistence on virtue may be short-lived,” he told an audience of antitrust lawyers at a conference in Brussels, where he formerly served as the European Union’s commissioner for competition policy.

Mr. Monti said that “strategy at the E.U. level” was in danger of being undermined by “the most simplistic, some would say populistic” trends, adding the caveat that he was not referring to the elections in Italy.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/01/business/global/eu-leader-suggests-europe-will-not-change-to-satisfy-critics.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bloomberg Builds an Empire in London

Bloomberg Place, roughly the size of a Manhattan city block, is the future European home of Michael R. Bloomberg’s company and charity. But it is only one piece of the New York City mayor’s growing British empire.

He is underwriting a major expansion of one of England’s most prestigious galleries, in Kensington Gardens, designed by the noted architect Zaha Hadid.

He has the ear of London’s raffish mayor, Boris Johnson, who dispatches aides to City Hall in New York for tutelage in municipal management.

Mayor Bloomberg and his aides court the city’s elite, holding expensive dinners for tastemakers and Downing Street officials. The buzz is so great that a chief aide to Prime Minister David Cameron impishly floated the idea of a Bloomberg candidacy, for mayor of London.

As he imagines a more global life for himself after City Hall, unshackled from the 24/7 needs of running New York, Mr. Bloomberg — an Anglophile with a taste for English Regency style — is exporting his vast quantities of financial, social and political capital to this ancient city, where he has long yearned for influence.

Manhattan is home, and Bermuda a weekend escape, but no place has captured the mayor’s imagination like London, a kind of Bloomberg utopia where guns are banned, drivers pay a fee at peak hours and bicycling is a popular mode of commuting.

The affection, it turns out, is mutual: Mr. Bloomberg wrote a blurb for a book Mr. Johnson wrote. “Mike’s had a lot of cut-through in Britain,” Mayor Johnson said in an interview on a London commuter train last month. “We endlessly try to find ways of entertaining him, but generally speaking, it’s the other way around.”

Advisers to Mr. Cameron tried their own version of 311; Mr. Johnson started a volunteer program modeled after Mr. Bloomberg’s. Both have dined with the mayor on the Upper East Side.

“When I’m in New York, I’m treated like a king by Bloomberg, and it’s fantastic,” Mr. Johnson said.

Still, any foreign affair has its hiccups. Mr. Bloomberg’s attempts to install noisy air conditioners at his $20 million London home have earned the ire of neighbors, prompting local officials to call the plans “totally unacceptable.” And some of his more high-minded policies, like soda limits, have left the natives bemused.

When the mayors met for the first time, Mr. Johnson recalled, Mr. Bloomberg kept talking about trans fats.

“I didn’t know what trans fats were,” Mr. Johnson said, a glint in his eye. “I thought it had something to do with transsexuals, obese transsexuals, or something. Anyway, he made a great deal about that.”

A Gallery in the Park

Julia Peyton-Jones, the elegantly dressed director of the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens, was leading a tour last month of the newest exhibition hall when she picked up a monogrammed orange hard hat and placed it, gently, on her head.

“This is a present from Mike and Patti,” she said, smiling.

That would be Mr. Bloomberg, a lead benefactor of the expansion, and the deputy mayor who heads his charitable foundation, Patricia E. Harris. The mayor has already been offered naming rights to a room in the new gallery.

“There is no question,” Ms. Peyton-Jones said, “he’s among the most important supporters of contemporary culture in this country.”

Just as he assiduously conquered New York’s social scene, Mr. Bloomberg has, from his earliest days here, relied on parties and philanthropy to propel himself into London’s upper echelon.

He threw himself into the city’s cultural scene, joining the boards of the Serpentine and the Old Vic theater. A public relations firm was hired to make introductions in London society.

In a country where the government often financed the arts, Mr. Bloomberg adopted a more American style of corporate giving, stamping his name in museums where he paid for audio guides and sponsoring the Royal Court theater’s “Bloomberg Mondays,” when tickets were sold at a discount.

He bought a box at Ascot, the high-society horse racing grounds, and flew in celebrities by helicopter from London. (Guests received a photograph of themselves drinking Champagne with the top-hatted host.)

