Malta journalist Caruana Galizia: Anti-corruption warrior

Daphne Caruana Galizia, 2011 file picImage copyright Reuters Image caption Daphne Caruana Galizia published scathing reports alleging official corruption

The killing of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in a car bomb has left Malta in shock.

On one hand, it caused alarm that organised crime and political vendettas may have spiralled out of control.Caruana Galizia, 53, had relentlessly accused various Maltese politicians and other officials of corruption in her popular Running Commentary[1] blog, and had been sued several times.

But her death near her home in Bidnija, a village in northern Malta, on Monday also represented the loss of "one of Malta's most important, visible, fearless journalists", in the words of former Home Affairs Minister Louis Galea.

In a career spanning more than 30 years Caruana Galizia was a pioneer of investigative journalism in Malta, said the Malta Independent newspaper.

"She was very reserved, almost shy, but had the strongest of standards on personal integrity, and held herself to those standards," a close friend of hers, lawyer Andrew Borg Cardona, told the BBC.

'One-woman Wikileaks'

Born in Sliema on the northeast coast of Malta in 1964, Caruana Galizia grew up in "normal, middle-class" family, says Mr Cardona.

Her father had a lift services business and briefly entered politics as a liberal.

She was a voracious reader and got an archaeology degree from the University of Malta.

Before launching her blog Caruana Galizia was a regular columnist for The Sunday Times of Malta, then for The Malta Independent.

She also wrote and edited lifestyle magazine articles, such as "fluffy food and drink features", Mr Cardona said.

"She made a living out of that", he said, adding:"the blog didn't pay the rent".

But she became known as one of Malta's most influential writers, says Herman Grech, Times of Malta online editor."An impeccable writer and investigative journalist" is how he describes her.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Thousands mourned the journalist in a silent, candle-lit vigil near Valletta

Caruana Galizia's blog mainly attacked ruling Labour Party politicians and their supporters, but sometimes also officials of the centre-right Nationalist Party.

She alleged that the wife of Maltese PM Joseph Muscat was the beneficial owner of a secret Panama company used to channel funds from Azerbaijan's ruling Aliyev family.

Mr Muscat and his wife vehemently denied any wrongdoing.But after the scandal erupted he called a snap election, which he won in June.

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Media captionDebris was strewn over the road and a nearby field

According to the Panama Papers revelations, two of Mr Muscat's close associates - Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri - were also involved in secret offshore business.

Condemning her death, Mr Muscat said:"Everyone knows Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine, both politically and personally...but nobody can justify this barbaric act in any way".

"I will not rest until justice is done," he said.

Caruana Galizia also criticised John Dalli, Malta's former European Commissioner, who was embroiled in a scandal over tobacco industry lobbying[5] and lost his job as EU health policy chief.

The influential Politico website called her[6] a crusading, "one-woman Wikileaks" in her role as a whistle-blower.

In December, Politico wrote that "on a good day, Galizia gets 400,000 readers, more than the combined circulation of the country's newspapers (Malta's population is 420,000)".

'Assassination'

The controversy did not end with her death.

Investigators will be looking into reports in Maltese media that she told police two weeks ago that she had received threats.

Opposition leader Adrian Delia - whom Caruana Galizia had also criticised - said her murder represented "the collapse of democracy and freedom of expression".

"We shall not be silenced," he added, in a tweet.[7]

Meanwhile one of her three adult sons, Matthew - also an investigative journalist - castigated the police on Facebook, accusing the authorities of negligence for failing to prevent the "assassination".

He called Malta "a mafia state" where "a culture of impunity has been allowed to flourish by the government".

He heard the explosion that killed her and has described running to the scene to find "my mother's body parts all around me".

As well as her sons, Caruana Galizia is survived by her husband, a lawyer....

References

  1. ^ Running Commentary (daphnecaruanagalizia.com)
  2. ^ Malta country profile (www.bbc.co.uk)
  3. ^ Is Malta really Europe's 'pirate base' for tax? (www.bbc.co.uk)
  4. ^ Panama Papers (www.bbc.co.uk)
  5. ^ scandal over tobacco industry lobbying (www.bbc.co.uk)
  6. ^ Politico website called her (www.politico.eu)
  7. ^ in a tweet. (twitter.com)

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Sainsbury's to cut up to 2,000 administrative jobs

Sainsbury's storeImage copyright Newscast

Sainsbury's has said it will cut about 2,000 jobs in its human resources and central support departments.

The chain, which is the UK's second biggest supermarket, says the "difficult decision" is part of a wider plan to cut costs.

