A raspberry for Berlusconi
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In today’s international papers, the spotlight is on Rupert Murdoch and his son James who have agreed to testify to a UK parliamentary hearing on a major phone-hacking scandal. That, as the FBI in the United States opens a probe to see if the now-defunct "News of the World" tabloid hacked into phones of 9/11 victims.
The Wall Street Journal Europe leads on an interview with its owner Rupert Murdoch who has told the paper he believes: “News Corp will recover”. Murdoch says News Corp. has “handled the crisis extremely well” making just “minor mistakes”. Asked if he was aggravated by the bad press he was getting, the 80-year-old says that he’s “just getting annoyed, I’ll get over it”.
One source of help for him could come from another paper he owns, his top-selling tabloid The Sun which is also giving his point of view. That includes an article by Ulrika Jonsson, who became a News of the World columnist in the aftermath an affair with of one-time England football manager Sven Goran Erikkson. She tells The Sun that “Other papers did it”, referring to phone hacking. Adding that The News of the World “did an awful lot of good”.
On the flip side, The Daily Mirror – not owned by Murdoch – is reporting that Rupert Murdoch and his son James were forced to cave in to appear at the parliamentary hearing and were warned they could be “banged up in a House of Commons cell”. And concerning the FBI investigation in the US into the possible hacking of 9/11 victims, there is a quote from Congressman Pete King saying: “The 9/11 families have suffered egregiously, but remain vulnerable against such unjustifiable parasitic strains”.
The US debt crisis is also a lead story. The USA Today’s International edition headlines: “Time, tempers short on debt talk”. US President Barack Obama is reported to have become agitated in negotiations saying “enough is enough” with “positioning and posturing” by lawmakers. The paper quotes a Republican saying that talks with the White House are like dealing with Jell-O. And a Democrat says those in favour of a right-wing agenda on this are “playing Russian roulette” with the US economy. The USA Today’s letters' page, meanwhile, suggests that a compromise should not be seen as weakness. James Musso from Lake Zurich in Illinois asks: “when did compromise become a dirty word?” He says: “Efforts to impose one view without compromise is something we ought to be seeing in such places as North Korea and Iran, not the United States”.
The prospects of a compromise seem for the moment far off. A cartoon in The International Herald Tribune shows Obama showing his budget proposals and being given a flat “No Way”, and then saying “OK I’ll give you whatever you want” only to be told “Out of the question”.
To Italy, where a vote on an austerity package worth tens of billions of euros got Senate approval Thursday. It goes to the lower house today. Il Giornale, the paper owned by Silvio Berlusconi’s brother, leads on comments made by Finance Minster Giulio Tremonti: “If we don’t move forward together we will end up sinking to the ocean floor like the Titanic”. Meanwhile, the centre-left La Repubblica, in an editorial, says that Northern League leader Umberto Bossi – a kingmaker in Italian politics – is not excluding a new government. Bossi's comments, the paper argues, amount to a raspberry for Berlusconi.
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