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/08/nyregion/bloomberg-builds-an-empire-in-london.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

DealBook: Can Britain Forge Looser Ties to Europe Without Losing Influence?

Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain in Davos last year.Jean-Christophe Bott/European Pressphoto AgencyPrime Minister David Cameron of Britain in Davos last year.

LONDON – Last year, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain used his appearance at the World Economic Forum to vent frustration with the European Union, listing some of the policies he would ditch if he could throw off Europe’s regulatory shackles.

“In the name of social protection, the E.U. has promoted unnecessary measures that impose burdens on businesses and governments, and can destroy jobs,” he argued, adding a list of directives that he would dearly like to scrap.

One year later, Mr. Cameron is following through on that pledge. He is promising to renegotiate Britain’s ties to the 27-nation bloc, forge a new and looser relationship, and probably put the outcome of those talks to a referendum.

World Economic Forum in Davos
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A speech on Europe, planned for last week, was postponed because of the crisis in Algeria. It has been rescheduled for Wednesday, ahead of a possible visit by Mr. Cameron to Davos, Switzerland.

It was unclear whether Mr. Cameron would attend Davos this year and speak on the same theme. But his tough line on Europe echoes growing British disenchantment with a bloc whose single currency union, which the British never joined, has been in crisis for three years.

Yet, supposing Mr. Cameron were to succeed in scaling down Britain’s involvement, some central questions will arise. Can Britain play a more limited role in Brussels and still retain significant influence there? And what might that mean for Britain’s full participation in one of the world’s biggest single markets?

In their 40-year history of engagement with a unifying Europe, Britons have never embraced the ideal of unity; instead they have seen their ties to the Continent in pragmatic terms. Increasingly, London’s conclusion seems to be that the costs in terms of regulatory burdens and financial contributions are not outweighed by clear benefits.

Mr. Cameron argues that to stabilize support for the European Union in Britain, the relationship must be loosened and focused more on the bloc’s single market of almost 500 million people.

Britain, which already is in the second tier of European Union membership, not only stayed out of the euro — and unlike most of the others on the sidelines has no intention of joining — but also does not participate in Europe’s Schengen passport-free travel zone. The British government also announced last year that it would opt out of a range of justice and security policy areas.

A group of Conservative lawmakers argued last week for five treaty changes, including those that would allow any country to block new European Union legislation on financial services, and would repatriate social and employment laws to national capitals. Britain’s euro-skeptics are also blunt in their criticism of the bloc’s agricultural, fisheries and regional aid programs

Many would ideally like to keep just one element of European Union membership, access to the single market, though achieving such status looks highly improbable.

Even those who sympathize with Mr. Cameron’s stance argue that a more detached position comes at the price of reduced influence, though they contend the cost of not changing would be higher. What is more, they argue, leverage in some of the policy areas is of limited value anyway.

“There is a trade-off, there is no doubt,” said Mats Persson, director of Open Europe, a research organization that favors a change in Britain’s relationship with the union. “If you reduce the level of E.U. influence in the British economy and society, you will lose some influence over some policy areas.”

But Mr. Persson argues that “if there is no change in Britain’s E.U. relationship, its membership is in question, which would really reduce its influence.”

Others worry that Britain is weakening its own position. Charles Grant, director of the Center for European Reform, a research institute in London, says that already “British influence in Brussels is at its lowest level in the 25 years I have been following the E.U.”

And critics argue that standing back from more policy arenas would increase the country’s sense of alienation from the bloc and fuel popular sentiment that things are stacked against Britain. A more detached relationship could also prove a disadvantage in the deal-making culture that prevails in Brussels.

Officially, decisions on legislation in Brussels are made by national governments under a complex series of rules before going to the European Parliament, whose approval is also required. In some cases, like tax policy, all 27 national governments need to agree, though in many others a weighted majority is required.

But relatively few decisions are actually put to a vote by governments. In practice, countries strike informal agreements and compromises, often trading support on one issue for a reciprocal agreement, sometimes in an unrelated area of policy.

In this twilight zone, horse-trading abounds. For example, Britain once supported Germany, which wanted to water down planned rules on takeovers, in exchange for help from Berlin to soften new European Union legislation on workers’ rights.

