World Digest: Oct. 31, 2013

October 31, 2013
BRITAIN
Murdoch editors had affair, court is told

Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, two former editors of Rupert Murdoch’s now-defunct News of the World tabloid, were having an affair at the time their reporters are accused of hacking into phones, a London court heard Thursday.

Prosecutor Andrew Edis said the relationship indicated that each knew as much as the other about how their reporters were operating. “What Mr. Coulson knew, Mrs. Brooks knew, too. What Mrs. Brooks knew, Mr. Coulson knew, too,” Edis told the court. “That’s the point.”

Both have denied conspiring to hack into phones or making illegal payments to public officials.

Coulson became chief media spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron. Brooks, a Murdoch confidante, became chief executive of News International, his British newspaper group.

The revelation of the affair, which Edis said went on from 1998 to 2004, is likely to bring more embarrassment to Cameron, whom critics have long accused of being too close to Murdoch’s News Corp. media empire.

— Reuters

RUSSIA
Snowden to start Web technology job

In what might be regarded as a move to have the fox guard the henhouse, a leading Russian Web site has hired fugitive secrets-leaker Edward Snowden to oversee its data protection.

Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told the RIA Novosti news service that the former National Security Agency contractor will start his new job Friday.

Kucherena declined to identify the social media site where Snowden will be working, citing “security reasons.” Snowden’s Russian guardians have often expressed fears that U.S. intelligence operatives might try to snatch him from his Russian refuge and return him to the United States to face espionage charges.

— Los Angeles Times

CHINA
Officials say Japan disrupted sea drills

China lodged an official protest with Japan after its ships entered an area in the western Pacific Ocean and disrupted military exercises there, the Chinese Defense Ministry said Thursday.

The Chinese navy had announced its training there from Oct. 24 to Nov. 1, while the Japanese arrived Oct. 25 and left three days later, the ministry said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said this week that he would not let China use force to resolve territorial spats, as the renewed presence of Chinese aircraft near disputed islands led Japan to dispatch fighter jets. Tensions have risen since Japan’s 2012 purchase of three islands also claimed by China.

— Bloomberg News

Chastised German bishop retreats to Bavarian monastery: A German bishop removed from his diocese by the Vatican amid a furor over the spiraling cost of his new residence has arrived at a Benedictine monastery in Metten, southeastern Germany, for a “spiritual time of recovery,” the monastery said. Pope Francis last week expelled Limburg Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst from his diocese pending a church inquiry into the residence, which cost $43 million.

Video appears to show Toronto mayor smoking crack: Toronto police said they have obtained a video that appears to show the city’s mayor, Rob Ford, smoking a crack pipe — a video that Ford had claimed didn’t exist and has been at the core of a scandal that has gripped Canada for months. Police Chief Bill Blair said the video, recovered after being deleted from a computer hard drive, does not provide grounds for charges, and Ford vowed not to resign.

— From news services

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