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03 Feb

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

guardian

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Rupert Murdoch is the founder, chairman and CEO of News Corp

Rupert Murdoch is the founder, chairman and CEO of News Corp Photograph: AAP

News Corp won’t be prosecuted in US in relation to phone hacking

News Corp has been notified it will not face charges in the US in relation to phone hacking and payments to public officials by US authorities

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation will not face any charges in the US in relation to phone hacking and payments to public officials by News of the World journalists in the UK, the company said.

“News Corporation was notified by the United States Department of Justice that it has completed its investigation of voicemail interception and payments to public officials in London and is declining to prosecute the company or 21st Century Fox,” the company said in a regulatory filing.

The company had faced the threat of an investigation under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which bans US companies from attempting to bribe foreign officials.

Gerson Zweifach, general counsel for both News Corp and 21st Century Fox, Murdoch’s film and TV business, said: “We are grateful that this matter has been concluded and acknowledge the fairness and professionalism of the Department of Justice throughout this investigation.”…………………

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A guard tries to arrest a fighter of the Ayda Ukrainian volunteer battalion in Kiev

A guard tries to arrest a fighter of the Ayda Ukrainian volunteer battalion, who entered the Ukrainian Defence Ministry compound in Kiev during a protest to prevent the possible disbandment of the battalion. Photograph: Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty

US increasingly concerned that Russia is intent on partitioning Ukraine

With rebels having seized extra 200 square miles of territory, US’s leaking of talks about sending weapons to Kiev may be Obama’s way of warning Putin to back off

The public disclosure that the US is considering supplying lethal weaponry to Ukraine in its battle with Russian-backed separatists, reflects heightened American concern that Moscow is intent on carving out an expanded, economically viable enclave in eastern Ukraine that could in time declare itself an independent state.

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, pursued this policy in Georgia after the 2008 war, when he encouraged separatists in the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to proclaim their independence from Tbilisi. Pro-Moscow forces in Transnistria, legally part of Moldova, have taken a similar path.

US concern that Putin, despite previous assurances to the contrary, is now seeking effectively to partition Ukraine has been fuelled by rebel territorial gains. Nato estimates that the separatists, backed by Russian reinforcements including T-80 tanks, have seized control of an additional 200 square miles in the past four months…………………

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Alberto Nisman was found dead after accusing President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of seeking to whitewash Iran's alleged involvement in a 1994 bomb attack on Argentinian soil.

Alberto Nisman was found dead after accusing President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of seeking to whitewash Iran’s alleged involvement in a 1994 bomb attack on Argentinian soil. Photograph: Enrique Marcarian/REUTERS

Judge turns away Alberto Nisman’s case against president of Argentina

Question mark over future of Iran conspiracy claims that were raised against Cristina Fernández de Kirchner by prosecutor who was later found dead

An Argentinian judge has refused to pursue allegations that president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner conspired with Iran to cover up the nation’s deadliest terrorist attack – raising the prospect of the case dying along with the prosecutor who presented it.

The accusation was made in January by Alberto Nisman, who less than a week after presenting the indictment was found dead with a bullet in his head.

In a nearly 300-page legal document he had claimed that the president, her foreign minister Hector Timmerman and other aides plotted to shift the blame for the 1994 bombing of the Amia Jewish community centre so that Argentina could secure access to Iranian oil.

The allegations shocked Argentina, which has already seen one former president, Carlos Menem, indicted for trying to subvert the course of justice regarding the attack, which killed 85 people………………………..

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A Palestinian woman amid destroyed buildings in the Gaza Strip during a humanitarian truce in July 2014.

A Palestinian woman amid destroyed buildings in the Gaza Strip during a humanitarian truce in July 2014. Photograph: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

Head of UN war crimes inquiry resigns after Israel accuses him of pro-Gaza bias

William Schabas quits to prevent consultancy work for Palestine Liberation Organisation overshadowing report on last summer’s military offensive

The head of a UN inquiry into last summer’s Israeli military offensive in Gaza has said he will resign after Israeli allegations of bias due to consultancy work he did for the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

William Schabas, a Canadian academic, was appointed last August by the head of the UN Human Rights Council to lead a three-member group looking into alleged war crimes during the offensive.

In a letter to the commission, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, Schabas said he would step down immediately to prevent the issue from overshadowing the preparation of the report and its findings, which are due to be published in March.

Schabas’ departure highlights the sensitivity of the UN investigation just weeks after prosecutors at the international criminal court in The Hague said they had started a preliminary inquiry into alleged atrocities in the Palestinian territories.

In the letter, Schabas said a legal opinion he wrote for the PLO in 2012, for which he was paid $1,300 (£900), was not different from advice he had given to many other governments and organisations.

“My views on Israel and Palestine as well as on many other issues were well known and very public,” he wrote. “This work in defence of human rights appears to have made me a huge target for malicious attacks.”

Israel had long criticised Schabas’ appointment, citing his record as a strong critic of the Jewish state and its current political leadership. Schabas said his work for the PLO had prompted the Human Rights Council’s executive to seek legal advice about his position from UN headquarters on Monday…………………………….

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snow

Snowed in farm track
The snow in the hills west of Barnsley has been serious this winter. This is the walking route to the nearest shop (3 miles) when the roads are impassible
Photograph: BrianWalsh/GuardianWitness

Winter wonderland: readers’ photos of snow in the UK – in pictures

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