The fewer areas in which a country participates, the less influence it has to barter.

Something similar affects another area of unofficial influence: control of crucial positions in Brussels. When the last round of top European Union jobs was decided, Tony Blair, a former British prime minister, was a contender to become the president of the European Council, the body in which national governments meet. But Britain’s absence from the euro currency and the Schengen zone made this a nonstarter.

The prime minister at the time, Gordon Brown, wanted a top economic post for Britain in the European Commission, the executive of the bloc. Instead, he got a foreign policy position for Catherine Ashton, reflecting the fact that Britain remained an engaged player in that area.

The euro has dominated the agenda in Brussels for the last three years, but Britons have reduced prospects of making big careers in this policy area because London has no power to lobby for them.

“If you are in the Treasury in London, why the hell would you go to Brussels?” said one European Union official not authorized to speak publicly.

That trend now looks likely to extend to justice and security policy. Britain recently held the most senior position in the justice and home affairs directorate of the European Commission, partly because the British used to be enthusiastic about cooperation in that forum. A Briton, Rob Wainwright, is currently the director of Europol, the bloc’s law enforcement agency.

But given the government’s decision to distance itself, it will be harder for Britons to get such top jobs in the future.

Declining career prospects for British officials are reflected in staff recruitment figures, released in April 2011. They showed that the European Commission now employed more Poles than Britons, though Britain has a larger population and joined the European Union’s forerunner more than 30 years before Polish accession in 2004.

Britain has fewer than half France’s number of European Commission officials, and the situation seems destined to deteriorate because relatively few Britons are applying for entry-level jobs.

All this risks creating a downward spiral in British influence, which the country would need to counter by being more effective in the areas in which it remains.

“I think Britain still could have clout in more limited areas if it keeps friends and allies,” Mr. Grant said. “But the fact that we are not, for example, so engaged in justice and home affairs weakens our bargaining power across policy areas and weakens the career prospects of British officials.

Mr. Grant added, “There has been a steady diminution in the last few years, which you could plot on a graph: the more you distance yourself the less influence you have.”

Article source: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/01/22/can-britain-forge-looser-ties-to-europe-without-losing-influence/?partner=rss&emc=rss

British News Media Agree to More Powerful Regulator

But the editors, meeting over breakfast at a London restaurant, steered a careful course, embracing most but not all of the measures recommended in a report last week by a high-ranking judge, Lord Justice Sir Brian Leveson. They rejected the judge’s most contentious proposal, for a new law that would put teeth into a state-sanctioned system of oversight.

That placed the editors broadly in line with the approach taken by Mr. Cameron, who has courted political opprobrium, particularly on the left, by saying that writing any part of a new regulatory system into law would risk eroding 300 years of press freedom in Britain. Reacting to the Leveson report last Thursday, the prime minister warned that once such a law existed, politicians would be tempted to broaden it, and start the country down the road to state control of the press.

Lord Justice Leveson led a nine-month inquiry into a scandal surrounding abusive and illegal newspaper practices, including hacking into private computers and voice mail and bribing police officers and other public officials to obtain confidential information — practices that appeared to have been rife in some newsrooms.

The Leveson inquiry and the parallel investigations by the police have focused especially on two mass-circulation tabloids that anchored Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper empire in Britain, The Sun and The News of the World. The company shut down The News of the World in July 2011, at the height of the scandal.

In effect, some analysts said, the editors’ agreement reflects the price that Britain’s famously freewheeling newspapers are now paying for the tabloid papers’ excesses.

Though Britain has no formal equivalent of the First Amendment, its tabloid newspapers in particular have prided themselves on being the scourge of the establishment, of privilege and of claims to a right of privacy by celebrities and others in the news. That attitude could now be curbed, perhaps even radically, by a new regulatory body responding to the public outrage stirred by the recent scandals, these analysts said.

The newspaper The Guardian reported on its Web site on Wednesday that the editors — including representatives of the sensationalist “red top” tabloids like The Sun, the country’s most lucrative daily — had endorsed 40 of the 47 principal recommendations made in Lord Justice Leveson’s 2,000-page report.