The restructuring will affect roles in stores, as well as in the company's central offices.

It plans to make 1,400 payroll and HR clerks redundant and other changes could see another 600 posts be lost....

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George North: Injured Northampton wing set to miss Wales autumn Tests

George North lies injured at Franklin's Gardens
George North was injured against Saracens and after trying to continue collapsed with nobody near him

Wing George North is set to miss Wales' autumn Tests because of a knee injury.

The 25-year-old was injured during Northampton's 57-13 home defeat by Saracens[1] in the European Champions Cup on Sunday and could be out for six to eight weeks.

Ospreys scrum-half Rhys Webb and fellow Osprey Dan Baker, a back-rower, are also doubts.

Baker left the fray against Clermont Auvergne on a stretcher and Webb was also forced off.

Wales coach Warren Gatland is due to name his squad for the four autumn Tests on Tuesday, 24 October.

His side face the Wallabies on 11 November, Georgia on 18 November, the All Blacks on 25 November and the Springboks on 2 December.

North's injury was confirmed by a scan on Tuesday after he had to be helped off at Franklin's Gardens at the weekend.

After their defeat by Clermont, Ospreys coach Steve Tandy said:"Dan Baker had a bad one.We will have to wait 24 to 48 hours until we will know more."

However, he acknowledged the replacement of scrum-half Webb was more precautionary.

"I think Rhys was just cramping up," he added.

"He's been banged up after not playing too much recently so it was probably just fatigue.

"Hopefully it's not too serious."...

References

  1. ^ Northampton's 57-13 home defeat by Saracens (www.bbc.co.uk)

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MI5 boss Andrew Parker warns of 'intense’ terror threat

Andrew ParkerImage copyright MI5 Image caption Andrew Parker said staff were "deeply affected" when terror attacks were successful

The UK's intelligence services are facing an "intense" challenge from terrorism, the head of MI5 has warned.

Andrew Parker said there was currently "more terrorist activity coming at us, more quickly" and that it can also be "harder to detect".

The UK has suffered five terror attacks this year, and he said MI5 staff had been "deeply affected" by them.

He added that more than 130 Britons who travelled to Iraq and Syria to fight with so-called Islamic State had died.

Speaking in London, Mr Parker said the tempo of counter-terrorism operations was the highest he had seen in his 34-year career at MI5.

Twenty attacks had been foiled in the last four years, including seven in the last seven months, he added.

All were related to what he called Islamist extremism.

The five that got through this year included attacks in Manchester and London.

In some cases, individuals like Khuram Butt - who was behind the London Bridge attack - were well known to MI5 and had been under investigation by the security services.

Mr Parker said that when an attack does happen, staff at MI5 were deeply affected on a personal and professional level.

"They are constantly making tough professional judgements based on fragments of intelligence;pinpricks of light against a dark and shifting canvas."

Image copyright PA Image caption People left flowers in Manchester city centre after the Manchester Arena attack

In the wake of the attacks, there had been some, including some in the Home Office, who questioned whether the counter-terrorist machine - featuring all three intelligence agencies and the police, and with MI5 at its heart - was functioning as effectively as previously thought.

Mr Parker said they were trying to "squeeze every drop of learning" from recent incidents.

However, there was no indication of a fundamental change in direction in his remarks, with a focus on the scale of the threat making stopping all plots impossible.

"We have to be careful that we do not find ourselves held to some kind of perfect standard of 100%, because that is not achievable," he said.

"Attacks can sometimes accelerate from inception through planning to action in just a handful of days.

"This pace, together with the way extremists can exploit safe spaces online, can make threats harder to detect and give us a smaller window to intervene."

'Not the enemy'

He renewed the call for more co-operation from technology companies.

Technology was "not the enemy," he added, but said companies had a responsibility to deal with the side effects and "dark edges" created by the products they produced.

In particular, he pointed to online purchasing of goods - such as chemicals - as well as the presence of extremist content on social media and encrypted communications.

He said more than 800 individuals had left the UK for Syria and Iraq.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Many Britons still fighting in Syria and Iraq may not now return, Andrew Parker said

Some had then returned, often many years ago, and had been subject to risk assessment.Mr Parker revealed at least 130 had been killed in conflict.

Fewer than expected had returned recently, he said, adding that those who were still in Syria and Iraq may not now attempt to come back because they knew they might be arrested.

Mr Parker stressed that international co-operation remained vital and revealed there was a joint operational centre for counter-terrorism based in the Netherlands, where security service officers from a range of countries worked together and shared data.