They agreed to scrap the weak and widely discredited Press Complaints Commission, set up by newspaper barons 20 years ago, and replace it with a new body appointed from outside the newspaper industry and the government. It would have a much larger budget, a strong investigative staff, and the power to order errant newspapers to publish prominent apologies and pay fines up to £1 million, or $1.6 million, or 1 percent of a publication’s annual revenue, whichever is less. Effectively, subscribing to the new system would be compulsory, since failure to sign up would deny newspapers access to a new system for arbitrating libel suits that could be far cheaper than fighting suits in the courts.

“We endorsed virtually all the report, barring the clauses that dealt with statutory underpinning,” one of the editors who attended Wednesday’s meeting said. He spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing an agreement among the roughly 20 editors not to comment individually on the record while details of a new system are being worked out.

Newspapers represented at the meeting included broadsheets like The Guardian, The Observer, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and two Murdoch-owned titles, The Times and The Sunday Times; two weekly journals, The Spectator and The Economist; and mass-market tabloids like The Daily Mirror, The Daily Express and Mr. Murdoch’s Sun, with readerships in the millions.

The editor who spoke said that the group voted clause by clause on the 47 Leveson recommendations in a 90-minute meeting marked by a sense of urgency because of the mounting political pressure for tougher measures to rein in the newspapers. “There was a feeling that if we were to avoid something nasty, we had to do something quickly,” he said.

On the political left and center-left, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats are pressing for a statute that would put the newspapers on notice that they would defy the new system at their peril. With his own Conservative Party deeply split on the issue, Mr. Cameron told the editors at a meeting on Tuesday that they should endorse the principles behind the Leveson proposals, and that if they did not, they would “get a statute,” an editor who was present said.

With the editors now in line, senior aides to Mr. Cameron have said they will try to defuse the situation with a more detailed blueprint for an oversight system that would be independent but not depend on statutory backing, perhaps with a senior judge to act as a referee on appointments to the new regulatory body and on contested findings.

The editors’ action put newspapers with a combined daily and weekend circulation of more than eight million copies — said to be read by more than one-third of Britain’s population of 62 million — on record in favor of substantially toughening the system of self-regulation by the newspapers that has been in place since 1953.

In its current form, set up in 1991 after an earlier threat of government regulation, a voluntary body passes judgment on accusations of wrongdoing by the newspapers that participate. But critics who testified before the Leveson inquiry, including victims of the tabloid excesses, said the commission has been too pliant, especially in dealing with rambunctious tabloids like The Sun, which have had little to fear from the commission’s reproaches.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: December 6, 2012

Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to the jurisdiction of a proposed independent regulator in Britain. The new regulator would oversee newspapers, not of the broader news media.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/06/world/europe/british-newspapers-agree-to-more-powerful-regulator.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

José Manuel Barroso, European Commission Chief, Assails Britain Over Treaty Veto

On Tuesday, as the British cabinet prepared for its first full meeting since Mr. Cameron’s veto on Friday, José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, told the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, that Mr. Cameron had sought “a specific protocol on financial services, which, as presented, was a risk to the integrity of the internal market” — a reference to the vast European Union trade area.

“This made compromise impossible,” he said. “All other heads of government were left with the choice between paying this price or moving ahead without the U.K.’s participation and accepting an internal agreement among them.”

Mr. Barroso’s remarks seemed certain to fuel the anger of the so-called euroskeptic lawmakers in Mr. Cameron’s dominant Conservative Party who are pressing for a renegotiation of Britain’s entire relationship with the other 26 countries in the European Union.

Mr. Cameron’s veto has also angered Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, the junior coalition partner, who was conspicuously absent when the British Parliament assembled Monday for a raucous debate on events at the summit.

As members of the Labour opposition shouted “Where’s Clegg?” Mr. Cameron seemed at pains to offer soothing words to those afraid that he had so alienated his European allies that Britain was bound to leave the European Union altogether on Monday.

“Britain remains a full member of the E.U., and the events of the last week do nothing to change that,” Mr. Cameron said. “Our membership of the E.U. is vital to our national interest. We are a trading nation, and we need the single market for trade, investment and jobs.”

In his speech on Tuesday, Mr. Barroso offered a contrasting vision, suggesting that British refusal to give ground had left it standing alone, despite efforts by European officials to introduce compromise proposals to bridge the gap between the majority of European Union members and Britain.

He said the compromise would have shielded European Union states outside the 17-nation euro zone from discrimination. Britain boasts the biggest economy of those outside the euro zone, but it relies for at least half its trade on the countries that do use the single currency.

“Unfortunately, that compromise proved impossible,” Mr. Barroso said, “and so it was not possible to have a solution that could allow all 27 member states to agree in the framework of current treaties.”

“Last week, most heads of state or government of the member states showed their willingness to move ahead with European integration toward a fiscal stability union. They showed that they want more Europe, not less,” he said, implicitly criticizing the British for a lack of European spirit.

The veto has plunged British politics into turmoil.

But, after vitriol poured out at Mr. Cameron over the weekend — from the Labour Party, from prominent Liberal Democrats in the coalition government, from European diplomats — Monday’s session in Parliament was oddly anticlimactic. Buoyed by the compliments of anti-European backbenchers in the Conservative Party, who said they would have vetoed the treaty if Mr. Cameron had signed it, the prime minister appeared relaxed and self-assured, exuding the easy confidence that is one of his strongest political assets.

He told Parliament, as he has said all along, that he exercised Britain’s veto because the proposed treaty changes, meant to avert future European economic disaster by strengthening fiscal discipline, gave no assurances to safeguard the future of London’s financial services industry, a critical part of the British economy.

“The choice was a treaty with the proper safeguards or no treaty,” he said. “The result was no treaty.”

Mr. Cameron’s veto left Britain standing alone in Europe. All the other 26 European Union countries either agreed to the proposals, which will be negotiated according to intergovernmental agreements, or said they would seek the approval of their parliaments back home.

Reporting was contributed by Rick Gladstone from New York, Steven Erlanger from Paris, Nicholas Kulish from Berlin, and Stephen Castle from Brussels.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=7f80eb80f90e4d99fd8592349b50e9ff

Cameron, Speaking to Parliament, Defends Actions at Europe Summit

“I responded in good faith,” Mr. Cameron said in the televised speech, explaining his actions last week. “We were simply asking for a level playing field.”

Reiterating his reasons for the veto decision, Mr. Cameron said he could not agree to the changes to European Union treaties because they would have threatened the competitive future of London’s financial services industry, a critical part of Britain’s economy. He also said he had done nothing to compromise Britain’s membership in the European Union itself.

“Britain remains a full member of the E.U. and the events of the last week do nothing to change that,” said Mr. Cameron, who leads the Conservative Party. “Our membership of the E.U. is vital to our national interest. We are a trading nation and we need the single market for trade, investment and jobs.”

But with the 26 other members of the European Union either agreeing to the proposed plan outright or saying they would put the matter before their Parliaments, Mr. Cameron has come in for harsh domestic criticism. Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, the junior coalition partner in Mr. Cameron’s government, told the BBC on Sunday that Britain was left in danger of being “isolated and marginalized” in Europe. Mr. Clegg added that if he had been in charge, “of course things would have been different.”

Mr. Clegg, who normally sits next to Mr. Cameron on the front bench of the parliamentary chamber, was conspicuously absent during Mr. Cameron’s remarks on Monday.

In an unusually blunt acknowledgment of the divide between Britain and the rest of Europe, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France said in a newspaper interview published on Monday that, while he and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany had done “everything in order that the English should be part of the agreement” at the Brussels summit, the reality was that “henceforth there are clearly two Europes — one seeking greater solidarity and regulation, and the other attached to the exclusive logic of the single market.”

“You have to understand this is the birth of a different Europe — the Europe of the euro zone, in which the watchwords will be the convergence of economies, budget rules and fiscal policy, a Europe where we are going to work together on reforms enabling all our countries to be more competitive without renouncing our social model,” he told the newspaper Le Monde.

But Mr. Sarkozy also referred to a broader relationship with Britain, despite the ever closer ties between Paris and Berlin in addressing the crisis in the euro zone, of which Britain is not a member.

“Does the importance of the understanding with Germany mean that there is nothing to be done with London? No,” he said. “We intervened in Libya with the United Kingdom and the prime minister, David Cameron, was courageous. With London we share an attachment to nuclear energy and a strong cooperation in defense.”