This had led to 12 arrests in Europe, he added.

In terms of state threats, Mr Parker said the range of clandestine activity conducted by foreign states - including Russia - went from aggressive cyber-attack, through to traditional espionage and the risk of assassination of individuals.

However, he said the UK had strong defences against such activity....

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Why is China investing heavily in south-east Europe?

Piraeus container port

China is pouring billions of pounds' worth of investment into Greece and other Balkan countries to create a "New Silk Road" from the Mediterranean into the heart of the European Union.

The initiative, called One Belt One Road (OBOR) involves the transformation and upgrading of harbours, airports, roads and rail across the Balkans.The Chinese have also bought industries, including a steel factory near the Serbian capital, Belgrade.

But there are concerns that the European Union (EU) might eventually object to the level of investment if it poses a significant Chinese threat to European industries.

Last year, the Chinese state-owned company Cosco purchased a controlling stake in the port of Piraeus, near Athens.The company is investing 385 million euros (£343m) in Piraeus to maximise both capacity and trade with the EU.

Image caption Nektarios Demenopoulos of the Piraeus Port Authority says Chinese investment has boomed

Piraeus has always been of immense interest to the Chinese.Its geographical position means it is the first major port for shipments emerging from the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean, and its depth allows it to take the biggest container ships.

Nektarios Demenopoulos, a deputy manager of the Port of Piraeus Authority, told the BBC that Chinese investment in Piraeus had expanded significantly since the Chinese took control of the container port in 2009.

"In 2016 we handled 3.7 million twenty-foot (6 metre) containers," he explained."That's double what we handled back in 2009.And we will be expanding the container pier to create a capacity allowing us to handle 7.2 million containers.So we will double through-put again."

Those Greeks who are working with the Chinese emphasised the important cultural relationship between the two countries.

Fotis Provatas, of the Athens-based Greek Chinese Economic Council, said."I was surprised to see how many people in China know about ancient Greek culture and they respect it very much.And they respect the Western culture because they think - and this is true - that it is a continuation of the ancient Greek culture."

He added that the Chinese have huge investment plans for Greece, including plans to buy and then vastly expand Athens airport.He also said China would upgrade the rail network in other Balkan countries, particularly the neighbouring Republic of Macedonia, and Serbia.

Mr Provatas welcomed the investment but said there was also a danger of a backlash from the EU.He added:"Europe wants economic cooperation with China but in a different way to us.

"We do not have industries so we do not compete with the Chinese in that way.They are welcome to come here and make cars and other industrial products.This is not the same elsewhere in Europe.They are competitors."

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (l) met with China's President Xi Jinping (r) in Beijing in May 2017

The Greek government believes Chinese investment will be an important factor in the country's recovery from deep financial crisis.

But ministers insist China does not get preferential treatment and that Greece takes its obligations seriously as a member of the EU.

Stergios Pitsiarlos, Greece's deputy economics minister, told the BBC, "We think Greece should take advantage of these new opportunities that the Chinese strategy opens up.Our strategy is to take advantage of our geographical position and to attract foreign investment.

"It is very clear that the Chinese would like to have a corridor towards Europe and the European market.At this point, the starting point for Greece is that we are a country that is a member of both the European Union and of the eurozone, and we will always respect European regulations."

Image caption Ana Brnabić, Prime Minister of Serbia, denies that China has any political influence in the region

The Chinese are also investing across the eastern Balkans, including in Serbia.

Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in the city of Smederevo in eastern Serbia to inaugurate the local steel mill, which had been bought by the Chinese steel giant, Hesteel.

In an interview for the BBC, Ana Brnabić, the Prime Minister of Serbia, welcomed the Chinese investment, saying Serbia is already home to very many Chinese investments, including road and rail.

She denied that this investment would give China undue political influence in the Balkans, adding "Without a doubt when you have a huge inflow of investment from one particular country, it always gives a bigger influence to that country.But I did not notice that it had any political influence."

Serbia has applied to join the EU.Ms Brnabić added:"China wants to get closer to the EU and EU markets and Serbia is happy to be one of the central countries in the One Road One Belt Initiative because it's important for our GDP growth and that is our number one priority today.Politically it doesn't interfere in any way with our EU integration."

Andrew Hosken's report on Chinese investment in south-eastern Europe will be on The World Tonight[1] on BBC Radio 4 at 22:00 on Tuesday 17 October and will be available later via BBC iPlayer[2]....

References

  1. ^ The World Tonight (www.bbc.co.uk)
  2. ^ BBC iPlayer (www.bbc.co.uk)

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