He also rejected an interviewer’s suggestion that Britain should leave the European Union’s single market — a vast trade zone stretching from Ireland to Scandinavia, the Balkans and the Mediterranean. “We need Great Britain,” Mr. Sarkozy said.

The developments in Brussels brought less ambiguous criticism from Britain’s opposition Labour Party.

“This is the first veto in history not to stop something,” David Miliband, a former Labour foreign secretary, told the BBC on Monday. “The plans are going right ahead. It was a phantom veto against a phantom threat.”

“David Cameron didn’t actually stop anything, because the other 26 are going on and the provisions of the treaty would not have weakened our rights and freedoms one iota,” Mr. Miliband said.

The Labour opposition was intent on echoing those complaints in Parliament, seeking to dent the enthusiasm of the dominant Conservatives and to highlight divisions within the governing coalition.

Many euroskeptic Conservatives, who want Britain to renegotiate its relationship with the European Union, were hailing the outcome of the Brussels summit as a victory. But several officials suggested that both the Conservatives and the more pro-European Liberal Democrats wanted to avoid a widening of the rift between them.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/13/world/europe/david-cameron-to-address-british-parliament-over-europe-treaty.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Ambitions as Deep as Their Pockets

“When I was a kid, I loved not only amazing ocean exploration but space, too,” James Cameron, the director of “Avatar,” “Titanic” and “The Abyss,” said in an interview. “I can think of no greater fantasy than to be an explorer and see what no human eye has seen before.”

The would-be explorers can afford to live their dreams because of their extraordinarily deep pockets. Significantly, their ambitions far exceed those of the world’s seafaring nations, which have no plans to send people so deep.

The billionaires and millionaires include Mr. Cameron, the airline mogul Richard Branson and the Internet guru Eric E. Schmidt. Each is building, planning to build or financing the construction of minisubmarines meant to transport them, their friends and scientists into the depths. Entrepreneurs talk of taking tourists down as well.

The vehicles, meant to hold one to three people, are estimated to cost anywhere from $7 million to $40 million.

The first dive is scheduled for later this year. Since secrecy and technical uncertainty surround many of the ventures, oceanographers say the current schedules may well change.

The rush is happening now in part because of advances in materials, batteries and electronics, which are lowering the cost and raising the capabilities of submersibles. Still, the challenges are formidable.

Hardest to build are the crew compartments, whose walls must be very thick, strong and precisely manufactured to withstand tons of crushing pressure. Designers are using not only traditional steel but such unexpected materials as spheres of pressure-resistant glass.

Humans have laid eyes on the Challenger Deep just once, half a century ago, in a United States Navy vessel. A window cracked on the way down. The landing on the bottom stirred up so much ooze that the two divers could see little and took no pictures. They stayed just 20 minutes.

Forays to lesser depths have multiplied over the years. Since the discovery of the Titanic at the bottom of the North Atlantic in 1985, hundreds of explorers, tourists and moviemakers (including Mr. Cameron) have visited the world’s most famous shipwreck. It lies more than two miles down.

The Challenger Deep and similar recesses are part of a vast system of seabed trenches that crisscross the globe. The deepest are found in the western Pacific.

Over the decades, biologists have glimpsed their inhabitants by lowering dredges on long lines. Up have come thousands of bizarre-looking worms, crustaceans and sea cucumbers. More recently, undersea robots have filmed swarms of eels and ghostly fish, their tails long and sinuous.

In early April, Mr. Branson held a news conference in Newport Beach, Calif., to unveil his submersible. “The last great challenge for humans,” declared Mr. Branson, the founder of Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Galactic, “is to explore the depths of our planet’s oceans.”

His solo craft, nearly 18 feet long, looked like a white-and-blue airplane with stubby wings and a cockpit. The curve of the wings is meant to drive the vehicle downward as it speeds through the water, rather than upward, as with an airplane.

Graham Hawkes, the craft’s designer and a veteran maker of undersea vehicles, said in an interview that more conservative designs were possible but that his goal was “to advance the state of the art.”

The winged craft and its mother ship cost an estimated $17 million. The submersible is scheduled to plunge deep later this year, its pilot a colleague of Mr. Branson. (The venture is profiled at virginoceanic.com.)

A few weeks later, in late April, another team went public. It unveiled plans, rather than a nearly complete vehicle. The company, Triton Submarines, based in Vero Beach, Fla., makes tiny submersibles with acrylic personnel spheres that carry two people down a half mile or more. The clear spheres provide much better viewing than the tiny portholes of traditional submersibles.

The company announced that it was ready to build a submersible to carry three people into the Challenger Deep. The vehicle’s personnel sphere — seven and a half feet in diameter — would be made entirely of glass and open like a clamshell to admit passengers.

Glass might seem fragile. But as pressures rise, said L. Bruce Jones, the company’s chief executive, “it gets stronger.”

He said two people — a billionaire and a near billionaire — were talking separately about buying one or two of the craft, each costing $15 million.

A company brochure says investors can expect to charge $250,000 a seat for tours of the Challenger Deep.

Mr. Jones said the craft would drop fast, covering the seven miles in about two hours. That would leave hours of bottom time for exploration before the return trip to the surface.

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Cameron Tries to Shore Up Support in Hacking Scandal

And when the daylong political street fighting with the opposition Labour Party was done, he appeared to have at least steadied support within his own party and, perhaps as important, within the ranks of the Liberal Democrats, his nervous coalition partners.

The confrontation in the House of Commons — a day after appearances before a parliamentary committee by Rupert and James Murdoch, whose News of the World newspaper, now defunct, has been at the heart of the scandal — capped a difficult period in which the politically agile prime minister appeared to lose his normally assured demeanor, allowing Labour to get ahead of him in putting an end to the Murdochs’ bid for Britain’s top satellite television company.

Mr. Cameron flew back from a shortened trade trip to Africa on Tuesday and worked late into the night preparing for the showdown over revelations about the tabloid that have exposed cozy and sometimes corrupt relations among the press, politicians and the police, and that have crystallized into the most serious crisis of credibility and confidence of his 15 months in office.

As the eight-hour Commons showdown ended, the prime minister appeared to have quieted the worst anxieties in his Conservative Party, whose most powerful backbench group gave him a desk-banging thumbs up. Several Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, emerged from the session to say that the emphasis should be on reforms to rid Britain of the excesses of its tabloids, and not on efforts to topple Mr. Cameron, unless there were new disclosures implicating him in efforts to stifle the police investigation of the issue or to mislead Parliament.

Only a week ago, the Liberal Democrats seemed to be edging closer to an alternative compact with the Labour Party that could have threatened the government’s survival and its program of harsh spending cuts.

Still, with police inquiries into the affair accelerating, posing the potential for further revelations and arrests, Mr. Cameron may, at best, have only stalled the Labour onslaught that has sought to link him to the scandal through his close ties to Mr. Murdoch and two former editors of The News of the World, one of whom was Mr. Cameron’s communications chief for nine months.

After more than two weeks in which Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, outflanked Mr. Cameron at virtually every turn, the prime minister appeared to hit his stride, coupling incensed denials of personal wrongdoing in the affair with a new, hard-edged attitude toward his former media chief, Andy Coulson, one of 10 people linked to the Murdoch newspapers who has been arrested in the scandal.

Showing an edge of bitterness toward a man he was describing only days ago as a friend, Mr. Cameron said that “with 20-20 hindsight and all that has followed, I would not have offered the job, and I expect that he wouldn’t have taken it.”

“You live and you learn,” he added, “and, believe you me, I have learned.”

Mr. Cameron also took on Mr. Miliband, saying that most of the abuses now under investigation within the Murdoch newspapers took place when Labour was in power and that the Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown had taken no action on evidence that serious wrongdoing had occurred. He also said that Labour’s ties with Mr. Murdoch and his executives, and the party’s pursuit of Mr. Murdoch’s political favor, were more extensive than his own.

“I can assure the House that I’ve never held a slumber party or seen her in her pajamas,” Mr. Cameron said, referring to Rebekah Brooks, a onetime editor of The News of the World, who resigned as chief executive of News International, the paper’s parent company, late last week. The gibe referred to a gathering Mr. Brown’s wife held in 2008 at the prime minister’s country retreat, which British newspaper accounts have said was attended by Ms. Brooks; Mr. Murdoch’s wife, Wendi; and his daughter Elisabeth. A Daily Mail account said guests were told to bring their pajamas “for the sort of sleepover usually favoured by teenage girls.”

Mr. Cameron’s defense on Wednesday — and his continuing vulnerability — rested on two potentially explosive issues. First was why he hired Mr. Coulson only months after Mr. Coulson’s 2007 resignation as The News of the World’s editor, then took him to Downing Street, in the face of a flurry of private warnings, after the Conservatives won the May 2010 general election.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/21/world/europe/21hacking.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Murdoch Reported to Drop British Satellite Bid

There was no immediate official confirmation of the news.

The development was the latest upheaval flowing from the phone hacking scandal within Mr. Murdoch’s British newspaper empire that has convulsed his company and ended what, for years, had been a close, cozy and influential relationship with the British establishment.

Only hour s before the news, Prime Minister David Cameron had sought to distance himself from Mr. Murdoch and had urged him to drop the bid for British Sky Broadcasting, also known as BSkyB. The announcement came just before Parliament was set to approve a cross-party call for Mr. Murdoch to abandon his ambitions toward the broadcaster.

On Wednesday, Mr. Cameron offered details for the first time of a broad inquiry into the relationships among the police, politicians and the press in the broadening scandal confronting the Murdoch newspaper holdings in Britain.

Speaking to Parliament, Mr. Cameron said that the inquiry would be led by a senior judge, Lord Justice Leveson, and that it would have the power to summon witnesses to testify under oath. The announcement came as Mr. Cameron fought to recover the initiative in a scandal that has turned into potentially the most damaging crisis of his time in office.

He said the inquiry would examine the ethics and culture of the British media as well as the accusations of phone hacking at The News of the World underlying the scandal. It would also investigate why an initial police inquiry failed to uncover the extent of the scandal and allegations that journalists paid corrupt police officers.

He said he wanted the inquiry to be “as robust as possible, one that can get to the truth fastest and get to work the quickest, and one that commands the full confidence of the public.”

Mr. Cameron said it should complete a report on the future regulation of the press within a year, but he acknowledged that inquiries into allegations of criminal wrongdoing — which the police are also investigating — would take longer.

Mr. Cameron’s Conservative Party took power in May 2010, supported by some of the newspapers in Mr. Murdoch’s British stable, and his critics said that he, like some of his predecessors in 10 Downing Street, sought to maintain that support even as the phone hacking scandal smoldered before erupting into a crisis

Only a week ago, Mr. Cameron said it was not for politicians to interfere in the workings of private companies. But on Wednesday, he urged Mr. Murdoch to abandon his $12 billion bid for more than 60 percent of the shares in British Sky Broadcasting which he does not already own, saying Murdoch executives should “stop the business of mergers and get on with cleaning the stables.”

Later Mr. Cameron met the parents of Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old girl abducted and murdered in 2002. The phone hacking scandal exploded last week with reports that The News of the World had tried to hack into her voice mail after she went missing. Up until then the phone hacking had seemed to be restricted to the voice mails of prominent people.

In a rancorous session at the weekly encounter in Parliament known as prime minister’s questions, Mr. Cameron also came under renewed pressure from opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband to explain his relationship with his former director of communications, Andy Coulson, a former editor of The News of the World — a top selling Sunday tabloid at the epicenter of the scandal which the Murdoch family ordered closed last weekend.

A lawmaker also asked if there was evidence that journalists at News International, a British subsidiary of Mr. Murdoch’s News Corporation, had tried to hack into the voice mail of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, as they are accused of doing in Britain after the July 7 London bombings in 2005.

The Daily Mirror newspaper had reported that journalists had sought to secure phone data concerning Sept. 11 victims from a private investigator in the United States. Mr. Cameron said he would investigate the issue.

In what seemed an indication of further uncertainty at News International, news reports said Tom Crone, the company’s legal manager, had left the firm but it was not clear why.

John F. Burns and Don Van Natta Jr. reported from London, and Alan Cowell from Paris. Reporting was contributed by Jo Becker, Ravi Somaiya and Graham Bowley from London, and J. David Goodman from New York.

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